Enemies in the Russian Revolution

Enemies in the Russian Revolution
Cole, Wiley, Hanaa
Link to our timeline

  1. Introduction: The Only Thing Harder Than Getting in is Staying in

Congress of The Russian Communist Party, 6 Sept. 2015, upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/Delegates_of_the_8th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Communist_Party_%28Bolsheviks%29.jpg. Accessed on Oct. 3, 2017. 

Once the Bolshevik Party overthrew the provisional government and assumed power, their main objective  was to maintain their power, legitimacy, and popular sovereignty. This includes fighting foreign enemies, eliminating opposition through massacres, and the use of scapegoat theory, in which, ‘when there is tension and social problems seem insurmountable, find an innocent, weak, and distinctive group to blame and victimize.’ This timeline follows these themes to demonstrate how the Bolshevik party maintained power through the mid-twentieth century.

2. Bloody Sunday/Cole
“Bloody Sunday (1905).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_(1905). Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.  (Photo)

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.

3. Economic Blockade of Petrograd/Wiley

“Bread and Authority in Russia.” 1914-1921. February 18, 2010, publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/ acessed September 29, 2017

Just like Bloody Sunday was a turning point that changed the Czar government from a sympathetic force to an enemy of the Russian people, the Allied 1920 blockade of Petrograd made the Allies into an enemy of the Bolsheviks. The blockade itself started in 1917 when the White army began to siege Petrograd. At that time Petrograd was the Bolsheviks only port and only place for international trade. Once the Red army won the siege, the Allies continued not only to avoid trade with the Bolsheviks, but also blockade them from trading with other nations until 1920 (Wesson, Soviet, p. 4). Without a place to trade, the economic devastation following World War One and the Civil War led to the increased hunger and poverty red citizens experienced. In addition, not only did the Bolsheviks lack food and commodities because of the blockade, they were unable to buy the mechanical tools needed to expand their economy. Without new tools, any broken tool could not be replaced and the economic modernization that Stalin wanted was impossible. The Bolsheviks used the economic harm the Allies caused to establish distrust between Russian citizens and foreign capitalists.

4. The Occupation of Vladivostok/Wiley

American troops at Vladivostok. Vladivostok, 1 Aug. 1918. Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.

In a much more direct aggression against the Bolsheviks, Allies soldiers, composed of British, Czechoslovak (local militia forces), Japanese, and Russian White forces, assaulted and captured the town of Vladivostok on June 29, 1918. The Allied forces claimed that the occupation was meant to secure the Eastern Front against the Germans, but they actively fought against the Bolshevik leadership. When the city did not submit to the military forces, the assault ended with the fire-bombing of the Red Staff building, killing several people (Isitt, ‘Mutiny’, p. 2). Because the Allies attacked much more directly in Vladivostok, civilian opinion of the Allies dropped very quickly. Information of the Allied attack also spread throughout Russia, turning the sentiment of even the more apathetic peasants against the capitalists. The Bolsheviks took advantage of this attack and produced a large amount of propaganda to turn public opinion even further against the Allies. Also, by using that fact that Allies put boots on Russian soil, Bolshevik leaders were now able to denounce opponents and moderated as spies more effectively.

5. Allied Supply of Anti-Bolshevik/Wiley

“Greek Forces in Southern Russia.” May 4, 1919. i.pinimg.com/originals/85/11/e6/8511e6c6d3f0668961fc17f9496b41fd.jpg. Acessed September 26, 2017

Even though the Allies directly attacked the Bolsheviks in Vladivostok, they did not want another war so soon after the end of World War One. In an attempt to overthrow the Bolsheviks without directly attacking them, the Allies provided the Omsk government (a coalition of Anti-Bolshevik governments) with military supplies. In 15 May 1919, the Omsk Government confirmed the covert supply of Anti-Bolshevik forces by writing a letter of gratitude to Britain for providing weapons and tools for their 1919 offensive. The British provided about 100,00 tons of weapons, ammunition, equipment, and clothing to the Omsk forces (Coates and Coates, Armed, p.225). This was the start of the Allies’ main strategy to hinder the Bolsheviks from forming their own country by arming the Omsk. The policy to arm the Omsk government continued up until the point that the Soviet Union was recognized as a legitimate government in 1933. Until that point, the international community saw the Bolsheviks as a rebel group and treated them as such.

