Russia 1917 21 booklet


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Russia 1917 21 booklet

  1. 1. Russia 1917-21 Bolshevik Rule of Russia
  2. 2. The Consolidation of Bolshevik Power 1917: First Bolshevik Decrees The Formation of the Soviet Government and Its First Acts 1917: Treaty of Brest Litovsk Treaty of Brest Litovsk The ruined fortress town of Brest Litovsk, deep behind German lines in occupied Poland, was selected by the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey) as the site to conduct negotiations with the new Soviet government. There, on December 2, 1917 an armistice was signed, but it would not be Pokrovskii, Ioffe, Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk (1917) Lenin addressing a crowd in 1920 In the early hours of October 26, 1917 the rump Second Congress of the Soviets adopted a proclamation drafted by Lenin which declared the Provisional Government overthrown and laid out the new soviet government's program: an immediate armistice "on all fronts," transfer of land to peasant committees, workers' control over production, the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, bread to the cities, and the right of self-determination to all nations inhabiting Russia. That very evening the Congress met for a second time and took three actions: decrees on peace and land, and the formation of a new government. The decree on peace called on the belligerent powers to cease hostilities and commit themselves to no annexations or indemnities. It also appealed to the workers of Britain, France and Germany to support the Soviet's decision, that is, in effect, to put pressure on their respective governments to enter into negotiations for a just peace. The land decree that Lenin composed took its brief from the SR program and the peasant "mandates" that had been delivered to the All- Russia Congress of Peasant Deputies in May. It proclaimed that "private ownership of land shall be abolished forever" so that land could "become the property of the whole people, and shall pass into the use of those who cultivate it." By recognizing what already had occurred in many parts of the country, the decree legitimized the new government in the eyes of the peasants. Finally, the Congress approved the formation of the new governing body presented by Lenin, the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom). It consisted of all Bolsheviks, including Lenin as chairman and thus head of the government, Trotsky as commissar for foreign affairs, and Stalin as commissar for nationality affairs. The Congress also selected a new Central Executive Committee (TsIK), which was to exercise full authority in between congresses. Sixty-two of the 101 members of the TsIK were Bolsheviks, 29 were Left SRs, and the remaining ten were divided among Menshevik-Internationalists and other minor socialist groups. The exact relationship between Sovnarkom and the TsIK and the extent to which the rest of the country would recognize these decisions remained unclear for some time to come.
  3. 3. until March 3 (NS), 1918 that a formal treaty was issued. Even thereafter, military action continued for several months, as the German army pushed further and further into territories nominally under Soviet control. Initially, the Soviet government's strategy, as articulated by Trotsky, its commissar for foreign affairs, was "neither war nor peace." That is, assuming that the capitalist world was on the brink of exhaustion and that Soviet defiance would rouse the oppressed masses of Europe to revolution, Trotsky argued (against the opposition of Lenin) that the negotiations should be used for propaganda purposes. However, after the Germans resumed military operations on February 18 (NS) and presented stiffer demands that included an end to the Soviet presence in Ukraine and the Baltic provinces, Lenin achieved a majority in the party's Central Committee in favor of accepting the enemy's terms. Thus, the Treaty of Brest Litovsk provided the fledgling Soviet government with a "breathing spell," in effect buying it time by sacrificing space. This bow to expediency did not go down well with many Bolsheviks, not to speak of their sympathizers in Europe or Russia's war-time allies who had feared just such a separate peace. At the Bolsheviks' Seventh Congress, the treaty was denounced by Nikolai Bukharin and other so-called Left Communists as a capitulation to imperialism. It also was anathema to the Left SRs who, having supplied several commissars to Sovnarkom in December, withdrew them in protest and voted against the treaty at the Fourth Congress of Soviets. The results in the November 1917 elections. Lenin dissolved the assembly quickly after.
