25/2/1918 Lenin proclaims the Russian Civil War to be over #1918Live

The Don region of Russia has seen fighting between supporters and opponents of the Bolshevik regime. This conflict has already assumed a brutal character, with both sides killing or torturing their real or suspected enemies, using terror to cow their potential enemies. The Whites had hoped that the Don Cossacks would rally to their cause, but their support has been lukewarm at best. Instead the Reds have had the upper hand in the fighting and today Novocherkassk, the region’s capital, falls to the Red Army.

When Lenin hears the news, he is jubilant. Having just signalled acceptance of the Germans’ harsh peace terms, the Bolshevik leader needs all the good news he can get. The Whites have already been forced from Rostov, so now Bolshevik control of the Don is complete. Lenin proclaims the Russian civil war to be over.

24/2/1918 Lenin accepts the Germans’ final peace terms

After Trotsky walked out of the Brest-Litovsk peace talks the Germans and Austro-Hungarians launched Operation Faustschlag, an offensive intended to force the Bolsheviks to accept their draconian peace terms. Their advance has faced little or no resistance, in a short time making gains that would have been unimaginable even a year ago. Meanwhile the Turks too are advancing unopposed into territory seized from them earlier in the war. Today the Turks arrive in Trebizond, where a Russian army brass band plays to welcome them into the city.

Yesterday Germany communicated its final peace terms to the Russians. The Germans are now demanding all the territory captured since the start of Operation Faustschlag, which means that Estonia will now be theirs as well as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and much of Byelorussia. Ukraine is also to be separated from Russia, notionally independent but effectively a German client state.

In Petrograd Lenin argues that if the German terms are rejected then even worse ones will be forced on Russia in a few more weeks, ones so draconian they could spell the end of Bolshevik rule. By threatening to resign he secures Trotsky’s abstention at the Bolshevik central committee, which votes to accept the peace, though Bukharin and his faction then resign in protest. The Soviet Executive then approves the peace proposals by 116 to 85 votes, with Left SRs and many of Lenin’s own party shouting “Judas!” at him.

Early today Lenin sends to the Germans an unconditional acceptance of their terms.

image source:

Vladimir Lenin (Marxist Internet Archive: V.I.Lenin – Founder of the Soviet State (October 1917-1918))

23/2/1918 The Ice March: the White Army retreats from Rostov #1918Live

The Bolshevik leaders of Soviet Russia face internal and external enemies. German and Austro-Hungarian troops are advancing into the country, determined to force the acceptance of punitive peace terms. In the south of Russia meanwhile officers of the former Tsarist army have formed a new force in the hope of overthrowing the Bolsheviks. Under Kornilov and Alexeev the Whites, as the Bolsheviks enemies are known, have occupied Rostov. They hope to recruit the Cossacks to their anti-Bolshevik crusade.

The Bolsheviks are unable to resist the German invaders but they have more luck with Kornilov and Alexeev. The Cossacks are less keen on joining the counter-revolutionaries than expected, with many even supporting the revolution. Meanwhile workers uprisings in the towns near Rostov leave the Whites in Rostov dangerously exposed. Rather than fight to the finish there, Alexeev and Kornilov lead their men on a retreat south. Red Army units arrive in Rostov today as the Whites march across the steppe. With the Whites are their family members and the desperate bourgeoisie of the city, who fear the rough justice of the Reds.

Alexeev and Kornilov are marching towards the Kuban region, where they hope to regroup. Perhaps the Cossacks there will be more amenable to joining their war against the Bolsheviks. In the meantime they are living off the land, feeding themselves from whatever they can loot from the local peasantry.

image source:

The Ice March, by Dmitri Shmarin (Art and Faith [a Russian art blog])

22/2/1918 Turmoil in Petrograd as the German advance continues #1918Live

Germany and Austria-Hungary are meeting no effective resistance in their offensive against Soviet Russia. The advancing troops are able to move forward by train, stopping at each station to arrest the local Bolsheviks before moving on to the next. In just five days they have moved forward some 150 miles.

