A map of the 1905-07 revolution – a precursor to the 1917 revolutions, which gave the world the workers’ councils, a staple of many revolutionary upheavals ever since. Work in progress.
The revolution of 1905-07 rocked the Russian Empire and brought forth a new form of organisation. Growing out of the strike movement, workers’ councils, or soviets, became a way of organising and concentrating the class struggle. In some areas, like St. Petersburg, they grew in size and influence to challenge the state over control of entire cities and towns – within them, they carried the germ of a new social order. The revolution was soon crushed, but the memory of the soviets endured, only to return even stronger in 1917.
The map below documents the location of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils that sprung up in 1905. It also charts a number of independent republics, many of which had a socialist character, although they varied in their class content and radicalism. The map has also been expanded with locations of major uprisings and mass strikes, but it's not a complete record.
Open the menu in the top left corner to see the different categories (untick to hide a category). • All dates are New Style. • Zoom in and click on an individual location to find out more. • May take a moment to load.
“…the bloodbath in St. Petersburg called forth gigantic mass strikes and a general strike in the month of January and February in all the industrial centres and towns in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, the Baltic Provinces, the Caucasus, Siberia, from north to south and east to west. [...] Throughout the whole of the spring of 1905 and into the middle of the summer there fermented throughout the whole of the immense empire an uninterrupted economic strike of almost the entire proletariat against capital – a struggle which caught, on the one hand, all the petty bourgeois and liberal professions (commercial employees, technicians, actors and members of artistic professions), and on the other hand, penetrated to the domestic servants, the minor police officials and even to the stratum of the lumpenproletariat, and simultaneously surged from the towns to the country districts and even knocked at the iron gates of the military barracks.” Rosa Luxemburg – The Mass Strike (1906)
“The Soviet came into being as a response to an objective need – a need born of the course of events. It was an organisation which was authoritative and yet had no traditions; which could immediately involve a scattered mass of hundreds of thousands of people while having virtually no organisational machinery; which united the revolutionary currents within the proletariat; which was capable of initiative and spontaneous self-control – and most important of all, which could be brought out from underground within twenty-four hours.” Leon Trotsky – 1905 (1907)
“The example given by the workers of the capital in January 1905, was followed by workers of several other cities. Workers' Soviets were formed here and there. Nevertheless, at that time their existence was temporary: they were quickly spotted and suppressed by local authorities. […] The St. Petersburg Soviet was finally suppressed at the end of 1905. The Tsarist government got back on its feet, "liquidated" the last vestiges of the revolutionary movement of 1905, arrested Trotsky as well as hundreds of revolutionaries, and destroyed all the political organisations of the left. The Soviet of St. Petersburg (which became Petrograd) reappeared at the time of the decisive revolution of February-March 1917, when Soviets were formed in all the cities and major regions of the country.” Voline – The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 (1947)