5 Forgotten Moments That Almost Changed History Forever

The Russian Revolution Almost Spread Across Europe

Unless you are a history buff, you probably don’t know about the battle of Warsaw, when the outmanned and outgunned Poles absolutely crushed the Russian army and Lenin’s dream of conquering the world on behalf of Communism. “The fate of the world revolution is being decided in the west; the way leads over the corpse of Poland to a universal conflagration … ‘To Warsaw!'”

As Military History magazine averred: “Little remembered in the West, the Battle of Warsaw was in fact one of the most significant land engagements of the 20th century. Strategically, it reversed an ideological onslaught that might otherwise have carried Soviet Communism into Western Europe in 1920 — an eventuality the consequences of which can only be imagined by posterity. Militarily, the sudden counterattack by which Pilsudski and his lieutenants split and routed the Bolshevik forces — themselves led by one of the enemy’s most brilliant generals — deserves a place among the tactical masterpieces of history.”

(The Soviet history books conveniently omitted any mention of this humiliating defeat, as well as the failed Hungarian Revolution.)

This topic spurred a surprisingly enthusiastic discussion, so I’ll bring Roger’s comment up here to the top: “There is a good short book about these events: ‘Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of Europe’ by Adam Zamoyski. Very good reading, IMO.”

9 thoughts on “5 Forgotten Moments That Almost Changed History Forever

  1. There is a good short book about these events: “Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of Europe” by Adam Zamoyski. Very good reading, IMO.

  2. There were Communist revolts, some of which were temporarily successful (Berlin, Bavaria, Finland, the Baltics, Hungary) all over Europe between the last years of WW I and the mid 20s. There was even briefly a “Limerick Soviet” in Ireland. And the King of England (a boneless wonder before Ramsey McDonald) wouldn’t give his Romanov relatives sanctuary in Britain because of a fear of violent reaction from the local Left.
    Before the Poles put a halt to their advance, there were posters going up in Russia proclaiming “On to Berlin”. Their intentions weren’t exactly hidden. Also the mutual recriminations between Stalin and the Red Army’s best general, Tukachevsky, over who was to blame led directly to the Red Army purge in the 30s (which almost snuffed out the Soviets’ best general, maybe anybody’s best general, of WWII, who was half Polish himself – Rokossovski).

  3. I’m not sure that the support for communism was that strong in Europe that the Russian Red Army could have fomented and stirred up revolutions all over Europe.

    What is also little known about that period is that many nations, including the United States, had troops in Russia during the Russian Civil War, and these troops, including those of the United States, supported the White Armies against the communists.

    This early attempt to defeat the Communists and the, especially American denials of trying to do any such thing, greatly colored Soviet opinions toward the West during the Cold War.

    1. If I remember right, there were still American troops in Russia into the next decade. It seems like I read about this in the Sinclair novel that formed the basis for There Will be Blood.

      1. From some American books I’d read on the Russian Revolution and Civil War, especially those published up in the 1950s and 1960s, the American troops were only in Russia to protect war materiel. And that, in fact, these Americans assisted the Communists by helping escort out prisoners of war stationed in Russia, the Czechoslovak Legion, after they had started a small rebellion (they resisted having their guns taken from them prior to their leaving Russia.)

        I mentioned this to a Canadian Armed Forces Member who was taking part with a historical site on Canada Day, and he replied to me “Where do you get your history from?”

        He said ‘that’s what the Americans want the world to believe happened.’

        This is what actually happened:
        The Cynical Historian
        Published on Nov 18, 2013
        America really has been at war with Russia.

  4. Not the first time Poland saved the day and not the first time the beneficiaries eventually let her down.
    Sobieski and the Poles rode to the rescue of Vienna in 1683. A little over 100 years later Austria joined in the first round of partitions with Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great. Fritz was always out to grab what he could; Catherine had this concept that Poland was becoming a hotbed of Jacobinism (a little Russian prePutin Putinism there). but Maria Theresa was a little bummed about it considering the history . But in Frederick’s sarcastic words, “She wept, but she took nonetheless”. By 1795 there was no Poland left.

    1. “Veni, vidi, Deus vici”

      Only a bit more than a thousand Poles died in the assault on Mustafa. Sobieski murderized ’em.

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