*** World War I -- home front

World War I: Russian Home Front

Russian home front
Figure 1.--Russia was not prepared for a modern war and did not have the industry to properly equip its soldiers. They suffered huge casualties when it trued to use its large army to overwheam the Germans. They also terribly mismanaged the home front and serious food shortages developed after only the first year of War. Russia would be first country to crack, in large measure because of desperation both at the front and on the home font.

Russia was the most deficent country in utilizing its resources. Russia's industry was still developing, but rapidly growing when the War broke out. It proved incapable of properly arming the Russian soldier. The Tsarist Army mobilized much faster than the Geremans anticipated. The Germans had to pull vorces from their Western offensive. This would be a major factor in Faance stopping the German offensive on the Marne (1914). Tsarist Russia was a vast Empire with huge human and natural resources. Russia was in no way to fight a modern war. 【Rogger】 The Russian Army was pootly led. As in previous wars, Russian commanders relied heavily on mass attacks. Only the modern German industry provided weapons that could obliterate mass attacks. he Russian industrial sector was rapidly growing, but still small in comparison to that of the Germans. And World War I was industrial war. Government finances were especiall weak. Even more poorly managed was agricultural production. The rural areas could feed themslves, but Russian agricultural production was inefficent and labor intensive. With agricultural worker conscripted, productiion fell, making it difficult to producve the food need in Russian cities. Large-scale conscription led to a reductionm of the rural work force and a resulting substantial decline in agricultural production. 【Gatrell】 There were some private effots to address the growing problems. The most imprtant effort was the Union of Zemstvos. They focused on food distribution. Theyn also set up hospitals and refugee centers stations. 【Fallows】 The Imperial German Navy established control of the Baltic Sea and with the Ottomans gthe Black Sea. This made it impossible for the Allies to provide support for the Tsarist forces and Russian people. Even after the first year of the War, the impact of casualties abnd food shortahes was demoralizing the public. Food and fuel supplies grew increasingly hard to obtrain. Battlefiekld casualties mounted. Inflation became an increasinly serious problem, espcially for the common people. Poorly paid factory workers stahged strike which were illegal. In the country side, the peasantry began to see the opportunity not only land reforms, nut evebntualy the ability tio seize their land. There was even dusent among the elite, any of whom were outraged over a semiliterate monk, Grigory Rasputin, claiming mystic powers managed gained influence over the Tsarinina. Tsarists officilas were not accostomed to consider the impact of their policies on the public, espcially the common people. It was Russia not Austria-Hungary that was the first country to crack. The food shortages and huge military casuaties turned the public against the war. There were even huge losses in battles thev Russioans won. Tsarist bureaucratic ineptitude and lack of concern for the vast working class turned both the urban and rural public against the Tsar. The result was food riots in the cities which were a major factor in the the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. Strikes increased and grew in strength. The Russian Army's officer corps was becoming demoralized abd began loosing control of their men. The Russian Arny could simply not match the powerful and well-armed German Army. The Russians did better against the Austrians, but still suffered horific casualties. The Tsar assumed personal command of the Army, but this made no dufference.


Fallows, Thomas. "Politics and the war effort in Russia: The Union of Zemstvos and the organization of the food supply, 1914–1916," Slavic Review Vol. 37, No. (1978), pp. 70–90.

Gatrell, Peter. "Poor Russia, poor show: Mobilising a backward economy for war, 1914–1917," in Broadberry and Harrison, eds. The Economics of World War I (2005) Ch. 8.

Purseigle, Pierre. "A wave on to our shores: The exile and resettlement of refugees from the Western Front, 1914-1918", Contemporary European History vol. 16, no. 4, (2007), pp. 427-44. (p. 441).

Rogger, Hans. "Russia in 1914," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 1, No. 4 (1966), pp. 95–119.


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Created: 4:19 AM 9/25/2023
Last updated: 4:19 AM 9/25/2023