AQA A2 History - The USSR - Detailed Revision Notes on Stalin and The Great Patriotic War

The first section of my detailed notes on A2 History, on Stalin and the Great Patriotic War. I'm in the middle of making notes on the rest of the Soviet Union, up until its collapse, so just keep checking and I'll upload them in the next couple of weeks.

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Triumph and Collapse: Russia and the USSR, 1941 ­ 1991
Key dates, key people, key statistics

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Part 1: The Great Patriotic War and its Outcomes
How ready was the Soviet Union for war?
Stalin's purge of 1937
­ 35,000 officers had been imprisoned or shot
­ 11,000 were reinstated by 1940
­ Most of the officers shot had little or no military education and were replaced
by trained young officers
`Winter War' with Finland during 1939
­ Although the Soviet Union was victorious, 126,000 Soviet soldiers died in four
­ Poorly supplied soldiers and bad strategies indicated to Hitler that…read more

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Military impact:
Preparations for defence had not been made and rows of uncamouflaged
aircraft were lined up at the main bases ­ at least 1,200 aircraft were
destroyed within a few hours of the attack.
200/340 military supply dumps fell into German hands within the first month ­
extremely quick
Without air cover the Red Army had little protection and was annihilated by the
German forces.…read more

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All material supplies that were useful to the advancing Germans were
Stalin refused to allow any retreat and ordered the Red Army to stand and fight
Russian forces could easily be surrounded or encircled ­ at the battle of
VyazmaBryansk, for example, three Soviet armies totally 665,000 men, were
The Germans gained success due to the inferiority of the Soviet troops and generals,
however the Russians learned from their early mistakes.…read more

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The Soviet government made the decision to move a great deal of its industry
east, away from the German assault.
An Evacuation Council was set up and a Military/Economic Plan was created
with the aim of evacuating factories from the west and rebuilding them in the
During the war, at least 2,593 major factories were taken down, put on trains
and driven east, to be rebuilt in the Urals, Siberia or Kazakhstan. With them
went at least 25 million workers.…read more

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The worst atrocity was at Babi Yar near Kiev where 33,000 Jews were
massacred in two days.
Over 1.5 million Russian Jews perished during the years of the German
occupation. Added to this could be the number of Slav slave labourers ­ an
estimated 3 million died as a result of being bullied, overworked or starved to
death.…read more

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Large numbers of troops didn't follow orders and suffered the penalty in Penal
units, who were sent into battle before regular troops so they could detonate
minefields and draw enemy fire. 442,000 Russian soldiers served in these
Penal Battalions.
In the Red Army, special units of NKVD shot retreating soldiers.
Regular soldiers faced harsh discipline and in July 1942, Stalin issued Order
227 (`Not a Step Back') in which the army was ordered to stand and fight to the
death, or face arrest and punishment.…read more

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The heavy cost of the war was down to two main factors:
The German invasion, harsh treatment of occupied territories (11 million
people died under German occupation) and subsequent retreat.
The Soviet policy of `scorched earth' in which material useful to the Germans
was destroyed by the Russians before the Germans could get to it.…read more

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The grain harvest of 1946 was barely half that of 1940 and the state had to rely
upon grain procurements (seizures) again, which accounted for 70% of the
Peasants were taxed heavily, which made it difficult for families to survive.
They were expected to be selfsufficient and lost their entitlement to food
All those who continued to work on their own land were forced to return to work
on collective farms in 1946 and private trade was forbidden.…read more

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Tighter censorship ­ the composer Shostakovitch found that his works
couldn't be performed and the novelist Pasternak's wife was arrested and
treated so badly that she lost her unborn child.
It became a crime to tune in to foreign radio stations and jamming stations
were built on the USSR's borders to ensure they could not be heard.
Discrimination against national minorities ­ nonRussian languages (e.g.
Estonian and Rumanian) faced official discrimination.…read more


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