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The Sides Reds – Bolsheviks. Aim – Stay in Power

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1 The Sides Reds – Bolsheviks. Aim – Stay in Power
Whites – anti Bolsh. Liberals, former Tsarists, SR, other moderate socialists. Aim – wanted constituent assembly or military dictatorship, very divided in opinion. Greens – Peasant armies often made up of deserters from other armies. Aim – wanted to protect own land.

2 Geographical Advantages
Reds had advantage of controlling centre of Russia, whites operated on circumference. Reds could shift forces from front 2 front 2 defend positions and attack weaknesses. When forced to retreat, had advantage of shortened lines of communication. Reds controlled vast territory and could give up ground without being seriously threatened. Gave reds strategic and material benefits. Far greater human resources. Winter Bolsheviks ruled all Great Russia – 70 million, territories of Denikin and Kolchak = 8-9 million By controlling Great Russia, reds ruled a population of the same ethnicity. Whites controlled areas of non-Russians; either took little interest or supported reds. High proportion of whites = Cossacks eager to gain independence rather than rebuild old empire. Reds had great edge in weapons and munitions as defence industry was located in great Russia enterprises engaged in war production employing 1.94 million. Moscow = 23.6% of enterprises, Petrograd – 12.7%, Ukraine and Donbass = 29.5%, Urals = 9.1%. once production resumed in winter , output almost entirely to reds. Whites had access only to secondary defence industry in Urals and Donbass regions.

3 Reds inherited vast stores of war materials
Reds inherited vast stores of war materials. Red army was ‘almost fully and in all respects based on stores left by the tsarist army. They were on the whole of incalculable quantity’ – Volpe in Ibid pg 373. an inventory taken by reds in dec 1917 said to be incomplete held 2.5 million rifles 1.2 billion rounds, field guns, 28 million artillery shells belonging to old army. Whites only inherited that left in Romania which the allies gave them. Whites had to rely on capturing weapons and supplies from abroad. Without the latter, operating in areas with few defence industries or tsarist arsenals would not have been able to carry on. Reds had better railway support. Rail network designed on radial pattern, hub of which was Moscow. Lateral lines were poorly developed. Control of centre made it easier for reds to shift troops and supplies than whites. Whites only material advantage was abundance of food and coal. Food and fuel shortages caused immense hardship for soviet governemnt. Bore more heavily on civilians than regime and army as authorities made sure bureaucracy and red army provided for.

4 Unity & Organisation – Trotsky’s Influence
Red advantage – they were one, whites were many. Reds had single unified command taking orders from tightly knit political oligarchy. Even if it did not always agree it could formulate and implement strategic plans. Whites fragmented and separated by large distances. No common strategy. Could not speak to each other to coordinate operations. Whites failed to organise armies – lacked properly trained military specialists esp. in Siberia. Trotsky – army of millions created by conscription in Oct 1918 could not be led by inexperienced commanders. Trotsky drafted tens of 1000s of ex-imperial officers kept in line with combination of political controls and terror. Communists envisaged an armed militia – no ranks, discipline only recognised in active combat. Trotsky scraped it and rebuilt it on traditional principles – to control officers he would kidnap their families and he also reintroduced the death penalty. Trotsky – ‘it is necessary to create such a situation, such a feeling in the country, that a deserter cannot find a place to lay his head.’ 1,426,000 deserters returned in July-Dec 1919 compared to 334,000 in Feb-June.

5 Leadership Red advantage for fundamental reason – red army military arm of civilian gov. white armies were a military force that also had to act as a Gov. Generals ill prepared to cope with double responsibility and the problems it produced. Flaw of white leaders = thought purely in military terms while struggling to restore Russian state (a political task). Trotsky: major mistakes in foreign policy in early 1918 and in economic situation. Vital step was his support to create regular army against party organisation. Played important agitation role, HQ train covered miles, acted as a figurehead to rally the troops.

