The Tragic Russian Civil War

‘So I shall not see how Russia will be saved’.

The last words of General Denikin said in 1947 in exile in the USA.
In 2006 his earthly remains were interred in Moscow.


During the First World War the aristocratic Russian military elite, obsessed by old-fashioned fortresses and cavalry, which stood little chance against modern artillery and machine-guns, for the most part began the War by sacrificing their armies (much as the British, French, Austro-Hungarian and German aristocrat-generals). If they had been concerned for the ordinary soldier and his welfare, this could not have happened, for they would have followed sensible military tactics. Instead of blaming their own failings on a mainly illusory ‘shell shortage’, they would have overcome corruption, bureaucracy and inefficiency, training, preparing and equipping their soldiers properly. More generally, however, the War was lost because the continuity and development of the Tsar’s Russia was sabotaged by the selfish acceptance of alien ideologies by groups inside it. They could only think of their own interests and not the national interest. It was this that made the Revolution and then the Civil War inevitable.

The Civil War in the Russian Empire (1917-1921) is said to have caused 1.5 million deaths, including those of well over 200,000 who died in brutal mass executions. This figure does not include the many who also died of war-caused famine and pestilence, especially typhus, during and after this tragic period. A common myth, deliberately propagated by the old Soviet regime is that this was a war between two sides, the Reds and the Whites. This is untrue, for three sides were involved: the Greens, the Reds and the Whites, as well as small nationalist groups in outlying future republics. At various points any of the three sides looked as if they would be victorious. In reality the Reds defeated the Whites only because of help from the Greens, but then the Reds defeated the Greens, massacring their peasant representatives into the 1930s, long after the Civil War as such had officially ended. Who were these three ‘coloured’ groups?

The Greens

The Greens were the partisan populist army of the peasant masses, though among them there were political ideologues who called themselves Social Revolutionaries or Anarchists. Their interest was in owning land and their enemies were those driven by ideologies, Communist and Capitalist alike. Their slogans included: ‘Land and Freedom’. ‘Down with the Bolsheviks/Communists/ Commissars’. ‘Long live the free Soviets’ (councils). ‘Power to the People’. They resented the way that the Communist elite had taken over administrative councils or soviets, appointed top-down, and wanted freely elected soviets, democratically representative councils of the people, appointed from the grassroots. They rejected not only the injustices of the old bureaucrats and aristocrats, but also the injustices of the new Communist bureaucrats and aristocrats, the apparatchiks and commissars.

After the defeat of the Whites by the Reds in November 1920, next the Greens were defeated. By March 1921 the Civil War was officially over, although revolts continued in some outlying regions right up until 1928 and even after. The Greens had lost because of their divisions and anarchic lack of organization and national infrastructure. However, in reality the Green masses in their hearts never accepted the Communists and their sullen and terror-enforced acceptance of the new Bolshevik regime was punctuated by rebellions. These were ended only with the massacres of collectivization and the Stalinist purges, which themselves ended only with the second German invasion of the Russian Lands in 1941. Opposition went underground, it was suppressed, but it was still present and was only released when Soviet coercion and intimidation ceased in 1991.

The Reds

The Reds were anti-Tsar and therefore, as they were against this unique representative of the people, they were anti-people. And as they were anti-people, they were against the Church of the people and so anti-Church. Driven by the inhuman ideology of alien Communist policies, they committed the most bestial tortures and unspeakable massacres and martyrdoms. Most victims of the Civil War must be attributed to them. The Reds behaved as feudal lords, introducing a new serfdom. Terrorizing the population through violence, torture, denunciation and intimidation, they were never popular and their empire eventually collapsed in 1991, with little regret. They were inherently corrupt because they had no morality and their assumption of totalitarian control removed all initiative, causing the people to become irresponsible, demotivated and alcoholic (Why bother? The Party will do it and does not allow me to do anything anyway).

Nevertheless, the Reds won the Civil War. This was on account of their cunning organization and the ruthless efficiency of the elite Red Army that was their main weapon, allied with very effective propaganda. Their Red State was inherently a militaristic one which survived by force, a force which was highly privileged and produced a new ruling class, the nomenklatura. The Reds’ real failure was to become apparent only in the longer term, long after the Civil War, when the Communist ideology proved itself incapable of providing freedom, economic success and so gaining popular consent. This caused corruption and careerism, shortages and a black market, all of life being patterned by the ingrained dishonesty of socialism, which claimed to bring the ‘bright future’ of happiness, but instead brought the misery of oppression.

The Whites

On paper the Whites were those who wanted the return of the old regime. In reality, this was not the case, for there were two sorts of ‘Whites’. The fatal and fateful division between the real Whites, who wanted the restoration of the people’s Tsar and so justice, and the so-called ‘Whites’, who merely wanted the return of their own advantage with some form of Tsarless government, just as long as they could get their privileges and property back, was great. Indeed, this is why the Whites lost the Civil War; they had no uniting figure or belief, no clear social policy and policies on land and decentralization, which is why they were ill supported by the workers and peasant masses. Thus, the good elements in the White Movement, deprived of the Tsar, were often frustrated and totally compromised by the bad elements, self-seeking Duma masons and treasonous industrialists, aristocrats and generals, many of whom had rejected and slandered the Tsar long ago, broken their oath of allegiance to him, and had only self-interest at heart.

