Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


American Intervention in Russia 1918-1920
Author:
Michael Young
Course:
US History
Time Frame:
one to three 45-minute class periods
Subjects:
World War I

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • This lesson can be integrated into the classroom through any or all of the following strategies: activities by individual students through cross-curricular activities with Language Arts and/or cooperative learning endeavors.
  •  Students will use computer technology to analyze Internet websites containing primary and secondary sources that contain a variety of documents related to U.S. intervention in Russia from 1918-20.

Rationale:
  • To assist students in developing analytical skills that will enable them to evaluate primary and secondary sources such as written documents, photographs, and maps related to the United States decision to intervene in Russia from 1918-1920
  • To introduce students to the Stanford History Educational Group’s Reading Like A Historian teaching strategies to help them investigate historical questions by employing the following reading strategies: Sourcing, Contextualizing, corroborating and close reading

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


Nebraska District Standards 

https://www.education.ne.gov/ss/Documents/2012December7NE_SocialStudiesStandardsApproved.pdf

 

K-12 History: Students will develop and apply historical knowledge and skills to research, analyze, and understand key concepts of past, current, and potential issues and events at the local, state, national, and international levels.

  • SS 12.4.2.c (US) Analyze and evaluate the appropriate uses of primary and secondary sources
  • SS 12.4.3.a (US) Analyze and evaluate how multiple perspectives facilitate the understanding of the full story of US history
  • SS 12.4.3.b (US) Compare and contrast primary and secondary sources to better understand multiple perspectives of the same event
  • SS 12.4.4.a (US) Compare and evaluate contradictory historical narratives of Twentieth-Century U.S. History through determination of credibility, contextualization, and corroboration
  • SS 12.4.4.d (US) Analyze and evaluate multiple causes and effects of key events in US history (e.g., World War I}
  • SS 12.4.5.b (US) Obtain, analyze, evaluate, and cite appropriate sources for research about Twentieth-Century U.S. History, incorporating primary and secondary sources (e.g., Cite sources using a prescribed format.)
  • SS 12.4.5.c (US) Gather historical information about the United States (e.g., document archives, artifacts, newspapers, interviews)

 

Common Core

http://www.corestandards.org/wp-content/uploads/ELA_Standards.pdf

 

Key Ideas and Details

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Craft and Structure

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Oral Presentation

Will Englund.  “Misreading Russia for 101 Years.” Oral Presentation on July 17, 2018. Truman Library.

          Truman Library 15th Annual Teachers Conferenceâ�¨â�¨“The United States and World War One.”â�¨          

             July 16–20, 2018.

 

                                          Books:

Brinkley, Georg A.  The Volunteer Army and Allied Intervention in South Russia.  1917-1921.

 Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966.

 

Englund, Will. March 1917.  New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2017.

 

Ferrell, Robert H.  American Diplomacy.  A History.  New York: W.W. Norton and Co. Inc., 1959

 

Rappaport, Armin. (Ed.)  Issues in American Diplomacy. Vol. 2.  New York: The Macmillan Co., 1965.

 

 

                                                Periodicals:

 

O’Connor, Richard.  “Yanks in Siberia”.  American Heritage. August, 1974.  Pp. 10-17; 80-83.

 

Hanna, William.  “American Intervention into Siberia.  American History Illustrated. April, 1984.  Pp. 8-17.

 

Young, Michael.  United States Foreign Relations with the Soviet Union, 1917-18. Perspectives, No.3. 1983-84. 

            Nebraska State Council for Social Studies. Pp.13-22.

 

                                                Internet

 

Foreign Policy Journal.  Lessons from America’s intervention in Russia 1918-1920.  Kerry J.Bolton.

            Jan 13, 2011.  Asia Pacific, Essays, US.

https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/01/13/lessons-from-americas-intervention-in-russia-1918-1920/

 

Stanford History Education Group.

            https://sheg.stanford.edu/history-lessons?f%5B0%5D=topic%3A7#main-content#main-content#main-content

 

UMBC Center for History Education, 2013. Adapted from the work of the Stanford History Education Group ® and Bruce VanSledright, Assessing Historical Thinking and Understanding: Innovative Ideas for New Standards, (New York: Routledge, 2014).  http://www.umbc.edu/che/arch/images/ARCH_Historical_Thinking%20Skills_Rubric_Secondary_rev_2-17-14.pdf

 

War History Online. The Day That The USA Invaded Russia And Fought The Red Army.

            https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-i/the-day-that-the-usa-invaded-russia-and-fought-with-the-red-army-x.html

 

Wiklpedia.  American Expeditionary Force, Siberia.  (Wikipedia is not a source I would typically recommend, but

            it does contain some good historical images and links top more reputable sources).

