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How the women of Russia started the revolution in 1917 without waiting for them to be "given rights"
How the women of Russia started the revolution in 1917 without waiting for them to be "given rights"

On the Internet, you can often find the statement that women in Russia did not have to fight for all rights. The laws that enforce them appeared in 1917, ranging from suffrage after the February Revolution to a series of decrees regarding their family rights after the October Revolution. But people forget that the October revolution took place thanks to the February revolution, and the February revolution - thanks to the "woman's revolt".

War as the engine of revolutions

In 1904, the Russian Empire entered the Russo-Japanese War. It began with the Japanese attack in Port Arthur. Oddly enough, this war was not only not unexpected - it was desired and long-awaited. It had been brewing for several years for economic reasons, and there were those in the government who were confident that this war would raise the degree of patriotism, redirect the tension in society to an external enemy - and thereby prevent a revolution. It is believed that this idea was promoted by one of the ministers, von Plehve.

The war, however, only intensified the revolutionary mood. In 1905, the so-called First Russian Revolution broke out. Although it is generally believed that it was suppressed almost immediately, in modern times it is believed that revolutionary fermentation lasted at least two years. And in many respects - thanks to the riots of the peasants, almost whose main asset were wives and mothers. The next time the wave of the Indian revolt covered the country in 1910 - and again in the countryside.

Match factory workers

Interestingly, the quelling of these protests had an unexpected effect. Thousands of young women left the village and left to look for work in the city. This crippled the rural economy to such an extent that in 1911, the question of allowing women to leave the countryside only with the written consent of a husband or father was seriously considered. The village was dying without a woman. But the process could no longer be stopped. Needless to say, this process led to the fact that a sufficient number of women with the experience of protests and the experience of a radical change in their fate accumulated in factories?

Mood: revolutionary

In 1914, the Russian Empire entered the First World War, and this time - absolutely voluntarily. This giant meat grinder crippled the economy of all of Europe. Russia is no exception. The quality of life in the country has dropped markedly. And if the townspeople and nobles simply began to live more modestly, then the families of factory workers and representatives of the service sector had to tighten their belts. Moreover, the young men found themselves far from their homes, and the main burdens fell on the shoulders of their wives and sisters who had been left behind. In addition, the outflow of young men from jobs stimulated the already observed process of an active influx of women into factories and plants.

While female labor was common and many women became the main breadwinners in families, they were still paid half as much as men on a full-time basis. Working conditions were hellish for everyone: work shifts at 12 o'clock were commonplace, visits to toilets were normalized in number and length, the workshops were stuffy and dirty, and a “second shift” awaited at home - cooking, cleaning, children.

The presence of babies did not affect the length of the working day in any way.Women simply left babies with five or seven-year-old sisters and brothers, or even just alone in a crib, with a nipple made of chewed bread, and hoped that they would find them alive when they returned home. This way of life did not make women calmer and more peaceful. Increasingly, they fiercely assented to the agitators in the city and in the factory, who spoke about the criminal policy of the authorities.

Workshop for the production of shrapnel for the front

Cold, hungry

The winter from 1916 to 1917 was particularly difficult. The frosts were unusually strong and were interspersed with snowstorms. This circumstance actually paralyzed the railway communication in the country. Locomotives were out of order, the tracks were covered with snow. Moreover, there was no one to repair the first and clean the second - in principle, only men were accepted into the railway service, and there was now a shortage of them in the country.

Moreover, grain and flour, as well as coal, were transported around the country by trains, without options - ordinary roads were not very passable, and there were no trucks, and horse-drawn carriages were too slow. A food crisis began in the cities, and almost the most severe - in the capital. Oddly enough, at the same time, there were still supplies of flour in Petrograd. There was no fuel for bakeries, and there was also a radical shortage of bakers - only men were taken into this profession. The speculators who sensed something, moreover, began to buy up flour and hide it “in reserve”.

And the decrease in bread baking, and rumors (which had a reason) that they would introduce cards for the sale of bread, limiting one pound to one hand led to the fact that queues of incredible length began to form at bakeries. People began to buy bread in reserve - to save it, for example, in the form of crackers. Naturally, the queues were mostly women. It was their duties that were always charged with obtaining food and organizing supplies. We got up in line since the night, despite the terrible night frosts. The bread was the last straw. People have run out of patience. And it is in women.

Queue for bread

Women's Day

Strikes and strikes began in the city. The first to get up was the Putilov plant, and it was not the only one. The government tried to repeat the 1905 scenario, provoking a march of workers in order to shoot the main troublemakers, who will certainly be in the forefront, with machine guns. The provocation was thwarted thanks to an open letter from the Cadet Party (which, by the way, consisted of many active politically women).

