ENGL 583 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel, American Relief Administration, Alexander Kolchak
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Civil war 1919-1921 → multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the Russian
Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest
combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism, and the loosely
allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring monarchism,
capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. Eight
foreign nations intervened against the Red Army. The Russian Civil War was the greatest national
catastrophe that Europe had yet seen. The Red Army defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia
in Ukraine and the army led by Adm. Aleksandr Kolchak in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the
White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late
A little bit of direct fighting between the US and Reds. There are 11 countries that send troops to Russia
during the civil war. It is far too few troops to make a difference, the Reds won the civil war.
→ situation of Poland at the end of the civil war : After the great war, Poland is reconstituted as an
independent country. After the Great War, France and UK decided what its borders should be and they
decided to follow the Curzon Line : demarcation line between the Second Polish Republic and Bolshevik
Russia, and was supposed to serve as the basis for a future border. As a result of the Russo-Polish war,
Poland ends up gaining territory outside of this border.
The US start to participate in the Civil War but not that much. They don’t put much effort to help the
Whites win, but enough to bother the Bolsheviks. Still they see the US as far away and they always
waited for an opposition from the US so it is not a surprise.
For the 1920-1930s, the two countries ignore each other. There is no official diplomatic contact. There
are very little unofficial contacts.
Comintern : 1919-1943 → headquarters are in Moscow. Its called the third international.
Communist parties in countries (like France, USSR …) could be part of the Comintern only if they
accepted what USSR would decide. The Comintern was still weak because of the Civil War which was
bad for Russia.
Famine in 1921 : The soviets don’t want to recognize that there is a famine. In June 1921, Maxim Gorky
decides to tell the world that there is a famine. The American secretary of commerce was an anti-
communist, Herbert Hoover and he was also the head of a semi-private organization : ARA.
The ARA was created to feed european after the war. But even after the ARA (American Relief
Administration) hasn’t been abolished. They wanted to provide food and medical care for 1 000
000 russian children but they end up helping 10 000 000 russians. The russians recognize their
problem and accept with no problem to thank the US → not still the Cold War.
During this period the Soviet government is promoting a system of autarky. During the 1930, things
change in USSR. Stalin gets elected, Lenin dies in 1924. In 1929, Stalin wants to turn Russia from an
agricultural country into an industrial country. In 10 years, he wants to catch up on industrial countries.
For that, they need to import technologies from abroad which is against autarky. For that, the US are the
best in the world. They become a major source for technologies and personnel to teach the working
system created by Ford.
→ Major famine in 1932-1933 (Holodomor). The US tries to help, but the Soviet won’t admit that there
is a problem. Some argue that this should be qualified as a genocide. There is a desire to import american
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