Table of Contents
1. the impact of the first world war
A. Russian Defeats on the Eastern Front 1914-1916
i. Russians only took two weeks to mobilise and had armies advancing into Germany. This took Germans by surprise. The Germans had to move reinforcements from France to help their armies. However, because they mobilised so quickly, it rendered them poorly prepared. They did not have enough rifles or ammunition and their equipment was of old-fashion. Many officers had maps that were completely useless. The two Russian generals, Samsonov and Rennenkampf did not work together. They actually competed with each other to be the first to defeat the Germans. All radio contact were un-coded, as a result, the Germans were able to discover exactly where the Russians were and what they planned to do. The Russian armies had suffered two massive defeats at Tannenburg and Masurian Lakes. By 1916, the armies were in retreat and by December the entire empire was in crisis. The military campaigns began promisingly as Russian armies entered German East Prussia and Austria. However, Germans halted Russian advance at Tannenberg in September 1914. 130,000 Russian soldiers were killed and 100,000 were captured. In 1915, Austrians and Germans launched a joint offensive which drove the Russians out of Poland, a setback which prompted the Tsar to make the ill-advised decision to take over himself as commander-in-chief, singlehandedly took on the blame for military failure as well as leaving the home front to the Tsarina and Rasputin. In 1916, the Russians began their last major offensive, the Brusilov Offensive. This was so successful at first that Romania decided to join the war on Russia’s side, but it ran out of steam in August and became a retreat along the whole front from the Baltic down to the Black Sea. Russia was producing munitions but was unable to distribute them to where they needed. Morale among the soldiers fell and they began to desert by December. Russian causalities during the war were as high as 1.8 million soldiers.
ii. Why did the Russians do so badly?
Industry supplied enough munitions but the railway network could not get supplies moving.
Many new recruits had little training and were told to pick up rifles from men who had been killed as they advanced, moral decline within the troops. There were 6 million men in the army, but only 4.5 million had rifles.
Britain and France sent supplies to the port in Northern Russia, but there was only a single track railway line from there to St Petersburg. Many of the supplies never got through.
The wounded were left lying in fields or in railway stations because there was nobody to look after them and no medical supplies to treat their wounds. 18,000 soldiers were left on a Petrograd station for a week without medical attention.
In August 1915, Tsar dismissed his senior commanders and took over himself. He was now solely responsible for all the failures in the Russian war effort. Increasingly people began to blame him in person when things went wrong. He left the Home Front of St. Petersburg to the Tsarina and Rasputin. Rumours about the Tsarina and Rasputin only served to make the situation worse and the imperial family more unpopular.
B. Economic, Social and Political effects of war on Russia
i. Economic effects
War brought disastrous effects on the country’s backward economy. It did not have the means to sustain the war’s pressure on its economy. Resources had to be allocated for the military to satisfy the needs of the army. The army was prioritised over civilians. A large amount of food was necessary to feed the soldiers. Raw materials were required to produce ammunition and weaponry for the troops. Means of communication was required to transport the army and food from one place to another. It was mandatory for all young men to be conscripted to the army. These demands put Russia’s economy on a giant strain as it was unable to meet the demands.
As a result, food became unobtainable in cities because the transport system was used to deliver ammunition, equipment and food to the troops, the army was the priority. Means of transport and communication were deemed useless as they were monopolised for the army. All food produced by the civilians were sent to the army, none of them reached urban populations. Scarcity of necessities in the market led to price increase and rampant inflation as money lost its value. Cost of living spiked up 300%. Lack of fuel meant that this left Russian population hungry and cold. 600 factories closed down as a result of being unable to keep production going under the strained and backward economy. Peasants in the countryside also had a difficulty in sustaining agricultural output, as most men were conscripted to the army, this meant that there was less manpower to harvest grains.
ii. Social effects
Food shortages Conscription to army (peasants formed most of the army and ranks). Requisitioning of resources made it difficult for peasants to sustain agricultural output. Lack of workers and resources in the rural area put a strain on the already backwards Russia. Town populations increased as war industries demanded more labour. This led to an increase of food demand in the urban areas. Food production by the peasants were monopolised for the army as they have priority which meant that they had first claim on the limited amount of food produced. The scarce amount of food circulating in the markets meant that food price would increase. This then gave rise to inflation.
Inflation In order to fund the war, the government printed more money. The value of money declined and this created instability in economy as prices rose. Shortages due to the breakdown in communication caused a spike in prices. Between 1914 to 1916, wages doubled but prices of food and fuel quadrupled.
