Civil War and Military Intervention, of 1918–20
Civil War and Military Intervention, of 1918–20
the struggle of the workers and toiling peasants of Soviet Russia under the leadership of the Communist Party for the gains of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the freedom and independence of the Soviet homeland against the forces of domestic and foreign counterrevolution.
The Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917, which was the beginning of the world socialist revolution, evoked vigorous resistance by the overthrown exploiting classes inside the country and by world imperialism. However, the revolution began at a time when the main imperialist powers were engaged in World War I, and none of their groupings could render immediate aid to the overthrown bourgois-landowning government of Russia. Nevertheless, both belligerent coalitions (the countries of the Entente and Germany and its allies) had by then established close ties with the internal counterrevolutionary forces in Russia in order to overthrow Soviet power, restore capitalism, and make a weakened Russia heavily dependent, both politically and economically, on the big imperialist powers of the West. The offensive of the domestic and foreign counterrevolution began when the government of the dictatorship of the proletariat was only being set up, when there was not yet a powerful Red Army, and when the old army was in decline. The difficulties of the struggle were exacerbated by economic devastation and serious food shortages in the cities and at the front.
The Communist Party and the Soviet government, headed by V. 1. Lenin, were able to arouse, organize, and lead the workers and the toiling peasants for the defense of Soviet power.
Initial period (October 1917-May 1918). STRUGGLE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SOVIET POWER (OCTOBER 1917-FEBRUARY 1918). The victorious outcome of the October Armed Uprising of 1917, together with the establishment of Soviet power in Petrograd and Moscow, which were the principal political, administrative, and economic centers of the country, contributed to the rapid development of the revolution and the victory of Soviet power in almost all of Russia. In many regions Soviet power was established peacefully. However, in a number of regions and cities, where the Soviets were opposed by counterrevolutionary forces, the establishment of Soviet power assumed the character of a civil war. The socialist revolution and Soviet power were opposed by internal counterrevolutionaries led by the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets), the chief party of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois-landowning counterrevolution was supported by the Right Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), Mensheviks, and bourgeois nationalists. Immediately after the victory of the October Armed Uprising in Petrograd, A. F. Kerensky, the former head of the overthrown Provisional Government and supreme commander in chief, and his chief of staff, General N. N. Dukhonin, ordered the commanders of the troops at the fronts, the commanders of the inner military regions, and the atamans of the cossack troops to begin military actions against Soviet power and to assign reliable units for a march on Petrograd and Moscow. Kerensky moved P. N. Krasnov’s Third Cavalry Corps against Petrograd. The cossack “governments” of the Don, Kuban’, and Orenburg, led by atamans A. M. Kaledin, A. P. Filimonov, and A. I. Dutov, announced their nonrecognition of the Soviet government and began a war against Soviet power. On November 7 (20) the bourgeois Ukrainian Central Rada declared itself the supreme organ of the so-called Ukrainian People’s Republic and joined a bloc with the counterrevolutionary command of the Southwestern and Rumanian fronts and the cossack governments. By mid-November the Rada had extended its authority over most of the Ukraine. In Byelorussia, Soviet power was opposed by the Byelorussian Rada, which tried to rely on General J. Dowbór-Musnicki’s Polish Corps and other forces. On November 15 (28) a coalition government called the Transcaucasian Commissariat was formed in Tbilisi, uniting nationalists from Georgia, (Mensheviks), Armenia, (Dashnaks), and Azerbaijan (Musa-vites). Using national units and Russian White Guards, the Commissariat extended its rule over all of Transcaucasia except the region of Baku, where Soviet power was established. A number of counterrevolutionary “governments” were formed in Turkestan and Siberia. Thus were established the first centers of the Civil War, which was unleashed by the domestic counterrevolution in order to overthrow Soviet power.
The armed action against the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat was immediately supported by the countries of the Entente, at first in the form of covert intervention. As early as November 1917 in Jassy at a conference of military representatives of the countries of the Entente and the commands of the Southwestern and Rumanian fronts, a plan of military operations in the south was devised, providing for the use of Rumanian troops in Bessarabia and the Czechoslovak Corps and the troops of the Central Rada in the Ukraine. The November 14 (27) conference of the heads of state of Great Britain, France, and Italy adopted a decision supporting the Transcaucasian nationalists. The December 9 (22) conference of representatives of the Entente countries, which was held in Paris, recognized the need to maintain relations with and give credit to the counterrevolutionary governments of the Ukraine, the cossack areas, Siberia, the Caucasus, and Finland. On December 10 (23) an agreement was concluded between Great Britain and France on dividing the spheres of future military action (and consequently, the spheres of influence) in Russia. Great Britain’s zone included the Caucasus and the cossack areas, and France’s zone included Bessarabia, the Ukraine, and the Crimea. Siberia and the Far East were considered spheres of influence of the USA and Japan. At first, the foreign imperialists did not believe in the stability of Soviet power, thinking that it could be overthrown by the forces of domestic counterrevolution with only some support from outside.
In struggling to establish Soviet power, the Communist Party and the Soviet government headed by Lenin were able to organize the defeat of the counterrevolutionary centers. Soviet power was supported by the working class and the broad strata of the peasantry. Lenin wrote that in the “Civil War the overwhelming majority of the population proved to be on our side, and that is why victory was achieved with such extraordinary ease” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36, pp. 4–5). Therefore, the first months after October 25 were nothing but a triumphal march of Soviet power. The domestic bourgeois-landowning counterrevolution had no mass base at that time, but only small officers’ detachments, individual cossack units, and units from military schools. Their actions were suppressed with relative ease by the Red Guards and revolutionary soldiers and sailors. In early November mutinies of Junkers in Petrograd and Moscow were suppressed, and the advance of Krasnov’s corps on Petrograd was repulsed (the Kerensky-Krasnov Mutiny of 1917). On November 20 (December 3) the counterrevolutionary General Headquarters was liquidated, and the post of supreme commander in chief was assumed by N. V. Krylenko, who was appointed by the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars). The counterrevolutionary generals, including M. V. Alekseev, L. G. Kornilov, and A. I. Denikin, fled to the Don.
To form and lead revolutionary detachments, the Revolutionary Field Staff was organized under the supreme commander in chief on November 27 (December 10). On Jan. 15 (28), 1918, a decree was issued on the formation of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, and on January 29 (February 11) a decree was issued on the formation of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Navy, which was to be recruited through voluntary enlistment.
To help the local soviets in the struggle against the counterrevolution in the borderlands, between late 1917 and early 1918 the Soviet government sent Red Guard detachments from the center and volunteer sailors and soldiers, uniting them on the Don and in the Ukraine under the command of V. A. Antonov-Ovseenko, in the southern Urals under P. A. Kobêzov, and in Byelorussia under R. I. Berzin. At this stage of the Civil War, both sides conducted combat operations primarily along railroads with small individual detachments (from several hundred to several thousand men). These operations became known as railway war.
In the first half of December 1917, Antonov-Ovseenko’s detachments occupied the Kharkov region. On December 12 (25) the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets in Kharkov declared the Ukraine a soviet socialist republic. In January 1918 revolutionary workers and peasants captured the Left-bank and southwestern Ukraine with the help of Soviet troops, and on January 26 (February 8), Kiev was taken with the help of revolutionary workers. The government of the Central Rada fled to the Zhitomir area and asked the Austro-German coalition for aid. In January 1918 on the Don the Soviet detachments of R. F. Sivers, Iu. V. Sablin, and G. K. Petrov drove Kaledin’s units and the White Guard Volunteer Army out of the Donbas and the northern part of Don Oblast. The Congress of the Don Front Cossacks, which was held in Kamenskaia Stanitsa (large cossack village) on Jan. 10–11 (23–24), 1918, formed the Don Revolutionary Committee, headed by F. G. Podtelkov and M. V. Krivoshlykov, and set up revolutionary cossack detachments. On February 24, Soviet troops occupied Rostov and on February 25, Novocherkassk. Kaledin shot himself, and the remnants of his troops fled to the Sal’skie steppes. The Volunteer Army (3,000–4,000 men) retreated to the Kuban’, fighting along the way. The Kuban’ Rada lost the eastern and northern regions of Kuban’ Oblast in engagements with Soviet troops in January and February. On March 14 the Rada’s troops were driven out by revolutionary detachments from Ekaterinodar (present-day Krasnodar). They fled beyond the Kuban’ River and were united in late March with the Volunteer Army, which had moved up from the north. On April 9–13 these combined forces under the command of General Kornilov tried unsuccessfully to make an assault on Ekaterinodar. Kornilov was killed, and Denikin, who replaced him, was forced to withdraw the remnants of the White Guard troops to the southern regions of Don Oblast.
In the southern Urals Soviet detachments occupied Orenburg on Jan. 18 (31), 1918, driving the remnants of Dutov’s troops into the Turgai steppes. In February Soviet units defeated the Rumanian interventionists, who had invaded Bessarabia (Moldavia), and forced the Rumanian government to sign an agreement in March on evacuating Bessarabia. Because of the Austro-German intervention, the agreement was not carried out. In Byelorussia the Byelorussian Rada’s attempt to seize power was defeated in January, and Dowbór-Musnicki’s Polish Corps was routed in January and February (the Dowbór-Musnicki Revolt of 1918). The corps was saved from complete destruction only by the offensive of the German troops. In Siberia a mutiny of Junkers in Irkutsk was suppressed, and all the local counterrevolutionary governments were eliminated between December 1917 and January 1918. The remnants of the cossack detachments of atamans G. M. Semenov and I. Kalmykov went to Manchuria. In Turkestan cossack revolts were suppressed in Samarkand and Chardzhou in January 1918, the “Kokand Autonomy” was liquidated in February, and the Semirech’e cossack government in Vernyi (present-day Alma-Ata) was defeated in early March. All Middle Asia and Kazakhstan became Soviet, except the Khiva Khanate and the Bukhara Emirate. In April 1918 the Turkestan ASSR was proclaimed.
By the beginning of March Soviet power had been established throughout Russia, with the exception of the territory held by Austro-German troops and Transcaucasia, where, except for the Baku region, the Transcaucasian Commissariat retained power. The forces of the domestic counterrevolution, which failed to receive direct military aid from the Entente, were routed everywhere. Small detachments of them remained only in some regions of the Don, the Northern Caucasus, the Urals, and Kazakhstan.
RUSSIA LEAVES WORLD WAR I. THE STRUGGLE AGAINST GERMAN INTERVENTION (FEBRUARY-MAY 1918). On the basis of the Decree of Peace adopted on Oct. 26 (Nov. 8), 1917, by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, from the first days of its activity the Soviet government tried to take Soviet Russia out of the imperialist war. Between November 22 (December 5) and December 2 (15) a cease-fire agreement was concluded with the German coalition, and on December 9 (22) peace negotiations began in Brest-Litovsk. On Jan. 28 (Feb. 10), 1918, the German coalition presented in the form of an ultimatum extremely difficult peace conditions: Russia was to give up Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and parts of Latvia, Estonia, and Byelorussi A. Despite Lenin’s directives, L. D. Trotsky, the head of the Soviet delegation, arbitrarily broke off the peace negotiations at a time when an official ultimatum had not yet been received and declared that Soviet Russia would not sign a peace treaty but would stop fighting and demobilize the army. The negotiations were broken off, and on February 18 the Austro-German troops (more than 50 divisions) began an offensive in the central operational axes, which later developed into a general offensive all along the line from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In Transcaucasia an offensive of Turkish troops began on Feb. 12, 1918. The Communist Party and the Soviet government called on the people to repel the invaders. On February 22 the appeal “the Socialist homeland is in danger” was published, and on February 23 there was mass enlistment of the toiling people in the Red Army. (Thus, February 23 was the birthday of the Red Army.)
Attempting to provoke Soviet Russia into continuing the war with Germany, the Entente governments offered it “aid”; on March 6, British landing forces occupied Murmansk, under the false pretext that the Murmansk region must be defended from the German coalition. This was the beginning of the Entente’s open military intervention. Lacking sufficient forces to repel Germany, the Soviet Republic was compelled to sign the Brest Peace of 1918 on March 3. On March 15 the Entente declared its nonrecognition of the Brest Peace and accelerated the expansion of military intervention. On April 5, Japanese forces landed in Vladivostok.
