Lenin’s Bolsheviks Overthrow Kerensky’s Provisional Gov’t, Start Russian Civil War


On Nov. 7, 1917 (Oct. 25, 1917 according to the old Russian Calendar): Bolshevik forces — led by Vladimir Lenin — attacked and overthrew the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), marking the “October Revolution” that led to the bloody civil that spanned until 1923.

The attack on the Winter Palace in Petrograd began at 9:45 p.m. when a blank shot was fired by the armored cruiser Aurora, which is now the flagship of the Russian Navy and a museum ship in St. Petersburg.

On seizing control over the government, Lenin nationalized the country’s industry, seized private land and negotiated a March 1918 ceasefire with Germany, and in July 1918 ordered the execution of Tsar and his family.

Kerensky formed a government in March after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, struggling to fight Germany while also addressing the nation’s political and economic chaos. Lenin’s Communist Bolsheviks were known as “Reds” and constituted a minority of the country, but won the civil war against “White,” pro-Tsar, anti-Bolshevik forces through their revolutionary zeal and sheer brutality.

The Whites were backed by numerous powers, including Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States, which landed forces in Vladivostok in August 1918.

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