Russian Civil War

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Russian Civil War
Image:Red-soldiers.jpg
Red Army soldiers during the Russian Civil War.

Date 1917-1922
Location Russia, Ukraine, Caucasus, Siberia
Result Red victory
Combatants
Red Army (Bolsheviks) White Army (Monarchists, SRs, Anti-Communists)

Green Army (Peasants and Nationalists)

Black Army (Anarchists)
Commanders
Leon Trotsky
Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Semyon Budyonny
Lavr Kornilov, Alexander Kolchak, Anton Denikin, Pyotr Wrangel

Alexander Antonov, Nikifor Grigoriev

Nestor Makhno
Strength
5,427,273 (peak) +1,000,000
Casualties
939,755 irrecoverable losses;

6,791,783 sick and wounded.
900,000+ irrecoverable losses.
Russian Civil War
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The Russian Civil War was fought from 1917 to 1921. It began immediately after the collapse of the Russian provisional government and the Bolshevik takeover of Petrograd, rapidly intensifying after Lenin's dissolution of the Russian Constituent Assembly and the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The main hostilities took place between Communist forces known as the Red Army and loosely allied anti-Communist forces known as the White Army, and the worst fighting took place from 1918 to 1920. The Communists won after four years of savage fighting, and established the Soviet Union in 1922.

Contents

[edit] Overview

Following the abdication of Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the turbulent Russian Revolution throughout 1917, a socialist leaning Provisional Government was established. In October another revolution occurred in which the Red Guard, armed groups of workers and deserting soldiers directed by the Bolshevik Party, seized control of St. Petersburg and began an immediate armed takeover of cities and villages throughout Russia. In January 1918, Lenin had the Constituent Assembly violently dissolved, proclaiming the Bolsheviks as the new government of Russia.

The Bolsheviks decided to immediately make peace with Germany and the Central Powers, as they had promised the Russian people prior to the Revolution. This decision has also been attributed by historians to Vladimir Lenin's sponsorship by the foreign office of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Germany, offered by the latter in hopes that with a revolution, Russia would withdraw from World War I.

A cease fire was immediately announced and peace talks began. As a condition for peace, the proposed treaty by the Central Powers conceded huge portions of the former Russian Empire to Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire, greatly upsetting nationalists and conservatives. Leon Trotsky, representing the Bolsheviks, refused at first to sign the treaty while continuing to observe a unilateral cease fire, following the policy of "No fighting, but no peace treaty".

In view of this, the Germans began an all out advance on the Eastern Front, encountering no resistance. Signing a formal peace treaty was the only option in the eyes of the Bolsheviks, because the Russian army was demobilized and the newly formed Red Guard were incapable of stopping the advance. They also understood that the impending counterrevolutionary resistance was more dangerous than the concessions of the treaty, which Lenin viewed as temporary in the light of aspirations for a world revolution. The Soviets acceded to a peace treaty and the formal agreement, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, was ratified on March 6, 1918.

In the wake of the October Revolution, the old Russian army had been demobilized and the volunteer based Red Guard was the Bolsheviks' main military arm. In January, Trotsky headed its reorganization into the "Workers' and Peasants' Red Army," in order to create a more professional fighting force. He instituted a forceful conscription program, frequently resorting to repressive tactics, and used former Tsarist officers as "military specialists".

The Bolsheviks banned all non-Bolshevik political activity around the same time, even other socialist groups, when it became clear that the Bolsheviks could not hold a majority of the seats in any democratically elected governing body outside of St. Petersburg and Moscow. This was particularly visible in the elections to the Constituent Assembly where Bolsheviks constituted a minority of the vote (despite Bolshevik supervision at major urban polling centers).

While resistance to the Red Guard began on the very next day after the Bolshevik coup, the Brest-Litovsk treaty and the political ban became a catalyst for the formation of anti-Bolshevik groups both inside and outside Russia, pushing them into action against the new regime.

A loose confederation of anti-Bolshevik forces aligned against the Communist government, including republican, conservative, reactionary, pro-monarchist, liberal, non-Bolshevik socialists, and democratic reformist supporters, voluntarily united only in their opposition to Bolshevik rule. Their military forces became known as the White movement (sometimes referred to as the "White Army"), and they controlled significant parts of the former Russian empire for most of the war.

A Ukrainian nationalist movement known as the Green Army and an anarchist movement known as the Black Army played a much smaller part in the war, sometimes harrying both the Reds and the Whites, and sometimes even each other.