Difficult as the Brest Peace was, it enabled Soviet Russia to leave the imperialist war and stop the advance of German troops in the central operational axes, thus ensuring the Soviet republic a peaceful respite. In the Ukraine in March and April the toiling people began an armed struggle against the troops of the Central Rada, which, as early as February 9, had concluded a “peace treaty” with Germany and its allies and with the Austro-German troops that were occupying the Ukraine. The small Ukrainian Soviet units retreated, fighting on the way, to the borders of the RSFSR in the direction of Belgorod, Kursk, and Don Oblast. In the occupied territories the party organizations of the Ukraine left men and means for organizing partisan operations, which began in late May 1918. In mid-April, German troops, violating the Brest treaty, occupied the Crimea and eliminated Soviet power there. Part of the Black Sea Fleet left for Novorossiisk, where, because of the danger of their being seized by the German invaders, the ships were sunk on June 18 on the order of the Soviet government. Another part of the fleet was seized by German troops and later came under the control of the White Guards, who brought most of the ships to Bizerte, Tunisia, in 1920. In April, German troops landed in Finland, where they helped the Finnish bourgeoisie to suppress the revolutionary power of the working people. The Baltic Fleet, which was in Helsingfors, crossed over to Kronstadt under difficult conditions (the Ice Campaign of the Baltic Fleet of 1918). On April 29 the German invaders in the Ukraine removed the petit bourgeois government of the Central Rada, putting Hetmán P. P. Skoropadskii in power. The Don Cossack counterrevolution, which reopened the Civil War on the Don in mid-April, also assumed a German orientation. On May 8, German units occupied Rostov and then helped form a kulak-cossack “government”—the Almighty Don Host, headed by Ataman Krasnov.
Turkey, taking advantage of the Transcaucasian Commissariat’s proclamation of its independence from Soviet Russia, opened a broad intervention in Transcaucasia. On May 25, German troops landed in Georgia at the request of the Georgian Mensheviks. On May 26–28 the Transcaucasian Federation (formed on April 22) fell apart, giving rise to the bourgeois states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (capital, Gandzha), which were dependent on German and Turkish interventionists. Under pressure from Germany, Turkey concluded a peace with Armenia and Georgia in June, seizing large territories that were not included in the conditions of the Brest Peace. The Musavatists of Azerbaijan entered an alliance with Turkey, which occupied Gandzha and began massing troops headed by General Nuri-Pasha in order to capture Baku, where power was held by the Baku Commune of 1918.
Under these extremely difficult conditions, which threatened mortal danger to the gains of the October Revolution, the Communist Party and its Central Committee directed all their energies toward organizing the defense of the young Soviet Republic. Volunteer units of the Red Army were formed throughout the country. On Mar. 4, 1918, the Supreme War Council was established and charged with the operational command of the defense. On March 14 the Northern Sector of the zavesa (barrage) detachments was formed, and on April 8 all the troops on the western border were brought into the zavesa system. To build up the Red Army, Sovnarkom adopted a decision on large-scale enlistment of military specialists of the old army, many of whom voluntarily went over to Soviet power (for example, M. D. Bonch-Bruevich, D. P. Parskii, V. N. Egor’ev, S. S. Kamenev, P. P. Sytin, A. A. Svechin, V. M. Al’tfater, and A. P. Zelenoi). The work of the military specialists was controlled by military commissars. In April, Lenin approved a plan for building up a Red Army of 1 million soldiers on the basis of a unified table of organization. The decree of April 8 set up local military machinery— volost (small rural district), district, provincial, and okrug military commissariats, which were charged with the registration, mobilization, and formation of units. On April 22 universal military training of the toiling people (Vsevobuch) was introduced and the election of commanders abolished. On May 8 the All-Russian Chief of Staff (Vseroglavshtab) was set up and made responsible for work on mobilization, organization, and training in the armed forces. On May 29 the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a decree introducing compulsory military service for the toiling people.
The development of the military intervention by the Entente and of the Civil War (May 1918-March 1919). THE SOVIET REPUBLIC SURROUNDED BY A RING OF FRONTS (MAY-NOVEMBER 1918). In spring 1918 the situation in the country was extremely difficult: famine set in. In order to fight the famine, the Soviet government introduced a grain monopoly and was compelled to demand from the peasants the delivery to the state for fixed prices of all grain surpluses (that is, supplies of grain above the norms established for personal needs and for the needs of the farm). The kulaks, who held all the marketable grain, met the food policy of the Soviet authorities with furious resistance that soon turned into an armed struggle. On May 28, 1918, at Lenin’s suggestion, Sovnarkom adopted a resolution introducing martial law throughout the country from June to August and mobilizing all reliable army units “for systematic military operations to fight for, win, collect, and transport grain and fuel” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36, p. 374). A fierce class struggle between the poor peasants and the kulaks began in the countryside, which was exacerbated by the vacillation of the middle peasants. It created the conditions for strengthening the petit bourgeois counterrevolution, which was ideologically and organizationally headed by the SR and Menshevik parties. The vacillation of the petite bourgeoisie temporarily created a mass social basis for counterrevolution inside the country, which the bourgeois-landowning counterrevolution and the foreign imperialists tried to take advantage of.
The Entente stepped up its operations, embarking on a path of unleashing a military intervention and civil war in Soviet Russia. It began reinforcing its troops in the north and the Far East and preparing its intervention in Transcaucasia and Middle Asia, supporting the domestic counterrevolution with a view to preparing a campaign on Moscow from various axes and overthrowing Soviet power. Several military conspiratorial organizations were set up with Entente money and the active participation of its agents: the Right SR Union for the Defense of the Homeland and Freedom, headed by B. V. Savinkov, the Right Cadet monarchist National Center, and the Union for the Rebirth of Russia, a coalition of Left Cadets, Right SR’s, Mensheviks, and Popular Socialists.
On May 25 a mutiny of the Czechoslovak Corps broke out, which had been prepared and provoked by the Entente. The corps’ units were between Penza and Vladivostok, awaiting evacuation to Europe. The mutiny of the Czechoslovak Corps brought about a strong revival of the bourgeois-landowning and cossack counterrevolutionary forces that had not yet been suppressed and strengthened the petit bourgeois counterrevolutionary forces, which now tried to play a leading role. In May and June the White Czechs and the counterrevolutionary detachments that were established under their cover captured Syzran’, Samara, Zlatoust, Cheliabinsk, Omsk, Novonikolaevsk, and Vladivostok, routing the party and Soviet organization and killing many party and Soviet workers, Communists, and nonparty revolutionary workers and peasants. On June 4 the Entente declared the Czechoslovak Corps part of its troops, stating that it would consider its disarmament an unfriendly act toward the allied countries. Several counterrevolutionary “governments” were founded under the protection of the White Czechs and the Entente: the Committee of Members of the Legislative Assembly—the SR-Menshevik government of the Volga Region—was formed on June 8 in Samara, and the Provisional Siberian Government was founded on June 23 in Omsk. These so-called governments began organizing their troops, first through voluntary enlistment and later through mass mobilization.
The Soviet government moved considerable forces of the Red Army from the interior to the Volga Region and the Urals for the struggle against the White Czechs, White Guards, and the petit bourgeois counterrevolutionary forces. On June 13, 1918, the Eastern Front was set up under the command of the Left SR M. A. Murav’ev. Supply detachments were sent to the countryside to fight against kulak sabotage, and on June 11 kombedy (committees of the village poor), which were strongholds of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the countryside, were established. With the objective of fighting economic dislocation and strengthening defense capabilities, all large-scale industry and all types of transportation with state significance were nationalized on June 28.
The strengthening of the counterrevolution and the unfolding of the Civil War made it necessary to create rapidly a large-scale, regular Red Army. On July 10, 1918, the Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets legislatively approved the Decree of May 29 of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, making military service compulsory for all toiling people between age 18 and 40. Elements outside the labor force were registered in the home militia, and all officers and military officials of the old army were subject to compulsory draft into the army. To provide direction of political education in the army and control over the military specialists, the congress legislatively approved the establishment of military commissars in all army units and military institutions.
In July 1918 the situation became still more difficult. On July 6 the Entente declared Vladivostok an international zone and began disembarking large landing forces, most of which were Japanese troops (70,000–75,000 men) and American troops (10,000–12,000 men). The interventionist troops in the north, which consisted of British, American, French, and Italian units, were reinforced. In July several revolts occurred, supported by the Entente powers: the Right SR Yaroslavl Revolt of 1918 (July 6–21) and smaller revolts in Murom, Rybinsk, Kovrov, and elsewhere. The Left SR Revolt of 1918 broke out in Moscow on July 6–7. On July 10, the Left SR Murav’ev, the commander of the Eastern Front, began a revolt and tried to capture Simbirsk. His aim was to conclude an agreement with the White Czechs and move with them against Moscow. Mass counterrevolutionary revolts broke out in the Volga Region, the Southern Urals, the Northern Caucasus, Transcaspian and Semirech’e olbasts, and other regions.
The Civil War resumed with renewed force on the Don, in the Northern Caucasus, and in Transcaucasia. In July the White Czechs and White Guards captured Simbirsk, Ufa, and Ekaterinburg, where the so-called Regional Government of the Urals was established. On August 2 an Entente landing force occupied Arkhangel’sk, supported by the counterrevolutionary revolt in the city. An SR-White Guard government was established—the so-called Supreme Administration of Severnaia Oblast. On August 6–7 the White Guards and White Czechs captured Kazan. In August an SR-Menshevik revolt flared up in the region of Izhevsk and Vot-kinsk. In Siberia remnants of Soviet troops, cut off from the center, abandoned Irkutsk and retreated to Transbaikalia. In August the White Guards captured Verkhneudinsk and Chita. In the first half of September Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk fell, and on September 18 Zeia, the last stronghold of Soviet power in the Far East, was abandoned by Soviet troops, who retreated into the taiga and shifted to partisan operations.
The efforts of the interventionists and the domestic counterrevolution were united. “Their war is merging with the Civil War into one continuous whole, and that is the chief source of our difficulties at present, when the question of war, of military hostilities, has again come to the fore as the cardinal and fundamental question of the revolution” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37, p. 14).
A considerable part of the counterrevolutionary forces—in the first place, the bourgeois nationalists of the Baltic region, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Transcaucasia, and the upper ranks of the Don Cossacks—united around the German interventionists. For their part, the imperialists of the Entente tried to unite all the forces of domestic counterrevolution for a campaign against Moscow. British. American, and French imperialists were particularly prominent in this effort, and with their participation the SR’s and Mensheviks tried to organize all anti-Soviet forces on an all-Russian scale in the autumn of 1918. On September 23 the SR-Cadet Directory was set up in Ufa as an agency of supreme authority. A high command of the so-called Russian and Czechoslovak Army was set up under General V. G. Boldyrev under the Ufa Directory.
In the summer of 1918 the Communist Party and the Soviet government succeeded in strengthening Soviet power. In particular, decisive successes were attained in organizing the village poor in the central regions of the country: “everywhere in the countryside the working and exploited people have risen up, they have risen up together with the urban proletariat .... And now we have taken the first and most momentous step of the socialist revolution in the countryside” (ibid., pp. 143–44). “It was only in the summer and autumn of 1918 that the urban October Revolution became a real rural October Revolution” (ibid., p. 141). This made it possible to suppress in July the counterrevolutionary revolts in the central regions of the country and to make these regions the principal military and strategic base of the Soviet Republic.
After the defeat of Murav’ev’s mutiny, I. I. Vatsetis was appointed commander of the Eastern Front on July 18. (He served until the end of September 1918. From the end of September 1918 to July 1919, with a brief interruption in May 1919, the commander was S. S. Kamenev. During July-August 1919. M. V. Frunze was commander, and from August 1919 to January 1920 the commander was V. A. Ol’de-rogge.) On July 29 the Central Committee of the party recognized that the fate of the revolution “is now being decided in the Volga and the Urals,” and issued instructions for preparing an offensive on the Eastern Front. A series of party mobilizations was carried out, and reinforcements were sent to the Eastern Front, including units made up of workers. Or August 1. Lenin defined the front’s next task as attainment of a speedy victory in the Kazan-Urals-Samara Sector. He issued several specific instructions on reinforcing the Eastern Front with troops and ships, which led to a superiority of Red Army forces in this decisive sector. Between June and August the troops of the Eastern Front were formed into the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth armies. On August 6 the Northeastern Sector of the zavesa was established for defense of the northern axis, and on August 4 the Southern Sector of the zavesa was formed from detachments that had operated in the Voronezh axis.
