You are on page 1of 28

12th June 2016

A. Russian Defeats on the Eastern Front 1914-1916

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
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.

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


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



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.
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.

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.

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

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


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.

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.


A. Immediate causes of the February Revolution, especially events in

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

Backward economy

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.



Weakness of Russia

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 12 th 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.

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

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, 3 rd
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.

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 counterattack. 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


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
Petrograd Soviet
Led by Prince Lvov
Dominated by the
Political prisoners were released
 In reality, this was the real source
of power in Petrograd
Revolutionary exiles were
allowed to return to Russia

Free speech was announced and
newspapers were allowed to print
what they liked, reduced
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

The new Duma had to be elected
by all.

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

They announced that they would
accept the rulings of the
Provisional Government but only
if they thought it was

C. The Activities of Lenin and the Bolsheviks


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.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.


23rd October, Provisional Government acts to shut down all
Bolshevik newspapers.


24th October, Red Guards took over bridges and the telephone


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.


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.
27th October 1917, Lenin announced a new Communist

F. Reasons for success of Bolsheviks, especially the role of Lenin and

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


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.


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.

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.


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.


A. Bolshevik Consolidation of Power
B. Decrees, Constituent Assembly and Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

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.


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



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.


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.


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)


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.


The Whites
The Whites consisted of everyone who opposed Communism, such
- 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

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 TransSiberian 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

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.



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.

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.

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
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.




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.
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

Civil War
Why they won

The Reds had a geographical
advantage as the center of the country
including industrial cities such as
Moscow and Petrograd and rich

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

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.


Why they lost

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.

A. Reasons and effects of War Communism
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. Len
also used War Communism to introduce Communist ideas to Russia.
Lenin believed banks occupied a key
 December 1917, bank were nationalised
position in the modern capitalistic economy
and foreign and internal loans contracted
and that they economy without resorting to
by the tsarist and provisional government
extreme and drastic measures to reshape
were annulled.
its general structure and organisation.
 Bolsheviks able to view all available huma
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

To nationalise of industry and to control
and coordinate the economy and labour

To introduce Communist ideas.


and material resources which enabled
them to organise munitions production an
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

Extreme centralisation was introduced. Th
most important one was the Supreme
Economic Council. They had the right fo
confiscation and requisition. The specialit
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. Th

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 t
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 o
the rouble had dropped massively and
inflation had markedly increased.

B. The Kronstadt Mutiny



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


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.


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 w
replaced by a smaller “tax in kind”. Th
allowed peasants to surplus on the fre

Small-scale businesses were denation
This allowed a large sector of the mar
return to normal.

The commanding heights of industry s
coal, steel and transport remained in
government hands.

A Purge of Party memberships, a redu
in persecution of “class enemies” and
creation of law codes to allow a norma
return to life.

“Scissors Crisis”, difference between
Agricultural and Industrial prices chan

Tax limited to 10%.

Agricultural level reached a level of 75
same level as pre-war in 1913.

heavy industry did not benefit from th
success in agriculture. In 1922, 500,00
were unemployed in the heavy indust

A. Reasons for and effects of NEP.

B. Opposition to the new policy



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.


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.

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.


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”.


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

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
 Many historians say Lenin was a harsh
takeover of power. He was the ideology
leader who used brutal force to repress
behind it and the inspiration.
and control people with secret police,
He restored political, economic and
social stability to Russia in its final

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

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

war. His decision to abandon War
Communism in favor of the NEP may
have been unpopular with party
radicals but it stopped Russia from

Thousands of people queue to pay their
respects to Lenin after his death and he
was embalmed.

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.

He had transformed the idea of
Marxism into Communism. Without his
ideas the revolution will not have
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


Stalin was considered to be an unsuitable leader. He
recommended that he was to be removed from all his posts.