Russian Civil War

1924 Jan 1

Epilogue

Russia

In Central Asia, Red Army troops continued to face resistance into 1923, where basmachi (armed bands of Islamic guerrillas) had formed to fight the Bolshevik takeover. The Soviets engaged non-Russian peoples in Central Asia, like Magaza Masanchi, commander of the Dungan Cavalry Regiment, to fight against the Basmachis. The Communist Party did not completely dismantle the group until 1934.


General Anatoly Pepelyayev continued armed resistance in the Ayano-Maysky District until June 1923. The regions of Kamchatka and Northern Sakhalin remained under Japanese occupation until their treaty with the Soviet Union in 1925, when their forces were finally withdrawn.


Many pro-independence movements emerged after the break-up of the Russian Empire and fought in the war. Several parts of the former Russian Empire—Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland—were established as sovereign states, with their own civil wars and wars of independence. The rest of the former Russian Empire was consolidated into the Soviet Union shortly afterwards.


The results of the civil war were momentous. Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis estimated the total number of men killed in action in the Civil War and Polish–Soviet War as 300,000 (125,000 in the Red Army, 175,500 White armies and Poles) and the total number of military personnel dead from disease (on both sides) as 450,000. Boris Sennikov estimated the total losses among the population of Tambov region in 1920 to 1922 resulting from the war, executions, and imprisonment in concentration camps as approximately 240,000.


During the Red Terror, estimates of Cheka executions range from 12,733 to 1.7 million. Some 300,000–500,000 Cossacks were killed or deported during Decossackization, out of a population of around three million. An estimated 100,000 Jews were killed in Ukraine. Punitive organs of the All Great Don Cossack Host sentenced 25,000 people to death between May 1918 and January 1919. Kolchak's government shot 25,000 people in Ekaterinburg province alone. The White Terror, as it would become known, killed about 300,000 people in total.


At the end of the Civil War the Russian SFSR was exhausted and near ruin. The droughts of 1920 and 1921, as well as the 1921 famine, worsened the disaster still further, killing roughly 5 million people. Disease had reached pandemic proportions, with 3,000,000 dying of typhus throughout the war. Millions more also died of widespread starvation, wholesale massacres by both sides and pogroms against Jews in Ukraine and southern Russia. By 1922 there were at least 7,000,000 street children in Russia as a result of nearly ten years of devastation from World War I and the civil war.


Another one to two million people, known as the White émigrés, fled Russia, many with General Wrangel, some through the Far East and others west into the newly independent Baltic countries. The émigrés included a large percentage of the educated and skilled population of Russia.


The Russian economy was devastated by the war, with factories and bridges destroyed, cattle and raw materials pillaged, mines flooded and machines damaged. The industrial production value descended to one seventh of the value of 1913 and agriculture to one third. According to Pravda, "The workers of the towns and some of the villages choke in the throes of hunger. The railways barely crawl. The houses are crumbling. The towns are full of refuse. Epidemics spread and death strikes—industry is ruined." It is estimated that the total output of mines and factories in 1921 had fallen to 20% of the pre-World War level, and many crucial items experienced an even more drastic decline. For example, cotton production fell to 5%, and iron to 2%, of pre-war levels.


War Communism saved the Soviet government during the Civil War, but much of the Russian economy had ground to a standstill. Some peasants responded to requisitions by refusing to till the land. By 1921 cultivated land had shrunk to 62% of the pre-war area, and the harvest yield was only about 37% of normal. The number of horses declined from 35 million in 1916 to 24 million in 1920 and cattle from 58 to 37 million. The exchange rate with the US dollar declined from two roubles in 1914 to 1,200 Rbls in 1920.


With the end of the war, the Communist Party no longer faced an acute military threat to its existence and power. However, the perceived threat of another intervention, combined with the failure of socialist revolutions in other countries—most notably the German Revolution—contributed to the continued militarisation of Soviet society. Although Russia experienced extremely rapid economic growth in the 1930s, the combined effect of World War I and the Civil War left a lasting scar on Russian society and had permanent effects on the development of the Soviet Union.

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Last Updated: Sat Dec 31 2022