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Has civil war in Russia begun?
The struggle for power in Petrograd - railway carriages used as prisons for captured Leninites. Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England] 7 December 1917.

Has civil war in Russia begun?

Petrograd, 18 December 1917 - Civil war was predicted for Russia and now, it appears to have begun.

The first clash between the Bolsheviks and Cossacks took place about 18 miles from Belgorod in south western Russia.

From Petrograd, the Council of the People’s Commissaries has issued a direct appeal to those opposing the new revolutionary regime of the Bolsheviks: ‘Cossacks! It depends upon you as to whether the blood of the brethren is to be shed. Unite with all the people against their enemies – Kaledin, Kornilov, Doutov, and Karaulov’.

The Bolsheviks have exhorted workmen and soldiers to demonstrate their loyalty to the cause through use of such watchwords as ‘Down with the Kaledins and Kornilovs, the enemies of the people’, ‘Down with the bourgeoisie’, ‘Long live the power of the Soviets’ and ‘The land, houses, banks, and factories for the people’.

In a clear statement of intent, the Bolsheviks have accused opponents of mounting a bourgeois rebellion against the people and they have threatened to arrest the political leaders of the counter-revolution.

Dr Judith Devlin, UCD, talks to Century Ireland about the drift from revolution in October 1917 to civil war in 1918

End to the war
As the new revolutionary regime faces armed opposition from within, it has been working to secure an end to the foreign war.

‘The war on the Russian front is already ended,’ Mr Trotsky informed a public meeting in Petrograd this week. Furthermore, he says that in the coming days the Germans would accept their conditions for an armistice of 28 days.

And who, he added, ‘after 28 days will want to fight again? If the Allies do not agree to stop the war on our front we must not stand on ceremony with them. If the Allied Governments do not agree to our conditions they will be thrown down from one week to the next.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.