White terror

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White terror is a battle term from early 20th century Russia . Historically, however, it is already used as a counter-movement to or within the French Revolution (as a reaction to the reign of terror ) by the welfare committee and for the subsequent restoration at the beginning of the 19th century.

In a more general sense, white terror refers to the violent repression in the context of counter-revolutions .

The term is derived from the flag of the Bourbons with their golden lilies on a white background.

French Revolution

In May / June 1795, the royalist forces struck back in the French Revolution . After the end of the reign of terror of the welfare committee under the main leadership of Robespierre , who had been executed in 1794, the royalists and federalists now rehearsed the revolt against the new rulers of the first French republic, the so-called Thermidorians , and, after them, with even further political rights standing views, the monarchists of the Club de Clichy .

The defeat of the popular uprising in 1795 in the month of Prairial gave the white terror the decisive impetus in the transition to the constitution of the Directory. Not only were most of the former Jacobins banned from the National Convention, but the Jeunesse dorée and Muscadins also hunted the men of year 2 of the revolution on the streets in the departments . The White Terror was particularly present in the south of France, where entire cities fell into the hands of these groups.

Between 1815 and 1820 the terreur blanche was again exercised against supporters of the revolution and Napoleon by the returning royalist emigrants.

Russian revolution

The white terror was carried out either by the “commoners” or, much more strongly, by monarchists on the part of the tsarist authorities (nobles, officers, and later ethnic minorities ). The clashes between “whites” and “reds” (the communist Bolsheviks ) began immediately after the October Revolution and led to a civil war that lasted until 1920 and killed a total of eight million people. The young revolution of the gigantic empire was militarily challenged at all borders by counter-revolutionary, interventionist and resource-hungry forces. “In the summer of 1919, the troops of fourteen countries were on Soviet territory without a declaration of war. Participants were: Great Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, USA, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, China, Finland, Greece, Poland, Romania and Turkey. ... The armies of the White Guard generals, together with the intervention troops, should advance on Moscow from all four points of the compass. "Winston Churchill, who was in charge of the anti-Soviet campaign, wrote:" Were they (the Allies) at war with Russia? Definitely not; but they shot every Soviet Russian they saw. Their troops had occupied Russian territory. They armed the enemies of the Soviet government. They blocked ports and sunk warships. The collapse of the regime was sought and prepared by them. But to speak of war and interference was considered embarrassing and shameful! They kept asserting that they were completely indifferent to what was going on inside Russia. They were impartial - that was it! ”The war against Soviet power delayed the development of the Soviet Union. It was not until 1922 that the Japanese could be expelled from the far east and the USSR controlled their territory.

The White Terror was mainly directed against communists, but it also affected intellectuals, atheists and ethnic minorities. Jews and communists were identified - as later by the National Socialists - under the catchphrase " Jewish Bolshevism ". When General Anton Ivanovich Denikin's volunteer army marched into Ukraine in the summer / autumn of 1919 , there were numerous pogroms against the Jews living there, killing around 150,000 people.

According to Jörg Baberowski , the White Terror was "hardly less cruel" than the Red Terror , but - in contrast to the Red Terror, which was institutionalized by the Cheka - "fragmented" and without central ideological guidelines based on the respective local conditions and decisions of local commanders expired. In this respect it was "a great anarchic pogrom that was not in the service of higher intentions".

Artistic processing

The first novel by the writer Mikhail Bulgakov, The White Guard , deals with the struggle between whites and reds.

Bavarian Revolution

After the murder of Kurt Eisner ( USPD ) by a right-wing extremist assassin, revolutionaries (including Erich Mühsam , Gustav Landauer ) proclaimed a Bavarian Soviet republic against the coalition government of the MSPD and USPD under Johannes Hoffmann on April 7, 1919 . This then fled to Bamberg . On the orders of the Reichswehr Minister Gustav Noske and at the request of the evicted government, a large-scale execution of the Reich by Reichswehr associations and voluntary corps took place in early May . The associated violence was called “white terror” and damaged both the reputation of the Hoffmann government and the already disturbed relationship between the MSPD and the USPD.


The white terror ( Chinese  白色恐怖 , Pinyin Báisè kǒngbù ) was based on the incident of April 12, 1927 during the Chinese Civil War and describes the suppression of communists and sympathizers of communism by the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek . Starting on April 27, the White Terror continues to spread to major Chinese cities, particularly Shanghai .

Also known as Chiang's "Bloody Double Cross," the Republican Army fought against the Communists. Death squads patrolled the cities with orders to execute any citizen with communist tendencies. Particularly prominent communists, leftists and democrats like Wen Yiduo were murdered.

The official name of the "Bloody Double Cross" is the "Shanghai Massacre", which the People's Republic of China calls the "April 12th Counterrevolution".


Based on the February 28 incident in Taiwan, 1947, the White Terror ( 白色恐怖 , Báisè kǒngbù ) describes the repression of opponents of the government and opposition members, legalized by martial law , which lasted for 38 years from May 19, 1949 to July 15, 1987.

During the White Terror, parts of the population were arrested and shot for their true or subordinate opposition to the Kuomintang government under Chiang Kai-shek . The exact number of victims is not known, but estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000. Some victims were referred to by the Kuomintang as communists or "bandits / spies" ( 匪諜  /  匪谍 , Fěidié ) for the communists. The White Terror has left deep scars on the Taiwanese population, whose anger is still directed against the Kuomintang and sometimes against mainland Chinese.

Fear of talking about the February 28 incident subsided after martial law was lifted, also known as the end of the White Terror. In 1995, President Lee Teng-hui declared February 28 a national memorial day, which completely lifted the fear of talking about the incident.


  • Art. White terror and terror , in: Paul Herre , Kurt Jagow (Hrsg.): Political Concise Dictionary. Leipzig 1923.
  • Art. White Terror , in: Meyers Enzyklopädisches Lexikon . Bibliographisches Institut, Mannheim, Vienna, Zurich 1971–1979, Volume 25, p. 152.
  • Stefan Fleischauer: The dream of one's own nation: the past and present of Taiwan's independence movement. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-16044-3 .
  • Michael Meyer: The "White Terror" of the 50s. Chances and Limits of Coping with a “Dark Chapter” in Taiwan's History. In: Gunther Schubert, Axel Schneider (ed.): Taiwan on the threshold of the 21st century. Social change, problems and perspectives of an Asian emerging country. Institute for Asian Studies , Hamburg 1996, pp. 99-134.
  • Gunther Schubert, Axel Schneider (eds.): Taiwan on the threshold of the 21st century. Social change, problems and perspectives of an Asian emerging country (communications from the Institute for Asian Studies No. 270). Institute for Asian Studies, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-88910-174-7 .
  • Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo. Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA / London 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-05471-4 .
  • Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo's Son: Chiang Ching-Kuo and the Revolutions in China and Taiwan. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA / London 2000, ISBN 0-674-00287-3 .
  • Bruno Thoss : White Terror, 1919 . In: Historical Lexicon of Bavaria
  • Thomas Weyrauch: China's Democratic Traditions from the 19th Century to the Present in Taiwan. Longtai, Heuchelheim 2014, ISBN 978-3-938946-24-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Sayers, Albert E. Kahn: The great conspiracy . Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin (East) 1953, p. 91.
  2. Quoted from Michael Sayers, Albert E. Kahn: The great conspiracy . Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin (East) 1953, p. 91.
  3. Jörg Baberowski: The red terror. Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2007, p. 37.