The Western Allies, upset at the withdrawal of Russia from the war effort, also expressed their dismay at the Bolsheviks. Winston Churchill declared that Bolshevism must be "strangled in its cradle".[citation needed] In addition, there was also a concern - shared by many countries in the Central Powers as well - that the socialist revolution would spread and so many expressed support for the Whites, occasionally provided troops and supplies.

The majority of the fighting ended in 1920 with the defeat of General Pyotr Wrangel in the Crimea, but a notable resistance in certain areas continued until 1922 (e.g, Kronstadt Uprising, Tambov Rebellion, and the final resistance of the White movement in the Far East).

The Soviet government held that the Bolshevik movement was an international workers' movement and not specifically Russian; therefore, Soviet historiography traditionally referred to the conflict as the "Civil War and Military Intervention of 1917-1922". This term also encompassed the Polish-Soviet War, resistance in Ukraine, as well as Basmachi resistance and foreign intervention in Central Asia in its definition.

Image:Russian civil war West 1918-20.png
 
Frontiers, 1921
 
Bolshevik control, Nov 1918
 
Maximum advances of 'White' forces

[edit] Geography and Chronology

The war was fought across three main fronts; the eastern, the southern and the north-western. It can also be roughly split into three periods.

The first period lasted from the Revolution until the Armistice. First, in late November of 1917 the new Bolshevik government declared that traditional Cossack lands were now to be run by the state. This provoked a revolt in Don region headed by General Kaledin, where the Volunteer Army began amassing support. The signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk also resulted in direct Allied intervention in Russia and the arming of military forces opposed to the Bolshevik government. There were also many German commanders who offered support against the Bolsheviks, fearing a confrontation with them was impending as well.

Most of the fighting in this first period was sporadic, involving only small groups amid a fluid and rapidly shifting strategic scene. Among the antagonists were the Czech-Slovaks, known simply as the Czech Legion or White Czechs (Белочехи, Byelochekhi), the Poles of the Polish 5th Rifle Division and the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian riflemen (Красные латышские стрелки, Krasnye Latyshskiye strelki).

Lenin was surprised by the outbreak of civil war and initially underestimated the extent of the forces that rose against his new government.

The second period of the war was the key stage, which lasted from January to November of 1919. At first the White armies' advances from the south (under Denikin), the east (under Kolchak) and the northwest (under Yudenich) were successful, pushing back the new Red Army on all three fronts. But Leon Trotsky reformed the Red Army and pushed back Kolchak's forces (in June) and Denikin's and Yudenich's armies (in October). The fighting power of all the White armies was broken almost simultaneously in mid-November.

The final period of the war was the extended siege of the last White forces in the Crimea. Wrangel had gathered the remnants of the armies of Denikin, and they had fortified their positions in the Crimea. They held these positions until the Red Army returned from Poland where they had been fighting the Polish-Soviet war. When the full force of the Red Army was turned on them the Whites were soon overwhelmed, and the remaining troops were evacuated to Constantinople in November 1920.

While historiography generally considers the Russian Civil War to be over after the defeat of Wrangel's troops, organized military resistance continued up until the evacuation of General Diterikhs' troops in Vladivostok in October of 1922, after which the Soviet Union declared itself a state. Thereon after, military resistance to the Soviet government was not to resume on a massive scale until the emergence of the Russian Liberation Movement during World War II.

[edit] Course of events

The first attempt to seize the power from the Bolsheviks was made by the Kerensky-Krasnov uprising in October, 1917. It was supported by the Junker mutiny in Petrograd, but quickly put down by the Red Guards.

Image:TrotskySlayingtheDragon1918.jpg
1918 Bolshevik propaganda poster depicting Trotsky as Saint George slaying the reactionary dragon (Trotsky was People's Commissar of War, and organizer of the Red Army)

The initial groups that fought against the Communists were local Cossack armies that had declared their loyalty to the Provisional Government. Prominent among them were Kaledin of the Don Cossacks and Semenov of the Siberian Cossacks. In November, General Alekseev, the old Tsarist Commander-in-Chief, began to organize a Volunteer Army (Добровольческая Армия, Dobrovolcheskaya Armiya) in Novocherkassk. He was joined in December by Kornilov. These forces fought against the Bolshevik army all across the Ukraine. The Cossacks took Rostov in December 1917.

[edit] 1918

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which pulled Russia out of the war and gave Germany control over vast stretches of western Russia, came as a nasty shock to the Allies. The British and the French had supported Russia on a massive scale with war materials and money. After the treaty, it looked like much of that material would fall into the hands of the Germans. As a result the United Kingdom and France sent troops into Russian ports. There were violent confrontations with troops loyal to the Bolsheviks but little bloodshed.

