The Red Economy And Bolsheviks During The Russian Civil War

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During the Russian Civil War (1918-1923) between the Red Army (Bolsheviks) and White Army (counter-revolutionaries), the Soviet Union experienced two vastly differing economies, both incredibly significant for the country. The earlier of the two economic policies - War Communism - was more of a purist’s communism, whereas the later reforms - the New Economic Policy - were a more socialist view on Russia’s economy, which the Bolsheviks were forced to impose due to loss of widespread public support and economic disaster. Both of these economic systems were hugely significant, causing mass starvation, the breakdown of nationwide communications systems and NEPmen - small business owners who greatly benefited from the NEP. Although both systems …show more content…
Requisitioning was the main cause of problems for the Russian peasantry, as the peasants had no motive to produce any excess grain as it would be confiscated by the state, therefore the Bolsheviks had overestimated peasant food stocks. This meant they blamed a minority of richer peasants, the kulaks, for keeping the food to intentionally raise its price. Between April and June of 1918, the Bolsheviks switched from banning private food trade to trying to seize ‘kulak’ food stocks and confiscate their land. As the government had overestimated rural food supplies, this method victimised many innocent farmers without improving requisitioned supplies, and most of the grain used to sow the following years’ crops was taken by requisitioning brigades. This caused widespread famine, of which the death toll was so high that neither the Bolsheviks nor other organisations could accurately measure how many people died of starvation or the resulting diseases, although the figure is thought to be between 5 and 8 million deaths. Officials in one town even put out a statement advising starving workers to dig up the dried bones of animals, grind them into flour and make “bread substitute [that has] a nutritive value of 25 percent more than rye bread”. The famine affected people so much that eventually some turned to cannibalism, with reports of police having to protect cemeteries so they were not raided for human flesh, and human parts being sold on a black market for food. In another report, one woman was caught cooking human flesh - she later admitted to killing her daughter - so she could eat for a few more days. As a result of the devastating famine, many peasants who had fought (and deserted) in WWI revolted against the requisitioning brigades,’a band of hungry “partisans” had attacked a food train’, which often

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