Red Terror

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The phrase Red Terror often refers to a campaign of mass killings, torture, and systematic oppression conducted by the communists after the October Revolution in Russia.

However, it has also been used in reference to several other similar periods of communist (or more generally, far leftist) terror. They typically occurred before and/or immediately after a communist (far leftist) coup or an attempted communist (far leftist) coup. One purpose was typically to gain or consolidate communist power, although individual participants may also have had other motives, such as revenge for perceived past persecutions/slights and/or personal gain.

One non-communist example is the social anarchist terror campaigns before and during the Spanish Civil War. The communists also conducted terror campaigns before and during the Spanish Civil War.

After communist power has been consolidated and is more secure, communist persecutions of opponents may take on a somewhat different and more quasi-legal character, and often no longer be referred to as Red Terror. For example, opponents may after a show trial be sent to forced labor camps, such as the Gulag system, rather than being executed immediately without a trial. However, also long after the communist coup, there may be more active terror periods. One example is during the Great Purge, sometimes referred to as the Great Terror.

The frequent occurrence of Red Terror campaigns by communist movements is not surprising as discussed in the Communism article.

The phrase may have be inspired by the Reign of Terror (1793-1794) during the French Revolution, the last weeks of which are sometimes referred to as the Great Terror or even the Red Terror.

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