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How far do you agree that Kerensky’s mistakes were the main reasons for the collapse of the Provisional Government?
The abdication of the Tsar on March 2nd 1917 meant that Russia was left in control of the governing body, which became known as the Provisional Government. This occurred as a consequence from the February Revolution, consisting of mass demonstration and outbreaks of violence, demanding the Tsar to step down. This left the provisional government, which consisted of mainly Kadets and Octobrists, despite them not having much support throughout Russia, as problem that the new government faced was that they did not represent everyone’s political view, due to the fact that neither the Bolsheviks nor Mensheviks who were quite popular within Russia, were represented by the Provisional Government. Also the Provisional Government never really had total control to govern to rule Russia, due to the Petrograd soviet. These issues were exploited by key events during the reign of the Provisional government as factors such as Kerensky’s mistakes, which the assertion gives along with aspects such as the return of Lenin, the June Offensive, having to share power with the Petrograd Soviet and the July Days.
Alexander Kerensky played a great part in the collapse of the Provisional Government due to his actions after becoming Prime Minister in July 1917. Mass desertions from the Russian army caused by the failed June Offensive, lead to the replacement of Prince Lvov by Kerensky, right from the off he realised that the Provisional Government faced a variety of issues. For example, he did not end Russia’s involvement in the First World War when he became Prime Minister after the July Day protests in Petrograd. Kerensky was well aware that the June Offensive against Austria-Hungary was extremely unpopular with the Russia people and that morale within the Russia armed forces was on the verge of collapse. He initially supported the appointment of General Kornilov becoming Commander-in-Chief of the Russia armed forces, however was the Kornilov’s affair on August 27th started to evolve he soon became worried about Kornilov’s intentions. As Kornilov decided to march in the attempt to restore order on behalf of the Provisional Government, Kerensky became apprehensive that Kornilov was going to try and remove him from power; this resulted in Kerensky tragically arming the Red Guards and released the Bolsheviks from prison, also supplying them with weapons. It soon became clear to Kornilov that he had been betrayed by Kerensky and continue the March; however he soon lost the support of his troops and was later arrested. It is clear that Kerensky’s role as part of the Kornilov Affair contributed to the fall of the Provisional Government due to a number of consequences, firstly this affair cause the support for the All-Russia Soviet to be increased, being the Provisional Government itself lost even more support, subsequently weakening its ability to govern Russia. Also Kerensky himself lost support of both the right and left wing political parties, weakening his position as Prime Minister. Not only that, but the events created a mass power vacuum, providing the returning Lenin and Bolsheviks, who were now armed, with a great opportunity to seize control of Russia. Once again reinstating the idea that Kerensky was responsible for the fall of the Provisional Government.
However Kerensky’s role wasn’t just the reason for the fall of Provisional Government, the return of Lenin also contributed. Lenin had not actally expected the abdiciation of the Tsar, but realised it provided him with a real opportunity to make a real impace when he returned. Interestingly enough it was the German government who supported Lenin’s return to Russia on April 3rd, due to the fact that he had opposed Russia’s involvement in the First World War. When Lenin returned he demanded a social revolution. Lenin produced a document kwon as the ‘April Theses’, throughout the document he made promises of Peace, Land and Bread’ and ‘All Power to the Soviets’, and these declarations gained support for the Bolsheviks. These promises from Lenini attracted the supported of many throughout Russia, as the majoirty did not want to carry on the war with Germany. Lenin made sure to emphasise the failure of the Provisional Government who were attempting to redistribute the land to peasants, but the influence from the middle class and wealthy land owners meant this policy had failed massively and proved unpopular with the peasants. Lenin gained the support he needed and sent the Bolsheviks to factories in Petrograd to gain support for the strikes in an attempt to remove the Provisional Government from power, despite this, the Bolsheviks failed to make the impact Lenin desire, in influencing the public to revolt again the Provisional Government. However Lenin's leadership skills alone were a threat to the Provisional Government and this threat was realised by them. Overall it is clear that Lenin's return to Russia really made and impact and did indeed contribute to the eventual downfall.
Another factor as to why the Provisional Government failed was due to 'The July Days'. Taking place between the 3rd and 6th of July it saw demonstrations take place mainly within Petrograd but also across Russia. It most be noted that these demonstrations were in reply to the failed June Offensive (as previously mentioned) along with continued food shortages and continued economic crisis. It was clear to everyone that the new government had not acted swiftly enough to gain the support of the Russias people and were in fact contributing to their own downfall. The most significant revolt to take place was the Kronstadt Naval Base Revolt who in the 1905 revolution, stood by their Tsar, and showed extreme loyalty. However now in July 1917, the events that had taken place throughout the provisional government's reign had lead to them believing they had no option but to hold an armed demonstration with the clear aim of causing the collapse of the Provisional Government. At the height of their protests they managed to gather the support of 50,000 people who surrounded the Tairude Palace, the headquarters of the Soviet. However the mistake that was made was Lenin failed to truly expose the situation after no clear leadership was given. Despite this, it is clear that the events of the July Days heavily contributed to the collapse of the Provisional Government as for the first time it demonstrated the Kronstadt Officers who had previously been loyal to which government was in power had now realised it was time for a change and made their feelings noticed by demonstrating, this proved significant and it made ordinary Russians realise they would have the support of certain armed forces in any potential uprising against the Provisional Government and the Soviet.
A final reasons which also contributed to the downfall of the Government was the fact that they never had total power and had to share their power with the Petrograd Soviet who soon became the All-Russia Soviet and also claimed the right it issue laws for Russia. The most famous law they issued was the 'Order No.1' which undermined the authority of the military officers, stating that the military orders of the provisional government should be only followed if agreed with by the Soviet. Therefore if ever the Provisional Government believed they had to react the demonstrations with military actions, the power was out of their hands and it was down to the soviet to agree with any military actions. Leaving the government extremely vulnerable to any potential revolution, which of course did take place in just October of the same year where the Bolsheviks proved triumphant.
To conclude I believe that although Kerensky's mistakes were instrumental in the downfall of the Provisional Government there is no doubt that all the factors are inextricably linked and all occurred due to a chain reaction, started by the issue of having to share power with the Petrograd Soviet. Once again the factors of Lenin returning and the failure of the June Offensive were also to blame, however I believe there is no one isolated reason as to why the Provisional Government collapsed in October 1917.…...

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