How did Lenin impose Communist control on Russia?

AQA Modern World History GCSE revision cards based on the syllabus.

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The end of the War

  • Lenin believed that the Bolsheviks needed a quick end to the war in order to stay in power.
  • On 3rd December 1917, a conference between Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary began at the border with Germany - Brest-Litovsk.
  • The Russian foreign minister, Trotsky, dragged the talks for as long as he could, hoping that a Socialist revolution would begin in Germany.
  • In February 1918, the Germans got close to Petrograd, so Lenin wanted peace at any cost.
  • According to the treaty, Russia had to give up all western lands - Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Georgia.
  • They also had to pay 300 million gold roubles to Germany.
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The Civil War (1918-1921)

  • By the end of 1918, anti-Bolsheviks united to form the 'whites' and consisted of Russians and non-Russians.
  • In March 1918, the Czech Legion seized control of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and soon three separate White armies marched on Bolshevik-controlled western Russian.
  • In response, Trotsky created a 300,000 strong Red Army led by former Tsarist officers.
  • In July, White forces proceeded to where the Tsar was being held. The Bolshevik commander ordered the execution of the Tsar and his family asap as Lenin could not risk the Tsar being rescued and leading the Whites.
  • The Red army began to defeat the White forces. Kolchak's army was destroyed at the end of 1919, and at the same time, the foreign armies withdrew. The last White army was defeated in the Crimea in November 1920.
  • The Bolsheviks secured power in 1921.
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Red advantages

  • The Red army was well disciplined, united and well led by Trotsky. Also, they could have been easily defeated by the armies on the Western Front, but they were good enough to beat the Whites.
  • They kept strict control over their lands in western Russia: they made sure that towns and armies were fed. They took control of the factories in Moscow and Petrograd in order to supply their armies with equipment and ammunition.
  • They had important territorial advantages - their armies were spread around the edge of Russia, while they had internal lines of communication, which enabled them to move troops quickly and effectively by rail.
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White disadvantages

  • The Whites were not united as they were made up of many different groups .
  • They were widely spread so they were unable to co-ordinate their campaigns against the Reds.
  • They had limited support from the Russian population. The peasants did not support them as they knew that if they came to power, the landlords (Kulaks) would return.
  • The Whites caused more suffering to the peasants than the Reds.
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