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Expeditionary_Force,_Siberia

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Internet:

 

AEF in Siberia. Department of Defense Video.

https://archive.org/details/gov.dod.dimoc.30165

 

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/.../american-film-propaganda-1.html

 

Government Documents. (U.S.).  President Woodrow Wilson’s Aide Memoire.

https://web.archive.org/web/20050831192711/http://secretwar.hhsweb.com:80/government_documents.htm

 

http://secretwar.hhsweb.com:80/aide_memoire.htm

 

 

 

Imperial War Museum.  “American Intervention in Russia.  (Excellent series of images related to American intervention in Russia plus some photographs of rooms where Czar Nicolas II and his family were held and killed).

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=american%20intervention%20in%20russia%20&pageSize=15&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5Bphotographs%5D=on&filters%5BperiodString%5D%5BFirst%20World%20War%5D=on&page=7

 

 

Imperial War Museum. Murmansk Russia.  https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?filters%5BplaceString%5D%5BMurmansk%2C%20Russia%5           D=on

 

Imperial War Museum. The North Russia Intervention. 1918-1920.

            https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205213345 

 

National Archives. Allied Expeditionary Forces in Siberia. 1918-1919. Video.

            https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/allied-expeditionary-forces-siberia

 

National Archives. Documents Analysis Worksheets. See revised ones.

            https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets

 

National Archives.  Prologue Magazine. Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks

The U.S. Army in Russia, 1918–1920.

            https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/winter/us-army-in-russia-1.html

 

National Archives.  America and the World Foreign Affairs in Political Cartoons, 1898–1940.

            Featuring Drawings by Clifford K. Berryman

            https://www.archives.gov/files/legislative/resources/education/america-and-the-world/ebook.pdf

 

National Archives. Prologue American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia

            https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/fall/american-film-propaganda-1.html

 

National Archives.  Spotlight on History. Allied intervention in Russia, 1918-1920

            http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/spotlights/allies.htmm

 

Polar Bear Expedition.  Digital Collections.

            https://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/polaread/history.html

Full description of activity or assignment.
  1. The following excerpt from the National Archives provides a brief background of America’s initial involvement in Russia beginning in 1918.  Share this information with students via a handout or direct them to the National Archives site and then conduct a class discussion of the material.

President Woodrow Wilson had decided that the United States, still at war in Europe, must intervene in another part of the world to protect its investments. It had nearly a billion dollars' worth of American guns and equipment strewn along a segment of the Trans-Siberian Railway between Vladivostok and Nikolsk.

Wilson had approved the dispatch of eight thousand men to Siberia— that cold, forbidding part of Russia— and he had chosen Graves as their commander. There, Graves would engage not in the kind of structured combat he had expected in Europe but in a wily contest of nerves, with Cossacks, Bolshevik guerrilla forces, and even Japanese army troops looking to bring Siberia into Japan's sphere of influence. At the same time, the American North Russian Expeditionary Force arrived in Archangel.

It would be the first, and only, time American troops were on Russian soil.

Graves and his men would face off against not German military leaders schooled in combat much the way he had been at West Point, but with the likes of Grigori Semenoff, a Cossack leader, or ataman, of a surly band of marauders whose sole joy in life was to rape, plunder, and steal among the local populations of the Trans-Baikal region of Siberia. On the Trans-Baikal Railway, one of the major links of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Cossacks routinely commandeered railway cars and locomotives.

Wilson's decision and Graves's unexpected adventure were coming at a time when much of the world was in turmoil.

The World War was still raging in Europe and would not end until the Armistice in November 1918. Civil war was still under way in Russia even though the Bolsheviks had ousted Alexander Kerensky in November 1917, a few months after the Mensheviks had deposed the tsar that spring. There did not appear to the Allies to be a legitimate government with whom they could do business. The Allies viewed the Czech Legion and even some White Russian and Cossack forces as levers to winning the war against Germany and Austria by creating diversions in western Russia at Archangel and in eastern Siberia. They hoped this activity would cause the Central Powers to divert forces from the Western Front back to Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, the Red Army in Russia was still fighting for its life on at least four fronts.

When Baker met Graves in Kansas City, he handed him an envelope that contained the aide memoire, the reasons for sending American soldiers to innermost Russia:

  • To facilitate the safe exit of the forty-thousand-man Czech Legion from Russia. The Legion had helped clear the Trans-Siberian Railway of Bolsheviks in the spring of 1918 and were the main fighting force in Siberia sympathetic to the Allied cause. (The Bolsheviks had made a separate peace with Germany and therefore could not be trusted.)
  • To guard the nearly one billion dollars' worth of American military equipment stored at Vladivostok and Murmansk.
  • To help the Russians organize their new government.

