What is the course about?
The course is about the Russian Civil Wars 1917-1926 an extremely complicated set of conflicts about a variety of
issues including: economics, politics; religion; nationality and nationalism between a variety of factions including
the’ Reds’, ‘Whites’, Blacks’, Greens, nationalists (both Russian and from the periphery) and groups of foreign
people intervening for external reasons. The Reds were led by Lenin and consisted of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks,
some Social Revolutionaries and sometimes the ‘Blacks who were anarchists. The Komuch consisted of right wing
Social Revolutionaries, liberals and even some Mensheviks who claimed the authority of the disbanded Provisional
Government and Constituent Assembly of 1918. . The Whites included monarchists, authoritarian republicans,
Christians some liberals some Cossacks and some peasants. They were split up into different groups around the
periphery of the old empire. The Greens were independent peasants played an independent role and were
essentially disgruntled peasants sought to avoid domination by any other groups. The Nationalists included
conservative Russians who believed in the idea of Greater Russia and the peoples of the peripheral parts of the
empire like the Poles, Finns, Balts, Ukrainians, Bielo- Russians, Caucasians, Tatars, Bashkir and Mongols who
wished to achieve political and cultural independence from the Russian empire and its ‘Russianizing’ policies. Lastly
the foreigners included British and British empire forces, Americans, Frenchmen, Italians, Japanese, Poles and
Czechs. Austro Hungarians and Germans were also involved until the end of 1918. Over ten years these forces
fought over the direction in which the Russian state and Empire would develop.
What will we cover?
- the way in which the Civil Wars war shaped the Bolshevik state after the initial stages of the revolution including:
the development of the Red Army; the Cheka; and revolutionary political institutions.
-how the ability of the Reds to build the Soviet State and the Red Army allowed them to win the war
- the beginning of the counter-revolutionary process led firstly by Kornilov and then by General Denikin and the
Volunteer Army and supported by the Don Cossacks and the Komuch in the context of the German occupation of
East Central Europe until the end of 1918.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Define the policies and ideas of the major groups of participants in the Civil Wars
- Discuss the impact of the Civil Wars on the various societies of the Russian Empire.
- Describe in outline operations against the Soviet government by anti- Bolshevik groups in the context of Russian
- Identify 5 figures involved in the Russian Civil Wars.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an `introductory` course and does not assume previous study or reading although you will need a good grasp
of English to keep up with the course and participate fully. As with most of our history and current affairs courses,
an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more
important than specific levels of skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Through a mixture of lectures and class discussion, using a range of writings; visual evidence including maps, photographs ,paintings; statistics and graphs; excerpts of literature, poems; and film clips. Evidence will include primary sources as well as secondary sources (subsequent reflections).
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
A list of recommended reading material and recommended films will be provided, but this is optional. Please bring
pen and paper.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HH807 The Stalin Regime 1928-1941.