On the one hand, история teaches us that in the year 1917 there was a social revolution in the Russian Empire, caused by the plight of the workers and peasants. On the other hand, historians claim that the Russian empire of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries demonstrated phenomenal economic growth rates — only the volume of industrial production in the country increased sevenfold during this period. All the results of the Stalin five-year plans were compared not with anything, but with the level of 1913 of the year.
The discrepancy between these two statements, time after time, makes researchers look for a conspiratorial background of the revolutionary events that have turned our history. Well, this is their right - but a completely exhaustive explanation can be obtained bypassing the role of palace plots, spies and agents of foreign influence.
It is not the first year that a demotivator has been walking through social networks - a photograph of the battleship Sevastopol with the caption: “It’s finally established what the plow of Emperor Nicholas II looked like with which Stalin adopted Russia.
And here is another sample of network creativity: a collage of photos of the Russo-Balt car, the Beluga submarine of the Som type, and the Sopvich biplane squadron of the First World War with the insignia of the Russian Empire. Caption under the photo: “Who said“ backward agrarian country ”?”.
The same tone is maintained by many publicists and amateur historians. “In 1913,” they write, “a new page in history has opened aviation, the world's first four-engine aircraft took off. Its creator was the Russian designer I. I. Sikorsky ... In 1913, the gunsmith V. G. Fedorov began testing an automatic rifle. The development of this idea during the First World War was the famous Fedorov assault rifle. ”
Note - the number of 1913 in such articles, reports and infographics is more common than any other. The same was in the days of the USSR.
Indeed, the government of the Russian Empire in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries actively used measures to stimulate the economy, develop production and product markets, protect domestic producers. Protectionist measures — right up to barrage-based customs tariffs — were a common policy of the Ministry of Finance. In foreign trade, the authorities adhered to the strategy of creating a positive trade balance, and general economic success made it possible to introduce gold circulation in the country in 1897.
For the development of large-scale industry, the empire widely attracted foreign investment. For 1861 – 1880, the share of Russian investments in production was 28%, foreign - 72%. From 1893 to 1903, up to 5,5 billion was invested in railway, industrial and urban construction, which is 25% more than in previous 30 years. In the Donbas and Krivoi Rog 17 operated new metallurgical plants, created with the participation of French, Belgian, as well as German and English capital. In the field of oil production (Baku fields), in addition to the “Russified” Nobel Brothers Association, the French banking house “The Rothschild Brothers” actively worked with 1886, here they collaborated with the British firms “Lane and MacAndrew”, “Samuel and Company” and others.
The main areas for the French-Belgian capital were metallurgy and coal industry in southern Russia, for the British - copper and gold mining, for the German ones - chemical and electrical industry, as well as heavy industry in Poland and the Baltic states. In total, from 1860 to 1900 a year, the volume of industrial output in the empire increased more than sevenfold. Russia confidently entered the top five most economically developed countries of the world.
Enumerate the unique achievements of pre-revolutionary Russia can be long. And all this will be true. However, there are numerous but.
The order for the famous Fedorov assault rifle (self-loading rifle) was actually placed during the First World War, but it was not possible to adjust its serial production at the enterprises due to the low production culture. During the tests in the army in 1916, according to the designer himself, the sample did not give good results due to manufacturing flaws and design complexity, which Fedorov himself wrote about.
Record planes were built in the Russian Empire, but there was simply no own aviation engine building in the country before 1915. The four-engine "Ilya Muromets" of Sikorsky, unique for its time, was equipped with 130-powerful Mercedes engines, and its predecessor, the four-engined record-breaking Russian Vityaz, with German 100-powerful engines made by Argus Motoren.
The Sopwich biplanes were also not Russian-made cars: the Sopwith Aviation Company is a British company. And, last but not least, this is a serial machine, and not created for setting records. It was used in the French and Russian Air Forces, and during the First World War - and in the Air Forces of other countries.
