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Russian Revolution

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Hi there!

At school we're currently doing the Russian Civil War but i find it so confusing because the teacher tends to skip to different stages. I guess it works for some people but i'm really not getting it. Could anyone please help me by explaining the Russian Civil War in a simplistic but sequential manner including who was involved? I just really need to get the gist of it. If no one has time, it's fine but a link to good sources would really be appreciated!

Thanks! :D

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Hey there!

I'm going to split this up in causes, events and 'why the Reds won'. I'm sure others can probably fill in with more details, and this will just be a brief summary. If anyone is interested and have more information, I could add more information to this list. Just send me a message or reply to this thread.

Causes

  • Bolshevik coup

The Bolshevik coup was not popular with everyone. The Mensheviks, tsarists, supporters of the provisional government and moderate political parties disagreed completely with both the means and the politics which the Bolsheviks stood for. These political entities, commonly referred to as 'the Whites,' all agreed that Lenin and his men had to be removed from control, and the only way to do that was by force. Of course, the Bolsheviks, commonly referred to as 'the Reds' in this context, would not leave voluntarily, and thus an armed conflict was a reality.

At this point in time, there was no guarantee the Reds would win the Civil War. Actually, most historians would argue that the Reds had the odds against them. The Bolsheviks had control over only a small part of Russia (the cities Moscow and Petrograd the land in between and some areas southwards toward the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea). The Whites had clearly the advantage.

Events

1917

October - The October Revolution: Communists seize power

December - Cheka is established

1918

(no date) - War Communism introduced

February - Red Army officially established

March - The Peace of Brest-Litovsk: Russia loses large areas in Eastern Europe, many nations become independent

March - The capital is moved to Moscow

(summer) - Some White Armies are forced to withdraw: The Reds finally stop retreating on most fronts

July - The Bolsheviks proclaimed a new constitution

July - The tsar family is executed

1919

March - Comintern established

1920

(no date) - Many Eastern European nations declare their independence

November - The last White army was defeated in Crimea: The Reds have won the Civil War

1921

March - New Economic Policy succeeds War Communism

Why the Reds won

  • Strength of the Red Army

The Red Army (est. 1918), lead by Leon Trotsky, had an upper hand tactically and strategically. The only operable railway was in the areas controlled by the Reds, which allowed them to move the troops from one front to another with ease and allowed the Red Army to outmanoeuvre the Whites, despite for the fact that the Whites attacked from multiple fronts. Combined with Trotsky's strategical brilliance and the Whites' disunion, this proved to be key to the Communist victory.

  • Weakness of the Whites

The Whites were not united in any form, and the communication between the different armies was non-existent. As a result, they did not coordinate their attacks properly and was positioned far from each other, which allowed the Reds to fight one army at a time. Another great weakness was their cooperation with foreign powers (UK, USA, France, etc.), as mentioned below. However, they deprived of much needed help when these nations withdrew from Russia in late 1918 and in 1919.

  • Foreign powers

Many Russians did not like the involvement of foreign powers, and considered it an invasion of Russia. The only political entity that opposed this at the time was the Reds, and as a result many Russians supported the Red Army. The Reds used this foreign interference in propaganda as well, which resulted in a negative understanding of the Whites.

  • The Cheka

The Cheka was established in late 1917, and was the Bolsheviks' secret police. Their main task was to remove any anti-Communist elements, thereby also the Whites. The Cheka successfully created fear amongst the general population, in particular against joining the Whites, through murders and forced detentions.

  • War Communism

Lenin introduced War Communism, an economic policy, in 1918. Basically, this nationalised industry and rationed food in order to ensure supplies to the Red Army. This made sure that the Red Army always had what they needed. However, this economic policy failed later on and was replaced by the New Economic Policy (NEP)

Hope this helps you understand the civil war slightly better!

Good luck!

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Hey there!

I'm going to split this up in causes, events and 'why the Reds won'. I'm sure others can probably fill in with more details, and this will just be a brief summary. If anyone is interested and have more information, I could add more information to this list. Just send me a message or reply to this thread.

Causes

  • Bolshevik coup

The Bolshevik coup was not popular with everyone. The Mensheviks, tsarists, supporters of the provisional government and moderate political parties disagreed completely with both the means and the politics which the Bolsheviks stood for. These political entities, commonly referred to as 'the Whites,' all agreed that Lenin and his men had to be removed from control, and the only way to do that was by force. Of course, the Bolsheviks, commonly referred to as 'the Reds' in this context, would not leave voluntarily, and thus an armed conflict was a reality.

At this point in time, there was no guarantee the Reds would win the Civil War. Actually, most historians would argue that the Reds had the odds against them. The Bolsheviks had control over only a small part of Russia (the cities Moscow and Petrograd the land in between and some areas southwards toward the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea). The Whites had clearly the advantage.

Events

1917

October - The October Revolution: Communists seize power

December - Cheka is established

1918

(no date) - War Communism introduced

February - Red Army officially established

March - The Peace of Brest-Litovsk: Russia loses large areas in Eastern Europe, many nations become independent

March - The capital is moved to Moscow

(summer) - Some White Armies are forced to withdraw: The Reds finally stop retreating on most fronts

July - The Bolsheviks proclaimed a new constitution

July - The tsar family is executed

1919

March - Comintern established

1920

(no date) - Many Eastern European nations declare their independence

November - The last White army was defeated in Crimea: The Reds have won the Civil War

1921

March - New Economic Policy succeeds War Communism

Why the Reds won

  • Strength of the Red Army

The Red Army (est. 1918), lead by Leon Trotsky, had an upper hand tactically and strategically. The only operable railway was in the areas controlled by the Reds, which allowed them to move the troops from one front to another with ease and allowed the Red Army to outmanoeuvre the Whites, despite for the fact that the Whites attacked from multiple fronts. Combined with Trotsky's strategical brilliance and the Whites' disunion, this proved to be key to the Communist victory.

  • Weakness of the Whites

The Whites were not united in any form, and the communication between the different armies was non-existent. As a result, they did not coordinate their attacks properly and was positioned far from each other, which allowed the Reds to fight one army at a time. Another great weakness was their cooperation with foreign powers (UK, USA, France, etc.), as mentioned below. However, they deprived of much needed help when these nations withdrew from Russia in late 1918 and in 1919.

  • Foreign powers

Many Russians did not like the involvement of foreign powers, and considered it an invasion of Russia. The only political entity that opposed this at the time was the Reds, and as a result many Russians supported the Red Army. The Reds used this foreign interference in propaganda as well, which resulted in a negative understanding of the Whites.

  • The Cheka

The Cheka was established in late 1917, and was the Bolsheviks' secret police. Their main task was to remove any anti-Communist elements, thereby also the Whites. The Cheka successfully created fear amongst the general population, in particular against joining the Whites, through murders and forced detentions.

  • War Communism

Lenin introduced War Communism, an economic policy, in 1918. Basically, this nationalised industry and rationed food in order to ensure supplies to the Red Army. This made sure that the Red Army always had what they needed. However, this economic policy failed later on and was replaced by the New Economic Policy (NEP)

Hope this helps you understand the civil war slightly better!

Good luck!

THANK YOU SO SO SO MUCH!!!!! I really appreciate your help :D

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