34 Interesting Russian Civil War Facts

Russian Civil War Facts

The Russian Civil War was a multi-party civil war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia’s political future.

Russian Civil War Facts

  • The Russian Civil War was a civil war fought from November 1917 until October 1922 between several groups in Russia.
  • The term Russian civil war generally refers to the confrontation between the proponents of restoring the deposed Ancien Régime (“Whites”) and those who defended the new socialist regime that emerged from the October Revolution (“Reds”).
  • The signing of the peace treaty between Vladimir Lenin’s (1870-1924) Russia and Wilhelm II, German Emperor’s (1859-1941) Germany in Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918 may also be seen as the starting point of the civil war.
  • The main fighting was between the Red Army and the White Army. The Red Army was an army of communists. The White Army opposed the communists.
  • The Red Army won this war because their army was better-organized and they held the best territory. After this war, the communists established the Soviet Union in 1922.
  • The Bolsheviks organised a highly effective propaganda campaign in the areas they controlled
  • The Bolsheviks portrayed themselves as a patriotic party who would defend Russia from imperialists. This was particularly effective since the Whites had support from Britain, France and the USA.
  • About 8 million people lost their lives during the Russian Civil War. Out of them, about one million were soldiers of the Red Army.
  • The anti-communists and their White Army killed at least 50,000 communists.
  • Many millions of people also died due to famine, starvation, and epidemics. In white-occupied areas such as Ukraine and southern Russia, many Jews were killed.
  • The value of Russia’s currency (ruble) fell. In 1914, with 2 rubles one could buy a US dollar. In 1920, one had to give 1,200 rubles to buy one US dollar.
  • The Russian Civil War had a very bad result for agriculture also. The farm produced only 37 % of the normal production. The number of horses fell from 35 million (in 1916) to 24 million (in 1920). The number of cattle also became less, from 58 million to 37 million.
  • The Bolsheviks considered themselves the leaders of the revolutionary working class of Russia.
  • Following the overthrow of the Provisional Government, Lenin’s new state was called the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
  • The former Russian royal family was held under house arrest in Yekaterinburg. On the night of 16-17 July 1918, the former Tsar, his wife, their five children, and others who had accompanied them in their imprisonment were executed.
  • Famous communist Leon Trotsky served as military commander of the Bolsheviks during the war.
Russian Civil War Facts
Trotsky decided at the beginning of 1918 it was time to reorganize the officer corps of the Red Army.


  • Rival militant socialists and non-ideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the White Army.
  • British, French, and American units were all sent to various Russian ports to support White forces.
  • Japan attempted to land their own troops in the east, without permission, in Russia during the first year of the Russian Civil War, with the aim of helping the White forces in the short term but ultimately desiring to gain Russian territory for Japan overall.
  • The Bolsheviks took advantage of the civil war to also attack peasants who opposed the government’s confiscation of the lands they farmed.
  • Historians debate when the civil war actually began; some select a date in the summer of 1918, and others suggest that the October Revolution of 1917 marked the war’s true beginning.
  • On July 16, 1918, the Romanovs were executed by the Bolsheviks.
  • During this first period, the Bolsheviks took control of Central Asia out of the hands of the Provisional Government and White Army, setting up a base for the Communist Party in the Steppe and Turkestan, where nearly two million Russian settlers were located.
  • In 1920 there was still an organized White force in Crimea, under Gen. Pyotr N. Wrangel, who struck northward at the Red Army and, for a time, occupied part of Ukraine and Kuban. The Red Army eventually battered Wrangel’s forces, whose rearguards held out long enough to ensure the evacuation of 150,000 soldiers and civilians by sea from Crimea. This ended the Russian Civil War in November 1920.
  • Ultimately, the Whites lost the war due to a lack of coordination between their various forces.
  • The Archangel Expedition, also known as the Polar Bear Expedition, was the posting of 5,000 US troops in the Russian city of Archangel (Arkhangelsk) to aid the anti-Bolsheviks during the civil war.


Russian Civil War Facts
Trotsky decided at the beginning of 1918 it was time to reorganize the officer corps of the Red Army.


  • Lesser battles continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923.
  • One consequence of the Russian Civil War was that many non-Russian peoples were subjected to Russian Communist rule, including the Tartars, Ukrainians, and citizens of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia.
  • In a sense, the war ended in 1923 due to the Bolsheviks assumed control of the new Soviet Union. Armed resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934.
  • Lenin went on to fix Russia’s economy by implementing the New Economic Policy, allowing farmers to keep some of their surplus crops allowing for some of them to get wealthy. This was a tactic to prevent further revolts.
  • The rest of the former Russian Empire was consolidated into the Soviet Union.
  • Trotsky and to a certain extent Lenin, believed that a Communist Germany was necessary for the survival of the U.S.S.R while Stalin believed that Communism wasn’t strong enough in the U.S.S.R in order to be exported. Stalin, in the end, came out victorious in the struggle for power and exiled Trotsky in 1929. Trotsky was later assassinated in 1940. Stalin tightened his grip on the Soviet Union by using purges, assassinations and a secret police named the N.K.V.D.
  • The Russian Revolution paved the way for the rise of communism as an influential political belief system around the world.
  • The Russian Revolution set the stage for the rise of the Soviet Union as a world power that would go head-to-head with the United States during the Cold War.
Russian Civil War Facts
Russian Civil War Facts