Friday, November 16, 2018

After the Armistice???

In my youth 11 November was touted as Armistice Day here in the States.  I still call it that in deference to my grandfather and great uncle.  I never understood why Ike changed it to Veterans Day.  We already honored veterans on Memorial Day and on Armed Forces Day.  Why have another?  Don’t bother to answer, I was only asking old Ike a rhetorical question.  Since World War One was touted as the ”War to end all wars”, then IMHO Armistice Day was honoring the stopping of war, any war; honoring ceasefires regardless of where or when; honoring a truce no matter how short; honoring peace.  The Veterans for Peace organization still honors Armistice Day as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated."
But unfortunately war never stopped on 11 November 1918.  In the period just after the 1918 Armistice there were at least 27 violent transfers of political power, many accompanied by violent civil wars.  Not just in Russia.  Winston Churchill in his arrogance commented sarcastically: "The war of giants has ended, the wars of the pygmies begin.Yet Europe between Armistice Day in November of 1918 and the Treaty of Lausanne July 1923 was the most violent place on the planet.  Four million people died during that period as a result of armed conflict.  Millions more died of the great influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920, much of it had been spread by war.   And hundreds of thousands died of starvation due to those post-Armistice conflicts. 

There was the Greco Turkish War and the Polish Soviet War. 

Finn nationalist <i>”volunteers”</i> launched the Kinship Wars in Estonia, Karelia, the Murmansk Oblast, Ingria and Petsamo. 

The Aster Revolution broke out in Budapest.  Then Romanians and Czechs invaded Hungary; and also in Hungary there were periods of both Red Terror and White Terror. 

Yugoslavia sparred with Italy over Rijeka.  Poland did the same with Czechoslovakia over Cieszyn Silesia, and with Germany over Poznań, and with Ukrainians over Eastern Galicia.

There was the violent rise and fall of the Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich, and the Spartacist Uprising in Berlin.  The Freikorps also fought against the communists in the Baltics, Silesia, Poland and East Prussia. 

Ditto for an attempted Communist putsch in Vienna.  And ditto for the Slovak Soviet Republic in Prešov.

Immediately after the Irish War of Independence, there followed a bloody Civil War.

The last Sultan, Mehmed VI, was overthrown in Turkey.  And Turks fought their own War of Independence against France, Italy, Britain, Armenia and Greece.

There was the well-known Russian Civil War between Reds and Whites with various interventions by French, British, Australian, Italian, Canadian & US troops in Arkhangelsk; British, Canadian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese & US troops in Vladivostok; Romanian troops in Bessarabia; Greek troops in the Crimea and Odessa and Kherson; Estonian troops in northwestern Russia; and the Czech Legion throughout Siberia.  Plus Russia repressed breakaway republics in the Caucasus and the western borderlands, and the kulaks, anarchists and moderate socialists.  Ukrainians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians fought against each other and against the Russians.

In Bulgaria there was the coup against Prime Minister Stamboliyski by IMRO.  His hand that signed the Treaty of Niš was cut off.  Then he was blinded, tortured and his head cut off, which sparked bloody uprisings and repression.

I would guess I missed many more of the conflicts during that period.  And the above mostly speaks of Europe.  There was also much bloodshed in Africa, Asia and the Americas during that timeframe to include the Rif War in North Africa, the revolt in Egypt, the Amritsar massacre (and others) in India, the March 1st Movement in Korea, the Warlord Era in China; the continuation of the Mexican Revolution, and many more.  FDChief is correct: the hairless ape has never figured out a way to solve problems without violence.


  1. IIC there were thousands of Americans somewhere in Siberia, not (just?) in Arkhangelsk.

    1. Sven -

      Yes, see above. I had mentioned US troops in both Archangelsk AND Vladivostok.

      Interesting that the approximate 8,000 troops of the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia were primarily guarding (and in some cases operating) the railways. Also they were there as a precaution in case the Japanese tried to annex the Amur Region. And they assisted the Czech Legion to evacuate from Russia. Their Commander, General Graves, did not let them fight against the Bolsheviks. This was despite pressure from the British who wanted them to participate on the side of the White Army under Admiral Kolchak.

      Unlike the AEF in Northern Russia who while under British command actively fought against Red Army units under Trotsky. They participated in the Battle of Tulgas on Armistice Day 1918, the Battle of Shenkursk two months later, and the Battle of Bolshoi Ozerki two months after that. Trotsky's troops outgunned them in artillery. And there was mutiny among the Whites they were fighting alongside, and also a mutiny among a unit of the British Royal Marines. Additionally there were murders of Allied advisors attached to White troops, a Kafkaesque forerunner of the 'insider' attacks going on 100 years later in Afghanistan.

  2. And it's a good reminder to those who like them some war (Hi, John Bolton, you dangerous fuck!)because "war works" that instead war usually works to produce all sorts of unintended consequences, most of them bad, or at least not what those who started the wars anticipated.

  3. And it's worth noting that you bring in the Jallianwallah Bagh ("Amritsar") massacre. The Great War produced a pack of troubles for the British in India culminating in the USAPATRIOT Act of it's time, the "Rowlett Act" of 1919, that gutted whatever civil liberties the British had allowed their Indian subjects. The protests that stemmed from that wartime atrocity led directly to Jallianwallah Bagh and, from there, to independence in 1957.

    While it's unlikely that British raj could have survived the post-WW2 imperial devolution, the mistakes made and brutalities inflicted by the British as a result of "wartime emergencies" in WW1 ensured the doom of the raj and the tide of bitter hatreds unleashed.

    So while we don't seem to be able to figure out a way to solve our problems without violence, we ALSO don't seem to see that "solving" them WITH violence seems to create as many - and often more - problems. Christ, we're stupid.

  4. Anybody has some decent reading material/reading hints on these "western" Operations in the Russian Far East? Admittedly, mike's comment made me aware of the scale of the action for the first time...

    1. Miles Hudson's "Intervention in Russia 1918-1920" is a decent one.

      Dennis Gordon's "Quartered in Hell" is one I have been wanting to read. Very spendy though. But it has four and a half stars on Amazon. I tried to get my local library to borrow it from a major library, but struck out.

    2. Looks like the University of Michigan has a nice collection of primary sources for the Archangel Expedition here:

    3. FDC - That makes sense, since most of the 339th were drafted and/or recruited out of Michigan.

    4. Thanks! Seems I'll need to hope for a nearby university library, or maybe spend the €15+shipping on a used US import of the Hudson.