Socialists organised mass protest rallies in Petrograd (as Saint Petersburg was renamed after the outbreak of World War I in 1914) in February 1917. These protests took place on March 8 (February 23 according to the Russian calendar used at the time), International Women’s Day, rallying women workers to demand bread, peace, and liberty. But, as a contemporary police report stated, the women workers “got out of hand.”
They attracted the support of large numbers of male workers as well. The police proved unable to contain the growing and increasingly volatile protests. Soon 385,000 workers were on strike and many engaged in confrontations with the police in the streets.