Out of the War and into the Revolution


Following over 3 years of war with over 1.5 million military deaths belonging to the Russian Empire, Soviet Russia formally removed itself from World War I on March 3, 1918 with the Treaty of Bresk-Litovsk (Centre-robert-schuman). The preparations for the Treaty of Bresk-Litovsk began in December, 1917 with an armistice in the then German-occupied Polish town of Bresk-Litovsk with negotiations between Germany and Soviet Russia. The signing of the treaty resulted in huge territorial losses for Soviet Russia as it was forced to ends its military presence in the Baltic states and Ukraine. The territorial losses of Soviet Russia were acceptable as it allowed for it to focus on its Civil War and other internal issues such as aiding those effected by the famine and reuniting families separated because of the war.

The negotiations between the Central Powers and Bolshevik Russia helped to signify the authority of the newly formed Soviet government as it was internationally recognized as the head of the Russian state. Domestically however, the negotiations and agreement to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk created numerous problems for the Bolsheviks and its head of state, Vladimir Lenin. It took Soviet Russia quite some time to agree to the negotiations and Treaty as the Soviet foreign policy was shifting between agreeing to the terms presented by the Germans and continuing to stay in the war to spread revolutionary sentiment among the European people (Siegelbaum). As Lenin was able to finally achieve a majority in the Communist Committee, Soviet Russia officially ended its participation in World War I in 1918.

The mixed feelings of the Bolsheviks about Soviet Russia’s removal from World War I was supported by the idea of “War Communism,” where the Soviet state was supposed to act heroically with a strong, unified military to secure its own statehood and then rescue other people and convert them from a capitalist society to more socialist one. (Freeze, 301).




Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.

Siegelbaum, Lewis. “Treaty of Brest Litovsk.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/treaty-of-brest-litovsk/

REPERES. “World War I Casualties.” http://www.centre-robert-schuman.org/userfiles/files/REPERES%20%E2%80%93%20module%201-1-1%20-%20explanatory%20notes%20%E2%80%93%20World%20War%20I%20casualties%20%E2%80%93%20EN.pdf



Trans-Siberian Railway

The vast territory of Russia often made it difficult for the empire to fully unite as a modernized, economically secure, and culturally homogeneous nation. The inability of the Russian government to connect with Siberia caused great concern as it would be unable to quickly and efficiently help in cases of invasion or famine. In addition to these societal factors, the desire of Moscow and Tsarevich Nicholas to ensure that the far eastern parts of the empire would not break away led to the development of a transportation system that would make travel quicker and unite the empire (Trans-Siberian Railway).

Trans-Siberian Railway Metal Truss Bridge on Stone Piers, over the Kama River near Perm, Ural Mountains Region

The picture by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii ca. 1907-1915 of a part of the Trans-Siberian railway near the Ural Mountains Region in Russia demonstrates the desire to connect the empire. This image shows that the builders were willing to go across and through natural boundaries to build the only connecting transportation system in Russia. Constructing a railway of over 6,000 miles from European Russia to the Pacific Ocean required innovation and the determination to succeed (Metal Truss Railroad Bridge). The result of the Trans-Siberian railway was economic growth, industrialization, and mass migration for Siberia. The population of Siberia gained over 2.5 million migrants from Western Russia who sought to become landowning farmers. The Siberian economy rapidly expanded as these migrants founded new cities and pushed the territory into an industrial revolution (Richard, 2017).



Prokudin-Gorskii, Sergei Mikhailovich. “Trans-Siberian Railway Metal Truss Bridge on Stone Piers, over the Kama River near Perm, Ural Mountains Region.” World Digital Database. https://www.wdl.org/en/item/6438/#q=metal+truss+railway+bridge. 20 Jan. 2018.

Richard, Katherine Schulz. “Trans-Siberian Railway.” Thoughtco.com. 28 Dec. 2017. https://www.thoughtco.com/trans-siberian-railway-1435762. 20 Jan. 2018.

“Trans-Siberian Railway.” Encyclopedia of Russian History. Encyclopedia.com. (January 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/trans-siberian-railway