  4. 4. The Civil War Causes of the Civil War Events of the Civil War 1918–1921 • The war lasted 3 years. • White armies led by Generals Yudenich and Denikin attacked Russia from the west, Admiral Kolchak from the east. • The Tsar and his family were put to death. • The Red Army defeated Kolchak in 1919 – after this the British, American and French armies went home. • The civil war caused shortages, famine and disease - millions died. There were many cruel atrocities. • The last White army in Russia was defeated in the Crimea in 1920. • The Red Army invaded Poland in 1921, but was defeated and driven back. • In 1922 The Tenth Party Congress declared the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. White propaganda poster representing the Bolsheviks as a fallen communist dragon and the White Cause as a crusading knight. Collapse of Russian Empire • Decree on Nationalities allowed national minorities chance to govern themselves • Many territories declared independence from RSFSR • Central Siberian Region Soviet rejected Treaty of Brest-Litovsk • 33 sovereign governments in Russia (June 1918) Political opposition • Growth of political opposition, e.g. Union for Defence of the Motherland & Liberty (Jan 1918) • SRs and Mensheviks excluded from Constituent Assembly &Sovnakom (Executive Committee of Soviets) joined anti-Bolshevik alliance, ‘Whites’ Allied opposition • Western allies angry with Russia’s withdrawal from WWI • Churchill sent £100m of supplies to help Whites • French govt sent 7 million francs to Kaedin, leader of Cossacks. • USA, Japan, Italy, Canada sent troops Breakdown of law & order • Class warfare broke out – mobs and armed solidiers roamed Petrograd. • Peasants acting illegally seizing land without official sanction • Arbitrary arrest & imprisonment by Cheka Food requisitioning • Loss of Ukraine – ‘bread basket of Russia’ as part of Tr. of B-L exacerbated problem • Soaring inflation • Kulaks accused of grain hoarding
  5. 5. Why The Bolsheviks Won The War 1. Whites were disunited and thousands of miles apart, so Trotsky could fight them one by one. 2. Trotsky was a brilliant war leader and strategist, so the Red Army had good tactics. 3. Belief Many Russians were Communists, who believed they were fighting for a better world. Others fought for them because they hated foreign (British, American and French) armies invading Russia. This made the Bolshevik soldiers fervent and enthusiastic. 4. War Communism The Bolsheviks nationalised the factories, and introduced military discipline. Strikes were made illegal. Food was rationed. Peasants were forced to give food to the government. This gave the Bolshevik armies the supplies they needed. 5. Terror The Cheka murdered any Whites they found – more than 7000 people were executed, and Red Army generals were kept loyal by taking their families hostage – so the Bolsheviks were united. 6. Wherewithal The Bolsheviks had control of the main cities of Moscow and Petrograd (with their factories), control of the railways (vital), an army of 300,000 men, very strict army discipline, and internal lines of communication – giving them the advantage in the war. Source A The Internationale Arise, ye slaves who know starvation! Shake off the curse that binds the earth! Our reason boils with indignation, And makes us die to gain new birth. We'll tear down our planet's false foundation, Then build a better world anew, While he who lived in humble station Will stand erect, as is his due. The Internationale was the national anthem of the USSR. Its words explain why the western governments were so hostile to Communist Russia: Bolshevik propaganda poster of Trotsky slaying the counter- revolutionary dragon, 1918
  6. 6. The Kronstadt Mutiny Effects of Kronstadt The Kronstadt rebellion had two key effects: 1.Many socialists all over the world lost faith in the Bolshevik revolution, which they now saw as a repressive regime. 2.Lenin realised that he would have to relax War Communism, or he was going to provoke a revolution which would throw out the Bolsheviks; this was why he invented the ‘New Economic Policy’. The sailors at the Kronstadt naval base had long been a source of radical dissent. Mutinies had taken place during the 1905 Revolution and played an important role in persuading Nicholas II to issue his October Manifesto. The Kronstadt sailors were also active in the overthrow of Nicholas II in the February Revolution. A large number of the sailors were Bolsheviks and during the October Revolution they took control of the cruiser, Aurora, and sailed it up the River Neva and opened fire on the Winter Palace. According to Bertram D. Wolfe: "They jailed their officers without trial in the same hell holes that had been used to discipline them, and drowned or bloodily lynched many. Leon Trotsky later claimed: "The most hateful of the officers were shoved under the ice, of course while still alive... Bloody acts of retribution were as inevitable as the recoil of a gun." By 1921 the Kronstadt sailors had become disillusioned with the Bolshevik government. They were angry about the lack of democracy and the policy of War Communism. On 28th February, 1921, the crew of the battleship, Petropavlovsk, passed a resolution calling for a return of full political freedoms. Lenin denounced the Kronstadt Uprising as a plot instigated by the White Army and their European supporters. On 6th March, Leon Trotsky announced that he was going to order the Red Army to attack the Kronstadt sailors. However, it was not until the 17th March that government forces were able to take control of Kronstadt. An estimated 8,000 people (sailors and civilians) left Kronstadt and went to live in Finland. Official figures suggest that 527 people were killed and 4,127 were wounded. Historians who have studied the uprising believe that the total number of casualties was much higher than this. According to Victor Serge over 500 sailors at Kronstadt were executed for their part in the rebellion. Nikolai Sukhanov reminded Leon Trotsky that three years previously he had told the people of Petrograd: "We shall conduct the work of the Petrograd Soviet in a spirit of lawfulness and of full freedom for all parties. The hand of the Presidium will never lend itself to the suppression of the minority." Trotsky lapsed into silence for a while, then said wistfully: "Those were good days."
