Enemies in the Russian Revolution
Enemies in the Russian Revolution
Cole, Wiley, Hanaa
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- Bloody Sunday/Cole
On January 22, 1905, peaceful protestors were massacred as they marched to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, organizing against Czar Nicholas II. Imperial guard soldiers opened fire killing what is estimated to be up to 4,000 people. After the massacre, strikes erupted throughout Russia’s industrial centers. It is clear that czar Nicholas II never directly gave the soldiers the order to fire on the protestors. Despite this, he was blamed by the general populous, taking a blow to his popularity. Prior to Bloody Sunday, Czar Nicholas was seen as a champion of the people, always looking out for the best interests of the peasants. After the killings, however, the social contract between the Czar and the lower and peasant class had been broken. This lead to general unrest and protests and strikes throughout the country. In an effort to regain some legitimacy, the czar blamed and targeted peasantry in the following months, executing about 15,000 peasants. Bloody Sunday is considered by many historians to be a key event that led to the beginning of the revolution of 1917. Such a severe change in attitudes toward the czar could never truly be repaired.
- Economic Blockade of Petrograd/Wiley
The Allies continued the Tzar loyalist blockade of Petrograd until 1920. The economic blockade kept the Bolsheviks from selling production surplus or buying machine parts, severely hampering their efforts to establish a new state. The embargo was done under the reasoning that the Allies would not support a rebel group, debasing the Bolsheviks in addition to their increased economic woes.
- Occupation of Vladivostok/Wiley
Under the guise of securing the eastern front against Germany; British, Czechoslovak, Japanese, and Russian White soldiers took over Vladivostok and overthrew local Bolshevik leadership, a clear aggression against the Soviets.This was not a peaceful occupation, the standoff in the Red Staff building resulted in numerous casualties. After the allied forces fought with the Russians, they established a local base in Vladivostok to occupy railways up to 300 miles of Moscow. Local forces continued to resist allied troops throughout the occupation and the story of western aggression and local defiance was later used in anti-western propaganda.
- Allied Supply of Anti-Bolshevik/Wiley
15 May 1919, the Omsk Government expressed its gratitude to Britain for giving them the weapons and tools they needed to fight their 1919 offensive (they were anti-bolsheviks). The British provided them about 100,000 tons of weapons, ammunition, equipment, and clothing. Direct supply of the pro-white forces was a common tactic of the allies to make the Russian revolution unsuccessful. The allied forces and letters of thanks to allied governments confirmed the Soviet suspicion that capitalist forces were at work against the communist revolution.
- Bolshevik Political Non-Recognition/Wiley
12 February 1920, Chicherin sent a letter of anger to the Norwegian Foreign Minister, because no Soviet diplomats were invited to the talks that involved giving the Spitzbergen Islands (soviet owned at the time) to Norway. The non-recognition of the Bolshevik government was the Allies final attempt to impede post-revolution Russian government. By declaring the Bolshevik government as nonlegitimate by refusing to engage diplomatically, the Allies tried to keep the Russians out of the world sphere and crush their political power because they could not stop the revolution altogether.
- Exile of Trotsky/Hanaa
Stalin began creating internal enemies from the state beginning with the propaganda campaign led against Trotsky shortly after beginning his rule. This began with removing him from his position as the war commissariat in 1925, followed by expulsion from the Politburo and eventually the Communist Party. By 1929, Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union outright.
Dekulakisation represents a manipulation of language by Stalin to create an internal enemy of the state out of any peasant he wished to eliminate from society. While the term “kulak” previously only referred to a wealthy class of peasants, the dekulakisation campaign changed the connotation to describe kulaks as wealthy peasant farmers who exploited the work of lower-class peasants in order to create a scapegoat for the working class peasants to blame their hardships and poverty on. Later on in the campaign, the word “kulak” was applied loosely to a wide range of peasants, categorized into either “the ‘counterrevolutionaries’; the ‘remaining elements of kulak active, and kulaks who were to be resettled outside the newly established collective farms”.
- The Great Purge/Cole
The Great Purge, which occurred from 1936 to 1938, was a combination of various forms of repression and violence committed by the Soviet Union Regime under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. It is defined by an enormous extermination of The government officials and political leaders associated with the Communist Party, and the oppression of peasants on a large scale. Almost all of these killings and acts of oppression were carried out by Stalin’s inner circle, targeting leaders of both the Red Army and even some “traitorous’ White Army officials. Stalin also enacted a system of sweeping police surveillance, which was used to find and detain suspected “saboteurs” and “counter-revolutionaries”. To ‘purge’ the people that were found guilty of conspiracy (without a trial), Stalin used methods including mass imprisonment and arbitrary executions. The Great Purge directly resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Russian civilians. While historians still debate the exact reasoning and logic behind Stalin’s intentional executions of this may of his own people, the general consensus is that it was an effort to deflect the blame of a crippled economy and prove that he was all-powerful. By labeling groups of people as “traitors”, and “conspirators”, and then torturing the condemned men and women into “admitting” their treason, he forced his people to be loyal to him, betraying anyone they suspected to be working against the regime.
- The Katyn Massacre/Cole
The Katyn Massacre took place in in the Smolensk region during the April and May of 1940. Following direct orders from Joseph Stalin, the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) carried out mass executions. These killings targeted Polish nationals totaling to be roughly 22,000 dead. The men and women killed were Polish police officers and “intelligentsia” who were a combination of “intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials, and priests” (Kużniar-Plota, Małgorzata, 1). A majority of the killings took place in the Katelyn forest and Kalinin Prison. When the exiled polish government (with headquarters in London) demanded that an investigation take place to discover who was killed and by whom, Stalin severed political and diplomatic ties. The people who were executed were all prisoners-of-war from the Nazi invasion of Poland and were previously being held in camps. Stalin stated to the NKVD that he “wanted to deprive a potential future Polish military of a large portion of its talent” (Gerhard Weinberg). Stalin’s actions highlight the way he moved national attention onto the Poles, portraying them as a potential threat to Russia despite their innocence.
- Mass Deportation of Ethnic Germans/Hanaa
Just after the Nazi German invasion of the USSR in 1941 began the mass deportation of ethnic Germans in the Soviet Union were deported and resettled in Siberia and Kazakhstan. 1.2 million people were resettled. Unlike other internal enemies of the state, Germans were not made into scapegoats but were deported to prevent possible collaboration with Nazis, rather than to punish or make an example out of them. The official decree’s language on deportation was a far stretch from the brutal reality of what the German families faced during their “resettlement”. They were given minutes (or a couple of hours, at best) to pack their belongings, though they were limited to what they could carry and were often forced to leave these belongings at the train stations when they arrived. Many families could not bring enough food supplies to last their families for more than a month in their new homes. This massive, disorganized displacement of people ended with the war in 1945 when thousands of Germans were subject to forceful repatriation. Though these resettled Germans were promised reunions to their previous hometowns with their families, many were sent to labor camps or more settlements for two decades afterward.
The Bolsheviks’ changing views on Jews are evidence of their strategy of applying scapegoat labels to distinct population groups to serve their political goals. Similar to the attempted liquidation of the German Jewish population by the Nazis, Russian Jews were easy targets as scapegoats for Stalin’s purges throughout the 1930s. These purges included show trials, murders, and the denial of emigration visas. Afterward, Stalin was quick to denounce Anti-Semitism.
- Works Cited
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