"This contains the policy of the United States in Russia which you are to follow," Baker said as he handed over the envelope. "Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite. God bless you and good-bye."

 

National Archives.  Prologue Magazine. Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks

The U.S. Army in Russia, 1918–1920.

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/winter/us-army-in-russia-1.html

 

The following are varying interpretations and additional reasons historians have suggested for American intervention in Russia in 1918

  • to help protect Allied war materials stored at Vladivostok from the Bolsheviks.
  • to facilitate the exit from Russia of thousands of Czechs who were former enemy prisoners freed by the government when Russia withdrew from the war
  • to assist the Russians with self-government and self-defense 
  • to protect Siberia from being taken over by Japan
  • to protect the strategic port of Murmansk and Archangel 
  • Overthrow the Soviet government
  • Allies pressured Wilson to intervene

 

  1. Then discuss with students the importance of using primary sources.  Use the following guide from the Library of Congress in a teacher-led discussion with students.  Provide them with a copy of the following or direct them to the Library of Congress website located at

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/whyuse.html

 

 

Why Use Primary Sources?

Primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period.

Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects can give them a very real sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era.

1. Engage students

  • Primary sources help students relate in a personal way to events of the past and promote a deeper understanding of history as a series of human events.
  • Because primary sources are snippets of history, they encourage students to seek additional evidence through research.
  • First-person accounts of events help make them more real, fostering active reading and response.
  • Many state standards support teaching with primary sources, which require students to be both critical and analytical as they read and examine documents and objects.
  • Primary sources are often incomplete and have little context. Students must use prior knowledge and work with multiple primary sources to find patterns.
  • In analyzing primary sources, students move from concrete observations and facts to questioning and making inferences about the materials.
  • Questions of creator bias, purpose, and point of view may challenge students’ assumptions.
  • Inquiry into primary sources encourages students to wrestle with contradictions and compare multiple sources that represent differing points of view, confronting the complexity of the past. Students construct knowledge as they form reasoned conclusions, base their conclusions on evidence, and connect primary sources to the context in which they were created, synthesizing information from multiple sources.
  • Integrating what they glean from comparing primary sources with what they already know, and what they learn from research, allows students to construct content knowledge and deepen understanding.

2. Develop critical thinking skills 3. Construct knowledge

 

Provide students with a copy of the following Stanford “Historical Thinking Chart: Then make a copy of the following information for students to read which is located at the National Archives:

Prologue

Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks

The U.S. Army in Russia, 1918–1920

Winter 2002, Vol. 34, No. 4

 Reasons for Intervention.

Gibson Bell Smith is an archivist specializing in modern military records, Textual Archives Services Division, National Archives and Records Administration. He has been with the National Archives since 1971 and has written several articles on diplomatic history and a book on U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. Thomas Holcomb.

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/winter/us-army-in-russia-1.html 

 

Use the excerpt of Smith’s article to model how students can investigate historical questions by employing the following reading strategies: sourcing, contextualizing, close reading and corroborating.

http://sheg.stanford.edu/upload/V3LessonPlans/HT%20Skills%20chart_0.pdf

 

 

 

  1. Request that students view the following: source: AEF in Siberia. Department of Defense Video.

https://archive.org/details/gov.dod.dimoc.30165

 

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/.../american-film-propaganda-1.html

 

Then assign them (in a cooperative endeavor) to use the National Archives video analysis worksheet located at https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/worksheets/motion_picture_analysis_worksheet.pdf

  to analyze the video.

 

  1. Assign students on an individual basis to access the following photograph (Nichols with U.S. American troops in Vladivostok). Then have students use the National Archives Photo Analysis Worksheet located at https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/worksheets/photo_analysis_worksheet_former.pdf

   to analyze the photograph.   Compare and contrast selected students completed analysis worksheets.

 

American Lt. Col. Nichols with the U.S. Army 31st Infantry at Vladivostok during the U.S. intervention in the Russian civil war Photo: www.historyplace.com

 

  1. Assign students to access the following Internet site (Imperial War Museum) that contains a photograph of the room where Nicholas II and his family were executed.  https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218772

Object description

Cellar in house in Ekaterinburg where the Tsar and his family were supposed to have been executed by the Bolsheviks, 1918.

 

Instruct students to use the National Archives photograph analysis worksheet located at https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/worksheets/photo_analysis_worksheet_former.pdf to analyze the preceding photograph of the house were Nichols II and his family were killed.

