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.