Rise of the Soviet Union

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Information about Rise of the Soviet Union

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: rcummins



Beginning of the Soviet Union: Beginning of the Soviet Union The Kremlin, the fortified city within Moscow Civil War after Revolution of 1917: Civil War after Revolution of 1917 After taking over the country through military coup, the Bolsheviks begin waging war against all opposition forces in Russia. The Red Armies (Bolshevik) began to struggle against the White Armies (opposition forces) for control of the country. Even Japan, GB, France, and the U.S. sent soldier to Russia to protect weapons loaned to Russia and aid White Armies. White Armies were never centrally-organized, and thus suffered from an inability to coordinate attacks. Both Red and White Armies conscripted peasants, but peasants often chose the lesser of two evils: Red Army. Lenin promised a redistribution of land to peasants; this won over the lower class. Vladamir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) and Marxist-Leninism: Vladamir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) and Marxist-Leninism From Marx to Lenin and back again . . . Civil War Depression and Government Adjustment: Civil War Depression and Government Adjustment Major Russian cities (Petrograd and Moscow) suffered major population loss during the Civil War, due to food shortages and disease. With a new central government focused only on winning the war, state planning suffered. Peasants moved to the countryside, hoarded any grain and food they could gain, but the Bolsheviks began requisitioning it. Constant warfare and food scarcity allowed government the ability to enact authoritarian policies very rapidly: Cheka and War Communism. Cheka and War Communism: Cheka and War Communism Cheka Secret police and instrument of state terror. Made arrests, tortured, executed, imprisoned thousands of opponents of the Bolsheviks (Red Terror). Lenin’s preferred arm of Bolshevik control. Cheka employed over 250,000 people that ran concentration camps, executed the former tsar and hundreds of thousands of political opponents. War Communism Reaction to constant war, population decreases, food shortages, and disease. Aimed to end privatized trade, nationalize all industry, collectivize agriculture, and impose state rationing. Policy won the war, but created many domestic enemies ranging from farmers to the entire Baltic fleet at Kronstadt . New Economic Policy (NEP): New Economic Policy (NEP) March 1921: In the face of the Kronstadt mutiny and continued peasant resistance to grain acquisition, Lenin makes a strategic retreat from War Communism, implementing his NEP – slight return to capitalism. “Commanding Heights” of industry will remain nationalized: banking, heavy industry, transportation, international commerce. Outside of those industries, private enterprise would be tolerated. NEP helped to secure the food supply, helped to put money in the hands of peasants, but there were no consumer goods for them to buy. Russian industry was still far below pre-World War I levels. Death of Lenin and Leadership Vaccuum: Death of Lenin and Leadership Vaccuum NEP caused a division in the governing committee of the Communist Party – Politburo – who saw the NEP as a betrayal of true Marxist principles. Lenin’s firm leadership never allowed this division to explode. Lenin suffers a stroke in 1922 and dies in 1924. Trotsky vs. Stalin (Lenin dislike both, but probably hated Stalin) Lenin’s Mausoleum and Body: Lenin’s Mausoleum and Body Leadership Conflict - Leon Trotsky vs. Joseph Stalin: Leadership Conflict - Leon Trotsky vs. Joseph Stalin Leon Trotsky Rapid industrialization; paid for by peasant collectivized agriculture. Revolution and socialism in Russia could only work if new revolutions took place elsewhere. Wanted party members to be able to criticize government and party. Joseph Stalin Strong command of bureaucratic and administrative methods. Stoked opposition from other groups like Nikolai Bukharin and Pravda. Socialism in one country. Used command of administrative and bureaucratic methods to gradually force Trotsky out of power. Leon Trotsky Joseph Stalin: Leon Trotsky Joseph Stalin Third International (Comintern): Third International ( Comintern ) Bolsheviks wanted themselves to be the international leaders of Marxism. 1919: Soviet Union creates the Comintern in order to make the Bolshevik model of socialism (as developed by Lenin) the rule for all socialist parties outside of the Soviet Union. 1920: Comintern imposes the 21 Conditions; effort to destroy democratic socialism. Acknowledgement of Moscow’s leadership. Rejection of other forms of socialism. Adoption of the Communist party name. Social Impact of Communism on Families and Women: Social Impact of Communism on Families and Women Religion was taken out of marriage; divorce became easier; legitimate and illegitimate children were given the same right; abortion was legalized in 1920. Ramifications: Domestic violence increased. # of abortions increased. # of abandoned children increased. Positives: Women were allowed to advance upward through the party. Allowed to seek educational opportunities, but still expected to do all housework. Soviet Union’s Industrialization: Soviet Union’s Industrialization While the rest of the world struggled through the Great Depression, the Soviet Union industrialized rapidly. This industrialization occurred at a cost of millions of human lives. 