Russian Civil War

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Russian Civil War
Part of the Russian Revolution and the aftermath of World War I
Russian Civil War montage.png
Clockwise from top left:
Date7 November 191716 June 1923[m][1]: 3, 230 [2]
(5 years, 7 months and 9 days)
Peace treaties

Bolshevik victory:

Cessions to Bolshevik states
Cessions to other nations
Main belligerents


Commanders and leaders
Vladimir Lenin
Leon Trotsky
Jukums Vācietis
Yakov Sverdlov
S. Kamenev
N. Podvoisky
Joseph Stalin
Y. Medvedev
Vilhelm Knorin
A. Krasnoshchyokov
A. Kerensky Surrendered
Alexander Kolchak Executed
Lavr Kornilov 
Anton Denikin
Pyotr Wrangel
Nikolai Yudenich
Grigory Semyonov
Yevgeny Miller
Don Republic Pyotr Krasnov
Flag of Bogd Khaanate Mongolia.svg R. von Ungern Executed
Poland Józef Piłsudski
C.G.E. Mannerheim
Symon Petliura
Konstantin Päts
Jānis Čakste
Antanas Smetona
S. Tikhonov
Democratic Republic of Georgia Noe Zhordania
A. Khatisian
Nasib Yusifbeyli
Vladimir Volsky
Maria Spiridonova
Nykyfor Hryhoriv 
Nestor Makhno
Stepan Petrichenko
and others
Otani Kikuzo
Edmund Ironside
William S. Graves
Czechoslovakia Radola Gajda
Maurice Janin
and others
German Empire H. von Eichhorn 
Ottoman Empire Nuri Pasha
Jan Sierada
Pavlo Skoropadskyi
P. Bermondt-Avalov
and others

Local forces:


Casualties and losses

  • Czechoslovakia 13,000 killed
  • 6,500 killed
  • United Kingdom 938+ killed[9]
  • United States 596 killed
  • Romania 350 killed
  • Kingdom of Greece 179 killed
  • Poland ~250,000
  • 57,000 killed
  • 113,000 wounded
  • 50,000 POWs
  • Ukraine ~125,000
  • 15,000 killed
  • ~5,000
  • 3,500 killed
  • 1,650 executed/dead
  • Estonia 3,888 killed
  • Latvia 3,046 killed
  • Lithuania 1,444 killed[10]
  • Sweden 55 killed

  • German Empire 500 killed

7,000,000–12,000,000 total casualties, including
civilians and non-combatants

1–2 million refugees outside Russia

The Russian Civil War (Russian: Гражданская война в России, tr. Grazhdanskaya voyna v Rossii; 7 November 1917 — 16 June 1923)[1] was a multi-party civil war in the former Russian Empire sparked by the overthrowing of the social-democratic Russian Provisional Government in the October Revolution, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. It resulted in the formation of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in most of its territory. Its finale marked the end of the Russian Revolution, which was one of the key events of the 20th century.

The Russian monarchy ended with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II during the February Revolution, and Russia was in a state of political flux. A tense summer culminated in the Bolshevik-led October Revolution, overthrowing the Provisional Government of the new Russian Republic. Bolshevik seizure of power was not universally accepted, and the country descended into civil war. The two largest combatants were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of totalitarian socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which functioned as a political big tent for right- and left-wing opposition to Bolshevik rule. In addition, rival militant socialists, notably the Ukrainian anarchists of the Makhnovshchina and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, were involved in conflict against the Bolsheviks. They, as well as non-ideological green armies, opposed the Bolsheviks, the Whites and the foreign interventionists.[11] Thirteen foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the Allied intervention, whose primary goal was re-establishing the Eastern Front of World War I. Three foreign nations of the Central Powers also intervened, rivaling the Allied intervention with the main goal of retaining the territory they had received in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Soviet Russia.

The Bolsheviks initially consolidated control over most of the former empire. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was an emergency peace with the German Empire, who had captured vast swathes of the Russian territory during the chaos of the revolution. In May 1918, the Czechoslovak Legion in Russia revolted in Siberia. In reaction, the Allies began their North Russian and Siberian interventions. That, combined with the creation of the Provisional All-Russian Government, saw the reduction of Bolshevik-controlled territory to most of European Russia and parts of Central Asia. In 1919, the White Army launched several offensives from the east in March, the south in July, and west in October. The advances were later checked by the Eastern Front counteroffensive, the Southern Front counteroffensive, and the defeat of the Northwestern Army.

By 1919, the White armies were in retreat and by the start of 1920 were defeated on all three fronts.[12] Although the Bolsheviks were victorious, the territorial extent of the Russian state had been reduced, for many non-Russian ethnic groups had used the disarray to push for national independence.[13] In March 1921, during a related war against Poland, the Peace of Riga was signed, splitting disputed territories in Belarus and Ukraine between the Republic of Poland and Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia sought to re-conquer all newly independent nations of the former Empire, although their success was limited. Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania all repelled Soviet invasions, while Ukraine, Belarus (as a result of the Polish–Soviet War), Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were occupied by the Red Army.[14][15] By 1921, Soviet Russia had defeated the Ukrainian national movements and occupied the Caucasus, although anti-Bolshevik uprisings in Central Asia lasted until the late 1920s.[16]

The armies under Kolchak were eventually forced on a mass retreat eastward. Bolshevik forces advanced east, despite encountering resistance in Chita, Yakut and Mongolia. Soon the Red Army split the Don and Volunteer armies, forcing evacuations in Novorossiysk in March and Crimea in November 1920. After that, anti-Bolshevik resistance was sporadic for several years until the collapse of the White Army in Yakutia in June 1923, but continued on with the Muslim Basmachi movement in Central Asia and Khabarovsk Krai until 1934. There were an estimated 7 to 12 million casualties during the war, mostly civilians.[1]: 287 


World War I[edit]

The Russian Empire fought in World War I from 1914 alongside France and the United Kingdom (Triple Entente) against Germany, Austria-Hungary and later the Ottoman Empire (Central Powers).

February Revolution[edit]

The February Revolution of 1917 resulted in the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. As a result, the social-democratic Russian Provisional Government was established, and soviets, elected councils of workers, soldiers, and peasants, were organized throughout the country, leading to a situation of dual power. Russia was proclaimed a republic in September of the same year.

October Revolution[edit]

The Provisional Government, led by Socialist Revolutionary Party politician Alexander Kerensky, was unable to solve the most pressing issues of the country, most importantly to end the war with the Central Powers. A failed military coup by General Lavr Kornilov in September 1917 led to a surge in support for the Bolshevik party, who bolshevized the soviets, which until then had been controlled by the Socialist Revolutionaries. Promising an end to the war and "all power to the Soviets", the Bolsheviks then ended dual power by overthrowing the Provisional Government in late October, on the eve of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, in what would be the second Revolution of 1917. Despite the Bolsheviks' seizure of power, they lost to the Socialist Revolutionary Party in the 1917 Russian Constituent Assembly election, and the Constituent Assembly was dissolved by the Bolsheviks in retaliation. The Bolsheviks soon lost the support of other far-left allies, such as the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, after their acceptance of the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk presented by the German Empire.[17]

Formation of the Red Army[edit]

From mid-1917 onwards, the Russian Army, the successor-organisation of the old Imperial Russian Army, started to disintegrate;[18] the Bolsheviks used the volunteer-based Red Guards as their main military force, augmented by an armed military component of the Cheka (the Bolshevik state secret police). In January 1918, after significant Bolshevik reverses in combat, the future Russian People's Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs Leon Trotsky headed the reorganization of the Red Guards into a Workers' and Peasants' Red Army in order to create a more effective fighting force. The Bolsheviks appointed political commissars to each unit of the Red Army to maintain morale and to ensure loyalty.

In June 1918, when it had become apparent that a revolutionary army composed solely of workers would not suffice, Trotsky instituted mandatory conscription of the rural peasantry into the Red Army.[19] The Bolsheviks overcame opposition of rural Russians to Red Army conscription units by taking hostages and shooting them when necessary in order to force compliance.[20] The forced conscription drive had mixed results, successfully creating a larger army than the Whites, but with members indifferent towards Marxist–Leninist ideology.[17]

The Red Army also utilized former Tsarist officers as "military specialists" (voenspetsy);[21] sometimes their families were taken hostage in order to ensure their loyalty.[22] At the start of the civil war, former Tsarist officers formed three-quarters of the Red Army officer-corps.[22] By its end, 83% of all Red Army divisional and corps commanders were ex-Tsarist soldiers.[21]

Anti-Bolshevik movement[edit]

Admiral Alexander Kolchak (seated) and General Alfred Knox (behind Kolchak) observing military exercise, 1919

The White movement (Russian: pre–1918 Бѣлое движеніе / post–1918 Белое движение, tr. Beloye dvizheniye, IPA: [ˈbʲɛləɪ dvʲɪˈʐenʲɪɪ])[q] also known as the Whites (Бѣлые / Белые, Beliye), was a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the communist Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War and that to a lesser extent continued operating as militarized associations of rebels both outside and within Russian borders in Siberia until roughly World War II (1939–1945). The movement's military arm was the White Army (Бѣлая армія / Белая армия, Belaya armiya), also known as the White Guard (Бѣлая гвардія / Белая гвардия, Belaya gvardiya) or White Guardsmen (Бѣлогвардейцы / Белогвардейцы, Belogvardeytsi).

When the White Army was created, the structure of the Russian Army of the Provisional Government period was used, while almost every individual formation had its own characteristics. The military art of the White Army was based on the experience of the First World War, which, however, left a strong imprint on the specifics of the Civil War.[23]

During the Russian Civil War, the White movement functioned as a big-tent political movement representing an array of political opinions in Russia united in their opposition to the Bolsheviks—from the republican-minded liberals and Kerenskyite social-democrats on the left through monarchists and supporters of a united multinational Russia to the ultra-nationalist Black Hundreds on the right.