Image:WhiteArmyPropagandaPosterTrotsky.jpg
White Army propaganda poster depicting Trotsky as a "Red devil" that attempts to appeal to anti-Semitism. The text above the picture reads, "Peace and Liberty in Sovdepiya"

It was not until the spring of 1918 that the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionary Party joined the armed struggle against the Bolsheviks. Initially they had been opposed to war with the Bolsheviks but the treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the establishment of harsh dictatorial measures changed their position. They could have been a serious threat, as they had some popular support and the authority of their election victory on the Russian Constituent Assembly in 1918; However, they needed an army. An early attempt by the Socialist-Revolutionary Party to recruit Latvian troops in July 1918 was a failure. Fortunately, the Czech Legion proved to be a more reliable group to aid their "democratic counter-revolution".

The Czech Legion had been part of the Russian army and by October 1917 numbered around 30,000 men. Most were ex-prisoners of war and deserters from the Austro-Hungarian Army. Encouraged by Tomáš Masaryk, the legion was renamed the Czecho-Slovak Army Corps and hoped to continue fighting the Germans. An agreement with the new Bolshevik government to pass by sea through Vladivostok (so they could unite with the Czechoslovak legions in France) collapsed over an attempt to disarm the Corps. Instead their soldiers disarmed the Bolshevik forces in June 1918 at Cheliabinsk. Within a month the Czech Legion controlled most of the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Lake Baikal to the Ural Mountains regions. By August they had extended their control even farther, taking over Ekaterinburg on July 26 1918.

The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries supported peasant fighting against Soviet control of food supplies. In May 1918, with the support of the Czech Legion they took Samara and Saratov, establishing the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly (Комуч, Komuch). By July the authority of Komuch extended over much of the area controlled by the Czech Legion. The Komuch implemented a socialist reform program but without the unpopular economic changes the Soviets were pursuing.

There were also conservative and nationalist "governments" being formed by the Bashkirs, the Kirghiz and the Tatars (see Idel-Ural State) as well as a Siberian Regional Government in Omsk. In September 1918 all the anti-Soviet governments met in Ufa and agreed to form a new Russian Provisional Government in Omsk, headed by a Directory of five: three Socialist-Revolutionaries (Avksentiev, Boldyrev and Zenzinov) and two Kadets, (V. A. Vinogradov and P. V. Vologodskii).

However, the new government quickly came under the influence the new War Minister, Rear-Admiral Kolchak. On November 18 a coup d'état established Kolchak as dictator. The members of the Directory were arrested and Kolchak was proclaimed "Supreme Ruler of Russia". Kolchak was apolitical and not involved in the coup. He proved to be ineffective as both a political and military leader (his training was all in naval warfare). He also did not get along with the leaders of Czech Legion, the strongest military force in the area.

To the Soviets the emergence of Admiral Kolchak was a political victory because it confirmed their opponents as anti-democratic reactionaries. Following a reorganization of the People's Army, Kolchak's forces captured Perm and Ufa in December of 1918. But this was to be the high water-mark for his army.

In July two Socialist-Revolutionaries; Blyumkin and Andreyev; assassinated the German ambassador in Moscow, Count Mirbach, in an attempt to provoke the Germans into renewing hostilities. Other Socialist-Revolutionaries attempted to rouse Red Army troops against the regime. The Soviets managed to put down these local uprisings, and Lenin personally apologized to the Germans for the assassination. There were mass arrests of Socialist-Revolutionaries. Following two further terrorist acts on August 30—the assassination of the Chairman of the Petrograd Cheka, Uritsky, and the wounding of Lenin—the "Red Terror" was unleashed in response. Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were expelled from the Soviets and anyone suspected of counter-revolutionary activity could be imprisoned or executed without trial.

[edit] 1919

The stage was now set for the key year of the Civil War. The Bolshevik government was firmly in control of the core of Russia, from Petrograd through Moscow and south to Tsaritsyn (now Volgograd). Against this government in the east, Admiral Kolchak had a small army and had some control over the Trans-Siberian Railroad. In the south Cossacks armies controlled much of the Don and the Ukraine. In the Caucasus, General Denikin had established an army. In the newly independent country of Estonia General Yudenich was organizing an army. Estonia was overtly hostile to the Bolsheviks and had been fighting with them since November 1918 (see Estonian War of Independence for details). The French occupied Odessa. The British occupied Murmansk. The British and Americans occupied Arkhangelsk and the Japanese occupied Vladivostok.

