a memorial for all wars: the Polynational War Memorial


Russian Revolution 1905

Years: 1905-1906
Battle deaths: 1,500 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2013-07-31 22:12:51
On January 22 (January 9), 1905, the day known as "Bloody Sunday", there was a protest march in St. Petersburg that was put down by armed force with more than 1,000 killed or injured.

This event was the needed spark for many groups in Russian society to move into active protest. Each group had its own aims and even within similar classes there was no overall direction. The main protestors were the peasants (economic), the workers (economic, anti-industrialist), intelligentsia and liberals (civil rights), the armed forces (economic), and minority national groups (political and cultural freedom).

The economic situation of the peasants was appalling, but leaderless each splinter sought its own objectives. Unrest was spread across the year, reaching peaks in early summer and autumn before culminating in November. Renters wanted lower rents, hirelings wanted better wages, land-holders wanted bigger plots of land. The actual activities were land-seizures, sometimes followed by violence and burning; looting the larger estates and illegal hunting and logging in the forests. The level of animosity displayed had a direct link to the condition of the peasants - the landless of Livland and Kurland attacked and burned, while the better-off in the neighbouring Grodno, Kovno and Minsk took little destructive action.

However, after the events of 1905, peasant unrest returned in 1906 and lasted until 1908. The government concessions were seen as support for the redistribution of land, so there were attacks to force landlords and ’non-peasant’ land-holders to flee. Believing a country-wide redistribution was imminent, the peasants took the opportunity to ’pre-empt’ the decision-makers. They were strongly suppressed.

The workers act of resistance was the strike. There were widespread strikes in St. Petersburg immediately after Bloody Sunday; over 400,000 workers were involved by the end of January. The action quickly spread to other industrial centres in Poland and the Baltic coast. In Riga 70 protestors were killed on January 13 (J), and in Warsaw a few days later over 100 strikers were shot on the streets. By February there were strikes in the Caucasus and by April in the Urals and beyond. In March all higher academic institutions were forcibly closed for the remainder of the year, adding radical students to the striking workers. In October the ephemeral St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, a Menshevik group, organized over 200 factories to strike, the ’Great October Strike’. This action quickly spread to Moscow and by October 13 (J) there was almost no active railway in all Russia.

With the unsuccessful and bloody Russo-Japanese War with Japan there had been unrest in army reserve units since 1904. In February 1905 the Russian army was defeated at Mukden, losing almost 90,000 men in the process, in May Port Arthur was lost and the Russian fleet mauled at Tsushima. Witte was quickly dispatched to make peace, negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth (signed September 5). In 1905 there were naval mutinies at Sevastopol, Vladivostok and Kronstadt, peaking in June, with the mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin - some sources claim over 2,000 sailors died in the restoration of order. The mutinies were disorganized and quickly crushed. The armed forces were largely apolitical and remained mostly loyal, if dis-satisfied, and was widely used by the government to control the 1905 unrest.

Non-Russian national groups had been angered by the Russification undertaken since Alexander II. The Poles, Finns, and the Baltic provinces all sought autonomy, and also freedom to use their national languages and promote their own culture. Moslem groups were also active, the First Congress of the Moslem Union took place in August 1905. Although certain groups took the opportunity to settle differences with each other rather than the government. Some nationalists undertook anti-Jewish pogroms, possibly with government aid.


Source: excerpt from article in the open dictionary Wikipedia. READ MORE


Notes on fatalities

[1] Battle deaths: Correlates of War, Intra-State War Data v4.1

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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