Left-wing opposition to the Bolsheviks[edit]

The 1917 Socialist Revolutionary Party election poster whose caption in red reads партія соц.-рев. (in pre-1918 Russian), short for Party of the Socialist-Revolutionaries; the banner bears the party's motto Russian: Въ борьбѣ обрѣтешь ты право свое ("Through struggle you will attain your rights"); and the globe bears the slogan земля и воля ("land and freedom"), expressing agrarian socialist ideology of the party

The left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks, known in anarchist literature as the Third Russian Revolution,[24] were a series of rebellions, uprisings, and revolts against the Bolsheviks by oppositional left-wing organizations and groups that started soon after the October Revolution and formation of the Russian SFSR, continued through the years of the Russian Civil War, and lasted into the first years of Bolshevik rule of the Soviet Union. They were led or supported by left-wing groups such as some factions of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and anarchists. Generally, the uprisings began in 1918 because of the Bolshevik assault on Soviet democracy, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (which many saw as giving overly generous concessions to the Central Powers, also seen by some as limiting the revolutionary potential of the workers, soldiers and peasantry outside the Soviet state to rebel against the continuing strife caused by the war), and opposition to Bolshevik socioeconomic policy, namely draconian requisitionist policies of war communism. The Bolsheviks grew increasingly hard-line during the decisive and brutal years following the October Revolution, crushing all remaining opposition to their power. These rebellions and insurrections occurred mostly during and after the Russian Civil War, until around 1924, though there did exist various small-scale insurgencies until World War II.

The Bolsheviks fought the forces of the pro-Romanov monarchists, reformist Social Democrats, former Imperial Army officers and soldiers in the anti-communist White Armies along with several foreign nations sending in interventionist forces, aid and supplies for the White Armies. Additionally, Soviet Russia invaded multiple newly independent nation states to consolidate Bolshevik power there, and brutally crushed peasant revolts, such as the Tambov Rebellion, using chemical weapons. Despite this, Vladimir Lenin regarded the left-wing opposition as the most threatening the Bolshevik regime faced, describing the Kronstadt rebellion as "undoubtedly more dangerous than Denikin, Yudenich, and Kolchak combined".[25]

Generally speaking, right-wing enemies of the Bolsheviks were fought by the Red Army, because they existed primarily outside the territory it controlled, and left-wing enemies were dealt with by the Cheka secret police, as they were usually within this territory.[26]

Anarchist divisions[edit]

Anarchists, like the Socialist Revolutionaries, were divided. Some supported the Bolsheviks, holding minor positions in the government,[27] some were neutral, and some actively resisted. Anarchists that supported the Soviet government were referred to as "Soviet anarchists", by anti-Bolshevik anarchists, and were lauded by Lenin in August 1919 as "the most dedicated supporters of Soviet power".[27]

Dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, early Constituent Assembly rebellions[edit]

The Constituent Assembly had been a demand of the Bolsheviks against the Provisional Government, which kept delaying it. After the October Revolution the elections were run by the body appointed by the previous Provisional Government. It was based on universal suffrage, but used party lists from before the Left-Right SR split. The anti-Bolshevik Right SRs won the elections with the majority of the seats,[28] after which Lenin's Theses on the Constituent Assembly argued in Pravda that because of class conflicts, conflicts with Ukraine, and with the Kadet-Kaledin uprising formal democracy was impossible. He argued the Constituent Assembly must unconditionally accept sovereignty of the soviet government or it would be dealt with "by revolutionary means".[29]

On December 30, 1917, the SR Nikolai Avksentiev and some followers were arrested for organizing a conspiracy. This was the first time Bolsheviks used this kind of repression against a socialist party. Izvestia said the arrest was not related to his membership in the Constituent Assembly.[30]

On January 4, 1918, the VTsIK made a resolution saying the slogan "all power to the constituent assembly" was counterrevolutionary and equivalent to "down with the soviets".[31]

The Constituent Assembly met on January 18, 1918. The Right SR Chernov was elected president defeating the Bolshevik supported candidate, the Left SR Maria Spiridonova (she would later break with the Bolsheviks and after the decades of gulag, she was shot on Stalin's orders in 1941) The majority refused to accept sovereignty of the Soviet government, and in response the Bolsheviks and Left SRs walked out. It was dispersed by an armed guard, sailor Zheleznyakov.[32] A simultaneous demonstration in favor of the Constituent Assembly was dispersed with force, but there was little protest afterwards.[33]

The first large Cheka repression with some killings began against the libertarian socialists of Petrograd in mid-April 1918. On May 1, 1918, a pitched battle took place in Moscow between the anarchists and the police. (P.Avrich. G Maximoff)

Constituent Assembly uprising[edit]

The Union of Regeneration was founded in Moscow in April 1918 as an underground agency organizing democratic resistance to the Bolshevik dictatorship, composed of the Popular Socialists, Right Socialist Revolutionaries, and Defensists, among others. They were tasked with propping up anti-Bolshevik forces and to create a Russian state system based on civil liberties, patriotism, and state-consciousness with the goal to liberate the country from the "Germano-Bolshevik" yoke.[34][35][36]

On May 7, 1918, the Eighth Party Council of the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries commenced in Moscow and recognized the Union's leading role, putting aside political ideology and class for the purpose of Russia's salvation. They decided to start an uprising against the Bolsheviks with the goal of reconvening the Russian Constituent Assembly.[34] While preparations were under way, the Czechoslovak Legions overthrew Bolshevik rule in Siberia, the Urals and the Volga region in late May-early June 1918 and the center of SR activity shifted there. On June 8, 1918, five Constituent Assembly members formed the All-Russian Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly (Komuch) in Samara and declared it the new supreme authority in the country.[37] The Social Revolutionary Provisional Government of Autonomous Siberia came to power on June 29, 1918, after the uprising in Vladivostok.

Left SRs disagreements[edit]

The Left SRs were dismayed about the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk gave up large amounts of territory to Imperial Germany, leaving the government in protest in March 1918. They also had the view that the "imperialist war should be transformed into a revolutionary war" so as to spread the revolution across the region (Western Europe primarily, and Germany in particular) and most crucially for them, the strife and possibly lack of victory would disillusion the working classes and soldiery of the warring states to rebel in the form of socialist revolution or "bring the war home" in the form of class/civil war. This is also a view held by Rosa Luxemburg, who viewed the continuation of support for the war by Germans and the failure of large successful uprising to take place caused in part by the Brest-Litvosk Treaty, which the German government could propagandize to the German working class and soldiery so as to have their continued support for the war.[38]

Mensheviks and SRs excluded from soviets[edit]

At the 5th All-Russia Congress of Soviets of July 4, 1918, the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries had 352 delegates compared to 745 Bolsheviks out of 1132 total. The Left SRs raised disagreements on the suppression of rival parties, the death penalty, and mainly, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Bolsheviks excluded the Right SRs and Mensheviks from the government on 14 June for associating with counterrevolutionaries and seeking to "organize armed attacks against the workers and peasants" (though Mensheviks had not supported them), while the Left SRs advocated forming a government of all socialist parties. The Left SRs agreed with extrajudicial execution of political opponents to stop the counterrevolution, but opposed having the government legally pronouncing death sentences, an unusual position that is best understood within the context of the group's terrorist past. The Left SRs strongly opposed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and opposed Trotsky's insistence that no one try to attack German troops in Ukraine.[39]

Left SR Uprising[edit]

Defeated at the Congress, the Left SRs pursued their aim of sabotaging the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and dragging Soviet Russia back into war with the German Empire by using their positions within the Cheka to assassinate the German Ambassador in Moscow, Count Wilhelm von Mirbach, on July 6, 1918. The Leadership of the Left SRs incorrectly believed this assassination would lead to a widespread popular uprising in support of their aims. They claimed to be leading an uprising against peace with Imperial Germany and not necessarily against the Bolsheviks and Soviet power.[40]

The main rebel force was a detachment commanded by Dmitry Ivanovich Popov, a Left SR and member of the Cheka. About 1,800 revolutionaries took part in the insurrection.[41] They seized the telephone exchange and telegraph office. During the two days that they remained in control there, they sent out several manifestos, bulletins and telegrams in the name of the Left SR Central Committee declaring that the Left SRs had taken over power and that their action had been welcomed by the whole people.

Left SRs also started insurrections in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Vologda, Arzamas, Murom, Yaroslavl, Veliky Ustyug, Rybinsk and other cities. A telegram from the Left S. R. Central Committee stating that the Left SRs had seized power in Moscow, was sent to M. A. Muravyov, a Left SR and Commander of the Eastern Front (World War I). On the pretext of attacking the Germans, he seized Simbirsk (later Ulyanovsk) and marched his forces on Moscow in support of the revolutionaries.

The result of the Left SR Uprising was the suppression of the Left SRs, the last major independent party other than the Bolsheviks, leaving the Bolsheviks as the only party in government.

Subsequent uprisings included the Tambov Rebellion and the Kronstadt rebellion.

Socialist Revolutionaries tended to claim to be fighting to restore the February Revolution. Some anarchists used the slogan "Third Revolution". The slogan was later used during the Kronstadt rebellion against the Bolsheviks.[42]


In December 1917, Felix Dzerzhinsky was appointed to the duty of rooting out counterrevolutionary threats to the Soviet government. He was the director of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission (aka Cheka), a predecessor of the KGB that served as the secret police for the Soviets.[43]

From early 1918, the Bolsheviks started physical elimination of opposition and other socialist and revolutionary fractions, anarchists among the first:

Of all the revolutionary elements in Russia it is the Anarchists who now suffer the most ruthless and systematic persecution. Their suppression by the Bolsheviki began already in 1918, when — in the month of April of that year — the Communist Government attacked, without provocation or warning, the Anarchist Club of Moscow and by the use of machine guns and artillery "liquidated" the whole organisation. It was the beginning of Anarchist hounding, but it was sporadic in character, breaking out now and then, quite planless, and frequently self-contradictory.

— Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, "Bolsheviks Shooting Anarchists"[44]

On 11 August 1918, prior to the events that would officially catalyze the Red Terror, Vladimir Lenin had sent telegrams "to introduce mass terror" in Nizhny Novgorod in response to a suspected civilian uprising there, and to "crush" landowners in Penza who resisted, sometimes violently, the requisitioning of their grain by military detachments:[45]

Comrades! The kulak uprising in your five districts must be crushed without pity ... You must make example of these people.

(1) Hang (I mean hang publicly, so that people see it) at least 100 kulaks, rich bastards, and known bloodsuckers.
(2) Publish their names.
(3) Seize all their grain.
(4) Single out the hostages per my instructions in yesterday's telegram.

Do all this so that for miles (versts) around people see it all, understand it, tremble, and tell themselves that we are killing the bloodthirsty kulaks and that we will continue to do so ...

Yours, Lenin.

P.S. Find tougher people.

In a mid-August 1920 letter, having received information that in Estonia and Latvia, with which Soviet Russia had concluded peace treaties, volunteers were being enrolled in anti-Bolshevik detachments, Lenin wrote to E. M. Sklyansky, deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic:[46]

Great plan! Finish it with Dzerzhinsky. While pretending to be the "greens" (we will blame them later), we will advance by 10–20 miles (versts) and hang kulaks, priests, landowners. Prize: 100.000 rubles for each hanged man.

Leonid Kannegisser, a young military cadet of the Imperial Russian Army, assassinated Moisey Uritsky on August 17, 1918, outside the Petrograd Cheka headquarters in retaliation for the execution of his friend and other officers.[47]

Vladimir Pchelin's depiction of the assassination attempt on Lenin

On August 30, Socialist Revolutionary Fanny Kaplan unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Vladimir Lenin.[21] and sought to eliminate political dissent, opposition, and any other threat to Bolshevik power.[17] More broadly, the term is usually applied to Bolshevik political repression throughout the Civil War (1917–1922),[48][49][43]

During interrogation by the Cheka, she made the following statement:

"My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say from whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev [now Kyiv]. I spent 11 years at hard labour. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it".[50]

Kaplan referenced the Bolsheviks' growing authoritarianism, citing their forcible shutdown of the Constituent Assembly in January 1918, the elections to which they had lost. When it became clear that Kaplan would not implicate any accomplices, she was executed in Alexander Garden. The order was carried out by the commander of the Kremlin, the former Baltic sailor P. D. Malkov and a group of Latvian Bolsheviks[51][page needed][non-primary source needed] on September 3, 1918 with a bullet to the back of the head.[52] Her corpse was bundled into a barrel and set alight. The order came from Yakov Sverdlov, who only six weeks earlier had ordered the murder of the Tsar and his family.[53][54]: 442 

These events persuaded the government to heed Dzerzhinsky's lobbying for greater terror against opposition. The campaign of mass repressions would officially begin thereafter.[21][43] The Red Terror is considered to have officially begun between 17 and 30 August 1918.[21][43]

SR disbanded[edit]

The Bolsheviks let the SR Central Committee re-establish itself in Moscow and start publishing a party newspaper in March 1919.[55] After the defeat of the White Army in Russia, the party tried to reorganise and to re-establish contacts with its provincial organisations; despite numerous requests from party sections in East Russia and by exiled members in Europe, the Central Committee refused to take armed action against the Bolsheviks, and also supported them in the ensuing war against Poland. These decisions were confirmed by the Tenth Party Council in 1920. Despite that, Lenin accused the party of cooperation with counter-revolutionary forces and SR Central Committee members were arrested. Chernov went undercover and eventually was forced to flee Russia and the party was officially banned in 1921, after the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).

A typical report from a Cheka department stated: "Yaroslavl Province, 23 June 1919. The uprising of deserters in the Petropavlovskaya volost has been put down. The families of the deserters have been taken as hostages. When we started to shoot one person from each family, the Greens began to come out of the woods and surrender. Thirty-four deserters were shot as an example".

SR trial[edit]

The imprisoned SR Central Committee members were put on trial starting June 8, 1922.[56] The trial was the first of the many political trials of Soviet Russia and ended with twelve death sentences and several years of hard labour sentences.

Revolutionary Insurgent Army of Ukraine[edit]

The Revolutionary Insurgent Army of Ukraine, led by anarchist and former Red Army leader Nestor Makhno, took control of most of the southern Ukraine and Crimea after its abandonment by Red Army troops in 1919. Makhno's forces fought on the side of the Bolsheviks and played an important role in the eventual defeat of the White Armies. However, they were at odds with the Bolshevik view of a unitary Bolshevik dominated political movement. Occasionally Makhno's Black Army troops fought Red Army forces, whom the Ukrainian anarchists had viewed with mistrust after Chekist and Red Army raids on anarchist centers, including arrests, detentions, and executions commencing in May 1918.

For his part, Makhno stated his support for "free worker-peasant soviets"[57] independent of centralized control by Moscow. Makhno, a rural anarchist, viewed the Bolsheviks as urban dictators out-of-touch with the people, opposing the Bolshevik-controlled "Cheka [secret police]... and similar compulsory authoritative and disciplinary institutions". He called for "[f]reedom of speech, press, assembly, unions and the like".[57] In practice, Makhno's Insurgent Army, the Military Revolutionary Council, and the Ukrainian anarchists' political arm, the Congress of the Confederation of Anarchists Groups (NABAT) formed an overall government over the area they controlled, though they did permit local self-governing autonomous committees of peasants. Like the Red Army, they used forced conscription and summary executions, though as a relatively popular native Ukrainian movement, these measures were not used on the same scale as that of the Bolshevik Red Army.[58] In the areas under his military control, the Military Revolutionary Council banned all opposition parties,[57][58]: 119  and like the Bolsheviks, used two secret police counter-intelligence forces: the Razedka and the Kommissiya Protivmakhnovskikh Del.[59]

Some members of the Bolshevik Central Committees considered allowing an independent area for Makhno's libertarian experiment,[58] an idea fiercely opposed by both Lenin and Leon Trotsky, War Commissar of the Red Army. After each successful repulse of White Army forces, Trotsky ordered fresh attacks against Makhno and the Anarchist Black Army, halting only when White forces threatened to once again defeat the Red Army in the field. At the instructions of Moscow, the Cheka sent two agents to assassinate Makhno in 1920. After repudiation of two military alliances, and the final defeat of White General Wrangel in the Crimea, Trotsky ordered the mass executions of Makhnovist sympathizers, followed by the liquidation of many of Makhno's subordinate commanders and his entire headquarters staff at a "joint planning conference" in November 1920. By August 1921, Makhno and the remainder of the Anarchist Black Army had been forced into exile.

Revolts against grain requisitioning[edit]

Protests against grain requisitioning of the peasantry were a major component of the Tambov rebellion and similar uprisings; Lenin's New Economic Policy was introduced as a concession.

The policies of "food dictatorship" proclaimed by the Bolsheviks in May 1918 sparked violent resistance in numerous districts of European Russia: revolts and clashes between the peasants and the Red Army were reported in Voronezh, Tambov, Penza, Saratov and in the districts of Kostroma, Moscow, Novgorod, Petrograd, Pskov and Smolensk. The revolts were bloodily crushed by the Bolsheviks: in the Voronezh Oblast, the Red Guards killed sixteen peasants during the pacification of the village, while another village was shelled with artillery in order to force the peasants to surrender and in the Novgorod Oblast the rebelling peasants were dispersed with machine-gun fire from a train sent by a detachment of Latvian Red Army soldiers.[60] While the Bolsheviks immediately denounced the rebellion as orchestrated by the SRs, there is actually no evidence that they were involved into peasant violence, which they deemed as counterproductive.[61]

Kronstadt rebellion[edit]

A key development in Bolshevik consolidation of state power in Russia occurred in March, 1921, with the Kronstadt rebellion. The outset of the year was marked by strikes and demonstrations – in both Moscow and Petrograd, as well as the countryside – due to discontent with the results of policies that made up war communism.[62][63] The Bolsheviks, in response to the protests, enacted martial law and sent the Red Army to disperse the workers.[64][65] This was followed up by mass arrests executed by the Cheka.[66] Repression and minor concessions only temporarily quelled the discontent as Petrograd protests continued that year in March. This time the factory workers were joined by sailors stationed on the nearby island-fort of Kronstadt.[67] Disappointed in the direction of the Bolshevik government, the rebels demanded a series of reforms including: reduction in Bolshevik privileges, newly elected soviet councils to include socialist and anarchist groups, economic freedom for peasants and workers, dissolution of the bureaucratic governmental organs created during the civil war, and the restoration of worker rights for the working class.[68] The workers and sailors of the Kronstadt rebellion were promptly crushed by Red Army forces, with a thousand rebels killed in battle and another thousand executed the following weeks, with many more fleeing abroad and to the countryside.[69][70][71] These events coincided with the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). There, Lenin argued that the soviets and the principle of democratic centralism within the Bolshevik party still assured democracy. However, faced with support for Kronstadt within Bolshevik ranks, Lenin also issued a "temporary" ban on factions in the Russian Communist Party. This ban remained until the revolutions of 1989 and, according to some critics, made the democratic procedures within the party an empty formality, and helped Stalin to consolidate much more authority under the party. Soviets were transformed into the bureaucratic structure that existed for the rest of the history of the Soviet Union and were completely under the control of party officials and the politburo.[72]

The Kronstadt rebellion was led by[73] Stepan Petrichenko. He initiated the change from a protest to an open rebellion by spreading a rumor that the Bolsheviks were coming to arrest everyone.[42] The rebels called for free elections to regional councils (soviets) and an end to grain requisitioning.

Sailors of the battleship Petropavlovsk in Helsinki; black flag calls for "death to the bourgeoisie".

Despite protests from notorious anarchists like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, the revolt was suppressed by Bolsheviks.

Numerous attacks and assassinations occurred frequently until these rebellions finally petered out in 1922. Anarchists participated in almost all of the attacks the Left SR's organized, and carried out many on their own initiative. The most celebrated figures of these rebellions, Lev Chernyi and Fanya Baron were both Anarchists.

