History GCSE - Russia

Overview of topic 


Key Topic 1:

The Collapse of the Tsarist Regime 1917

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Nature of the Tsarist Rule

Explain how Russia was governed by the Tsar.

Nicholas became Tsar in 1894 and his family had ruled for 300 years. Russia was governed by Nicholas who thought he had the divine right. This meant he ruled alone in an autocratic state he was the absolute monarch. Newspapers and books were censored to ensure they criticise the Tsar or his regime.  He had a secret police called the Okhrana who made sure the people of Russia did not oppose him. These were either exiled to Siberia or executed.

Identify 3 problems in Tsarist Russia

Hard to govern Communication bad and many nationalities Conditions everywhere poor for workers and peasants.

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Nature of the Tsarist Rule

Explain what happened during the 1905 Revolution.

There were a series of demonstrations and strikes against the way things were run. Troops surrounding the Winter Palace fired into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The strikers formed a soviet to organise strikes. Work in cities stopped. Soviets were organised in more and more towns and cities. They took over in some places, replacing the Tsar’s government.

Identify 3 reforms made after the Revolution.

Nicholas II set up a Duma. He agreed that people could set up political parties and trade unions. People could hold meetings and discuss politics openly.

Identify 3 things that went ‘back to normal’.

He reduced the voting rights of the Duma + then stopped calling it at all. Political parties were legal but secret police often broke up their meetings. The St Petersburg soviet stopped meeting.

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Nature of the Tsarist Rule

Identify 3 economic effects of World War 1.

Money became worthless and prices had risen rapidly. Most people were bartering (swapping) goods. A drought hit and crops dried up in the fields.

Identify two social effects.

The Russian army lacked effective leadership and modern weapons. This caused the Russian army doing very bad in the war. There were severe shortages of food in Russia.

Identify four political effects.

It was the mounting military defeats, people publicly complaining about political decisions, the food shortage, rising prices and fuel shortage that in the end caused the Russian Revolution, and made Russia a communistic land.

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Causes of the February Revolution

Strikes and demonstrations broke out in the major cities in the beginning as people had queued all night in temperatures of -15 ˚C only to find the baker hadn’t baked because he had no fuel and no flour.

19th February: Government officials in Petrograd announced that rationing would start on 1st March. 21st February: Managers of the Putilov works (the biggest factory in Petrograd) locked out some workers which set off a strike which spread to other factories in the area. 23rd February: Russia celebrated International Women’s Day, and women went on protests against bread shortages. The police and troops couldn’t stop them. The police and army were helpless and the demonstrators were encouraged to further action. 25th February: The Tsar sent a telegram ordering the general in charge of the troops in Petrograd to “put down the disorders by tomorrow”. 26th February: Troops were ordered to fire at the demonstrators, which was the key turning point of the revolution. 27th February: Soldiers refused their commanding officer’s order to leave the Petrograd barracks, and ended up shooting him. They then called on their troops to join them, and took guns and ammunition with them to join the people.

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The Provisional Government

Explain how unrest turned into revolution.

The growing unrest led to revolution on the 26th February, when Russian troops were ordered to fire at demonstrators. Some troops refused to fire and changed sides. The rest of the troops refused their commanding officer’s order to leave Petrograd barracks on 27th Feb. They ended up shooting him, then calling on troops to join them & took guns and ammunition with them to join the people. Unrest had turned into revolution.

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The Provisional Government

Explain what the Provisional Government was;

The Provisional Government was a temporary government. At first the Provisional Government was popular as it gave political freedoms and it promised a new constituent assembly to be elected in November. Many people had there hopes up for it for example, taking Russia out of war, providing a more effective government, improving conditions for workers in towns and cities, solving the problems of shortages, especially food and fuel, and redistributing property more equally.

Explain what the Petrograd soviet was

The Petrograd Soviet was a group of workers from Petrograd.

Identify three key things that the PG did.

Freedom of speech, of the press and to hold meetings All police organisations to be replaced by an elected peoples militia. Preparations to be started for electing a constituent assembly to write a constitution. 

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The Provisional Government

Identify 3 things that people wanted from the PG.

Taking Russia out of the war Solving food and fuel shortages Providing a more effective government

Identify four problems the PG had.

It had no real power Shortages not easy to solve It was only temporary so it felt it could not make key decisions People relied on the PG to control more of Russia

Explain why the PG stayed in the war.

Not to desert the Russian allies, so it sent more troops to the front.

