Civil War 1918-1921


How did the Bolsheviks win the Civil War?

 1     The Civil War was very complex with many forces operating over a large territory. It was a very confusing period during which the sides were not clearly defined.

 2     White forces made substantial gains in late 1918 and up to the autumn of 1919, putting the Bolsheviks in a crisis situation. By October 1919 the Bolsheviks had turned the tide, picking off White armies one by one, and thereafter pushed the Whites back until their final defeat at the end of 1920.

 3     The Reds were in a better position geographically, and had better organisation, better communications and a clear line of command. However, the Red Army had problems, particularly the high desertion rate.

 4     Trotsky made a significant individual contribution to winning the war by his organisational abilities (transforming the Red Army), his energy and his personal bravery.

 5     The Whites lacked good leadership, unity and co-ordination between armies during campaigns. They were riven by internal divisions and squabbles.

 6     The Whites lacked support from the peasants and national minorities because of their reactionary policies.

 7     Lenin adopted War Communism to meet the needs of the army and to conduct a civil war on the ‘internal front’.

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