Green Movement is the term used to describe peasant resistance to the Bolshevik government during the Russian Civil War.
The first rebellions against the Bolshevik government began in 1918 and increased with frequency and intensity through the civil war period. In 1918 and 1919 peasant rebellions were poorly organized and localized affairs, easily suppressed by small punitive expeditions. In 1920, however, after the defeat of the White armies, the Bolsheviks faced large, well-organized peasant insurgent movements in Tambov, the Volga and Urals regions, Ukraine, and Siberia.
The causes of the rebellions were similar. After the failure of Committees of the Rural Poor to bring a reliable government to the countryside, the Bolshevik regime relied on armed detachments to procure grain and recruits, and to stop the black market in food and consumer goods. The depredations of these detachments, the only representatives of the Soviet government that most peasants saw, became increasingly severe as war communism ground down the Russian economy. By 1920, many peasants had little grain left, even as communist food supply organizations made greater demands on them. Large numbers of young men—deserters and draft-dodgers from the Red Army—hid in villages and the surrounding countryside from armed detachments sent to gather them.
The Soviet-Polish war, beginning in August 1920, increased the demands on peasants for food and recruits, and stripped the provinces of trained, motivated troops. This allowed peasant uprisings that were initially limited to a small area to grow, with armed bands finding willing recruits from the mass of deserters and draft-dodgers. By early 1921 much of the countryside was unsafe even for large Red Army detachments.
The Green Movement of 1920 and 1921 was qualitatively different from the peasant rebellions the communist government had faced in 1918 or 1919. While many peasant insurgents fought in small independent bands, Alexander Antonov's Insurgent Army in Tambov and Nestor Makhno's forces in Ukraine were organized militias whose members had military training. Enjoying strong support from political organizations (often made up of local SRs [Socialist Revolutionists], Anarchists, or even former Bolsheviks), they established an underground government that provided food, horses, and excellent intelligence to the insurgents, and terrorized local communists and their supporters. They were much harder to defeat.
By February 1921 the communist government suspended grain procurements in much of Russia and Ukraine, and in March, at the Tenth Party Congress, private trade in grain was legalized. The end of the Soviet-Polish war in March also freed elite armed forces to turn against the insurgents. In the summer of 1921 hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers, backed by airplanes, armored cars, and artillery, attacked the insurgent forces. In their wake followed the Cheka, who eliminated support for the insurgents by holding family members hostage, making villages collectively responsible for guerilla attacks, shooting suspected supporters of the insurgents, and sending thousands more to concentration camps. Facing drought and terror, and with the abolition of forced grain procurement and military conscription, support for the Green Movement collapsed by September 1921. A few leaders, such as Makhno, slipped across the border, but most were hunted down and killed, such as Antonov, who died in a shootout in June 1922.
See also: civil war of 1917-1922; committees of the village poor; socialist revolutionaries; war communism
Malet, Michael. (1982). Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War. London: Macmillan.
Radkey, Oliver. (1976). The Unknown Civil War in Soviet Russia. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.
A. Delano DuGarm
"Green Movement." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/green-movement
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