Russia (1917-1927): Revolution, Civil War and Famine

The Bolsheviks took control of Russia in November 1917 after the collapse of tsarist Russia in March 1917. The first ten years of the new radical Bolshevik regime led by Lenin and Trotsky faced violent counter revolution and civil war. The Bolshevik response was brutal and swift. A totalitarian regime was installed in the name of Marxism. The politics of famine from 1921-1927 resulted in millions of deaths. Stalin emerged victorious over Trotsky by 1927 after the death of Lenin in 1924.The Bolshevik regime remained intact until 1990.


  • Face-to-Face


  • Two Revolutions, March 1917 and November 1917 during World War I and their causes.
  • Seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in Nov 1917 and the immediate consequences 1917-1918.
  • Counter revolution and opposition to the Bolshevik regime and Civil War 1918-1921 and the invasions by foreign armies supporting the White Russian armies.
  • Leadership struggles for dominance between Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and the “Old Bolsheviks” Triumph of Stalin by 1927.
  • Introduction of the NEP (The New Economic Policy) in 1921 by Lenin to “save Marxism and the revolution of the proletariat” and its impact.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the complex factors which contributed to the collapse of the tsarist government in March 1917 and the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917.
  2. Discuss the significance of the Bolshevik leaders in the success of the November Revolution and their victory in the Civil War 1918-1921.
  3. Evaluate the discrepancy between Marxist theory and Bolshevik practices in the first 10 years after the Revolution 1917-1927.
  4. Discuss the short term and longer term legacies of the first 10 years of the Bolshevik regime.

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