Transportation The transport continued to be a problem that contributed to food shortages. The military had priority in the use of the transport system to move food supplies at the expense of civilian population. The transport system was inadequate to meet the demands of war and soon broke down. The breakdown in communications was the main reason for the shortages of all goods in Russia during the war. This meant that transportation of items was completely halted and paralysed.
iii. Political effects
Tsar’s unpopularity In August 1915, the Tsar decided to take up the position of Commander and fight with his soldiers despite the fact he has no experience in the field whatsoever. He left administration in the Home Front to join the Eastern Front leaving the country to the hands of the Tsarina and Rasputin. People were angry as Rasputin had significant influence over the imperial family. They dismissed able ministers and hired those who were inexperienced but were close friends with Rasputin. There were many rumours that Rasputin was having an affair with the Tsarina. The reputation of the royal family fell to an all time low. The Tsarina was accused of being a German spy. This led to the empire’s political instability which ultimately to worsening economic effects.
C. Influence of Rasputin
The Tsarina relied upon Rasputin heavily particularly in the selection of ministers.
There were rumours that the pair were German agents seeking to undermine the war effort.
Alexei, the Tsar’s only son, suffered from haemophilia. The Tsarina had searched for many doctors, but none of them were able to stop her son’s debilitating disease. Tsarina turned to religion and found Rasputin who was a Starets. However, Rasputin proved to the royal family that he was able to stop Alexei’s bleeding with his presence. Because of this, he holds large amounts of trust and influence over the imperial family.
By 1916 December, he was assassinated by Prince Yusupov.
D. Impact of Winter 1916-1917
i. Army dissatisfaction In the Russian army, the number of desertions increased and the authority of officers was undermined. Whole detachments mutinied and disappeared. This was not merely caused by the failures at the front, in fact, the front has been reasonably stable from the successes of the Brusilov Offensive but ground had been lost since August. The Russian Army was not under real threat, the desertions were prompted by rumours from Russia that peasants were trying to take over land from landowners and the soliders, who were composed of mainly peasants joined in.
ii. Food shortages, Famine
In big cities, conditions were very hard. The winter of 1916-1917 was particularly hard. Russians were used to severe weather, but temperatures at -30 to -40 Celsius proved very difficult when supplies of food were short. In Petrograd, food prices rose by 300% and bread almost disappeared from shops. What bread there was, was often reserved for special customers, which only helped to increase resentment.
2. The february revolution
A. Immediate causes of the February Revolution, especially events in Petrograd.
i. Weakness of Russia
Russia had been humiliated with a war in Japan.
There were many nationalities within Russia, too many diversities, it is difficult to govern.
Russia was vast, 125 million people spread across Europe and Asia. This made government administration difficult, especially because of poor communications, bad infrastructure, bad roads and few railways.
Russia was only beginning to industrialise. This meant that towns, factories were only starting to grow. Large workforce with poor working and living conditions sparked unrest. Small wealthier middle class were beginning to want a say in the government.
Tsar’s autocratic ruling. Nicholas carried out all the business of the government alone. An impossible load on a weak Tsar just made things worse.
Opposition towards to government from, the Kadets, Social Revolutionaries and Social Democratic Party. They all resented the autocratic regime and wants to overthrow the Tsar. The Kadets want a parliament in England with a constitutional monarchy. Social Revolutionaries wanted a peasant revolution and to nationalise land. Social Democratic Party wanted the establishment of a Socialist state through a class struggle.
The army was badly led and equipped. Russian defeats at Tannenberg and Mansurian Lakes where Russian troops lost 200,000 men. This led to the army and the Duma abandoning the Tsar as they lost trust in the government. The war took 15 million men from the farms and trains to be conscripted for war. This created food shortages as it reduces the manpower in the countryside. Prices rose, this angered Russians and sparked unrest. On 12th March 1917, he Army abandoned the Tsar. The soldiers mutinied and refused to put down the riots and joined them instead. The government lost control of the country. On 13th March, members of Duma forced Duma to abdicate.
iii. Tsar’s mistakes The Tsar personally took charge of the Eastern Front in August 1915. This meant that he was solely responsible for all mistakes and had to accept all blame. He was blamed for all the defeats which gave rise to more unrest in the cities amongst Russians. The Tsar’s departure from the Home Front meant that he has left administration to Tsarina and Rasputin. People became angry has they never liked the Tsarina in the first place due to her German ethnicity. People believed she was having an affair with Rasputin and she was a German spy.
B. The Army Mutiny
C. Abdication of Tsar
D. Setting up of Provisional Government
E. Setting up of Provisional Government
23rd February, International Women’s Day, a group of women marched through the streets of Petrograd to protest about the queues for food. They were joined by 90,000 strikers and protestors. The gathering took place in the form of a protest demonstration calling for “bread and peace”.
26th February, 250,000 workers went on strike. Feeding on their outrage with each passing day, the demonstrations became larger and rowdier and outnumbered the police. They were unable to control the crowds. The Tsar ordered the army to clear the protestors from the streets.
