Lenin promised "peace, land and bread" to gain popular support during the struggle for political power in Russia after the czar abdicated, according to the History Channel website. In October 1917, the Bolsheviks used such promises to successfully overthrow the provisional government and gain control.
The phrase appealed to the basic needs of the Russian people. World War I was disastrous for Russia. By the end of 1916, around 5 million Russian troops were dead, prisoners of war or missing. The army was poorly commanded and poorly supplied, and morale was low. At home, men, horses and material were requisitioned for the war, and hunger became rampant. Due to shortages caused by the war, protests and food riots broke out in Petrograd, the capital, and in other cities. In addition, the Russian peasant population, who lived and toiled on minuscule amounts of land, saw that rich landowners with large estates continued to thrive at the expense of the poor.
Lenin addressed these concerns in his proclamation. Peace would mean an end to the war with its terrible casualties. Bread would mean relief from the ubiquitous hunger. Land would mean the prospect of self-sufficiency for the peasant population. In the end, none of these promises were kept, although Russia did withdraw from World War I through the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March 1918, about the same time it erupted into a bloody civil war. Food continued to be scarce, and the Bolsheviks eventually confiscated all land and moved peasants onto collective farms.