Category Archives: Issue 1


The first issue of Journeys into the Past features eleven essays, four historical journeys, and one opinion piece (in a section entitled “Past and Present”).  We will continue to publish articles written by Miami students in these categories in future issues.

The essays in this issue come from Stephen Norris’s course “Russia in War and Revolution.”  Timed to coincide with the centenary of 1917, the course required all students to pick one object from the incredible Andre de St.-Rat Collection in King Library’s Special Collection.  These objects are rare materials from the First World War, Russian Civil War, and early Soviet era.  Working with Miami’s incredible Slavic Bibliographer, Masha Stepanova, students wrote short essays that contextualized their source.  As you will see, these sources help us understand the words, images, emotions, and arguments from 100 years ago.

Our four historical journeys come from Miami students who traveled to interesting locales.  Written mostly as visual essays, these pieces allow us to see Prague’s history, the tragic legacies of the Vietnam War in Laos, and the continued relevance of the Great War in France.

Finally, our Past and Present submission draws parallels between the polarized political climate in the contemporary US and Latin American political problems in the recent past.

Enjoy your journeys into the past!


RUSSIA’S REVOLUTIONARY SOURCES. PART III: POEMS. “Blok and Revolutionary Aftermath.”


By Jake Hensh

Блок, Александр. Двенадцать. Blok, Alexander. The Twelve. Oxford : Miami Special Collections, 1918.

Throughout the Havighurst Colloquium series on “Russia in War and Revolution,” one of the most edifying and eye-opening experiences was the reading of primary sources. By examining such sources, one can ascertain the thoughts and emotions of individuals actually experiencing the events firsthand; hardly is there a better lens through which to analyze history. During the years 1914 to 1921, the continuum of crisis that Russia experienced,[1] proved to be a complete watershed event, resulting in the eventual downfall of one regime and the beginning of another. In such a series of events, it could easily be posited that the people of Russia experienced a fundamental shift in their national identity.

The Romanov dynasty, which had been one of the only two ruling regimes in modern Russian history, had fallen. Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks filled its place, and the ensuing civil war gave credence to this notion of identity loss. During this time, a variety of different social groups formed under the umbrellas of different colors: The Reds, Whites, Blacks, and Greens, along with other groups that cannot be fit into a revolutionary color palette. In essence, turmoil, chaos, and anarchy had manifested in the wake of the both the war, and the October Revolution. One could ask what this breakdown of infrastructure and outbreak of violence meant for the future of Russia come up with a variety of reactions to these events. One of the predominant ways in which this time period can be analyzed is from a cultural standpoint: how did the intellectuals, artists, and writers react to these events? Alexander Blok provides what could easily be described as one of the most engaging artistic interpretations of this time in his work, The Twelve.

Blok was most widely renowned, and is currently remembered today, as one of the most famous of Russia’s Symbolists. Helen Muchnic describes his work as, “Allusive, mysterious, evocative,” yet “In his lines are the readily understandable Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevskii.” (Muchnic, 17) Anyone who has not studied Russian history should understand the gravity of such a statement; likening a poet to Pushkin is no laughing matter. Written in 1918, The Twelve, or Dvenadsat’ (pictured above) gives the reader a firsthand look into the mind of Blok himself, and has been described as his crowning achievement (Chukovsky, 140). Of all the incredible primary sources in Special Collections, I found this source to be so captivating in two different ways. The first is through an interpretation and comparison of the poem itself in tandem with the illustrations of the different editions. The illustrators of Blok’s story (predominately Y. Annenkov and V. Masyutin) had many conflicting thoughts and impressions of the work. The ensuing results were entirely different depictions of the same parts of the poem. If the reader is interested in this style of analysis, see the essay by Emily Oneschuk, which provides an in-depth look at the points of view of the illustrators, and Blok himself. The second manner of interpretation is to see how this source speaks to the conflicting national identities that were emerging in Russia at the time.

The Twelve has been occasionally deemed the poem of the Russian Revolution. (Muchnic, 16) During my initial reading, I found myself slightly confused. It appeared disjointed, with little to no unity in coherence or themes. It jumps from depictions of a blizzard, to members of the Red Guard marching through the streets, to prostitution, and finally, to Jesus Christ miraculously appearing and leading the twelve soldiers at the end of the story. These themes and the harsh language employed throughout the work served as the basis for a barrage of criticisms from other scholarly writers and the Bolsheviks themselves: some said it was praising the revolution and therefore should be disowned as Russian. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, criticized the poem for being overtly religious. Blok denied both of these accusations. He was not a Bolshevik supporter, but merely supported Lenin’s coup because he preferred it to the military violence seen previously in 1917 (The Twelve, Blok), and furthermore hinted at denial that the poem had religious intent, despite criticisms, in his correspondence with Yuri Annenkov (Chukovsky, 151).

Blok’s work would largely deviate from other depictions and reactions to the revolution in its immediate aftermath. For example, on one hand, in his work Ten Days That Shook the World, John Reed provides a Westerner’s account of many of the Bolshevik leaders from a firsthand perspective. He glorified the revolution and Lenin himself praised the work as nothing short of an “accurate” depiction of the events. In it, Reed concludes that, “The Peasants’ Congress expresses its firm conviction that the union of workers, soldiers, and peasants… will consolidate the power conquered by them… and that it will assure in this manner the lasting accomplishment of a just peace and the victory of Socialism.” (Reed, 313)

On the other hand, however, one of the most lauded Russian émigré writers of the time, Ivan Bunin, takes the exact opposite approach. In his work, Cursed Days: A Diary of Revolution, Bunin openly acknowledges that he believes the revolution to be a tragedy and a destruction of true Russian national identity. The collection of stories has been described as, “The (mostly) immediate reactions of a man whose instincts have been proved eminently right; who know that, with the victory of the Bolsheviks, the worst would happen.” (Knorr) Bunin largely expresses his detest with the literature being produced during the time of the revolution, and this massive discontent explains his inevitable departure from the country. Both Reed and Bunin’s reactions offer clear and decisive opinions about the events of the revolution and the Bolshevik’s seizure of power; yet, Blok’s work does not.

As aforementioned, there is no general flow of language, his contemporaries harshly criticized it, and his intentions for the poem were largely unclear. This may lead one to believe that The Twelve is merely a tangential poetic work that defied the Russian revolutionary paradigm. However, if one were to consider the general ambivalent sentiment of educated society in Russia at the time of its publication, the disorganized nature of the poem makes perfect sense. Upon its completion, Blok considered himself a genius. What he sought to accomplish was not to portray the revolution from a particular point of view, or make a statement about which side he supported; he simply attempted to illustrate the world around him. In the wake of a continuum of crisis in Russia in 1918, there was chaos, uncertainty, and a general ambivalence that permeated through Petrograd about future of the people’s nation. This landscape is captured in The Twelve, and if one finds him or herself confused and lost throughout a reading of this poem, then Blok certainly accomplished his goal of putting the reader into a first person point of view of the uncertainty that was going to prevail.

Works Cited

Блок, Александр. Двенадцать. Oxford : Miami Special Collections, 1918.

Blok, Alexander. The Twelve. Ed. Avril Pyman. Oxford: Special Collections, n.d.

Chukovsky, Kornei. Alexander Blok: A Man and Poet. Oxford: Special Collections, n.d.

Knorr, Katherine. “The New York Times.” 27 June 1998. The New York Times . 10 December     2016 <  revolution.html>.

Muchnic, Helen. “Alexander Blok.” The Russian Review (1953): 16-24.

Reed, John. Ten Days That Shook the World. Random House: The Modern Library, 1934.


Suggested Readings

For further understanding into some of the themes and other opinions on the revolution mentioned in this essay, see to the following material.


          Blok, Alexander. Scythians

          Bunin, Ivan Alekseevich, and Thomas Gaiton Marullo. Cursed Days: A Diary of Revolution.

            Gorky, Maxim. Untimely Thoughts: Essays on Revolution, Culture, and the Bolsheviks, 1917-1918

            Holquist, Peter. Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia’s Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921

            Medvedev, Roy. The October Revolution.

            Sanborn, Joshua. Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire

[1] The term is Peter Holquist’s from his Making War, Forging Revolution:  Russia’s Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 (Harvard University Press, 2002).

Jake Hensh is a first-year MA student in Political Science.

RUSSIA’S REVOLUTIONARY SOURCES. PART III: POEMS. “Indecision and Interpretation A visual analysis of Alexander Blok’s The Twelve”





By Emily Oneschuk

The following documents were the basis for this paper and can be found in the De Saint Rat collection of the Havighurst Special Collections Library.

Blok , Aleksandr Aleksandrovich. Dvenadtsat’.: Berlin: Neva, 1922.

Blok, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich. Dvenadsat’. Skify. Paris, 1920.


Masyutin, Vasily. Critique of Dvenadsat. Miscellaneous essay.  Berlin, Feb 1922.


