Red Terror in Soviet Russia I THE GREAT WAR Week 215

Red Terror in Soviet Russia I THE GREAT WAR Week 215

You want your former ally to come back into
the war, but their new government wants none of it. Well, you could attack them with your
armies and try to force them to join you, or maybe you could bribe their government’s
guards to murder their leaders and then install the government of your choice. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Canadians, the British, the
French, and the Americans all made headway on the Western Front, as the Germans effected
a general but limited retreat, finally acknowledging that their positions were untenable. Sir Douglas
Haig was making new plans for a big offensive there, over in Baku the Ottomans were beating
the British by force of numbers, and the Allies were by now in both Murmansk and Siberia. This definitely worried Russia’s Bolshevik
leaders. Back in July, Lenin told an audience that
Soviet Russia had reached its direst period. This was maybe true, since after the events
so far this year, Russia was now only about the size of 16th century Muscovy and the civil
war was growing and growing. He had reason to worry, since on the 31st, the Allies took
Bolshevik position 75 mi. south of Archangel on the Volgoda railway, and also this week
the Japanese captured Khabarovsk, north of Vladivostok. It was an important regional
base. On the morning of September 3rd, Pravda and
Isvestia ran sensational front-page stories announcing that the police had discovered
and broken a huge Anglo-French conspiracy designed to overthrow Soviet leadership and
install a new government that would bring Russia back into the war. The papers alleged
that the plot- known afterward as the Lockhart Plot- was based in Moscow under the direction
of Robert Bruce Lockhart, Chief of the British Diplomatic Mission to Moscow, and French Consul-General
Fernand Grenard. There was also a certain Sidney Reilly, the Ace of Spies who we did
a whole special episode about, who had spent over a million roubles to suborn the Red Army
troops that guarded the Kremlin. Over the rest of the week, the papers added
details: it was specifically the Latvian Rifles who were to be “bought”, and the plan
was to arrest the entire Council of People’s Commissars, shoot Lenin and Trotsky, and install
a military dictatorship, but the Latvian Rifles turned out to be un-bribable. Okay, that’s
one version of the story. However, in “Spies and Commissars”, Robert Service says the
plot was anything but “alleged”, and that French newspaper Le Figaro correspondent Rene
Marchand – who wrote to French president Raymond Poincaré about the plot, a letter the Russian
press also eventually published – also went to the communist authorities and told them
of the plot. The Cheka, the secret police, already knew, though. And after Lenin was
shot and badly wounded August 30th, and the Chief of the Petrograd Cheka was assassinated
the 31st, hundreds of Allied officials and residents were taken into custody. The British
Naval Attaché in Petrograd was murdered by the Bolsheviks in the embassy building, Lockhart was arrested, and Reilly fled the
country. The Cheka claimed that under interrogation, Lockhart said that London sanctioned the assassinations.
Lockhart denied this, was freed from prison – he had supposed diplomatic immunity – and
was exchanged for Maxim Litvinov, held by the British along with several other Bolsheviks
as guarantees for the safety of British subjects in Russia. The main result of all of this
was that the Cheka proclaimed a Red Terror, to root out other “opposition”, and officially
reinstated the death penalty. This week, 5,000 Socialist Revolutionaries were sentenced to
death by the Bolsheviks (Chronology), and a woman named Dora Kaplan was executed, believed
to have been the person who just shot Lenin. In Lockhart’s memoirs, written in the 1930s,
he categorically denied having any part in an assassination attempt on Lenin, and blamed
the whole thing on Reilly. Reilly by then was long dead. The Allies weren’t only advancing in Russia;
they still were on the western front. On the 2nd, spearheaded by the Canadians,
the British army broke through the German lines on a 37 km front. This was at the Drocourt-Queant
“Switch” Line, called the Wotan Stellung by the Germans, and it had been a vital cog
in their defenses. Two Canadian divisions and one British, with
59 tanks attacked at 0500. The switch was made up of two lines of trenches with concrete
shelters and machine gun posts. The wire belt was apparently 100 meters wide and parts of
it had to be cut by hand, but the Germans surrendered in large numbers. British Commander
Sir Douglas Haig would comment (Stevenson) that many of them did so without a fight and
that they seemed to be running away. His strategy of endless attacks up and down the front was
working. (Generals) “The effect on the German forces
facing this pressure was like a dam moving under the weight of floodwater; the wall shifts,
almost imperceptibly at first, then a small breach appears, and then, if the pressure
is maintained, the whole edifice – in this case the entire German line – is in danger
