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Defenders of the MotherlandThe Tsarist Elite in Revolutionary Russia$
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Matthew Rendle

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199236251

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236251.001.0001

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The October Revolution

The October Revolution

(p.199) 7 The October Revolution
Defenders of the Motherland

Matthew Rendle (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how the Bolsheviks' October Revolution of 1917 heralded a sustained attack on elites, with the abolition of the nobility, landownership, and officer ranks. The Bolsheviks' fear of class enemies and counter‐revolution led to revolutionary tribunals and the secret police. Nonetheless, the Bolsheviks were aware that they could not build a soviet state and Red Army without the experience and skills of former elites as ‘bourgeois specialists'. In the end, as many elites served the new state as actively opposed it. Most elites wanted a strong government to restore stability and the Bolsheviks promised to offer this, whilst it seemed pointless to fight the mass movement. Elites in the White armies that opposed the Bolsheviks during the civil war (1917–‐21) harboured no such doubts, but these divisions prevented them from forging a unified programme, contributing to their defeat.

Keywords:   October Revolution, Bolshevism, class enemies, revolutionary tribunals, secret police, bourgeois specialists, civil war, White armies, Red Army, soviet state

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