In his poem, The Twelve, Alexander Blok captures the squalor and darkness that followed the arrival of Bolshevism in 1917. The “morning after revolution,” to employ a term used by Anne O’Donnell, that Blok depicts was a time after the Bolshevik seizure of power that was characterized by chaos, disillusionment, and confusion. Blok was a member of the intelligentsia, which put him in the unique position of being a separate entity from both the common people and the new ruling party. The publishing of The Twelve forced Blok to be viewed as even more of an outsider; Blok’s literary peers and friends viewed the poem as a pro-Bolshevik work because it did not explicitly denounce the revolution. Despite the sentiments of Blok’s peers, the Bolsheviks took note of the religious undertones of the work and denounced the author because they felt he was promoting the old ways.

The poem thus proved quite contentious after its publication:some of the most interesting analysis of the work can be seen in its illustrations. The Twelve was illustrated numerous times in several countries, each depiction revealing a new way of looking at Blok’s work. Two of the most intriguing Russian illustrators included Vasily Masyutin and Yurii Annenkov, whose works are included on the cover page. Masyutin illustrated the poem in 1922 while living in Berlin, working independently of the author. Unlike Masyutin, Blok personally commissioned Annenkov to illustrate a version in August 1918, seven months after the poem’s initial publication. Blok heavily influenced Annenkov’s illustrations, and Annenkov’s memoirs help to detail exactly what the author wanted his poem to say (which at times is not very clear, even to Blok himself). While Masyutin’s and Annenkov’s illustrations follow the same monochromatic and serious theme, each illustrator was able to convey a very different sentiment by selecting which scenes and characters to depict.

The most popularly illustrated scenes in the poem are Kat’ka the prostitute’s death and Jesus’s appearance at the end of the poem, which not coincidentally are the scenes that Blok discussed most with Annenkov. By looking at Annenkov’s memoirs and his correspondence with Blok, it is evident that Blok had no strong political or religious intentions for his poem. Blok intended to describe the world around him and any political or religious sentiments were seemingly coincidental. Even the appearance of Christ at the end of the poem was not something he intended; in a discussion with Annenkov he lamented that he did not want to place Christ there, he only did so because could not think of something to replace him. Annenkov’s view of the poem is similar to that of Blok’s. He did not find the poem to be especially prophetic, and saw the religious illusions to be portrayals of communist leaders, not a revival of a forgotten Holy Russia.

Masyutin, on the other hand, was obsessed with the religious imagery in The Twelve. He illustrated it for a version published in Berlin and wrote a passionate critique of the poem. In it, he described the poem as monochromatic, with a “bloody red stain of spilled blood.”  Masyutin sees the poem as being an almost religious description of the events of the revolution. To Masyutin, the twelve soldiers in the poem are reminiscent of the twelve apostles, and their march is congruent with the inevitable progression of fate and time. He put a lot of emphasis on Jesus’s role at the head of the procession, a role that he ascribed to the inevitability of salvation. In his final image, Christ is a calm, imposing figure at the front of the military procession, proudly holding the flag of his nation and leading his people to a newfound salvation.

Blok did not share Masyutin’s idea of Christ’s role in the poem. He was  indecisive regarding the topic and had so much trouble deciding how Christ should be portrayed that Annenkov eventually refused to illustrate him. At first, Blok wanted Christ portrayed as a large figure next to a flag, then as a minor figure next to the troops, and at one point wanted him in Kat’ka’s picture, which he wanted to use for the cover of the book. Annenkov recognized that no matter how he portrayed him, Blok would be unsatisfied and in the end, he refused to illustrate Christ alltogether. The final illustration in Annenkov’s collection does not include Christ, but instead focuses on the march of the soldiers into the night and emphasizes the vast and empty spaces that they are patrolling.

Blok simultaneously loved and disapproved of Annenkov’s illustrations. Through the course of their correspondence, he changed his opinion on the image of Kat’ka and Christ numerous times. At first, he raved about the image of Kat’ka, saying she should be blown up to full poster size and that the book should be printed larger to accommodate the grand scale that this image required. Then he decided he did not like the model and that a healthier, plumper Russian girl was needed. She was supposed to be a vibrant, cheerful girl and Annenkov had portrayed her in an overly cynical, realistic manner. The resulting picture is striking and very emotional; Ka’tka is dramatically sprawled on the ground, while her lover Petruhka looks on, distraught and heartbroken. Masytin does not focus on Kat’ka at all in his illustration, but instead puts emphasis on the soldiers leaving the scene and moving on through the city. There is a lack of feeling in Masyutin’s imagine; Petruhka appears to look only mildly shocked at the death of his lover and there is nothing remarkable about the dead girl strewn about on the street. Again, Masyutin’s focus here is mainly religious and very different to that of Blok and Annenkov. The march of the twelve (and thus, the progression of life and salvation) continues on, regardless of what terrible tragedies befall mankind.

The focuses of these two artists are based on very different interpretations of Blok’s writing: one guided by the author himself, and the other, a passionate manifestation, totally unaligned with what the author intended. As demonstrated by Masyutin’s interpretation, Blok’s vision was very different from what his peers and rivals ascribed from the poem. His work can be seen as a parallel to the revolution; its intentions not fully understood by its creators or its audience, and its effects unpredictable, controversial and contradicting.


Works Cited


Annenkov, Yurii, George Waldemar, Aleksis Rannit, and Evgeniĭ I. Zami︠a︡tin. Dnevnik Moikh          Vstrech: T︠s︡ikl Tragediĭ. New York: Mezhdunarodnoe literaturnoe sodruzhestvo, 1966. Print.

Emily Oneschuk is a senior Mechanical Engineering and REEES major.



Fig. 1, Album of Revolutionary Russia Cover.

By Riley Kane

DK265.15.A43 1919

Al’bom revoliuitsionnoi Rossii = Album of Revolutionary Russia. [New York] : Russian Socialist Federation, [1919], 1919.

The Album of Revolutionary Russia is a photo album depicting people and scenes from the early Soviet Union between 1917 and 1919.[1] The book contains few words, only picture titles and brief descriptions that are often little more than the names of people or translations of Russian language visible in the photograph. This leaves the images to speak for themselves. The album was produced by the Russian Socialist Federation as a work of propaganda, seeking to promote Bolshevism and the emerging Soviet Union.

The Publisher of the Album

Considering the scant text within the album, an understanding of its publishers, the Russian Socialist Federation (RSF), would offer insights into its purpose and intended message. The album was produced during a tumultuous time for the American socialist movement, shortly after the album’s publication it suffered a major split. The American Socialist Party divided into the Communist Party of America (CPA) and the Communist Labor Party (CLP) in 1919 over disagreements on revolutionary socialism and internationalism that resulted from the Russian Revolution.[2] Both parties broke from the pre-existing American Socialist Party. The CLP focused on the United States and sought to ensure its movement was “an ‘American’ movement, not a ‘foreign’ movement.” This “treacherous ideology” exacerbated divisions between the CLP and CPA.[3]

The RSF was one of many socialist groups organized around ethnicity, in this case, Russian immigrants, and after the split it joined the CPA. In 1918 the RSF resolved to struggle for “the seizure by the working classes of power… with the object of effecting Socialistic overturn.” Additionally they considered themselves “revolutionary socialists” who were “[t]aught by the lesson of the Russian revolution.” The RSF was pro-Soviet, and committed to the “realization of [their] Bolshevik program.”[4] It is clear the album was produced as a propaganda tool.

The Album Itself [5]

The book was produced to show Americans the Bolshevik state and depict it in a positive light. Interestingly, this may have been a novel idea among American socialists, suggested by Jason Martinek in Socialism and Print Culture in America, where argued that their “radical use of literacy… placed an inordinate amount of faith in ordinary people” to grasp benefits of socialism and that such practices “sometimes, if not often,” worked against the interests American socialists.[6] The American socialist movement needed good propaganda, because they were fighting an uphill battle. Aside from the historical unpopularity of socialism in the U.S., which was further undermined by the First World War, there was also the problem of Americans’ perception of Russia.[7] Westerners have historically seen Russia in negative terms: Western civilization versus Russian barbarism, progress versus backwardness, and in the 20th century, democracy versus totalitarianism.[8] A major effort of the Album of Revolutionary Russia then must have been to promote a positive image of Russia and Bolshevism while addressing historical Western preconceived notions.

The reader is greeted by photographic portraits of Lenin and Trotsky, then a litany of ministers, many responsible for unexciting-sounding positions like the People’s Commissar of Post and Telegraphs. The album appears to show the entire government. This was likely necessary, to put names to faces Americans read about in the papers and to prevent other people from being recognized as important leaders, which occurred in anti-Bolshevik albums such as Blood Stained Russia.[9] The Russians placed great importance on images of their leaders, perhaps the RSF, as a body of ethnic Russians, was following that tradition.[10]

Fig. 2, The All-Russian Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal [11]


One of the first pictures was a cheery shot of the “Kronstadt Council of Sailors and Workers Smiling,” which looked like an image out of a family album, depicting the revolutionaries as personal and warm. “The All-Russian Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal” also appears to make an effort to connect the revolution to ordinary people, the caption which describes the membership of the committee reads: “[f]rom left to right, a Factory Worker, a Soldier, a Peasant, Zhukov [the president], an Artisan, a Soldier, a Clerk.”[12] The RSF was trying to highlight that common people are being placed on an important governmental tribunal, but merely referring to the people by their professions rather than including their names seems oddly dehumanizing and might not have been the best choice in attempting to appeal to Americans.

