During World War I the Russians had to pull out because of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Their participation in World War I was the final straw; however there were many problems that were slowly escalating through their history. During the 19th century Russia had problems like the Czars repressing the people through various methods. Some of these methods would be the use of secret police, unwarranted crackdowns, and questionable arrests. The Czars would censor liberal ideas and they would persecute non-Russian groups. The Russian Orthodox Church was bolstered during this time period, but the amount of time and money led to too much spending. Even though the Czars would do this, they would also do things to try to help the Russians. For example, they pulled back on censorship periodically. There was also a revising of law codes in Russia to become more modern. Russia was one of the last countries still practicing serfdom, which they ended at the turn of the century. They tried to help create self government and also help develop the Duma. The Duma was an elected body that was to help the Czar rule.
Russia's problems got worse at the turn of the century. In 1905 the Russians lost a humiliating war against the Japanese that started in 1904. The Russians lost land and pride by being defeated by such a small force from such a small country.
January 22, 1905 protestors marched in the streets of St. Petersburg. In a bad decision the Czar fled and the soldiers opened fire on a peaceful crowd. The aftermath of this act came in the form of country wide strike by workers and in October of 1905, the October Manifesto was created which developed the Duma.
Nicholas never cared to work with the Duma, when he agreed to its creation, it was more to appease than to build. Nicholas dissolved the Duma when it criticized the government. He appointed people that were of the same thought as him. He thought he had another puppet in Peter Stolpin as Prime Minister, but he became too progressive and he was assassinated in 1911.
Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra were quite delusional about the state of their country and also the pulse of the people. They believed that they were loved by their people. Another problem came in the form of Rasputin. The Mad Monk was special to Alexandra because he was able to help with their son's blood problems. Even though he was a religious man, Rasputin was a drinker and womanizer. People feared that he had the ear of the Czarina and the Czarina had the ear of the Czar.
At the onset of World War I, Russia was totally unprepared to fight. Russia sent soldiers with no guns or ammo to fight against the Germans. Soldiers were expected to take the guns and ammo off the dead to continue fighting. Transportation to the war was horrible and few supplies made it to the front. Russian soldiers were being shot, starving, and freezing. In 1915 Russia suffered over 2 million casualties. In 1916 Rasputin is killed, and in 1917 Czar Nicholas steps down and later his entire family is executed in 1918 so the Russian Revolution would not have to worry about a push for the throne.
After the victory over the Czar's government, provisional governments are set up all over Russia by the Duma. These governments were to be provisional or temporary. Revolutionary socialists created the soviets. Soviets are councils of workers and soldiers together. The provisional governments were working democratically until the Bolsheviks took charge. Bolsheviks were radical socialists.
The man behind the Russian Revolution was V.I. Lenin (1870-1924). His real last name was Ulyanov but he changed it because of the revolution. Lenin held an anti-government view for many years. It started to really to develop when his older brother was arrested and executed for 'plotting to kill the Czar.' In 1895 Lenin was arrested and sent to Siberia. When he was release he was exiled to Switzerland. In 1917 the Germans help sneak him back into the country to help weaken the Russian government.
In terms of history this time period in Russia/Soviet history is hard to follow depending which source you are looking at. The two revolutions of Russia are typically called the March and November Revolutions of 1917, however in Russia they are referred to as the February and October Revolutions. The reason for the difference is that the Russians were following the old calendar and they were 13 days behind the west in terms of the calendar year. Bolsheviks would call for, "Peace, Land, Bread." There were also red and white armies. The reds were the communists, and the whites were the counter revolutionaries. They White Army believed that the Reds were too extreme. The Reds would create secret police called the Cheka and killed people on suspicion and also occasionally fact. Also, all parts of industry and farming were given to the state to control. The whites lost because the reds were able to not let the white get control of any city.
By 1922 the communists united the majority of the Old Russian Empire and they became the USSR, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Hammer stands for the workers and the Sickle stands for the farmer. All people were considered equal the European Soviet and also the Asian Soviets. Voting rights were granted and an elected legislature was created. The NEP (New Economic Policy) allowed some capitalist ventures because people were tired of giving all their work to the government (grain, food, etc.). Peasants held onto land and freely sold their surplus. By 1928 Russian production were back to pre-World War I levels.