6 Foreign Intervention Until Nov 1918 armistice, allied intervention aimed to reactivate eastern front by helping Russians fight Germany. After this its purpose turned murky. Allies wanted to stabilise the situation in order to have a Gov there with which to agree on the frontiers of post war Finland, Baltic States, Poland, Caucasus, Transcaspia. Britain was afraid of communism, France wanted to recover investments lost by soviets, Japan wanted to annex eastern frontier. The most important intervention, was not allies but the central powers. Up until Nov 1918 they held much of west and south Russia. (Evans Mawdsley) Few allied troops sent, none fought in major battles. Allies provided munitions but never committed enough men and by committing what they did, they opened the whites up to the charge of being unpatriotic: encouraging foreigners to intervene in Russian affairs. Provided the Reds with a propaganda coup

7 Support White peasant passivity key to outcome. Weakness of anti-red civilians led to soldiers taking over. Whites launched attacks as soon as they could as each month saw the red army grow. Anti-bolshevik democrats had a popular program but little military resources. Whites had better armies but made few promises to population of their base territories and of the large captured regions. This was because the white’s social foundation was the property owning minority – Tsenzovoe society. Also from dislike of politics white leaders were narrow conservative nationalists. Whites political programmes were vague and inadequate: did nothing to reassure the peasants that the land they had won in 1917 would not be taken from them in the event of a white victory. Failed to offer workers a secure status for trade unions and factory committees. Only consistent political message was ‘Russia one and indivisible’ – alienated non Russian nationalists who might be inclined to support the whites.

8 Other Factors Greens- challenged both whites and reds. On Denikins left flank emerged anarchists led by Nesto Makhno involving 1000s of partisans who had no program other than abolishing state authority and looting Whites also had to contend with Ukrainian nationalist forces under Semen Petlura. Entered Kiev at same time but considered hostile so troops assigned to neutralise them. Reds had similar problems with partisans to its rear but numerical preponderance was invaluable. Czech Corp – 25th may 1918, Czech Corp fought soviet forces in western Siberia stretching over 4900 miles of Trans Siberian railway. 2 weeks – Czechs taken several major towns + blocked vital railways. 3months – controlled whole of trans-Siberia and 2 thirds of Russia’s land area. Areas freed from Bolshevik control became key centres for anti-Bolshevik movements Lenin – although he did not have direct role in the Civil War, the policy of War Communism that he developed helped the Reds win the war. Problems stressed by strain on raw materials because of the Civil War. The economy had to be geared towards the army and without Lenin’s influence the Red resistance may have crumbled. He requisitioned grain, nationalised industry, banned private trade.

9 ‘Red victory was a foregone conclusion’ How justified was this view?
Geopolitical advantages (slide 1) BUT Whites had more food and coal. PERHAPS Reds did not use the land they had to its best potential, civilians starved as food was directed towards army. Trotsky’s leadership (slides 4 & 5) BUT Lenin also helped economically. War could not be fought without good economy. PERHAPS both leaders should be credited equally. Greens and Czech Corp resisted Reds. Many areas such as Ukraine and Caucasus wanted independence – Reds had plenty of opposition but this opposition was unorganised. Ultimately the Reds were going to win the Civil War due to immense advantages in Geography, leadership, unity, lack of foreign support……see the slides for the rest

10 Did the Bolshevik’s mainly triumph in the Civil War because their opponents were more disorganised?
Isolated factor of organisation discussed first then mention all remaining factors in the slides

11 Was the Civil War one conflict or many?
Reds vs Whites - look at the main forces of the Whites – Yudenich, Kolchak, Kornilov, Denikin. It will probably show the main cause of conflict to be the Bolshevik actions of alienating the other groups, SRs, Mensheviks, liberals and conservatives. Greens vs Reds, Whites, Czechs, Germans. Mention Greens motivations and Makhno Foreign Interests – supporting Whites against Reds but all the countries had different agendas. Japanese attempting to capture east coast, Britain afraid of Communism…. See slide 6 Czechs – supported Whites but wanted out of Russia.

12 Historians G Swain: “the Civil War became a war between Red Bolsheviks and the White Generals.” Evan Mawdsley: “foreign intervention was often half-hearted and militarily ineffective.” W Bruce Lincoln: “Kolchak drew his main support from the British, the armourers and the financiers of his government... Here at last was a commander who spoke of legality, order, freedom and firm democratic foundations and did not consign capitalists to the purgatory of world revolution.” Evan Mawdsley: cites the advantage of the “Aladdin’s cave” regarding the territory. Robert Service: cites Trotsky’s brilliance. Richard Pipes: sees the objective factors (like the territory the Reds controlled) as the cause of victory, rather than leadership or motivation. Orlando Figes: suggests the crucial advantage the Reds had, (encouraging more volunteers to be part of the fighting force), was the claim that they were defending “the Revolution”. Figes: also states that the root of White failure was one of politics. Bruce Lincoln: also highlights this in Wrangel’s attempt in 1920 to offer land to the peasants as well. Primary source – V.Serge notes on Trotsky’s arrival the atmosphere amongst troops changed postively.

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