Bolshevik Consolidation

  • Created by: NHow02
  • Created on: 30-12-18 13:18

Lenin's Leadership


- Lenin's April Theses in 1917 offered 'Peace, Land and Bread' and proclaimed 'All power to the Soviets'

- good ORATOR (he was able to express his ideas simply and make audiences understand political concepts)


- perceived as RUTHLESS (a survey in 1990 revealed the extermination of the clergy + ordered the hanging of hundreds of Kulaks as a lesson to others)

- he was DEDICATED:                                                                                                                          1. pushed through the signing of Brest Litovsk against left-wing opposition,             2. He worked 16 hours a day and made all day to day decisions of business till his death

- seen as PRAGMATIC (compromised communist values by forcing through the NEP which introduced 'specialist' of the old bourgeoisie control aka. economic compromises)

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Red Terror

Lenin was SHOT in 1918, which caused him to prompt the Cheka to introduce Red Terror:


Anarchists, Mensheviks & SR's were arrested in large numbers (many were executed for taking part in the Soviet)

- 17 July 1917 - TSAR & FAMILY were executed in Ekaterinberg (their bodies were drenched in acid, burned and thrown down a disused mineshaft + Lenin distanced himself from terror by shifting the responsibilty of the execution local authorities seemingly against his wishes)

- EXECUTION now became a RULE, where previously an exception (the Cheka was responsible for an estimate of 300,000 deaths - though records state 13,000)

- BOURGEOIS PROVOCATION meant everyone was suspect (children made up 5% of Moscow prisons in 1920)

Overall, terror successfully TERRIFIED any hostile Soviet groups + counter revolutionaries, BUT people also called for New Soviet elections, a free press + overthrow of the Soknarkom

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War Communism (1918-21)

Grain Requisitioning:

May 1918, Food Supplies Dictatorship established forcible requisitioning as standard policy (but rich areas of wheat in Ukraine remained outside of Bolshevik control)

- RATIONING: by February 1918, bread rations in Petrograd reached 50g per person per day

Banning Private Trade:

- state organisation was chaotic (industry failed to produce enough consumer goods, value of the rouble collapsed + prices inflated due to decline in output)            1. without the development of an enormous black market, many would not have survived

Nationalisation of Industry:

- Worker's committees were replaced with 'specialists' of the old bourgeoisie (reporting to central authorities)                                                                                                         1. working population of factories + mines dropped by 50%                                            2. workers intimidated management + stole materials for illegal goods

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Civil War (1918)

Trotsky (Commissar from 1918):

- genuinely seemed to inspire (though not a military strategist, so military decisions were taken by others)

- showed ruthlessness - reintroduced the death penalty + held Tsarist families hostage                                                                                                                                             1. full scale mutinies where bourgeoisie officers were murdered and new ones elected 2. 4 million deserted in 1921 (the same as the whites)

White Weaknesses/Red Strengths:

- Bolsheviks united under one goal to stay in power + wereas the Whites struggled to decide whether they were fighting for Republicanism, Monarchism or the Constituent Assembly

- corruption of leadership (Uniforms + ammunition from foreign interventionists were sold on the Black Market by Kolchak at his base in Omsk)

- Foreign Intervention, allowed Reds to use it as a propaganda coup (showed Whites & foreign powers taking land & the Red ideal of a new society of workers/peasants)

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Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918)


- DECREE ON PEACE (26 October) responded to the people's desire to end the war (Lenin plead for a just peace with 'no annexations, no indemnities')

- Russian front disintegrated rapidly (soldiers had no desire to die in futile fighting).         1. Russian Generals could not use army against Bolsheviks                                    2. German army was now free to walk into Russia + excessive demands from Germany


- splits within the party (Trotsky withdrew as negotatiator - 'neither war nor peace' + left-wing SR's shot German Ambassador, Dzerzhinsky in July 1918)

- the German army began to advance into Ukraine (Lenin feared an attack on Petrograd + pressured Bolshevik representatives to sign the Treaty on 3 March 1918)

- TERMS (worth paying to preserve what was already accomplished)                                   1. lost 2 million square miles + 1/6 of its population                                                      2. lost 74% of oil/iron ore supplies & payed 3 billion roubles in reparations

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- exclusively Bolshevik at first (ruled by Decree without Soviet approval + Lenin forced to use military force to open the vaults of the State Bank)

- ACTON argued that Bolsheviks were 'responsive to pressure' from the people, but unable to impose their will (they compromised their principals to keep popular support) 1. Worker's Decree taken advantage of + Bolsheviks could not resist pressure to reform


- Lenin was reluctant to share power (closed down all opposition press, while SOVNARKOM loyalist soldiers fired on a crowd of demonstrators)

- Legal system was abolished + replaced with arbituary & revolutionary justice (allowed Lenin to thoroughly purge the civil service + replace with loyal but third-rate opportunists)

- Lenin was unwilling to let Consituent Assembly elections go ahead but relented (however, the Bolsheviks only won 175 seats against the SR's 410)                               1. Constituent Assembly met 5 January 1918 before being declared redundant

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Kronstadt (1921)

Effect of War Communism/Terror:

- reduction of 1/3 of bread rations in several cities in 1921

- grain requisitioning continued despite famine from 1921-2

- Cheka killed 300,000 people between 1918-20

- Sailors resented the wealth that capitalists enjoyed while others starved


- Lenin brought extra food rations to Petrograd in fear of worker's support for the uprising

- sailors issued a list of demands including a 'one party state', which Lenin refused

- 80% of soldiers led by Trotsky to fight the sailors died on the ice

- out of the 30,000 sailors involved, 25,000 were sent to labour camps

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