Trotsky ordered the Bolshevik army to recapture Ukraine first. This they did in a quick campaign in the winter-spring of 1919. The Cossacks had been unable to organize and capitalize on their successes at the end of 1917. Consequently, when the Soviet counter-offensive began in January 1919—under the Bolshevik leader Antonov-Ovseenko—the Cossack forces rapidly fell apart. The Red Army captured Kiev on February 3 1919 and ten days later, with his army in chaos, General Kaledin committed suicide. Rostov was captured in March 1918. The Cossack Volunteer Army was evacuated to the Kuban, where they joined with the Kuban Cossacks to mount an abortive assault on Ekaterinodar. General Kornilov was killed in the fighting on April 13, Operational command passed to General Denikin who spent the next few months rebuilding his Cossack army. In October, General Alekseev died of a heart attack and General Denikin was (in theory at least) now the top political leader for the White armies in Southern Russia.

With Bolshevik forces seemingly triumphant in Ukraine, the French, having done almost no fighting, withdrew their troops from Odessa on April 8 1919.

While the war was going on in Ukraine, Trotsky sent another army against Kolchak's forces. This army, lead by the capable commander Tukhachevsky, recaptured Ekaterinburg on January 27 1919 and continued to push along the Trans-Siberian railroad. Both sides had victories and losses, but by the middle of summer the Red army was larger than the White army and was winning back lands it had lost earlier. The British and Americans pulled their troops out of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk before the onset of winter, having accomplished little. The Red Army captured Omsk on November 14 1919. Admiral Kolchak lost control of his government shortly after this defeat and in fact, the White army in Siberia essentially ceased to exist by December.

Image:RussianCavalryPoster.jpg
1919 poster, "Mount your horses, workers and peasants! The Red Cavalry is the pledge of victory."

Even though the United Kingdom withdrew its troops, it continued to give significant military aid (money, weapons, food, ammunition, and some military advisors) to the White armies during 1919, especially to General Yudenich. Without this support the White armies would likely have lost the war much earlier due to lack of weapons and food.

In the early summer, the Caucasus Army (now under operational command of General Wrangel) attacked north, trying to relieve the pressure on Kolchak's army or even link up with it. Wrangel's troops managed to capture Tsaritsyn on June 17 1919. Trotsky responded to this threat by sending Tukhachevsky with a new army against Wrangel's troops. The Caucasus army of Wrangel, faced with superior numbers, retreated south, leaving Tsaritsyn to the Bolsheviks.

Later in the summer, another Cossack force called the Don Army under the command of Cossack General Mamontov and attacked into Ukraine. The Red army, stretched thin by fighting on all fronts, was forced out of Kiev on September 2 1919. Mamontov's Don Army continued north towards Voronezh but there they were defeated by Tukhachevsky's army on October 24. Tukhachevsky's army then turned towards yet another threat, the rebuilt Volunteer Army, and destroyed that army at Orel in October. The Red Army recaptured Kiev on December 17 and the defeated Cossacks fled back towards the Black Sea.

While the White Armies were being defeated in the south, the center and the east, there was still one more threat to the Bolshevik government. This threat came from General Yudenich who had spent the spring and summer organizing a small army in Estonia, with British support. In October of 1919 he tried to capture Petrograd in a sudden assault with a force of around 20,000 men. The attack was well executed, with night attacks and maneuvers to turn the flanks of the defending Red army. Yudenich also had six British tanks that caused panic whenever they appeared. By October 19 1919 Yudenich's troops had reached the outskirts of Petrograd. The Bolshevik leadership in Moscow was willing to give up Petrograd, but Trotsky refused to accept the loss and personally went to the city to organize the defenses. Trotsky did everything he could to defend the city including arming the industrial workers and ordering the transfer of military forces up from Moscow. Within a few weeks the Red army defending Petrograd had tripled in size and outnumbered Yudenich three to one. At this point Yudenich gave up his attack and withdrew his army back to Estonia. Upon his return to Estonia, his army was disarmed by order of the Estonian government. The Bolshevik forces that followed Yudenich were beaten back by the Estonian army. Following the Treaty of Tartu most of Yudenich's soldiers then went into exile.

These victories by the Bolsheviks over Mamontov's Cossack army at Voronezh, Yudenich at Petrograd, and Kolchak at Omsk—all in a one month period—transformed the war. Quite suddenly the Bolshevik government had triumphed over all its internal enemies; the job that remained now was mopping up.

