Russian Revolution documents

This collection of Russian Revolution documents has been compiled by Alpha History authors. This section is a work in progress: we are continually reviewing, transcribing and adding new documents. If you would like to suggest a document for inclusion, please make contact.

Tsarism under strain

Manifestos on the assassination of Alexander II (1881)
Conditions of factory workers in late 19th century Russia (1885)
Pobesdonostov on the “great falsehood” of democracy (1898)
Sergei Witte on the need for foreign capital (1899)
Rambaud on the political stagnation of Russia (1900)
Nicholas II imposes Russian autocracy in Finland (1903)
Milyukov on the need for political reform (1905)

‘Bloody Sunday’

The ‘Bloody Sunday’ workers’ petition to Nicholas II (1905)
The US ambassador’s report on ‘Bloody Sunday’ (1905)
New York Times editorial on ‘Bloody Sunday’ (1905)
Father Gapon’s eyewitness account of ‘Bloody Sunday’ (1905)
Lenin’s view of ‘Bloody Sunday’, Gapon and 1905 (1905)
Trotsky’s account of Gapon and the 1905 Revolution (1905)
An official Soviet account of ‘Bloody Sunday’ (1938)

The 1905 Revolution

The Tsar’s October Manifesto (1905)
Letter from Nicholas II to the Dowager Empress (1905)
Lenin on the unfolding 1905 Revolution in Russia (1905)
Sergei Witte describes the 1905 Revolution (1912)
Trotsky on lessons learned from the 1905 Revolution (1930)

The tsarist reaction to 1905

Excerpts from the Russian Fundamental Law (1906)
Nicholas II’s address opening the First State Duma (1906)
Declaration and demands of the First State Duma (1906)
The Vyborg Manifesto calls for anti-tsarist resistance (1906)
Stolypin’s solution to the agrarian problem (1907)
The tsar’s decree dissolving the second State Duma (1907)
Tsar Nicholas’ thoughts on the State Duma (1906-1907)

Revolutionary ideas and groups

Extracts from Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto (1848)
Krupskaya describes Lenin’s life in prison and Siberian exile
Extracts from Lenin’s What is to be Done? (1902)
The political program of the Russian Social Democrats or SDs (1903)
Political program of the Socialist-Revolutionaries or SRs (1905)
Victor Serge on the Bolshevik movement (1917)

The last years of tsarism

Rodzianko on shortages and problems in the army (1914)
Lenin’s views on World War I (1914)
The tsarina’s letter to Nicholas II as he left for the front (1915)
Rodzianko urges the Tsar not to take command of the army (1915)
The Tsarina and Nicholas’ letters on taking command (1915)
The Tsarina’s meddling in political appointments (1915-16)
The Tsarina’s meddling in military strategy (1915-16)
A police report on deteriorating conditions in Petrograd (1916)
Purishkevich’s speech to the Duma criticising the government (1916)
Meriel Buchanan on the growing unrest in Russia (1916)
Russian press reports on the murder of Rasputin (1916)
The tsar’s brother-in-law urges reform (1917)

The February Revolution

A censors’ report on the attitude of Russian soldiers (1917)
A Duma report on conditions in Russian cities (1917)
Telegrams sent on the eve of the February Revolution (1917)
The Duma’s final plea to the tsar for reform (1917)
Nicholas II’s diary entries during the February Revolution (1917)
The abdication decree of Tsar Nicholas II (1917)
The tsar’s final address to the Imperial Army (1917)
Kerensky on receiving news of the February Revolution (1917)
The British ambassador on Nicholas II’s leadership (1923)
Russian political groups respond to the February Revolution (1917)
An official Soviet account of the February Revolution (1938)
A woman recalls the February Revolution in Kursk (1917)

The Dual Power

Kerensy on the early days of the Provisional Government (1917)
A report on the formation of the Provisional Government (1917)
The Petrograd Soviet’s Order Number One (1917)
An agreement to improve the conditions of Russian workers (1917)
Milykov’s note to the Allies (1917)
Krupskaya describes Lenin’s journey back to Russia from exile (1917)
Extracts from Lenin’s April Theses (1917)
A plea to maintain the Russian war effort (1917)
Guchkov on the fate of the Provisional Government (1917)
Congress of Soviets agrees to work with the Government (1917)
Leon Trotsky on the ‘July Days’ (1930)
A report on a peasant revolt and violence in Orlov (1917)
Kerensky on the origins of the Kornilov Affair (1927)
Wealthy Russians attend a meeting with General Kornilov (1917)
General Kornilov’s appeal to the Russian people (1917)
Intelligence reports of unrest and mutiny in the Russian army (1917)

The October Revolution

Lenin urges the overthrow of the Provisional Government (1917)
Lenin calls for an armed revolution against the government (1917)
Bolshevik demands on the eve of the October Revolution (1917)
The Bolshevik Milrevcom announces it has seized power (1917)
Sukhanov’s recollections of the October Revolution (1922)
The Bolsheviks set terms for aligning with other parties (1917)

The early Soviet republic

Decree on Peace (1917)
Decree on Land (1917)
Decree establishing a Soviet government (1917)
Decree on the suppression of hostile newspapers (1917)
Decree abolishing classes and ranks (1917)
Lenin on fighting counter-revolution and sabotage (1917)
The Revolutionary Tribunal is established (1918)
Decree dissolving the Constituent Assembly (1918)
Rosa Luxemburg on the Constituent Assembly (1918)
Victor Chernov on the closure of the Constituent Assembly (1918)
Lenin forms the CHEKA (December 1917)
Martin Latsis on the birth of the CHEKA (1920)
Victor Serge on the CHEKA (1940s)
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk endorsed (1918)
Bolshevik decree forming the Red Army (January 1918)
The Oath of the Red Warrior (April 1918)

Soviet reforms

Excerpts from the Bolshevik Family Law (1918)
Bolshevik decree nationalising all industry (1918)
Alexandra Kollontai on her work and social reforms (1926)
Bukharin on the transformation of women in Soviet Russia (1920)
A Soviet woman explains her work in the new society (1920)
The Soviet decree legalising abortion (1920)
A Soviet report on agitprop (propaganda) trains (1920)

Dissent, resistance and the Red Terror

A Bolshevik account of the Left SR uprising (1918)
Bolshevik decree on food procurement or ‘war communism’ (1918)
Bolshevik decree nationalising industry (1918)
Lenin’s kulak ‘hanging order’ (1918)
An order expanding the Red Terror (1918)
Trotsky’s orders for defecting Red Army officers (1918)
Rosa Luxemburg on the lack of democracy in Soviet Russia (1918)
Lenin on democracy and dictatorship (1918)
Lenin gives instructions for a propaganda pamphlet (1918)
The Kronstadt sailors’ 15-point manifesto (1921)
Excerpts from Lenin’s ‘political testament’ (1922)
Torture methods used by the CHEKA (1924)