 

Instruct students to then access the following website that contains background information on the murder of Nicholas II and his family. Independent.  Secret files tell of final terrors for Romanovs by Paul Lashmar.  July 23, 1999.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/secret-files-tell-of-final-terrors-for-romanovs-1108026.htmll

 

Then assign students to individual groups to discuss what are the consequences of the death of Nicholas II with reference to WWI and American intervention in Russia in 1918?

 

 

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

1. Assign individual students to analyze the following document located at Government Documents. (U.S.).  President Woodrow Wilson’s Aide’s Memoire.

https://web.archive.org/web/20050831192711/http://secretwar.hhsweb.com:80/government_documents.htm

 

http://secretwar.hhsweb.com:80/aide_memoire.htm

 

2. The teacher can provide the students with the following copy the Historical Thinking Chart to help them evaluate “President Woodrow Wilson’s Aide’s Memoire”.

3. Teachers  can use the following rubric to assess student work.

Historical Thinking Skills Scoring Rubric – Secondary





Close Reading Strategies



Strategies/Procedural Concepts



Procedural Concepts



Criteria



Sourcing



Critical Reading



Corroboration



Contextualizing



Claim



Evidence


4

Identification: Fully understands the meaning and content of sources.

Attribution: Cites all authors and all original dates of primary and secondary sources.

Perspective: Evaluates the reliability sources based on the author’s perspective and when and why they were produced.

  • § Questions the author's thesis and determines viewpoint and evidence to evaluate claims, highlighting what the author leaves out.
  • § Cites accurate examples of how the author uses persuasive language and specific words and phrases to influence the reader. § Seeks answers to questions left unanswered in the source to formulate an interpretation.

Constructs an interpretation of events using information and perspectives in multiple sources. Identifies consistencies and inconsistencies among various accounts.

Applies prior and new knowledge to determine the historical setting of sources. Uses that setting to interpret the sources within the historical context as opposed to a present- day mindset.

Formulates a plausible interpretation, argument, or claim based on the evaluation of evidence found in a variety of primary and secondary sources.

Justifies claims using appropriate direct evidence from a variety of reliable sources.

3

Identification: Mostly understands the meaning and content of sources.

Attribution: Cites most authors and most original dates of primary and secondary sources.
Perspective: Examines the reliability of sources based on the author’s perspective and when and why they were produced.

  • § Analyzes the author's thesis, determines the viewpoint and evidence to evaluate the claims; may highlight what the author leaves out.
  • § Cites examples of how the author uses persuasive language and specific words and phrases to influence the reader.
    § Notes that the author has left some questions unanswered.

Explains similarities and differences by comparing information and perspectives in multiple sources.

Applies prior and new knowledge to determine the historical setting of the sources. May attempt an interpretation of some sources with a present-day mindset or with a limited application to the historical context.

Generates a reasonable interpretation, argument, or claim based on an evaluation of the evidence found in selected primary and secondary sources.

Justifies claims using some appropriate direct evidence from a variety of reliable sources.

 

 

2

Identification: Understands the meaning and content of sources with appropriate scaffolding and support.

Attribution: Cites some authors and some original dates of primary and secondary sources.

Perspective: Attempts to evaluate the reliability of sources.

 States the author's claims and evidence presented to prove those claims.
§ Determines the author’s viewpoint.

  • § Notes how language is used to persuade.

Identifies similarities and differences in information in multiple sources.

Attempts to determine the historical setting of sources without fully understanding the historical context.

States an interpretation, argument, or claim that may or may not based on evidence found in selected primary and secondary sources.

Justifies claims using generalizations or limited appropriate direct evidence.

1

Identification: Attempts to understand the meaning and content of sources with the appropriate scaffolding and support.


Attribution: Cites few authors and few original dates of primary and secondary sources.
Perspective: Does not adequately examine reliability.

Attempts to identify the author’s claims, viewpoint, or evidence.

Demonstrates little to no attempt to examine sources for corroborating or conflicting evidence.

Demonstrates no attempt to understand the historical setting of sources.

Does not state an original claim, argument, or interpretation.

Does not justify or support claims using appropriate direct evidence.






















UMBC Center for History Education, 2013. Adapted from the work of the Stanford History Education Group ® and Bruce VanSledright, Assessing Historical Thinking and Understanding: Innovative Ideas for New Standards, (New York: Routledge, 2014).  http://www.umbc.edu/che/arch/images/ARCH_Historical_Thinking%20Skills_Rubric_Secondary_rev_2-17-14.pdf