history civil war

  • Created by: stephi
  • Created on: 19-12-12 22:52

In November 1917, Lenin's Bolsheviks held St. Petersburg (Petrograd) but little else, and it seemed unlikely that they could possibly establish permanent control over the vastnesses of Russia. But Lenin, displaying the same indefatigable energy that had carried him through a decade of disappointment, immediately set to work on the task of consolidating power. World War I constituted the foremost obstacle to his goals, and on December 3 he opened talks for an armistice with the German government. At the same time, the Bolsheviks also faced a challenge from the Constituent Assembly, which the Provisional Government had declared Russia's first elected government. At first, Lenin and his allies expressed support for this body, and allowed its elections to proceed throughout December. 168 Bolshevik delegates were elected- -but there were 703 seats in the Assembly, meaning that some sort of power- sharing arrangements would have to be worked out. But Lenin wanted no part of any such arrangement, and when the Assembly met for the first time, in January of 1918, Bolsheviks sent armed sailors to break it up. Democratic rule was thus displaced in favor of "Party rule," which became official in March 1918 when the Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communist Party, a title under which they would govern Russia for seventy years.

Meanwhile, negotiations with the Germans bogged down temporarily in the winter of 1918, and the German armies resumed the offensive, with such alarming results that on March 3 Lenin's government, having moved from Petrograd to Moscow, was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which conceded vast swaths of western Russia to the advancing Germans. But despite the disgrace, Lenin had managed to extricate his country from World War I, leaving him free to deal with the rebellions that had sprung up at home. In various parts of Russia, "White" armies rose up to combat Lenin's "Reds." Although they maintained various loyalties–some pledged devotion to Nicholas II (now a prisoner of the Communists), some to Kerensky's government, some to their own generals–the Whites were united in their opposition to the Bolsheviks. Meanwhile, soldiers from Britain, France, and the U.S. had landed in various Russian ports, hoping to put an end to what they thought was the "temporary madness" of Bolshevism and bring Russia back into the war.

And so began the great and ruinous Russian civil war, in which Lenin and his fellow revolutionaries battled a confused, patchwork group of adversaries across the vast stretches of Russian countryside. Lenin survived a number of assassination attempts during these years, most notably in August 1918, when a woman named Fanya Kaplan very nearly killed him, her bullet passing through his neck between…


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