of being swept away. German Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff
called the order to fully withdraw the 25 odd kilometers to the Hindenburg Line. This
happened at night for the rest of the week. He has now decided on a purely defensive strategy.
The Hindenburg Line must hold at all costs. The Germans had already been withdrawing from
the west of the River Somme and were of course using the river as a protective barrier. But
on the 31st and 1st, in an operation designed by John Monash, the capture of Peronne by
Australian forces Germans to abandon fortified position on Mont St. Quentin. A lot of the British attacks now, disproportionally
many, were led by the Anzacs or Canadians as battering rams. This was both a testament
to the soldiers themselves, still potent after four years hard fighting, and to their leaders,
John Monash and Arthur Currie. And the top Allied brass was busy making new
plans. Last week I talked a bit about the big combined
Allied offensive to kick off at the end of the month, specifically the American part
of it to attack to the north, west of the River Meuse. As for the French attack, it
would be the French 4th Army under Henri Gouraud to the left of the Americans. They would attack
west of the Argonne and their job was to reach Mezieres. Much like the defenses facing the
Americans, the ones facing the French would be pretty tough. But this was going to involve a lot of transportation
of men and materiel. A couple hundred thousand French troops would have to come out of the
Meuse-Argonne sector and over half a million men into it – mainly Americans. There were
just three roads that covered the 100km between the two impending battle zones. The movement
would happen at night, but of course you still had to set up all the other stuff – the airfields,
the hospitals, some railways, all of that. Some numbers now from David Stevenson’s
“with our backs to the wall”. By the beginning of September, the French estimated that the
Germans had 44 reserve divisions in the west. The Allies had 75. This is a huge shift in
the balance of power over just, like, 6 weeks. The German army on the Western Front took
228,000 casualties in August 1918, but only got 130,000 replacements. G. J. Meyer points
out that of those 228,000, 110,000 were listed as missing, which is a nice way of saying
that they – or most of them – deserted. (World Undone), “When newly captured troops
arrived at the holding pens created by the Allies for their growing hordes of prisoners,
those already inside welcomed them with cheers… The impossibility of a German victory had
become clear to all the senior commanders on the Allied side and to most of their German
counterparts. Germany’s only hope, if any hope remained, was to take action on the diplomatic
front before it, like Austria-Hungary, had nothing left to offer.” But the Germans in the west weren’t the
only ones thinking that victory was impossible. The Ottomans attacked the British outside
of Baku again the 31st, and again the British were mauled by superior numbers of infantry
and artillery. The Armenian reserve battalions refused to go into battle, though, which caused
British commander Lionel Dunsterville to decide that future defense of the oil city was a
waste of time and lives. He told the five dictators of the Centro-Caspian Dictatorship
that he and his men were soon going to evacuate the city since nothing could stop the Ottomans
from taking it. And down in Africa, German General Von Lettow-Vorbeck’s
forces were attacked on the Upper Lurio River near Anguros by two British columns. He retreats
after heavy losses in killed and captured. And that’s the week- ever further advances
on the Western Front as the Germans retreat to their mightiest defenses, Ottoman success
in the Caucasus and Allied success in Russia, even as an Allied plot sparks a wave of official
terror. Officially declared by the government. Like,
they said, “now we’re going to have a terror campaign and kill lots of people who
probably did nothing and we’ll consolidate power by fear.” And that sounds like something
genuinely diabolical, but compared to what else was going on, it really wasn’t. Just
one of those things that happens in 1918; madmen and butchers lead new nations, relics
of a long ago age lead the old ones, tens of thousands of people die pretty much daily
from influenza, and hundreds of thousands of people die monthly from the Great War.
Same old same old. If you want to learn more about Sidney Rilley,
the Ace of Spies, you can click right here for our episode about that. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Brian
Dunmire. Please consider supporting us on Patreon, this should would not have been possible
without you. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next

100 thoughts on “Red Terror in Soviet Russia I THE GREAT WAR Week 215

  1. OOTT Question: In the event of the Bolsheviks seizing Russia, were the Allies prepared to militarily support independence revolts, like the Karelians from their landings in Murmansk, in case an Allied-friendly government could not be established?