6. Bolshevik Political Non-Recognition/Wiley

“Captialist Figureheads.” Pinterest, 13 Mar. 2013, i.pinimg.com/736x/fa/1f/e7/fa1fe7cf521c2dd3fa1be09907b98500–soviet-art-soviet-union.jpg. Acessed September 25, 2017

The final way the Allies insulted the Bolsheviks was by applying a policy of non-recognition in international political affairs. The Allies did not invite to Bolsheviks to trade meetings or peace negations. In February 12, 1920, a Bolshevik ambassador named Chicherin wrote an angry letter to the Norwegian Foreign minister because Russia was not invited to talks proposing that Norway receive control of the Spitzbergen Islands (Degras, Soviet, p. 18). At that time, Russia had control of the Spitzbergen islands and had to send multiple representatives to keep the Spitzbergen islands without using military force. This dismission of the Bolsheviks kept the Soviets form establishing strong diplomatic or trade relationships with non-Allied western nations, isolating them from the rest of the west. The isolation from the western world drove the Soviets to make allies elsewhere in the eastern hemisphere and was one of the reasons Russia was able to draw such a clear divide between itself and the western world.

7. Exile of Trotsky/Hanaa
“Peace and Freedom in the Soviet Russia.” British Library , www.bl.uk/collection-items/peace-and-freedom-in-the-soviet-russia. Accessed on Sept. 17, 2017.

Stalin began creating his own internal enemies of the state after Lenin’s death in order to gain power within the party. He was infamous for his strategy of isolating and purging those who opposed him, with his first victim being Leon Trotsky, a fellow party official who was integral to the Russian Revolution and set to rule the party after Lenin’s death. This began with a propaganda campaign lead against Trotsky (an example is seen at the left, and 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, while Stalin was on his way to the climax of his power. Stalin’s ability to manipulate the party’s attitude toward Trotsky to where he could have him dismissed from his position and ultimately out of the nation prefaces his rule of scapegoat theory for the next two decades.

8. Dekulakisation/Hanaa
Glazunov, Iliya. Dekulakization. 2 Apr. 2015, souloftheeast.org/2015/04/02/whos-trying-to-change-russia/. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.

Dekulakisation represents Stalin’s most significant application of scapegoat theory to his advantage through manipulation of language to create an internal enemy of the state out of any peasant he wished to eliminate from society. While the term “kulak” previously referred to a wealthy class of peasants, the dekulakisation campaign changed the connotation to emphasize that kulaks were wealthy peasant farmers <i>who exploited the work of lower-class peasants</i>,  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” (Kaznelson). This made it easy for state officials to arrest, torture, or publically shame anyone they labeled as a “kulak”. In 1930 the deportation campaigns started, in which two million “kulaks” were deported to prison camps over a three year period. Thus, Stalin’s order to eliminate and inspire a socially constructed hatred toward an entire class of peasants was successful, and inspired fear and loyalty to the party amongst the population to avoid being labeled a kulak, regardless of one’s actual class.

9. The Great Purge/Cole
The Great Purge. Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), June 2, 1934. Accessed on Sept. 27, 2017. (Photo)

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”. The Great Purge directly resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Russian civilians. While historians still debate the exact reasoning behind Stalin’s mass 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.

10. The Katyn Massacre/Cole
Polish Soldiers Ordered Killed. Katyn Forest, May. 1940. Accessed on Sept. 26, 2017.

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.

11. Deportation of Germans/Hanaa
“Germans leaving Silesia for Allied-Occupied Germany in 1945.” Wikipedia, Silesia, 31 Dec. 1944, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_and_expulsion_of_Germans_(1944%E2%80%9350)#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1985-021-09,_Fl%C3%BCchtlinge.jpg. Accessed on Sept. 29, 2017.

