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Russia – Revolution and Civil War, 1917-22

10. A People's Tragedy: Civil War and Famine

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In this module, we focus on the people caught between the Reds and Whites, particularly those living in the countryside who wanted no part of the emerging civil war. How were they treated? And how did they react to the increasingly violent incursions from the Bolsheviks?


In this course, Dr Mark Levene (University of Southampton) explores the Russian Revolution from the outbreak of the Revolution in February 1917 to the conclusion of the Russian Civil War in October 1922. In the first module, we think about the beginnings of the Revolution in February 1917, as well as the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. After that, we look back at the history of the Russian Empire and the problems it had faced since the early modern period. In the third module, we turn to more recent events—the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914—before exploring in the modules five and six how it was that Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power by the beginning of 1918. In the seventh module, we spend some time thinking about what the Bolsheviks believed in and what kind of society they were trying to create, before thinking in the eighth module about the rise of the White Army and the opposition to the Bolshevik revolution. In the ninth module, we think about the international response to the Bolshevik revolution – especially that of Germany and Britain – before turning in the tenth module to explore the catastrophic impact of the revolution on the many millions of Russians who found themselves caught in the middle of the revolution. In the eleventh module, we think about how the Bolsheviks were able to complete the revolution by the early 1920s, before moving on in the twelfth and final module to explore the consequences and legacies of the Revolution, including the rise of fascism, Stalin, and the Cold War.


Dr Mark Levene is Reader in Comparative History at the University of Southampton, and in the Parkes Centre for Jewish/non-Jewish relations. His writing ranges across genocide, Jewish history and environmental and peace issues especially focusing on anthropogenic climate change. His most recent work includes the two volume The Crisis of Genocide : The European Rimlands, 1912 -1953 (Oxford, 2013) which won the Institute of Genocide Studies Lemkin award in 2015, and, with Rob Johnson and Penny Roberts (eds.), History at the end of the world? History, climate change and the possibility of closure (Penrith, 2010). He is co-founder of Crisis Forum ( and founder of the Rescue!History (, independent academic networks.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Levene, M. (2018, August 15). Russia – Revolution and Civil War, 1917-22 - A People's Tragedy: Civil War and Famine [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Levene, M. "Russia – Revolution and Civil War, 1917-22 – A People's Tragedy: Civil War and Famine." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,