[edit] 1920

In Siberia, Admiral Kolchak's army had disintegrated. He himself gave up command after the loss of Omsk and designated Semenov as the new leader of the White Army in Siberia. Not long after this he was arrested by a dissident faction (which was probaly made up of nationalist Bashkirs<ref>Mawdsley, Evan (1987). The Russian Civil War. Aleen & Unwin inc.. ISBN 0-04-947025-6.</ref>) as he traveled towards Irkutsk (historian Richard Pipes thinks the French military liaison was involved in this). Kolchak was turned over to the Red army in February 1920 and executed two weeks later (likely on Lenin's order). Fighting in Siberia continued for the next year as armed gangs—essentially bandits—roamed the land. Semenov and his tattered band of Cossacks ultimately retreated into China.

The Czech Legion had no real interest in fighting in the Russian Civil War. They wanted to fight the German army, but with the end of World War I, that desire died. Uninspired by Kolchak (and not, in turn, trusted by him) they spent most of 1919 moving their troops east and having them shipped, boat by boat, back to Europe. They were aided in this effort by American military units, under the command of General William S. Graves, who took control over the eastern end of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The Czech Legion managed to evacuate all their forces out from Vladivostok (as had been their original plan in 1918). They were gone by April 1920 which is when the American troops also left Siberia.

Most of the White Armies were evacuated by British ships during the winter-spring of 1920. General Wrangel was the only holdout; his army remained an organized force in the Crimea throughout the summer of 1920. Then, trying to take advantage of the Red Army defeat in the Polish-Soviet War of 1920, General Wrangel attacked north. This offensive was rapidly halted by the Red Army and his troops were forced to retreat back to the Crimea in November 1920. He was evacuated by the British out of the Crimea on November 14 1920 amidst horrific scenes of desperation and cruelty. Tens of thousands of Russians tried to escape from the Red army but were unable to find transport on the British ships.

The Japanese, who had plans to annex the Amur region of Eastern Siberia, finally pulled their troops out in October of 1922 as the Bolshevik forces gradually asserted control over all of Siberia. The regions of Kamchatka and Northern Sakhalin remained under Japanese occupation until their treaty with Soviet Union in 1925, when their forces were finally withdrawn.

[edit] Explanations for the Red victory

The Reds held the central, industrial area, which gave them control over railways and the production of amunitions. They also controlled a huge population base from which they could conscript large armies (which they did starting in 1919). The Reds were united in the face of a common enemy, they feared the Tsar’s return, and they made use of the fear of invasion and newfound patriotism in the people. They relied on no one else, which made it easier to coordinate defense. The peasants feared the Tsar’s return and that of the landlords. They were worried that they would lose their land.

The core area which the Bolsheviks controlled was the most populous area of Russia and, when the decisive battles took place at the end of 1919, they had more than 3,000,000 men under arms. By the end of the Civil war in 1921 they had 5,000,000 men in their army. More than 75,000 ex-Tsarist officers served in the Red army. Compared to this, the strength of the White armies never exceeded 250,000 men. The core area which the Bolsheviks controlled contained the main industrial regions and almost all of the weapons of the Czarist army. They had the advantage of inner and better lines of communications, in particular railway lines. This allowed soldiers to be transported quickly to battlefields, and sufficient supplies to reach them. These inner lines of communication allowed Trotsky to shift Tukhachevsky and some of his best troops from the east - where they were fighting against Kolchak's army - to the south - where they fought against Wrangel's army at Tsaritsyn; all in the summer of 1919.

Leon Trotsky turned out to be an effective leader and organizer; he was also a brilliant speaker. He was appointed as Commissar for War in 1918 after the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. From a core of Red Guards, which had been armed by the Provisional Government during the Kornilov Revolt, Trotsky built up the Red Army through conscription. Traveling on his legendary train, he boosted the Red Army's morale. He also re-introduced strict discipline (after a short period of "equality" under Soviet Order No. 1). Deserters were shot, and political commissars, committed Bolsheviks, were placed in the ranks to ensure loyalty. Trotsky was personally responsible for ending the panic in Petrograd and turning back Yudenich's army. However, Trotsky was not usually responsible for the local conduct of the military operations, which remained in the capable hands of energetic men like Tukhachevsky.

