The Obscene Peace: January to March 1918

  • Robert Service


The October Revolution’s repercussions endure in many forms: the political map of Europe was lastingly affected. It has been tempting to treat the Russian revolutionary events as if they were entirely independent of the situation in the rest of the world and as if Russia, while having an impact on other countries, did not in her turn register their impact. Yet the October Revolution did not take place in a void. The Soviet state was created in the midst of the First World War, and Russia and her empire had been a major combatant power from its beginning. The attempt to put an end to the fighting, through the Decree on Peace presented by Lenin on 26 October 1917, was not followed by a pan-European socialist revolution. As night follows day, it was certain that Russian withdrawal from the conflict would attract unpleasant consequences from abroad. The Allies were bound to be enraged by Russia’s refusal to maintain operations on the Eastern front. Germany’s rulers, never having been distinguished for their international altruism, would predictably exploit the weakness of Russian defences to the utmost. If revolutions failed to occur in Europe, the chances of Sovnarkom’s survival were intimately linked to the question of whether any foreign capitalist power had the resources and opportunity to intervene militarily in Russia. No Russian army in 1917–18 could have repelled the armed might of either the Germans or the Allies if such might had been turned on them in concerted fashion.


Political Life Central Committee Soviet Republic Socialist Revolution Party Committee 
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Copyright information

© Robert Service 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Service
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

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