Practice Exam Questions
This topic is a Paper 2, Section A 'Historical Investigation'. Paper 2 lasts 1 hour 30 minutes in duration which leaves about 45 minutes per topic. Students have to answer questions on two topics, one from Section A and one from Section B. As this unit is a historical investigation, it will be assessed in the exam through three source based questions which will require good source analysis and evaluation skills as well as a detailed knowledge of the period:
Question A - 3 marks
Question B - 7 marks
Question C - 15 marks
Question (a) - will focus on source comprehension and interpretation skills and is worth three marks. You will be expected to make one or more supported inferences from a source of evidence:
1. What can you learn from Source A about Russia in 1921? (2015)
2. What can you learn from Source A about the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War? (2014)
3. What can you learn from Source A about Russia in the First World War? (2013)
4. What can you learn from Source A about the storming of the Winter Palace? (2012)
5. What can you learn from Source A about the Russian armed forces by the end of 1916? (2011)
Question (b) - will focus on your corroboration skills and how well you can cross-reference two sources in order to support or challenge a statement. It is worth seven marks:
1. How far does Source C support the evidence of Source B about the effects of War Communism? Explain your answer. (2015)
"Whole families were herded into tents. Starving old men with very thin bodies looked at us with deathly stares. Women and children were also undernourished and unable to move, talk or play. They live on the tiny remains of last year’s harvest and whatever else they can find including acorns, tree bark, insects and even animal droppings. All the time they grow thinner and thinner. Some of them die and the rest get ready to follow them."
Source B: From an account by an English visitor to Russia during the period of War Communism. She is describing the suffering of peasant refugees in 1921.
"Petrograd was almost in ruins, as if a hurricane had swept over it. The streets were dirty and deserted. All life had gone from them. The people walked about like living corpses. The shortage of food and fuel was slowly weakening the city. Grim death was clutching at its heart. Very thin men, women and children suffering from frostbite were everywhere, searching for a piece of bread to eat or a stick of wood to burn."
Source C: From My Disillusionment in Russia, written by an American woman in 1923. She is describing the situation in Petrograd in 1920 during the period of War Communism.
2. How far does Source C support the evidence of Source B about the Whites during the Russian Civil War? Explain your answer. (2014)
"The disaster of the Whites was the result of several major mistakes: cruelty and terror in areas under their control where they committed numerous atrocities; their failure to have the intelligence and courage to carry out reform in the territories they had seized from the Bolsheviks; restoring control of these areas to privileged groups such as generals, senior clergy and landlords."
Source B: From Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge, published in 1945.
"We had to remove any opposition in areas under our control. Mounted White soldiers entered the village, met the Bolshevik committee and put the members of the committee to death. After the executions, the houses of the committee members were burned and the male population under 45 were whipped. Then the population was ordered to deliver for the soldiers, without payment, bread and the best cattle, horses, pigs and fowl."
Source C: From the diary in May 1919 of a White commander during the Russian Civil War.
3. How far does Source C support the evidence of Source B about the influence of Rasputin? Explain your answer. (2013)
"I said to the Tsar - 'This cannot continue much longer. No one opens your eyes to the true role which Rasputin is playing. His presence in Your Majesty's Court undermines confidence in your Supreme Power and may have an evil effect.' My report did some good - Rasputin was sent away to Tobolsk, but a few days later, on the demand of the Tsarina, this order was cancelled."
Source B: From a statement made by Rodzianko, a member of the duma, March 1916.
"My dear, I heard that horrid Rodzianko thinks that Rasputin is a bad influence. Rodzianko wants the duma to be called. Oh please don't allow this. The duma wants to discuss things which are not its business and this will bring more discontent. Listen to our friend Rasputin, God sent him to us. We must pay attention to what Rasputin says. Forgive me, but I don't like the choice of the Minister for War, Polivanov. He is the enemy of our friend Rasputin."
Source C: From a letter from Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas II, who was at the Eastern Front, March 1916.