[edit] Weaknesses of the Whites

Victory for the Bolsheviks was partially due to the weaknesses of the Whites. The Whites consisted of a coalition of many different diverse groups, all with different ideologies and objectives. Many peasants didn’t support the Whites and tried to maintain neutrality. The peasants were worried that a White victory could restore their land to the former land owners. While some White factions supported radical change and land reform, such as General Pyotr Wrangel's land reform, most Whites did not want to get involved in the land question and some were content giving the land back to its original owners, at least until another political solution was decided.

Admiral Kolchak was a capable naval officer but was not politically educated and had no prior experience in commanding a land based army. His tensions with certain commanders of the Czech Legion, the strongest and best organized military force in Siberia, caused difficulties. He had also been unable to gain the support of top Allied powers (Britain, France, or the United States). No Allied government recognized Kolchak's government as legitimate, partly owing to the Allies' uncertainty in the future of Kolchak's government (many socialists sought to replace him). Other reasons for not recognizing Kolchaks government include dislike of the Kolchaks autocratic rule <ref>U.S. General William S. Graves, America's Siberian Adventure (1918-1920) </ref> and fear of a new united Russian empire with colonial interests<ref>Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution</ref>.

The Whites were unable to gain support from three powers that had an interest in the conflict: Finland, Poland, and the Baltic States. While the Bolsheviks were quite willing to recognize the independence of these new countries (the Bolsheviks thought that all countries would soon cease to exist as Communism would dissolve national boundaries), the Whites were hesitant in deciding the question outside of the yet to be convened Constituent Assembly. As a result, General Yudenich was unable to get military support from Estonia or Finland for his attack on Petrograd. The Polish government lead by Yusuf Pilsudski, chose instead to ally with the Ukrainian government lead by Symon Petlura, whose territory had been invaded by the whites.

The Whites suffered because of their strategic position, which was scattered throughout the country, while the Bolsheviks were centralized. It was difficult too for Whites to communicate, much less coordinate attacks. There were also disputes over politics and military tactics. Some of the White generals (such as Semenov) became known for torture, rape and murder of civilians, which gave them many enemies.<ref>U.S. General William S. Graves, America's Siberian Adventure (1918-1920) </ref>.

[edit] Aftermath

At the end of the Civil War, Soviet Russia was exhausted and near ruin. The droughts of 1920 and 1921 and the 1921 famine worsened the disaster. The war had taken an estimated 15 million lives, including at least one million soldiers of the Russian Red Army who died in battle. Fifty thousand Russian Communists were killed by the counter-revolutionary Whites. Millions more were also killed by widespread starvation, epidemics, wholesale massacres by both sides, and even pogroms against Jews in Ukraine and southern Russia. The economic loss to Soviet Russia was 50 billion rubles, or 35 billion in current U.S. Dollars. The industrial production value descended to 4-20% of the value of 1913.

Another million people, known as the White emigres, fled Russia - many with General Wrangel, some through the Far East, others fled west into the newly independent Baltic countries in order to escape the ravages of the war, the famine, or the rule of either warring faction. These émigrés included a large part of the educated and skilled population.

War Communism saved the Soviet government during the Civil War, but much of the Russian economy ground to a standstill. Private industry and trade was proscribed, and the newly established (and barely stable) state was unable to run the economy on a sufficient scale. It is estimated that the total output of mines and factories in 1921 had fallen to 20 % of the pre-World War level, and many crucial items experienced an even more drastic decline. For example, cotton production fell to 5 %, and iron to 2 % of pre-war levels.

The peasants responded to requisitions by refusing to till the land. By 1921, cultivated land had shrunk to 62 % of the pre-war area, and the harvest yield was only about 37 % of normal. The number of horses declined from 35 million in 1916 to 24 million in 1920, and cattle from 58 to 37 million. The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar declined from two rubles in 1914 to 1,200 in 1920.

Although Russia eventually recovered and even experienced extremely rapid economic growth in the 1930s, the combined effect of World War One and the Civil War left a lasting scar in Russian society, and had permanent effects on the later history of the Soviet Union.

Many socialist theorists, particularly those in the Trotskyist tradition, cite the combined devastation of these two experiences as the basis for Stalin's rise to power and the reason for the dissolution of the workers' state established by Lenin and the original Bolsheviks. They argue that the proletariat had been crippled by both massive physical death and the destruction of class consciousness. What is more, they strongly emphasize the ruinous state that Russian economy was in after years of national conflict. They claim that the ascendency of Stalinism took root in the shambles of the country's socioeconomic system.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

  • T.N. Dupuy, The Encyclopedia of Military History (many editions) Harper & Row Publishers.
  • DK Atlas of World History, 1999, Dorling Kindersley Publishing.

[edit] External links

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Russian Civil War

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