The end result of these rebellions was the suppression of rival socialist parties and anarchists, and economic concessions from the Bolsheviks with the New Economic Policy.

Mensheviks were suppressed after the Kronstadt Uprising and the forceful sovietization of Menshevik Georgia. A number of prominent Mensheviks emigrated thereafter. Julius Martov who was suffering from ill health at this time went to Germany.

The Left SRs collapsed as a party by 1922 and existed as small cells through 1925.

During the Moscow Trials in 1937, it was claimed that Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, and Grigory Zinoviev were involved in the Left SR uprising.[74]

Yuri Felshtinsky claimed the Left SR Uprising was staged by the Bolsheviks as a pretext to discredit the Left SRs. L. M. Ovrutskii and Anatolii Izrailevich Razgon produced research to refute this.[40]

Allied intervention[edit]

The Western Allies armed and supported opponents of the Bolsheviks. They were worried about a possible Russo-German alliance, the prospect of the Bolsheviks making good on their threats to default on Imperial Russia's massive foreign loans and the possibility that Communist revolutionary ideas would spread (a concern shared by many Central Powers). Hence, many of the countries expressed their support for the Whites, including the provision of troops and supplies. Winston Churchill declared that Bolshevism must be "strangled in its cradle".[75] The British and French had supported Russia during World War I on a massive scale with war materials.

After the treaty, it looked like much of that material would fall into the hands of the Germans. To meet that danger, the Allies intervened with Great Britain and France sending troops into Russian ports. There were violent clashes with the Bolsheviks. Britain intervened in support of the White forces to defeat the Bolsheviks and prevent the spread of communism across Europe.[76]

Buffer states[edit]

Polish anti-Soviet poster depicting Lev Trotsky. Small caption in the lower right corner reads:
The Bolsheviks promised:
We'll give you peace
We'll give you freedom
We'll give you land
Work and bread
Despicably they cheated
They started a war
With Poland

Instead of freedom they brought
The fist
Instead of land – confiscation
Instead of work – misery
Instead of bread – famine.

The German Empire created several short-lived satellite buffer states within its sphere of influence after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk: the United Baltic Duchy, Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, Kingdom of Lithuania, Kingdom of Poland,[77] the Belarusian People's Republic, and the Ukrainian State. Following Germany's Armistice in World War I in November 1918, the states were abolished.[78][79]

Finland was the first republic that declared its independence from Russia in December 1917 and established itself in the ensuing Finnish Civil War between pro-independence White Guards and pro-Russian Bolshevik Red Guards from January–May 1918.[80] The Second Polish Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia formed their own armies immediately after the abolition of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and the start of the Soviet westward offensive and subsequent Polish-Soviet War in November 1918.[81]

Geography and chronology[edit]

In the European part of Russia the war was fought across three main fronts: the eastern, the southern and the northwestern. It can also be roughly split into the following periods.

Anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army in South Russia, January 1918

The first period lasted from the Revolution until the Armistice. Already on the date of the Revolution, Cossack General Alexey Kaledin refused to recognize it and assumed full governmental authority in the Don region,[82] 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.

During the first period, the Bolsheviks took control of Central Asia out of the hands of the Provisional Government and White Army, setting up a base for the Communist Party in the Steppe and Turkestan, where nearly two million Russian settlers were located.[83]

Russian soldiers of the anti-Bolshevik Siberian Army in 1919

Most of the fighting in the first period was sporadic, involved only small groups and had a fluid and rapidly-shifting strategic situation. Among the antagonists were the Czechoslovak Legion,[84] the Poles of the 4th and 5th Rifle Divisions and the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian riflemen.

The second period of the war lasted from January to November 1919. At first the White armies' advances from the south (under Denikin), the east (under Kolchak) and the northwest (under Yudenich) were successful, forcing the Red Army and its allies back on all three fronts. In July 1919 the Red Army suffered another reverse after a mass defection of units in the Crimea to the anarchist Insurgent Army under Nestor Makhno, enabling anarchist forces to consolidate power in Ukraine. Leon Trotsky soon reformed the Red Army, concluding the first of two military alliances with the anarchists. In June the Red Army first checked Kolchak's advance. After a series of engagements, assisted by an Insurgent Army offensive against White supply lines, the Red Army defeated Denikin's and Yudenich's armies in October and November.

The third period of the war was the extended siege of the last White forces in the Crimea. General Wrangel had gathered the remnants of Denikin's armies, occupying much of the Crimea. An attempted invasion of southern Ukraine was rebuffed by the Insurgent Army under Makhno's command. Pursued into Crimea by Makhno's troops, Wrangel went over to the defensive in the Crimea. After an abortive move north against the Red Army, Wrangel's troops were forced south by Red Army and Insurgent Army forces; Wrangel and the remains of his army were evacuated to Constantinople in November 1920.


October Revolution[edit]

European theatre of the Russian Civil War

In the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Party directed the Red Guard (armed groups of workers and Imperial army deserters) to seize control of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) and immediately began the armed takeover of cities and villages throughout the former Russian Empire. In January 1918 the Bolsheviks dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly and proclaimed the Soviets (workers' councils) as the new government of Russia.

Initial anti-Bolshevik uprisings[edit]

The first attempt to regain power from the Bolsheviks was made by the Kerensky-Krasnov uprising in October 1917. It was supported by the Junker Mutiny in Petrograd but was quickly put down by the Red Guard, notably including the Latvian Rifle Division.

The initial groups that fought against the Communists were local Cossack armies that had declared their loyalty to the Provisional Government. Kaledin of the Don Cossacks and General Grigory Semenov of the Siberian Cossacks were prominent among them. The leading Tsarist officers of the Imperial Russian Army also started to resist. In November, General Mikhail Alekseev, the Tsar's Chief of Staff during the First World War, began to organize the Volunteer Army in Novocherkassk. Volunteers of the small army were mostly officers of the old Russian army, military cadets and students. In December 1917, Alekseev was joined by General Lavr Kornilov, Denikin and other Tsarist officers who had escaped from the jail, where they had been imprisoned following the abortive Kornilov affair just before the Revolution.[1]: 27  On 9 December, the Military Revolutionary Committee in Rostov rebelled, with the Bolsheviks controlling the city for five days until the Alekseev Organization supported Kaledin in recapturing the city. According to Peter Kenez, "The operation, begun on December 9, can be regarded as the beginning of the Civil War."[85]

Having stated in the November 1917 "Declaration of Rights of Nations of Russia" that any nation under imperial Russian rule should be immediately given the power of self-determination, the Bolsheviks had begun to usurp the power of the Provisional Government in the territories of Central Asia soon after the establishment of the Turkestan Committee in Tashkent.[86] In April 1917 the Provisional Government set up the committee, which was mostly made up of former Tsarist officials.[87] The Bolsheviks attempted to take control of the Committee in Tashkent on 12 September 1917 but it was unsuccessful, and many leaders were arrested. However, because the Committee lacked representation of the native population and poor Russian settlers, they had to release the Bolshevik prisoners almost immediately because of a public outcry, and a successful takeover of that government body took place two months later in November.[88] The Leagues of Mohammedam Working People (which Russian settlers and natives who had been sent to work behind the lines for the Tsarist government in 1916 formed in March 1917) had led numerous strikes in the industrial centers throughout September 1917.[89] However, after the Bolshevik destruction of the Provisional Government in Tashkent, Muslim elites formed an autonomous government in Turkestan, commonly called the "Kokand autonomy" (or simply Kokand).[90] The White Russians supported that government body, which lasted several months because of Bolshevik troop isolation from Moscow.[91] In January 1918 the Soviet forces, under Lt. Col. Muravyov, invaded Ukraine and invested Kiev, where the Central Council of the Ukrainian People's Republic held power. With the help of the Kiev Arsenal Uprising, the Bolsheviks captured the city on 26 January.[1]: 35 

Peace with the Central Powers[edit]

Soviet delegation with Trotsky greeted by German officers at Brest-Litovsk, 8 January 1918

The Bolsheviks decided to immediately make peace with the Central Powers, as they had promised the Russian people before the Revolution.[92] Vladimir Lenin's political enemies attributed that decision to his sponsorship by the Foreign Office of Wilhelm II, German Emperor, offered to Lenin in hope that, with a revolution, Russia would withdraw from World War I. That suspicion was bolstered by the German Foreign Ministry's sponsorship of Lenin's return to Petrograd.[93] However, after the military fiasco of the summer offensive (June 1917) by the Russian Provisional Government had devastated the structure of the Russian Army, it became crucial that Lenin realize the promised peace.[94] Even before the failed summer offensive the Russian population was very skeptical about the continuation of the war. Western socialists had promptly arrived from France and from the UK to convince the Russians to continue the fight, but could not change the new pacifist mood of Russia.[95]

On 16 December 1917 an armistice was signed between Russia and the Central Powers in Brest-Litovsk and peace talks began.[1]: 42  As a condition for peace, the proposed treaty by the Central Powers conceded huge portions of the former Russian Empire to the German Empire 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 war, no peace".[96]

Therefore, on 18 February 1918, the Germans began Operation Faustschlag on the Eastern Front, encountering virtually no resistance in a campaign that lasted 11 days.[96] 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 could not stop 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 3 March. The Soviets viewed the treaty as merely a necessary and expedient means to end the war.