  7. 7. Russian Civil War Posters
  8. 8. Why was War Communism introduced? The Red Army needed to be supplied with food and weapons to help it fight the Civil War against the Whites. The Bolsheviks were Communists. They wanted to take control of industry and food production in Russia. What was War Communism? The Bolsheviks took control of factories, mines, workshops and railways. Workers were forced to work in factories. Grain was taken from the peasants using force. The Bolsheviks took control of the banks. Private trade was not allowed. Food was rationed. Why did War Communism fail? Grain hidden Peasants hid grain. Many peasants were arrested or shot. Fall in food production Peasants grew less grain. This led to a famine in 1921. Food shortages and famine There were food shortages in towns. Fall in factory production The number of goods produced by factories did not increase as a result of War Communism. Kronstadt Rebellion The sailors at the Kronstadt naval base revolted against the Bolshevik government in 1921. They wanted an end to War communism.
  9. 9. Following the tsar’s abdication, the Imperial Family (pictured in 1913) was kept under house arrest first in the Alexander Palace in TsarskoeSelo, 15 miles south of Petrograd, then, from August 1917, in Tobolsk in Western Siberia. In April 1918, they were transferred to Yekaterinburg in the Urals and kept in a former merchant’s house, known by the Bolsheviks obscurely as the ‘House of Special Purpose’. In July 1918, a legion of Czech troops were closing in on the town, and the Bolsheviks, fearing the Romanovs might be In December, 1917, Felix Dzerzhinsky was appointed as Commissar for Internal Affairs and head of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage (Cheka). As Dzerzhinsky later commented: "In the October Revolution, I was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, and then I was entrusted with the task of organizing the Extraordinary Commission for the Struggle against Sabotage and Counterrevolution I was appointed its Chairman, holding at the same time the post of Commissar for Internal Affairs." Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky argued that unless internal opposition to the government was removed the White Army would win the Civil War. The Constituent Assembly was closed down and political parties such as the Cadets, Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries were banned. Strict censorship was also introduced with all anti-Bolshevik newspapers being closed down. Political repression was intensified after two incidents in August, 1918. MoiseiUritsky, chief of the Petrograd Secret Police was assassinated by a student and two weeks later Fanya Kaplan shot and severely wounded Vladimir Lenin. These violent acts were blamed on the Socialist Revolutionaries. Joseph Stalin, who was in Tsaritsyn at the time, sent a telegram advocating an "open and systematic mass terror" against those responsible. The advice of Stalin, who had used these tactics successfully in Tsaritsyn, was accepted and in September, 1918, Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Cheka, instigated the Red Terror. It is estimated that in the next few months 800 socialists were arrested and shot without trial. In the first year the official figure, almost certainly an underestimate, suggested 6,300 people were executed without trial. Red Terror Yekaterinburg's "Church on the Blood", built on the spot where the Ipatiev House once stood Following the tsar’s abdication, the Imperial Family (pictured in 1913) was kept under house arrest first in the Alexander Palace in TsarskoeSelo, 15 miles south of Petrograd, then, from August 1917, in Tobolsk in Western Siberia. In April 1918, they were transferred to Yekaterinburg in the Urals and kept in a former merchant’s house, known by the Bolsheviks obscurely as the ‘House of Special Purpose’. In July 1918, a legion of Czech troops were closing in on the town, and the Bolsheviks, fearing the Romanovs might be rescued and become a rallying point for their enemies, decided to act, probably under the orders of Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin. Around midnight on 17 July 1918, the family was awakened, told to get dressed and washed, and taken down to the basement of the house. Alexandra’s request for a couple of chairs was granted. The former royal couple sat down, with the 13-year-old Alexei sitting on his father’s lap (both wore soldiers’ shirts and caps) and the girls gathered behind their mother. Also with them, the family doctor and three servants that had remained loyal to the last. YakovYurovsky, in charge of the house, led in a squad of executioners and read a short statement announcing the order for execution. An incredulous Nicholas said, ‘What?’ before being shot dead by Yurovsky. The squad opened fire. But Alexandra and her daughters had, over the weeks, sewn their jewellery into their undergarments (lest they could be used for bartering at some point) and thus to a degree were protected from the bullets. But they were finished off by bayonet and finally a shot each to the head. Execution of Tsar Nicholas II
  10. 10. After the civil war, Lenin revised his economic policy and introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP). Through this, peasants were allowed to sell some of their produce for profit and small traders were allowed to run businesses. The NEP: how successful was Lenin's attempt to set up a Communist state? In 1921, the Kronstadt sailors - who had been the Bolsheviks fiercest supporters - mutinied, demanding an end to War Communism. Trotsky put down the rebellion, but Lenin was worried - if the Kronstadt sailors had been pushed too far, how long would it be before the rest of the country rose up and threw out the Bolsheviks? The civil war was won. It was time to pull back. Lenin brought in what he called the New Economic Policy. Peasants who had been forced to hand over all their produce to the war effort - were allowed to keep some to sell for profit - some (the kulaks) became quite rich. Small traders called Nepmen were allowed to set up businesses. At the same time, local nationalities who had been forced to follow a strict Communist line were allowedto bring back their own language and customs. Churches, mosques and bazaars were re-opened. The economy picked up, and people were much happier. But many old Bolsheviks said Lenin had sold out to capitalism, and left the party. USEFUL WEBSITES