ssian Civil War, 1918 1920Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War of 1918 -1920 would not have been certain without the strong, determined and intelligent leadership provided by Trotsky and Lenin. The fact that the Bolsheviks were led by two individuals, who combined had tremendous political, social and military skills had a direct result on the outcome of the war. There were other significant contributing factors that led to the Bolshevik victory, in particular their supreme political policies, such as War Communism, conscription, The New Economic Policy as well as the governments support for self determination. However, Lenin and Trotskys dedication to the Bolshevik cause inspired the soldiers and acted as a much needed change to the weak and ineffective Russian leaders of the past.
It was Lenins political aptitude that enabled the Bolsheviks to be a successful and popular political power and therefore win the Russian Civil War. Lenin in particular provided Russia with the fair and motivated leadership that it had lacked in the past. It was Lenins promises of Peace, Bread, Land and All power to the Soviets that enabled the Bolsheviks to gain the support of the proletariat. These popular ideas united all the diverse revolutionary movements and directed them towards a common goal the end to imperialism and the creation of a socialist based society.
Peasant support for the Bolsheviks was not only a result of Lenins political savoir faire but also a result of the Whites political and social ineptitude. Firstly, the Whites treated the peasant class harshly, they did not see the advantage of gaining the support of the larger lower class. Further more their acceptance of allied support, allowed the Bolsheviks to portray themselves as patriotic, fighting for the rights and desires of society. The Whites had prejudiced their cause by calling in the aid of the foreigner . The Red Army was fighting with a new sense of patriotism, and support for the Bolsheviks increased. Peasant support for the Bolshevik regime was a valuable and essential factor in their success social support was the key to power for the Bolshevik regime in the Russian Civil War. The support of the peasants meant that the Bolsheviks had a constant supply of eager soldiers wanting to fight for the socialist cause.
Lenin introduced sophisticated and clever political policies to not only gain support but also to improve the fighting capabilities of his armed forces. One such political policy that assisted with the Bolshevik victory was the introduction of War Communism. All industries were nationalised and adapted to support the war effort. Millions of peasants were forced into compulsory labour, and ordered to give up their food to feed the fighting soldiers. This policy was highly successful in generating a well equipped and well fed army, and therefore a much more successful fighting force. However, War Communism was unpopular among the peasants and peasant resistance and strikes were common. The policy of War Communism meant that production collapsed and many Russians died as a
result of hunger. Nevertheless, War Communism enabled the Bolsheviks to organise munitions production and army supply much better that could their White opponents . This was a military successful policy and an imperative ingredient of the Bolsheviks overall success.
As a consequence of the tension caused by the introduction of War Communism the government introduced the New Economic Policy. This policy returned various rights that had been taken away as a result of War Communism and provided more support for the Bolshevik regime in the lower class. The New Economic Policy ended the requisitioning of grain, allowed private industries to run autonomously and significantly improved the Russian economy. This was another intelligent political policy architected by Lenin. It was Lenins ability to continually provide for the needs the proletariat that enabled the Bolsheviks to win the Russian Civil War.
The appointment of Leon Trotsky as Commissar for War was a major reason for the success of the Bolsheviks. He had tremendous military skill and leadership and from scratch created a strong and skilful military force . At the time of Trotskys appointment there was chaos in the Red Army; little implementation of discipline and officers were being chosen by the soldiers. Trotsky was a ruthless, pragmatic, domineering but fair leader, he was an excellent choice by Lenin . He was a man of his word and enforced harsh and strict discipline “Every scoundrel who incites anyone to retreat, to desert, or not to full fill a military order, will be shot . Trotsky not only created a skillful and regulated fighting force through the implementation of strict punishment but also in his inspirational leadership. Trotsky traveled from fighting front to fighting front in his famous armoured train. This dedication that Trotsky showed to the socialist cause, illustrated to the Red soldiers that he was a man of the people fighting along side his fellow troops. Trotsky improved morale with in the troops and through imposing strict discipline created an eager and committed fighting force.
A major factor that resulted in Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War was the fervent Red Army. Due to Trotskys stringent and intelligent leadership the Red Army had almost unlimited human resources and experienced army officers. The combination of which produced the most powerful fighting force in Russia at that time. Due to the re introduction of conscription the Red Army consisted of approximately five million soldiers. Probably Trotskys most ingenious policy was the recruitment 48 000 experienced formed tsarist officers. Bolshevik politicians were also apart of the Red Army, they ensured that officers and soldiers continued to support the Bolshevik cause. To a smaller yet still important extent the implantation of a cavalry, helped the Red soldiers to victory.
The Bolsheviks were victorious not only because they had a superior army led by intelligent leaders, but they were also successful due to the disorganisation and incompetence of the Whites.Firstly, and most predominantly the Whites were unsuccessful due to the fact that they had no one leader and that they consisted of various political groups with different political aims. This meant that they found great difficulty in planning a united offensive against the Red Army. It allowed for the Reds to fight one group at a time defeating them one by one. The Reds achieved victory in the Russian civil war not only because they were competent and adept but also because the Whites were incompetent, disorganised and highly inefficient.
The success of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War was surely due to Lenin, Trotsky and their combined political, social and military capabilities. They introduced various political and military policies that enabled them to raise support in Russia and create and sustain a dominant military force. Both leaders showed immense dedication to the socialist cause and in doing so provided ruthless and brilliant leadership that ensured Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War.
Adams, Arthur E. The Russian revolution and Bolshevik Victory Causes and Processes, Lexington, Mass Heath, 1972
Le Blanc, Paul., Russian Revolutions of 1917, http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_7 61569348_2/Russian_Revolutions_of_1917.html, Download Date (09/02/2004)
Lincoln, W. Bruce,. 1999, Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War, DaCapo Press, New York.
Oxley, Peter., 2001, Russia 1855 1991: From Tsars to Commissars, Oxford University Press, New York
Rempel, Gerhard, Prof., War Communism, http://mars.acnet.wnec.edu/grempel/cour ses/stalin/lectures/WarCom.html, Download Date (09/02/2004)
Spartacus, Russian Civil War, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUScivilwar.htm, Download Date (14/02/2004)
ThinkQuest, Russia Under Lenin, http://library.thinkquest.org/C0112205/leninsrussia.ht ml, Download Date (09/02/2004)
Trotsky, Leon., The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky, http://www.marxists.org/archive/ trotsky/works/1918-mil/ch36.htm, Download Date (14/02/2004)