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.

12. Antisemitism/Hanaa
“Evidence of a crime.” Tablet Magazine, Http://Www.tabletmag.com/Wp-Content/files_mf/doctorsplot_022513_620px.Jpg, 1953. Accessed on Sept. 29, 2017.

Stalin’s changing views on anti-Semitism demonstrate his strategy of applying scapegoat labels to distinct population groups to serve his political goals. In 1931, Stalin openly condemned antisemitism to the United States, insisting that it was dangerous to society and that anti-Semitic attitudes would be severely punished in the Soviet Union. Later, however, Stalin returned to Anti-Semitic rhetoric and scapegoated Jewish people in ways unlike the mass deportation and killing of populations beforehand. He ordered events like the Doctor’s Plot in 1951, in which he had Jewish doctors arrested for the completely fabricated accusation of Jewish doctors conspiring to poison Soviet officials. This incident was followed by state-sponsored propaganda that demonized Jewish people in Pravda and triggered anti-Semitic sentiments among the population, as well as Stalin’s plan to send a million Jews to the gulags, or forced labor camps, in Siberia. This deportation campaign was only prevented by Stalin’s death in 1953, after which the government spoke out against anti-Semitism and proved that scapegoat labels could be added and subtracted at Stalin’s whim, one of the most impactful methods of terror he used to maintain power.

  • Works Cited (Massacres)

Andreevich Merekov, Alexei. Prisoners At Work. Frost. Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives, Item #215. Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.“Bloody Sunday (1905).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_(1905). Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.

Gracheva, Ekaterina. “Of Russian Origin: Stalin’s Purges.” Stalin’s Purges – Russiapedia Of Russian Origin, russiapedia.rt.com/of-russian-origin/stalins-purges/. Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.Hill, Laura. “Guided History.” Guided History The Great Purge of Stalinist Russia Comments, Boston University, blogs.bu.edu/guidedhistory/moderneurope/laura-hill/. Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.

“Katyn Massacre.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre. Accessed on Sept. 20, 2017.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. Soldiers Taking Aim. The Gulag Archipelago. New York City, Basic books 1997. Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.

  • Works Cited (Internal Enemies)Däs Nelly, and Nancy Bernhardt Holland. Gone Without a Trace : German-Russian Women in Exile. 1st ed. ed., Lincoln, Neb., American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 2001. Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.

    Gibson, James L., and Marc Morje Howard. “Russian Anti-Semitism and the Scapegoating of Jews.” British Journal of Political Science, vol. 37, no. 02, 2007, pp. 193–223., doi:10.1017/s0007123407000105. Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.

    Kaznelson, Michael. “Remembering the Soviet State: Kulak Children and Dekulakisation.” Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 59, no. 7, Nov. 2007, pp. 1163-1177. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09668130701607136. Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.

    “Stalin and antisemitism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin_and_antisemitism. Accessed Sept. 18, 2017.

  • Works Cited (External Enemies)American troops at Vladivostok. Vladivostok, 1 Aug. 1918. Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.

    Benjamin Isitt, ‘Mutiny From Victoria to Vladivostok, December 1918’, The Canadian Historical Review, 87:2 (2006)Cantir, C. (2011). The Allied punishment and attempted socialisation of the Bolsheviks (1917–1924): An English School approach. Review of International Studies, 37(4), 1967-1994. doi:10.1017/S0260210510001506 Accessed on Sept. 18, 2017.

    Hickey, Martha Weitzel. The writer in Petrograd and the House of Arts. Evanston, IL, Northwestern University Press, 2009. Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.

    Seton-Watson, Hugh. “The Journal of Modern History.” The Journal of Modern History, vol. 42, no. 3, 1970, pp. 440–442. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1905897. Accessed on Sept. 19, 2017.

    Wesson, Robert Gale. Soviet foreign policy in perspective. Homewood, IL, The Dorsey Press, 1969. Accessed on Sept. 20, 2017.

    W. P. Coates and Z. K. Coates, Armed Intervention in Russia, 1918-1922 (London: Gollancz, 1935)

Leave a Reply