Episode 3: Revenge of the Reds

War! The Reds were struggling under attacks by the ruthless White Army. There was violence on by sides. Chaos was everywhere. As the events of 1917 and 1918 unfolded with the Bolsheviks rise to power, remaining factions of Russian patriots, liberals, SRs, peasants, and other minorities formed to make White armies. Their goal, to stop the spread of Bolshevik influence. These forces were also initially supported by Britain, France, the United States and Japan.

As the newly created Red Army sought organization from Trotsky and the Soviet bureaucracy, the White army struggled with internal organization. Radical political organizations within the White army caused turmoil which led to internal violence. White Army commanders such as Admiral A. Kolchak were defined as persons of integrity and patriotism but lacked effective military leadership and administrative skills. This led to various combat defeats, as well as issues with playing politics.


“Have You Volunteered?” Red Army recruitment poster 1920.

The White army’s poor administrative skills and the reliance on mobile camps for which soldiers were forced to live put them at a disadvantage. The Soviets were able to use the communication and rail networks constructed under the tsarist regimes, as well as the militarization of labor. They utilized their large labor forces to create units of workers dedicated to mining, farming, and rail work; these labor armies added to the success of the Soviet military. The Reds also had the ideological upper hand. The idea of food, bread, and land still resonated in the minds of workers, peasants, and soldiers alike. The Whites had come to symbolize the failures of the tsars and the crimes committed under the empire. The intervention of Western allies against the Reds added to the imperialistic image of the Whites, this gave the Soviets even more cause to rally anti-capitalist support.

In the end, the Reds proved victorious, Freeze explains that by 1921 “the regime had vanquished adversaries, signed treaties with its neighbors, and turned its attention to reintegration and rebuilding.” The Soviets had not only won a military revolution but a cultural one as well. Their sharp use of propaganda and the willingness of the Red Army to fight for the Bolshevik ideology had solidified the Soviets power. The Red Army also had a large impact on Soviet policy. By the end of the war, the Red army dominated economic and political power. Resources and policy had all been used for the military. This “War Communism” would help lay out the foundation of the military state that would define Soviet Russia for the remainder of its existence….





Freeze, Gregory L.. Russia: A History (p. 296). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Freeze, Gregory L.. Russia: A History (p. 297). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Freeze, Gregory L.. Russia: A History (p. 298). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Freeze, Gregory L.. Russia: A History (p. 300). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.


14 thoughts on “Episode 3: Revenge of the Reds

  1. I always love your posts and this one wasn’t an exception. I loved learning about the Reds. It felt like i was on a journey and learned about them throughout there lifespan.


  2. I find it very interesting that the Japanese chose to ally with the side of the Whites. This is the same side, if i’m correct, that was representing the old government in which the Japanese fought in the Russo – Japanese war in 1904 – 1905 which left the Russian defeated and humiliated. I would be curious how this “alliance” came to be and if the Reds used this as further propaganda against the Whites. Great post!


  3. Ethan, I really enjoyed this post! I really liked your comment about it not being just a military revolution but an ideological/cultural one as well. The strong ideology of the Soviet Union helped them with their victory and is a huge part of how they administer their government throughout their time in power. I liked how you also emphasized the importance of propaganda in the Soviet regime. Great research!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy how you talk about the use of propaganda to the creation and continuance of the Soviets and their rule. Also the lack of solid leadership and organization in the White Army definitely contributed to their downfall. I like that the research you did shows and how much thought was put into this. I did not know about the infighting in the White Army but it makes sense once explained. No real leader left a lot of people trying to fill the power gap.


  5. Every week I come back to your blog just to see if you have continued with the video at the end, I am never disappointed! This was a great post with great detail! In the midterm paper I talked about the importance of the army and how their actions affected the Soviet power. It was great to see that someone else agrees that they had vast impacts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree — I’m never disappointed by Ethan’s videos! I also applaud the (very appropriate) use of the Red Cavalry song (We are the Red Cavalry) in this one — quite a step up from Boney M!


  6. Always enjoy your posts! I often focus on other things in my blog posts so learning more about the army and the differences between the white and red is interesting! Before this class, I didn’t know much about the white army and this post definitely enlightened me.


  7. Ethan, I thought your post this week was very knowledgeable and used great sources! I felt that I learned a lot in the form of a blog post. I really enjoyed how you contrasted the weakness of the White Army with the strengths of the Red army, it made it easy to see why the Red army would be victorious. I also enjoyed how you incorporated a poster from the Red Army in your post!


  8. This was a great post! It is really interesting how the Red army’s use of propaganda aided their cause. The promise of bread, land, and peace alongside the abolition of class were obviously very optimistic goals that didn’t exactly turn out the way people expected. It reminds me of the Rick and Morty episode “The Ricklantis Mixup.”


  9. Might actually be forced to watch star wars this weekend so I will be able to understand these references! But overall I really liked this post and i find it interesting as well that the Japanese sided with the whites.


  10. I honestly look for your blog every time we have to post because it’s packed full of information and it’s Starwars themed. I’m getting a minor in “war and society” and this post was full of war facts and information. Thank you for holding my attention.


  11. I think you did a good job comparing the two armies, and how the Reds were successful and what went wrong with the Whites. By not having a strong military or a message that appealed to the common-folk to back up their efforts, the White army did not stand a chance.


  12. Its a sort of tragedy that patriotism and good intent on its own is not enough to stand up against an organized military front. The Whites in the end were trying to hold back the tide of change, and even with the combined effort of the world’s democratic nations, socialism won its existence. Also, this was a good post, but you are extra. Thanks Ethan


  13. Did you come across any particular reason as to why the Red Army was the one who ended up with all of the military strategists? Was that an ideological thing or was that just the way that worked out? Good job.


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