W W W . E X P L A I N I N G H I S T O R Y . C O M
Foreign interventionWhy were there foreignarmies helping thewhites?
The First World War
: After signing the Treaty Of Brest Litovsk, theGermans freed up hundreds of thousands of troops to throw againstthe allies on the Western Front. Itbecame essential to get Russia back inthe war or take the pressure of thewestern allies and the only way to dothis was to overthrow the Bolsheviks.
: The British, Americans andFrench were capitalist powers and hadall experienced unrest from theirworkers in the past few decades, theyfeared the spread of Communismacross Europe and knew that Leninintended to export his revolutionaround the world. Winston Churchillsaid that Communism ought to be'strangled in it's cradle'. Japan, also ananti communist power invaded Siberia,keen to destroy the new regime andannex territory.
: Tsarist Russia had beenreceiving huge war loans from Britain,America and France and none of thesethree powers could afford to allow herto default. Lenin announced that Russiawould not repay any loan to the westand this provided a powerful motivationto put a new government in power thatwould honour its debts.
The White ArmiesWhy were they soincapable of winning?
By Nick Shepley
1) No Policies: It was very difﬁcult forthe White Armies to have muchsupport as they didn't really have muchto offer the peasants, who made up 80per cent of the population. They madeno promises at all about allowing peasants to keep the land they hadseized in the revolution, and treatedthem with the same contempt that theyhad when they were the peasant'slandlords.2) No Men: The Whites Armies weremade up largely of ofﬁcers, their meneither returned to their peasant villagesor went to join the Red Army. Thismeant that the White Armies wereoften smaller and there were fewermen in White units who were happy tobe led by others. Often there weredisputes over strategy and too manyskilled military thinkers had too muchinput.3) No Strategy: As well as oldaristocrats, the White forces were madeup of Cossacks, Ukrainian Nationalistsand Socialist Revolutionaries. Allparties hated and mistrusted each otherand often refused to cooperate witheach other, which gave the Reds a hugeadvantage and weakened the Whitecause. It became hard for Russians toknow what the White cause actuallywas, they simply demonstrated whatthey were opposed to, not what theybelieved.4) No Support: By 1920 it was clearthat the tide was turning against theWhites, they had failed to convince themajority of the people to support themand this led Britain, France andAmerica to withdraw aid and troopsfrom Russia, abandoning the Whites totheir fate.5) No Money: The majority of theﬁnances of the White Armies camefrom abroad, and the Bolsheviks hadbeen clever enough to capture the goldreserves of the former Tsarist regime.This meant that by 1921 the Whitecause was bankrupt and there wasnothing left to pay White soldiers with.Unlike many Bolsheviks, who weremotivated by idealism, there wasnothing other than meagre wages andintimidation to force Whites to ﬁght,and when wages dried up, men desertedin huge numbers.
Ivan Denikin, antiBolshevik general,committed to defeatingthe revolution, but unableto coordinate his forceswith other armies.
How did Australian soldiers come to be in Arkangelsk in 1919? These men were part of aBritish Expeditionary force, ﬁrst designed to getRussia back into the war on the British side, andthen to crush Communism.