Count Witte and the Tsarist Government in the 1905 Revolution

Count Witte and the Tsarist Government in the 1905 Revolution

Count Witte and the Tsarist Government in the 1905 Revolution

Count Witte and the Tsarist Government in the 1905 Revolution

Excerpt

The origins and motives of a scholarly study are not always pertinent to its concept and theme, but in this case they are. Moreover, a joint study is quite rare in American historical scholarship, and a word explaining how our collaboration came about is needed.

In the course of teaching a seminar on modem Russia from 1894 to 1921 at Indiana University during the early 1960's coauthor Thompson became interested in two comparative aspects of the revolutions of 1905 and 1917: the differing roles of the rankand-file members of the armed forces (basically loyal and revolutionary, respectively) and the difficulties faced by the tsarist government in 1905 and the Provisional Government in 1917. As a beginning, therefore, to what was originally planned as a brief comparative interpretation of the two revolutions (within the framework of the comparative study of modern social revolutions in general) Thompson began in 1961-62 to investigate the roles of the army and navy and of the government as a whole in the Russian revolution of 1905. It soon turned out, however, that little basic research on these topics had been done by Western scholars. As a consequence, Thompson was led into thorough study of these questions based on primary sources and on what little work on them Russian and Soviet scholars had completed. In the spring of 1964 Thompson spent six months in the Soviet Union as a research scholar in the academic exchange between the American Council of Learned Societies and the U.S.S.R. Academy of Science (Institute of History), and was able to gather material from the Soviet archives with almost complete cooperation from the Soviet side.

He soon discovered that the answer to the first question that had interested him--the role of the armed forces--was compara-

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