Identify two achievements of the PG.

They brought an 8 hour working day Freedom of speech

Identify the most significant issue for the PG.

The army was discontented as ever as the problems of leadership were still there.

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April Theses

What was the April Theses?

The April Theses was a list  of aims made by Lenin as a promise of things that he would give to the Russian public if he came to power. He promised peace, bread and land. He encouraged the workers not to co-operate with the PG.

What was the reaction of the Petrograd Soviet?

They were not impressed and did not agree with what was said at first.

What happened during the 2nd PG?

They introduced rationing and food and fuel supplies declined.

Why did support for the Bolsheviks grow?

Lenin showed an inspirational leadership with his speeches and he was strong as he had the Red Guard

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What happened in early  1917?

The Provisional Government introduced bread rationing in March and as the months passed, the amount of bread people could have fell.

What slogans did Lenin use to take advantage of Russia poor situation.

‘Peace, Bread, Land’ . ‘More Power to the Soviets.’

What had the Bolsheviks done by June?

There were Bolshevik newspapers criticising the PG and urging revolution.

 What had the Bolsheviks done by July?

The Bolsheviks set up the ‘Red Guards’- by July there were around 10,000 in Petrograd.

 What was Lenin’s main problem at this stage?

The PG was so unpopular that the worker might rise against it before the Bolsheviks were ready.

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What happened in July 1917?

There was an unplanned uprising against the government which was thought to have been organised by the Bolsheviks but wasn’t. 

What did the PG do?

The Provisional Government arrested many of the Bolsheviks and exiled Lenin.

What happened to the Bolsheviks?

They were thought to have organised the protests and were arrested bringing even more tension between them and the PG.

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What was the Kornilov Revolt?

 It was when Kerensky convinced Kornilov to order his troops to Petrograd and ‘save the PG from the soviets’.  Kerensky armed the Bolsheviks and ordered them to stop Kornilov and make Kerensky look like the saviour of the revolution.  However his plan failed and it was the Bolsheviks that appeared as the heroes.  

What did Kerensky do?

 He encouraged Kornilov to order his troops to advance to Petrograd, thinking they were saving the PG from the soviets.

 What did the Bolsheviks do?

 They were armed by Kerensky and were ordered to stop Kornilov because of rumours that claimed Kornilov was leading an army coup against the revolution.

Explain why Kerensky was now seen as weak and the Bolsheviks as heroes.

Kerensky was seen as weak because he presented himself as the saviour of the revolution but it didn’t work and the Bolsheviks were seen as the true saviours of the revolution.

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Key Topic 2:

Bolshevik Takeover and Consolidation 1917-24

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Where is Lenin during July, August and September?

During July, August and September Lenin is in exile in Finland. He then returns secretly back to Russia by 10th of October and hid in Petrograd, planning a revolution.  , but the rumour soon spread of his planned revolution.                

Who is Trotsky and what positions does he hold?

On the 8th of  October, Trotsky becomes chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, which had a Bolshevik majority (this is good for Trotsky). As well as this Trotsky also ran the Military Revolutionary Committee.

When does Lenin return? And what does he do?

He returns on October 10, and plans an important revolution.  It was an open secret, but Kerensky did nothing as he thought that the fact that it because it was no longer a secret, the revolutionaries, but they didn’t!  Instead, between 24-26th of October following the plan worked out by Trotsky, the Bolsheviks took control of Petrograd. 

What does Kerensky do about the rumours of a Bolshevik Rev?

Kerensky did nothing about the rumours and ignores since he thought that since it was no longer a secret that Trotsky would give up. However he was completely wrong. 

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How do the Bolsheviks take control (26)

CPC- Council of People’s commissar  CEC- Central Executive Committee

Identify 4 reasons why  the Bolsheviks won:

Lenin pressed the Bolsheviks to lead a revolution in October, and insisted it had to be by the Bolsheviks, not one where several revolutionary parties ended up sharing power. The provisional Government failed to disarm and disband the Red Guard after arming them to deal with Kornilov Revolt. The Provisional Government did not act against the threat in time. It completely misjudged the danger. Rumour of a revolt to overthrow the government had been in the air ever since the July days; it could have been that it thought this threat was no more real than earlier ones.  The takeover was well planned and organised by Trotsky. He organised the Red Guard and volunteers from the army, the navy and the factories to work together to a careful plan. There were times of confusion and disorder, but the main lines of the plan were carried out.
Identify why the PG was weak It made the PG weak as the plan included the taking over of telephones, telegraph offices and railways, this making it hard for the PG to send for help, also the PG had little support, so when they tried to gather troops in the city at the last moment, most of them had been persuaded to join the MRC, giving the government less help