Fig. 3, Enlistment of Volunteers for the Red Army


There are many pictures of soldiers in uniform, but some carrying arms were wearing civilian clothes, likely shown to demonstrate the popularity of the revolution and perhaps to try and connect those Red Guards with the American Revolution’s militia and minutemen to encourage a positive association between the revolutions. The photo “Enlistment of Volunteers for the Red Army” depicts rather excited peasants joining the Red Army. I suspect this picture was staged to play into Western perceptions of Russian backwardness, the picture seems too over-the-top with the young men waiting attentively or clustered excitedly around the desk. When viewed in combination with a photograph of students at “The First Soldier’s University” it appears the RSF is using these images in concert to portray Bolsheviks as a beneficial, modernizing influence on the Russian people—playing into a stereotype to challenge it.[13]

Fig. 4, Bourgeoisie at Work


The “Bourgeoisie at Work” is an interesting picture, one that seems like just the sort of despotic image that would fuel and anti-communist fears in America. Perhaps the album was meant for distribution among the poor, who would enjoy seeing the rich cut down to size, or perhaps the RSF misjudged their audience. The final picture, “Long Live the International,” showed another potentially counterproductive image of a crowd celebrating the global ambition of communism before a banner depicting a world map. It was an interesting note to end on, not explicitly aggressive, but suggestive of future expansionism.

The Album of Revolutionary Russia compares interestingly with Blood Stained Russia, another album of photographs in this collection that covers roughly the same period. Where this album is pro-Bolshevik, the other is openly anti-Bolshevik, and interestingly anti-German, painting the Bolsheviks as a mixture of German puppets, stooges, and spies. Its abundant text provides a clearer window into its author’s thoughts and motivations. The album discussed here does not address the question of Bolshevik loyalty to Germany, perhaps because it was published after the war.


Works Cited:

Draper, Theodore. The Roots of American Communism. New York, NY: Viking Press, 1957.

Dune, Eduard M. Notes of a Red Guard. Edited and Translated by Diane P. Kroenker, and S. A. Smith. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Frame, Murray, Boris Kolonitskii, Steven Marks, and Melissa Stockdale editors. Russian Culture in War and Revolution: Book 2. Political Culture, Identities, Mentalities, and Memory. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2015.

Glisic, Iva. ”Caffeinated Avant-Garde: Futurism During the Russian Civil War 1917-1921.” Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 58, no. 3 (September 2012): 353-366.

Martinek, Jason D. Socialism and Print Culture in America, 1897-1920. New York, NY: Routledge, 2016.

Miller, Sally. “Socialist Party Decline and World War I: Bibliography and Interpretation.” Science & Society, vol. 34, no. 4, American radical History (Winter, 1970): 398-411.

Schneirov, Richard. New Perspectives on Socialism I: The Socialist Party Revisited. The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, vol. 2, no. 3 (July 2003): 245-252.

U.S. Department of Justice. Bureau of Investigation. Minutes of the 4th Convention of the Russian Socialist Federation. September 28-October 2, 1918. NARA M-1085, reel 938, document 341853. Published by 1000 Flowers Publishing. Accessed December 7, 2016.

Poe, Marshall T. A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Further Reading:

Miller, Sally. “The Socialist Party Schism of 1919: A Local Case Study.” Labor History, vol. 36, is. 4 (1995): 599-611.

See also in the Henri de St-Rat Collection:

DK 265.15.T46

Thompson, Donald C. Blood Stained Russia. New York : Leslie-Judge Co., 1918.

[1] Russia under Bolshevik rule did not become the Soviet Union until December 30, 1922. For Simplicity’s sake I will refer to Russia under Bolshevik rule prior to that date as the Soviet Union.

[2] Richard Schneirov, “New Perspectives on Socialism I: The Socialist Party Revisited.” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, vol. 2, no. 3 (July 2003): 247.

[3] Theodore Draper, The Roots of American Communism (New York, NY: Viking Press, 1957), 187.

[4] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation, Minutes of the 4th Convention of the Russian Socialist Federation, September 28-October 2, 1918, NARA M-1085, reel 938, document 341853, published by 1000 Flowers Publishing, accessed December 7, 2016,

[5] The only citation I discovered for the album was in Notes of A Red Guard, where the pictures were used as ancillary sources in the translated autobiography of Eduard Dune, a Bolshevik and Red Army soldier. Little if any proper scholarship appears to have been performed on the album itself, nor does it appear to have been utilized in many historians’ studies; Eduard Dune, Notes of a Red Guard, ed. and trans. by Diane P. Kroenker and S. A. Smith (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993).

[6] Jason Martinek, Socialism and Print Culture in America, 1897-1920 (New York, NY: Routledge, 2016), 116.

[7] Sally Miller, “Socialist Party Decline and World War I: Bibliography and Interpretation,” Science & Society, vol. 34, no. 4, American radical History (Winter, 1970): 403-404.

[8] Marshall Poe, A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 3-4.

[9] Thompson, Donald C, Blood Stained Russia (New York, NY: Leslie-Judge Co., 1918), 193, also in  Henri de St-Rat Collection, it shows a picture claiming to be of “Lenine and Trotzky,” perhaps those are the  men pictured because they definitely are not  Lenin and Trotsky.

[10] Boris Kolonitskii, “Russian Leaders of the Great War and revolutionary Era in Representations and Rumors” 27-29, in Russian Culture in War and Revolution, Murray Frame, Boris Kolonitskii, Steven Marks, and Melissa Stockdale eds., Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2015.

[11] Unfortunately, none of the album’s pages are numbered, so whenever I refer to a picture I use the full English title as it appears written in the album and I discuss the pictures in their order of appearance.

[12]The All-Russian Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal, in description under image, in Album of Revolutionary Russia (New York, NY: Russian Socialist Federation, 1919).

[13] Iva Glisic,”Caffeinated Avant-Garde: Futurism During the Russian Civil War 1917-1921,” Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 58, no. 3 (September 2012): 353.

Riley Kane is a senior History major.



By Courtney Misich

DK265.15 .T46

Thompson, Donald C. Blood Stained Russia. New York : Leslie-Judge Co., 1918.

This medium-sized, red book, Blood stained Russia, offers insight into the American views of the Russian Empire, war effort, and subsequent Russian Revolution.  Donald Thompson and Florence MacLeod Harper were in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) during the February Revolution when Thompson decided to record the revolution. MacLeod described the process and published work in the following way: “no important scene in the great Russian drama from the time of the overthrow of the Czar and the brief triumph of the unhappy Russian people, down through the various stages of their undoing by the malignant forces in Berlin until the final overthrow of the Provisional Government, that Captain Thompson did not see and record.”[1]   These photographs and their captions describe the Western, specifically American, perspective of the Russian Revolution through the descriptions of the sides and causes of the revolution.

In order to understand this source, the photographer and author Donald C. Thompson‘s purposes for being in Russia need to be clarified. David Mould’s biography depicts Thompson as a war photographer that relished in the danger and adventure.[2] Thompson had several encounters with the law; first for impersonation of army personnel and eight times during the First World War front for not having official permission to be there. Once at the front, he stayed in the trenches with the soldiers. Thompson’s pictures captured the war, specifically the Western front, for the American public. He toured the front with the Belgian army and interacted with the German military on a frequent basis.  When Thompson went to the Eastern front, he believed “the Russian army, which had been mobilizing for six months, could change the course of the war.”[3] He provided footage for films on the Eastern front with the Tsar reviewing the troops and Russian troops fighting. In January 1917, he went to Russia with Florence Harper through China and the Trans-Siberian railroad. They stayed in Petrograd with trips to Moscow and the front lines filming everything that preceded the October Revolution. The images were originally released as a film titled The German Curse in Russia, which was released December 1917.[4] Thompson’s views of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky are clear to readers in the film and this work through the captions he provides.

Thompson frames the work with periodized themes such as “Before the Revolution” and “Hospital Conditions at the Front,” which appear simple until one examines the photograph titles.  The pictures portray the Bolsheviks being supported by the Germans, loyal Russians being led astray, and the aftermath of war and revolution in Russia. It is important to note, as Joshua Sanborn has written, that “this antagonism [towards Germans] had been present in central Russia and elsewhere in the empire before the war.…an increasing number of people were growing exponentially angrier and more hostile toward the German element in their midst”[5] Before the February Revolution, it was widely believed that the Russian Army’s military inadequacies in part stemmed from German propaganda and spies that had infiltrated the Russian government. Thompson described “when supplies were kept back by pro-German agents in Petrograd headed by the Minister of War, Soukhomlinoff,”[6] as the one of the main causes of the problems in Russia that led to the revolution as well as the betrayal of the Tsar.  The betrayal by the Tsar is represented by a picture of Rasputin, which described him as “the evil genius of the old regime.”[7] Thompson depicts these outside influences within the Russian government and military as the causes of the revolution.