In September the troops of the Eastern Front went over to the offensive: they liberated Kazan on September 10. Simbirsk on September 12, and Samara on October 7. Mass desertion began in the White “People’s Army,” and soldiers and some officers of the Czechoslovak troops began to show reluctance to fight against Soviet power. The White high command realized that it could not fight successfully without direct aid from the Entente. On November 7, Soviet troops occupied Izhevsk and continued their offensive on the Urals. Defeats undermined the foreign imperialists’ opinion of the authority of the “legislative assembly” governments. The petit bourgeois counterrevolution suffered a failure. In Omsk on November 18 the war minister of the Siberian government, the Entente henchman A. V. Kolchak. disbanded the Directory and all the SR-Menshevik “governments” and was proclaimed supreme commander in chief and “supreme ruler” of Russia. By tht end of 1918. Kolchak had been recognized by all the heads of the Russian counterrevolution. The leadership of the counterrevolution finally came into the hands of bourgeois-landowning circles.
A tense situation also arose in the south and southeast in the summer and fall of 1918. Between June and July Soviet power was overthrown in Orenburg and Ural’sk oblasts. The Turkestan Soviet Republic was cut off from the central regions of the country. On July 11–12 an SR revolt broke out in Transcaspian Oblast, supported by British troops who had arrived from Iran. On July 31 the Baku Commune fell, and on August I power was assumed by an SR-Menshevik dictatorship—Tsentrokaspii (an elected organization of the Caspian Flotilla), which, together with the British interventionists, executed the 26 commissars of Baku, who were headed by S. G. Shaumian, chairman of the Baku Council of People’s Commissars. Baku was occupied by British troops who had been invited in by SR’s and Mensheviks; however, as Turkish troops approached, the British troops left the city. On September 15, Baku was captured by the Turks, who placed their henchmen, the Musavites. in power. In Semirech’e the Semirech’e Front was formed against cossacks who had rebelled as early as April under the leadership of Ataman B. V. Annenkov.
On the Don, General Krasnov’s cossack army (40,000–60,000 men) unfurled an offensive between August and October on the Voronezh. Povorino, and Tsaritsyn axes. However, encountering the heroic resistance of Soviet troops near Tsaritsyn (Tsaritsyn defense of 1918–19) and other regions, the cossack army limited itself to fortifying the territory of Don Oblast. In June General Denikin, commander of the Volunteer Army, undertook a new campaign on the Kuban’, where cossack revolts were in progress. The troops of the Northern Caucasus Soviet Republic had numerical superiority over Denikin’s troops; however, cut off from the center, they experienced an acute shortage of armaments, equipment, and ammunition. They were deprived of proper leadership by the command of the Southern Front, and the Northern Caucasus Red Army (from September, the Eleventh Army) was led by adventurists, including the so-called commander in chief I. L. Sorokin. Unauthorized activity by partisan groups was also a serious shortcoming. Despite these weaknesses, Soviet troops of the Northern Caucasus fought heroically against an experienced, strong enemy, drawing on themselves the best forces of the southern counterrevolution and thereby facilitating the struggle of the Red Army against Krasnov and on the Eastern Front. In July and August 1918 the White Guards, suffering great losses, captured the cossack villages of Tikhoretsk (July 14). Stavropol’ (July 21). and Ekaterinodar (August 17). The main forces of the troops of the Northern Caucasus retreated to Armavir. In mid-September the Taman’ Army reached the area of Armavir after a difficult march from Taman’ along the coast and through the mountains. Denikin occupied Novorossiisk. which became his chief base for a liaison with the Entente powers in November 1918.
By the end of the summer of 1918, three-fourths of the territory of Soviet Russia was in the hands of the interventionists and White Guards. The Soviet Republic was surrounded by a solid ring of fronts. The struggle against the domestic and foreign enemies of Soviet power demanded the exertion of all the forces of the country. The resolution of September 2 of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee proclaimed the Soviet Republic a military camp. The Supreme War Council was abolished and replaced by the newly created Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, with the High Command and Field Headquarters under it. I. I. Vatsetis was appointed commander in chief on September 6 and F. V. Kostaev chief of staff in December. In September the administration of the front was reorganized: it was to consist of the newly formed Northern Front, composed of the Sixth and Seventh armies (Commander D. P. Parskii; from November 1918 to February 1919. D. N. Nadezhnyi) and the Southern Front, made up of the Eighth. Ninth. Tenth. Eleventh, and Twelfth armies (Front Commander P. P. Sytin; from November 1918 to January 1919, P. A. Slaven; from January to July 1919. V. M. Gittis; from July to October 1919. V. N. Egor’ev: and from October 1919 to January 1920, A. I. Egorov), as well as the Western Defense Region (Commander A. E. Snesarev).
Transformed in the second half of 1918 into a besieged fortress, the country was forced to subordinate all aspects of its life to the interests of defense. During 1918–19 the party and the Soviet government carried out a number of emergency economic and political measures, which are known in history as War Communism. On November 30 the All-Russian Central Executive Committee established the supreme military-political and war economy agency—the Council of Workers’ and Peasants’ Defense, which was headed by Lenin. In October 1918 a plan for increasing the army to 1.2 million men was adopted. While fully using the stockpiles of the old army, the Soviet government began to develop the production of arms and equipment. On August 17 the Commission for the Production of War Equipment was established under the chairmanship of L. B. Krasin and under the Supreme Council of the National Economy; on November 2 the commission was reorganized into the Extraordinary Commission for Supplying the Red Army. Military plants stepped up production, especially of rifle bullets (5 million in August and 19 million in December 1918).
The struggle for grain proceeded with tremendous intensity. The food requisition army of the Peoples’ Commissariat for Food had about 36.000 members in November. All railroads were placed under martial law, and loading and unloading increased from 9.223 railroad cars in August to 14,662 cars in November. (In May 1917, 76,362 railroad cars had been loaded and unloaded.) On November 21 the government abolished private trade and introduced planned distribution of food to the population according to the class principle and the harsh norms of wartime. Nationalization was extended to medium-sized industry. The Soviet Republic used its resources in a centralized manner.
THE FAILURE OF THE ENTENTE’S PLANS FOR DEFEATING THE SOVIET REPUBLIC WITH THE FORCES OF ITS OWN ARMIES (NOVEMBER 1918-MARCH 1919). In the autumn of 1918 the international situation changed sharply. Germany was defeated in World War I. In early November revolutions broke out in Austria-Hungary and Germany. Austria-Hungary disintegrated, giving rise to the independent states of Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. On November 11, Germany capitulated to the Entente. Despite the Entente’s request that German troops remain on Soviet territory, the German government, fearing the spread of revolutionary sentiments throughout the army, ordered its evacuation from all occupied territories of Russia. Bourgeois-nationalist governments were formed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Poland, Byelorussia, Galicia, and the Ukraine. These governments declared themselves supporters of the Entente and began forming their armies to suppress local revolutionary forces and fight against Soviet Russia. The bourgeois-nationalist governments of Georgia and Armenia also adopted a pro-Entente orientation, hoping in particular to recover with the aid of the Entente powers the territory that Turkey had seized from them.
Having defeated Germany and having become convinced of the failure of the attempts of the domestic counterrevolution to overthrow Soviet power, the Entente decided to defeat Soviet Russia with huge forces of its own armies, using White Guard and cossack troops as auxiliary forces. In November 1918. Great Britain and France reaffirmed their agreement of Dec. 10 (23). 1917, on a plan for intervention and began implementing it. On Nov. 22–27, 1918, British ships appeared in Novorossiisk and French ships in Odessa and Sevastopol’. However, it soon became clear that the imperialist governments could not act together, because of the growth of revolutionary movements in their countries and imperialist contradictions among them. The Soviet government skillfully took advantage of these contradictions to unfurl the struggle against the interventionists.
On Nov. 13, 1918, the Soviet government nullified the Brest treaty and ordered Soviet troops into the occupied territories of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region in order to help the peoples of these regions in the liberation struggle for the restoration of Soviet power. Units of the Seventh Army, reinforced by Estonian units, were sent to liberate Estonia, and the Western Army (formed on November 15 out of the Western Defense Region) was sent to liberate Latvia, Lithuania, and Byelorussia. In February 1919 the Western Front (Front Commander D. N. Nadezhnyi: from July 1919 to April 1920, V. M. Gittis; and from April 1920 to August 1921, M. N. Tukhachevskii) was set up and was composed of the Seventh, Latvian, and Western armies (renamed the Byelorussian-Lithuanian Army in March). The forces that moved for the liberation of the Ukraine were Ukrainian rebel detachments and the 9th Division of the reserve of the High Command and frontier units of the RSFSR, which were united on Jan. 4, 1919, on the Ukrainian Front under the command of V. A. Antonov-Ovseenko. The forces of the nationalist counterrevolution could not offer serious resistance to the Soviet troops. By mid-January the counterrevolutionary forces held power in Estonia in the region of Tallinn (Revel) only, in Latvia in the Liepaja (Libava) region, and in Lithuania in the Kaunas (Kovno) region. Riga, Minsk, and Vilnius (Vil’no) were captured by Soviet troops with the active support of local workers and peasants. In western Byelorussia in December 1918, Soviet troops made contact with Polish troops, who were advancing to take Lithuania and Byelorussia. In the Ukraine. Soviet troops liberated Kharkov, Poltava, and Ekaterinoslav, and on Feb. 5, 1919, Kiev. The remnants of the troops of Petliura’s Ukrainian Directory, which had replaced Hetman Skoropadskii in December 1918. fled to the region of Kamenets-Podol’sk. In November 1918 the Soviet Government of the Ukraine was formed, and on Jan. 1. 1919, the Soviet Government of Byelorussia. The Estland Labor Commune was founded in November 1918, and in December 1918, Soviet power won in Latvia and Lithuania.
In January 1919 the troops of the Southern Front opened a successful offensive against Krasnov’s White cossack troops, who suffered a serious defeat and were on the brink of complete collapse. The cossacks surrendered en masse or fled to their homes. The troops of the Ukrainian Front were successfully on the offensive on the axes of Odessa. Kherson, and Nikolaev. The Entente’s attempt to deploy large forces in the southern regions of the Soviet Republic ended in failure. In November and December 1919, British troops occupied Batum and Baku, but as early as November 30, W. Churchill, Great Britain’s minister of war. was compelled to inform his representatives in Russia that because of revolutionary sentiments among the troops. Great Britain would limit itself to holding only the Batum-Baku Railroad with its own forces and would retain Murmansk and Ar khangelsk. Beyond that, its participation in the intervention would be limited to supplying the White Guard armies and to military aid to the Baltic states. For the same reasons, instead of the planned 12–15 divisions, France landed in the southern Ukraine only two French divisions and 1½ Greek divisions reinforced by small Rumanian, Serbian, and Polish detachments. France assumed responsibility for supplying the Polish Army and imposed a one-sided agreement on the government of the Ukrainian Directory. According to the agreement of Jan. 16, 1919. interventionist troops in Siberia and the Far East (up to 150,000 men) were formally united under the command of General M. Janin, but in fact they were subordinate to their own governments, and with the exception of the Japanese troops, they were incapable of carrying out offensive operations. The Czechoslovakian troops were removed from the front in late 1918 and protected Kolchak’s rear only in the areas of their disposition. The main role at Kolchak’s headquarters was played by the British general A. Knox, who was in charge of supplying Kolchak’s army. American representatives, who had seized control of the Trans-Siberian railroad, had a great influence on Kolchak’s government. The most important centers of the Far East were occupied by Japanese and American troops. Although they were both fighting against the partisans, they did not trust each other because of bitter Japanese-American conflicts.
In November and December, Kolchak’s troops suffered several defeats on the central axes of the Eastern Front. Under the pressure of British and American representatives, Kolchak’s forces opened an offensive on the right wing, with the aim of joining the interventionists in the north. On Dec. 25, 1918. Kolchak’s troops captured Perm’, but the capture of Ufa by Soviet troops on December 31 forced them to stop the offensive and begin moving toward Ufa. Orenburg was liberated on Jan. 22, 1919, and Ural’sk on January 24. On the Northern Front, troops of the Sixth Army liberated Shenkursk.