27th February, the army refused and mutinied. Soldiers took empathy for the crowds than the Tsar. Instead, 80,000 army troops mutinied and joined the protestors fighting directly with the police. 2 political groups in Russia quickly recognised the significance of what was developing and discussed actively how it should be handled. Duma continued to meet in secret and came to the conclusion that unrest in Russia was unlikely to be brought under control as long as Nicholas II remained in power. During this period the Petrograd Soviet, an organisation of revolutionary-minded workers and soldiers dominated by the Mensheviks convened. They immediately began a call for full-scale revolution to being the monarchy to an end.
28th February, Duma and Worker’s Soviet gather separately begun making decisions about restoring order and establishing a new state.
2nd March, Nicholas II abdicates the throne. The Provisional Government was formed. Nicholas II abdicated in favour of his brother Michael, instead of his son whom he believed was too sickly to bear the burden of being Tsar. Michael abdicated the day later, 3rd March 1917, leaving Russia Tsarless. Responding to the unexpected turn of events, Duma members assumed the role of being the country’s provisional government. The provisional government was to serve temporarily until a Constituent Assembly could be elected to decide formally on the country’s future government.
3. The bolshevik seizure of power
A. Weaknesses and mistakes of the Provisional Government
The provisional government was doomed from the start. It was only supposed to be a temporary government but the bad economic situation meant that elections were impossible. Inflation continued and prices remained high. Russian society broke down, peasants seizing land from the nobles, sailors and soldiers mutinied.
An alternative government was formed, the Petrograd Soviet. The Petrograd Soviet issued Order No. 1 which stated that soldiers and sailors should not obey orders if the Petrograd Soviet opposes those orders. The Soviets demanded an end to the war, but the army attacked Germans in 1917 forcing a German counter-attack. The Germans forced Russians into retreat, resulting in a massive drop in morale and discipline within the Russian army.
Lenin’s return and the April Thesis. He called for the overthrow of the Provisional Government in a second revolution.
Did not end the war The Provisional Government wanted to support the allies and fight. In June 1917, Russia launched a major offensive but the advance failed and 60,000 Russians were killed. Soldiers began to desert in increasing numbers. Food and fuel shortages continued.
Made no attempt to introduce land reforms The peasants wanted to own their own land and took it from the nobles. The Provisional Government wanted them to stop as they said it would be an issue for a newly elected government to decide. The peasants ignored them and began to take land illegally. This was a demonstration of Russians flat out and blatantly ignoring orders from the government.
B. Petrograd Soviet
i. The Petrograd Soviet was in essence a metropolitan labour union made up of soldiers and factory workers. By 2nd March 1917, Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication, it already had 3,000 members and had formed an executive committee to lead it. The Petrograd Soviet was elected by soldiers and workers of Petrograd, so it had far more authority than the Provisional Government. It issued Military Order Number One, that states the Provisional Government were only to be obeyed of they were approved by the Soviet. The Petrograd Soviet held as much power and had significantly greater connections with regional authorities than the Provisional Government. Alexander Kerensky ended up being a member of both the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet and acted as a liaison between them.
Describe main features and actions of the period of Dual Power
Provisional Government Led by Prince Lvov
Petrograd Soviet Dominated by the Mensheviks
Political prisoners were released
Revolutionary exiles were allowed to return to Russia
Free speech was announced and newspapers were allowed to print what they liked, reduced censorship
An 8-hour day was introduced for industrial workers
The Tsar’s secret police, Okhrana was abolished.
Equality for all was announced, irrespective of class, religion or nationality.
The new Duma had to be elected by all.
In reality, this was the real source of power in Petrograd
They had 3000 elected members and the Provisional Government could not rule without support.
Alexander Kerensky was a member of both so he acted as a liaison between them.
One of their first actions was to introduce the Military Order Number One which gave them control of Russian armed forces as soldiers, sailors and workers only disobeyed with the Provisional Government if the Petrograd Soviet disagreed with them.
They announced that they would accept the rulings of the Provisional Government but only if they thought it was appropriate.
C. The Activities of Lenin and the Bolsheviks
i. In March 1917, Lenin who was in exile in Switzerland was sent back to Russia by the Germans, who hoped that it would create as much trouble as possible to undermine Russia’s war efforts if the Home Front was politically unstable.
ii. Lenin returned in April 1917 to Petrograd and immediately released the April Thesis. It called for the abolition of the Provisional Government and all power to the Soviets, all property and land to be taken over by the state, all banks united into a National Bank and put under the control of the Soviets, all factories to come under Soviet control, the army to be transformed to a national militia. His April Thesis also promised “Peace, Bread and Land” which gained the support of many workers.
iii. Lenin told the Bolsheviks to prepare for a second revolution which came to a shock as many did not believe the time was right. Lenin believed that he could take advantage of the chaos caused by the February Revolution. Lenin wants to manipulate the unrest within the Russians to work to his favour. Lenin believed that he could orchestrate a new revolution in much the same way that the previous one had happened by instigating large street demonstrations. Though, the Soviets were the tool of the Mensheviks and were giving Lenin little support at the moment, he believed he could manipulate them for his own purposes.
