How Churchill’s dream of killing communism sank in the Russian snow

Anna Reid delivers a gruesome yet riveting account of how imperial allies floundered in a bid to ‘strangle Bolshevism in its cradle’

Defiant: Winston Churchill in 1918, who was the biggest cheerleader for an intervention by Allies into the Russian Civil War. Photo: Getty

When Ireland was partitioned just over a century ago, Winston Churchill warned that northern nationalists and southern unionists would have to “stew in their own juice”. At the end of World War I a couple of years earlier, however, Britain’s then minister of munitions had told his cabinet colleagues that the Russian people still reeling from a violent revolution deserved much more help.

“The bear is padding on bloody paws across the snow to the [Paris] Peace Conference,” wrote Churchill, who at various times described Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks as “mangy hyenas”, “blood-sucking vampires”, “plague-bearing rats” and “mastermind crocodiles”.

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