History has always been written by winners. You can question it, rephrase it, but there is no moving around this simple fact. However, there were always some considerable differences in presenting the winners. Be it the Roman Emperors or be it the modern politician, the person writing the winning history also brought their own assumptions to it. Every leader who was instrumental in shaping history was presented to us in many different ways. Their lifestyle, beliefs, and decision-making approach were up to the imagination of the writers. So, even the history of winners, it is always, who is writing the history?
Last week, I watched a Netflix documentary “Russian Revolution”. I provided a brief summary of the fall of a 300 years old monarchy. The history was clear on what happened but the narrative build in this documentary left some unanswered questions. Being a good reader of Soviet history, I found some facts presented in the documentary to be far from conclusion. Some more information could have made it more clear.
The documentary starts with a nation that this entire revolution was a fight between “Romanov” and “Ulyanov” families. I failed to see how? Romanov was a royal family ruling Russia for around 300 years and another was a simple middle-class family. How such a comparison can be drawn? Documentary also failed to highlight the role of the extended Romanov family in the early 20th century uprisings. The family doctor “Rasputin” was a controversial figure but was he alone responsible for the uprising? What was the reaction of the public to the individual royal family members?
Role of the church
If my understanding is correct, the church was a very powerful institution in that era. The role of the church in the context of the events was not covered in this documentary. It made me curious about what role this powerful institution played during the revolution? A monarchy survived for 300 years with the blessings of the church authorities. If any Russian revolution has to succeed, it has to have some connection with the powerful church.
Rise of Vladimir Lenin
This is the most controversial portion of this entire documentary. The Russian revolution is nothing without Vladimir Lenin but his role was not highlighted as significantly as I hoped. For the majority of the earlier stages during the revolution, Vladimir Lenin was not present in Russia. He came only at the later stage from Switzerland but he united the people for the great cause. This documentary was totally silent on what Vladimir Lenin was doing during his exile in Switzerland? His personal account was given a miss. Despite living in exile, how he became so much popular among the masses?
When a country is in turmoil, any powerful neighbor would like to take advantage of the situation. This did not happen during the time of the Russian Revolution. All the great powers/neighbors were silently watching as events were unfolding in Russia. Neither Germany nor Japan tried to take advantage of this fragile situation in Russia. Why? What were the reasons?
The Russian revolution is one of the least talked about historical events of the 20th century. This was an event that brought socialism to the forefront and created the first communist state in the world. This brought me to the same question. Who are the winners? How they are called winners? This dynamic kept on changing year after year, centuries after centuries. The parameters to define winners have changed with time though the basic notion of winning & losing remains the same. Nevertheless, it was a good documentary. If you are a history buff, you must not miss it.