Ukraine, South Russia, and Caucasus (1918)[edit]

February 1918 article from The New York Times showing a map of the Russian Imperial territories claimed by the Ukrainian People's Republic at the time, before the annexation of the Austro-Hungarian lands of the West Ukrainian People's Republic

In Ukraine the German-Austrian Operation Faustschlag had by April 1918 removed the Bolsheviks from Ukraine.[97][98][99][100][101] The German and Austro-Hungarian victories in Ukraine were caused by the apathy of the locals and the inferior fighting skills of Bolsheviks troops to their Austro-Hungarian and German counterparts.[101]

Under Soviet pressure, the Volunteer Army embarked on the epic Ice March from Yekaterinodar to Kuban on 22 February 1918, where they joined with the Kuban Cossacks to mount an abortive assault on Yekaterinodar.[1]: 29  The Soviets recaptured Rostov on the next day.[1]: 29  Kornilov was killed in the fighting on 13 April, and Denikin took over command. Fighting off its pursuers without respite, the army succeeded in breaking its way through back towards the Don by May, where the Cossack uprising against the Bolsheviks had started.[85]: 115–118 

The Baku Soviet Commune was established on 13 April. Germany landed its Caucasus Expedition troops in Poti on 8 June. The Ottoman Army of Islam (in coalition with Azerbaijan) drove them out of Baku on 26 July 1918. Subsequently, the Dashanaks, Right SRs and Mensheviks started negotiations with Gen. Dunsterville, the commander of the British troops in Persia. The Bolsheviks and their Left SR allies were opposed to it, but on 25 July the majority of the Soviets voted to call in the British and the Bolsheviks resigned. The Baku Soviet Commune ended its existence and was replaced by the Central Caspian Dictatorship.

In June 1918 the Volunteer Army, numbering some 9,000 men, started its Second Kuban campaign, capturing Yekaterinodar on 16 August, followed by Armavir and Stavropol. By early 1919, they controlled the Northern Caucasus.[85]: 166–174, 182, 189–190 

On 8 October, Alekseev died. On 8 January 1919, Denikin became the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of South Russia, uniting the Volunteer Army with Pyotr Krasnov's Don Army. Pyotr Wrangel became Denikin's Chief of Staff.[85]: 195, 204, 267–270 

In December, three-fourths of the army was in the Northern Caucasus. That included three thousand of Vladimir Liakhov's soldiers around Vladikavkaz, thirteen thousand soldiers under Wrangel and Kazanovich in the center of the front, Stankevich's almost three thousand men with the Don Cossacks, while Vladimir May-Mayevsky's three thousand were sent to the Donets basin, and de Bode commanded two thousand in the Crimea.[102]

Eastern Russia, Siberia and the Far East (1918)[edit]

The revolt of the Czechoslovak Legion broke out in May 1918, and proceeded to occupy the Trans-Siberian Railway from Ufa to Vladivostok. Uprisings overthrew other Bolshevik towns. On 7 July, the western portion of the legion declared itself to be a new eastern front, anticipating allied intervention. According to William Henry Chamberlin, "Two governments emerged as a result of the first successes of the Czechs: the West Siberian Commissariat and the Government of the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly in Samara." On 17 July, shortly before the fall of Yekaterinburg, the former Tsar Nicholas II, and his family were murdered.[103]: 6–12, 91 

Czechoslovak legionaries of the 8th Regiment at Nikolsk-Ussuriysky killed by Bolsheviks, 1918. Above them stand also members of the Czechoslovak Legion.

The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries supported peasants fighting against Soviet control of food supplies.[104] In May 1918, with the support of the Czechoslovak Legion, they took Samara and Saratov, establishing the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly—known as the "Komuch". By July the authority of the Komuch extended over much of the area controlled by the Czechoslovak Legion. The Komuch pursued an ambivalent social policy, combining democratic and socialist measures, such as the institution of an eight-hour working day, with "restorative" actions, such as returning both factories and land to their former owners. After the fall of Kazan, Vladimir Lenin called for the dispatch of Petrograd workers to the Kazan Front: "We must send down the maximum number of Petrograd workers: (1) a few dozen 'leaders' like Kayurov; (2) a few thousand militants 'from the ranks'".

After a series of reverses at the front, the Bolsheviks' War Commissar, Trotsky, instituted increasingly harsh measures in order to prevent unauthorised withdrawals, desertions, and mutinies in the Red Army. In the field, the Cheka Special Investigations Forces (termed the Special Punitive Department of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combat of Counter-Revolution and Sabotage or Special Punitive Brigades) followed the Red Army, conducting field tribunals and summary executions of soldiers and officers who deserted, retreated from their positions, or failed to display sufficient offensive zeal.[105][106] The Cheka Special Investigations Forces were also charged with the detection of sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity by Red Army soldiers and commanders. Trotsky extended the use of the death penalty to the occasional political commissar whose detachment retreated or broke in the face of the enemy.[107] In August, frustrated at continued reports of Red Army troops breaking under fire, Trotsky authorised the formation of barrier troops – stationed behind unreliable Red Army units and given orders to shoot anyone withdrawing from the battle line without authorisation.[108]

Admiral Alexander Kolchak reviewing the troops, 1919

In September 1918, the Komuch, the Siberian Provisional Government, and other anti-Bolshevik Russians agreed during the State Meeting in Ufa to form a new Provisional All-Russian Government in Omsk, headed by a Directory of five: two Socialist-Revolutionaries. Nikolai Avksentiev and Vladimir Zenzinov, the Kadet lawyer V. A. Vinogradov, Siberian Premier Vologodskii, and General Vasily Boldyrev.[103]

By the fall of 1918, anti-Bolshevik White forces in the east included the People's Army (Komuch), the Siberian Army (of the Siberian Provisional Government) and insurgent Cossack units of Orenburg, the Urals, Siberia, Semirechye, Baikal, and Amur and Ussuri Cossacks, nominally under the orders of Gen. V.G. Boldyrev, Commander-in-Chief, appointed by the Ufa Directorate.

On the Volga, Col. Kappel's White detachment captured Kazan on 7 August, but Red Forces recaptured the city on 8 September 1918 following a counteroffensive. On the 11th Simbirsk fell, and on 8 October Samara. The Whites fell back eastwards to Ufa and Orenburg.

In Omsk, the Russian Provisional Government quickly came under the influence and later the dominance of its new War Minister, Rear-Admiral Kolchak. On 18 November a coup d'état established Kolchak as supreme leader. Two members of the Directory were arrested, and subsequently deported, while Kolchak was proclaimed "Supreme Ruler", and "Commander-in-Chief of all Land and Naval Forces of Russia."[103]: 177–178  By mid-December 1918, the White armies had to leave Ufa, but they balanced that failure with a successful drive towards Perm, which they took on 24 December.

Barrier troops[edit]

In the Red Army of the Russian SFSR and later the Soviet Union, the concept of barrier troops first arose in August 1918 with the formation of the заградительные отряды (zagraditelnye otriady), translated as "blocking troops" or "anti-retreat detachments" (Russian: заградотряды, заградительные отряды, отряды заграждения).[109] The barrier troops comprised personnel drawn from the Cheka secret police punitive detachments or from regular Red Army infantry regiments.

The first use of the barrier troops by the Red Army occurred in the late summer and fall of 1918 in the Eastern front during the Russian Civil War, when People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs (War Commissar) Leon Trotsky of the Communist Bolshevik government authorized Mikhail Tukhachevsky, the commander of the 1st Army, to station blocking detachments behind unreliable Red Army infantry regiments in the 1st Red Army, with orders to shoot if front-line troops either deserted or retreated without permission.[109]

In December 1918, Trotsky ordered that detachments of additional barrier troops be raised for attachment to each infantry formation in the Red Army. On December 18 he cabled:

How do things stand with the blocking units? As far as I am aware they have not been included in our establishment and it appears they have no personnel. It is absolutely essential that we have at least an embryonic network of blocking units and that we work out a procedure for bringing them up to strength and deploying them.[109]

The barrier troops were also used to enforce Bolshevik control over food supplies in areas controlled by the Red Army as part of Lenin's war communism policies, a role which soon earned them the hatred of the Russian civilian population.[110] These policies led to the Russian famine of 1921–1922, which killed about five million people.[111][112]

Central Asia (1918)[edit]

London Geographical Institute's 1919 map of Europe after the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Batum and before the treaties of Tartu, Kars, and Riga

In February 1918 the Red Army overthrew the White Russian-supported Kokand Autonomy of Turkestan.[113] Although that move seemed to solidify Bolshevik power in Central Asia, more troubles soon arose for the Red Army as the Allied Forces began to intervene. British support of the White Army provided the greatest threat to the Red Army in Central Asia during 1918. Britain sent three prominent military leaders to the area. One was Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Marshman Baile, who recorded a mission to Tashkent, from where the Bolsheviks forced him to flee. Another was General Wilfrid Malleson, leading the Malleson Mission, who assisted the Mensheviks in Ashkhabad (now the capital of Turkmenistan) with a small Anglo-Indian force. However, he failed to gain control of Tashkent, Bukhara and Khiva. The third was Major General Dunsterville, who was driven out by the Bolsheviks of Central Asia only a month after his arrival in August 1918.[114] Despite setbacks as a result of British invasions during 1918, the Bolsheviks continued to make progress in bringing the Central Asian population under their influence. The first regional congress of the Russian Communist Party convened in the city of Tashkent in June 1918 in order to build support for a local Bolshevik Party.[115]

Left SR Uprising[edit]

On 6 July 1918, two Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Cheka employees, Yakov Blumkin and Nikolai Andreyev, assassinated the German ambassador, Count Mirbach. In Moscow a Left SR uprising was put down by the Bolsheviks, mass arrests of Socialist-Revolutionaries followed, and executions became more frequent. Chamberlin noted, "The time of relative leniency toward former fellow-revolutionists was over. The Left Socialist Revolutionaries, of course, were no longer tolerated as members of the Soviets; from this time the Soviet regime became a pure and undiluted dictatorship of the Communist Party." Similarly, Boris Savinkov's surprise attacks were suppressed, with many of the conspirators being executed, as "Mass Red Terror" became a reality.[103]: 50–59 

Estonia, Latvia and Petrograd[edit]

Estonia cleared its territory of the Red Army by January 1919.[116] Baltic German volunteers captured Riga from the Red Latvian Riflemen on 22 May, but the Estonian 3rd Division defeated the Baltic Germans a month later, aiding the establishment of the Republic of Latvia.[117]

That rendered possible another threat to the Red Army, from General Yudenich, who had spent the summer organizing the Northwestern Army in Estonia with local and British support. In October 1919, he tried to capture Petrograd in a sudden assault with a force of around 20,000 men. The attack was well-executed, using night attacks and lightning cavalry maneuvers to turn the flanks of the defending Red Army. Yudenich also had six British tanks, which caused panic whenever they appeared. The Allies gave large quantities of aid to Yudenich, but he complained of receiving insufficient support.