Figure 1 the Monk Rasputin, the Evil Genius of the Old Regime in Russia, Surrounded by Admiring Women[8]


Bloodstained Russia focuses on the February Revolution until the October Revolution with a continued focus on the Germans as the perpetrators of the Provisional Government’s failing. The view of Germany’s baleful influence in Russia is a constant presence throughout the book and demonstrates the American perspective that the German government was funding revolutions in other countries to win the war.  An image in the “Parades and Labor Riots of May” shows the protest that occurred in support of the war. It is captioned, “As time went on, however they became disheartened. German propaganda insidiously demoralized them and parades like this became fewer and fewer.”[9] The perspective of the power of the German propaganda even went initially as far as the Bolsheviks.  Significantly, Thompson utilizes the term “German” to include the Bolsheviks and only separates them when he is forced to.  Sanborn has also described the connections between the Bolsheviks and Germans in the popular mind. He writes “Bolshevik ties to Germany nearly undid them…The Bolsheviks had willingly taken huge payments from a Germany government that had come to see revolution as a far more feasible option for knocking Russia out of the war.”[10] This lack of distinction altered once it became clear to Thompson that the Bolsheviks were challenging the Provisional Government.

Figure 2 A Parade in Advocacy of a Vigorous Offensive against Germany[11]


Furthermore, the connections between the Bolsheviks and the Germans are clear with Thompson’s photo titled “Here are seen some of the banners which Lenin had had made in Germany.”[12]  The representation of the Bolsheviks as connected to Germany is one characterized in respect to their perceived disregard for human life and as agents of chaos. Thompson described their methods as a campaign of terror where they attempted to seize the government, shooting up the town with machine guns, and anarchistic. As the revolution continued, Thompson recorded the changing attitudes at the front with soldiers believing that their German comrades would not harm them.  The changing perspective was best summarized with a statement from one of the soldier’s at the front, “the Germans were their brothers and would no longer kill them.”[13] This changed view stems from increased interaction at the front, as soldiers such as F. Zakharin described.[14] This view was quickly dismissed with images of Russian soldier who had died in German gas attacks and the continued fighting at the front.

After focusing on what Thompson labels “front stuff,” the album turns to the October Revolution, with its “Bolsheviki riots, armoured cars, and crowds.” The American war photographer displays his support for the Provisional Government and Kerensky. His portrayal of Kerensky is the opposite of the Bolsheviks:  photos capture him actively trying to work for the Russian people, running the war, and honoring Russia’s fallen men. Thompson shows Kerensky arming workers and utilizing the Soviets to defend Petrograd from “General Korniloff.” However the so-called Kornilov [Korniloff] Affair is not depicted visually, and the album suddenly turns toward the Bolsheviks in power. By the end, Thompson calls the Bolsheviks “anarchists controlling the Russian government.”

Bloodstained Russia provides an American perspective of Russia in the First World War and revolution. The work captures an anti-German mindset held by Americans and some Russians. At the same time, Thompson’s album contains more than just anti-German attitudes. For those who are interested the Women’s Battalion of Death, Thompson’s work contains nearly thirty photos of the unit, their training, and leader, Maria Bochkarieva. Additionally there is significant representation of front hospitals, medical care, and the impact on society from the war with orphans and shortages.

In many ways, Blood Stained Russia attempts to counter more positive accounts of 1917 promoted in such pro-Bolshevik albums such as the Album of Revolutionary Russia. This book, as Riley Kane argues in his paper, tells a different story using photographs taken as the same time as Thompson’s.[15]  Just as the meanings of 1917 were fought over on battlefields, so to were they contested in print.

Figure 3 Types of Russian Soldiers[16]




“New Russian War Film.: Donald Thompson’s Pictures Show Regiment of Women in Training,” in New York Times December 10, 1917.

Album of Revolutionary Russia. [New York] : Russian Socialist Federation, [1919].

Daly, Jonathan W.  and Leonid Trofimov, Russia in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: A Documentary History. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009.

Mould, David Harley. Donald Thompson: Photographer at War. Kansas State Historical Society, 1982.

Sanborn, Joshua. Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire. Oxford, 2014.

Thompson, Donald C.  Blood stained Russia. New York : Leslie-Judge Co., 1918.

Thompson, Donald C. Donald Thompson in Russia. New York: Century, 1918.

Thompson, Donald C. Fighting the war. Los Angeles: Flicker Alley, 1916.

Suggested Readings

Billington, James H. “Six Views of the Russian Revolution.” World Politics 18, no. 3 (1966): 452-73. doi:10.2307/2009765.

Castellan, James W., Ron van Dopperen, and Cooper C. Graham, eds. American Cinematographers in the Great War, 1914-1918. Indiana University Press, 2015.

Dopperen, Ron Van. “First World War on Film.” First World War on Film. 1970. Accessed December 14, 2016.

Goldenweiser, Nicholas. “Antecedents of the Russian Revolution.” The American Political Science Review 11, no. 2 (1917): 383-85. doi:10.2307/1944013.

Lieven, D. C. B. The end of tsarist Russia : the march to World War I and revolution. n.p.: New York, New York : Viking, 2015.

PBS Online. “American Photography: A Century of Images.” Photography and War.

Poe, Marshall.  A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Ray-Dye, Chelsea. “Within the Looking Glass: How a War Photographer Became a Hero during World War I.” IUSB Undergraduate Research Journal of History 5 (2015): 185.

Stewart, H. L. “Some Repercussions of the Russian Revolution.” International Journal 1, no. 3 (1946): 218-28. doi:10.2307/40194082.

Von Mohrenschildt, Dimitri. “The Early American Observers of the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921.” The Russian Review 3, no. 1 (1943): 64-74. doi:10.2307/125233.

Von Mohrenschildt, Dimitri. “The Early American Observers of the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921.” The Russian Review 3, no. 1 (1943): 64-74. doi:10.2307/125233.

Zimmerman, William. “The American View of Russia.” The Wilson Quarterly (1976-) 1, no. 2 (1977): 118-28.

[1] Donald C. Thompson, Blood stained Russia, ( New York : Leslie-Judge Co., 1918) v.

[2] David Harley Mould, Donald Thompson: Photographer at War, (Kansas State Historical Society, 1982), 154.

[3] Mould, Donald Thompson, 163.

[4] “New Russian War Film.: Donald Thompson’s Pictures Show Regiment of Women in Training,” in New York Times (December 10, 1917), 15.

[5] Joshua Sanborn, Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire (Oxford, 2014), 95.

[6] Thompson, Blood stained Russia,10

[7] Thompson, Blood stained Russia, 19.

[8] Thompson, Blood stained Russia, 19. “The Monk Rasputin, the Evil Genius of the Old Regime in Russia, Surrounded by Admiring Women”

[9] Thompson, Blood stained Russia, 44.

[10] Sanborn, Imperial Apocalypse, 224-225.

[11] Thompson, Blood stained Russia, 44. “A Parade in Advocacy of a Vigorous Offensive against Germany”

[12] Thompson, Blood stained Russia, 136.

[13] Thompson, Blood stained Russia, 164.

[14] Jonathan W. Daly and Leonid Trofimov, Russia in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: A Documentary History (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009), 86-87.

[15] Album of Revolutionary Russia. [New York] : Russian Socialist Federation, [1919].

[16] Thompson, Blood stained Russia,200. “Types of Russian Soldiers”

Courtney Misich is a second-year MA student in History.




Smert’ Kommandera Pashkevicha. 1920. Photographs, 1917-1920s. Miami University Special Collections. Oxford, OH.


The Death of a Revolutionary: Commander Pashkevich

To most European nations, the First World War stood out as the most devastating conflict that had yet been seen. As the war drew to a close in 1918, most combatant nations experienced a brief reprieve from conflict until 1939. For the former Russian Empire, however, the strains of total war proved too great to bear. The Russians found themselves within the throes of revolution, the catalyst for which had been the campaigns of First World War, and subsequently experienced further conflict. Russian revolutionary intentions came in many different colors – the Bolshevik Reds who sought Communist transformation in Russia and the predominantly Imperially-leaning White forces, to name to the two most significant groups. The White armies stood, at least in their minds, as the last bulwark against Bolshevism in the former Russian Empire and fielded a wide array of soldiers – many of whom gave their lives in the Civil War.

One such soldier was Commander Pashkevich, an officer of White allegiance. As I browsed the documents and artifacts of Special Collections, the visage of Pashkevich in this photograph captivated me. His seemingly peaceful pose, with cross in hand, complemented by his adornment of an all-white vintage Imperial uniform spoke volumes not only about Pashkevich himself, but also the values for which he and his fellow White soldiers fought. In an effort to uncover more about this man and the role that he played in the larger struggle to contain the socialist revolution in the wake of Russia’s capitulation in the First World War, I proceeded to search for information about his regiment and service.

The information on the reverse of this photograph was a great starting place, having provided me with nearly all of the data that one could hope for in the pursuit of uncovering Pashkevich’s story. It reads: “Commander of the 2nd Kornilov Regiment – Officer Pashkevich – Killed in battle under B. Toklakom – 15 July 1920 – On the day of regimental celebration.” Already, this caption informed me of his name, status, affiliation, and date of death. Many facts, however, still eluded me such as the location of his regiment, the battle in which that he fought, and what the “day of regimental celebration” was. Thankfully, other Russian languages sources, one of which by M. N. Levitov located within Miami’s Special Collections helped to contextualize Pashkevich and his unit.

