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In general, the term White Terror refers to acts of violence carried out by reactionary (usually monarchist or conservative) groups as part of a counter-revolution. In particular, during the 20th century, in several countries the term White Terror was applied to acts of violence against real or suspected socialists and communists.

Historical origin

The name derives from the traditional use of the colour white as a symbol of the Bourbon monarchy, as opposed to the red used by revolutionaries/republicans as in their Phrygian caps and red flag.

The original White Terror took place in 1794, during the turbulent times surrounding the French Revolution. It was organized by reactionary "Chouan" royalist forces in the aftermath of the Reign of Terror, and was targeted at the radical Jacobins and anyone suspected of supporting them. Throughout Francemarker, both real and suspected Jacobins were attacked and often murdered. Just like during the Reign of Terror, trials were held with little regard for due process. In other cases, gangs of youths who had aristocratic connections roamed the streets beating known Jacobins. These "bands of Jesus" dragged suspected terrorists from prisons and murdered them much as alleged royalists had been murdered during the September Massacres of 1792.

Again, in 1815, following the return of King Louis XVIII of France to power, people suspected of having ties with the governments of the French Revolution or of Napoleon suffered arrest and execution. Marshal Brune was killed in Avignonmarker, and General J.P. Ramel was assassinated in Toulousemarker. These actions struck fear in the population, dissuading Jacobin and Bonapartist electors (48,000 on 72,000 total permitted by the census suffrage) to vote for the ultras. Of 402 members, the first Chamber of the Restoration was composed of 350 ultra-royalists; the king himself thus named it the Chambre introuvable ("the Unobtainable Chamber"). The Chamber voted oppressive laws, sentencing to death Marshal Ney and general la Bédoyère, while 250 people were given prison sentences and some others exiled (Joseph Fouché, Lazare Carnot, Cambacérès).

Anti-communist White Terrors

Bulgarian White Terror

The White Terror ( , Byal teror) in Bulgaria occurred during the right-wing government of Aleksandar Tsankov (1923-1926). The Bulgarian Communist Party was repressed and martial law was declared. In 1925, after the Sofiamarker bomb attack aimed to assassinate Tsar Boris III, the Communist Party was outlawed and persecution escalated, with many notable figures who had expressed Communist beliefs—for example, writer Geo Milev—being repressed, put on trial or even killed. An estimated 5000 people perished in the Tsankovite White Terror.

Chinese White Terror

White Terror ( ) in relation to modern Chinese history is associated with the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek.

On April 12, 1927, Chiang carried out purge of Communists from the Kuomintang in Shanghai and began large-scale killings. Chiang's forces turned machine guns on 100,000 workers taking to streets, killing more than 5000 people. Throughout April 1927 in Shanghai, more than 12,000 people were killed. The killing in Shanghai drove most of the Communists out of the urban cities and into the rural countryside.

The greatest slaughter took place in the countryside. The White Terror in China took millions of lives, most of them in the rural areas. The Chinese Communist Party was virtually extinguished. At the beginning of 1927, the Chinese Communist Party had about 60,000 members. By the end of the year, no more than 10,000 remained.

The "White Terror" continued throughout the Chinese civil war, and also resulted in the assassination of a number of prominent Communists, leftists and democrats such as Wen Yiduo.

Ethiopian White Terror

In February 1977, the EPRP initiated terrorist attacks - known as the White Terror - against Derg members and their supporters. This violence immediately claimed at least eight Derg members, plus numerous Derg supporters, and soon provoked a government counteraction - the Red Terror .

Finnish White Terror

After the Finnish Civil War of 1918, the victorious White troops of Carl Gustaf Mannerheim carried out terror against workers and suspected leftists. According to Finnish studies, some 80,000 people and their families were sent to concentration camps, where more than 11,783 died of disease or starvation. About 8500 people were executed. In Helsinki, the White Guards made workers' wives and children walk in front of their troops as they recaptured the city street by street. In Lahti in one day some 200 women were shot with explosive bullets. In Viipuri 600 Red Guards were lined up in three rows and machine gunned to death.

German White Terror

In the aftermath of the First World War, Germany tottered on the brink of chaos. In an attempt to suppress the revolution, militias formed out of demobilized WWI veterans. The Freikorps, as they were called, were meant as a replacement for the Kaiser's Army, which had evaporated overnight due to desertion. The Freikorps was sent to suppress the revolution on the streets of Berlin and later invaded the Bavarian Republic. A large number of people were murdered in the subsequent terror. The number of workers who died in the repression of revolutionary developments in Germany from 1918 to 1921 was estimated at 15,000.