D. July Days and Kornilov Revolt.
i. July Days
July 3rd, Bolshevik leaders decided to try to use the regiment, in combination with their own armed forces and 20,000 mutinied Kronstadt sailors to take over the Petrograd Soviet and demand an end to the Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks called for an extraordinary meeting of the worker’s section of the Soviet.
July 4th, an armed mob began to assemble at the Petrograd Soviet headquarters. The mob had little organisation, and as rumours circulated, the seasoned troops from the front were on their way to Petrograd to put down the demonstrations, fear spread rapidly through the group and many began to leave. The mob had dissipated at the end of the day, and frontline troops did indeed come into the capital and restore order. Arrest warrants were issued for all of the Bolshevik leaders. Most were caught but were not prosecuted because of resistance by Petrograd Soviet. Lenin managed to escape to Finland.
The failed coup made them appear reckless and incompetent. The accusations of their collision with Germany further damaged their reputation, especially among the military. This gave a brief boost of popularity to the Provisional Government.
ii. Kornilov Revolt
Kornilov was the commander-in-chief of the Russian army. He had little interest in politics but had a strong sense of patriotism. However, Kerensky soon began to fear that Kornilov was plotting to set a military dictatorship. Kornilov had his own doubts about Kerensky as well, and a mutual lack of trust grew quickly. In the end, Kerensky dismisses Kornilov and accuses him of treason and Kornilov calls on his troops to mutiny.
In September 1917, Kornilov attempted to overthrow the Provisional Government because he wanted to continue the war with Germany without government interference. Kerensky did not have an army to defend Petrograd and therefore, asked the Bolsheviks for aid. This meant that he was forced to give the Bolsheviks weapons, this force became known as the Red Guards. The Bolsheviks managed to stop Kornilov and save the Provisional Government but they refused to surrender munitions. In September, the Bolsheviks secured a majority in the Petrograd Soviet.
This destroyed Kerensky’s credibility in the eyes of the military and made him look foolish and unstable to the Provisional Government and the rest of the country. It strengthened the Bolsheviks who used the incident to very effectively boost their own platform. It also gave the Bolsheviks the opportunity to greatly increase their store of weapons. As a result of the Kornilov Plot, they were now a strong political force. This revolt finally set the stage for the Bolsheviks to make a real attempt at revolution in October.
E. Key Events of Bolshevik Takeover
i. After October the Bolsheviks realised that they could not maintain power in an election-based system without sharing power with other parties and compromising their principles. As a result, the formally abandoned the democratic process in January 1918 and declared themselves of a dictatorship of the proletariat.
ii. 23rd October, Provisional Government acts to shut down all Bolshevik newspapers.
iii. 24th October, Red Guards took over bridges and the telephone exchange.
iv. 25th October, Red Guards took over banks, government buildings and the railway stations. The cruiser Aurora shelled the Winter Palace. By night, Red Guards took over Winter Palace and arrested Provisional Government leaders.
v. 26th October, Provisional Government is arrested early in the morning, Lenin issues Decree on Peace and Decree on Land. The All Russian Congress of Soviets gave power to the Soviet Council to People’s Commissars under Lenin. Decree on Peace declared that war with Germany was over. Decree on Land declared that land belonged to peasants who farmed it.
vi. 27th October 1917, Lenin announced a new Communist government.
F. Reasons for success of Bolsheviks, especially the role of Lenin and Trotsky.
i. Provisional Government problems
The Bolsheviks succeeded because the Provisional Government was weak and unpopular. The Bolsheviks seized power by driving the Provisional Government out of the Winter Palace. Kerensky appealed for help, only a few hundred troops turned up. They were unwilling to end the war and did not organise land reforms. They did not try to tackle any of Russia’s problems, they only briefly touched on economic policies.
