The Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg (later Leningrad), seat of the Provisional Government which had toppled Tsar Nicolas II in March that year (February in the Julian calendar) but had failed to end the slaughter of the First World War or feed a hungry people.
The Soviet revolution inspired those of China, Cuba, Vietnam and many other nations over the next eight decades. After defeating Nazi Germany in the Second World War the Soviet Union supported the great wave of colonial liberation struggles, including that of South Africa against the apartheid regime.
The history of the Russian Revolution and its leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is interwoven with that of Britain from the turn of the 20th century until the 1920s.
The Marx Memorial Library, which opened in 1933, occupies the same building where the exiled Lenin had his office from 1902 to 1903, publishing 17 editions of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) newspaper Iskra (Spark) from there.
The fateful 2nd Congress of the RSDLP, where the split between Lenin’s Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks occurred, was held on Tottenham Court Road in 1903 after Belgian police forced delegates to leave Brussels, the original venue.
When Britain joined France, the USA, Japan and ten other countries in their invasion of the young Soviet Union – to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in its cradle” as future prime minister Winston Churchill put it – British dockworkers refused to load arms onto ships bound for the front.
It was Lenin who urged British socialists to found the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920 (succeeded by the Communist Party of Britain) and publish a newspaper, which was launched in 1930 as the Daily Worker, still published today as the Morning Star.
Historians, trade unionists and socialists will gather on Monday 7 November at London’s historic Marx Memorial Library (MML) to launch a year of activities commemorating the centenary of the Russian Revolution, an event that changed history irrevocably.
The Russian Revolution Centenary Committee (RRCC) invites the media and all those whose interest in socialism has been reignited by recent events to attend.
The year of events across Britain – including meetings, lectures, film showings, choral performances, theatre plays and exhibitions – will culminate in a conference at the Trade Union Congress’ (TUC) 500-seat Congress House in London’s West End on 4th November 2017.
Next year’s centenary conference will focus on the historical significance of the revolution, its impact on the British labour movement and around the world, the important role of the arts in the Soviet Union and the continued relevance of the revolution to contemporary society.
It will address how the revolution sparked workers’ uprisings in Germany and Hungary in its aftermath, led to the formation of the Third International and aided the movements for colonial freedom and other communist revolutions in countries such as China, Cuba and Vietnam.
Speakers at the 7th November 2016 launch include Cuban Ambassador to the United Kingdom Teresita de Jesus Vicente Sotolongo, a representative from rail union ASLEF and Professor Mary Davis, trustee of the MML.
Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School, 37a Clerkenwell Green, Marx Memorial Library, London, EC1R 0DU, United Kingdom
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