  2. The Communists liberated the world from the dictatorship of the "White man" (Western civilization). And helped civilization centers (such as China and India) to restore its former power. For the sake of a harmonious MULTIPOLAR WORLD!
    The destruction of the WESTERN COLONIAL world ORDER IS a PRIDE of ALL RUSSIAN (more than space flight or victory WWII).

  3. If anybody is interested in the Red Terror of 1918 I highly recommend Solzhenytsn's Gulag Archipelago.
    PS: It's CHEKA or VChK (VeCheKa) not Tscheka. It's an acronym for Vserossiskaya CHrezvychaynaya Komissiya – All-Russian Extraordinary Committee (the bolsheviks loved themselves some committees alright)

  4. Hey Indy, and hello to everyone at "The Great War".

    I've a question about trench layout. There was a mythbusters episode that looked at the claim that the Germans insisted that all their trenches had to have sharp right angles at any corner, so as to limit how far an explosion in one could travel along it. If I recall it was found to work, but did the Germans or any other nation do this?

    Thanks for the excellent content, here's to you all!

  5. The Australian capture of Mont St Quentin deserves more. Rawlinson declared that action the finest of the war. 5 German divisions were pushed back.

  6. I’ve been following this story since just after you started. It’s amazing to see the western front actually move. And move in big ways that aren’t being moved back. After years of this, it’s striking how quickly this is happening.

  7. Hey Indie love the show everyone is amazing and AWESOME. Tell them that. I was wondering Did Erwin Rommel (The Desert Fox) mimic any of Lettow-Vorbeck tactics.

  8. Indy & Crew, could you do a Special Episode on Spanish Flu? Thanks and more power to your channel (also to the new WW2 channel)

  9. At the beginning I was like, "they are definitely going to do the first thing.
    Spoiler alert
    They didn't do the first thing.

  10. Allied victory simply means the end of the war is nigh. It seems like the Germans are collapsing. Was there an effort being made by the allies at this time to keep the war going? How could the allies allow this war to end? The war organizes all their society. Its end will mean the end of the organizing principle of their society. Therefore the war cannot possibly be allowed to end. What efforts are being made to sustain the war — to sustain the organizing principle of all of Europe.

  11. What is going on in Austria? Last I recall the Germans had taken command of their armies, but I didn't think they were out of the war. Have I forgotten something?

  12. can't beleave only 5 episodes left, will you continue this channel with some more episodes about the negotiations after the war is over?

  13. Indy, the Red Terror was a healthy reaction to what was going on. Lenin was almost killed, SRs tried to take over, and the Reds are losing territory, while their followers and just ordinary people are brutally killed by Whites and other such bandits. What exactly do you do in such a situation? Do you just roll over and let your enemies get you? It's a fact that Soviet territories had a lot of White agents, destroying them was a necessity to gain the upper hand in the war.

  14. Robert Service is a right wing, virulently anti-Communist author whose writings are filled with slander and misinformation. Hardly a reliable source.

  15. With the war in the west ending in about 2 months what do you plan for the time after that? Will there be more weekly episodes about the negotiations for the peace treaties and the civil war in russia or will you just cover it up with a few summarizing episodes like the Balkan wars before the weekly episodes started. And what will you do after this project ends?

  16. I've been watching these since June of 2014. I have to say that its really put some heavy perspective on the entire affair. over the past few years I've realized how long and costly the war was. Its just shocking really. In a way, 100 years later we live in a world that stands yet in the great wars shadow.

