The Cheka grew exponentially during this period. Hundreds of thousands were locked up, tortured and executed. Even bourgeois dress, intemperate jokes or scornful gestures might attract the attention of the CHEKA. Peasants who refused to meet state requisition orders were condemned kulaks – greedy parasitical speculators who hoarded grain and food for profit, while other Russians starved – and were subject to arrest, detention and execution. This Russian Revolution site contains articles, sources and perspectives on events in Russia between 1891 and 1927.

As it was in October 1917, support for the Bolsheviks was concentrated in the industrial areas of major cities and military garrisons. Under the auspices of the Red Terror, the size of the Cheka and the extent of their activities increased exponentially. The people caught up in Russia in 1917 actively looked to the French Revolution for inspiration - the Bolsheviks thought of themselves as Jacobins - and the Red Terror is a direct relation to The Terror of Robespierre et al. Often it was individuals who had distant associations with the old regime or those who dared speak publicly against Lenin, the Bolsheviks or their policies. As its name suggests, the Red Terror was conducted to intimidate and force ordinary Russians to obedience, as much as it was to eliminate opponents. Lenin's guilt is clear if once denied.

Historians debate whether the Terror was a Bolshevik response to the increasing opposition of mid-1918 or whether it was inevitable, given the history, ideology and methodology of the Bolshevik movement before it seized power. The violence consisted of the killing of tens of thousands of people (including 6,832 Roman Ca… Cheka agents targeted any individual or group considered a threat to Bolshevik rule or policies. The Terror was soon expanded to include anyone who might pose a threat to the Bolshevik party or its policies: former tsarists, liberals, Mensheviks, members of the Russian Orthodox church, foreigners, anyone who dared to sell food or goods for profit. The Terror targeted a range of groups including suspected counter-revolutionaries, Whites, tsarists, liberals, clergy and peasants who resisted Bolshevik policies. The true numbers of extra-legal killings were undoubtedly much higher, possibly approaching six figures. Among the victims of the Red Terror were tsarists, liberals, non-Bolshevik socialists, members of the clergy, kulaks (affluent peasants), foreigners and political dissidents of all stripes. He was also the man who canceled a Bolshevik vote banning the death penalty. The formal “Red Terror” began in September 1918. During the civil war, Lenin's central government enacted what they called the Red Terror. It was given a great deal of state support in 1918 after Lenin was nearly assassinated, but Lenin didn’t redouble it simply out of fear from his life, but because it had been in the fabric of the Bolshevik regime (and their motivations) since before the revolution.

The Red Terror was a program of mass repression, class extermination and execution carried out by the Bolshevik government during the Russian Civil War. Citation information As the Bolsheviks expanded their definition of who was an enemy of the revolution, they also expanded the Cheka. 4. The pretext was a nearly successful attempt on the life of Lenin by a Socialist Revolutionary, Fannie Kaplan. The pretext was a nearly successful attempt on the life of Lenin by a Socialist Revolutionary, Fannie Kaplan. The Red Terror was a two-year period of coercion, violence and extra-legal killing by the Bolshevik regime. Perhaps 500,000 died. In the first days of September, several Bolshevik leaders and Cheka commanders made public statements about the threat of counter-revolution and the necessity of using terror as a necessary tactic. Title: “The Red Terror” Their plans caused the start of a civil war, between the Bolshevik reds and their allies, and their enemies the Whites, a large range of people and interests who were never properly allied and who would be defeated because of their divisions. Looking suspicious, being in the wrong time at the wrong place, and being denounced by jealous rivals could all lead to imprisonment. “Bolshevik terror crept out of European Russia like a biblical pestilence, months before Dzerzhinsky publicly declare ‘We stand for organised terror’ and an official government terror campaign was formalised by the order ‘On Red Terror’ in September 1918. Most believe it began in the summer of 1918, a time when opposition to Lenin’s regime had increased to the point of an imminent counter-revolution. Channeling the Anger of the Russian Peasants, Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: 1918, Khmer Rouge: Regime Origins, Timeline, and Fall, French Revolution Timeline: 6 Phases of Revolution, Biography of Joseph Stalin, Dictator of the Soviet Union, World War I and The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Industry and Agriculture History in Europe, M.A., Medieval Studies, Sheffield University, B.A., Medieval Studies, Sheffield University. In time, this network of labour camps would become the notorious gulags used extensively by Stalin in 1930s. Though it became clear that Kaplan had acted alone, her actions triggered an immediate response against the Left SRs and other groups and individuals suspected of anti-Bolshevik violence or activity. Jamie Bisher. Later, industrial workers who failed to meet production quotas or dared to strike were also targeted. As 1917 progressed the PG lost credibility, the soviet joined it but lost credibility, and extreme socialists under Lenin were able to ride a new revolution in October and take power. The aims of the were twofold: because Lenin’s dictatorship seemed in danger of failing, the Terror allowed them to control the state and reforge it through terror.


