In February 1917, in the midst of the First World War, spontaneous demonstrations broke out in Petrograd (St. Petersburg, renamed at the start of the war to sound more Russian). A combination of workers, women, and soldiers took to the streets to protest the lack of bread in the capital. Within a week, the revolt had grown, and the tsar, Nicholas II, under pressure from Russia's legislative body, the
Duma, abdicated his throne. Three hundred years of Romanov rule had ended suddenly and surprisingly. Most Russians were jubilant at the news, as this poem by a private in the infantry reserves indicates.|
On the Old Tsarist Regime
For Russia, for freedom,
For the people, Hurrah!
No longer shall our blood be drained by the tsar above.
Freedom is ours now, we must give it our love!
The whole royal house into treason did turn,
Freedom is ours now, at the harness they'll learn . . .
Our tsar, the traitor, drank the blood from our veins,
And kept Russian freedom locked up in chains . . .
The court of the tsar with whoring was loose,
The Russian tsaritsa made the tsar all confused . . .
The Russian tsaritsa our freedom would seize . . .
To the Germans accursed our freedom would cede . . .
For Russian freedom and this, the tsar's treason,
Russia's crown from the tsar was taken with reason . . .
That traitor, our tsar, evil-doer and more
Did not have the sense to drive out all the whores . . .
In the court of the tsar, the beloved of all,
Was Grishka Rasputin, a filthy soul . . .
Grishka Rasputin disturbed the tsar's house,
While feasting his eyes on him was the tsar's spouse . . .
To Russia they would prove their power and mettle,
And to the Germans surrender Petrograd the capital . . .
At last to this matter we are putting an end,
The tsar and Rasputin took counsel as friends . . .
There was treason afoot throughout the tsar's court,
while blood spilled in streams, for Russia's tsar we had fought . . .
The tsar like a father his nation should keep,
but his nation he treated instead like sheep . . .
We have no tsar, brothers, and do not forget,
There is no one now to drink what blood we have left . . .
Our blood is ever growing, we will stand proud and tall,
Breathing free in this new life, giving our all . . .
No more will our flesh be torn or blood drained from our veins,
Destroy now we must the old power, the old reign . . .
The sun now in Russia burns so brightly, it shines,
And Russia blooms vivid, a flower so fine . . .
Rejoicing, the sun sits in our sky in the clouds,
At our feet the old government lies covered in shrouds . . .
The power of old goes back to rack and to ruin,
While Russia sings loudly its dear freedom tune . . .
The power of yore, so proud and so old,
Collapsed in a moment and died, stone cold . . .
The world raised its prayers for the tsar, but now,
Not even a single person would bow . . .
For the trap opened, gaping, all of a sudden,
And into it the tsar's power has tumbled . . .
Citizens free, for our rights today,
Let us shout out the people's thunderous Hurray . . .