  17. I just realized,
    This channel is like……
    News real shorts of the 1930's & 40's….
    With more details and less bias….

  18. Dear Great War,

    I love this show. I've learned a huge amount by watching this but I was wondering. Would the show continue after the armistice and the Treaty if Versailles later on to mention the immediate effects of the war and also the Kronstadt Rebellion in the Soviet Union in the early 1920's.

    Thanks for taking your time out to read this. Keep up the great work 🙂

  19. Indy the whole Lockhardt plot was a Cheka deception operation from day one see the wiki bio of Sydney Reilly.
    The victims of the RED Terror include Ex Tsarist war Minister General M A Beliaev and Ex Tsarist Minister of the Interior A N Khvostov who you have mentioned.
    Moisei Uritsky was assassinated 30 August 1918 right before Lenin

  20. When you think about it, the Russian revolutions and the birth of the Soviet Union is one of the biggest examples of irony in history. Russians wanted a better life but got someone worse.

  21. Lev Trotsky is was actually my great-great-great uncle once removed. We still have old family photos (sadly not featuring him, since they were taken when he was studying in college). I have mixed feelings about him, but it's a very important part of my family history. I appreciate you making this video so much!

  22. it's amazing how much detail they put into this i mean week by week in an over 4 year war is hard,
    props to the great war channel

  23. The west enacted its plan to topple the Tzar, but its plan was not bolshevism; bolshevism was a German plan to topple the Western puppet Kerensky masonic regime and gain territory in the ost.

  24. ''The attempt on my life has left me scarred and deformed , but i assure you my resolve has never been stronger''…In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Russian Empire will be reorganized into the first Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , for a safe and secure society…''

  25. Very educational but as you summed up at the end, thousands have died of influenza and battles "same ol', same ol'." I imagine for those in the trenches kept wondering when will it ever end?

  26. Indy and crew – Question?
    Where and what is August von Mackensen up to at this time in the war? After Romania things get kinda quiet with his story – Seems like at this point, it would be a "all hands" situation, and von Mackensen has proven himself to be reliable, dedicated, and competent, did Hindenburg and Ludendorff not want anybody in their spotlight on the western front?

  27. Jesus Christ, the reds' stupidity and virtue signaling in this comment section is killing me. Do me a favor, please, and stop reading on this point.

  28. «There are thirteen or fourteen very able men in the Kremlin who hold all Russia and more than a third of Europe in their control». — Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 23 October 1946

  29. Many Nations would have adopted "terror" like the Soviets do. You're in a war situation (civil war), in a desperate situation because your retreating on all fronts, besieged on all fronts, and people are shooting your senior leaders. It was not that Germany or France were lenient to peacemongers during the war years. Deserters and mutineers faced the death penalty and they usually dind't try to kill their nation's senior leaders. The "Red Terror" really isn't that exceptional as people make of it.

  30. As Churchill said (in 1949, though he said similar things at the time of the Red Terror), “I think the day will come when it will be recognized without doubt, not only on one side of the House, but throughout the civilized world, that the strangling of Bolshevism at its birth would have been an untold blessing to the human race.”

  31. I have always said that Haig is not a great general (Lee, Montgomery, Wellington), but a solid overall commander. He is the British version of Grant, a man who kept learning, kept the pressure up knowing sometimes the calculus is the way to win, and who finally uses his learning and momentum to kick in the door. The 100 Days doesn't make up for mistakes at The Somme and Flanders (which I have defended at least in part because of what he faced and the challenges with French, Italians, and Russians). But he rightly deserves credit for his generalship in 1918, from response to Michael to this 100 Days.

  32. "The British naval attache in Petrograd was murdered by the Bolsheviks in the embassy building" What? That's the only mention Francis Cromie gets anywhere on this entire channel? And he's not even named. The guy deserves his own special! He smuggled British submarines into the Baltic in order to interdict the Swedish Iron route, and ended up running the British espionage operation in Russia. When the Bolshies attacked the British embassy he defended the building more or less by himself, killing three of them. He's the only British naval attache in history to die in combat. His death was front page news in Britain and caused a national outrage.

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