The Bolsheviks made promises such as “Work, Peace and Bread” and “All Power to the Soviets”. Other parties claimed that they could never deliver their promises but their arguments were too complicated for people to understand. People just went with what was simple, and easy to understand. Therefore, people supported the Bolsheviks which gave them the public’s support. The Bolsheviks were the only party that offered the people what they wanted.
iii. Pravda The Party had their own newspaper called the Pravda, to spread propaganda and Bolshevik ideology to the masses. This helped them gain more support. This helped spread the party’s message.
iv. Lenin Lenin was a brilliant leader, he was a professional revolutionary who was determined. He was ruthless and a convincing speaker. He was a good planner and strategist with only ONE aim which was to overthrow the government. In other words, the Bolsheviks were well led. Lenin published dozens of books and articles adopting the ideas of Marx. This proves that Lenin knew clearly and precisely what he was doing.
v. Army A private Bolshevik army, the Red Guards, who were dedicated to the revolution. They were set up and trained under the hands of Trotsky. It gave the Bolsheviks military power to win. Trotsky brilliantly led a disciplined force to back up their demands for change. Trotsky took charge of the actual days of the revolution by planning when to take over key government buildings, when to take over banks and so forth. Trotsky was commander and directed the troops who undertook the Bolshevik revolution into the Winter Palace following the arrest of the Provisional Government.
vi. Organisation The Bolsheviks were brilliantly organised. A central committee (controlled by Lenin and Trotsky) sent orders to the Soviets who gave orders to the factories. Membership grew to 2 million in 3 months. Unlike the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks demanded total obedience from their members, this is to ensure that they are all disciplined. Members did what the leaders instructed them to do.
4. Civil war
A. Bolshevik Consolidation of Power
B. Decrees, Constituent Assembly and Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
i. October 1917 – Spring 1918
The Bolsheviks take a number of measures to overcome immediate problems and establish the new government such as the creation of SOVNARKOM, Decrees on Land and Workers’ Control, dissolution of Constituent Assembly and Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
ii. Decrees Decree on Peace declared that war with Germany was over. This enabled them to negotiate an armistice in December and then dispatch a delegation to negotiate surrender terms. Decree on Land confiscated all private land and placed it in the hands of the peasants. Ultimately, he wanted it all under state control but the decree was sufficiently vague to let the peasants think that whatever they seized would be theirs. Decree on organisation of new government by which SOVNARKOM (Council of People’s Commissars) would head system with Lenin as Chairman. Below this was the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.
iii. Sovnarkom This was to set up to manage the running of the state. It was a group of 25 members. Lenin was Chairman, Trotsky was Commissar for war and Stalin was Commissar for Nationalities. During November and December 1917, they passed a series of laws which laid the foundation for the new Russia. Peace talks were opened with Germany to end the war. Land which had belonged to the Tsar, church and nobility was redistributed. Factories were to work a minimum of 48 hours per week. All non Bolshevik newspapers were closed down. A secret police called Cheka was set up. All other political parties were made illegal. The Bolsheviks became the Communist Party and the only legal party in Russia.
iv. The Constituent Assembly The Provisional Government had arranged for elections to a new parliament called the Constituent Assembly. Lenin allowed elections to take place to maintain support. Bolshevik won 168 seats out of 703. The Bolsheviks came second and the Social Revolutionaries gained the highest percentage of votes. As a result, January 1918, a day after the elections, Lenin dissolved the Constituent Assembly. Many people were still opposed to living under the Bolshevik rule, and Lenin knew he needed to win the support of the Russian people if he was to introduce Communism effectively. The Bolsheviks were not a government ready to take power and run a huge country and struggling country. They had a large number of ideas on how a country should run, but no experience in creating policies. The Bolshevik’s rise to power was not as a result of a but in reality, the storming of the Winter Palace and assumption of power was hijacking the general protests that were aimed at the failing Provisional Government, not an effort by the people to put Lenin in power. He sent Russian soldiers into the countryside to seize grain to feed the starving towns. Bolshevik used telegraph stations to spread revolutionary messages to the people. This was an effort to gain popularity.
v. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk Lenin had to withdraw from WW1 as promised. In December 1917, representatives met with German government. It became clear that Russia was going to have to pay a heavy price for peace but the Bolsheviks feared the consequences of continuing Russia’s involvement in the war. On the 3rd March 1918, the Treaty of Brest Litovsk was signed. Russia lost 27% of its farmland and 26% of its population. They had to pay a fine of 3 million roubles to Germany. Russia lost Ukraine, the most fertile agricultural land. 1/3 of their population was lost, which decreases productivity. Russia lost their most valuable industrial land, the Black Sea which was the coal reserves. Russia lost 26% of its railways which meant that transportation is weaker than ever before. Without food, resources to make money, restriction of transportation and to add the cherry on top, to pay a fine so heavy after losing Russia’s most valuable assets contradict Lenin’s policies of “Bread, Peace and Land”.
C. The Two sides in the Civil War (1918-1921)
i. The Reds The Reds were the Communists, led by Lenin and Trotsky. Lenin dealt with social and economic affairs, while Trotsky organized the military. Trotsky is the Commissar of War.
ii. The Whites The Whites consisted of everyone who opposed Communism, such as - Social Revolutionaries - Supporters of the Tsar who wanted to restore the Tsardom - Industrialists - Landlords - National minorities such as the Cossacks who wanted independence from Russia The Allied powers supported the Whites. Because the Allied Powers were afraid of a worldwide Communist revolution, they wanted Russia to continue fighting in the First World War, Allied Powers supported the Whites. The Allied powers were: France, Japan, Britain, and USA.