In Levitov’s “Kornilovites in Battle, Summer – Fall 1919,” I found mention of the 2nd Kornilov Regiment and, most importantly, of Commander Iakov Antonovich Pashkevich himself.[1] Commander Pashkevich, I discovered, had been made a commander of the White Army’s 2nd Kornilov Regiment due to his experienced nature both as a machine-gunner in World War I as well as his achievements in the fight against the Bolsheviks. For the latter, he was regarded as an “old Kornilovite.”[2] Already this led me to make some probable speculations about Commander Pashkevich. Most notably, that his service as a ‘Kornilovite,’ in a regiment labelled also with Kornilov’s name, meant that Commander Pashkevich was probably a man who was against the Provisional Government and the Bolsheviks, as General Lavr Kornilov was, seeing them both as traitors who were attempting to betray Russia.[3]

Pashkevich did not have an easy time as a member of the White Army and fought hard to earn respect from his fellow officers. He was a prominent figure in the White campaigns against Nestor Makhno and the Reds on the Ukrainian front of the war.[4] His capacity to lead and the degree to which he impressed his comrades in multiple battles around Rostov and Kharkiv earned both Commander Pashkevich as well as the men under his leadership the accolade of being blessed and presented with the icon of St. Prince Vladimir on July 15th 1919 –  a date that, one year later, would mark the end of Pashkevich’s life.[5]

Though they had some success early in the war, the lifespan of the 2nd Kornilov Regiment would mostly follow that of Pashkevich. In July of 1920, the 2nd Kornilov Regiment attempted to head off a powerful Red Army cavalry attack and Pashkevich was mortally wounded by a gunshot to the head.[6] Despite having fallen on the field of battle, Pashkevich’s body was recovered and he was commemorated for his service. That he died on the day of his regimental holiday was noted in the funerary services, as his ashes were spread near the waters where his regimental patron was supposedly baptized.[7] Having earned the award of the Order of Saint Nicholas for his service with the Whites, and having solidified his reputation as a “Kornilovite-initial-leader” for valor at the battles of Kursk and Orel, Pashkevich met his end on the Southern Russian front a proud fighter for “national historic Russia.”[8] In time, Bolshevik strength gradually drove back resistance forces throughout Russia and under the pressure of Communist strength the result of the war was ultimately an exile from which sparse few would ever return.

Those White officers and soldiers who survived the Russian Civil War suffered a fate analogous to death, at least in their minds, in that they were doomed to fight for the survival of their values abroad. Most often, Whites in exile consolidated their efforts in European metropoles to maintain their way of life and to preserve the memory of such martyrs for their cause as Commander Pashkevich. Many other photos in this collection, such as the photo “The Development of Franco-Soviet Relations After 1917” with accompanying description by Heidi Hetterscheidt, instantiate this attempt to salvage the remains of the White cause in exile after their defeat and one can imagine that the memorialization of officers like Pashkevich were crucial to the success of that enterprise.[9]

Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, with the defeat of the White Armies and the manifold other factions of the Russian Civil War, the Bolshevik Reds consolidated control over what became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The cost of the Red victory was, however, truly incredible – nearly a million Russian lives were lost in the Civil War to speak only of the combatants. Compounded with the deaths of nearly two million Russians in the First World War, the scale of devastation experienced by the Russian Empire, the provisional intermediary Russian state, and the fledgling Soviet Union defined the opening decades of the 20th Century in Russia. Amidst this devastation, Pashkevich, by way of this photograph, stands out as an intimate reminder of the cost of revolution. That is to say, he was a man whose legacy and historical importance were tempered in the savagery of war and whose life was ultimately cut short in defense of an ideal that survived only in the alien sanctuary abroad. Stories such as these give a face to the experience of Russia in the early 20th Century and are, in so doing, invaluable to the historical project of recovering the history of the White Army.






Smert’ Kommandera Pashkevicha. 1920. Photographs, 1917-1920s. Miami University Special Collections. Oxford, OH.


“The Development of Franco-Soviet Relations After 1917,” Photographs, 1917-1920s, Miami University Special Collections, Oxford, OH


Print Sources:

Russia in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: A Documentary History. Translated and Edited by Jonathan Daly and Leonid Trofimov. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009.


М.Н Левитов, Корниловский ударный полк. “Смерть Пашкевича.” Oxford: Miami Special Collections, DK 265.23.D6 K676. Excerpts also available at

[1] Корниловский ударный полк. Париж, 1936; Левитов М.Н. Материалы для истории Корниловского ударного полка. Париж, 1974. Accessed 8 December 2016,

[2] Idem.

[3] Russia in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: A Documentary History, Translated and Edited by Jonathan Daly and Leonid Trofimov (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009), p. 96-99

[4] Корниловский ударный полк. Париж, 1936; Левитов М.Н. Материалы для истории Корниловского ударного полка. Париж, 1974. Accessed 28 November 2016,

[5] Idem.

[6] М.Н Левитов, Корниловский ударный полк, “Смерть Пашкевича,” (Oxford: Miami Special Collections, DK 265.23.D6 K676), p. 466-468

[7] Ibid., p. 467-468

[8] М.Н Левитов, Корниловский ударный полк, “Смерть Пашкевича,” p. 466-468

[9] “The Development of Franco-Soviet Relations After 1917,” Photographs, 1917-1920s, Miami University Special Collections, Oxford, OH

Jake Beard is a second-year MA student in History.



By Heidi Hetterscheidt

Beginning with Peter the Great, the Russian Empire became increasingly influenced by numerous Western influences and ideas; however,  Russian elites exhibited a rather strong admiration toward French culture in particular.  Cultural aspects such as language, cuisine, dress, and etiquette spread throughout the Empire as Russian elites strove to emulate this desired lifestyle, showcasing the utmost elegance and sophistication.  While they strove toward becoming more Western, the Bolsheviks worked toward a different goal, one that aimed in theory to build a worldwide utopia, but that also aimed to  obtain power and expelling all bourgeois Western and tsarist influences, which eventually happened during the watershed event of the October Revolution in 1917.

The aftermath of this revolution led to further conflict within Russia, ultimately a Civil War, and inevitably the exile and mass emigration of Bolshevik opponents who were defeated during this struggle for power.  These refugees scattered the globe, settling in major cities such as Shanghai, New York, Berlin, Prague, and several others. However majority of them fled to Paris.  As one scholar has written:

To reach this haven refugees fleeing from the Soviet regime had either to cross Poland and Germany by land or sail from Black Sea or Balkan ports to southern France through the Mediterranean.  Even so, that country was a popular choice for exiles.  This was thanks to the close ties already established between France and Russia before 1914, the memories of their recent wartime alliance, and the admiration of the Russian liberal intelligentsia for the French and their political system (Raymond, 23).

Obviously, the work that Russia put forth before 1917 paid off and the French were now willing to help their former admirers.  While at this point in time, the French government welcomed the struggling Russians with open arms, over the course of the 20th century, these political opinions began to transform, thus resulting in a total reversal of policies regarding Soviet exiles and the Soviet government itself, as declared by the French government.  The relationship between the two allies was a turbulent one and underwent several changes as a result of the events of 1917.

Shortly after the February Revolution and the abdication of Nicholas II, a power vacuum opened up, leading to the outbreak of the Russian Civil War, which lasted from 1917 until, roughly, 1921.  While there were several parties involved in this matter, the two most prominent armies were the Reds, or Bolsheviks, and the Whites, who aimed to preserve the Empire.  J. N. Westwood has written:  “The White Army, which was numerically inferior to the Red, was better supplied and disposed more military talent and experience.  In fact it had a surplus of leaders since it was recruited so from the tsarist office (Westwood, 43).”  Fortunately for the Red Army, the Whites were unable to properly capitalize on their advantage due to poor organization, lack of communication, and the inability to connect with the masses that were crucial in supporting them against the Reds.  While they were victorious at some points in the war, after a few years, and mainly towards the end of 1920, the Whites began to suffer from their disorganization and crumbled under the pressure.  The final defeat of the Whites, which also signaled the end of the Civil War, occurred in December 1921.  This was an interesting turn of events as the Southern White Army had just made a successful advance up north, however, it lost this ground and ended up retreating even further, losing more territory. At that moment, one historian has concluded:

[T]he fate of the Whites was sealed.  [The Southern Army] split into two groups: the one in the Crimea was isolated from the other on the Don and in the Kuban.  The latter after losing the heights, completely collapsed and simply ran off before the Red Army, which continued its advance gradually mopping up the Whites in the Kuban and North Caucasus.  Part of the Whites’ forces, chiefly, the Volunteers, were evacuated from Novorossiisk to the Crimea, which, though isolated, was relatively safe and at this stage not threatened by the Reds (Bradley, 172).

This coastal location was convenient for the Whites, as they were now able to easily escape the approaching Reds and take refuge in another country.  Many made their way to France.  It was said that after the end of the Civil War, “Russian Paris was indeed the cultural and political mecca of their worldwide Diaspora, and there a Russian could live a truly “Russian way of life.” (Raymond, 26-27).”  After all, the French and other Western nations had supported the White Army, so they were able to stay safely in Paris for some time.

