2 March 2010
In Russia's November 1917 elections, 80 per cent voted for parties calling for radical land reform at the expense of the landowning nobility. In Petrograd, the Bolsheviks won 45 per cent of the votes, in Moscow 50 per cent. Russia's six million soldiers wanted to end the war: 82 per cent voted for the Socialist Revolutionaries or the Bolsheviks, 41 per cent each. In Petrograd and Moscow, 80 per cent of the soldiers voted for the Bolsheviks.
Mawdsley writes, "Without doubt the Bolsheviks' early promises were a basic reason why they were able to seize and consolidate power in 1917-18: their program of Soviet power, peace, land reform, and workers' control was widely popular."
In August 1917 the Kornilov coup was easily defeated. After the October revolution, the Bolshevik forces quickly and easily defeated the counter-revolution. As Lenin said in April 1918, "It can be said with certainty that, in the main, the Civil War has ended."
But the Bolsheviks had to contend not just with internal counter-revolution but with massive foreign counter-revolutionary intervention. Between February and May 1918 Russia suffered a German invasion. In March, British troops occupied Murmansk and were reinforced in June. In April, British and Japanese troops occupied Vladivostok. In May, the Czechoslovak Corps launched its uprising against the Bolsheviks. In August, British troops occupied Baku. In September, Britain assisted the successful military coup against the North Russian government.
Yet Mawdsley writes, apparently without seeing that he is contradicting himself, "It is sometimes argued that the Civil War proper only began in the summer of 1918, with Allied intervention."
In March 1919, General Alfred Knox, Britain's military adviser to Admiral Kolchak, the White dictator of Siberia, told him, "The plain truth is that we will have to fight this year for our lives and every hour is of value." Yet Knox reported to London that Kolchak's March [Ufa] offensive "was commenced without our previous knowledge." Reflecting Knox's claim, Mawdsley writes on page 143, "there is no evidence that the Allies provoked the March 1919 offensive." Yet on page 154 he writes, "Allied policy in Siberia ... pushed Kolchak into militarily foolish attacks at Ufa ..."
Knox wrote in June 1919, "Since about the middle of December  every round of rifle ammunition fired on the front has been of British manufacture, conveyed to Vladivostok in British ships and delivered at Omsk by British guards." Between October 1918 and October 1919, Britain sent Kolchak 97,000 tons of supplies, including 600,000 rifles, 346 million rounds of small-arms ammunition, 6,831 machine guns, 192 field guns, and clothing and personal equipment for 200,500 men.
The British Military Mission to South Russia reported that the White recovery under General Denikin after March 1919 `was due almost entirely to British assistance'. During 1919, the British government sent Denikin 198,000 rifles, 500 million rounds of small-arms ammunition, 6,200 machine guns, 1,121 artillery pieces, more than 1,900,000 shells, 60 tanks, 168 aircraft, 460,000 greatcoats and 645,000 pairs of boots.
Between 1918 and 1920, the intervention caused 7-10 million deaths. Civil War? I think not.