D. Key events and reasons for Bolshevik Victory
i. The Military Conflict
Trotsky was the Commissar of War, he led the Red Army (Communists). At first, the Reds only controlled Moscow and Petrograd, the main industrial sites and the best farming land. The Red Army was under constant attack by the Whites, but managed to defeat every attack by the White army.
The Military Conflict of the Russian Civil War The North-West : General Yudenich (White Army) General Yudenich wanted to attack Petrograd and defeat the Communists there. HE marched from Latvia and Estonia but when he reached the Petrograd Suburbs in 1919, he was defeated by the Red Army. The South : General Denikin General Denikin marched from the South (Crimiea and Ukraine). He was defeated by the Red Army 200 miles from Moscow. The East : Communists in Siberia Communists in Siberia were constantly attacked by General Kolchak. General Kolchak’s troops seized territory along the Trans-Siberian Railway and made progress through the Ural Mountains towards Moscow. Lenin was afraid that Kolchack would rescue the Tsar and his family, so Lenin had them executed. Kolchak was eventually defeated by the Reds, and he was executed in 1920.
The Defeat of the White Army At the beginning, the Allied powers were supported by the Whites. But eventually, Allied Powers withdrew their support, which considerably weakened the White Army. Consistent defeats by the Reds also damaged morale and public opinion of the Whites. Hope came for the Whites when Poland defeated the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw during the Russo-Polish war of 1920-1921. The Reds opened peace negotiations with Poland, and both sides signed the Treaty of Riga in 1921.
The Reds were busy dealing with Polish threat, General Wrangel decided to advance into Ukraine and defeat the Reds there. However, he was defeated by the Red Army and was forced to retreat into Crimea. He evacuated 150,000 troops and civilians to Turkey. This led to the Red Army’s victory.
ii. War Communism
Lenin was in charge of Red’s social and economic policies during the Russian Civil War. Lenin implemented a policy of War Communism in order to ensure that all Communist-Controlled Russia resources were used to aid Russian war effort. Lenin also used War Communism to introduce Communist ideas to Russia. War Communism focused on Industry and Agriculture.
Industry The Communist government seized control of factories and controlled production. Strikes were banned and protestors were shot. Everybody except pregnant women and the sick were forced to work.
Agriculture Surplus food was taken from the countryside and used to feed the communist soldiers. Food was also rationed, and a person’s level of contribution to Russian economy determined how much food they received. Industrial workers were given the highest food rations. Peasants who refused to hand over the food were executed or sent to work in forced labour camps.
War Communism caused great suffering to the Russian people. Food shortages were so severe that Russia experienced a famine in 1921, killing 5-7 million people. Wages become worthless under War Communism, and peasants were paid in fuel and bread instead of currency. This is the revert back to the barter system which brings Russia backwards even more. Workers also lest towns due to the lack of food and resources, which eventually led to a decline in Industry.
iii. The Red Terror
The Red Terror was carried out by the Cheka, Lenin’s secret police. The Cheka hunted down and punished or executed anybody suspected of secretly cooperating with Lenin’s enemies. Nobody was safe and anybody from peasants to lawyers to government officials could be arrested, imprisoned, tortured and executed without trial.
iv. The Kronstadt Naval Mutiny (February 1921)
The sailors at the Kronstadt Naval base were unhappy with Lenin and Trotsky’s leadership. The sailor’s mutinied, causing Lenin and Trotsky to fear that the sailors may encourage others to mutiny also. Lenin and Trotsky ordered that the Kronstadt Base be captured and mutiny quelled. After a bloody battle, the Kronstadt Naval Base was captured by the Red Army and the mutineers were imprisoned or executed.
v. The Aftermath of Civil War (1918-1921)
Trotsky and Lenin initially disagreed over the speed at which Communism should be implemented in Russia. Trotsky believed that Communism was being introduced to quickly and it was having negative effects on businesses. The Reds, Communists, also adopted a policy of a complete party unity, which meant that nobody was allowed to disagree with any decisions made by the Communist leaders. The Purge in 1921 expelled from government those who disagreed with Lenin’s policies.
Communist regimes were installed in territories recaptured during the civil war. The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) was formed and each republic was given its own government, run by a Politburo controlled by Lenin.
Lenin agreed to introduce New Economic Policy (NEP) in order to increase Russia’s prosperity after the devastation caused by the Revolution and the Civil War. Some members of the Communist party opposed Lenin’s NEP because they said it did not follow Communist or Marxist principles. Lenin told this people that it was a temporary measure designed to help Russia recover from war.