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Identify 5 important decrees that the CPC issued (28) 

1). Capital punishment abolished. 2). In towns and countryside power was given to local soviets. 3). ‘The peace decree” called on nations to negotiate peace at once. Lenin was determined to get Russia out of war because failure to end it previously had undermined the PG and it was also what the Bolsheviks had promised. Also, Lenin feared that civil war would break out and he wanted all Bolshevik troops free to fight that. 4). ‘The land decree’ took all land owned by the Tsar, other landowners and the church and gave it to the peasants to be run by land committees. This only made what peasants were already doing official and made the Bolsheviks popular with the peasants who usually supported the Social revolutionaries. 5). ’The workers decree’ announced by the Council of People’s Commissars (CPC) three days later, gave the workers control over factories and set an 8 hour working day.   

Explain the difficulties that Lenin faced in the months after the Revolution

-As Lenin had feared, there were counter-revolutionary attacks in Petrograd and other cities almost art once. -Lenin wanted the Bolsheviks to have complete control -He was desperate to be free of the war to concentrate on the civil war in Russia.

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Explain the issues surrounding leaving the war.

- Lenin was desperate to be free of the war so that he could concentrate on the civil war in Russia. However, this was bad as the Germans knowing this, set a high price. - Arguments occurred due to this as Trotsky and others couldn’t agree on accepting the terms.

What was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk?

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty put in place in order to end the war between Germany and Russia in 1918.

What concessions were made?

- Russia lost: 80% of its coalmines; 50% of its industry; 26% of its railways; 26% of its people and 27% of its farmland.

What happened during the 1st meeting of the Constituent Assembly?

- On the 5th January 1918, the Constituent Assembly for the first and only time. The Social Revolutionaries and other groups argued against Bolsheviks reforms that had been put in place by decrees, and would not pass them as laws.

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Why did civil war break out in Russia?

The Bolshevik takeover was not welcomed by everyone, It angered many Russians who had been prepared to accept the PG. Bolsheviks declared that they wanted to cause revolutions all over the world. All the whites united to destroy the Bolsheviks, it lasted 3 years and Trotsky organised and inspired the Red Army. The Bolsheviks brought in a very strict war Communism, which organised the whole population to provide supplies for the war.  The Bolsheviks instituted a Red Terror that killed anyone who opposed them, strikers were shot.

Who were the main group?

The Reds, The Whites and The Greens

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What was Trotsky doing during the Civil war

Went to Petrograd, organised a counter attack, with the whites leader. He was in charge of the Red army; all military decisions were made by him.

What was Lenin doing?

In charge of all political decisions

Identify 5 key events of the Civil War.

Reds/Whites/greens reds in the middle whites round the centre, bad communication from white as they were spread too far out, reds cut off the train lines so no whites could get too one another through the middle, reds had good organisation from Trotsky / whites had many drunk unorganised leaders who could never agree on anything. Bolsheviks had won the civil war

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Identify 10 reasons as to why the Bolsheviks won the Civil war (32)

War communism supplied the Red Army as efficiently as possible under the circumstances, although they were still short of supplies. Trotsky was a very successful leader of the Red Army. He travelled from place to place in a special armoured train, aiming to be where there was most danger. The political commissar in each unit made sure the troops believed in the Bolshevik ideas they were fighting for. The Whites only shared aim was to get rid of the Bolsheviks. --They did not work well together, arguing over plans and leadership. The Whites had many officers, but had trouble getting enough soldiers. They had to conscript peasants, who did not really want the old regime of the Tsar back again. The Whites did not treat their troops well. When they began to lose, many of their units deserted and joined the Red Army. The end of the First World War and the loss of foreign troops and supplies (as well as the Czech Legion) was a huge blow to the Whites. Trotsky made inspiring speeches, gave out tobacco and other luxuries even set up entertainment. He wasn’t afraid to threaten, either. He executed the leaders of the units, and sometimes some of the men, if he doubted their loyalty. Unlike the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks clamped down on resistance to the state – The Cheka made open resistance difficult and dangerous.

