The Treaty of Brest Litvosk

The Brest Litvosk Treaty was signed in the modern day city of Brest, which is located just across the Polish border with Belarus. At the time of signing though the city, then named the Brest Litvosk, was located deeply behind the German lines during World War I. While the official armistice (signing pictured above, photographed by Bundesarchiv, Bild) between the two countries at war was called for on Dec. 2, 1917, the treaty itself was not formally issued until March 3rd of the following year. This is the treaty which took Russia out of the first World War and was a major stepping stone for the eventual revolution to come.

The treaty itself laid quite a steep price for the Russian withdraw of from the war. Some of the provisions include a large loss of Russian territory, the demobilization of the Russian army, return of all Russian warships to their ports, release of all POWs, and the recognition of Persia and Afghanistan as free and independent states just to name a few of the requirements in the treaty. These are of course only some of the provisions, the entirety of the treaty can be read here.

The Brest Litvosk Treaty played a large importance in the Russian revolutions in 1917. For Russia to be able to even have a revolution in the first place they needed to be pulled out of the the war to focus on that. That is what this treaty accomplished. After withdrawing from the war the revolution was able to finally, and fully, take shape. After this withdrawal lines were further drawn between the Soviets, who’s previous platform was to pull Russia out of the war, and the provisional government with remnants of the tsarists’ and other members ranking in the nobility. The showdown was set, and the outcome would have a unknowingly massive effect on the future.

 

Work Cited

http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/eu/mod03_1917/evidence_detail_46.html

http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/treaty-of-brest-litovsk/

http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/eu/mod03_1917/evidence_detail_45.html

Image By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R92623 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5368744

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11 thoughts on “The Treaty of Brest Litvosk”

  1. That photo from the Bundesarkhiv of the delegation is really cool. Your post highlights how punitive this peace was for the Bolsheviks, but also (rightly) points out that Lenin’s government really didn’t have much choice. 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?

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    1. I think this view of a betrayal springs from the large amounts of competing influence among the different parties. If one party achieves its goal but others on the left do not as a result I can see how this could be seen as a type of betrayal or being felt like you were left out to dry.

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      1. Yes. Also think about socialist ideology and those handouts we have about the political perspective of different groups. Many on the Left saw B-L as a fundamental betrayal of the international promise of the revolution — an admission that the revolution would be contained in Russia.

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  2. Unfortunately, no treaty in World War I made anyone happy. While the Bolsheviks campaigned on a promise of peace, not everyone was satisfied with the peace agreement. You also made a great point that revolution began in earnest after Russia had left World War I. As we saw with the Provisional Government, it is very hard to have a revolution and fight a war simultaneously. Great post!

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  3. What’s great about the Treaty of Brest-Litvosk is that it’s surprisingly fair when compared to the Treaty of Versailles. The Germans get to keep the territory that the took from Russia during the war, prisoners of war are returned to their country, all that standard treaty practice. There’s required disarmament for Russia, but they already had plans to disarm the Imperial Army to form the Red Army.

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    1. I agree, compared to the Treaty of Versailles, Brest-Litvosk is far the more easy going one. Granted, I wonder if the Germans would have aimed for a far more punishing version if they had known what was to come in terms of their repercussions for WWII in the Treaty of Versailles.

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  4. I feel like the Russians got off fairly easily all things considered. If they had stayed in the war for much longer they would have been forced to accept any peace offer given by the Germans. Getting out of the war was one of the major goals of the Bolshevik party and succeeding gave them a lot of legitimacy.

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  5. Kelly,

    Your post on the Treaty of Brest-Litvosk was really informative. How you highlighted the role the Treaty played, and how it linked many of the underlining factors of instability in Russia, helped me paint a better portrait in my mind of the grand web of factors leading to the Revolutions of 1917. I think it speaks to how the blows to the “great-power” status of Russia at the time influenced displeasure, and ultimately insurrection, against what was waning Russian power at the hands of the autocracy.

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    1. Russia, until post WWII had never truly attained a solid grasp on the “great-power” status even though they desperately yearned for it. The displeasure from the Russia’s failures in WWI certainly helped lead to greatly things such as the eventual insurrection as you pointed out.

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