In Petrograd the enemy advance has caused chaos within the ruling Bolsheviks. One faction wants to wage revolutionary war against the Germans, though Soviet Russia’s lack of an effective military force makes this a somewhat unrealistic strategy. In a stormy meeting of the party’s Central Committee, Lenin managed to secure a majority in favour of accepting the German terms by persuading Trotsky to switch sides. He cabled his acceptance to the Germans but the Germans do not reply and continue their advance.

What now? In desperation Lenin changes tack and backs armed resistance to the Germans. But Soviet Russia’s Red Army is a pathetic militia, in no state to take on the enemy. In desperation the Bolsheviks appeal for help to the Allies, despite the opposition of those like Bukharin who fear the consequences of trucking with imperialists. The Allies meanwhile welcome the Bolsheviks appeal for help and withdraw their support for Kornilov‘s anti-Bolshevik army in southern Russia.

image sources:

Vladimir Lenin (Wikipedia)

Nikolai Bukharin and Leon Trotsky (Communist University – Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder)

21/2/1918 Falkenhayn, unlikely saviour of Palestine’s Jewish community #1918Live

British progress in Palestine has slowed somewhat since the capture of Jerusalem. Allenby‘s focus now is on advancing through the Transjordan region rather than directly up through Palestine itself. As a prelude to this, his men are advancing towards the Jordan river. Today they capture the ancient city of Jericho, said by some to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world.

Meanwhile Allenby’s enemies are reorganising. When Falkenhayn arrived in the Middle East to head the Turkish Yildirim group, Enver Pasha (Turkey’s war minister and paramount leader) had hoped that he would lead the recapture of Baghdad. Instead he found himself unable to prevent Allenby’s advance into Palestine. Now Falkenhayn is dismissed. His successor is Liman von Sanders, the German general who had commanded Turkish forces at Gallipoli. Liman von Sanders has worked with the Turks for some time now; unlike more recently arrived German officers he understands the importance of treating Turkish officers with respect.

Falkenhayn has one achievement to his credit from his time in Palestine: the salvation of the region’s Jewish community. The Jewish minority there comprises a long-standing indigenous community together with more recently arrived Zionist pioneers. Turkish leaders, particularly Djemal Pasha, the Middle Eastern proconsul, had become convinced that the Jews were inveterately disloyal and were aiding the Allies. Djemal decided to deport the entire Jewish community from the region. Falkenhayn realised that such a deportation would effectively mean the community’s extermination, as the previous deportation of Armenians from Anatolia had done. Fearful of the consequences of such an action, Falkenhayn was able to block the removal of the Jews.

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Erich von Falkenhayn (Wikipedia)

19/2/1918 A new commander for the British army #1918Live

Since December 2015 General William Robertson has been serving as the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, making him Britain’s most senior army officer. Robertson’s rise to this exalted rank is quite an achievement, as he joined the army originally as a private. Robertson has been close to Haig, Britain’s Western Front commander. Although their relationship has frayed somewhat, Robertson has endeavoured to shield Haig from the criticisms of Britain’s politicians.

Unfortunately Robertson is unable to protect his own position. Today he finds himself reassigned to a more junior role as a result of a dispute with the government over the inter-Allied Supreme War Council in Versailles. Robertson’s replacement is Henry Wilson, an Anglo-Irish general known for his love of political intrigue.

Robertson’s departure leaves Haig in an exposed position. The bloody slaughter of Passchendaele has seen Lloyd George lose confidence in the Western Front commander. Unfortunately there is no obvious candidate to replace him and with a German offensive imminent now is not the time to put a new man in charge. Haig looks like his post is secure for the time being.