By 19 October, Yudenich's troops had reached the outskirts of the city. Some members of the Bolshevik central committee in Moscow were willing to give up Petrograd, but Trotsky refused to accept the loss of the city and personally organized its defenses. Trotsky himself declared, "It is impossible for a little army of 15,000 ex-officers to master a working-class capital of 700,000 inhabitants." He settled on a strategy of urban defense, proclaiming that the city would "defend itself on its own ground" and that the White Army would be lost in a labyrinth of fortified streets and there "meet its grave".[118]

Trotsky armed all available workers, men and women, and ordered the transfer of military forces from Moscow. Within a few weeks, the Red Army defending Petrograd had tripled in size and outnumbered Yudenich three to one. Yudenich, short of supplies, then decided to call off the siege of the city and withdrew. He repeatedly asked permission to withdraw his army across the border to Estonia. However, units retreating across the border were disarmed and interned by orders of the Estonian government, which had entered into peace negotiations with the Soviet Government on 16 September and had been informed by the Soviet authorities of their 6 November decision that if the White Army was allowed to retreat into Estonia, it would be pursued across the border by the Reds.[119] In fact, the Reds attacked Estonian army positions and fighting continued until a ceasefire went into effect on 3 January 1920. After the Treaty of Tartu. most of Yudenich's soldiers went into exile. Former Imperial Russian and then Finnish General Mannerheim planned an intervention to help the Whites in Russia capture Petrograd. However, he did not gain the necessary support for the endeavour. Lenin considered it "completely certain, that the slightest aid from Finland would have determined the fate of [the city]".

Northern Russia (1919)[edit]

The British occupied Murmansk and, alongside the Americans, seized Arkhangelsk. With the retreat of Kolchak in Siberia, they pulled their troops out of the cities before the winter trapped them in the port. The remaining White forces under Yevgeny Miller evacuated the region in February 1920.[120]

Siberia (1919)[edit]

At the beginning of March 1919, the general offensive of the Whites on the eastern front began. Ufa was retaken on 13 March; by mid-April, the White Army stopped at the GlazovChistopolBugulmaBuguruslan–Sharlyk line. Reds started their counteroffensive against Kolchak's forces at the end of April. The Red 5th Army, led by the capable commander Tukhachevsky, captured Elabuga on 26 May, Sarapul on 2 June and Izevsk on the 7th and continued to push forward. Both sides had victories and losses, but by the middle of summer the Red Army was larger than the White Army and had managed to recapture territory previously lost.[121]

Following the abortive offensive at Chelyabinsk, the White armies withdrew beyond the Tobol. In September 1919 a White offensive was launched against the Tobol Front, the last attempt to change the course of events. However, on 14 October the Reds counterattacked, and thus began the uninterrupted retreat of the Whites to the east. On 14 November 1919 the Red Army captured Omsk.[122] Adm. Kolchak lost control of his government shortly after the defeat; White Army forces in Siberia had essentially ceased to exist by December. Retreat of the eastern front by White armies lasted three months, until mid-February 1920, when the survivors, after crossing Lake Baikal, reached the Chita area and joined Ataman Semenov's forces.

South Russia (1919)[edit]

Anti-Bolshevik propaganda poster "For united Russia" representing Soviet Russia as a fallen communist dragon and the White Cause as a crusading knight
Polonophobic Soviet propaganda poster, 1920

The Cossacks had been unable to organise and capitalise on their successes at the end of 1918. By 1919 they had begun to run short of supplies. Consequently, when the Soviet Russia's counteroffensive began in January 1919 under the Bolshevik commander Antonov-Ovseenko, the Cossack forces rapidly fell apart. The Red Army captured Kiev on 3 February 1919.[123]

Denikin's military strength continued to grow in 1919, with significant munitions supplied by the British. In January, Denikin's Armed Forces of South Russia (AFSR) completed the elimination of Red forces in the northern Caucasus and moved north, in an effort to protect the Don district.[102]: 20–35 

On 18 December 1918, French forces landed in Odessa (now Odesa) and then the Crimea, but evacuated Odessa on 6 April 1919, and the Crimea by the end of the month. According to Chamberlin, "But France gave far less practical aid to the Whites than did England; its sole independent venture in intervention, at Odessa, ended in a complete fiasco."[103]: 151, 165–167 

Denikin then reorganized the Armed Forces of South Russia under the leadership of Vladimir May-Mayevsky, Vladimir Sidorin, and Pyotr Wrangel. On 22 May, Wrangel's Caucasian army defeated the 10th Army (RSFSR) in the battle for Velikoknyazheskaya, and then captured Tsaritsyn on 1 July. Sidorin advanced north toward Voronezh, increasing his army's strength in the process. On 25 June, May–Mayevsky captured Kharkov, and then Ekaterinoslav on 30 June, which forced the Reds to abandon Crimea. On 3 July, Denikin issued his Moscow directive, in which his armies would converge on Moscow.[102]: 37–41 

Although Britain had withdrawn its own troops from the theatre, it continued to give significant military aid (money, weapons, food, ammunition and some military advisers) to the White Armies during 1919. Major Ewen Cameron Bruce of the British Army had volunteered to command a British tank mission assisting the White Army. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order[124] for his bravery during the June 1919 Battle of Tsaritsyn for single-handedly storming and capturing the fortified city of Tsaritsyn, under heavy shell fire in a single tank, which led to the capture of over 40,000 prisoners.[125] The fall of Tsaritsyn is viewed "as one of the key battles of the Russian Civil War" and greatly helped the White Russian cause.[125] The notable historian Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart comments that Bruce's tank action during the battle is to be seen as "one of the most remarkable feats in the whole history of the Tank Corps".[126]

On 14 August, the Bolsheviks launched their Southern Front counteroffensive. After six weeks of heavy fighting the counteroffensive failed, and Denikin was able to capture more territory. By November, White Forces had reached the Zbruch, the Ukrainian-Polish border.[102]: 43, 154 

General Pyotr Wrangel in Tsaritsyn, 15 October 1919

Denikin's forces constituted a real threat and for a time threatened to reach Moscow. The Red Army, stretched thin by fighting on all fronts, was forced out of Kiev on 30 August. Kursk and Orel were taken, on 20 September and 14 October, respectively. The latter, only 205 miles (330 km) from Moscow, was the closest the AFSR would come to its target.[127] The Cossack Don Army under the command of General Vladimir Sidorin continued north towards Voronezh, but Semyon Budyonny's cavalrymen defeated them there on 24 October. That allowed the Red Army to cross the Don River, threatening to split the Don and Volunteer Armies. Fierce fighting took place at the key rail junction of Kastornoye, which was taken on 15 November. Kursk was retaken two days later.[128]

Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, a famous Bolshevik Constructivist propaganda poster by artist El Lissitsky uses abstract symbolism to depict the defeat of the Whites by the Red Army.

Kenez states, "In October Denikin ruled more than forty million people and controlled the economically most valuable parts of the Russian Empire." Yet, "The White armies, which had fought victoriously during the summer and early fall, fell back in disorder in November and December." Denikin's front line was overstretched, while his reserves dealt with Makhno's anarchists in the rear. Between September and October, the Reds mobilized one hundred thousand new soldiers and adopted the Trotsky-Vatsetis strategy with the Ninth and Tenth armies forming V. I. Shorin's Southeastern Front between Tsaritsyn and Bobrov, while the Eighth, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth armies formed A.I. Egorov's Southern Front between Zhitomir and Bobrov. Sergey Kamenev was in overall command of the two fronts. On Denikin's left was Abram Dragomirov, while in his center was Vladimir May-Mayevsky's Volunteer Army, Vladimir Sidorin's Don Cossacks were further east, with Pyotr Wrangel's Caucasian army at Tsaritsyn, and an additional was in the Northern Caucasus attempting to capture Astrakhan. On 20 October, May–Mayevsky was forced to evacuate Orel during the Orel-Kursk operation. On 24 October, Semyon Budyonny captured Voronezh, and Kursk on 15 November, during the Voronezh-Kastornoye operation (1919). On 6 January, the Reds reached the Black Sea at Mariupol and Taganrog, and On 9 January, they reached Rostov. According to Kenez, "The Whites had now lost all the territories which they had captured in 1919, and held approximately the same area in which they had started two years before."[102]: 213–223 

Central Asia (1919)[edit]

By February 1919 the British government had pulled its military forces out of Central Asia.[129] Despite the success for the Red Army, the White Army's assaults in European Russia and other areas broke communication between Moscow and Tashkent. For a time Central Asia was completely cut off from Red Army forces in Siberia.[130] Although the communication failure weakened the Red Army, the Bolsheviks continued their efforts to gain support for the Bolshevik Party in Central Asia by holding a second regional conference in March. During the conference, a regional bureau of Muslim organisations of the Russian Bolshevik Party was formed. The Bolshevik Party continued to try to gain support among the native population by giving it the impression of better representation for the Central Asian population and throughout the end of the year could maintain harmony with the Central Asian people.[131]

Communication difficulties with Red Army forces in Siberia and European Russia ceased to be a problem by mid-November 1919. Red Army successes north of Central Asia caused communication with Moscow to be re-established and the Bolsheviks to claim victory over the White Army in Turkestan.[130]

In the Ural-Guryev operation of 1919–1920, the Red Turkestan Front defeated the Ural Army. During winter 1920, Ural Cossacks and their families, totaling about 15,000 people, headed south along the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea towards Fort Alexandrovsk. Only a few hundred of them reached Persia in June 1920.[132] The Orenburg Independent Army was formed from Orenburg Cossacks and others troops who rebelled against the Bolsheviks. During the winter 1919–20, the Orenburg Army retreated to Semirechye in what is known as the Starving March, as half of the participants perished.[133] In March 1920 her remnants crossed the border into the Northwestern region of China.

