How the Whites Blew Their Chances

In: Canadian-American Slavic Studies
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By investigating various aspects of the anti-Bolshevik struggle in Russia’s south-western borderland, this article examines the chances for victory of the Whites in the Russian Civil War. The article maintains that the Whites rapidly transformed from a patriotic movement into an ultra-nationalist force that did not tolerate any deviation from their dogmas. In the pursuit of a great, one and indivisible Russia, White leadership, especially General Denikin, antagonized all potential allies – from the anti-Bolshevik political elite, through the Cossacks and the Ukrainians, to the French forces intervening in the South. A centralized government that Denikin created, one obsessed with the desire to control everything within its reach, further aggravated this situation. The article’s underlying thesis is that the defeat of the Whites was – so-to-speak – a self-inflicted blow and that had they pursued a policy of including rather than excluding potential partners, their chances for victory would have been much greater.

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