1928: Stalin implemented his first in a series of Five Year Plans, overseen by the Gosplan (State Planning Commission). Rapid construction of heavy industries (iron, steel, electricity, machinery). Capital projects favored over consumer production (state over people). This type of change required a massive industrial labor force, which was conscripted from the countryside. In order to sell this to the Soviet people, the government engaged in a large-scale propaganda program, appealing largely to young, idealistic workers. Soviet Five Year Plan Propaganda: Soviet Five Year Plan Propaganda Plan is law; fulfillment is duty; over-fulfillment is honor! Help build the gigantic factories! Full speed ahead for the fourth and final year of the Five Year Plan! - By the end of three Five Year Plans, Russian industry had grown over 400%; new industrial cities populated hundreds of thousands of people. - However, those gains came at an appalling social and human cost. Collectivizing Agriculture: Collectivizing Agriculture Agriculture suffered with the emphasis on industry. Some groups of farmers ( kulaks ) hoarded grain to drive up prices, thus creating massive food shortages. 1929: Stalin comes to the decision to collectivize agriculture in order to provide a steady food supply, bring the farm sector under his control (especially the kulaks ), and free up peasant labor for the factories. Able to do this through a campaign of unprecedented violence in the countryside. Collectivization: forced Russian peasants to give up their private farms and work as members of collectives – large agricultural units controlled by the state. Protest and Reaction to Collectivization: Protest and Reaction to Collectivization Many peasants resisted, largely led by women. Farmers slaughtered millions of horses and cattle to sabotage the collectives. Stalin reacted by transporting and imprisoning millions in prison camps in remote areas of the Soviet Union. Stalin also targeted the Russian Orthodox Church, believing firmly in its atheistic ideology. Many priests, rabbis, etc. faced the same imprisonment and deportation as the farmers who resisted collectivization. Agricultural Collectivization: Agricultural Collectivization Comrade, come to our collective farm! Children digging up frozen potatoes at a collective farm Life in Soviet Industrial Cities: Life in Soviet Industrial Cities Peasants fled from the countryside to cities, creating a housing shortage in urban centers. In new cities, workers lived in army barracks, but in old cities, workers could not find enough apartments in which to live. Chronic shortages of basic consumer products: food, clothing, shelter, and especially shoes. Running water, paved streets and adequate lighting were all rare, while crime and disease were rampant. What little consumer goods were available, were sold only to party members creating a drastic inequality between the party elite and the rest of Russia. Still, Russian coped with this terrible through both illegal, black market dealings, as well as ongoing, constant sense their present troubles would yield a future reward. Soviet Foreign Relations: Soviet Foreign Relations Many dignitaries outside of the Soviet Union visited the country, proclaiming its greatness. While the rest of the world was falling deeper into the depression, the Soviet Union’s economy was booming. American Lincoln Steffens: “I have seen the future and it works”. Beatrice and Sidney Webb: “a new civilization”. These people either knew nothing of the social and human cost of Soviet achievement or largely chose to ignore it. Out of fear of Nazi Germany and a rising tide of fascism, Stalin departed from the Comintern policy of zero relations with non-communist countries. Stalin’s Purges: Stalin’s Purges One of the most mysterious and horrendous political events of the 20 th century. Stalin began to fear opposition mounting within the Soviet Union; he thought he was losing control of the country and the party. 1934: Purges began with the assassination of popular Leningrad party chief Sergei Kirov. In the aftermath, thousands were arrested and more expelled from the party and sent to labor camps. Complicity in the assassination became Stalin’s accusation towards his political opponents. Long been believed that Stalin, himself, was behind the assassination, but that is unproven. Either way, he used the assassination to rid himself of political enemies. Sergei Kirov with Stalin, 1934: Sergei Kirov with Stalin, 1934 Grigory Zinoviev, prominent party leader, condemned and executed The “Vanishing Commisar”, Nikolai Yezhov: The “Vanishing Commisar ”, Nikolai Yezhov Yezhov was the chief of the Cheka , the secret police, responsible for thousands of imprisonments/executions under the Great Purges. However, he fell out favor with Stalin, and was executed. Stalin rid the record of his prominence, as seen with this edited picture of Stalin and Yezhov . Stalin’s Purges, 1936-1938 (cont.): Stalin’s Purges, 1936-1938 (cont.) Step 1: A series of high-profile show trials were held in Moscow, where Soviet leaders publicly confessed to political crimes, were condemned, and executed. One such man was Nikolai Bukharin, editor of Pravda , and a friend of Stalin. Step 2: Hundreds of private trials for lower level party members resulting in the same conclusions: guilt and then imprisonment/execution. Most of these and other victims were tortured, along with having the lives of their family members threatened and placed in the balance. Step 3: Stalin turned his attention to the military, clearing out legendary generals and soldiers and imprisoning/executing them. The exact number of those imprisoned/executed will never known, but it easily stretches into the millions. Rational Explanations for the Great Purges: Rational Explanations for the Great Purges Option 1 Central leadership used the purges to discipline and gain more control over lower levels of the party. Then, Stalin began to move against the party elite, giving local communist groups the freedom to name their own victims. This, of course, led to a self-destructive cascade of accusations, imprisonments, and executions Option 2 Stalin’s fear for his own power. Effort to completely restructure the party with those who were loyal only to Stalin. Rid the party of those from the October Revolution in 1917 and all remnants of Lenin, Trotsky, etc.

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