Russian Civil War and War Communism

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  • Created by: Tiula
  • Created on: 27-04-10 18:56

Why was there a Civil War?

  • in November 1917, Lenin and the Bolsheviks took power from the Provisional Government
  • elections had already been arranged for December 1917
  • Social Revolutionaries won
  • in January 1918, the first Constituent Assembly met. The leader of the SRs was supposed to be Prime Minister
  • Lenin was unhappy with the SRs being in power, so he crushed the Assembly and drove the SRs out. He then began to rule as a dictator
  • His enemies got together and formed the White Army to fight him.
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Who were the Reds and Whites?


  • Bolsheviks
  • Red Army built up from nothing by Trotsky
  • used War Communism to keep the country going during the war


  • made up of various enemies of the Reds
    • Social Revolutionaries, Soviets, Tsarists, etc.
  • each had a different army and a different leader
  • did not have to rule the country whilst fighting
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Why did the Reds win? - part 1

  • Trotsky was a great leader
    • he inspired men and a special train took him to the worst of the fighting, where he would inspire the men to fight really well
  • War Communism got grain from the peasants to the armed forces
  • Peasants
    • Whites vowed to take land from the peasants. Although they were conscripted by both sides and deserted from both sides, when the Reds began to lose the peasants would often come back and fight on their side.
  • Reds outnumbered the Whites


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Why did the Reds win? - part 2

  • Whites were divided
    • generals wanted different things
    • made it hard for them to co-operate peacefully
    • distrusted each other and did not co-ordinate their attacks
    • wasted time and soldiers fighting one another
  • Reds had the railways
    • could move troops and supplied easily
  • Reds were better supplied and trained
    • Trotsky recruited the best soldiers to become officers
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War Communism


  • workers had been given control of the factories where they worked. This meant that they tended to do what they wanted and work when they want. This led to a drop in production
  • Whites mainly controlled the food-producing areas and the 1917 harvest was down on previous years. Production and distribution of food became a big problem
  • thousands of workers decided to leave the cities and go to the countryside in search of food. This led to de-industrialisation
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War Communism


  • large factories were taken over by the state. Strict discipline was imposed (workers sometimes held at gunpoint).
  • food was rationed
  • trade unions were run by the Party
  • peasants were forced to sell grain at low prices to the Government
  • if they refused, the Cheka would hunt them down
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War Communism

What were the effects?

  • production declined as workers left the city
  • rations fell to starvation levels -- zoo animals were eaten
  • countryside famine -- Cheka took grain, even seed grain to be planted next year
  • grain production fell
  • money collapsed
    • inflation
    • workers were paid in goods
    • relief was given by the USA
  • peasant rebellions (1920-1)
  • lots of opposition
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