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He accused the teachers and the educational staff of trying to silence him. In his diary, he analyzed the political situation of the Soviet Union, wrote about the fact that the best politicians and specialists were arrested, and called the new Bolshevik leaders hypocrites and corrupt people.

Crimes and Mass Violence of the Russian Civil Wars (1918-1921)

He did not try to hide his convictions and spoke frankly about his opinions in the children's home. It took only a few months before he was arrested and accused of counter-revolutionary activity. At that time, he was only 1 5 years old. In theory it was not allowed to put children under the age of 16 on trial for political opposition.

In his case, however, the local NKVD received special permission from Moscow and was in fact entitled to sentence him to three years in a labor camp for counter-revolutionary activity. Could it be that the number presented by the reviewer is right? At first glance the question appears trivial. After four decades of research, and 20 years after the opening of the Russian archives there should be a definite answer.

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In fact, there is not. Estimates range from less than one to almost 70 million.

From the very beginning of the Russian Civil War, when Lenin and his Bolsheviks tried to seize power, it became clear that they represented an unprecedented force of violence. While there had been executions in the Russian Empire between for political beliefs and activities , the Bolsheviks surpassed this number in March , after they had been in power for only four months. For three years, from early to early , a war for power was fought in Russia that would eclipse even the horrors experienced during the First World War.

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On one side stood the White tsarist armies, which wanted to restore the empire, on the other side under Lenin stood the Bolsheviks which wanted to destroy the old order and to install socialism in Russia. Already in the early stages of the war, certain social groups like the upper class, royalty, members of the church and the bourgeoisie had been classified by the Bolsheviks as class enemies.

They were seen as enemies of the people that had to be eliminated.


  • The Soviet Government – (Chapter 12) - The Cambridge History of Communism.
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In thousands of so called class enemies had already been killed by this organization. Alone in two months of official Red Terror, from September to October , the Cheka killed around 15 people. All were put down brutally.

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The revenge of the victors was beyond comprehension. In March between and people were killed by the Bolsheviks in Astrakhan in less than a week. In Rostov-on-Don around people were executed in January alone, while between and people perished in Kharkiv from February to December Another people were murdered in Kyiv from February to August , in Armavir, a small town in Kuban, between from August to December Sadly, the Bolsheviks were capable of even greater crimes. At the end of they executed more than 50 refugees in the Crimea in less than two months. Over refuges had gathered there trying to get away from the Bolsheviks.

Luckily the other people managed to escaped via the Black Sea ports before the Red Army arrived. Under the Tsar the Don Cossacks enjoyed certain privileges and many of them had been landowners. Seeing what the Bolsheviks did to landowners, they allied themselves with the White tsarist armies. Some Don Cossacks had been killed as early as February , before the Bolsheviks had to retreat from advancing White forces.

His first book covered the July Days in Petrograd, his second the October revolution, and this one covers a full twelve months in painstaking detail. It is clear, however, that while the broader themes of the period can be acknowledged, these intricate studies of narrower periods allow us to develop a better insight into this complex period as a whole.

Rabinowitch has focused on Petrograd in all his major works. The historiography seems finally to have caught up with his approach in this field, as regional studies have become increasingly important in our understandings of the revolutionary period.

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Rabinowitch lucidly explores the fight that Lenin finally won on this issue. The Bolshevik commitment to peace was what had won over left Mensheviks and many soldiers in late summer , and what held moderate Bolsheviks to the party in November despite their profound disagreements with Lenin.

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Views on what this peace might entail, however, were altogether more confused. Others, with Lenin at their head, were more pragmatic and were convinced of the impossibility of continued warfare given the state of the front line troops. Petrograd would be taken in days.

Another theme that emerges throughout this book is the emphasis on heterogeneity within the Bolshevik party, and the strength of the moderates within the party, who in the first months after October sought a consensual, collaborative socialist coalition. We are reminded of the many humane and tolerant voices within the Bolshevik party who, Rabinowitch argues, were actually in a majority, but were defeated by Lenin. The role of the pressing international situation is made much clearer; Rabinowitch makes it apparent that the moderates were defeated more by their very real fears of the external threats facing the young Soviet state, than by the intransigence of Lenin.

We are given real insights into strong popular demands for a coalition to avoid civil war. In a commission formed by leading Bolsheviks to prepare recommendations on the form of the new government, one worker from the Obukhov plant declared;. The sense of crisis engendered in this period by the threats posed both by imminent foreign invasion, and by internal opposition to the new regime, is conjured up with painful resonance by Rabinowitch.

This sense of crisis provided the impetus for an escalation of violence and repression by the state. The Red Terror, an outburst of violence in September , was more chaotic and more bloody in Petrograd than in Moscow, with more than people killed, many of them innocent lower bourgeois folk and party men. Despite this awareness of the developing climate of popular violence, Rabinowitch regards the architects of class warfare and escalating violence as first and foremost Lenin and Trotsky.

Within a year, the silencing of all dissenting voices and debate within the party and in public forums became marked. Not the fortress of Peter and Paul but the guillotine awaits our enemies. There was effectively administrative collapse in the old capital, with rubbish rotting under tons of un-shovelled snow, alongside soaring unemployment and a food crisis. The administration of the city was unable to maintain public services, and the population of the city dwindled alarmingly.