Stamps issued by the Whites

Civil War

The October Revolution sucessfully eliminated the Menzhevik government in St. Petersburg, and the new Bolzhevik administation acted as its successor, signing an armistice with Germany in December. Yet German forces, in order to put pressure on the Russian government to accept far-reaching German demands, advanced, occupying wide territories (most of which were to be ceded by Russia). Under these circumstances, public attention in Russia focussed on the peace negotiations. With the PEACE OF BREST-LITOVSK signed on March 3rd 1918, Germany as an enemy was eliminated, and the rifts in Russian society became openly visible.
While the Bolzheviks controlled cities such as Petrograd (renamed St. Petersburg, soon to be renamed Leningrad) and Moscow and a number of army units had opted for them, others were loyal to the Czar (the Menzheviks had disappeared from the scene with the October Revolution). To make matters more complex, the CZECH LEGION was stationed on Russian soil, a unit which was anti-Bolzhevik. German troops, despite the peace, were still stationed in the Baltics etc.

In July 1918 the SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARIES, hitherto Bolzhevik allies, left their coalition government and demanded Russia to resume the war; a SR counterrevolution in Moscow was foiled, the leadership arrested. It was obvioius that Russia's other political parties were even less willing and capable of cooperating with the Bolzheviks.
In several cities what remained of the SR organized a counterrevolutionary administration (summer 1918). Anglo-American troops landed at ARKHANGELSK, to be followed by British forces in Batum, in the Caspian region, on the Crimea, Japanese and American forces in Vladivostok, a British fleet in the Baltic - in order to bring Russia back into the war. The WHITE forces, lying like a ring around the centre held by the REDS (Bolzheviks), were commanded by Generals YUDENICH, DENIKIN, KOLCHAK. They were joined by volunteer cossack troops; Admiral Kolchak was nominally accepted as the commander-in-chief. The Reds responded by murdering the family of the Czar (July 16th 1918). The Entente forces, especially the British, supported the Whites.
Yet lack of cooperation on the side of the whites and superior strategy as well as ruthlessness on the side of the Reds gave the latter the edge over their opponents; the invading powers (victory over Germany having been achieved in November 1918), their populace being tired of the war, lacked the will to resist.
During the civil war the independence of Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Livonia, Poland was violated (yet the whites used many of these territories as basis of operation). By 1918 the Bolzheviks were in control og most of European Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine (where SOVIET REPUBLICS were founded, thus preserving the notion of independence). The Russian Civil War, in the west, passed over into the RUSSIAN-POLISH WAR of 1919-1920.
In 1919 Soviet forces took Arkhangelsk and the Caucasus region. With the repulsion of General Yudenich's drive, from Estonia, on Petrograd in October 1919 the war practically was decided. The Crimea, with a white administration under General WRANGEL, was occupied in November 1920. By 1921 the Civil War practically was over. By 1922 the American-Japanese occupation force withdrew from the Far East, by 1925 from Northern Sakhalin.
Russia has suffered an estimated 500,000 dead in the Civil War.

The Civil War in Russia, a site focussing on the military side America's Secret War, American Intervention in the Russian Civil War 1918-1920, by Daniel A. Leifheit
Civil War in South Russia, from Spock's Russian History Page
Civil War in the Soviet Union 1918-1920, from Russia and Eastern Europe Chronology at North Park
Russian Civil War 1918-1920, from Armed Conflict Events Data
The Russian Civil War 1918-1921, by G. Rempel
Russian Civil War 1918-1920, from (on the military engagements of British forces)
Much Ado About Nothing: Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War, from
The Polar Bear Expedition, American Intervention in Northern Russia 1918-1919, from Bentley Historical Library
DOCUMENTS Left Behind : Fourteen Months in Siberia, Dec. 1917-Feb. 1919, by Baroness Sophie Buxhövenden, posted by Alexander Palace, memoirs
To The Soldiers Of General Yudenich's Army, The Fight for Petrograd, pamphlet 1919, from The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky
V.I. Lenin, All out for the Fight against Denikin !, July 9th 1919, from From Marx to Mao
Denikin South Russia issues (stamps), from
Arthur Ransome, Russia in 1919, from World Wide School
Arthur Ransome, The Crisis in Russia, from World Wide School
Lenin's 1918 order to hang rebellious Kulaks, from Library of Congress' Soviet Archives
Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Brest Litovsk, Dec. 15th 1917 - signing of armistice, Russia : inspection among White troops, Brest-Litovsk, March 3rd 1918, Russian delegation welcomed, Peace signed, Russian Delegation at Brest-Litovsk, Stalin, Lenin 1919, Lenin, Stalin c. 1921, Lenin, Stalin c. 1921, Propaganda Poster featuring Lenin, c. 1920, Alexander Kolchak, Soviet Poster, 1921, featuring the famine
La Guerre Civile dans les Rues de Petrograd, from Photos de l'Annee 1917, comment in French; site has more images on Russia 1917 under title L'Annee 1917 en Russie
REFERENCE Arthur Ransome, The Crisis in Russia, NY : B.W. Huebsch 1921, online book posted by authorama
John Spargo, Bolshevism. The Enemy of Political and Industrial Democracy, 1919, posted online by Gutenberg Library Online
William C. Bullitt, The Bullitt Mission to Russia (1919), posted online by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 15th 2007

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