Category: russian revolution

The Daily Missoulian. November 25 1914

November 25 1914 – Daily Missoulian predicting the future Revolution in Russia

The ongoing armed conflict in Europe one year after #WW1 had ended

New-York tribune. November 9, 1919, Page 26

  1. In the Baltic region, there is a four-cornered struggle between the Lett and Esth nationalist troops, the German-Russian monarchist force of Colonel Bermondt, and the Bolsheviki.
  2. South of Petrograd the alleged anti-Gerynan forces of General Yudenich are in contact with the “red” armies.
  3. On the North Russian front the troops of the anti-Bolshevik Archangel government arc still “sticking it out” in spite of the withdrawal of the British expeditionary force.
  4. In Eastern Russia Kolchak’s army is suffering one defeat after another at the hands of the “reds.”
  5. In Southern Russia, there is the volunteer army of General Denikin making war on the “reds” and the Ukrainians.
  6. In Volhynia and Podolia the troops of the Ukrainian directorate, under Symon Petlura, are facing the Bolsheviki on one side, the Poles on the other.
  7. Along the Dvina, the Polish-Bolshevik war continues.
  8. In Silesia, there is no actual fighting, but something very much like a truce between the Poles and Germans.
  9. Hungary, what with the Romanian occupation and the White Terror, with its pogroms and wholesale executions, is very much in the state of war.
  10. On the Adriatic fighting may start any moment between the Italians and Jugo-Slavs, with Gabriele D’Annunzio’s volunteers still holding “conquered” Fiume.
  11. In Albania promiscuous fighting is going on, with Italians, French, Greeks, Serbians and Albanians participating.
  12. In Asia Minor, the Turkish nationalist forces of Mustappa Kemal Pasha are defying the Allies.

“And three with a new song’s measure can trample an empire down.”

September 10, 1918 – Reds Retake Kazan

Pictured – “Forward to Kazan!” Trotsky’s reforms helped turn the Red Army from a revolutionary mob into an effective force.

The Russian Civil War could have ended quickly in 1918, and with it the Bolshevik revolution. Certainly that is what most foreign observers, and perhaps even most Russians anticipated. Several strong and growing centers of anti-Bolshevik resistance had grown, including in Kazan, where a group of Socialist Revolutionaries had established a government called KOMUCH, a Russian abbreviation for “Constituent Assembly.” Calling for Russians to destroy an unrepresentative Moscow government, the Komuch People’s Army marched to the Volga.

With aid from the crack troops of the Czech Legion, and commanded by the skilled General Vladimir Kappel, the Komuch White forces captured the city of Kazan on August 7, and with it the entire gold reserve of the Russian Empire. From Kazan the Whites could cross the Volga, maybe even linking up with another White force, the Volunteer Army of South Russia.

They might have were it not for Leon Trotsky. The Russian War Commissar sped for Kazan in a special armored train, rallying the beaten Red Army. Trotsky created an efficient logistics system to bring rifles and ammo to his men, and boosted their morale.You know what your task is, Trotsky and his lieutenant told their troops: “To prevent the enemy from taking a
single step forward: to wrest Kazan from his grasp: to throw back the
Czech mercenaries and the officer-thugs, drown them in the Volga, and
crush their criminal mutiny against the workers’ revolution.”

And where speeches did not work, Trotsky used brute force to impose discipline. One battalion of Reds who had fled from Kazan was decimated, Roman-style. Trotsky also created blocking detachments with orders to shoot any troops that ran from the fight. His methods worked, and on September 10 Bolshevik soldiers re-took the city with help from gunboats, artillery, and bombers, new forces and methods which owed much to Trotsky’s reorganization of the Red Army.

September 9, 1918 – “Red Terror” in Full Swing

Pictured – The chief targets of the 1918 Red Terror were the Russian bourgeois.  Many Russians saw a chance to get even with a bourgeois class that had trampled over them for centuries.

After surviving a failed assassination attempt in August, Lenin ordered for extreme counter-measures to be taken. A state of “terror” was legalized, under which all enemies of the Bolshevik revolution were to be punished. Lenin’s first targets were the Socialist Revolutionaries, a left-wing party but one which opposed the Bolsheviks. It had been an SR named Fanny Kaplan that had tried to shoot Lenin.

The Bolshevik’s internal security force, the Cheka, went to work with relish. In Kiev, the Cheka news organ announced the Terror as a period of regenerative violence.

“We reject the old morality and ‘humanity’ invented by the bourgeoisie
in order to oppress and exploit the lower classes. Our morality does not
have a precedent, our humanity is absolute because it rests on a new
ideal: to destroy any form of oppression and violence. To us, everything
is permitted because we are the very first to raise our swords not to
oppress and enslave, but to release humanity from its chains… Blood?
Let blood be shed! Only blood can dye the black flag of the pirate
bourgeoisie, turning it once and for all into a red banner, flag of the
Revolution. Only the old world’s final demise will free us forever from
the return of the jackals.”

For many Russians, however, the Terror was not about ideology, but about getting even with a monarchy that had oppressed them and kept them in miserable conditions for centuries. (Such as in Finland, where a failed revolution that summer led to thousands of workers being executed.) The bourgeois were the chief victims of the Terror. Several thousand bourgeois prisoners were massacred in the first weeks. Years of resentment bubbled up into two months of ultraviolent bloodshed, with the Cheka executing perhaps 10-15,000 by the end of October 1918.

“One Tsar, one faith, one nation.”
White Russian troops, September 1918.

September 7, 1918 – Doughboys Land in Russia

Pictured – American troops were preceded by a landing party of US Navy sailors, who had accompanied the original British landing in August.

The first American ground troops landed in north Russia in September 1918, reinforcing the growing Anglo-Canadian force at Archangel. The “Polar Bears” were America’s largest contribution to the Russian Civil War. Although more Yankees landed at Vladivostok in the Far East, they would take no part in fighting, while the Americans at Archangel were swept into a trench war against the Red Army. 144 Americans would die in north Russia during the war.

September 6, 1918 – World Learns of the Romanovs’ Deaths

Pictured – The sad fate of the Tsar of Russia.

The world already knew that Nicholas Romanov, former Tsar Nicholas II of the Russian Empire, had been executed by Red Guards in Ekaterinburg in July. It did not know that the rest of the Tsar’s family – the Tsarina, son Alexei, and the four daughters – had been murdered as well. Some thought the news was anti-Bolshevik propaganda.

One of the people most affected by the news was British King George V. The British government has proposed giving sanctuary to the Romanovs after the Tsar’s abdication, but George had personally vetoed the plan, fearing that bringing his unpopular cousin to England might flare up revolutionary sentiment at home. Nevertheless, when the King heard of the death of the Tsar’s family, he blamed Whitehall for leaving them out in the cold. Although he did not mourn the Tsarina Alix, who he had disliked, he was gripped by guilt about the fate of the children. For the rest of his life George would oppose normalizing relations with the Bolsheviks, the “murderers of my family.”

Japanese troops stand by Cheka operatives they have killed in the Russian far east.

A Cheka death squad during the Russian Civil War. The Cheka were the Bolshevik secret police, charged with rooting under counter-revolutionaries in a campaign of “Red Terror.”