The Russian-Baltic railcar plant in Riga produced quite modern cars of its time, you can't argue with that. The Russian Empire also developed submarines, such as the Dolphin and the Killer Whale. But the type of "Som", which the network authors do not hesitate to illustrate their stories about the industrial successes of Nicholas II, was an American project of the Holland company.
As for the metaphorical “plow”, indeed, in 1909 four Russian dreadnoughts — battleships of the Sevastopol type — were laid down (and launched in 1911) at the shipyards of St. Petersburg. In the years 1911-1917 for the Black Sea fleet three more battleships of somewhat lightweight construction were built - such as the "Empress Maria". But everything is relative. The British "Dreadnought", having completed the naval revolution and spawned a "dreadnought race", was laid down in 1905 and launched in 1906. From 1906 to 1909, another seven dreadnought vessels were laid at the shipyards of England. In 1909, another revolution in naval affairs took place - the battleship “Orion” was laid, which gave the name to the series of ships of the same name (three more were laid down in 1910).
Thus began the era of the super-dreadnoughts, to which the Russian battleships like "Sevastopol" and "Empress Maria" were late.
It's thick, it's empty
To show how Russia has changed in the 100 years preceding the revolution, we note that in 1817, the construction of the St. Petersburg-Moscow highway was completed in 1833 — the second most heavily graded road in the empire. In 1820, a regular stage message was opened between the two capitals - it took 4,5 days to go. Over the 10 years, thousands of people were transported along this route by 33, three thousand a year - this was the scale of the passenger service between the country's largest cities.
The first Russian railway, Tsarskoye Selo, was opened in 1837, just 80 years before the Revolution. The second, connecting Petersburg and Moscow, is in 1851 year. By the 80-th years of the XIX century, the length of railways in Russia reached 20 thousand. Km. From 1893 to 1902, another 27 thousand km of railways came into effect. For comparison, in the United States, 1869, thousands of km of steam railways, was built by an average of 85, thousands of kilometers per year, by 2.
Before the widespread development of rail service in the empire, there was no market covering the whole country — it was fragmented into several parts which were little connected with each other. The grain trade is most indicative in this sense: in the first half of the 19th century, experts distinguish at least three regional market conditions with their internal pricing - this is the Volga market, which developed along the main waterway of the country, Central Black Earth and Black Sea-Ural. In practice, this meant the following.
“In 1843, the cost of a quarter rye 1 (around 200 kg) in Estonia rose, due to crop failure, to 7 rubles. At the same time, in the Chernigov, Kiev, Poltava, and Kharkov gubernia provinces the kul flour (144 kg) was sold at 1 rubles. 20 cop It was practically impossible to deliver bread from this fertile region to the starving provinces, and the country, which exported grain abroad through the ports of the Black and Azov Seas, simultaneously had to import it through the Baltic Sea. ”
Similarly, the situation developed two years later - in the Pskov province the price of a quarter of rye increased to 10 rubles, and in Orel and Mtsensk it did not go beyond a half ruble. “Such a difference in prices did not exist in any developed country in the world,” historians say.
“Everyone knows,” wrote the economist, State Council member L.V. Tengoborsky in this connection, “that by the absence of good means of communication it often happens that many of our provinces suffer from hunger and epidemic diseases ... whereas in other provinces such an excess bread that they have nowhere to sell it. " Only large-scale railway construction allowed the country to create a single market for food and industrial goods - by the 80-th years of the XIX century. But the transport crisis in 1914 – 1916 once again threw Russia into the past, disintegrating the single economic space into many areas that were badly connected with each other, provoking hunger in some places and excess bread in others.
Between these events - the creation of a single market and its collapse during the war - the entire 30 years passed.
It makes no sense to argue that the growth rates of the empire’s economy were truly impressive. But as of the textbook 1913, according to the main economic indicators (coal mining, iron and steel production, engineering output, railway length), Russia was inferior to the United States, Germany, Great Britain and France, ahead of Italy, Spain and Japan. That is, closed the top five leaders of economic development.