On February 22 it became very warm. On the same day, the tsar left Tsarskoe Selo to move to Headquarters in Mogilev. Together with the tsar and the weather, it was as if the whole world set in motion. Or he had to come … The workers whispered through factories and factories, repeating two words: "Women's Day." The fact is that the calendar in Russia was different from the European one. February 22 was March 7 and February 23 was supposed to be International Women's Day. For this holiday, the workers did not prepare poems and salads at all.

February 23 - March 8 according to the European and modern Russian calendar - thousands of women took to the streets of Petrograd. They walked in a dense crowd, elbow to elbow, and chanted: "Bread!" and "Down with hunger!" At the sight of men from factories and factories, women began to shout calls to join the protests. On their first day, 90,000 people took part. In terms of time, it is incredible.

The February riot was only the first of the women's demonstrations in 1917

The next day the factory workers came out again, and now they were joined by many other women, as well as men from the factories. The crowd reached 200,000. February 25 (March 10) - 300,000. Universities have stopped classes because students of both genders have joined the protests. To the previous two slogans were added: "Down with the war!" and "Down with the autocracy!" The women also raised homemade banners broadcasting "Long live equality!" Revolutionary songs were heard, which turned out to be known to a suspiciously wide circle of people - and almost everyone. This is exactly how 1905 backfired.

She gave a signal

The garrison in Petrograd at that time consisted of freshly drafted peasants, mostly extremely young - and very sympathetic to at least one of the protesters' slogans. "Of bread!" - a cry, clear to those who grew up in the village. Fearing that the soldiers would begin to massively sabotage the order, or even join the protesters, the authorities delayed the order to suppress the protests.

Then the empress personally wrote to the emperor, urging him to show firmness. The emperor responded by ordering any measures to end the protests. This meant - to start shooting. Lieutenant General Sergei Khabalov, having received this order, wrote to the tsar that he could not fulfill it. The next day he was removed from office. Another person was put in his place.

Sergey Khabalov

The police started shooting at the protesters. Two regiments were pulled up to the city, which proved to be the best at the front. But the soldiers mutinied. Having gone through a real war, with a real enemy, they refused to shoot those about whom they were told yesterday as people whom they, soldiers, are protecting at the front. After them, a division moved to Petrograd, withdrawn from the Western Front, rebelled, and then two battalions of Georgievtsy.

Shooting at the protesters caused outrage in the Petrograd garrison. As Khabalov was sure, the sabotage of orders ended in an open riot and a transition to the side of the protesters. The psychological factor also played a role. It was women who went to the soldiers on display. They grabbed rifles with their bare hands and shouted, demanding the soldiers to come over to their side. So the protesters got weapons, and soon the demonstrations turned into an armed coup. According to legend, the last signal is literally a shot and an exclamation "To storm!" - came from the crowd of women.

Results of the revolution

As you know, in the end the king abdicated in favor of his brother, and the king's brother refused to occupy the throne. The Cadet Party came to power, forming the Provisional Government - one of the parties in which there were enough women, like Ariadna Tyrkova and Sofya Panina, the first woman in the Russian government (she became the deputy minister of public education). It was decided to admit women to the army and navy. Laws were passed establishing for women (and indeed for all social groups) the right to vote - which significantly influenced the adoption of laws on the right of women to vote in other countries.

Women remind the new government of their rights

The devastation in the country only increased, as always after the coups. But the political freedoms adopted after the February Revolution made it possible for the leaders of the Bolsheviks to return to the country, prepare and arrange the October Revolution. After the party came to power, where there were even more women than among the Cadets, and even more radical in its views on equality, laws were passed that abolish the concept of illegitimacy, the freedom of a woman to marry and divorce, and many of her other civil rights. Nadezhda Krupskaya, the wife of Vladimir Lenin, had been preparing this party policy for many years before.

March 8 continued to be celebrated at the state level, but the further, the more they tried to blot out the memory of the brightest of the "celebrations" of this day. New coups were useless, so for half a century the holiday turned into a "Day of Spring and Beauty", returning to the old spring holidays of fertility in a new form. And after the memory of the woman's rebellion was so diligently erased, the myth blossomed about how suddenly good uncles gave women rights.

Some of these rights were granted to women only temporarily anyway: How 100 years ago Russian young ladies served in the navy, and What "riots on the ship" had to be suppressed by the authorities

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