The revolutionary movement was growing in the countries of Central Europe, especially Germany and Hungary. The popular masses of the Entente countries and the USA resolutely opposed the intervention. On Jan. 22, 1919. US President Wilson addressed himself in the name of the Entente to all the governments of Russia with a proposal for a cease-fire and convocation of a peace conference based on retaining the territories occupied at that time. Lenin considered this an attempt by Wilson “to retain Siberia and part of the south, having no hope of retaining anything otherwise,” and he drew the attention of the Revolutionary Military Council of the republic to the need “to exert every effort to capture Rostov. Cheliabinsk, and Omsk within one month” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 50, pp. 247, 248). At the same time, the Soviet government, faithful to its striving for peace, accepted Wilson’s proposal. The conference was thwarted by the White governments’ refusal to take part in it, as well as by the position of the governments of Great Britain and France, who demanded a continuation of the war against Soviet Russia.
France tried to step up its actions in the southern Ukraine. French and Greek troops occupied Kherson on Jan. 31, 1919. and Nikolaev on February 3 and advanced to a position 100 km north of Odessa. This caused violent mass protests in France and demands for an end to the intervention. Revolutionary disturbances, including open refusals to obey orders, broke out among French troops, where underground Communist organizations were active. In March the French troops abandoned Kherson and Nikolaev under the pressure of Soviet troops. In April a revolt broke out in the French Navy, and the French command was compelled to abandon Odessa and Sevastopol”. The French prime minister G. Clemenceau announced in parliament the end of the military intervention in Russia. On April 13 the British troops were evacuated from the Transcaspian region.
“The Allies—the French and the British—have lost their campaign and have discovered that with the insignificant number of troops at their command they cannot wage a war against the Soviet Republic” (ibid., vol. 38, p. 314). Lenin called this victory, which had been won with the support of the international proletariat, the chief victory of the Soviet government over the Entente. The White Guard armies were deprived of direct support from the armies of the imperialist states.
Decisive victories over the combined forces of the domestic and foreign counterrevolution (March 1919-March 1920). The domestic situation of the Soviet Republic remained grave: the food and fuel crises worsened in the central regions. By March 1919. instead of the 260 million poods of grain (4.2 billion kg) planned under the assessment, only 91.3 million poods (1.5 billion kg) had been collected, 53 million poods of which (868.1 million kg) were in the Volga and Ural regions. There were not enough transportation facilities to haul the grain. The Eighth Congress of the ’RCP (Bolshevik), which was held from March 18 to March 23, announced that an alliance with the middle peasants was the general line of the party in domestic policy. This party decision was one of the most important prerequisites for victory over the counterrevolution, because it ensured Soviet power the strong support of broad strata of the peasantry. However, by the spring of 1919 the political stratification of the peasantry and the organization of the village poor had advanced only in the central regions, while in the east and especially in the south and the Ukraine these processes were only beginning. The influence of the kulaks had not yet been overcome in the last three regions. Meanwhile, the system of food requisitioning caused dissatisfaction among the middle peasants and did not exclude the possibility of new vacillations on their part.
The acute food crisis caused dissatisfaction among some strata of the working class. Food and arms shortages prevented the implementation of a plan for creating an army of 3 million men by spring. By Arpil 15 about 1.5 million men had been called up. including about 29.000 former officers, but the fighting strength of the army did not exceed 450.000 men. The Eighth Congress of the party condemned the views of the “military opposition,” but the consequences of its activity were not yet entirely overcome. The building up of regular units was relatively complete only on the Eastern Front. On the Southern Front and in the Northern Caucasus there were still remnants of undisciplined partisan activity, and in the Ukraine the troops were almost completely partisan. The army was acutely short of uniforms and armaments, and current production did not cover the losses. This retarded the formation of new units and replacement of troops at the front.
In the camp of the counterrevolution a military dictatorship of the landowning-bourgeois counterrevolution moved to the foreground. In the east Kolchak united the forces of the counterrevolution in Siberia and the Urals, in the south General Denikin controlled the cossack counterrevolutionaries and created the so-called Armed Forces of Southern Russia, in the northwest General N. N. Iudenich formed the Northwestern Volunteer Corps in Estonia, and in the north General E. K. Miller was in command. The White Guards received from the Entente hundreds of thousands of rifles (Kolchak received about 400,000 and Denikin more than 380,000). thousands of machine guns (Kolchak received more than 1,000 and Denikin about 3,000), hundreds of guns (for instance, Denikin received 217 guns in 1919), and large quantities of uniforms, equipment, and ammunition. In 1919, Denikin received more than 100 tanks and armored cars, 194 aircraft, and 1,335 trucks. Many foreign specialists and instructors were sent to the White Guard troops—for example, British specialists and instructors alone numbered about 2,000.
At the beginning of 1919 the governments of Great Britain, France, and the USA began preparing a new campaign against Soviet Russia, assigning as chief striking forces Kolchak’s and Denikin’s armies and troops that were subordinate to them, commanded by Iudenich, Miller, and other generals. The main thrust was to be delivered on the Eastern Front with the forces of Kolchak’s army.
The Soviet High Command expected the greatest enemy activity in the spring to be in the south and the west; however, the first move was made by Kolchak in the east. On February 15, Kolchak issued a directive on conducting partial operations with the aim of occupying advantageous lines for conducting the main operation after the spring. General R. Gajda’s Siberian Army was to capture Viatka, Sarapul, and Izhevsk. General M. V. Khanzhin’s Western Army, which would deliver the main thrust, was to capture Ufa and advance to the Ik river, ensuring the subsequent operation on the northern operational axis. General G. A. Belov’s Southern Army protected the offensive of the main forces from the south, and the Orenburg and Ural’sk cossack armies were to capture Orenburg and Ural’sk.
The Soviet high and front commands tried to implement Lenin’s directives on capturing Cheliabinsk, but their plan was unsuccessful. As a result of the enormous scale of the theater of military operations, the dispersion of forces, the fatigue of the troops, and the lack of replacements, the small Fifth Army, which advanced from Ufa to Cheliabinsk, found itself under attack by the Western Army of the Whites, who had a superiority of four to one. On Mar. 4, 1919, the Whites went over to the offensive, capturing Ufa on March 14. Then, having broken the resistance of the Fifth Army, they began moving toward the Volga toward Simbirsk and Samara. The left wing of the Siberian Army of the Whites captured Sarapul and continued the offensive on Kazan. In mid-April the Whites captured Votkinsk, Chistopol’, Bugul’ma, Buguruslan, Orsk, and Aktiubinsk, cutting off communications with Turkestan and posing the threat of a breakthrough in the center of the Eastern Front. This success was unexpected for the White Guards themselves, and it took on international importance: in Entente and White Guard circles it was thought that a turning point in the war had come at last.
Kolchak’s troops found themselves drawn into a general offensive at a time when they had neither a final plan of operation nor the necessary preparation for a campaign on Moscow. Kolchak himself, following the advice of Knox, thought it necessary first to deliver the main thrust on the northern axis and to turn toward Moscow and Petrograd only after joining the troops of Miller and the interventionists. His chief of staff General Lebedev, supported by General Janin, favored an offensive on Samara-Saratov, with the aim of joining Denikin’s troops.
The unexpected success of Khanzhin’s army determined the further development of the offensive. The movement of Kolchak’s troops toward the Volga posed a serious threat for the entire Eastern Front, and the grain reserves procured in the central Volga Region and the Ural Region were in jeopardy. On Apr. 10, 1919, Lenin addressed to the workers of Petrograd an appeal for help for the Eastern Front. On April 12, Lenin’s “Theses of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) in Connection With the Situation on the Eastern Front” were published, demanding the mobilization of all forces to eliminate the dangers threatening the Soviet Republic. More than 50,000 men were called up in the mobilization in nine provinces adjoining the Eastern Front, and 46,000 men were called up under a party, Komsomol, and trade-union mobilization.
On April 10 the Southern Group (established on March 5 and composed of the Fourth and Turkestan armies under the command of M. V. Frunze) was reinforced by the Fifth and First armies and two divisions from the reserve of the High Command. The Second and Third armies were united into the Northern Group under the command of V. I. Shorin. On April 28 the Southern Group, which was defending the Orenburg and Ural’sk regions with the First and Fourth armies, delivered a thrust against a flank of Khanzhin’s army with the Fifth and Turkestan armies (the counteroffensive of the Eastern Front of 1919). In May the Southern Group captured Buguruslan, Bugul’ma, and Belebei, and on June 9 it captured Ufa and repelled Khanzhin’s army, which suffered great losses beyond the Belaia River. On the Viatka axis the Whites captured Glazov, but they were soon compelled to stop the offensive, and they began moving forces to the Ufa axis, creating favorable conditions for the assumption of an offensive by the Northern Group of Soviet troops. In June all the armies of the Eastern Front carried out a successful offensive, but on other fronts the situation became much more grave.
In the Baltic region and Byelorussia the bourgeois-nationalist counterrevolution, which had received reinforcements from the British Navy and from Russian, German, Finnish, and Swedish volunteer units, went over to the offensive. Polish troops reinforced by General J. Haller’s Polish Legion, which had been transferred from France, also began an offensive. The Soviet command did not have enough reserves to reinforce the troops on these axes. In late January White Estonian units, supported by Finnish Volunteers and Russian White Guards, pushed the Soviet troops of the Western Group of the Seventh Army beyond the Narva River. In Latvia White Guards of Russian and German units and troops of bourgeois Latvia took Jelgava and Tukums in March and Riga on May 22. Polish troops occupied Mozyr’, Lida, Baranovichi, and Vilnius in April. The White Finnish Olenets Volunteer Army captured Olenets and Vidlitsa in April. The Northwestern Corps of Whites broke through the front of the Soviet Seventh Army and, taking advantage of treason in the army staff and instability in some units, captured Gdov and Iamburg on May 13 and Pskov on May 25. In early June battles were fought at the approaches to Petrograd (Petrograd defense of 1919), and counterrevolutionary mutinies broke out at the Krasnaia Gorka and Seraia Loshad’ forts. The Central Committee of the party announced that the Petrograd Front was of prime importance. Troops from the Eastern Front and the reserves were hastily moved toward Petrograd. The Soviet Baltic Fleet paralyzed the actions of British ships in the Gulf of Finland. On June 14–16 the mutiny at the forts was suppressed, and in late June the Whites were repelled on the Olenets axis and in August on the Narva axis beyond Iamburg and Gdov.
Serious complications arose on the Southern Front. As early as January 1919 the troops of the Caspian-Caucasus Front (established in December and composed of the Eleventh and Twelfth armies) suffered a serious defeat. The troops retreated from the Northern Caucasus to the region of Astrakhan, where they were united into the Eleventh Army. After the rout of Krasnov’s Don Army, whose remnants placed themselves under Denikin’s command, the Soviet High Command and the command of the Southern Front began a long operation to surround the cossack troops in the northern part of Don Oblast and near Tsaritsyn. After capturing Kharkov, the main forces of the Kharkov group of the Ukrainian Front moved into the Crimea and into the Right-bank Ukraine, enabling Denikin to move considerable forces from the Northern Caucasus into the Donbas. The troops of the right wing of the Southern Front began slowly to regroup only after the directive of the Council of Defense on February 17. They entered into battle with the White Guard Volunteer and Don armies by units (first I. S. Kozhevnikov’s group, renamed the Thirteenth Army in March, then the Eighth, Ninth, and finally the Tenth armies) and were defeated.
On March 14 a mass cossack uprising broke out on the Don in the regions of Veshenskaia and Kazanskaia in the rear of the Soviet troops, diverting half of the forces of the Eighth and Ninth armies. The uprising was caused by the cossacks’ dissatisfaction with the food and land policy of Soviet power and by the mistakes of local agencies in dealing with the cossacks, a situation that was taken advantage of by the White Guards. As a result, the balance of forces changed in favor of the enemy, especially since the troops of the Southern Front did not receive any reinforcements, in view of the tense situation on the Eastern Front.