Reds Why they won
Why they lost
The Reds had a geographical advantage as the center of the country including industrial cities such as Moscow and Petrograd and rich farmlands.
The Reds had the control of the railway network which enabled to move their troops and supplies very quickly.
The Reds were a united fighting force with one aim which was to stay in power.
Trotsky was made War Commissar and he reorganized the Red Army. He implemented a harsh regimented order. Capital punishment was introduced for a desertion or disloyalty. He proved to a brilliant leader and won the respect of the troops.
Trotsky never allowed his troops to lose morale. He constantly reminded them what they were fighting for and gave regular speeches.
Conscription was introduced for all men aged 18-40.
Trotsky employed the best officers from the Tsar’s former army. Family members were taken hostage to ensure loyalty.
Lenin introduced the policy of War Communism in order to keep the Red Army controlled with food and weapons. The State nationalized major industry and controlled the production and distribution of goods.
The white armies were spread over a large area which made it difficult to stay in contact with one another and keep their forces supplied. The reds could then pick off the White forces one at a time.
The Whites did not have control of railway networks or transport systems which made transporting and travelling across the vast lands of Russia difficult.
The whites were not united and operated as a single independent army. The had many different aims. They were composed of many different bodies such as Monarchists, Kerenksyists, Landowners and Allies. They all had different aims for the war, the Allies wanted to prevent a worldwide communist revolution, the Monarchists want to bring the Tsar back, Kerenskyists wanted the return of the Constituent Assembly and the Landowners wanted their land back from the peasants.
Power struggle exists between the leaders of the White Army with General Yudenich, General Denikin and General Kolchak. Each of them hated one another and they did not want to share power. As a result of this lack of cooperation between them, they decided to take independent actions to defeat the Red Army such as General Yudenich moving from the North, Latvia into Petrograd, General Denikin moving from the West, Ukraine and defeated in Moscow and finally General Kolchak, moved from East, who seized territory of the Trans Siberian Railway. However, they were all defeated by the Red Guards in the end.
This caused them to suffer low troop morale and mass desertions which decreased war efforts tremendously.
5. War Communism
A. Reasons and effects of War Communism
Lenin implemented a policy of War Communism in order to ensure that all Communist-Controlled Russia resources were used to aid Russian war effort. Lenin also used War Communism to introduce Communist ideas to Russia.
Lenin believed banks occupied a key position in the modern capitalistic economy and that they economy without resorting to extreme and drastic measures to reshape its general structure and organisation.
Workers, if left on their own devices, could not be depended to practice labour discipline and to maintain a level of production required to provide the army with the arms and supplies it needed to conduct military operations.
Induce poor peasants to cooperate with the government.
To nationalise of industry and to control and coordinate the economy and labour force.
To introduce Communist ideas.
December 1917, bank were nationalised and foreign and internal loans contracted by the tsarist and provisional government were annulled.
Bolsheviks able to view all available human and material resources which enabled them to organise munitions production and army supply much better than they could their White opponents.
Production to be run by state. Private ownership should be kept to the minimum. Private houses were confiscated by state.
State control was to be granted over the labour of every citizen. Once a military army had served its purpose, it would become a labour army.
The state should produce everything in its own undertakings. The state tried to control the activities of millions of peasants.
Extreme centralisation was introduced. The most important one was the Supreme Economic Council. They had the right for confiscation and requisition. The speciality of the SEC was the management of industry. Over 40 head departments (known as glavki) were set up accomplish this. One glavki was responsible for thousands of factories.
The state attempted to become the sole distributor as well as the sole producer. The people were divided into four categories (manual workers, physical labour, housewives and professional people). This led to an increase in the supply of grain to state. From 1917 to 1928, about 0.75 million tonne was collected by state. In 1920 to 1921, 6 million tonnes were collected. However, the policy of having to hand over surplus food caused huge resentment in the countryside, especially as Lenin had promised “peace, bread, land”. When the peasants had land, they weren’t aware they were meant to hand over surplus food that they produced.
War Communism attempted to abolish money as means of exchange. Bolsheviks wanted to go over a system of natural economy in which all transactions were carried out in kind. Effectively, bartering would be introduced. By 1921, the value of the rouble had dropped massively and inflation had markedly increased.
