Why the Reds won the Russian Civil War

Essay by KeirHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 2004

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Many factors gave the reds the advantage over the whites in the Russian civil war of 1918-21. They include aims, geography, foreign intervention, leadership and support. The first three will be examined in detail.

The Bolsheviks had one aim: to take over the government and create a socialist Russia. The Whites were made up of many opponents of the Reds: some were Tsarists who wanted the Tsar and the old system of government back. Some wanted a military dictatorship. The Liberals wanted a constitutional monarchy like that of Great Britain. They all wanted different kinds of government for Russia, thus not having a common aim. In fact, the only common aim they had was to defeat the Bolsheviks. Lack of agreement led to a lack of unity. Where the Reds worked together with great organisational skill to deal with attacks, the Whites would quarrel over aims. This lack of unity was the first factor that made the Reds inherently superior.

Geography was also a key factor. Russia was huge, having 1/6 of the world's land, covering two continents with many climates. Communications and transport were dificult as there were few paved roads and the only thing connecting East and West Russia was the Trans-Siberian railway. The Reds had control of the railway system and had a special train (led by Trotsky) that could effectively coordinate attacks and tactics and send out troops where needed. The Reds also had control of the main industrialparts of Western Russia and was close to the cities. The Whites however were mostly scattered all around and did not have very good communication, if the leaders wanted to communicate at all. The Reds with their geographical advantage were able to deal with the White opposition one defeat at a time, and deal with the troops...