4. How far does Source C support the evidence of Source B about the Bolshevik seizure of power? Explain your answer. (2012)
"Comrade Trotsky's plans are in place. The situation is extremely critical. Delaying the uprising now will mean death. Tonight we must, at all costs, arrest the Ministers and disarm the military cadets. We must not wait! We may lose everything! The government is on the edge of collapse. We must deal it the death blow at any cost."
Source B: From a letter by Lenin sent to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, on the day before the Bolshevik Revolution.
"All the work put into the organisation of the revolution was conducted under the immediate leadership of Trotsky, the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. It is possible to state that the success of the Bolshevik takeover, organised by the Military Revolutionary Committee, was due mainly to the planning of Comrade Trotsky."
Source C: From an article by Stalin in a Bolshevik newspaper, November 1917.
5. How far does Source C support the evidence of Source B about the situation in Petrograd in February 1917? Explain your answer. (2011)
"This is a hooligan element. Young people run about and shout that there is no bread simply to create excitement. Workers are preventing others from working. If the weather were very cold they would all probably stay at home. But all this will pass and become calm, if only the duma will behave itself."
Source B: From a letter sent by Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas II, 26 February 1917, explaining the growing unrest in Petrograd
"The situation is serious. The government is paralysed; the transportation system has broken down; the supply systems for food and fuel are completely disorganised. Discontent is on the increase. There is wild shooting in the streets and some of the troops are firing at each other. It is necessary that someone enjoying the confidence of the country should be given the job of forming a new government straight away. There can be no delay."
Source C: A message from the President of the duma to Tsar Nicholas II, 27 February 1917.
Question (c) - is an essay question and will focus on your ability to evaluate a historical claim by using evidence and your own knowledge. It is worth 15 marks.
1. 'The main cause of the introduction of the New Economic Policy was the suffering of the peasants.' Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view. (2015)
"In 1921, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy. Discontent with War Communism was at its height. The food shortages of 1920 led to a full-scale famine in 1921. In the countryside, the Red Army had to put down a number of full-scale rebellions by the peasants. In the cities, the severe winter of 1920-21 brought repeated strikes especially after the bread ration was reduced by one third. The crisis worsened when discontent in Petrograd spread to the sailors at the Kronstadt naval base."
Source D: From a history of Russia, published in 2009.
2. 'The main cause of the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War was the mistakes of the Whites'. Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view. (2014)
"The Red Army was united and disciplined and it was brilliantly led by Trotsky. The Bolsheviks controlled the internal lines of communication. This enabled the Red Army to move troops quickly and effectively by rail. The Whites, in contrast, were not united. They were made up of many different groups with different aims. They were also widely spread out so they were unable to co-ordinate their campaigns against the Reds. The Whites had limited support from the population, especially the peasants."
Source D: From a history of Russia, published in 2009.
3. 'The main cause of discontent in Russia in 1916 was the influence of Rasputin.' Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view. (2013)
"By the end of 1916, there was widespread discontent in Russia. This was due to military defeats, food and fuel shortages and inflation. Even when fuel and food were available they frequently failed to reach the people in towns and cities because of Russia's inadequate transport system. The government of Russia was in chaos due to the influence of Rasputin over Tsarina Alexandra."
Source D: From a history of Russia, published in 2007.
4. 'The main reason for the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 was the leadership of Lenin.' Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view. (2012)
"The Provisional Government was weak from the very start. It had to share power with the Petrograd Soviet and made the mistake of continuing Russia's involvement in the war. Trotsky planned and organised the revolution. Lenin also played an important role. He encouraged support for the Bolsheviks with his April Thesis and he decided the timing of the Bolshevik takeover."
Source D: From a history of Russia, published in 1996.
5. 'The main reason for the outbreak of the February Revolution was the food shortages in Petrograd.' Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view. (2011)
"It had been hoped that the murder of Rasputin in December 1916 would bring some stability to the running of the country. It did not. The winter weather was especially severe in December 1916 and January 1917. This meant that food supplies to cities and towns were affected. Prices rose and the rationing of food supplies only led to further discontent. In Petrograd, there were strikes and people began to demand food."
Source D: From a modern history of Russia, published in 2006.