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Joseph Stalin

By Stephanie L. McKinney, PhD, Contributing Writer

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Stalin and the 1917 Russian Revolution
Picture of Stalin and Lenin addressing a crowd during the Russian Revolution.

Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin address the proletariat during the Russian Revolution.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Stalin and Lenin Return to Russia

Stalin missed much of the activity leading up to the Russian Revolution in 1917 because he was exiled to Siberia from 1913 to 1917.

Upon his release in March of 1917, Stalin resumed his role as a Bolshevik leader. By the time he was reunited with Lenin, who also returned to Russia a few weeks after Stalin, Czar Nicholas II had already abdicated as part of the February Russian Revolution. With the czar deposed, the Provisional Government was in charge.

The October 1917 Russian Revolution

Lenin and Stalin, however, wanted to topple the Provisional Government and install a Communist one, controlled by the Bolsheviks. Feeling that the country was ready for another revolution, Lenin and the Bolsheviks began a nearly bloodless coup on October 25, 1917. In just two days, the Bolsheviks had taken over Petrograd, the capital of Russia, and thus became the leaders of the country.

The Russian Civil War Begins

Not everyone was happy with the Bolsheviks ruling the country, thus Russia was thrust immediately into civil war as the Red Army (the Bolshevik forces) battled the White Army (made up of various anti-Bolshevik factions). The Russian Civil War lasted until 1921.
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