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Henry Wilson (Wikipedia)

18/2/1918 Germany pushes into Russia #1918Live

At Brest-Litovsk Trotsky shocked the Germans by rejecting their harsh peace terms but then informing them that Russia will fight them no more. The Bolsheviks hope that this ‘No War, No Peace‘ strategy will expose the Germans as naked aggressors if their army resumes its advance in the east, triggering revolution from Germany’s war weary working class.

Ludendorff is Germany’s Quartermaster General and the effective dictator of his country. He does not care about being seen as a naked aggressor; he wants the war in the East brought to an end as soon as possible so that he can concentrate his efforts on the Western Front offensive he is planning. Today German and Austro-Hungarian troops launch Operation Faustschlag, an offensive intended to force the Russians to sign the peace treaty. They encounter no meaningful resistance; by now the old Tsarist army has been disbanded and the recently established Red Army is in no position to take the field against the Kaiser‘s juggernaut. The Germans and their allies advance at a speed that would be unimaginable on the Western Front.

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Austro-Hungarian troops advance into Kamianets-Podilskyi (Wikipedia: Operation Faustschlag)

January 1918

Wilson publishes his Fourteen Points. Unrest in Germany and Austria-Hungary. Civil war in Finland.

1/1/1918 1918, year of decision?

3/1/1918 Hard times for Italian civilians and prisoners of war under Austria-Hungary

4/1/1918 French pacifist politician Joseph Caillaux arrested

8/1/1918 Wilson’s Fourteen Points

15/1/1918 Finland’s rival camps prepare for civil war

15/1/1918 Arab progress east of the Jordan

19/1/1918 Lenin shuts down the Constituent Assembly

19/1/1918 Discontent boils over in Austria-Hungary

26/1/1918 REVEALED: the sexual deviants sabotaging Britain’s war effort

27/1/1918 Civil war breaks out in Finland

28/1/1918 A wave of industrial unrest grips Germany

28/1/1918 The Red Army formed

31/1/1918 German strikes suppressed, trouble-makers sent to the front

image sources:

Labouring party travels by train in Flanders (Histomil Historica: WW1 Narrow gauge train lines in the great war, Trench Railways France & Belgium)

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

December 1917

February 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

16/2/1918 Lithuania declares independence #1918Live

Last year the German occupiers of Lithuania allowed a national council to convene, thinking that this body could be used to assist in the administration of the region and prevent the spread of revolutionary ideas from Russia. Unfortunately this council, the Taryba, has proved more obstreperous than expected and has not cooperated with the Germans. Today it goes further and declares Lithuania to be an independent state. This independence is ineffective for now, as the country remains under German occupation, but it does indicate that the Germans will have problems if they try to permanently annex Lithuania to their empire. It also exposes the limits of German power there, as they seem curiously unable to simply shut down the Taryba.

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The declaration of independence (Wikipedia: Act of Independence of Lithuania)

The Taryba (Wikipedia: Council of Lithuania)

16/2/1918 “The Cult of the Clitoris”: a sinister plot revealed #1918Live

Independent MP Noel Pemberton Billing shocked Britain when he revealed that the war effort was being sabotaged by 47,000 sexual deviants who were being blackmailed by the Kaiser. Today his renamed newspaper, The Vigilante, publishes further sensational revelations. In an article entitled ‘The Cult of the Clitoris’, Pemberton Billing reports on private performances of Oscar Wilde’s banned play Salome scheduled for April, in which the Canadian actress Maud Allan will play the title role. It is stated that the audience for this production will comprise leading members of the sinister 47,000. Furthermore he suggests that a clique of lesbians are conspiring to secure German victory and implies that Maud Allan is herself the lover of Margot Asquith, wife of the former prime minister.

The article causes a sensation, particularly as many readers were previously unaware of the existence of this mysterious clitoris. Miss Allan however prepares to sue Pemberton Billing for his libellous and unsupported allegation against her.

image sources:

Noel Pemberton Billing (Spartacus Educational)

Maud Allan as Salome (Wikipedia)