Lenin’s and the High Command’s demand for reinforcement of the troops in the Donbas with units from the Ukrainian Front could not be implemented. Soviet and party operators in the Ukraine were still inexperienced, and the working class had been weakened by the occupation regime. In the Ukrainian countryside there were grave vacillations of the middle peasants, which were exacerbated by the leftist mistakes of the local leadership in dealing with agrarian and national problems. The kulaks and bourgeois nationalists succeeded in temporarily leading part of the middle peasants, which resulted in the rise of mass banditry in the Ukraine. The situation became especially complicated in May in connection with N. A. Grigor’ev’s anti-Soviet rebellion. The rebellion was suppressed at the end of May; however, N. I. Makhno’s revolt soon broke out. The fight against banditry in the Ukraine diverted the last forces that could still be moved to the Southern Front. As a result, the White Guards were able to go over to the offensive in May in the Donbas, and they began pressing the Soviet troops.
The tense situation called for centralization of the defense of all the Soviet republics. On June 1 the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a decree on combining the military and economic efforts of the RSFSR, the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Byelorussia. The military and political alliance of the Soviet republics was formed. On June 4 the Ukrainian Front was abolished. The Second Ukrainian Army, which was renamed the Fourteenth Army, was transferred to the Southern Front, and the First and Third Ukrainian armies, which were united into the Twelfth Army, were transferred to the Western Front. On May 31 the Latvian Army of the Western Front was renamed the Fifteenth Army, and on June 9, the Byelorussian-Lithuanian Army was renamed the Sixteenth Army.
On May 31 the High Command issued an order on going over to the defensive on the Southern Front. On June 24 the Whites captured Kharkov and on June 30, Tsaritsyn. On July 3, Denikin issued a directive calling for an offensive on Moscow, with the main thrust delivered by the Volunteer Army through Kursk, Orel, and Tula. Commander in chief Vatsetis and Trotsky, who was chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, advised stopping the offensive on the Eastern Front and, after reinforcing the Southern Front, organizing a counteroffensive through Kharkov and the Donbas toward Novocherkassk. On July 3–4 the plenum of the Central Committee of the party rejected this plan, realizing that the chief task of the moment was to repel Deni-kin’s offensive without stopping the offensive on the Eastern Front. On July 8, S. S. Kamenev was appointed commander in chief and P. P. Lebedev chief of the field staff, and on July 19, M. V. Frunze was appointed commander of the Eastern Front. On July 9 the letter of the Central Committee of the party “Everything for the Struggle against Denikin,” which had been written by Lenin, was published. The letter presented a program for mobilizing all forces for the simultaneous struggle against Denikin’s and Kolchak’s troops.
The troops of the Eastern Front carried out their task. On July 1, 1919, they captured Perm’and Kungur, and on July 11 they relieved Ural’sk from siege. On July 13 they captured Zlatoust and on July 14, Ekaterinburg, and from July 20 to July 29, in the Cheliabinsk Operation of 1919, they routed Kolchak’s last reserves, and Kolchak began a hasty retreat to Siberia. A large-scale partisan movement developed in Kolchak’s rear. On August 15 the Turkestan Front was set up under Frunze’s command, composed of the First, Fourth, and Eleventh armies and the troops of Turkestan. After the Second Army was assigned to the Southern Front, the Eastern Front was given the task of finishing off Kolchak’s Northern Group with the forces of the Third and Fifth armies.
The fierce battles that broke out in July and August 1919 on the Southern Front inflicted heavy losses on Denikin’s troops. The situation of the White Guards was complicated by the defeat of Kolchak’s armies and by the unwillingness of the cossacks to fight outside their native provinces. These factors forced Denikin to abandon the immediate offensive on Moscow and move the main forces of the Volunteer Army in order to accelerate the occupation of the Ukraine. In July Denikin’s troops captured Poltava, Kremenchug, and Ekaterinoslav and began an offensive on Kiev and Odessa. Petliura’s troops, which had been reinforced by Galician units that had retreated east after the liquidation of the Western Ukrainian Republic (established in late 1918), moved from the region of Kamenets-Podol’sk to Kiev and Odessa. Polish troops occupied Minsk, Novograd-Volynskii, and Zhitomir.
The lessons of the fight against Kolchak and Denikin and the enormous explanatory work done by the party brought about changes in the attitudes of the peasantry in favor of Soviet power. This was reflected, in particular, in the voluntary reappearance of many deserters (up to 400,000 in July and August). The Soviet command devised a plan for an offensive against Denikin; however, it was not possible to ensure a superiority of men, particularly because General K. K. Mamontov’s cavalry raid in the rear of the Southern Front diverted considerable forces. Therefore, the success achieved during the August offensive of 1919 could not be consolidated. The Whites occupied the Right-bank Ukraine in August, Odessa on August 23, and Kiev on August 31.
Simultaneously with Denikin’s offensive, the Entente tried to organize an offensive by the armies of all the states bordering on Soviet Russia—that is, an offensive of 14 powers. However, this plan was a complete failure. In September the Polish troops, unwilling to help Denikin, who was pursuing a great power policy, stopped their advance on the line of the Berezina River, Novograd-Volynskii, and Zhitomir. The Baltic states (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) also evaded combat. “We won because the Entente countries had no troops of their own to fling against us; they had to resort to the forces of the small nations, but here, not only the workers and peasants but even a considerable section of that very bourgeoisie that had crushed the working class did not in the end go against us” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 39, p. 395).
In the Right-bank Ukraine, Denikin’s troops, who fought under the slogan “Russia, one and indivisible,” entered into armed conflict with Ukrainian nationalists led by Petliura, who favored the separation of the Ukraine from Russia. The Ukrainian peasants, seeing the return of the landowners and the rampage of the White terror, opposed Denikin’s troops. A mass partisan movement arose in Kiev, Poltava, and Kherson oblasts. In Ekaterinoslav Oblast vigorous partisan operations were carried out by Makhno’s detachments, which had grown to several tens of thousands of men and included several revolutionary detachments. All of Dagestan was engulfed by an armed uprising. Denikin’s relations with the Kuban’ Cossacks became bitter. A revolutionary movement started in Black Sea Province and in the Western part of the Kuban’. Underground party organizations fought vigorously against the White Guards. The rear of Denikin’s army began to disintegrate in the autumn of 1919. However, the front White Guard units still retained a fighting capability.
On September 12 the Volunteer Army opend a new offensive on Moscow on the Kursk-Orel axis. The Don Army, reinforced by A. G. Shkuro’s Kuban’ Corps, advanced on Voronezh. The situation also became worse on the Eastern Front, where, after failure near Petropavlovsk in early September, Soviet troops began to retreat beyond the Tobol River.
On Sept. 20, 1919, the Whites occupied Kursk. On September 21 and 26 the plenum of the Central Committee of the party adopted several decisions on improving the organization of the struggle against Denikin. On September 27 the Ninth and Tenth armies were sent to the Southeastern Front (commander V. I. Shorin), which was given command over the Eleventh Army on October 14. The Southern Front included the Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth armies and from October 16 the Twelfth Army as well. A great number of party workers and the best commanders were sent to the front. Lettish and Estonian divisions and other units were transferred to the region west of Orel. Martial law was proclaimed in the region of Moscow, Vitebsk, the Dnieper Rivers, Chernigov, Voronezh, Iambov, and Shatsk. Mobilizations were conducted in the party organizations, raising 30,000 men for the front. To increase the party membership a party week was held all over the country and on the fronts, during which about 200,000 new members from the workers and peasants joined the party. Decisions of the Central Committee of the party prepared the way for a radical turning point on the Southern Front.
For some time the Whites still had some successes. Pushing back the troops of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth armies, they captured Orel on October 13, and on October 6 the Don Army seized Voronezh. Following Lenin’s instructions of October 7, the Southern Front was reinforced with S. M. Budennyi’s cavalry corps. A main attack force under the command of A. A. Martusevich was deployed northwest of Orel and began vigorous actions as early as October 11. On October 12 the Eighth Army and Budennyi’s corps opened an offensive on Voronezh, and on October 14–16, Soviet troops went over to the offensive near Orel (the Voronezh-Kastornoe Operation of 1919 and the Orel-Kromy Operation of 1919).
At this time the situation near Petrograd worsened. General Iudenich’s Northwestern Army broke through the front of the Seventh Army on September 28 and approached the outskirts of Petrograd by October 16, after capturing Gatch-ina and Krasnoe Selo. On October 15 the Politburo of the Central Committee of the party issued instructions to plan all military actions “only from the point of view of the security of the Moscow-Tula region in the first place and of Petrograd in the second place” (KPSS o Vooruzhennykh Silakh Sovetskogo Soiuza: Sb. dokumentov. 1958, p. 138). The commission headed by Lenin was given the responsibility for supervising the implementation of the decree of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the party. Urgently needed reinforcements were sent to the Seventh Army, and on October 21 the army went over to the counteroffensive from the region of Kolpino and repelled the enemy. The Fifteenth Army joined the offensive, and in December Iudenich’s defeated army was pushed back into the territory of Estonia, where it was disarmed by Estonian troops. On December 5 peace negotiations with Estonia were resumed in Tartu.
A superiority of forces over the enemy was attained by Soviet troops at the Southern and Southeastern fronts by October 20 (1.5 times the enemy’s forces and twice the enemy’s forces in the central section of the Southern Front). The efforts of Soviet industry played a tremendous role in ensuring this superiority. Many Soviet enterprises made maximum efforts for defense. Among them were the Obukhov, Izhora, and Putilov plants in Petrograd, small arms plants in Tula, Izhevsk, and Votkinsk, a gun plant in Perm’, the ammunition plant in Simbirsk, and many enterprises in Moscow, Ivanovo, and Nizhny Novgorod. In 1919 the army received from the defense industry (including repairs) a total of more than 1 million rifles, more than 6,000 machine guns, 540 guns, 357 million rounds of ammunition, and 184,000 shells.
Taking advantage of the superiority they had attained, the armies of the Southern Front inflicted heavy defeats in the latter half of October on General Denikin’s troops near Orel, Kromy, and Voronezh. Orel was liberated on October 20, Voronezh on October 24, Kastornaia on November 15, and Kursk on November 17. On the Southeastern Front the Ninth Army, which had been reinforced by B. M. Dumen-ko’s cavalry corps and M. V. Blinov’s cavalry group, liberated Novokhopersk on November 12, eliminating the gap between the fronts. On Nov. 14, 1919, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the party drew the attention of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic to the need for moving against Kharkov and the Donbas.
On December 9 the First Cavalry Army (created on Nov. 17, 1919, on the basis of Budennyi’s corps), which had been reinforced with two infantry divisions, routed a strong composite cavalry group of Whites in the region of Valuiki. During the Kharkov and Donbas operations of 1919 the Soviet troops of the Southern Front inflicted another great defeat on the White armies. In the latter half of November the armies of the Southeastern Front went over to the offensive, delivering the main thrust with the Ninth Army and a cavalry group on Novocherkassk. The remnants of the Volunteer Army retreated toward Rostov, where they were consolidated into a corps. In the Rostov-Novocherkassk Operation of 1920 the troops of the Southern and Southeastern fronts routed the White Guard troops, liberating Mariupol’ on January 4, Novocherkassk on January 7, and Rostov on January 10. The troops of the left wing of the Southeastern Front captured Tsaritsyn on January 3 and began an offensive against Tikhoretskaia and against Kizliar from Astrakhan. In the Ukraine the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth armies attacked successfully, and on December 16, Kiev was liberated.
In January 1920 the Southeastern Front, reinforced with the First Cavalry and Eighth armies, was renamed the Caucasus Front (Commander V. I. Shorin; from January 24 to April 24, 1920, Commander M. N. Tukhachevskii, and from May 15, 1920, to May 29, 1921, Commander V. M. Gittis). The Southern Front was renamed the Southwestern Front (Commander A. I. Egorov). In February the two fronts completed the liberation of the Right-bank Ukraine, advancing to the line of Korosten’, Shepetovka, Proskurov, and the Dnestr River. On February 7, Odessa was captured. The command of the Southwestern Front and the High Command underestimated the Crimean operational axis. The Thirteenth Army’s attempt to capture the Crimea in January and then in March and April ended in failure, because its forces were insufficient. Denikin’s troops tried to build fortifications on the Manych and Nizhnii Don rivers, but in February and March, during the Egorlyk Operation of 1920, the troops of the Caucasus Front defeated them decisively. On March 27, Soviet troops entered Novorossiisk, from which the remnants of Denikin’s main forces (35,000–40,000 men) had been evacuated toward the Crimea. On April 29 the remnants of the Kuban’ Army surrendered in the area of Sochi. In April the Tenth and Eleventh armies liberated Terek Oblast, and the Eleventh Army liberated Dagestan with the help of partisans.
