Defeat in Victory (April 1920–March 1921)

  • Robert Service


The crises awaiting them after their victory in the Civil War were slow to be fully appreciated by most Bolshevik officials. An excess of confidence was in the air. It was a dangerous mood for a governing party to adopt when its society was exhausted by years of military conflict. That the Politburo was not free from the prevalent optimism was shown by its handling of the border clashes with Polish troops which had been occurring intermittently since 1919. In the following year Josef Pilsudski, then the commander-in-chief of the Polish army, launched an invasion of the Ukraine. It was a most foolhardy step which, as he later recognised, was bound to raise the Ukrainian and Russian populations alike to the boiling-point of nationalist fury. The Red Army quickly recaptured Kiev. The Politburo, eager to drive every foreign soldier off Soviet soil forthwith, ordered its forces into hot pursuit of the hastily retreating invaders. Bolshevik newspapers carried story after story extolling the latest feats of Budenny’s cavalry and the other units which had salvaged Moscow’s military pride.


Trade Union Central Committee Local Committee Central Party Party Committee 
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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    E. H. Carr, The Interregnum, 1923–1924 (London, 1954), Part 2; R. B. Day, Leon Trotsky And The Politics Of Economic Isolation, Chapters 3–4.Google Scholar
  2. 58.
    M. Lewin, Lenin’s Last Struggle (London, 1969).Google Scholar

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© Robert Service 1979

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  • Robert Service

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