Out of the War and into the Revolution


Following over 3 years of war with over 1.5 million military deaths belonging to the Russian Empire, Soviet Russia formally removed itself from World War I on March 3, 1918 with the Treaty of Bresk-Litovsk (Centre-robert-schuman). The preparations for the Treaty of Bresk-Litovsk began in December, 1917 with an armistice in the then German-occupied Polish town of Bresk-Litovsk with negotiations between Germany and Soviet Russia. The signing of the treaty resulted in huge territorial losses for Soviet Russia as it was forced to ends its military presence in the Baltic states and Ukraine. The territorial losses of Soviet Russia were acceptable as it allowed for it to focus on its Civil War and other internal issues such as aiding those effected by the famine and reuniting families separated because of the war.

The negotiations between the Central Powers and Bolshevik Russia helped to signify the authority of the newly formed Soviet government as it was internationally recognized as the head of the Russian state. Domestically however, the negotiations and agreement to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk created numerous problems for the Bolsheviks and its head of state, Vladimir Lenin. It took Soviet Russia quite some time to agree to the negotiations and Treaty as the Soviet foreign policy was shifting between agreeing to the terms presented by the Germans and continuing to stay in the war to spread revolutionary sentiment among the European people (Siegelbaum). As Lenin was able to finally achieve a majority in the Communist Committee, Soviet Russia officially ended its participation in World War I in 1918.

The mixed feelings of the Bolsheviks about Soviet Russia’s removal from World War I was supported by the idea of “War Communism,” where the Soviet state was supposed to act heroically with a strong, unified military to secure its own statehood and then rescue other people and convert them from a capitalist society to more socialist one. (Freeze, 301).




Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.

Siegelbaum, Lewis. “Treaty of Brest Litovsk.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/treaty-of-brest-litovsk/

REPERES. “World War I Casualties.” http://www.centre-robert-schuman.org/userfiles/files/REPERES%20%E2%80%93%20module%201-1-1%20-%20explanatory%20notes%20%E2%80%93%20World%20War%20I%20casualties%20%E2%80%93%20EN.pdf



2 thoughts on “Out of the War and into the Revolution

  1. I think Soviet Russia’s withdrawal from World War I is a really interesting moment in history and I like how you dove into it. I think that it’s interesting to look at how the people reacted; even some people who supported the revolution were unsure about such a big decision on the world stage. Although Russia had already lost so much in the war, it they lost a lot in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as well. I think this shows the desperation and turmoil that they were going through at this time, and you did a great job highlighting that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Caroline, your post highlights some of the challenges the Soviets faced in trying to end the war. So, why was this treaty (which was definitely the only option on the table if the goal was to save the revolution) so controversial for the Soviets? Why do you think this decision was so devastating in terms of the unity of the left? Lots of revolutionaries saw this as a real betrayal. Why? Check out James’ post on B-L too:


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