Back to
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Welcome Screen

The Eastern Front: Revolution

Emperor Nicholas II holds an icon over Russian troops departing for the Eastern Front in 1914

By 1917, Russia had suffered horrific losses, complicated by economic turmoil, iniquities in sharing the rigors of war, and an increasingly isolated and estranged Tsar Nicholas II. Strikes and riots broke out in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), followed by a mutiny of troops sent to suppress them.

The Tsar was forced to abdicate, and a Provisional Government established itself. Initially the Provisional Government was liberal, broadly based and committed to continue the war. In November 1917 a second revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, overthrew the Provisional Government and inaugurated militant communist rule. Anticipating imminent world revolution, the Bolsheviks paid a high price for peace with Germany with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, giving up Finland, the Baltic States, Poland and the Ukraine. The Germans occupied all but Finland, and exploited these territories to support their economy until forced out by the Armistice of November 11, 1918.

Signing of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, c. December 15, 1917.