On April 27 a workers’ uprising broke out in Baku. The revolutionary committee of Azerbaijan asked the Soviet government for armed assistance. In the course of the Baku Operation of 1920 the troops of the Eleventh Army entered Baku (April 28–30) and helped the toiling people of Azerbaijan to overthrow the Musavatist government and reestablish Soviet power. In May during the Enzeli Operation of 1920 the Caspian Flotilla captured the flotilla of the Whites.
In early 1920 the struggle in Siberia and the north was completed. On Oct. 15, 1919, the Soviet Third and Fifth armies went over to the offensive from the line of the Tobol River, liberating Omsk on November 14 and Novonikolaevsk on December 14. On Jan. 7, 1920, they liberated Kras-noiarsk, where about 20,000 prisoners were taken. On January 4, Kolchak gave up the title of supreme ruler, transferring power in the Far East to the Siberian cossack ataman G. M. Semenov and placing himself under the protection of the Czechoslovak Corps, which was observing neutrality at that time. The command of the corps, unwilling to exacerbate relations with the Soviet troops and the partisans, arrested Kolchak and turned him over to the Irkutsk Revolutionary Committee, which had seized power before the arrival of the Red Army. On February 7, in accordance with a resolution of the revolutionary committee, Kolchak and V. N. Pepeliaev, the chairman of his council of ministers, were shot. On March 5 units of the Red Army entered Irkutsk. Because a further offensive in the east might lead to a war with Japan, the Soviet government stopped the advance of the Red Army. The Far East Republic was formed on the territory of the Far East from Baikal to the Pacific Ocean, with its capital at Verkhneudinsk (present-day Ulan-Ude).
By October 1919 all the Entente troops in the north were evacuated. In February 1920 the Sixth Army went over to the offensive, liberating Arkhangel’sk on February 21 and Murmansk on March 13.
On the Turkestan Front, Soviet troops routed General Belov’s Southern Army Group in the region of Orsk and Aktiubinsk in August 1919 and united with the troops of the Turkestan Soviet Republic on September 13. Between November 1919 and January 1920 the Ural White Cossacks were routed, and Lbishchensk and Gur’ev were occupied. Some of the Ural White Cossacks tried to take refuge in the Khiva Khanate, but on January 20, Soviet troops and rebels occupied Khiva. On April 27 the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic was proclaimed. On February 6 Krasnovodsk was captured after a difficult campaign, and the Transcaspian Front was liquidated. In April the Semirech’e group of Whites was routed and the remnants of the White Guard troops fled to China.
The struggle against the White Guard armies of Kolchak, Denikin, and Iudenich was the most prolonged and the most difficult period of the Civil War. In this struggle the Red Army was consolidated as regular armed forces. The chief source of the victory was correct leadership by the Communist Party headed by Lenin, which led to the formation of a strong military and political alliance between the working class and the peasantry. “And if anything decided the issue of the struggle against Kolchak and Denikin in our favor, despite the fact that they were supported by the Great Powers, it was that both the peasants and the working Cossacks, who for a long time remained in the other camp, have in the end come over to the workers and peasants—and it was only this that finally decided the war and brought about our victory” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40, p. 183). The landowning-bourgeois counterrevolution had no mass social base in the country. It relied on foreign imperialists and the petit bourgeois counterrevolution. The vacillations of the peasantry in the Urals and Siberia in the winter of 1918–19 and in the Ukraine and on the Don in the spring and summer of 1919 were the main reasons for Kolchak’s and Denikin’s short-lived successes. When the peasantry began to support Soviet power after the lesson of the Kolchak and Denikin campaigns, the basis was provided for finally defeating all the White Guard armies.
Struggle against the intervention of bourgeois-landowning Poland and the defeat of Wrangel’s White Guard army (April-November 1920). By the spring of 1920 there were no more forces inside the country that were capable of conducting a new large-scale armed struggle against Soviet power. In the belligerent countries the revolutionary movement was becoming stronger, communist parties were being organized in the majority of European countries, and the Third International was growing stronger, both organizationally and ideologically. A revolutionary situation arose in Germany. Contradictions inside the Entente sharply intensified: France’s desire for hegemony in Europe was vigorously opposed by Great Britain, and in the east the contradictions between Japan and the USA sharpened. The attitude of the Entente countries toward the struggle with the Soviet Republic changed. The British favored discontinuing the armed struggle; however, they hoped to weaken the Soviet Republic by strengthening British influence in the Baltic countries, the Crimea, and Transcaucasia. France wanted to strengthen Poland and restore a bourgeois-landowning Russia as a potential ally against Germany. Poland wanted to seize all of Byelorussia, the Right-bank Ukraine, and Lithuania and establish Polish domination over the Baltic countries and the Left-bank Ukraine. In the struggle against Soviet Russia the interests of the French and Polish governments coincided, and the Polish government, with active support and material aid from France, began preparations for a new attack on Soviet Russia.
The Soviet Republic’s military capabilities considerably exceeded Poland’s. However, striving to avoid an armed conflict with Poland and to establish good neighbor relations with it, in January 1920 the Soviet government proposed that peace negotiations be started. The Soviet government offered to recognize Polish borders along the line of the then existing Soviet-Polish front (Polotsk, the Berezina River, the station of Ptich’, Chudnov, Derazhnia, and Bar)—that is, 250–300 km east of the frontiers established for Poland by the Peace of Versailles. However, the Polish government delayed the beginning of negotiations and on April 7 rejected them altogether. Poland tried to draw the Baltic states into the struggle against Soviet Russia, but the Baltic states refused, because they were unwilling to fall under Polish domination. On April 21 the Polish government concluded an agreement with the so-called Petliura government on a joint campaign against the Ukraine, promising Petliura that an independent Ukrainian state would be created in the Left-bank Ukraine. On April 25 Polish troops and Petliura’s troops went over to the offensive, and, pushing back units of the Twelfth and Fourteenth armies, over which they had a three to one numerical superiority, they occupied Zhitomir and Korosten’ on April 26 and Kazatin on April 27. On May 6, Soviet troops abandoned Kiev. The Soviet Republic, which had hoped to make the transition to peaceful development, was again compelled to mobilize its forces to repel the interventionists.
On April 28 the Politburo of the Central Committee of the party approved a plan of operation that provided for delivering the main thrust with the forces of the Western Front. The Southwestern Front was to liberate Kiev and develop an offensive on Rovno, Lublin, and Brest-Litovsk, cooperating with the Western Front. New party, Komsomol, and trade-union mobilizations were carried out. The fronts were reinforced by the transfer of major forces, including the First Cavalry Army from the Northern Caucasus, but the transfer of troops was slow because the transportation system had been disrupted. On May 14 the Western Front went over to the offensive without waiting for the arrival of all the reserves. Soviet troops advanced between 80 and 100 km; however, under attack by Polish troops, who had been reinforced with troops from the Lithuanian frontier and the Ukraine, the Soviet forces were compelled to retreat to their starting positions. The diversion of forces of the Polish Army into Byelorussia facilitated the transition to the offensive of the troops of the Southwestern Front, who defeated the Polish troops in June and liberated Kiev on June 12 during the Kiev Operation of 1920. On July 4 the First Cavalry Army advanced to the approaches to Rovno, threatening to break through the front. As a result, the Southwestern Front, which was supposed to play an auxiliary role, attracted to itself the main attention of the Polish command.
In the Crimea the command of the remnants of the White troops was assumed by General P. N. Wrangel, who was elected commander in chief and “ruler of southern Russia” at a military council on April 4, replacing Denikin. Great Britain, which intended to transform the Crimea into a British base on the Black Sea, gave financial and diplomatic support to Wrangel. Although he freely used British aid, Wrangel refused to limit himself to the defense of the Crimea as the British demanded. On May 8 France declared that it was assuming responsibility for supplying Wrangel’s army and soon concluded a military and political agreement with Wrangel. On June 6, Wrangel began an offensive into Northern Tavria with the aims of replenishing his army by mobilizing peasants, then capturing the Northern Caucasus and Donbas, and finally beginning a new campaign on Moscow (Wrangel Campaign).
Pushing back the numerically weak Thirteenth Army, Wrangel’s troops occupied almost all of Northern Tavria by June 24. The counteroffensive undertaken by the Thirteenth Army in late June ended in failure because the operation was badly prepared. The Donbas was threatened, and the Soviet Republic had to send additional forces against Wrangel.
In July the Soviet troops on the Western Front went over to a vigorous offensive, defeated the northern wing of the Polish armies in Byelorussia, and began a successful offensive, developing a main strike on Bialystok and Warsaw. On July 14, Vilnius was liberated. The armies of the Southwestern Front defeated the enemy near Rovno and occupied Sarny and Kamenets-Podol’sk. On July 11 a directive was issued on a further offensive on Brest-Litovsk by the Twelfth Army, on Lublin by the First Cavalry Army, and on L’vov by the Fourteenth Army.
The condition of bourgeois Poland became critical. France and Great Britain rushed to its aid. France increased military supplies and sent a military mission headed by General M. Weygand. On July 12 the British foreign secretary G. Curzon sent the Soviet government a note demanding that Soviet Russia immediately stop military action and conclude with Poland a cease-fire based on conditions for withdrawing Soviet and Polish troops east and west of the border established by the Versailles treaty. The British note also demanded a Soviet cease-fire with Wrangel, threatening naval action and aid to Poland and Wrangel. The Soviet government rejected the note, expressing its willingness to conduct direct negotiations with Poland. However, Poland did not reply to this proposal, and Soviet troops continued their offensive. On July 21, Lloyd George, prime minister of Great Britain, threatened to start a war against Soviet Russia. However, this evoked violent protests from the world public and the British proletariat, paralyzing British aid to Poland.
The Polish ruling circles began a broadly based demagogic campaign, playing on nationalist sentiments and depicting the offensive of Soviet troops as a threat to Poland’s national independence. Men of various ages were mobilized in Poland (more than 570,000 men) and the recruitment of volunteers was begun (more than 100,000 men). On July 15 an agrarian law was promulgated, promising the limitation of landowner’s estates and benefits to peasant farms. On July 24 the so-called workers’ and peasants’ government of Witos-Daszynski was formed with the participation of right-wing socialists. The Catholic Church played an important role in the political campaign. The Communist Party, which was small and had been driven underground, could not offer serious opposition to this anti-Soviet campaign.
The Soviet High Command and the command of both fronts overestimated its successes and underestimated the forces of the enemy. On July 23 the commander in chief ordered the Western Front to take Warsaw no later than August 12. At the same time, he approved a proposal of the command of the Southwestern Front on changing the direction of the main thrust from Brest to L’vov, which resulted in the disruption of the coordination of the fronts.
Wrangel’s army was reinforced by 25,000 former soldiers of Denikin who had taken refuge in Georgia and Poland. Not finding support among the Ukrainian peasantry, Wrangel tried to land forces on the Don and in the Kuban’ (in August), but he failed completely. However, in Northern Tavria the Whites delivered a powerful thrust in July in the region of Aleksandrovsk and repelled units of the Thirteenth and Second Cavalry armies in the north. The offensive begun by Soviet troops on August 6 was insufficiently prepared and ended in failure and great’losses, although it also led to the establishment of the Kakhovka Bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnieper.
In early August the Polish command, withdrawing its forces beyond the Vistula before the advancing Western Front, called for a redeployment: large forces were moved from the Ukraine toward Warsaw (south and north), and strong striking forces were established for action on the flanks and in the rear of Soviet troops that were advancing on Warsaw and farther north. This regrouping was not noticed by the Soviet staffs. Soviet troops were weakened by battles that had lasted many days, and on both fronts they had an effective combat strength of 90,000–95,000 men, compared to 150,000–160,000 of the enemy. Moreover, although Soviet forces were about equal to enemy forces in the zone of the Southwestern Front, which had begun the L’vov Operation of 1920, in the zone of the Western Front the enemy had at least a two to one superiority. Under these conditions the forces of the Western Front clearly were not numerically strong enough to capture Warsaw.
