- Tambov Rebellion
Infobox Military Conflict
Russian Civil War
Tambov Governorate, Soviet Russia
combatant1= peasant rebels
casualties2=N/A|The Tambov Rebellion of 1919–1921 was one of the largest and best organized peasant rebellions against the
Bolshevikregime during the Russian Civil War Robert Conquest, [http://www.ditext.com/conquest/harvest.html"The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine"] Oxford University PressNew York (1986) ISBN 0-195-04054-6 ] . The uprising took place in the territories of the modern Tambov Oblastand a part of Voronezh Oblast, less than 300 miles southeast of Moscow. One of rebellion leaders was a former official of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, Alexander Antonov, and therefore in Soviet history it was named the Antonovschina (Анто́новщина).
The rebellion was caused by the forceful confiscation of grain by the
Bolshevikauthorities (policy known as prodrazvyorstka). In 1920 the requisitions were increased from 18 million to 27 million poods in the region, whereas peasants reduced the grain production knowing that anything they did not consume themselves will be immediately confiscated. To fill the state quotas meant a death by starvation . The revolt began on 19 August 1920in a small town of Khitrovo. The peasant army was also known as the Antonovtsi or "Blue Army" (not to be confused with Polish Blue Army), as opposed to " White Army" (anti-communist army), " Red Army" (communist army), " Green Army" (Ukrainian nationalists) and "Black Army" (anarchists of Ukraine and Russia) - all taking part in the Civil War.
As a distinctive feature of this rebellion among the many of these times, it was led by a political organization, the
Union of Toiling Peasants("Soyuz Trudovogo Krestyanstva"). A congress of Tambov rebels abolished Soviet power and decided to create a Constituent Assembly under equal voting, and to return all land to the peasants.
Tambov uprising was one of main reasons Bolsheviks abandoned the
prodrazverstka(forced expropriation of grain) policy, changing it to prodnalog(essentially, a grain/food tax). On February 2, 1921, Bolshevik Party decided to tailor a special message targeting peasants of Tambov region, announcing the retirement of the old grain policy. This was done ahead of the X Party Congress, where the measure was officially adopted. The announcement started circulating in Tambov area on February 9, 1921.
Alexander Antonov, a radical member of the
Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, had sided with the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution in 1917, but he became disenchanted with them after the Bolshevik's new farming policies were implemented in 1918. Antonov started to make attacks against the Soviet authorities and became a popular hero to the people of the Tambovregion of central Russia where he started his campaigns.
In October 1920 the peasant army numbered over 50,000 fighters, and was joined by numerous deserters from
Red Army. The rebel militia was highly effective and infiltrated even the Tambov Cheka. In January 1921 peasant revolts spread to Samara, Saratov, Tsaritsyn, Astrakhan, and Siberia.
The seriousness of the uprising called for the creation of the "Plenipotentiary Commission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Bolshevik party for liquidation of banditry in the Tambov Gubernia". The rebellion was crushed by
Red Armyunits headed by Mikhail Tukhachevsky. The political guidance of the anti-revolt operations was effected by Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko. The famous Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukovreceived his first Soviet decoration while fighting rebels here Fact|date=July 2007.
The uprising was so great that nearly 30,000 soldiers were sent in, including special
Chekadetachments. The army used heavy artillery and armored trains to fight peasant rebels. Tukhachevskyand Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenkosigned an order, dated June 12 1921, that stipulated: "The forests where the bandits are hiding are to be cleared by the use of poison gas. This must be carefully calculated, so that the layer of gas penetrates the forests and kills everyone hiding there." Nicolas Werth, Karel Bartošek, Jean-Louis Panné, Jean-Louis Margolin, Andrzej Paczkowski, Stéphane Courtois, " The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression", Harvard University Press, 1999, hardcover, 858 pages, ISBN 0-674-07608-7 ] Chemical weaponswere used"from end of June 1921 until apparently the fall of 1921", by direct order from leadership of Red Armyand Communist party [http://gulag.ipvnews.org/article20061017.php B.V.Sennikov. "Tambov rebellion and liquidation of peasants in Russia"] , Publisher: Posev, 2004, ISBN 5-85824-152-2 [http://www.rusk.ru/vst.php?idar=321701 Full text in Russian] ] Publications in local Communist newspapers openly glorified liquidations of "bandits" with the poison gas .
Concentration camps were set up. At least 50,000 people were interned, mostly women, children, and elderly, some of them were sent there as hostages. The mortality rate in the camps was 15-20 percent a month.
In January 1921, Antonov resorted to conscription in order to increase his army. He managed to form 2 field armies. These field armies consisted of 21 'regiments', with a total strength of around 20,000-50,000 men. The army was well structured and well organised, with their own form of insignia and uniforms. The Soviets however, referred to these Antonovtsi as disorganised
Kulakgroups or bandits.
The uprising was gradually quelled in 1921. Antonov was killed in 1922 during an attempt to arrest him. Total losses among the population of Tambov region in 1920-1922 resulting from the war, executions, and imprisonment in concentration camps were estimated as at least 240,000 .
* [http://hem.lidnet.se/~agzybirlik/tuhachvski.htm Tukhachvsky role in the Tambov revolt] , including the text of commands given to the red army concerning the use of war gases, taking and executing hostages, deporting of peasant families to Concentration camps.
* [http://www.uea.ac.uk/his/webcours/russia/documents/trud-krestyane.shtml Programme of Union of Toiling Peasants]
* [http://www.tstu.ru/win/kultur/other/antonov/titul.htm (in Russian) Antonovshchina: a wealth of historical documents, including the documents from the rebel side]
* [http://gulag.ipvnews.org/article20061017.php An illustrated article about Tambov revolt from Gulag website (Russian)]
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