Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution 1917: Dream or Disaster?

November 1917: the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia; the Tsar is assassinated; a Marxist government under Lenin takes control; a bloody civil war breaks out. At first, little was made of these communist reactionaries by ordinary Russians. Yet, in hindsight, the events of Autumn 1917 changed the course of history for ever. The Soviet Union emerged as a superpower and the conflict between communism and capitalism dominated the second half of the twentieth century.

At Hampton Court House we are marking 100 years since the Russian Revolution with a cross-curricular week of special lessons, assemblies and lectures led by the humanities department, with contributions from our art, English, modern languages and Form Seven departments.

Children of all ages across the school will be studying the Russian Revolution and why it is so important.

A week of reflections

Years 6, 8 and 9 will lead assemblies that will explain the history of the Russian Revolution, including the events that led to it such as the failed 1905 revolution, the abdication of the Tsar and Lenin’s arrival into St Petersburg.

The children will learn about important figures from the Revolution’s history such as Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. Preparations for the week have included lessons explaining political terms like communism, soviet, Bolsheviks and Menshevik, proletarian and bourgeoisie.

Cultural impact of the revolution

The Russian Revolution changed the course of political history, sowing the seeds of the Soviet superpower after the Second World War. However, its ripples were more keenly felt – certainly outside of Russia – in culture. Art, literature and music were all never the same again.

Pupils in Years 7 and 8 have explored propaganda images in their art lessons, while all of the Middle and Upper Years have discovered artists like Malevich, Rodchenko and Petrov-Vodkin. The English author George Orwell was so moved by the Russian Revolution that he dramatised its internicine purges with his iconic novel Animal Farm. On Tuesday 14 November, our own Guy Holloway will deliver an evening lecture introducing the music of Revolutionary composer Shostakovich, who had an uneasy relationship with his political masters in Moscow.

Picture credits
The Bolshevik (1920) by Boris Kustodiev
Lenin Lived, Lenin Lives and Lenin Will Live Forever! (1967) propaganda poster by Mayakovsky
Fantasy (1925) by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin