MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

H I S T O R Y O F  T H E C O M M U N I S T   P A R T Y

O F  T H E

S O V I E T  U N I O N

(B O L S H E V I K S)


C H A P T E R  E I G H T
THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY IN THE PERIOD OF FOREIGN MILITARY INTERVENTION AND CIVIL WAR (1918-1920)
1. BEGINNING OF FOREIGN MILITARY INTERVENTION. FIRST PERIOD OF THE CIVIL WAR
2. DEFEAT OF GERMANY IN THE WAR. REVOLUTION IN GERMANY. FOUNDING OF THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL. EIGHTH PARTY CONGRESS
3. EXTENSION OF INTERVENTION. BLOCKADE OF THE SOVIET COUNTRY. KOLCHAK'S CAMPAIGN AND DEFEAT. DENIKIN'S CAMPAIGN AND DEFEAT. A THREE-MONTHS' RESPITE. NINTH PARTY CONGRESS
4. POLISH GENTRY ATTACK SOVIET RUSSIA. GENERAL WRANGEL'S CAMPAIGN. FAILURE OF THE POLISH PLAN. ROUT OF WRANGEL. END OF THE INTERVENTION
5. HOW AND WHY THE SOVIET REPUBLIC DEFEATED THE COMBINED FORCES OF BRITISH-FRENCH-JAPANESE-POLISH INTERVENTION AND OF THE BOURGEOIS-LANDLORD-WHITEGUARD COUNTER-REVOLUTION IN RUSSIA
 

POLISH GENTRY ATTACK SOVIET RUSSIA. GENERAL WRANGEL'S CAMPAIGN. FAILURE OF THE POLISH PLAN. ROUT OF WRANGEL. END OF THE INTERVENTION.

    Notwithstanding the defeat of Kolchak and Denikin, notwithstanding the fact that the Soviet Republic was steadily regaining its territory by clearing the Whites and the forces of intervention out of the Northern Territory, Turkestan, Siberia, the Don region, the Ukraine, etc., notwithstanding the fact that the Entente states were obliged to call off the blockade of Russia, they still refused to reconcile themselves to the idea that the Soviet power had proved impregnable and had come out victorious. They therefore resolved to make one more attempt at intervention in Soviet Russia. This time they decided to utilize both Pilsudski, a bourgeois counter-revolutionary nationalist, the virtual head of the Polish state, and General Wrangel, who had rallied the remnants of Denikin's army in the Crimea and from there was threatening the Donetz Basin and the Ukraine.

    The Polish gentry and Wrangel, as Lenin put it, were the two hands with which international imperialism attempted to strangle Soviet Russia.

    The plan of the Poles was to seize the Soviet Ukraine west of the Dnieper, to occupy Soviet Byelorussia, to restore the power of the Polish magnates in these regions, to extend the frontiers of the Polish state so that they stretched "from sea to sea," from Danzig to Odessa, and, in return for his aid, to help Wrangel smash the Red Army and restore the power of the landlords and capitalists in Soviet Russia.

    This plan was approved by the Entente states.

    The Soviet Government made vain attempts to enter into negotiations with Poland with the object of preserving peace and averting war. Pilsudski refused to discuss peace. He wanted war. He calculated that the Red Army, fatigued by its battles with Kolchak and Denikin, would not be able to withstand the attack of the Polish forces.

    The short breathing space had come to an end.

    In April 1920 the Poles invaded the Soviet Ukraine and seized Kiev. At the same time, Wrangel took the offensive and threatened the Donetz Basin.

    In reply, the Red Army started a counter-offensive against the Poles along the whole front. Kiev was recaptured and the Polish war lords driven out of the Ukraine and Byelorussia. The impetuous advance of the Red troops on the Southern Front brought them to the very gates of Lvov in Galicia, while the troops on the Western Front were nearing Warsaw. The Polish armies were on the verge of utter defeat.

