In 1917 Lenin and the Bolsheviks, known as the Communists or Reds, had seized control over Petrograd and Moscow quite easily. However, they controlled only part of Russia and many groups opposed them. The Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries and supporters of the Tsar said they had no right to rule. Collectively, these opponents became known as the Whites. The Whites were opposed to the Reds for two main reasons: they seized the land, property and factories of the well off and they attacked religious beliefs. By the end of 1918 civil war had broken out in Russia between the Whites and the Reds. The Whites were supported from abroad by the Allies; Britain, France, the USA and Japan. The Allies opposed Lenin in retaliation for his Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with Germany in March 1918. They had also lost capital and property as the Reds refused to repay loans which had been made to the Tsar's government, and had nationalized foreign owned businesses' in Russia without compensation. Yet, despite a large number of anti-Bolshevik groups within Russia, who were backed by the most powerful countries in the world, the Bolsheviks did eventually win the Russian Civil War. But why? Fresh from seizing control of Russia from the hands of the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks' next step was to safeguard their fragile grip on the reigns of power. Lenin negotiated peace with Germany and therefore an end to Russia's role in World War I. He could not, however, avoid a civil war in Russia. The Bolsheviks were made to fight for control of the country.
The Russian Civil War raged from 1918 until the start of 1921. During this time, the Bolsheviks faced massive opposition to their rule in the form of the White Armies, led by former officers of the Tsarist state, and also from intervention by the forces of foreign countries. The Bolsheviks were surrounded, often outnumbered by their opponents, and had no experienced military commanders. At times, their situation seemed hopeless....
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