The Treaty of Brest- Litvosk, 1918

In 1917, Vladimir Lenin sent Leon Trotsky to Brest- Litovsk to negotiate an armistice and peace treaty with the Central Powers, ending Russia's involvement in WWI. The Bolsheviks had promised an end to the unpopular war and deliver "peace, bread and land" to the people of Russia, and wanted to focus on Bolshevism at home instead of waging a war1 . Peace with Germany gave Lenin and the Bolsheviks a "breathing space, and saved the Bolshevik Revolution. 2 "

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was essentially a peace treaty between Russia and the Central Powers. The treaty was harsh, but Russia had to accept the terms or else face the threat of German troops moving in on Petrograd, as the political cartoon below shows. Trotsky had delayed the final terms of the treaty as long as possible, "in hope that either revolution in Germany and Austria-Hungry would topple the Emperor or that the Allies would come back to Russia's aid"3 . Neither of these ambitous hopes came true, and Russia had to surrender to Germany nearly one third of of its territory including "the Ukraine, Finland, the Baltic Provinces, the Caucasus and Poland"4 . (The Bolsheviks thought the Treaty to be only temporary, as they were convinced that the "inevitable... Revolution in Germany would soon come and... all comrades would renounce their gains ill gotten by war"5.)

David Wilson's "Delivering the Goods" depicts Trotsky and the Russians handing over the German's "price" under pressure from the giant German army


The Treaty was one of main catalysts of the Russian Civil War. The Treaty showed many just "how weak the Bolsheviks actually were"7. Lenin had called for peace at "any price"8 because Russia could take no more war, but the Treaty was too severe . Outraged, the rightist anti-Bolshevik Russians now "took up arms" against the Bolsheviks, and even the Left Socialist Revolutionaries thereupon left the coalition they had with the Bolsheviks in protest9 . These two groups drew together as opponents of Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks to form the Whites in the Russian Civil War.

Territory Russia loses to Germany (10)

1 Smele, Jonathan. "War and Revolution in Russia 1914 - 21." BBC. . <‌history/‌worldwars/‌wwone/‌eastern_front_print.html>.
2 Grenville, J.A.S. A History of the World in the 20th Century
3 Wolfson, Robert, and John Laver. Years of Change: European History 1890-1990.
4 "Treaty of Brest-Litovsk." Spartacus Educational. <‌FWWbrest.htm>.
5 Wolfson, Robert, and John Laver. Years of Change: European History 1890-1990
6 Wilson, David. Delivering the Goods . 1918. Spartacus Educational. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <‌FWWbrest.htm>.
7 "Russian Civil War 1918-21." History Learning Site.<‌russian_civil_war1.htm>.
9 Smele, Jonathan. "War and Revolution in Russia 1914 - 21." BBC. . <‌history/‌worldwars/‌wwone/‌eastern_front_print.html>.
10) IBID