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

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The Impact of Stalin's Leadership
in the USSR, 1924 ­ 1941
Stalin's personal rule

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Page 2

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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
to party positions (Lenin enrolment)
As a member of the Politburo, Stalin was one of the small group of leading
communists who met regularly to make policy. These were the decision makers of
the USSR.…read more

Page 3

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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' ­ meant he was likely to get respect from colleagues.
Promoted to the highest ranks of the party by Lenin.
Regarded as Lenin's `closest and most trusted assistant'.…read more

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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 May 1917. Trotsky played a crucial role in helping the Bolsheviks seize power and
in planning the October revolution.…read more

Page 5

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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 argue that Trotsky would have been a far more liberal leader than
Stalin.…read more

Page 6

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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 ­ the USSR should
concentrate on developing its path to socialism meaning that it would not be
vulnerable against attacks by Capitalist states.…read more

Page 7

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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 himself ­ analysing his
decisions and seeing those and their interaction as the most important factors in
major developments.
Other historians tend to analyse developments within the Communist party.…read more

Page 8

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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 into a socialist future if not everyone had the
same vision of society.
Movement more towards the Capitalism that had been present under the Tsar
rather than the Socialist future that the Communist party wanted.…read more

Page 9

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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.
Children denied education.
1928 ­ many given hard labour.
Had their property confiscated.
This showed how far the Party were willing to go in order to achieve their main goal:
socialism.…read more

Page 10

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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 Council of National Economy created. State enterprises
contributed to a fund ran by this organisation. This should have meant that more
profitable businesses would subsidise those less fortunate businesses which was
hardly sustainable.…read more



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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