South Russia, Ukraine and Kronstadt (1920–21)[edit]

Victims of the Russian famine of 1921

At the beginning of 1920, Denikin was reduced to defending Novorossia, the Crimean peninsula, and the Northern Caucasus. On 26 January, the Caucasian army retreated beyond the Manych. On 7 February, the Reds occupied Odessa, but then Makhno started fighting the Fourteenth Red Army. On 20 February, Denikin succeeded in recapturing Rostov, his last victory, before giving it up soon after.[102]: 236–239 

By the beginning of 1920, the main body of the Armed Forces of South Russia was rapidly retreating towards the Don, to Rostov. Denikin hoped to hold the crossings of the Don, then rest and reform his troops, but the White Army was not able to hold the Don area, and at the end of February 1920 started a retreat across Kuban towards Novorossiysk. Slipshod evacuation of Novorossiysk proved to be a dark event for the White Army. Russian and Allied ships evacuated about 40,000 of Denikin's men from Novorossiysk to the Crimea, without horses or any heavy equipment, while about 20,000 men were left behind and either dispersed or were captured by the Red Army. Following the disastrous Novorossiysk evacuation, Denikin stepped down and the military council elected Wrangel as the new Commander-in-Chief of the White Army. He was able to restore order to the dispirited troops and reshape an army that could fight as a regular force again. It remained an organized force in the Crimea throughout 1920.[134]

Tambov Rebellion was one of the largest and best-organised peasant rebellions challenging the Bolshevik regime

After Moscow's Bolshevik government signed a military and political alliance with Nestor Makhno and the Ukrainian anarchists, the Insurgent Army attacked and defeated several regiments of Wrangel's troops in southern Ukraine, forcing him to retreat before he could capture that year's grain harvest.[135]

Stymied in his efforts to consolidate his hold, Wrangel then attacked north in an attempt to take advantage of recent Red Army defeats at the close of the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1920. The Red Army eventually halted the offensive, and Wrangel's troops had to retreat to Crimea in November 1920, pursued by both the Red and Black cavalry and infantry. Wrangel's fleet evacuated him and his army to Constantinople on 14 November 1920, ending the struggle of Reds and Whites in Southern Russia.[136]

After the defeat of Wrangel, the Red Army immediately repudiated its 1920 treaty of alliance with Nestor Makhno and attacked the anarchist Insurgent Army; the campaign to liquidate Makhno and the Ukrainian anarchists began with an attempted assassination of Makhno by Cheka agents. Anger at continued repression by the Bolshevik Communist government and at its liberal use of the Cheka to put down anarchist elements led to a naval mutiny at Kronstadt in March 1921, followed by peasant revolts. Red Army attacks on the anarchist forces and their sympathisers increased in ferocity throughout 1921.[137]

Siberia and the Far East (1920–22)[edit]

In Siberia, Admiral Kolchak's army had disintegrated. He himself gave up command after the loss of Omsk and designated Gen. Grigory Semyonov as the new leader of the White Army in Siberia. Not long afterward, Kolchak was arrested by the disaffected Czechoslovak Legion as he traveled towards Irkutsk without the protection of the army and was turned over to the socialist Political Centre in Irkutsk. Six days later, the regime was replaced by a Bolshevik-dominated Military-Revolutionary Committee. On 6–7 February Kolchak and his prime minister Victor Pepelyaev were shot and their bodies were thrown through the ice of the frozen Angara River, just before the arrival of the White Army in the area.[1]: 319–21 

Remnants of Kolchak's army reached Transbaikalia and joined Semyonov's troops, forming the Far Eastern army. With the support of the Japanese army it was able to hold Chita, but after the withdrawal of Japanese soldiers from Transbaikalia, Semenov's position became untenable, and in November 1920 he was driven by the Red Army from Transbaikalia and took refuge in China. The Japanese, who had plans to annex the Amur Krai, finally pulled their troops out as Bolshevik forces gradually asserted control over the Russian Far East. On 25 October 1922 Vladivostok fell to the Red Army, and the Provisional Priamur Government was extinguished.


Both sides during conflict were mainly equipped with Soviet made weaponry, though Georgian forces had much more heavy weapons at the start of war, Abkhaz forces acquired many advanced weapons from Russia and at the end of war had decisive edge in weaponry, employing many SAM and MANPAT Systems, meanwhile Georgian forces had problems with supplying needed weapons and equipment to forces in Abkhazia, mainly because there was no foreign support and difficulties acquiring weapons from abroad.[138][139][140]

Type Russian Republic Forces Seperatists Forces Bolsheviks Forces
AFVs Renault FT, Mark V, Medium Mark B,Whippet Mark V, Medium Mark B, Whippet
Artillery QF 18-pounder, 152-mm siege gun M1910, 122 mm howitzer M1909, 122 mm howitzer M1910, 76 mm divisional gun M1902 152-mm siege gun M1910, 122 mm howitzer M1909, 122 mm howitzer M1910, 76 mm divisional gun M1902
Aircraft Grigorovich M-5, M-9 Grigorovich M-5, M-9
Anti-tank weapons
Infantry weapons Mosin–Nagant, Chauchat,Avtomat Fyodorova,Madsen machine gun,Winchester Model 1907,Winchester Model 1895, Nagant M1895,Maxim gun,M1910 Maxim, Lewis Gun,M1895, MG 99, MG 01, MG 08, MG 08/15, MG 08/18 and MG 09 Chauchat, Avtomat Fyodorova, Madsen machine gun, Nagant M1895, M1910 Maxim,Hotchkiss M1914, Lewis Gun, Mosin–Nagant


Ensuing rebellion[edit]

In Central Asia, Red Army troops continued to face resistance into 1923, where basmachi (armed bands of Islamic guerrillas) had formed to fight the Bolshevik takeover. The Soviets engaged non-Russian peoples in Central Asia, like Magaza Masanchi, commander of the Dungan Cavalry Regiment, to fight against the Basmachis. The Communist Party did not completely dismantle the group until 1934.[141]

General Anatoly Pepelyayev continued armed resistance in the Ayano-Maysky District until June 1923. The regions of Kamchatka and Northern Sakhalin remained under Japanese occupation until their treaty with the Soviet Union in 1925, when their forces were finally withdrawn.


Street children during the Russian Civil War

The results of the civil war were momentous. Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis estimated the total number of men killed in action in the Civil War and Polish–Soviet War as 300,000 (125,000 in the Red Army, 175,500 White armies and Poles) and the total number of military personnel dead from disease (on both sides) as 450,000.[142] Boris Sennikov estimated the total losses among the population of Tambov region in 1920 to 1922 resulting from the war, executions, and imprisonment in concentration camps as approximately 240,000.[143]

As many as 10 million lives were lost as a result of the Russian Civil War, and the overwhelming majority of these were civilian casualties.[144] There is no consensus among the Western historians on the number of deaths from the Red Terror. One source gives estimates of 28,000 executions per year from December 1917 to February 1922.[145] Estimates for the number of people shot during the initial period of the Red Terror are at least 10,000.[146] Estimates for the whole period go for a low of 50,000[147] to highs of 140,000[147][148] and 200,000 executed.[149] Most estimations for the number of executions in total put the number at about 100,000.[150] According to Vadim Erlikhman's investigation, the number of the Red Terror's victims is at least 1,200,000 people.[151] According to Robert Conquest, a total of 140,000 people were shot in 1917–1922, but Jonathan D. Smele estimates they were considerably fewer, "perhaps less than half that many".[152] Candidate of Historical Sciences Nikolay Zayats states that the number of people shot by the Cheka in 1918–1922 is about 37,300 people, shot in 1918–1921 by the verdicts of the tribunals — 14,200, i.e. about 50,000–55,000 people in total, although executions and atrocities were not limited to the Cheka, having been organized by the Red Army as well.[153][154] In 1924, an anti-Bolshevik Popular Socialist Sergei Melgunov (1879–1956) published a detailed account on the Red Terror in Russia, where he cited Professor Charles Saroléa's estimates of 1,766,188 deaths from the Bolshevik policies. He questioned the accuracy of the figures, but endorsed Saroléa's "chracterisation of terror in Russia", stating it matches reality.[155][156] Modern historian Sergei Volkov, assessing the Red Terror as the entire repressive policy of the Bolsheviks during the years of the Civil War (1917–1922), estimates the direct death toll of the Red Terror at 2 million people.[157] Volkov's calculations, however, do not appear to have been confirmed by other major scholars.[158]

Some 300,000–500,000 Cossacks were killed or deported during Decossackization, out of a population of around three million.[159] An estimated 100,000 Jews were killed in Ukraine.[160] Punitive organs of the All Great Don Cossack Host sentenced 25,000 people to death between May 1918 and January 1919.[161] Kolchak's government shot 25,000 people in Ekaterinburg province alone.[162] The White Terror, as it would become known, killed about 300,000 people in total.[163]

At the end of the Civil War the Russian SFSR was exhausted and near ruin. The droughts of 1920 and 1921, as well as the 1921 famine, worsened the disaster still further, killing roughly 5 million people. Disease had reached pandemic proportions, with 3,000,000 dying of typhus throughout the war. Millions more also died of widespread starvation, wholesale massacres by both sides and pogroms against Jews in Ukraine and southern Russia. By 1922, there were at least 7,000,000 street children in Russia as a result of nearly ten years of devastation from World War I and the civil war.[164]

Another one to two million people, known as the White émigrés, fled Russia, many with General Wrangel, some through the Far East and others west into the newly independent Baltic countries. The émigrés included a large percentage of the educated and skilled population of Russia.

The Russian economy was devastated by the war, with factories and bridges destroyed, cattle and raw materials pillaged, mines flooded and machines damaged. The industrial production value descended to one seventh of the value of 1913 and agriculture to one third. According to Pravda, "The workers of the towns and some of the villages choke in the throes of hunger. The railways barely crawl. The houses are crumbling. The towns are full of refuse. Epidemics spread and death strikes—industry is ruined."[citation needed] 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.