At the same time, the high growth rates of that period are explained by the effect of a low start. An indicator such as "growth rates of the economy" is generally extremely crafty. At the beginning of the 21st century, Iraq showed a phenomenal pace - which is not surprising, because the United States democratically bombed it into the Stone Age. Against the background of complete disruption, the launch of even one oil well immediately gave economic growth, measured in tens of percent. But this did not abolish the devastation in everything else.
Black days of the empire
The story about the rapid economic development of Russia at the turn of the XIX – XX centuries gives many people the impression of a linear upward growth. But this is a profound error - the country developed extremely unevenly in this period. Historians single out the 1857, 1866 – 1867, 1869, 1873 – 1875, 1881 – 1883 crises, but the most devastating was the financial crisis of 1898 – 1903, which grew into an economic and economic catastrophe.
The nature of this crisis was directly related to the large-scale attraction of foreign capital to Russia. Commercial banks, laden with money going to the empire, readily credited the stock exchange game, issuing loans on the security of securities. But in the year 1898 everywhere in the West due to its own crisis, interest rates were raised. Western players began to withdraw their capital from Russia and dump Russian securities.
In August, 1899 sounded like a bolt from the blue news on the bankruptcy of the two largest entrepreneurs, owners of many banks and companies - Mamontov and von Derviz. Panic started on the stock exchange. September 23 went down in history as the “black day of the Petersburg Stock Exchange”.
This panic and started a protracted financial crisis. Its scale can be presented from such data: from 1899 to 1902, the stock price of the South-Eastern Railway fell by 52,6%, the Russian-Baltic Carriage Works - by 63,4%, Putilovsky Plant - by 67,1%. The fall in stocks meant a decrease in the capitalization of enterprises, thus the financial crisis turned into an industrial one.
Newspapers wrote: “Payments are suspended, trading establishments are stopped, factories and factories are being reduced or they are directly closing work.” According to far from complete data, almost 1903 thousands of workers were laid off from the iron mines and ferrous metallurgy enterprises by the year 100. In the mining industry in 1900 – 1903, 3088 factories and plants were closed, 112,4 thousand people were laid off. So massive unemployment came to the empire.
“In Nikolaev,” historians point out, “there were 2 thousand of laid-off factory workers, in the Yekaterinoslav province - 10 thousand, in Yuzovka - 15 thousand.” “The factories,” the press reported, “with a few exceptions, stopped working; many workers roam around the city looking for work or bread. ”
In this light, the nature of the First Russian Revolution 1905 of the year becomes much clearer. Understanding the nature of the February revolution of 1917, when the workers demanded bread on the streets, although there was no famine in the country, is also not difficult.
Many authors rightly point out that even at the height of the grain crisis in Petrograd in February 1917, there were enough other products in the stores, from fish to sausages. But the fact is that the main food of workers in the cities of the empire was precisely bread. According to budget surveys of St. Petersburg textile workers in 1908, per consumer in their families with an annual income of about 200 rubles (per adult) butter consumed 21 pound, meat - 107 pounds, herring - 163 pieces, milk - 57 bottles, and bread - 927 pounds per year.
Similar surveys of workers from Tula in 1916 gave the following results: milk and butter consumed 196,7 pounds per year, fish - 11 pounds, meat - 76,4 pounds, vegetables - 792 pounds, bread - 709 pounds, of which white, wheat - only 297,1 pounds .
During the First World War, as a result of the transport crisis, the price of bread in European Russia tripled. This was a terrible blow to the family budgets of a huge mass of the population.
The government of the Russian Empire did not make any attempts to ration the food supply, to adjust the distribution of the bread that became scarce, to introduce a rationing system of distribution. In some places, local governments introduced their cards on their own initiative, in each case, their own, but they did not have the capacity to control the market as a whole, so they did not go further trying to somehow distribute the reserves in the cities.
In February, 1917, due to the worsening crisis of the railway communication, bread ended in the capital of the empire, in Petrograd. Further well known.