Khotin Uprising of 1919

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khotin Uprising of 1919


a popular armed rebellion in January and February 1919 in northern Bessarabia, mainly in Khotin District. The rebels sought to restore Soviet power in Bessarabia and the achievements of the October Revolution that had been nullified by the Rumanian occupation forces.

Replacing the Austro-German occupation forces in November 1918, the Rumanian forces established a reign of terror. The arbitrary actions of the authorities and the agrarian “reform” of December 1918, which was intended to draw the peasants away from the revolutionary movement, provoked peasant discontent. The uprising was organized by the National Union of Bessarabians and the Committee in Defense of Bessarabia, which represented different parties and different social groups. The main fighting force consisted of partisan detachments that had operated during the Austro-German occupation and that enjoyed broad support among the peasants; workers and members of the intelligentsia also took part.

The Khotin Uprising was an international uprising: Ukrainian and Moldavian working people fought together against the occupation forces. A detachment headed by G. I. Barbutsa and supported by peasants from nearby villages defeated the Rumanian troops near the village of Ataki and opened an offensive against Oknitsa. Rebel detachments led by Barbutsa, A. Papusha, and G. Romaniuk fought successfully from January 19 to January 23, at which time the city of Khotin was liberated. The insurgent forces totaled 20,000 men in the Khotin area and 10,000 in the Ataki-Oknitsa area; they set up the Khotin Directory as a governing body. The Rumanian troops took the offensive on January 27. On January 29 and January 30, 4,000 rebels and 50,000 refugees escaped into Soviet territory. The uprising was crushed.

The Rumanian authorities launched a campaign of terror against the working people. More than 11,000 people were killed, and many were imprisoned or sentenced to hard labor; several villages were burned to the ground. The Khotin Uprising, however, had diverted interventionist forces, thus aiding the Red Army. The Separate Bessarabian Brigade was formed from among the rebels who had fled across the Dnestr; it later became part of the 45th Rifle Division of the Red Army.


Berezniakov, N. V. Bor’ba trudiashchikhsia Bessarabii protiv interventov v 1917–1920gg. Kishinev, 1957.
Khotinskoe vosstanie (sb. dokumentov i materialov). Kishinev, 1976.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.