Examples included the ‘White’ General Kornilov, who had placed the Tsar and his family under arrest on behalf of the traitor Kerensky, the traitor-politician Shulgin, an anti-Semite who carried out acts of brutality in Kiev, or representatives of Admiral Kolchak, some of whom carried out the most brutal atrocities, for example in Omsk. Even some supporters of the very religious and moral White leader, General Denikin, carried out brutal acts of plunder and revenge, such as the killings in 1919 in Tambov. Such atrocities made some Whites seem no better than the Reds. Opinions vary regarding White leaders like Generals Yudenich and Wrangel, whereas real Whites like Generals Keller, Dieterichs and Nakhichevansky, who were murdered before they could obtain positions of authority, were admired. The Whites nearly won the Civil War in 1919, but they lost because some of them had rejected and broken their oath of allegiance to the Tsar, the only clear leader, and so had no united political platform and direction to meet the needs of the people.

The Tsar’s Non-Divisive Policies

Today, a generation after the fall of the Soviet Union and nearly a century after the events in question, the spiritual principles of the Tsar, whom not only the Reds, but a good many of the Whites betrayed, seem ever more relevant. In 1914 the Tsar had already wanted to restore Poland, once he had freed the parts of Poland occupied by Germany and Austria-Hungary, thus moving towards the inevitable decentralization and federalization that in fact would come only in the 1990s. Similarly, it was clear that he would also have given even greater home rule to Finland. As regards the land issue, it should be remembered that the vast majority of land already belonged to the people; however, Tsar Nicholas proposed to give every soldier 25 acres of land after the war, a proposition laughed at by treacherous aristocrats and bourgeois Duma politicians, who wanted power and land only for themselves. These called themselves White, but were not. The Tsar’s policies would thus have satisfied the Greens and undermined the key Green support for the Reds.

The Tsar’s ‘Green’ social policies from before the Revolution, many of them already far in advance of those in Western countries, would undoubtedly have developed further, unlike those of certain Capitalist-minded ‘Whites’, who in areas under their jurisdiction actually reversed them. As regards the future Tsar Alexei (born 1904), who, his haemophilia outgrown, could have lived until the 1970s or 1980s, as a child he had wished only for peace, prosperity and justice for the whole world. Who knows what reforms he, his son and his grandson, who would probably be on the Russian throne today, would have brought? The Tsar was a people’s Tsar, not an absolutist, in the Western model, and was betrayed by the selfish aristocracy. The one thing the Tsar refused to do was to kill his own people, which the Reds and some of the ‘Whites’ did. Had they all had the Tsar’s love for his people, instead of betraying him, and protected the people from Bolshevik ideologues and given them land and social protection, as did the best of the White Movement, they would have won the Civil War.


Had there been no Revolution, there would have been no Russian Civil War and Europe would have looked very different in 1918 from what it did. With Vienna and Berlin liberated in 1917 by victorious Russian armies, the First World War would have ended a year earlier and millions of lives would have been saved. Eastern and Central Europe would have resembled something like it does today, only it would have been a patchwork of sovereign nations, not nations controlled by the EU Reich, and nations with borders that reflect the ethnicity of their peoples. Nations like Turkey, Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Armenia and Serbia would look very different, and the borders of present-day Poland, Hungary and Slovakia would be different. As for Germany, the Tsar mentioned his clear intentions of dividing it back into separate nation-states, undoing the pernicious harm of Bismarck’s militarist unification of his Second Prussian Reich. Without the foolish Versailles Treaty of 1919, such a Europe would never have seen the genocidal massacres of the Third Berlin Reich, or the economic massacres of today’s Fourth Brussels Reich.

The Soviet Union, founded in a three-way Civil War, lasted for three generations. Although the worst of the Communist massacres were ended in 1941, but only by Fascist massacres, the enforced Union dragged on for another 50 years after that. Some would point to Soviet achievements, the victory in World War II and the conquest of space. However, the victory in World War II would not have happened because the war itself would not have happened. As regards achievements, all these, including electrification, had been prepared in the Tsar’s Russia and would have happened anyway, together with many other achievements that did not take place because the pre-Revolutionary elite had been murdered and exiled. And, above all, the massacres of Lenin and Stalin would not have taken place. The fact is that positive aspects of the Soviet Union were built on the solid education system (85% literacy in 1916) and well-advanced industrial infrastructure (the ability to win the Kaiser’s War by 1917) of pre-Revolutionary Russia. But all that was destroyed by the ‘treason, cowardice and deceit’ (the Tsar’s own words) of those who pursued their own selfish interests, instead of the interests of the whole of Russia and its economic modernization, all the while keeping its spiritual integrity.