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To What Extent Was the Red Victory in the Civil War Due to the Skill and Leadership of Trotsky?

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To What Extent Was the Red Victory in the Civil War Due to the Skill and Leadership of Trotsky?
The red victory in the civil war in 1919 may have been due to the skill and leadership of Trotsky who was the founder and first leader of the Red Army. As well as this there were other factors which contributed such as geographical factors, the unity and organisation of the reds and the support that they had.
The reds were victorious in the civil war due to the skill and leadership of Trotsky who had been made commissar for war in 1918. He restored harsh military discipline and professionalism to the ‘worker’s and peasants red army’ by reintroducing the death penalty for those who did wrong which meant that men were made to fight as more of an effective fighting force. He also reorganised the army and so it had a strict hierarchy and he brought back thousands of former Tsarist officers to train and command the units. To do this he held their families hostage which meant that their loyalty was ensured. In addition to this he attached a political commissar to each army of the unit and ended soldiers committee’s and officer’s elections which meant that the loyalty of the officers was ensured so he would retain power, For those men who were unable to fight, due to age or physical inability, formed labour battalions. This meant that the Front received more help and nobody had an excuse to not fight in the army and so it would prevent people from thinking they could use injuries to get out of the fighting. His good leadership is significant because he gave the military direction and so they were able to fight in a co-ordinated way which meant that they were a more effective fighting force. Although Trotsky was not much of a military strategist, he was the overall person in charge and his strengths were his energy, passion and organisational abilities. He made regular visits to the front where fighting was fiercest which meant that the men were given more support and their morale would be raised so they would be encouraged to carry on fighting and not retreat. This is significant because by keeping the men from retreating they were forced to continue in the war and so this led to the victory of the reds. In contrast, the white leaders were less effective than Trotsky. They were cruel and treated their men with contempt which meant that there was very little warmth or support for the white leaders from the men and many of them deserted. The level of discipline and corruption as a result of this was a very high. In Omsk where Kolchak's army was based, uniforms and munitions were sold on the black market while officers lived in brothels. So overall the whites were poorly led and so were ineffective against the well organised reds.
There were geographical factors involved in the victory of the reds. The Bolsheviks actually only controlled 15% of the Russian Empire but this area they did hold was the central area which included Petrograd and Moscow which were major industrial centres and had been modernised by Witte's policies between 1892 and 1903 especially the iron, coal and steel industries. This is significant because it mean that they reds had access to the resources which would allow them to make war resources such as weapons which helped them in the war. As well as this, the areas they held were densely populated being cities and this meant that they were able to conscript more men to fight and so their army was bigger. Having control of the cities also mean that they had control over the railways which was extremely useful because as a result of this they could effectively move men and resources around and they had access to the grain supplies. This is significant because the reds had a well equipped fighting force with large numbers unlike the whites who were vastly outnumbered. As well as this, the whites were scattered around the edges of the central area held by the reds so were separated by large distances which mean that communications, moving men and equipment and co-ordinating attacks was difficult. As a result of this the whites were an ineffective fighting force.
The reds had great unity and organisation which also contributed to the victory of the reds in the civil war. The Bolsheviks had a single, unified command structure which mean that everyone in the party was fighting for the same reason and so organising the troops and the attacks on the whites was much easier. It also meant that there were fewer internal disagreements and mutinies in the army leading to desertions. This is significant because it made the reds more powerful against the whites who were not as unified as them. The whites were made up of different groups who all had completely different aims and beliefs, they couldn't agree on whether they were fighting for monarchism, republicanism or for the Constituent Assembly. This meant that it was hard for them to co-operate and develop a political strategy. This is significant because as a result of this the whites could not come up with a military strategy which was co-ordinated because the white generals wouldn't work together as they didn't trust one another for example they were all suspicious of Kolchak's motives and intentions.
The red army also had a lot of support from the peasants which the whites did not have and this contributed to their victory. The peasant support was crucial because it supplied the main body of soldiers. In order to win over the peasants Lenin has legitimised their right to keep their land while the whites had made it clear that it would be restored to its former owners, Kolchak had actually given estates to landlords who hadn't owned them before the revolution and so the peasants were more likely to support the reds. The Bolsheviks had a core support group of some workers and soldiers but they didn't have widespread popular support as a result of War Communism and the way they managed the cities and food supply. But the urban workers and peasants wanted to protect the gains of 1917 which he reds seemed to offer the best chance of doing because the whites were associated with the old system of government. This is significant because it mean that the reds had a larger support base than the whites and so had a greater supply of soldiers.
To conclude the skill and leadership of Trotsky was the main reason for the red victory in the civil war. It was because of him that they were able to take control of the areas they held and keep it. By co-ordinating the army he made it much more effective than the whites and so they were able to defeat them.…...

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