Under the protection of the French government, these Russians led relatively normal lives.  Boris Raymond has noted that “Russian émigrés in France tended to live within a closed circle of their own, and they interacted with their French hosts only minimally. They attended their own churches, met and talked about their new problems, engaged in numerous exclusively Russian organizations, and patronized their own clubs, libraries, theaters, restaurants, and shops (Raymond, 26).”  An example of one of these exclusive organizations pictured above, which is an anti-Bolshevik group.  In this particular photograph, the group that is gathered is the Gallipoli meeting, located at a venue in Paris, taken sometime between the late 1920s until the early 1930s.  While this was not the actual name of the group, after doing research on Gallipoli, it seems that it was a meeting to remember their journey from Russia to Paris, as Gallipoli was one of the last stops on the journey.

In the center of this picture is General Evgenii Karlovich Miller, who is leading the meeting.  Accompanying him are other prominent White Army generals, Gulevich, Dragomirov, and Admiral Ketrov.  In the room, there are several clues that allow scholars to determine that this is an anti-Bolshevik group, such as the flags of the Russian Empire and Imperial Navy, along with photographs of Tsar Nicholas II, Anton Denikin, and Alexander Kolchak; it is clear where their loyalties lie.  After researching Miller’s history to further dissect the contents of the photograph, it is known that he had moved from Germany and was drafted in the Imperial Army during the First World War, and then later moved up the ranks and became a lieutenant general, later using this position of authority to lead part of the White Army.  After his flight to Paris, Miller “became General Wrangel’s chief of staff in the Russian General-Military Union (ROVS).  After Wrangel’s death in 1928 he served as Aleksandr Kutepov’s deputy in charge of the ROVS’s finances and administration and, despite his own doubts about his abilities, replaced the kidnapped Kutepov in 1930 as chief of the ROVS.  His disastrous leadership led to feuds that crippled the ROVS’s command, while he destroyed its finances by investments with the “match-king” Ivan Kreuger, whose financial empire collapsed in 1932 (Raymond, 155).”   The photograph is thus a record of the ROVS and its efforts to preserve the Russia that its members had left behind..

By this time, the Franco-Soviet relationship had strengthened and neither the French nor the Soviets were pleased that these group meetings occurred, so they worked together, aiming to cease any further activities of the ROVS or any groups similar to it. The Soviets had been after the White Army generals for some time and finally created a plot to remove Miller from power, thus dissolving the rest of the ROVS, or better yet, replacing him with another man who worked for the Soviet government.  This was a commonly-used ploy as there were several other Soviet enemies who the Soviets wanted to bring back, so they could interrogate them.  With this being the case, “on 22 September 1937 Skoblin [a Soviet spy] led [Miller] into a trap.  Miller was drugged and shipped in a trunk by freighter to the Soviet Union.  There he was interrogated under torture, tried in secret, and shot (Raymond, 155).”

Clearly with the betrayal of General Miller and other former White army officers by the French government revealed that the French allegiance no longer lay with the Russian exiles, but rather with the new Soviet state.  These were completely opposing sentiments from what had been displayed shortly after the Revolution; the results it produced later actually resulted in positive international politics.  At the time of Miller’s arrest, Julie Newton has concluded, “the fact is that France was a critical, and at times primary, ‘instrument’ of Soviet and Russian policies towards the West, as well as a powerful symbol in Soviet and post-Soviet thinking about Western dynamics (Newton, 9).”  This became beneficial for both European nations as well as the United States during the duration of the USSR’s existence for it did ease some of the tension among the international community.  While the relationship between the White Army and the French ended up dissolving, this photograph serves as a reminder of a tumultuous time in the Franco-Russian relationship.

Heidi Hetterscheidt is a senior REEES major.

Bibliography and Works Referenced


  1. Newton, Julie M. Russia, France, and the Idea of Europe.  Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.  Print.
  2. Raymond, Boris, and David R. Jones. The Russian Diaspora, 1917-1941.     Lanham, MD: Scarecrow 200. Print.
  3. Service, Robert. The Russian Revolution, 1900-1927. New York: St. Martin’s, 1999. Print.
  4. Westwood, J.N. Russia since 1917. New York: St. Martin’s, 1980. Print.
  5. Ziemke, Earl F. The Red Army, 1918-1941: From Vanguard of World Revolution to US ally. London: Frank Cass, 2004. Print.



By Anna Melberg

DK254.K595 M67 1919

Morskoĭ, N. Kto takoĭ Kolchak. Rostov-na-Donu : [s.n.], 1919.


Morskoy, N. Who is Kolchak? Rostov-na-Donu: [s.n.], 1919.


Kolchak: A One-act Play


The play opens in St. Petersburg, 1919. Three men sit at a bar facing the audience. In front of each of them sits a shot glass. On the left is KOLYA wearing a red scarf. He holds a copy of the international section of the American magazine, The Nation. On the right is SLAVA dressed in the uniform of a Russian Naval officer and wearing white gloves. He holds a pamphlet titled, “Who is Kolchak?” In the middle sits DIMA. He is dressed entirely in grey and holds nothing but an unfortunately empty shot glass.




I’m telling you, guys, I don’t know where this country is going. We graduated from being killed by the German’s to being killed by each other.  I don’t know where to put my faith. I wish I knew what to fight for.




I suppose that depends on whether you want to preserve Russian values or fall into anarchy, Dima. If you would just read this pamphlet, “Who is Kolchak?”, you would recognize straight away in Kolchak the strength and character of a true leader.  It says here that Kolchak braved the intense tundra of North Pole in a mission to save a few of his suffering soldiers –




And did he succeed? No. An even better question would be who sent them into that doomed scenario in the first place?



That’s beyond the point, Kolya. Honestly… When you’re in charge, you have to make tough calls. Kolchak has proved himself capable of this tenfold. He has not only proven to be brave and courageous in his polar expeditions, but he has more importantly proven his valor and distinction at sea as an admiral in our navy.


Here Slava smiles and gestures to his own naval uniform.




Kolchak has devoted his entire life to Mother Russia and he alone is worthy of her power. These Bolsheviks come from nothing and stand for nothing. They know nothing of loyalty.




Loyalty? It’s funny you should bring that up. We all know the story regarding Kolchak’s loyalty, do we not? It has only been a year since he seduced his commanding officer’s wife and destroyed two marriages.


Slava stands, fists rising, preparing to defend his hero’s honor. Dima intervenes.




I don’t care about Kolchak’s relations with his wife, let alone his comfort around polar bears. Why should we let this man take charge of Russia? Why is he in this position to potentially hold so much power?


Kolya springs to action waving his American magazine The Nation in the air.




It’s all a result of propaganda! America, Britain, and Germany have infiltrated our security and preyed on our country at its moment of weakness during the revolution. My cousin in America, you remember Josef, sent me this article in the mail a few days ago. He says it is the only unbiased and accurate summary of Kolchak’s real character he could find. It includes a statement from some Lomonossoff, I trust that name, as well as an assessment of Kolchak from our previous Minister of Labor, Gregory Zilboorg –




Well you’re right about one thing, Kolya. Its Germany’s fault we’re in this mess. They sent Lenin in on that damned train and the world began to fall apart with the recitation of his contrived April Theses. In this time of war we need a conservative leader who has been tested by conflict and has proven himself to be able. Russia trusts Kolchak.  She knows that he will do anything to defend her. He has shown her that on many occasions, not the least of which is the time he saw a window of opportunity and bravely mined the German coast, destroying German ships without losing any Russian life. Kolchak wants freedom just as much as any other man, but he understands that freedom doesn’t mean, “Do what you want.” He kept his troops together during the revolution while everyone was tempted to loot, lose control, and to abandon their posts. When Kolchak finally returned home after the revolution, he was asked to be a part of the provisional government. When Russia had no one to turn to, she chose Kolchak; the most revealing aspect of this choice is that Kolchak never asked for it. If Kolchak is not worthy, why has Siberia joined his efforts?



(in an antagonizing manner)

You act as though the Siberian population had a choice. So quick are you to glorify Kolchak and his methods that you would ignore what is right in front of your eyes. There is evidence of mass slaughter and inhumane violence on Kolchak’s part. We have heard tales of the ‘train of death’ where hundreds of prisoners died from cold and starvation under Kolchak’s charge. His Cossacks are beating people to unconsciousness and sometimes death with hard metal rods. Even more, Kolchak does not give fair trials to those who disagree with his regime. He either exiles or executes. You think he is so controlled and discerning. How do you justify these actions?



(Blushing but still indignant)

It’s not true. None of it. But if it were, every war has its costs. Kolchak fights for what he knows is right and perhaps that means some people die in the process. Tell me of an instance in history where a country trying to protect its culture and traditions has not engaged in violence!




How can you dismiss this so easily –


Dima stands up and places his hands over his ears. He begins humming a folk song and doesn’t stop until Kolya and Slava join in, miraculously harmonizing and performing in perfect communion with one another. As the song comes to an end, each voice fading to a small hum, Dima opens his eyes. He begins to speak.




I have listened to both of your extremes. To me you both are espousing opposite but equally manipulative episodes of propaganda. This feud between the Reds and the Whites, between the Bolsheviks and the monarchists, cannot be boiled down to the characteristics of their leaders. Both sides are seeking a united and bettered people. Can we not all just be united in our newfound common dream for an enlightened peasant class and universal human rights?