Nevertheless, the Western Front sent its main forces (the Fourth, Fifteenth, and Third armies) north of the Zapadnyi Bug River in order to bypass Warsaw from the west. From the south this operation was covered by the weak Sixteenth Army and Mozyr’ Group (battle of Warsaw of 1920). The commander in chief tried to support the left wing of the Western Front with the Twelfth and the First Cavalry armies, but he encountered the opposition of the command of the Southwestern Front, and implementation of his measure was delayed until August 20. As a result, the troops of the Western Front could not repel the counteroffensive of the enemy, which had begun on August 16–18, and they were forced to retreat east with heavy losses.
The troops of the Southwestern Front, who could not capture L’vov, were also forced to retreat east. However, the defeat of Soviet troops near Warsaw did not entail the loss of the war. Although Soviet Russia had sufficient forces for the complete defeat of Poland, it did not continue the war. Despite pressure from the Entente powers, Poland, exhausted by the war, was compelled to abandon fighting and conclude a peace, whose preliminary conditions were signed on Oct. 12, 1920, in Riga. Poland was granted a frontier from 50 to 100 km west of the frontier that the Soviet government had proposed in the spring of 1920 without war. Therefore, the objective result of the Soviet-Polish War was the victory of Soviet Russia (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 347).
In September 1920 the Central Committee of the party gave top priority to the task of eliminating the Wrangel front. On September 21 the Southern Front was separated from the Southwestern Front. The new front was placed under the command of M. V. Frunze and was composed of the Sixth, Second Cavalry, and Thirteenth armies. On September 24 the First Cavalry Army and large reinforcements, from which the Fourth Army was formed in October, were sent to the Southern Front. Wrangel tried to defeat the forces of the Southern Front unit by unit before the arrival of the reserves. He succeeded in inflicting a partial defeat on the Thirteenth Army, but the offensive against the Sixth and Second Cavalry armies on the right bank of the Dnieper ended in the defeat of the Whites on October 14. On October 28 the Southern Front, which had at its disposal a considerable numerical superiority over the enemy, went over to the offensive and by October 31 defeated Wrangel’s main forces in Northern Tavria. The White units that retained their combat capability managed to withdraw to the Crimea.
On November 7–11 in the Perekop-Chongar Operation of 1920, Soviet troops took the fortifications of the Perekop Isthmus by storm, crossed the Sivash at Chongar, and completed the liberation of the Crimea on November 17. The remnants of Wrangel’s troops were evacuated to Turkey with the aid of a French squadron. Lenin called the victory over Wrangel “one of the most brilliant pages in the history of the Red Army” (ibid., vol. 42, p. 130).
Wrangel’s defeat ended the armed struggle against the landowning-bourgeois counterrevolution and the interventionists on most of the country’s territory. By 1921 the Civil War was essentially over, and the Soviet Republic began the transition from war to peace. Although individual centers of the Civil War and intervention still remained in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Transcaucasia, Middle Asia, and the Far East, they no longer determined the condition of the Soviet Republic.
Elimination of the last centers of the Civil War and Intervention (late 1920–November 1922). As early as August and September the troops of the Turkestan Front under the command of M. V. Frunze and with the cooperation of Bukhara revolutionary detachments routed the counterrevolutionary Bukhara Emirate in the Bukhara Operation of 1920. The Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic was proclaimed on the territory of the emirate.
In Transcaucasia the toiling people of Armenia rose in November 1920 against the Dashnak government, whose policy had brought the country to the brink of a catastrophe. On November 29 the revolutionary committee proclaimed Armenia a Soviet socialist republic and asked for help from the government of the RSFSR, which moved units of the Eleventh Army into Armenia. After a fierce struggle against the Dashnaks, who were dug in at Zangezur, Armenia was cleared of the last Dashnak detachments in July 1921. In February 1921 an uprising took place in Georgia, and on February 16 a revolutionary committee was formed, which proclaimed Georgia a Soviet socialist republic. At the request of the revolutionary committee, troops of the Eleventh Army opened an offensive and liberated Tiflis on Feb. 25, 1921. and Batum on March 18.
In the Far East the struggle against the White Guards and the Japanese interventionists dragged on until 1922. In early 1920, Soviet power was restored only in Amur Oblast. In the area of Chita there were still White Guards of Ataman Semenov and Japanese troops (the so-called Chita jam). In Vladivostok the Provisional Government of Primor’e Oblast was set up, which included various parties, from the Communists to the Cadets. Japanese troops, taking advantage of an incident that they had provoked in Nikolaevsk-na-Amure. attacked the revolutionary troops and organizations of Primor’e Oblast on the night of Apr. 4 through Apr. 5, 1920, killing thousands of people. As a result of the diplomatic efforts of the government of the Far East Republic, an agreement on evacuating Japanese troops from Transbaikalia was concluded in July 1920, and the evacuation was completed in October. Trying to hold Primor’e, the Japanese organized a counterrevolutionary coup in May 1921. At the same time General R. F. Ungern’s detachments invaded Transbaikalia from Mongolia. Soviet troops defeated them, and in July 1921, at the request of the People’s Revolutionary Government of Mongolia, completed the rout of Ungern’s bands in Mongolia, freeing the country of them.
At the Dairen Conference of 1921–22. Japan demanded that the Far East Republic recognize its special rights in the Far East. After failing in this attempt, Japan organized an invasion of Primor’e Oblast from China by White Guard troops, which captured the oblast. In February 1922 the People’s Revolutionary Army of the Far East Republic under the command of V. K. Bliukher routed the White Guards near Volochaevka and liberated Khabarovsk. The White Guards, led by General M. K. Diterikhs, tried to organize a struggle under kulak-monarchist slogans. However, without the support of Japan, whose new government had begun to evacuate its troops from Primor’e Oblast, the White Guards were routed in October by the People’s Revolutionary Army under the command of I. P. Uborevich near Spassk. On October 25, Vladivostok was liberated.
At the end of the Civil War the country went through extreme economic dislocation, which was exacerbated by the crop failure of 1920 and by famine. The demobilization of the army resulted in unemployment. There were new mass vacillations of the peasantry, which was dissatisfied with the system of War Communism and wanted the end of food requisitioning and an opportunity to dispose freely of the surpluses of its production. Difficulties and privations that had been endured during the Civil War as something natural caused dissatisfaction after the war not only among the peasants but also among the working class.
The sharpest expression of the vacillations of the petit bourgeois strata was the Kronstadt Anti-Soviet Revolt of 1921, which was suppressed by Soviet troops on Mar. 18, 1921. In a number of regions these vacillations turned into prolonged processes of political banditry—for example, the kulak nationalist Petliura bands in the Right-bank Ukraine, the anarchist kulak Makhno movement in the Left-bank Ukraine, cossack banditry on the Don and in the Northern Caucasus, the SR-kulak Antonov movement in Tambov Province, and the Basmachis in Middle Asia. The struggle against banditry diverted considerable forces of the Red Army. The party and the Soviet government carried out decisive economic measures that deprived banditry of its mass base. The replacement of food requisitioning by a food tax. which was adopted in March 1921 by the Tenth Congress of the RCP(Bolshevik). strengthened the military-political alliance of the working class and the peasantry with an economic alliance. The New Economic Policy was unanimously approved by broad masses of the peasantry and helped overcome their vacillations. As a result political banditry declined drastically everywhere, and in the Ukraine and the central oblasts of the RSFSR it was essentially ended in the spring of 1922. In Middle Asia the struggle against the Basmachis dragged on until 1925–26 because of special conditions (national, religious, traditional, political, and geographical), as well as foreign connections maintained by leaders of the Basmachi bands. Mass political banditry was the last form of the armed struggle used by the domestic and foreign counterrevolution against the Soviet state.
Results of the war. The Civil War and the military intervention brought great disasters to the Soviet people. The damage caused to the national economy totaled approximately 50 billion old rubles, and industrial production fell to between 4 and 20 percent of the 1913 level. The fuel industry, metallurgy, machine building, and transportation operated under especially difficult conditions. The size of the working class fell by about one-half, and agricultural output was reduced by about one-half. The total population losses on the front and on the home front from hunger, disease, and the terror of the White Guards amounted to 8 million people, of whom the Red Army lost about 1 million men. The Communist Party lost more than 50,000 people at the front alone.
The Soviet state won a victory, thereby demonstrating the viability of the new political and social system. The Civil War against the interventionists and White Guards was a just war. because it was fought in the interest of the people. Therefore, the popular masses supported the policy of the Soviet government, and despite their extreme fatigue from the world war. human losses, privation, famine, cold, and epidemics, they found in themselves the strength to achieve complete victory in the Civil War. Red Army soldiers, commanders, and political workers displayed steadfastness, courage, and mass heroism in the bloody battles of the Civil War. From Sept. 30. 1918. to September 1928 the Order of the Red Banner was awarded for combat heroism to 14,998 soldiers and commanders. (This figure includes 285 persons who received the award twice, 31 who received it three times, and the military commanders V. K. Bliukher, S. S. Vastretsov. la. F. Fabritsius, and I. F. Fed’ko, each of whom received it four times.) The Order of the Red Banner was also awarded to 55 military units of various sizes, and the Honorary Revolutionary Red Banner was awarded to 300 units of various sizes and to military schools.
According to Lenin, the basic condition for the victory of the Soviet state was the inability of international imperialism at any time during the Civil War to organize a combined campaign by all its forces against Soviet Russia. As a result, at each stage of the struggle, only part of the imperialists’ forces was in action. Strong enough to present mortal threats to the Soviet state, the imperialist powers were always too weak to bring the struggle to a victorious conclusion. The Soviet state, led by the Communist Party under Lenin’s leadership, had the chance to deploy the superior forces of the Red Army in decisive sectors and was invariably victorious.
In the struggle the Red Army and the Red Navy relied on the support of all the working people, who fought for the defense and consolidation of the Soviet political and social system and for the freedom and independence of the socialist homeland. The struggle of the toiling people of Soviet Russia, which had a tremendous impact on the development of the revolutionary movement abroad, was in turn supported by the struggle of the workers and other strata of the working people in foreign countries.
The Soviet government and the party took advantage of the acute revolutionary crisis that seized almost all the European capitalist countries after World War I and the contradictions between the leading powers of the Entente. “There were British. French, and Japanese armies on Russian territory for three years. There can be no doubt,” Lenin wrote, “that the most significant concentration of forces by these three powers would have been quite enough to win a victory over us in a few months, if not in a few weeks. We were able to contain that attack only on account of demoralization among the French troops and the unrest that set in among the British and Japanese. We have made use of this divergence of imperialist interests all the same” (ibid., pp. 22–23). The revolutionary struggle of the international proletariat against the armed intervention and economic blockade of Soviet Russia contributed to the victory of the Red Army. The support of the working people of other countries for the Soviet state was also expressed by the tens of thousands of internationalist soldiers, including Hungarians, Czechs, Poles, Serbs, and Chinese, who fought in the Red Army.
The correct nationality policy of the Soviet government rallied all the nationalities and ethnic groups inside the country to the struggle against the interventionists and the White Guards, and the Soviet government’s recognition of the independence of the Baltic states excluded the possibility of their participation in the Entente intervention in 1919.
The chief domestic enemy of the Soviet state was the bourgeois-landowning counterrevolution, which created the armies of Kolchak, Denikin, Wrangel, and Iudenich by taking advantage of the direct support of the Entente and the USA and the vacillation of the petit bourgeois (essentially peasant) strata of the population. These vacillations were extremely dangerous, because they made it possible for the interventionists and the White Guards to create territorial bases for the counterrevolution and form big armies. “In the long run, it was this vacillation of the peasantry, the main body of the petit bourgeois working people, that decided the fate of Soviet rule and of the rule of Kolchak and Denikin” (ibid., vol. 40, p. 17).