Though official figures were much lower, most historians believe more than 100,000 people were executed during the Red Terror, a figure that does not include casualties caused by the Civil War. The intrinsic nature of repression in his extreme version of socialism clear. The Red Terror was a campaign of mass torture, murder and systematic oppression conducted by the Jewish Bolsheviks during 1918. This site is created and maintained by Alpha History. He is a traitor to the Revolution.

Historians have also debated both the nature and the inevitability of the Red Terror. However, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were happy to channel it. Date published: August 11, 2019 The function and methodology of the Terror were left up to the Cheka: anyone could be singled out for persecution, arrest or worse. On September 5th, the Central Committee issued a decree calling on the Cheka “to secure the Soviet Republic from the class enemies by isolating them in concentration camps”. 1.

On the other hand, the Red Terror launched by the Bolsheviks in 1918, including the murder of the royal family, convinced many in the West that this new breed was beyond the pale. The true impact of the Red Terror is difficult to quantify. Her motives were revealed in a letter written after the event: “I do not think I succeeded in killing him. Lenin received immediate medical care and survived this assassination attempt, though his life hung in the balance for a time. Arbitrary arrests, mass shootings, torture and imprisonment were an integral element of Bolshevik policy long before anti-Bolshevik armies gathered.” Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Terror wasn’t purely a creation of Lenin's, as it grew out of the hate-filled attacks which vast quantities of the Russian peasants directed against the perceived better off in 1917 and 18. Much of the Red Terror was carried out by the notorious Cheka under the leadership of Feliz Dzerzhinsky. This growing anti-Bolshevik sentiment had many parents. Many Western liberal and conservative historians, in contrast, claim that violence and terror were inherent in Bolshevik ideology and methodology. The Red Terror was a program of mass repression, class extermination and execution carried out by the Bolshevik government in the Russian Civil War. Uritsky’s murder was a retaliation for the Cheka’s execution of one of Kanegeiser’s own friends. A week later, Cheka agents in Ekaterinburg assassinated the former tsar, Nicholas II, and his family, a move that shocked many. 3. Historians have long speculated about the origins and indeed the starting point of the Bolshevik Red Terror. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The "Red Terror" was a particularly deadly Tyranid Ravener-strain that was a part of Hive Fleet Kraken's invasion of the galaxy, appearing two Terran years before the "official" start of the invasion in 990.M41. Kaplan was arrested, interrogated and tortured by the Cheka before being shot. The Bolshevik movement, itself forged in the heat of revolution, could only retain power through violence and intimidation; the Bolshevik regime could only impose policy or reform through coercion and class warfare. He is the author of the History in an Afternoon textbook series. On August 17th, Petrograd Cheka leader Moisei Uritsky was assassinated by a young cadet officer called Kanegeiser. To this end, a massive police state was created, which operated outside the law and which could arrest seemingly anyone, at any time, who was judged a class enemy. In October 1918, CHEKA commander Martin Latsis likened the Red Terror to a class war, explaining that “we are destroying the bourgeoisie as a class”. It was developed and implemented during mid-1918. Dzerzhinsky could simply explain the organisation’s work: for example the arrest and execution of 800 people in St. Petersburg in 1918 was explained away as those executed were ‘enemies of the state’ or ‘enemies of the revolution’. On August 9th, the Bolshevik leader issued his famous ‘hanging order‘, instructing communists in Penza to execute 100 dissident peasants as a public deterrent. Publisher: Alpha History

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Infuriated by the formation of White brigades and resistance and burgeoning uprisings among the peasants, Lenin called for a “ruthless mass terror” and a “merciless smashing” of counter-revolutionary activity. For more information, visit our FAQ page or Terms of Use. Revisionists and libertarian historians see it as a creature of its time, a frantic and panicked response to the anti-Bolshevik terrorism and opposition that erupted around Russia in the first months of 1918. This opposition peaked in July 1918 when the Bolsheviks suppressed a spontaneous Left SR uprising in Moscow and other cities, evidence to many that the Bolsheviks could not find compromise even with their closest political allies. URL:

Date accessed: October 19, 2020 “For the blood of Lenin and Uritsky”, said a pro-Bolshevik newspaper, “let there be a flood of bourgeois blood, as much as possible”. As soon as he recovered from what could have been fatal wounds, Lenin ordered the Cheka to carry out mass executions…. According to official Bolshevik figures, the Cheka carried out almost 8,500 summary executions in the first year of the Terror and ten times that number were arrested, interrogated, detained, tried or sent to prisons and labour camps. The wanton violence of the Terror soon surpassed the worst excesses of the tsarist Okhrana, the Nardonaya Volya and the terrorism of radical SRs in 1905. Authors: Jennifer Llewellyn, Michael McConnell, Steve Thompson If I regret anything, it is only that., 20th-century international relations: Bolshevik diplomacy. The Red Terror was a determined campaign that sought to eliminate opposition, political dissent and threats to Bolshevik power. Robert Wilde is a historian who writes about European history. A fortnight later, while Lenin was visiting a factory in Moscow, a young woman named Fanya Kaplan stepped forward from the crowd and shot the Bolshevik leader in the chest and shoulder. Historians of this view believe the seeds of the Red Terror were sown weeks before the anti-Bolshevik violence of mid-1918. A historian’s view: