Introduction

The Russian Civil War of 1918-22 arose out of the cataclysmic events of World War One. This civil war dwarfed all others of the 20th century in scope and significance. The lives of tens of millions were iost or changed forever in the ensuing conflagration -from battle, disease, famine, imprisonment, execution, dislocation and exile.

New weapons of war emerged. The aeroplane, armoured car, tank and armoured train were tested over the vast expanses of Russia, the largest country in the world, in a war of mobility not seen on the relatively static fronts that characterized World War One. l:.vcn so, the older weapons of war remained. This was the last war In which cavalry armies duelled cn masse, sword on lance, liugies still rang and unfurled flags fluttered above Infantry charging into the steel mouths of guns.

More than two dozen countries took part in these torturous years of civil war. Peripheral regions of the former Russian Empire that had broken away to form new nations had to fight for independence: Finland, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, l,atvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Other countries directly intervened in the conflict as a consequence of events arising out of World War One, including Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, tier many, Austria-Hungary, Romania, Greece, the Ottoman Empire and the United States.

Still others participated in the fighting because their troops were trapped inside Russia at the end of World War One, such as Serbia and Czechoslovakia, or fought because

Kiev, capital of the Ukraine. Note the Nicholas (chain) Bridge in the background.The city changed hands 19 times during the civil war (Bullock collection)

Kiev, capital of the Ukraine. Note the Nicholas (chain) Bridge in the background.The city changed hands 19 times during the civil war (Bullock collection)

Serbia And Czechoslovakia

the civil war spilled over into Lhcir territory, for example, Mongolia and China. At tlic end, the maps of norlheastern and eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Far East had to be redrawn.

Historiography poses the question -'when did the Russian Civil War begin?' Historians, authors, politicians and diplomats have had their own points of view depending on when their country or party interest became involved, or to stress a particular methodology or ideological line of argument. This book's position is that the era of the Provisional Government, from April to November 1917, was a time of transition between the fall of the tsar and the outbreak of civil war. Civil war began when an organized opposition sought to overturn the October Revolution of 1917, In this context, civil war began when notable White generals formed the Volunteer Army in South Russia in November/December 1917. However, that force did not engage in significant military action until the opening days of 1918.

The question 'when did the civil war end?' is equally problematical. The majority of Whites on the Southern Front thought the conflict ended in November 3920 after defeat in the Crimea and exile. Whites in the Northern and Northwestern Fronts had already accepted defeat that February. Whites in the Far East continued battle actions until 1922, notwithstanding one final act of quixotic desperation in Yakutsk in spring 1923.

For many Reds, the civil war certainly ended in 1922, after the last of the major peasant and internal rebellions had been fully crushed and after the last of the foreign interventionists left Russian soil. However, spasmodic resistance occurred in the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Far Fast well into the 1920s.

Red victory in the Russian Civil War unleashed the new doctrine of communism with its concept of international revolution upon the world. This set the stage for the Cold War that began in the late 1940s and which divided the world into two armed political camps, communist and anti-communist. But this path, of course, was never certain, for the outcome could only be decided in the severe trials of civil war.

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