The historical significance of the Civil War is that its practical lessons forced the peasantry to overcome its vacillations and led it to affirm a military and political alliance with the working class. This consolidated the rear of the Soviet state and created conditions for forming a large-scale, regular Red Army, which was essentially a peasant army in its composition but which became a reliable instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The working class, which displayed mass heroism, bore the main brunt of the Civil War. From various origins, including the toiling people, the ranks of prominent party officials, and the ranks of former junior officers, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers of the old tsarist army, young energetic commanders who displayed heroism and military abilities on the battlefields rose to different commanding positions. Among them were V. M. Azin, V. A. Antonov-Ovseenko, la. F. Balakhonov, P. I. Baranov, M. V. Blinov, V. K. Bliukher, S. M. Budennyi, S. S. Vostretsov, I. I. Gar’kavyi, O. I. Gorodovikov, B. M. Dumenko, P. E. Dybenko, D. P. Zhloba, G. V. Zinov’ev, N. D. Kashirin, V. I. Kikvidze, G. I. Kotovskii, N. G. Krapivianskii, N. V. Krylenko, N. V. Kuibyshev, I. S. Kutiakov, A. V. Pavlov, A. Ia. Parkhomenko, S. K. Timo-shenko, V. M. Primakov, A. I. Sediakin, Ia. F. Fabritsius, I. F. Fed’ko, V. I. Chapaev, N. A. Shchors, and I. E. Iakir. Under Lenin’s direct guidance the professional Bolshevik revolutionary M. V. Frunze became an undefeated military commander.
The firm alliance of the working class and the peasantry under the leadership of the party and the Soviet state made it possible to use old military specialists, the overwhelming majority of whom loyally served the toiling people during the Civil War and played a great role in building up the Soviet armed forces and attaining victory. “If we had not accepted them in our service and made them serve us, we could not have created an army” (ibid., vol. 39, p. 313). The party and the Soviet government promoted the ablest and most reliable specialists to the most responsible positions. These specialists included commanders in chief I. I. Vatsetis and S. S. Kamenev, front commanders V. M. Gittis, A. I. Egorov, V. N. Egor’ev, P. P. Sytin, and M. N Tukhachevskii, staff officers P. P. Lebedev, N. N. Petin, N. I. Rattel’, and B. M. Shaposhnikov, army commanders M. I. Vasilenko, A. I. Gekker, A. I. Kork, M. K. Levan-dovskii, S. A. Mezheninov, D. N. Nadezhnyi, D. P. Parskii, I. P. Uborevich, and R. P. Eideman, and the seamen V. M. Al’tfater, E. A. Berens, M. V. Viktorov, L. M. Galler, A. I. Zelenoi, and A. V. Nemitts. The Red Army received large-scale assistance in the Civil War from Bolshevik underground and partisan detachments and units, which acted in the rear of the enemy. The partisan movement was spread over an enormous territory, especially in the Ukraine, Siberia, the Far East, and the Northern Caucasus. In a number of instances the partisan movement arose spontaneously, but it gained scope under the leadership of the Communist Party. Detachments merged into units of various sizes and even into whole partisan armies (for example, in Siberia) and diverted considerable forces of the White Guards and interventionists, disrupting the work of the rear. Gifted leaders rose from among the partisans, including I. V. Gromov, G. S. Drogoshevskii, P. N. Zhuravlev, N. A. Kalan-darishvili, A. D. Kravchenko, S. G. Lazo, E. M. Mamon-tov, F. N. Mukhin, I. P. Shevchuk, and P. E. Shchetinkin.
The most important condition for the victory of the Red Army was correct strategic leadership, which was given by Lenin and the Central Committee of the Party. Lenin’s instructions determined the main trends in building up the Red Army and formed the basis of all the successful operations of the Civil War. The entire supreme leadership of the defense of the country was concentrated in the hands of Lenin, who headed the Soviet government and the Council of Defense.
The successes of the Red Army were possible only because of the enormous amount of political work carried out in its ranks by the party through the revolutionary military councils of fronts, okrugs, and armies and through political departments, military commissars, and party organizations in military units of various sizes. Top positions in the army were held by Bolsheviks such as N. A. Anisimov, S. A. Anuchin, A. V. Baranov, P. S. Baturin, P. V. Bakhturov, R. I. Berzin, A. S. Bubnov, K. E. Voroshilov, Ia. B. Gamarnik, F. I. Goloshchekin, S. I. Gusev, K. Kh. Danishevskii, R. S. Zemliachka, O. Iu. Kalnin, M. S. Ke-drov, S. M. Kirov, S. V. Kosior, N. N. Kuz’min, and V. V. Kuibyshev. Other Bolsheviks who held top army positions included B. V. Legran, G. D. Lindov, N. G. Markin, V. I. Mezhlauk, I. I. Mezhlauk, K. A. Mekhonoshin, A. I. Mikoyan, A. F. Miasnikov, A. I. Okulov, G. K. Or-dzhonikidze, K. A. Peterson, N. I. Podvoiskii, P. P. Postyshev, E. M. Sklianskii, I. D. Sladkov, J. V. Stalin, N. G. Tolmachev, V. A. Trifonov, E. A. Trifonov, I. S. Un-shlikht, D. A. Furmanov, P. K. Shternberg, Sh. Z. Eliava, and Em Iaroslavskii. During the most difficult periods of the war one-half of all the party members were in the army. At turning points in the war an enormous role was played by party, Komsomol, and trade-union mobilizations, which as a rule transformed tired, decimated units. The party did a tremendous amount of work in the rear, mobilizing all its efforts to restore industrial production, procure food and fuel, and set up transportation.
By the end of the war the size of the Red Army and Red Navy reached more than 5 million men. A total of 47 rifle and three cavalry divisions were formed in 1918, 31 rifle and 11 cavalry divisions in 1919, and ten rifle and 15 cavalry divisions in 1920. The armament, uniforms, and equipment produced were not enough even to replace ordinary losses. The effective fighting strength of the army did not exceed 600,000–700,000 infantry and cavalry soldiers. Nevertheless, the Soviet command succeeded in creating at the decisive sectors not only numerical but also technical superiority over the enemy.
The decisive conditions for uniting all the forces of the country for defense were the unity and discipline of the Communist Party. “It was only because of the party’s vigilance and its strict discipline, because the authority of the party united all government departments and institutions, because the slogans issued by the Central Committee were adopted by tens, hundreds, thousands, and finally millions of people as one man, because incredible sacrifices were made—it was only because of all this that the miracle which occurred was made possible. It was only because of all this that we were able to win in spite of the campaign of the imperialists of the Entente and the imperialists of the whole world having been repeated twice, thrice and even four times” (ibid., vol. 40. p. 240).
The overall result of this victory was that, as Lenin said, “in the course of this struggle we have won the right for independent existence,” having obtained “not only a breathing space,” but having “entered a new period in which we have won the right to our fundamental international existence in the network of capitalist states” (ibid., vol. 42, p. 22). The victory of the Soviet state in the Civil War consolidated the gains of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which opened the beginning of the period of transition from capitalism to socialism throughout the world.
SOURCESLenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Spravochnyi torn, part 1, pp. 121. 190–97, 295–97.)
Partiia v period inostrannoi voennoi inlerventsii i grazhdanskoi voiny (1918–1920 gg). Moscow, 1962.
KPSS o Vooruzhennykh Silakh Sovetskogo Soiuza: Sb. dokumentov, 1917–1958. Moscow, 1958.
Iz istorii grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR: Sb. dokumentov i materialov, 1918–1922. vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1960–61.
Direktivy Glavnogo komandovaniia Krasnoi Armii (1917–1920): Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1969.
Boevye podvigi chastei Krasnoi Armii (1918–1922): Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1957.
Partiino-politicheskaia rabota v Krasnoi Armii (opr. 1918–fevr. 1919): Dokumenty. Moscow, 1961.
REFERENCESAntonov-Ovseenko. V. A. Zapiski o grazhdanskoi voine, vols. 1–4. Moscow. 1924–34.
Bonch-Bruevich. M. D. Vsia vlast’ Sovetam. Moscow, 1957.
Bubnov. A. S. O Krasnoi Armii. Moscow. 1958.
Budennyi, S. M. Proidennyi put’, books 1–2. Moscow, 1958–63.
Gusev, S. I. Grazhdanskaia voina i Krasnaia Armiia. Moscow. 1958.
Egorov, A. I. L’vov—Varshava. 1920: Vzaimodeistvie frontov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.
Kalinin. M. 1. Izbr. Proizv., vol. I. Moscow. 1960.
Kalinin, M. I. O Sovetskoi Armii. Moscow, 1958.
Kamenev, S. S. Zapiski o grazhdanskoi voine i voennomstroitei’stve. Moscow, 1963.
Kirov. S. M. Izbr. stat’i i rechi: (1912–1934). Moscow. 1957.
Kuibyshev. V. V. Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1958.
Ordzhonikidze. G. K. Stat’i i rechi, vol. I. Moscow, 1956.
Postyshev, P. P. Grazhdanskaia voina na vostoke Sibiri(1917–1922). Moscow. 1957.
Postyshev, P. P. Iz proshlogo. Moscow, 1957.
Tukhachevskii, M. N. Pokhod za Vislu. Moscow, 1923.
Frunze. M. V. Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1957.
Shaposhnikov, B. M. Na Visle: K istorii kampanii 1920 g. Moscow. 1924.
Eideman. R. Bor’ba s kulatskim povstanchestvom i banditizmom, 2nd ed. Kharkov, 1921.
Iakir, I. E. Vospominaniia o grazhdanskoi voine. Moscow, 1957.
Geroicheskaia oborona Petrograda v 1919 g. Leningrad, 1959.
Nezabyvaemoe. Moscow, 1961.
Etapy boi’shovo puti. Moscow. 1962.
Iunost’ boevaia. Leningrad, 1961.
Grazhdanskaia voina, 1918–1921, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1928–30.
Grazhdanskaia voina: Boevye deistviia na moriakh, rechnykh iozer-nykh sistemakh, vols. 2–3. Leningrad, 1925–26.
Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR, 1917–1922, vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1939–60.
Kralkaia istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
KPSS i stroitel’slvo Vooruzhennykh Sil SSSR (1918–iun 1941). Moscow, 1959.
Polkovodtsy grazhdanskoi voiny. Moscow, 1960.
Golubev, A. V. Grazhdanskaia voina 1918–1920 gg. Moscow, 1932.
Kakurin. N.E. Kak srazhaias’ revoliutsiia, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1925–26.
Kakurin, N.E. Strategicheskii ocherk grazhdanskoi voiny. Moscow-Leningrad. 1926.
Kliatskin. S. M. Na zashchite Oktiabria. Moscow, 1965.
Naida, S. F. O nekotorykh voprosakh istorii grazhdanskoi voiny vSSSR. Moscow, 1958.
Petrov. Iu. P. KPSS—rukovoditel’ i vospilatet’ Krasnoi Armii (1918–1920 gg.). Mosocw, 1961.
Petrov. Iu. P. Razgrom armii Kolchaka. Moscow. 1957.
Shatagin, N. I. Organizatsiia i stroitel’stvo Sovetskoi Armii v periodinostrannoi voennoi inlerventsii i grazhdanskoi voiny (1918–1920gg.). Moscow, 1954.
Naida, S. F.. and V. P. Naumov. Sovetskaia istoriografiiagrazhdanskoi voiny i inostrannoi inlerventsii v SSSR. Moscow, 1966.
BIBLIOGRAPHIESSovetskaia strana v period grazhdanskoi voiny 1918–1920: Biblio-graficheskii ukazatei dokumenlal’nykh publikaisii. Moscow, 1961.
Velikaia Oktaibr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Bor’ba za vlast’ Sovetov v period inostrannoi voennoi interventsii i grazhdanskoi voiny: Ukazatei’ literatury, izdannoi v 1957–58 v sviazi s 40–leliem Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi solsialisticheskoi revoliutsii, issues 1–4, Moscow, 1959.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Bor’ba za vlast’ Sovetov v period inostrannoi voennoi interventsii i grazhdanskoi voiny: Ukazatel’ literatury 1959 g., issues 1–2. Moscow. I960.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Bor’ba za vlast’ Sovetov v period inostrannoi voennoi inlerventsii igrazhdanskoi voiny: Ukazatel’ literatury 1960–61. issues 1–3. Moscow. 1962.
A. V. GOLUBEV and S. F. NAIDA