CLIO mr brice - page 39

The Russian revolution took the
country from one extreme to
the other – it advanced from an
extremely elitist society to one
that did not allow for any class
division whatsoever. Although at
opposite ends of the spectrum,
both the tsarist and communist
governments were essentially a
dictatorship, governed by fear
and manipulation, the people of
Russia did not experience true
democracy until 1991. This article
will address the first steps the
citizens of Russia took to abolish
the autocracy and establish a ‘more
liberal’ government. To the majority
of Russian citizens who had
been subjected to the immensely
oppressive rule of Nicholas II, social
change was a hugely attractive
option. Thus the revolution
commenced. Although it famously
occurred in 1917-18, this article
will address an event over ten years
previous to it – the ‘Bloody Sunday
massacre’ of 1905.
To summarise, the Bloody Sunday
massacre was the slaughter of
peaceful protestors outside Tsar
Nicholas II’s winter palace.
Although at the time, the Russian
government claimed an approximate
number of 96 deaths and 333
wounded, modern historians
estimate around 200 deaths
occurred and 800 injuries. The
leader of the protest was a man
called Father Gapon, a Russian
orthodox priest and head of a
government sponsored union
called ‘The assembly of Russian
Factory and Mill workers of Saint
Petersburg’. His aim was to present
a petition to Nicholas II, calling for
civil liberties and universal suffrage.
He also asked for reasonable
working hours, the right to strike
and normal wages. Paraphrased,
the petition protested “we are
impoverished, we are oppressed,
over burdened with excessive
toil,” and “we have reached the
frightful moment when death is
better than the prolongation of our
unbearable suffering.” The plan was
to converge at the winter palace
in the afternoon; after thousands
of unarmed workers, women and
children had marched through the
snow from various starting points
in Saint Petersburg. Characterised
by joyous singing, outbursts of
‘God save the Tsar’ and the waving
of banners and flags, the protest
was just as optimistic as the people;
expectant and jubilant, these
people genuinely believed that their
Tsar would help them at the first
opportunity presented.
However, as would soon become
apparent, this faith and optimism
was severely misplaced. Instead of
the welcoming father figure they
naively expected, (he was known
as the ‘Little Father) the workers,
women and children were greeted
with flanks of armed guards and
cavalry.
BLOODY
SUNDAY
1905
39
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