The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution sparked a civil war that lasted more than five years and cost the lives of millions of Russians.
The conflict was fought largely between the Red Army, which supported Vladimir Lenin’s communist revolution, and a collection of militias known as the White Army, fighting either to restore the Russian monarchy or at least prevent a communist takeover of the country.
The photos in this gallery, which include some of the only images in existence of actual fighting during the war, are from russiainphoto.ru, a website that aims to create a “unified photo chronicle of Russia” from museums and private collections.
Andrei Shkuro, a senior commander of White Army forces, fled Russia soon after this photo was taken. After years in exile, he took up arms as an ally of Nazi Germany in the hopes of ridding Russia of communism. In 1945, he was captured by British forces and handed over to the Soviets. He was executed in 1947.
New Red Army soldiers would have sworn: “…for the cause of socialism and the brotherhood of peoples, not to spare either my strength or life itself.”
Western allies attempted to assist the White forces during the civil war. The interventions were initially launched in the hope of bringing Russia back into World War I on the side of the allies.
The attack came after the sailors publicly opposed the Bolsheviks’ political direction. Thousands of sailors managed to escape to Finland during the battle, but more than 1,000 who surrendered were executed by the Bolsheviks. It was the last major uprising the Bolsheviks faced on Russian soil before installing a full communist dictatorship.