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Unit 3: VCE History. Critical Year, 1921. Although the Bolshevik’s won the Civil War and restored peace, they paid a high price. Many of the best workers died in battle and the communist vision of a proletarian utopia was fading.

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unit 3 vce history

Unit 3: VCE History

Critical Year, 1921

russia in ruins

Although the Bolshevik’s won the Civil War and restored peace, they paid a high price.

  • Many of the best workers died in battle and the communist vision of a proletarian utopia was fading.
  • There was still only one communist group for every 1200 square kilometres of Russian countryside.
  • To deal with this crisis Lenin and the Bolshevik’s developed an approach known as War Communism.

The First Red Cavalry

Russia in ruins
impact of war communism

The War Communism during the Civil War included:

  • Forced confiscation of man power to the Red Army and industry.
  • Requisitioning of grain and food.
  • ‘Soviet’ farms on large estates and nationalisation of industry.
  • The rationing of food and a grain tax.
  • Forced volunteering on ‘Communist Sunday’s’

Requisitioning of grain

Impact of War Communism
the price of civil war

10 million deaths – 9.5 million by famine and disease.

  • Industrial output dropping to 15% of pre-war output and agricultural to 60% of pre-war output.
  • Half the number of industrial workers.
  • Drops in coal (30%) and electrical energy (25%) production.
  • Corruption… bribes, lots of bribes.
  • Savagery including cannibalism.

Children in famine

The Price of Civil War
international support

The Russian famine was acknowledged worldwide as a humanitarian disaster.

  • Opponents Britain supported a ‘Save the Children’ fund in Russia, as did the American’s.
International support


kill the kulaks

Richer peasants, labelled ‘kulaks’ by the Communist Party, were blamed for rising high prices during the food shortage.

  • They were accused of hoarding grain, which is something that Historians debate.
  • Lenin sent the Cheka to coerce kulaks to give up their grain, so they produced only enough grain to feed their families.


Kill the Kulaks
the kronstadt uprising

The economic crisis sparked peasant wars against the government and general industrial strikes in Petrograd and Moscow were compounded when sailors from Kronstadt challenged the new regime.

  • Uprising in March 1921 came in two forms:

- a political attack through a civil rights petition;

- a military attack, very dangerous because the sailors were highly trained military and former Bolsheviks.

  • Figes described Russia as being on the brink of a third revolution.
  • Lenin unleashed the Red Army and Cheka to defeat the Kronstadt garrison on March 1917.
The Kronstadt Uprising
kronstadt demands

New elections

  • Freedom of speech and press
  • Freedom of assembly
  • Liberation of political prisoners (particularly those of socialist parties and working-class movements)
  • Abolition of political departments (no propaganda)
  • Equalisation of rations for workers
  • Abolition of communist fighting detachments and guards in factories.
  • Peasant land rights

… do you notice any similarities to the past?

Kronstadt demands

It was comical

the enemy within

Kronstadt rebellion showed the unhappiness amongst those who the Bolshevik’s claimed to represent… ‘you have nothing to lose but your chains!’

  • Also challenges to Lenin’s leadership from Alexandra Kollantai who led a ‘Workers Opposition’ movement.
  • Figes claimed that the Kronstadt Uprising revealed the Bolshevik’s as ‘tyrants’.
The Enemy Within

Kollantai – ‘I’m against this’

new economic policy

At the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party in Moscow from March 8 to 16 in 1921, responded to some of the Kronstadt demands as they were fighting.

  • Lenin considered the NEP, like the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk – an ‘unfortunate but necessary step’ of ‘bridled capitalism’ that represented a ‘strategic retreat’.

This is a Glavpolitprosvet poster…

Just in case you was wondering

New Economic Policy
war communism nep

All resources to winning Civil War > Provide food for a starving population.

  • Discriminated against peasants through requisitioning and state control, led to reduced production > favoured peasants with less tax and greater rewards.
  • An attack of the interests of the peasants and workers > A success, reducing famine and increasing stability.
  • From failure to success... but a compromise ideologically.
  • For traditional communists the NEP was ‘treason’.
War Communism > NEP

‘Socialist Communism will

Come from the NEP’