War communism saved the Soviet government during the Civil War, but much of the Russian economy had ground to a standstill. Some peasants responded to food 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 with the US dollar declined from two roubles in 1914 to 1,200 Rbls in 1920.

With the end of the war, the Communist Party no longer faced an acute military threat to its existence and power. However, the perceived threat of continued popular discontent, combined with the failure of socialist revolutions in other countries—most notably the German Revolution—contributed to the continued militarisation of Soviet society. Although Russia experienced extremely rapid economic growth[165] in the 1930s, the combined effect of World War I and the Civil War left a lasting scar on Russian society and had permanent effects on the development of the Soviet Union.

In fiction[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soviet-Polish War.
  2. ^ Viena expedition#British Intervention
  3. ^ De facto deposed after the Bolshevik Coup of November 1917; formally abolished in January 1918 after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly.
  4. ^ Finnish Civil War
  5. ^ Polish-Soviet War
  6. ^ Basmachi movement
  7. ^ Heimosodat
  8. ^ Aligned with the Bolsheviks until March 1918, when they fell out over the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Most Left SRs opposed the Bolsheviks afterward, but a minority of Left SRs remained allied to the Bolsheviks for years after.
  9. ^ Aligned with the Bolsheviks until 1919; opposed after.
  10. ^ Aligned with the Bolsheviks until 1920; opposed after.
  11. ^ Japan also stayed in North Sakhalin until 1925.
  12. ^ Official allegiance to the Russian State
    Unofficial allegiance to the German Empire
  13. ^ The main phase ended on 25 October 1922. Revolt against the Bolsheviks continued in Central Asia and the Far East through the 1920s and 1930s.
  14. ^ The Red Army peaked in October 1920 with 5,498,000: 2,587,000 in reserves, 391,000 in labor armies, 159,000 on the front and 1,780,000 drawing rations
  15. ^ 683,000 active
    340,000 reserve
  16. ^ There were an additional 6,242,926 hospitalizations from sickness.
  17. ^ The old spelling was retained by the Whites to differentiate from the Reds.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mawdsley, Evan (2007). The Russian Civil War. New York: Pegasus Books. ISBN 9781681770093.
  2. ^ Последние бои на Дальнем Востоке. М., Центрполиграф, 2005.
  3. ^ Bullock, David (2008). The Russian Civil War 1918–22. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-271-4. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  4. ^ Erickson 1984, p. 763.
  5. ^ Belash, Victor & Belash, Aleksandr, Dorogi Nestora Makhno, p. 340
  6. ^ Damien Wright, Churchill's Secret War with Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918–20, Solihull, UK, 2017, pp. 394, 526–528, 530–535; Clifford Kinvig, Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia 1918–1920, London 2006, ISBN 1-85285-477-4, p. 297; Timothy Winegard, The First World Oil War, University of Toronto Press (2016), p. 229
  7. ^ a b Smele, Jon (2015). The "Russian" Civil Wars, 1916–1926 : ten years that shook the world. New York. p. 160. ISBN 9780190613211.
  8. ^ Krivosheev 1997, p. 7-38.
  9. ^ Damien Wright, Churchill's Secret War with Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918–20, Solihull, UK, 2017, pp. 490–492, 498–500, 504; Clifford Kinvig, Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia 1918–1920, London 2006, ISBN 1-85285-477-4, pp. 289, 315; Timothy Winegard, The First World Oil War, University of Toronto Press (2016), p. 208; Malleson Mission – Casualties
  10. ^ Eidintas, Žalys & Senn 1999, p. 30
  11. ^ Russian Civil War Archived 26 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine Encyclopædia Britannica Online 2012
  12. ^ Leggett 1981, p. 184; Service 2000, p. 402; Read 2005, p. 206.
  13. ^ Hall 2015, p. 83.
  14. ^ Lee 2003, pp. 84, 88.
  15. ^ Goldstein 2013, p. 50.
  16. ^ Hall 2015, p. 84.
  17. ^ a b c Stone, David R. (2011). "Russian Civil War (1917–1920)". In Martel, Gordon (ed.). The Encyclopedia of War. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. pp. wbeow533. doi:10.1002/9781444338232.wbeow533. ISBN 978-1-4051-9037-4. S2CID 153317860. Cite error: The named reference ":0" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  18. ^ Calder 1976, p. 166 "[...] the Russian Army disintegrated after the failure of the Galician offensive in July 1917."
  19. ^ Read 1996, p. 237 By 1920, 77% of the Red Army's enlisted ranks were peasant conscripts.
  20. ^ Williams, Beryl, The Russian Revolution 1917–1921, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (1987), ISBN 978-0-631-15083-1: Typically, men of conscriptible age (17 to 40 years old) in a village would vanish when Red Army draft-units approached. The taking of hostages and a few summary executions usually brought the men back.
  21. ^ a b c d e Overy 2004, p. 446 By the end of the civil war, one-third of all Red Army officers were ex-Tsarist voenspetsy" Cite error: The named reference ":1" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  22. ^ a b Williams, Beryl, The Russian Revolution 1917–1921, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (1987), ISBN 978-0-631-15083-1
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  29. ^ Carr (1985), pp. 113–115.
  30. ^ Carr (1985), p. 115.
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  32. ^ Carr (1985), pp. 118–120.
  33. ^ Carr (1985), pp. 120–121.
  34. ^ a b "White Siberia: the politics of civil war", Norman G. O. Pereira. McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP, 1996. ISBN 0-7735-1349-3, ISBN 978-0-7735-1349-5. p. 65
  35. ^ "The lost opportunity: attempts at unification of the anti-Bolsheviks, 1917–1919 : Moscow, Kiev, Jassy, Odessa", Christopher Lazarski. ISBN 0-7618-4120-2, ISBN 978-0-7618-4120-3. p. 42-43
  36. ^ "Dear comrades: Menshevik reports on the Bolshevik revolution and the civil war", Vladimir N. Brovkin. Hoover Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8179-8981-1, ISBN 978-0-8179-8981-1. p. 135
  37. ^ See Jonathan D. Smele. Op. cit., p.32 ("Op. cit." means to refer to a work cited earlier in the citations. this means you copied it from a citation list, and are citing something that you have not read. instead you should cite what you read and say it refers to this, or if you can get the original work and look at it then you can cite it directly.)
  38. ^ "Rosa Luxemburg: The Russian Tragedy (September 1918)". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  39. ^ Carr (1985), pp. 161–164.
  40. ^ a b Boniece, Sally A. – link "Don Quixotes of the Revolution"? The Left SRs as a Mass Political Movement. Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 5.1 (2004) 185–194
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  56. ^ See Elizabeth A. Wood. Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Early Soviet Russia, Cornell University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8014-4257-5, p.83
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  64. ^ Chamberlin 1987, p. 440.
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  87. ^ Wheeler 1964, p. 104.
  88. ^ Coates & Coates 1951, p. 70.
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  90. ^ Coates & Coates 1951, p. 74.
  91. ^ Allworth 1967, p. 226.
  92. ^ Figes 1997, p. 258quotes such comments from the peasant soldiers during the first weeks of the war: We have talked it over among ourselves; if the Germans want payment, it would be better to pay ten roubles a head than to kill people. Or: Is it not all the same what Tsar we live under? It cannot be worse under the German one. Or: Let them go and fight themselves. Wait a while, we will settle accounts with you. Or: 'What devil has brought this war on us? We are butting into other people's business.'
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Further reading[edit]

  • Acton, Edward, V. et al. eds. Critical companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914–1921 (Indiana UP, 1997).
  • Brovkin, Vladimir N. (1994). Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War: Political Parties and Social Movements in Russia, 1918–1922. Princeton UP. excerpt Archived 28 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  • Dupuy, T. N. The Encyclopedia of Military History (many editions) Harper & Row Publishers.
  • Ford, Chris. "Reconsidering the Ukrainian Revolution 1917–1921: The Dialectics of National Liberation and Social Emancipation." Debatte 15.3 (2007): 279–306.
  • Peter Kenez. Civil War in South Russia, 1918: The First Year of the Volunteer Army (U of California Press, 1971).
  • Lincoln, W. Bruce. Red victory: A history of the Russian Civil War (1989).
  • Luckett, Richard. The White Generals: An Account of the White Movement and the Russian Civil War (Routledge, 2017).
  • Marples, David R. Lenin's Revolution: Russia, 1917–1921 (Routledge, 2014).
  • Moffat, Ian, ed. The Allied Intervention in Russia, 1918–1920: The Diplomacy of Chaos (2015)
  • Polyakov, Yuri. The Civil War in Russia: Its Causes and Significance (Novosti, 1981).
  • Serge, Victor. Year One of the Russian Revolution (Haymarket, 2015).
  • Smele, Jonathan D. "'If Grandma had Whiskers...': Could the Anti-Bolsheviks have won the Russian Revolutions and Civil Wars? Or, the Constraints and Conceits of Counterfactual History." Revolutionary Russia (2020): 1–32. doi:10.1080/09546545.2019.1675961. Archived 28 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  • Smele, Jonathan. The 'Russian' Civil Wars, 1916–1926: Ten Years That Shook the World (Oxford UP, 2016).
  • Smele, Jonathan D. Historical Dictionary of the Russian Civil Wars, 1916–1926 (2 Vol. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
  • Stewart, George. The White Armies of Russia: A Chronicle of Counter-Revolution and Allied Intervention (2008) excerpt Archived 27 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  • Stone, David R. "The Russian Civil War, 1917–1921," in The Military History of the Soviet Union.
  • Swain, Geoffrey (2015). The Origins of the Russian Civil War excerpt Archived 28 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine

Primary sources[edit]

  • Butt, V. P., et al., eds. The Russian Civil War: Documents from the Soviet Archives (Springer, 2016).
  • McCauley, Martin, ed. The Russian Revolution and the Soviet State 1917–1921: Documents (Springer, 1980).
  • Murphy, A. Brian, ed. The Russian Civil War: Primary Sources (Springer, 2000) online review Archived 27 June 2020 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]