Even though Lenin returned to Russia only after the February Revolution in 1917, having been in exile since 1900, he nevertheless had an enormous influence and led the October Revolution. Few other émigré revolutionaries had Lenin's firmness and self-confidence, strength of vision and decisiveness for Russia's future. Lenin's great strength was an ability to organise the party — and much of this had to be done in secret before October 1917. Getting things done was Lenin's main quality and he got things done as a result of meticulous organisation.
In 1917, Russia, war-weary and desperate with cold and hunger, did away with tsarist rule. This revolution broke out spontaneously on 23rd February, 1917, without definite leadership and formal plans; it seemed that the Russian people had had enough of the existing system. Petrograd,1 the capital, became the focus of attention, and, on this date, people at the food queues started a demonstration. Many thousands of women textile workers who had come out of their factories — it was International Women's Day but largely as a protest against the acute shortages of bread — joined the demonstrators. Mobs marched through the streets, shouting slogans
1. Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27 (Julian calendar) 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, it was the Imperial capital of Russia. In 1914 Saint Petersburg was named Petrograd and in 1918, the capital shifted to Moscow. Petrograd was named Leningrad in 1924. Since 1991, it is again Saint Petersburg.