Saturday, March 11, 2017

The February Revolution

"Sic Transit Gloria" in Novy Satirikon, Petrograd (St. Petersburg, Russia), March, 1917
This March marks the 100th anniversary of the February Revolution in Russia. (Czarist Russia still adhered to the Julian calendar, which by 1917 had fallen 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar in use in much of Europe, European colonies, and the Americas. Ponder that while you're springing ahead one measly hour tonight.)

A series of workers' strikes and protests against food shortages beginning in early February grew in size, bringing industrial and commercial activity in the capital to a near complete standstill by March 10 (a.k.a. February 25). With much of his army tied up with the war in Europe, Tsar Nicholas II had only a residual force of green or injured soldiers available to quell the demonstrations, and many troops proved unable or unwilling to do so. Troops began to mutiny, and demonstrations grew into riots.
"The Sceptre" by Oscar Cesare in New York Evening Post, March 16, 1917
Attempting to return to Petrograd, Nicholas was arrested by revolutionaries on March 14 (March 1) and abdicated the throne on behalf of himself and his son Alexei the next day. Nicholas nominated his brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, as his successor; but Michael saw that the situation was hopeless and declined the crown.
"By Divine Right of the People" by Jones in Boston Journal, March 14, 1917
The center-left provisional government of the Russian Duma and the more radical Petrograd Soviet would spend the next eight months wrestling for power; but for now, it appeared to be a victory for democracy. Among American editorial cartoonists, there was near unanimous approval of the overthrow of the tsar.
"The New Boss of the House" by Wm. Hanny in St. Joseph (Mo,) News Press, March 15, 1917
If it could happen in Russia, C.F. Naughton wondered, where else could popular revolt throw off the shackles of their imperialist overlords?
"Even Russia Wins Liberty" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, March 17, 1917
John "Ding" Darling imagines that the Russian revolution might even inspire the German people to shake off their own monarchy. After all, "Czar/Tsar" and "Kaiser" derive from the same Latin root!
"Come Off That Fence" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 16, 1917
Judging from the cartoons allowed by the German censors, the German government wasn't terribly worried.
"The Czar's Plaything" in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, March 26, 1917
On the cover of Lustige Blätter a month later, the Russian revolutionaries look positively heroic:
"Die Hungerrevolution" (The Hunger Revolution) by Ernst Heilemann in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, April 23, 1917 

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