Impact of Stalin's leadership on the USSR - notes on EVERYTHING!

Complete notes on AQA HIS2L topic: The impact of Stalin's leadership in the USSR 1921-1941. 

37 pages long, but covers everything:

  1. Collectivisation
  2. Industrialisation
  3. The Terror
  4. The NEP
  5. Stalin's rise to power
  6. Stalinism
  7. Propaganda
  8. Five Year Plans 
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The Impact of Stalin's Leadership
in the USSR, 1924 ­ 1941

Stalin's personal rule


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The sources of Stalin's strengths:

Stalin's rise to power did not begin with Lenin's death. His positions within the party had
already given him significant influence.

As General Secretary, Stalin ran the party machine, meaning he occupied
probably the most important position in the USSR and he could decide promotions…

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Stalin's rivals in the power struggle:

Grigori Zinoviev:

Was with Lenin in exile until April 1917, and then joined Kamenev in opposing Lenin's call
for an uprising.

Zinoviev's strengths in the power struggle:

Regarded as intelligent, energetic and very knowledgeable.
One of the party's best speakers.
An `Old Bolshevik' ­…

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Gained a reputation for inconsistency by not supporting Lenin in 1917 and
constantly switching between supporting Stalin and supporting Trotsky.
Not strong enough to be the leader of the USSR.
Seriously underestimated his opponents.


Initially a member of the Mensheviks (Bolshevik's opposition) but switched to the Bolshevik
party in…

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`Trotskyism' became a term of abuse in Stalin's USSR and was stuck on anyone
whom the regime wanted to discredit.
Label given to those who admired some of the original ideas of the Russian
revolution, but who were strongly opposed to totalitarianism regimes like the one
Stalin ran.
Some historians…

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Following Trotsky's attack on the Party's bureaucracy in 1924, Stalin, Zinoviev and
Kamenev allied against him.
Trotsky argued to permanent revolution: focusing on encouraging and helping
communist revolutions abroad so that the USSR would not be an isolated state.
Stalin began to publicise his policy of Socialism in One Country…

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Stalin did not just have the advantages of control of the party and the ability to
outmanoeuvre them, but also he had popular support.
Stalin put forward policies with which most party members agreed.

Interpretations of Stalin's rise to power:

Some historians focus on the role of individuals like Stalin…

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The private enterprise part meant that some people were making a profit out of
other's labour. This went against the principle of public good and of Socialism.
Economic divisions meant class differences increased: the new bourgeoisie were
formed (these people were enemies of Socialism).
The USSR could not move forward…

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The GPU (secret police) collected lists of peasant complaints. This alarmed the party. In
several areas of the USSR its policies were being defied. The party leadership blamed the
influence of `kulaks' and made a decision in 1926 to destroy the kulaks as a class.


Taxed more heavily.

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had to work outdated machinery meaning that productivity fell. Businesses were more
interested in getting reimbursed from the State for their losses, rather than making good
quality goods. There was little incentive for workers and bosses to be efficient and

The Communists tried to address the problems...

1926: Supreme…




Thanks!!! Great resource for revision!! :)

Emma Elgee


thank you so much! great stuff here :) 

Victoria Davis


Thank you so much. Great for revision.



Thanks so much, definitely going to use this for revision :)



This is absolutely amazing, I can't thank your kind soul enough for putting it on here, you've even set it out just how you'd answer it in the exam, THANK YOU!



Thank you, although these notes are based on the AQA textbook, these are set out in a clearer way to digest. Very helpful!



thank you soooo much :)

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