Was WW2 a 'Turning point' in Russia?

A great summartive table produced by myself stating both sides to the argument as to whether or not the Second World War was a turning point or not.

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A2 History 31st March 2011
World War 2 ­ A turning point?
Yes No
WW2 was the key factor behind the major Internal developments, already set in motion
changes that occurred from the 1940s during the 1920s and 1930s, worked their way
onwards through the period after 1945 with help from ­
but not necessarily because of ­ experience of
Soviet Union was transformed into a war
superpower as a direct result of the
experience of the war. WW2 was an `accelerator' rather than a
`turning point'.Any problems and
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were reoccupied, contradictions were already implanted in the
along with other areas lost by the Treaties of whole Soviet system.
BrestLitovsk (1918) and Treaty of Riga (1921).
The infrastructure of the Soviet Union was all
Communist regimes were established in five in place before the outbreak of war in 1941 ­
states that had previously been strongly and continued after its conclusion in 1945.
antisoviet: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Stalin had already introduced the command
Bulgaria and Romania. economy, based on the first three FiveYear
Plans, and maintained it through his fourth and
In the same time, Germany was divided, the fifth plans.
eastern zone effectively becoming a Soviet
satellite. The emphasis after 1945 was the development
of Soviet industry to underpin the Soviet Union
This extended soviet territory and influence as a nuclear superpower: this could be seen
would have been quite impossible in as the logical continuation of Stalin's aim in
peacetime. the 1930s to create a military power capable
of holding off any future threat from the West.
What the war did was to confirm Stalin's
Trotsky had forecasted that Communism
power and, with it, the direction of policies
would spread to other countries through
already under way. This was hardly a `turning
`Permanent revolution'. The failure of uprisings
in Germany, Hungary and northern Italy, had,
however, proved this policy to be inappropriate.
The real vehicle for Communist change was Another alternative is to see the war as a
not revolution, but war, which enabled Stalin to temporary reversal that, however, had no
succeed where Trotsky had failed. permanent effect ­ a `turning point' that failed
to turn. The internal developments making the
Soviet Union what it was after 1945 had all
The war can also be seen as a negative
occurred before 1941. If anything, the war had
turning point ­ Although it released the Soviet
interrupted an underlying continuity, which
Union as a new superpower, its impact was
was resumed as soon as it was over.
such that this power lacked the resources for
This can be supported by examples from the
longterm success. Hence the moment of
economy and politics. For example, the
victory, which defined external expansion into
centralised planning system built up during the
eastern Europe, was also the start of a long
1930s, was relaxed between 1945 and 1945 in
period of internal decay that led to the
favour of more decentralised and localbased
collapse of the Soviet state in 1991.
structures for decisionmaking and armaments
The war broke the USSR so badly that the
production. Immediately after the war,
effort spent in recovery prevented the sort of
however, Stalin resumed his prewar industrial
growth necessary to keep up with western
and agricultural policies in the fourth and fifth
Five Year Plans introduced in 1946 and 1951.
Similarly, the use of Politburo ad the party
apparatus was almost entirely suspended in
wartime, to be replaced by the State
Committee for Defence (GOKO) again, this
was reversed in 1945.
Chris Cartwright

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