Looking at each other, both slightly embarrassed but both more illuminated, Kolya and Slava nod. Kolya slowly unwraps his red scarf from his neck just as Slava removes his white cap from his head. Dima counts up to three and the trio take a shot of vodka unanimously.


Works Cited


Lomonossoff, G. V., and G. Zilboorg. “Recognition Of Kolchak: Three Opinions.”                      Nation 108.(1919): 883-886. Readers’ Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (H.W.                       Wilson). Web. 14 Dec. 2016.



By Colin Sullivan

Admiral Alexander Kolchak was a true patriot of Russia and a hero to those of the White forces during the Russian Civil War. As their Supreme Ruler, Kolchak led the Whites in a fight to end Bolshevism, and free Russia and its people. At least this is the narrative contained in a 1919 pamphlet from the White perspective during the Russian Civil War that gives a very flattering interpretation of Kolchak and how he was viewed by those of the anti-Bolshevik movement. The pamphlet portrays Kolchak as a hero of Russia. Instead of trying to restore the Tsarist regime, Kolchak wishes to destroy the Bolshevik movement and let the Russian people decide for themselves the type of government they desire. Kolchak might be considered one of Russia’s tragic heroes. His passion for his country led him to accept the role of Supreme Ruler of Russia in 1918. It is this passion and patriotism that made him such a popular commander among his men. However, this passion and love for Russia ultimately led to his tragic death and the end of the White force’s fight against Bolshevism.

What made Kolchak the man to lead the Whites against the Bolsheviks? Out of all of the other anti-Bolshevik generals and officials, why him? A series of stories written in the  pamphlet gives a good explanation for why the government in Siberia chose Kolchak as Supreme Ruler. Before Kolchak fought in military engagements for Russia’s Imperial Navy, he gained popularity as an Arctic explorer. In 1900, he sailed on the yacht Zaria on an expedition to the Arctic Ocean. Three men, including the leader of the expedition, took off on foot to explore an island a distance from where their boat was stuck in the ice. Once the summer would come and the ice would thaw, Kolchak and the rest of the men planned to sail to the island and pick up the three men. There was a problem, however. The ice did not thaw completely and Kolchak could not reach the island and the men. He was forced to return to Russia but did not forget about the comrades he left behind. Determined to not leave behind his friends, Kolchak “decided to take a small boat across the ocean” to retrieve his three comrades (Morskoi 4). Over the course of the 42-day trip, Kolchak found that the men had decided to not wait for rescue, but take their chances on foot. “They probably died on the way, having fallen through the ice or having met a polar bear” (Morskoi 5). Even though Kolchak did not return with the lost men, “his action proved that he doesn’t leave friends in hardship and will do anything, even the impossible to help those in need, he won’t hesitate to risk his own life to achieve his goal” (Morskoi 5). The story in the pamphlet describes Kolchak’s bravery, courage, and selflessness. Kolchak was depicted as a hero who would gladly sacrifice himself for one of his Russian brothers. Later in his short life, this same sacrifice and selflessness would come to life again as he engaged in his attempt to save Russia from the Bolsheviks. His love for his country, the pamphlet makes clear, much like the love he had for his comrades left behind, drove him to take action and responsibility.

Admiral Kolchak gained fame as a hero not just from his actions but from his character. He was a leader, the pamphlet explained, who would not ask his men to do something he would not do himself. Kolchak “did everything himself” (Morskoi 7). His reputation continued to grow during the Great War as he led successful naval mining operations against the Germans. After many triumphs, Kolchak was given the command of the entire Black Sea fleet. The Admiral was seeing great success in the Black Sea when the Russian revolution broke out in March 1917. He was a leader of immense pride. A biographical account published in a 1933 issue of The Slavonic and East European Review written by Kolchak’s subordinate, M.I. Smirnov, also provides a perfect example of Kolchak’s immense pride. For three months after the outbreak of the revolution, Kolchak was amazingly able to keep order in the Black Sea. “At the time when in the North, on the Baltic Sea, the sailors bought with German money, were slaughtering officers — on the Black Sea there was quiet peace” (Morskoi 8). However, after Bolshevik agitators instigated an uprising in his fleet, his sailors demanded the weapons of all officers. When Kolchak was asked to give up his arms, he refused and ordered his men to form up on the deck of the ship where he gave a speech. As Smirnov recounted, “He said that even the Japanese, after the fall of Port Arthur, respected the sword given to him for military courage, but they, his own men, wished to take it from him” (Smirnov 382). Kolchak continues in saying “‘Well, you shall not get it,’ said he, ‘I shall not give it up to you, either alive or dead,’ and he threw his sword into the sea” (Smirnov 382). Kolchak was so prideful that even the thought of handing over his arms to his Bolshevik-influenced men was lunacy. His pride would be attractive to White army officials who wished him to rule, but would ultimately lead to his demise.

Not surprisingly, the Bolsheviks declared Kolchak a counter-revolutionary. In late 1917, he left Russia for the United States. The White pamphlet alludes to how Kolchak felt about Russia after leaving his country behind: “And when he heard that Russia has reached the end of devastation, that the people are starting to realize their stupidity and regret their crimes and only seek peaceful life from all the troubles brought by Bolsheviks — he returned to Russia with an aching heart, but also with hope” (Morskoi 10). Kolchak’s passion and patriotism brought him back to Russia. He could have easily stayed in the United States and lived a happy, peaceful life. Instead, the pamphlet suggests, the call of duty was overwhelming for him. His desire to save his country from Bolshevism brought him to Siberia to join the White movement and unfortunately it was this decision that set him on a path for destruction.

Kolchak, according to this vision, “didn’t see people as left or right, only the desire to save Russia” (Morskoi 10). The people Kolchak commanded were all anti-Bolshevik, but were a mix of different political views. He had no interest in politics, the leaflet extolled, he simply wanted to free Russia from the Bolsheviks so that the people could have the freedom of choice for their government. N.G.O. Pereira, a historian who has studied Kolchak and the White forces,  concurs that his love for Russia and his desire to save the Motherland drove him. Pereira writes, “By insisting that their patriotism was somehow above politics, the Admiral and his fellow ex-Imperial officers tried to get around the second dilemma that had been posed originally by the overthrow of the Romanovs — they were ‘after all, serving, not one form of government, but [the] country’” (Pereira 52).

Ultimately, Kolchak proved to be a tragic hero of the anti-Bolshevik movement. His bravery, courage, and experience as a skilled military officer helped bolster his chances of becoming leader of the Whites. But, it was the kind of person he was and the intangible qualities that he possessed that led to his position as Supreme Ruler. The pamphlet concludes:  “They spent some time working with Kolchak and saw what kind of a person he is: not forcing anyone’s hand, only thinking about doing good, how to bring peace to Russia, and they decided to give him all power in Siberia” (Morskoi 11). Kolchak wanted freedom for Russia and its people. Despite his good intentions, his qualities and character that placed him in his position of power also placed him in a position to die. On February 7, 1920, Kolchak was placed in front of a firing squad and executed. Even at his execution, Kolchak held true to his values, refusing a blindfold and standing stoically in the face of death. Kolchak was a man of principles, but unfortunately, it was his principles that led to the death of Russia’s tragic hero, Admiral Kolchak.


Works Cited (Secondary Sources)

  1. I. Smirnov. “Admiral Kolchak.” The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 11, no. 32, 1933, pp. 373–387.


PEREIRA, N. G. O. “White Power during the Civil War in Siberia (1918-1920): Dilemmas of Kolchak’s ‘War Anti-Communism.’” Canadian Slavonic Papers / Revue Canadienne Des Slavistes, vol. 29, no. 1, 1987, pp. 45–62.

Colin Sullivan is a senior History major.



By Adam Rodger

Makhno, Nestor Ivanovich, and M. I. Kubanin. Makhnovshchina i ee vcherashnie soiuzniki-bol’sheviki; otvet na knigu M. Kubanina “Makhnovshchina.” n.p.: Parizh: “Biblioteka Makhnovitsev,” 1928.


The history of the Russian Civil War is one painted almost exclusively in Red and White. It is seen as a conflict between the Red Army of Trotsky and the Communists struggling against the White imperialists, the supporters of the tsar and the old ways. Of course, reality is never so kind as to line up that neatly. The White armies were hardly united, for example, but were more a loose grouping of generals and warlords who agreed on nearly nothing but their hatred for the Communists. The Red armies were perhaps better unified, but they still had their share of ideological and practical inconsistencies among them.

A clear picture of this war cannot be painted with only two colors, however. Often ignored are the Green peasant armies, the Yellow Ukrainian nationalists, and the disorganized, “Off-White” armies like those of Grigorii Semenov and Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg. Of the armies so frequently left out of the narrative, perhaps the most influential was the Ukrainian Black Anarchist army, or the Makhnovshchina (which translates to “the Makhno phenomenon”), led by Nestor Makhno. In The Maknovshchina and Their Former Allies – the Bolsheviks, a memoir that covers much more than its name suggests, Makhno describes a tense and complex relationship that ended in betrayal.[1] To get at what this relationship means, however, it is instructive to understand who Nestor Makno was, as well as the nature of his interactions with the Whites, his fellow Ukrainians, and yes, with the Bolsheviks and the Red Army.



Makhno and the Whites

At the beginning of the war, Makhno and the Makhnovshchina were hardly noticed by the White armies. He drew their attention when he joined forces with the Reds, but he was still outnumbered. He scored some impressive victories early on, but they were not enough, and before long he had retreated to the Ukrainian city of Uman, with General Denikin’s forces closing in. What happened on the night that Denikin’s forces surrounded the city, according to a lurid early account by Max Nomad, was “perhaps the turning point of the Russian Civil War,” and that Makhno “decided the fate of Russia.”[2] His tiny army attacked Denikin’s ammunition depot, destroyed an artillery embankment, and in one night broke the backbone of Denikin’s advance toward Moscow. They were forced to slow their progress, giving Trotsky time to build up the Red Army’s defenses.

It was not only in military matters that Makhno surpassed the Whites. The White officers, who were as close to government officials as the monarchists and imperialists had, were unfamiliar with the plight of peasants and nationalists. Denikin, writes Victor Peters in a 1970 biography, was “a Russian patriot,” and was confused at how quickly the political climate around him had shifted. He “could not understand how non-Russian nationalists would want to break away from [the Russian Empire].” The social and political issues which gave rise to worker and peasant movements like the Makhnovshchina were all but ignored; rather than issues that shaped and influenced the Whites’ ideologies, these were problems to be solved after victory.[3]

Makhno and the Nationalists

Makhno was not a nationalist by any means, but he was conscious of the important role nationality plays in identity. When he began his career as an anarchist military leader, he lamented that he had almost completely forgotten his native language during a long stint in a Moscow prison, and committed himself to re-learning it. His relationship with the Ukrainian Nationalist armies was complex; his armies were “constantly replenished with dissidents who left Petliura [one of the more powerful nationalist leaders] either because they thought Petliura’s social policies… went too far or did not go far enough.”[4] Petliura, who favored working with the Allied powers against the Bolsheviks, was plagued by problems stemming from Makhno throughout the war, which likely led to Petilura’s eventual failure. Maria Nikiforova, another Ukrainian anarchist nurtured by the chaos of the revolution, actually had significant influence on Makhno. The two formed battalions of troops at nearly the same time, and fought together on numerous occasions with frequent success.

Makhno and His Former Allies – the Bolsheviks

Makhno governed his territory quite differently from the Bolsheviks, or even the Whites. When they entered a city, “they immediately announced to the population that the army did not intend to exercise political authority.”[5] Their opinion was that it was up to the peasants to decide that sort of thing; the Makhnovshchina’s job was simply to liberate them so that they could do so. Peasants and workers were directed to establish soviets to carry out the will of the people, as well as police and defense forces against counterrevolutionaries and bandits. Unlike the Bolsheviks, Makhno encouraged freedom of speech, assembly, association, and press, and newspapers of various political orientations including Bolshevik, right SRs, and left SRs were created within Makhno territory.

Makhno’s relationship with the Bolshevik leaders was, as always, quite complicated and, at times, intensely heated. Upon his first meeting with Lenin, Makhno was “received… with paternal simplicity.” Lenin told his secretary that they were not to be disturbed for a full hour, and then listened to Makhno, who told him about the Ukrainian peasants’ attitude toward the Soviets, the Austro-German armies, “and the differences between Bolshevik and anarchist conceptions of revolution.” Lenin suggested that the Ukrainian peasants were “infected with anarchism.” Makhno objected to Lenin’s tone, but the latter clarified, saying that this could be a good thing, as it could “speed up the victory of communism over capital and its authority.”[6]

It was in his dancing around Makhno, especially in the volatile hostility between Makhno and Trotsky, that Lenin’s true political genius was allowed to shine. In May 1919, Lenin described the state of Bolshevik forces in Ukraine as “critical, well-nigh catastrophic.”[7] To shore up their numbers, Lenin arranged an alliance with Makhno wherein the Makhnovshchina were integrated among the Red Army, with Makhno remaining in command. Trotsky was furious, particularly at the influence the anarchistic Makhnovshchina were having on the troops.[8] In a letter to the Communist Central Committee, he wrote that “the purging of openly criminal elements from [the Red Army] units, the establishment of firm discipline, the abolition of the practice of electing commanders, the combating of demagogy among the commanders, who were insolent in their behavior towards higher military and Soviet authorities,” would be necessary to solve what he called “the Makhno Problem.” He recommended the “most savage measures,” such as “cutting down its strength by perhaps a half or two thirds… shooting… and imprisonment in the concentration camps; simultaneously [conducting] a decisive struggle against ‘meetingprone’ commanders.”[9]

While the Bolsheviks appreciated and utilized Makhno’s contributions to the Civil War, especially in his heretofore successful campaign against Denikin, they understood very well that his ideology was just as incompatible with their own as it was with that of the Whites. Eventually they felt secure enough that they could turn on him, and when given permission from Lenin, Trotsky did so with zeal. Supply trains to Makhno’s armies were cut off, weakening the Makhnovshchina against what remained of Denikin’s forces. In response to this deterioration, which he himself had caused, Trotsky published a series of articles in his paper V Puti (“On the Road”) “in which he charged that all the Makhnovites’ talk of ‘down with the party, down with the Communists, long live the nonparty Soviets!’ was only a cunning device to conceal the anarchists’ ambitions to establish a government of the ‘kulaks.’”[10] Trotsky said that Makhno and his anarchists were “more of a menace [to the Bolsheviks] than the Denikin army,” and actually argued that it would be better for Ukraine to leave the Whites in charge than for Makhno to have any power there.[11]

The End of Makhno

About two weeks after helping the Bolsheviks defeat the army of Pyotr Wrangel, Makhno was betrayed. Lenin ordered him to disband his forces, but he refused. Then, at a Red Army planning conference in Moscow to which he had been invited, Makhno’s headquarters staff and subordinate commanders were arrested by Lenin’s men and executed. Along with a small contingent of his loyal supporters, Makhno was barely able to escape. He fled into Europe by way of Ukraine, Romania, Poland, and Germany, finally settling in Paris. Working as a carpenter and stage hand at the Paris Opera, Makhno finished his life there, dying in 1934 from tuberculosis. His widow and Yelena, his daughter, were eventually imprisoned in German forced labor camps in World War II, arrested by the NKVD at the end of the war, tried in Kiev as common criminals, and sent to the Gulag where they worked until 1953.

During his trial by Soviet authorities, one of the Makhnovshchina named Voline accused the Bolsheviks of breaking their agreements with Makhno and committing treason themselves. The prosecutor, Samsonov, summarized succinctly the attitude of Lenin and the Bolsheviks toward Makhno, their vcherashnii soiuznik: he said, “you call that treason? Our view is that we pursued a policy of realism: as long as we needed Makhno we exploited him; after we no longer needed him, we successfully liquidated him.”[12]




Arshinov, Peter. Istoriia Makhnovskogo Dvizheniia. Berlin, 1923.

Makhno, Nestor Ivanovich, and M. I. Kubanin. Makhnovshchina I ee vcherashnie soiuzniki-bol’sheviki; otvet na knigu M. Kubanina “Makhnovshchina.” n.p.: Parizh: “Biblioteka Makhnovitsev,” 1928.

Nomad, Max. Apostles of Revolution. Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1939.

Palij, Michael. The Anarchism of Nestor Makhno, 1918-1921: An Aspect of the Ukrainian Revolution. University of Washington Press, 1976.

Peters, Victor. Nestor Makhno: The Life of an Anarchist. Winnipeg: Echo Books, 1970.

[1] Nestor Makhno and M. I. Kubanin, Makhnovshchina i ee vcherashnie soiuzniki – bolsheviki (Paris: Biblioteki Makhnovtsev, 1928).

[2] Max Nomad, Apostles of Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1939), 322.

[3] Victor Peters, Nestor Makhno: The Life of an Anarchist (Winnipeg: Echo Books, 1970), 75-6.

[4] Peters, Nestor Makhno, 70-1.

[5] Michael Palij, The Anarchism of Nestor Makhno, 1918-1921: An Aspect of the Ukrainian Revolution (University of Washington Press, 1976) 151.

[6] Palij, 93.

[7] The Trotsky Papers, 407.

[8] Desertion from the Red Army into the Makhnovshchina was such a widespread problem that the military agreement between Makhno and the Bolsheviks of 15 October 1920 had to include the stipulation that “while moving through Soviet territory… the [Makhnovshchina] would accept into its ranks neither detachments nor deserters from the Red Army.” Red Army troops were directed to return to their commanders as soon as possible. Peter Arshinov, Istoriia Makhnovskogo Dvizheniia (Berlin, 1923), 172.

[9] The Trotsky Papers, 391-2.

[10] “Makhnovshchina,” V Puti, no. 51, June 2, 1919. Quoted in Palij, 175.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Wollin (Voline), in his introduction to Arshinov, Geschichte der Machno-Bewegung, 36. Quoted in Peters, 77.


Adam Rodger is a second-year MA student in History.