    But success was frustrated by the suspicious actions of Trotsky and his followers at the General Headquarters of the Red Army. Through the fault of Trotsky and Tukhachevsky, the advance of the Red troops on the Western Front, towards Warsaw, proceeded in an absolutely unorganized manner: the troops were allowed no opportunity to consolidate the positions that they won, the advance detachments were led too far ahead, while reserves and ammunition were left too far in the rear. As a result, the advance detachments were left without ammunition and reserves and the front was stretched out endlessly. This made it easy to force a breach in the front. The result was that when a small force of Poles broke through our Western Front at one point, our troops, left without ammunition, were obliged to retreat. As regards the troops on the Southern Front, who had reached the gates of Lvov and were pressing the Poles hard, they were forbidden by Trotsky, that ill-famed "chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council," to capture Lvov. He ordered the transfer of the Mounted Army, the main force on the Southern Front, far to the north-east. This was done on the pretext of helping the Western Front, although it was not difficult to see that the best, and in fact only possible, way of helping the Western Front was to capture Lvov. But the withdrawal of the Mounted Army from the Southern Front, its departure from Lvov, virtually meant the retreat of our forces on the Southern Front as well. This wrecker's order issued by Trotsky thus forced upon our troops on the Southern Front an incomprehensible and absolutely unjustified retreat -- to the joy of the Polish gentry.

    This was giving direct assistance, indeed -- not to our Western Front, however, but to the Polish gentry and the Entente.

    Within a few days the advance of the Poles was checked and our troops began preparations for a new counter-offensive. But, unable to continue the war, and alarmed by the prospect of a Red counter-offensive, Poland was obliged to renounce her claims to the Ukrainian territory west of the Dnieper and to Byelorussia and preferred to conclude peace. On October 20, 1920, the Peace of Riga was signed. In accordance with this treaty Poland retained Galicia and part of Byelorussia.

    Having concluded peace with Poland, the Soviet Republic decided to put an end to Wrangel. The British and French had supplied him with guns, rifles, armoured cars, tanks, aeroplanes and ammunition of the latest type. He had Whiteguard shock regiments, mainly consisting of officers. But Wrangel failed to rally any considerable number of peasants and Cossacks in support of the troops he had landed in the Kuban and the Don regions. Nevertheless, he advanced to the very gates of the Donetz Basin, creating a menace to our coal region. The position of the Soviet Government at that time was further complicated by the fact that the Red Army was suffering greatly from fatigue. The troops were obliged to advance under extremely difficult conditions: while conducting an offensive against Wrangel, they had at the same time to smash Makhno's anarchist bands who were assisting Wrangel. But although Wrangel had the superiority in technical equipment, although the Red Army had no tanks, it drove Wrangel into the Crimean Peninsula and there bottled him up. In November 1920 the Red forces captured the fortified position of Perekop, swept into the Crimea, smashed Wrangel's forces and cleared the Peninsula of the Whiteguards and the forces of intervention. The Crimea became Soviet territory.

    The failure of Poland's imperialist plans and the defeat of Wrangel ended the period of intervention.

    At the end of 1920 there began the liberation of Transcaucasia: Azerbaidjan was freed from the yoke of the bourgeois nationalist Mussavatists, Georgia from the Menshevik nationalists, and Armenia from the Dashnaks. The Soviet power triumphed in Azerbaidjan, Armenia and Georgia.

    This did not yet mean the end of all intervention. That of the Japanese in the Far East lasted until 1922. Moreover, new attempts at intervention were made (Ataman Semyonov and Baron Ungern in the East, the Finnish Whites in Karelia in 1921). But the principal enemies of the Soviet country, the principal forces of intervention, were shattered by the end of 1920.

    The war of the foreign interventionists and the Russian Whiteguards against the Soviets ended in a victory for the Soviets.

    The Soviet Republic preserved its independence and freedom.

    This was the end of foreign military intervention and Civil War.

    This was a historic victory for the Soviet power.