Red Terror was one of the most shameful phases of Russian history. It was a period of mass killing and political repression. Carried out by the Bolshevik government (composed of radical socialists), the Red Terror took place after the Russian Civil War. In this article on Red Terror facts, we will round up some of the most spine-chilling historical facts that will remain in annals of Russian history as long as Russia exists.
Red Terror Facts: 1-5
1. Technically, Red Terror had its official announcement in September of 1918 and it ended in October 1918. The official announcement was made by Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov who was the administrator of Bolshevik Party and was All-Russian Central Executive Committee’s Chairman.
2. Despite the presence of the official starting and ending dates, Red Terror is usually considered to have started and continued through the entire period of Civil War (start – 1917 | end – 1922).
3. The primary force that carried out the Bolshevik political repression was the Cheka – the secret police of the Bolsheviks. It was one of the most feared secret police forces in Russia. However, the Red Army was also responsible for imposing the Red Terror.
4. Cheka’s terrorism was overseen and commanded by Felix Dzerzhinsky – the fanatical leader of Cheka. Red Terror was actually sponsored by state (Vladimir Lenin’s government).
5. There are no correct estimates on the number of people killed during the Red Terror. However, it is estimated that at least 8,500 summary executions took place. Historians place the number of deaths somewhere between 10,000 to 1.5 million.
Red Terror Facts: 6-10
6. What led to the Red Terror remains a topic of argument. However, it is widely accepted that an assassination attempt of Vladimir Lenin – the extremist socialist and Bolshevik leader – was the point. The assassination attempt was made by Fanni Kaplan on 30th August, 1918. Lenin was wounded but lived.
7. Only a few days before the attempt on Lenin’s life, Moisei Uritsky – the Petrograd Cheka leader was assassinated on August 17, 1918. The attempt of killing Lenin was just the right impetus needed.
8. When Lenin was recovering from his wounds after the assassination attempt, he actually gave instructions where he said: “It is necessary – secretly and urgently to prepare the terror”.
9. Even before the attempt on his life, Lenin actually sent telegrams to his comrades in Nizhny Novgorod where he specifically asked for the introduction of mass terror.
10. One of the most infamous orders given by Lenin was the ‘hanging order’ of 9th August, 1918 where he wrote:
Comrades! The kulak uprising in your five districts must be crushed without pity … You must make example of these people. (1) Hang (I mean hang publicly, so that people see it) at least 100 kulaks, rich bastards, and known bloodsuckers. (2) Publish their names. (3) Seize all their grain. (4) Single out the hostages per my instructions in yesterday’s telegram. Do all this so that for miles around people see it all, understand it, tremble, and tell themselves that we are killing the bloodthirsty kulaks and that we will continue to do so … Yours, Lenin. P.S. Find tougher people.