The Creation of Soviets

The beginning of protests against the Russian government started in St. Petersburg at the Winter Palace. The Union of Liberation had coordinated with the Assembly of Russian Workingmen and the resulting assembly was meant to be a peaceful mass demonstration led by priest Georgy Gapon. Workers carried religious icons, pictures of Nicholas II and petitions that cited their grievances and desired reforms on march to the Winter Palace. Since Nicholas II was not in the city, Grand Duke Vladimir (Nicholas’s uncle) had control. When the marchers were ordered to stop, they did not and Vladimir ordered his police to open fire on the marchers, killing at least 100 and several hundred wounded. This massacre was known as Bloody Sunday and was the beginning of the Revolution of 1905.

P. 37 in 'xêP. 37 in 'The History of the TUC 1968-1868'. "Another sector of the "Bloody Sunday" battlefield: St. Martin's Lane, where the police attempted to head off a contingent of unemployed men from the Clerkenwell Green
Another sector of the “Bloody Sunday” battlefield: St. Martin’s Lane, where the police attempted to head off a contingent of unemployed men from the Clerkenwell Green.

Shortly after Bloody Sunday, workers’ councils called soviets were formed in order to organize strikes and riots and then later transformed into a revolutionary government when social democrats started to join. The first workers’ council was created in Ivanovo-Vosnesensk along with the St. Petersburg soviet on October 13. The soviets were created for several different reasons: in protest of Tsar Nicholas II establishing an elected assembly to advise the government then later protests against proposed election procedures for the advisory assembly. These strikes pushed Nicholas II, and on the advice of Sergey Yulyevich Witte, into creating the October Manifesto which had promised a constitution and established the Duma.

The October Manifesto was seen as a victory to some moderates and many of the workers had returned to their jobs which broke the coalition and weakened the St. Petersburg soviet. Since the coalition was broken, the government arrested G.S. Khrustalev-Nosar who was the soviet’s chairman and part of the Mensheviks along with Leon Trotsky. The revolution failed to replace the former government with a democratic republic, nor did it even establish a constituent assembly; however, the creation of the Duma and the Fundamental Laws of 1906 were important in the development of legal political activity and parties.




3 thoughts on “The Creation of Soviets

  1. Your post was very descriptive. The photos you used really accentuated the suffering that the marchers had to go through. It’s interesting to learn that some people saw the October Manifesto as a success while others did not. Your blog was well thought out.


  2. You link up lots of important developments in this narrative of the 1905 revolution. Why did you choose to write about the creation of the Soviets, and why do you think they were interesting and important? Any articles in the New York Times about workers’ councils in 1905?


    1. I really liked reading your post. I also wrote about Bloody Sunday and I missed some of the points you mentioned. Don’t you find it interesting that a peaceful march took such a tragic toll? I also wonder what would have happened if Nicolas II would have been at the residence on January 22. You have a lot of really good background about Bloody Sunday and its relevance to the revolution and the October Manifesto. Great post!


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