Greek White Terror

During 1945-1946, right-wing gangs killed about 1,190 pro-communist and left-wing civilians, and tortured many others. Entire villages that helped the partisans were attacked by those gangs.

Hungarian White Terror

One of the first such White Terrors outside Russia was the Hungarian White Terror, carried out by irregular and semi-regular detachments (most of them formally belonged to Miklós Horthy's "National Army") in Hungarymarker in 1919-1920, after the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Horthy's militias massacred some 6000 people, including progressives, Jews, and alleged "traitors." Another 70,000 people were sent to concentration camps.

Russian White Terror

The White Armies, foreign forces, and other opponents of the Soviet Government carried out mass violence against the population, tortured and shot people suspected of being associated with the soviets, destroyed villages, and tormented Red Army prisoners. After each town was captured, there was a protracted massacre of suspected opponents.

White Guard leader Lavr Kornilov promised, "the greater the terror, the greater our victories." He vowed that the goals of his forces must be fulfilled even if it was needed "to set fire to half the country and shed the blood of three-fourths of all Russians." An order issued by Krasnov stated: "It is forbidden to arrest workers. The orders are to hang or shoot them." Another order issued by Kaledin said: "The orders are to hang all arrested workers in the street. The bodies are to be exhibited for three days."

In eastern Russia and Siberia, terror was practiced. There was a massacre at a munitions factory in Samara carried out by the Czechs and SR-Menshevik regime. More than 1,500 men, women, and children were sabred down. In Ekaterinburg alone, more than 25,000 people were shot or tortured to death by Kolchak's forces. In March 1919 Admiral Kolchak himself demanded one of his generals to "follow the example of the Japanese who, in the Amur region, had decimated the local population." Kolchak's regime also used mass floggings, especially with rods. Kolchak issued orders to raze to the ground whole villages. In a few Siberian provinces, 20,000 farms were destroyed and over 10,000 peasant houses burned down. Kolchak's regime destroyed bridges and blew up water stations. The Semenov regime in in Transbaikalia was characterized by mass terror and executions. At the Adrianovki station in summer of 1919, more than 1600 people were shot. 11 permanent death houses were set up, where refined forms of torture were practiced.

In the occupied territories of southern Russia, White Guard regimes carried out mass executions and plunder. Bands of Kornilov’s officers left behind more than 500 dead in a Don village in early 1918. The press of the Denikin regime regularly incited violence against Jews. For example, a proclamation by one of Denikin's generals incited people to "arm themselves" in order to extirpate "the evil force which lives in the hearts of Jew-communists." In the small town of Fastov alone, Denikin's Volunteer Army murdered over 1500 Jews, mostly elderly, women, and children. An estimated 100,000 Jews in Ukraine were killed in pogroms perpetrated by Denikin's forces and Petlyura's nationalist-separatists. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were left homeless and tens of thousands became victims of serious illness. In the Don Province, where power was held by Krasnov's White Cossack regime, more than 45,000 people were shot or hanged. In one particular incident on 10 May 1918, the White Cossacks shot 78 men and hanged chairman of the Don Soviet Republic F. Podtelkov and secretary of the Don Military Revolutionary Committee M. Krovhoshlykov.

South Korean White Terror

Before and during the Korean War, there were a series of reprisal killings carried out by South Korean security forces against suspected communists. The most infamous incident of this type occurred during the Jeju Uprisingmarker in the extreme south of the country.

Spanish White Terror

During and after the civil war in Spain the Nationalist side executed an estimated 200,000 people.

Taiwanese White Terror

Rooted in the anti-Communist White Terror on the Chinese Mainland and the 228 Incident or the 228 massacre on Taiwanmarker in 1947, the "White Terror" describes the suppression of political dissidents and public discussion of the 228 Incident under the martial law period from May 19, 1949 to July 15, 1987.

See also



Notes

  1. John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, First Baron Acton, Lectures on the French Revolution, edited by John Neville Figgis, C.R., Litt.D. and Reginald Vere Laurence, M.A. (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1910). Chapter XXII: After the Terror.. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  2. Walter Laqueur, Black hundred: the rise of the extreme right in Russia‎, p.195



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