B. The Kronstadt Mutiny
i. At the end of February and early in March 1921, Kronstadt sailors revolted against the Communist government in Moscow that ruled in the name of “the dictatorship of the proletartiat”. The Kronstadt sailors had been the Bolsheviks most loyal supporters in Communists proceeded to eliminate all competing scoailist parties from politics and to rule Russia no less harshly and authoritaraianly than did the officials of the Tsar prior to the Revolution.
ii. The Kronstadt insurgents, demanded re-elections for the Soviet, freedom of speech and press for workers, peasants and left social parties, freedom of assembly, liberation of political prisoners, abolition of the privileged position of the Communist party, abolition of food requisitioning squads and peasants right to utilise their own land. Provisional government led the struggle of the Kronstadt garrison against the Soviet government. Lenin and Trotsky ordered that the Kronstadt Base be captured and mutiny quelled. After a bloody battle, the Kronstadt Naval Base was captured by the Red Army and the mutineers were imprisoned or executed. The survivors of the garrison of some 14,000 were either imprisoned or shot.
6. new economic policy (NEP)
New Economic Policy
Enforce a truce with peasants
To be complete opposite of War Communism
Peasants were refusing to plant more than they can eat for fear of confiscation. Towns were shrinking as industrial workers move to the countryside to grow food. Petrograd population reduced by 1/3.
The peasants were alienated by the government due to the confiscation of grain. Therefore, they had no real links or support for the Communist party.
Forced requisitioned of farm produce was replaced by a smaller “tax in kind”. This allowed peasants to surplus on the free markets.
Small-scale businesses were denationalized. This allowed a large sector of the market to return to normal.
The commanding heights of industry such as coal, steel and transport remained in government hands.
A Purge of Party memberships, a reduction in persecution of “class enemies” and creation of law codes to allow a normal return to life.
“Scissors Crisis”, difference between Agricultural and Industrial prices changed.
Tax limited to 10%.
Agricultural level reached a level of 75%, the same level as pre-war in 1913.
heavy industry did not benefit from the success in agriculture. In 1922, 500,000 were unemployed in the heavy industry sector.
A. Reasons for and effects of NEP.
B. Opposition to the new policy
i. The planned economy that the Bolsheviks had so desired was being sacrificed. Those who most benefited from NEP would be the peasant smallholder – the natural enemy of socialism.
ii. Peasants who made large profits as a result of the changes disturbed many socialists. The structure of any society was based on its economic base. If the economic base was to become a free market, it seemed inevitable that sooner or later the political structure will conform with the capitalist economic base. The impact NEP had on prices prompted questioning of policy.
iii. Opposition to NEP was based on ideology as the economy stablised and returned to pre-war levels of productivity, socialists began to question whether prolonged acceptance of capitalism in the economy is justified.
iv. Lenin argued that the only way to save the revolution was with the support and agreement of peasants. Lenin argued that the direct transition to Communism had been a mistake and that the first stage to communism had to be acceptance of small-scale production with state capitalism. Lenin then believed that Russia would then proceed to socialism and then to communism. Lenin claimed that the peasants could not be converted overnight and it would require “generations but not centuries”.
v. Light industry also benefited from the healthy situation found in agriculture. They had to produce goods for the peasants and the success of the peasants stimulated production in light industry. However, heavy industry did not benefit from the success in agriculture. In 1922, 500,000 were unemployed in the heavy industry sector.
C. Death of Lenin
i. In 1922, Lenin’s health began to fail. He died in 1924.
Was Lenin a successful leader of Russia ?
He managed to secure the Bolshevik takeover of power. He was the ideology behind it and the inspiration.
He restored political, economic and social stability to Russia in its final years.
In 1924, Russia changed its named to USSR ( Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in honor of the important role that the Soviets (led by Lenin) had played in Russia.
When he was in power, Lenin had played a central role in directing affairs. He made unpopular decisions like War Communism but this had helped the Bolsheviks to win the civil war. His decision to abandon War Communism in favor of the NEP may have been unpopular with party radicals but it stopped Russia from collapsing.
Thousands of people queue to pay their respects to Lenin after his death and he was embalmed.
He had transformed the idea of Marxism into Communism. Without his ideas the revolution will not have succeeded.
Many historians say Lenin was a harsh leader who used brutal force to repress and control people with secret police, Cheka.
Under Lenin, Russia operated as a one party state which had a secret force and and banned opposition.
Historians argue that Lenin’s cruel regime actually set the stone for Stalin’s purges in 1930.
Lenin left no clear instructions before his death as to who was to succeed him with the Testament. He had suggested a collective leadership but had not devised instructions on how this would happen. He had not trained a successor. Therefore, power struggle that went on in the years after 1924 meant that party leaders like Stalin only concentrated only on securing their own positions and not the care of Russian people.
Lenin had not left clear ideas on the future of the Communist party when he died. This resulted in long term struggle between Stalin and Trotsky.
ii. In December 1922, he dictated his Testament detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the men who might succeed him. He came to the conclusion that he should not be replaced by one man. He felt that Trotsky was a gifted a leader but was too arrogant.
iii. Stalin was considered to be an unsuitable leader. He recommended that he was to be removed from all his posts.