German Fighters over Russia by Bryan Philpott

By Bryan Philpott

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The accomplices of the bourgeoisie, notably high-ranking functionaries and bank cadres, are also involved in sabotage and organizing strikes to undermine the measures the government is taking with a view to the socialist transformation of society. . ”13 Among those “exceptional” measures was a rapid escalation of the Bolshevik war on the banks. On 21 December 1917, the new managing director of the State Bank, Grigory Sokol’nikov, decreed that Bolshevik commissars must be appointed to all the banks in Russia.

2 The People The Old Bolshevik was right when he explained what Bolshevism was about to the Cossack. ) — Lenin, in Pravda, 6 February 1918 THE LOOTING of Russia’s rich began long before the Bolshevik seizure of power. The transfer of the nation’s patrimony into the hands of “revolutionaries” was effected almost immediately after the February Revolution in Petrograd, when the tsar’s many palaces were requisitioned by the Petrograd Soviet. 1 Peasant-soldiers returning to their villages from the front began dividing up estates owned by absentee landowners long before the Bolshevik land decree of 8 November 1917 offered them a formal legal pretext for doing so (not that most of them needed such justification).

Predictably, following the Bolsheviks’ repudiation of Russia’s entire public and private debt, the bulk of which was held by Entente creditors, a ban on transactions in looted Russian gold would be enforced in the capital markets of London, New York, and Paris, and (after the Entente powers won the war) in most of the neutral countries as well. This “gold blockade” was not ironclad, as we shall see (chapters 7– 8), but it took the Bolsheviks nearly two years to break it, during which time they had to fight a civil war without being able to sell their most valuable commodity.

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