The Revolution and the Civil War allowed the three Baltic Republics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) to delaclare independence from the new Bolshevik Soviet state. The Estonians declared their independence immediately after the Bolshevick Revolution (November 28, 1917). The Bolsheviks prepared to seize the country, but there was not yet an armistace and the Germans moved to protect Estonia. They also made the independence of the Baltics as German protectorates a provision of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. After the armistace on the Western Front (November 11, 1918), the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was abrogated. The Baltics aided by the Allies, especially the British fleet, and Germany were able to establish their independence.
Russian support for the Serbs was the immediate cause of Germany decalring war in 1914 and launching World War I. No country suffered more from the War than Russia's illprepared and supported peasany army. Casualties on the Eastern front were even grater than on the Western front. The Russian soldiers had little artillery support and were unprotected from German poison gas attacks. Russia's war effort undoubtedly prevented Germany from bringing the full weight of her army to bear against France and gaining victory in the first weeks of the War. Millions of Russian soldiers and civilians died in both the fighting and destruction as well as food shortages on the home front.
The first Communist state was of course the Soviet Union. The Revolution was a reaction to the privations of World War I (1914-18), in which the Russian people, suffered greviously. The Bolshevicks emerged victorious against a democratic Provisional Government (1917). The Russian Revolution is often described as a result of social forces that had been developing for centuries. A strong case can be made for the Revolution as a coupd'état that may have never occurred without the leadership of Lenin. [Pipes]
This led led to a distructive Civil war between Reds and Whites (1918-22). The old Imperial Army was shatered by the Germans. Many soldiers mutinied and killed their officers. People's Commisar for War Leon Trotsky organized a new Red Army, recruiting massive numbers of peasants and workers. The Bolshevicks attached political officers to all Red Army units to keep warch over the officers (many who had been in the old Imperial Army) and explain Communism to the largely illiterate peasant recruits. The Bolshevicks were especially concerned with the younger untained generation, untained by the Tsarist past and capitalism. The Civil War waged throughout Russia made it impossible for the Bolsheviks to concentrated their forces in an effort to retake the Baltic Republics.
The Russian Army had collapsed in front of the Germans. The Russian
people were starving as deperate. The Bolsheviks who had pledged bread and peace had no alternative but to seek terms. The Germans were thus able to force a humiliating peace on the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks had to ceede the Ukraine, its Polish territories, the Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), and Finland. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed in 1918 between the new Soviet government and the Central Powers. Russia gave up land for peace. This thus allowed the Russians to withdraw from the war, although at enormous cost. The Germans were thus able to withdraw substantail forces from the Eastern Front to reiforce the Western Front. The Germans rushed to attack before the America which entered the War in April 1917 could equip and train substantial forces which could come to the aid of the British and French. The Germans amassed their forces in 1918, hoping that they could break the Allies on he Western Front before the Americans who were arriving in France
in force would be ready to fight. The Breast-Litovsk Treaty was after the collapse of the Western Front was annulled by the Armistice between Germany and the Western Allies.
The Germans once the Russians were out of the war, massed their forces on the the Western Front in a massive attack to break the dead lock and win the War. The Allied lines wavered, but bolstered by the Amerivan infantry by then in France in considerable strength, the Allied held. When the Germans had exhauseted themselves, the Allies struck. Allied offensives on the Western Front cracked the German front forcing them back toward Germany. The German Navy mutined. Riots broke out in Germany cities. The General staff informed the Kaiser that they could no longer guarantee his saftey. He abdicated and fled to the neutral Netherlands. A German Government was hastily formed and asked for an armistice based on President Wilson's 14 Points. After determining that the request came from a civilian German Government and not the Kaiser or German military, the Allies accepted the German offer. The gun fell silent after 4 years of vicious fighting at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (November 11, 1918). There had been over 8.5 million soldiers killed and 21.2 million wounded.
It was the Estonians who most eagerly persued their independence. The Estonians declared independence immediately after the Bolshevick Revolution (November 28, 1917). The Bolsheviks prepared to seize the country, but there was not yet an armistace and the Germans moved to occupy Estonia (December 1917). The Estonians declared independence a second time (February 24, 1918). Konstantin Päts formed a provisional Government. The Germans made the independence of the Baltics as German protectorates a provision of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3). After the armistace on the Western Front (November 11, 1918), the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was abrogated. The Germans immediately began to withdraw. They recognized the Päts Government, but the Bolsheviks invaded (November 22). The Estonians aided by the Allies, especially the British fleet, and Germany were able to establish their independence.
The Latvians formed a national council after the Bolshevik Revolution (November 1917). The Latvians were unable to declare independence or create a national army as the Germans had occupied the country. The Germans did not want an independent Latvian republic. Rather they attempted to set up a Baltic duchy continued. With the German Army in Latvia, the Bolsheviks made no effort to invade. The Bolsheviks under the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk were required to agree to the loss of Latvia. After the German defeat on the Western Front and the armistace, the Germans began to withdraw from Latvia (November 11). The Latvians formed a people's council with moved to establish a republic led by Prime Minister Karlis Ulmanis. As its first important act, the council proclaimed Latvi'a independence November 18). The Bolsheviks moved against Latvia. Here a young British officer, Harold Alexander, played an important role leading the Landeswehr (essentially a small German force) in Latvia.
A Lithuanian conference of prominent Lithuanians met at Vilna (September 18-22, 1917). This led to the establishment of a national council and after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, a commitment to independence (December 11). The Germans had occupied Lithuania and encouraged the Lithuanians tondeclare independence. The Lituanians formally declared independence (February 16, 1918). The Bolsheviks invaded, but German forced prevented any important gains. The Bolsheviks under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3), however, were forced to recognize Lithuanian independence (March 3). The Germans also recognized Lithuanaia (March 23). The Germans convinced the Lithuanians to sign an alliance (May 14).
The Lithuanians decided to create a monarchy rather than a republic. They elected Duke William of Urach as their king (June 4). I am nor sure as the Kaiser Wilhelm's role in this. At the time it looked like the Germans now that the Russians were out of the War to achiece victory in the West. The defeat of Germany in the West changed the political situation. The Germans began withdrawing immediately after the armistace on the Western Front (November 11). The election of the king was canceled. Augustinas Voldemaras formed a government, but te political situation was unstable. With the withdrawlmof the Germans, the Bolsheviks invaded.
Pipes, Richard. VIXI: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger (Yale Iniversity Press: 2003), 264p. ("VIXI is Latin for "I lived." His parents managed to excape from NAZI-occupied Poland. Most of their family perished in the gas chambers. Some describe him as the intelectual archetct of America's victory in the Cold War.)
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