2011 | 19 | 2 | 45-70
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Rudá armáda a problém loajality za občanské války v Rusku

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A specific feature of the civil war in Russia in the years 1917-1920 consisted in the fact that the original loyalties had disappeared. The Tsar had officially abdicated and the Russian population, primarily soldiers, was relieved of the official commitments to him as Commander in Chief. The new Provisional Government was rapidly losing its initial legitimacy, which was not only due to the existence of two parallel governments where the power of Soviets was steadily increasing, but also owing to a number of its own actions that nobody could sanction. The main reason, however, was the step taken by the government that absolutely ignored the prevailing opinion of soldiers and common people. While the overwhelming majority of soldiers, due to the huge losses at war, insufficient supply and total indifference to their fate, were requiring peace, the Provisional Government ordered an offensive against the Central Powers' armies in summer 1917. The rapid decline of the Provisional Government regime was proved by the total failure of the attack that was intended to support Russia's Entente Allies, by the conflicts existing within the Government camp, and also by the fact that at the moment of the Bolshevist revolution the Provisional Government had only some small and unreliable military units for its defense. The paradigm of loyalty during the Russian civil war exhibited an infinite variety of aspects and motives, but it was quite often reduced under the circumstances down to the basic problem of self-preservation, particularly in the case of people who failed to have strong ideological and political motivation. In extreme cases the decision was reduced to a mere choice between loyalty and physical destruction. In the wide range of other alternatives the attitudes and loyalty of men were determined by the particular situation and motives, the most important of which was probably the wish to survive. Nevertheless, we should be aware of the fact that the Bolshevists made very cleverly use of the fact that they came to power without any relation to the governing classes of population (in fact their program was aimed against them) and as representatives of the poorest people. This made it possible for them to take measures intended to stimulate the loyalty of population. In the army, the 'honey and whip' method was applied in graded way in order to ensure or extort the loyalty of Red Army officers and soldiers.
  • Historický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., Prosecká 76, 190 00 Praha 9, Czech Republic
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