24/12/1918 Striking back against the Bolsheviks: Kolchak routs the Red Army and storms Perm #1918Live

With the defeat of Germany on the Western Front the main threat to the established order of Europe is now Bolshevism. Lenin and his Bolsheviks have taken power in Russia and overturned the prevailing order of society there, executing the royal family, seizing property and reversing traditional hierarchies. Across Europe and beyond the fear of those in power is that something similar might now happen in their own countries. Consequently their policemen are on guard for any sign of Bolshevik contagion spreading to their own disgruntled working classes.

The end of fighting on the Western Front and the Middle East has freed up large numbers of Allied troops. Large stocks of war materials are no longer needed for the struggle against Germany and Turkey. Could some of these soldiers and some of this materiel be sent to aid the White armies fighting against the Bolsheviks? Allied troops have already established themselves in ports on the periphery of the former Russian Empire: Archangelsk and Murmansk in the north, Vladivostok in the far east, and Odessa, Sevastopol and Novorossiysk in the south. The Allied forces thus far deployed are too small to seriously affect the outcome of the Russian Civil War, but White leaders hope that they are just the advance guard of larger intervention forces. Allied material aid to the Whites has also been relatively modest thus far, but again, the anti-Bolshevik leaders hope that more is on its way.

Trotsky‘s reorganisation of the Red Army had seen it win a number of victories but now perhaps the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. Admiral Kolchak has reinvigorated White forces in the Siberian theatre, with his troops no longer needing the backing of the Czechoslovak Legion to take on the Red Army. Today Kolchak’s men capture Perm, an industrial city in the Urals. In the fighting large numbers of Red Army troops surrender to Kolchak; they appear to have been sent into the battle without adequate training or winter clothing. The Red Army troops appear also to be suffering from food shortages, a consequence of disorganisation in the Bolsheviks’ rear and the alienation of the peasantry by the Red Terror. This is all very promising for Kolchak, as it suggests that the Red Army might just be on the brink of disintegration.

image source:

Kolchak reviewing troops (Wikipedia: Russian Civil War)

3/9/1918 As Lenin recovers, the Cheka unleashes Red Terror #1918Live

Lenin‘s life hung in the balance after he was shot by Fanny Kaplan, but now he appears to be on the mend, to the relief of his Bolshevik followers. Kaplan meanwhile has been interrogated and probably tortured by the Cheka, the Soviet political police. They are keen to discover whether she was working as part of a wider plot, either with underground members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party or with foreign powers. She denies any involvement with others, though in actual fact she appears to have been part of a network of SR cadres operating independently of the SR-led government in Samara.

Today the Bolsheviks decide that they have interrogated Kaplan for long enough. Deeming a trial to be an unnecessary bourgeois frippery, she is summarily shot; her body is then burned before burial in an unmarked grave. The Cheka meanwhile has unleashed a Red Terror on the real or imagined enemies of the Revolution. The attempt on Lenin’s life showed the danger of allowing malcontents free rein; under the direction of Dzerzhinsky, the Cheka is now free to round up, interrogate and kill any potential threats to Soviet power. As the Cheka operates completely outside any legal restraints, no one in Bolshevik controlled areas is safe from them. Which is as it should be: the purpose of the Red Terror is to terrify.

image sources:

Fanny Kaplan (Wikipedia)

In the Basement of the Cheka, by Ivan Vladimirov (Wikipedia Commons: Ivan Vladimirov)

Note: I recommend having a look at more of the pictures by Ivan Vladimirov. In his later careeer he produced socialist realist hackwork, but his pictures from the Civil War and the early stages of the Revolution are quite chilling depictions of social breakdown.