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Explain how the Bolsheviks responded to the problems created by the war. (War Communism)

Enlarged the red army Clamping down on political opposition using a secret police which, by June 1919 had arrested 87,000 people and shot 8.389 of them without trial  The red terror War communism Taking over all factors Taking control on food and distributing it  with the red army coming first

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Identify 9 reasons as to why the Bolsheviks won the Civil war

1.-War communism supplied the Red Army as efficiently as possible under the circumstances, although they were still short of supplies. 2.-Trotsky was a very successful leader of the Red Army. He travelled from place to place in a special armoured train, aiming to be where there was most danger. 3.-The political commissar in each unit made sure the troops believed in the Bolshevik ideas they were fighting for. 4.-The Whites only shared aim was to get rid of the Bolsheviks. --They did not work well together, arguing over plans and leadership. 5.-The Whites had many officers, but had trouble getting enough soldiers. They had to conscript peasants, who did not really want the old regime of the Tsar back again. 6.-The Whites did not treat their troops well. When they began to lose, many of their units deserted and joined the Red Army. 7.-The end of the First World War and the loss of foreign troops and supplies (as well as the Czech Legion) was a huge blow to the Whites. 8.-Trotsky made inspiring speeches, gave out tobacco and other luxuries even set up entertainment. He wasn’t afraid to threaten, either. He executed the leaders of the units, and sometimes some of the men, if he doubted their loyalty. 9.-Unlike the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks clamped down on resistance to the state – The Cheka made open resistance difficult and dangerous.

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Identify 7 effects of the Civil War on Russia

Damaged land Damaged property Damaged road Damaged rail links Damaged Telegraph lines Cause Civilian casualties Meant skilled workers and professionals left the country to live somewhere safer.

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What did the Constitution of July 1918 say? (34) New Government

The constitution of 10 July 1918 set out a new system of government. Local soviets elected deputies to regional soviets, which elected deputies to the Congress of Soviets. All workers could vote, those who made a living by the work of others could not (e.g. landlords). The Congress chose the Central Executive Committee, which chose the Council of People’s Commissars: the people who ran the 18 Ministries that ran the country. The CPC made the laws, but the CEC and Congress of Soviets had to approve them. In December 1920, the Constitution was changed to let the CPC pass urgent laws without this approval. 

New Society

 The Constitution said all land, and all businesses with over 10 workers (including banks) belonged to the state, and must be run for the benefit of the people. It gave people education and medical care. All this was very different from the inequalities under the Tsar. However, the Constitution was the theory of how things ought to work. The civil war pushed the state to take measurements hat did not fit its beliefs. It imposed high levels of state control. It wanted the workers to run factories, but ended up suppressing workers’ committees and imposing state control. It used executions to control the country and the army. It used the Cheka to control political opposition despite being in favour of free expression of political beliefs.

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What was war communism?

War communism was the Policy Lenin put together to bring the economy completely under Government control, to help win the Civil War.

What were the 4 main elements of WC

Ending the market for food (peasants weren’t allowed to sell their food- they got to keep a little for themselves, and the state took the rest) Assuming complete control of industry, which was directed only to make things needed for the war; strikes were banned Having total control of the banks, and money and prices. Cutting back on people’s rights – from banning strikes to using the Red Terror to destroy opposition.

Why was 1921 a year of crisis? (36)

By winter of 1920, the civil war was won, but Lenin continued with War Communism. In 1920, farm production was 37% of 1913 levels. Food shortages became FAMINE. People were dying of starvation (in some areas cannibalism broke out) industries were producing almost no consumer goods. There were riots in the countryside and strikes in the cities, especially Petrograd.

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What was the Kronstadt Mutiny (36)

Kronstadt was a naval base near Petrograd. The sailors there had sided with the revolutionaries of 1905 and 1917. However, in March 1921 the sailors felt that the Red Army, after crushing a strike in Petrograd, had taken it too far. So they mutinied, calling for a ‘third revolution’. They demanding.

What was the NEP?

The New Economic Policy (or NEP) , was a step back from Communism towards Capitalism, taken reluctantly. It also aimed to revive farming and industry. What were the successes of the NEP? Farming and agricultural production went back up to their pre-war levels, and the return of the use of money also seemed to have increased small-scale trading& help the economy.

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Key Topic 3:

The  Nature of Stalin’s Dictatorship

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Why was there a leadership contest in 1924?

 Lenin died and Different people such as Trotsky and Stalin believed they had the right to power There was no clear successor to Lenin.

Who were the main contenders?

In the politburo the members were: Stalin, Trotsky, Rykov, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin and Tromsky. Trotsky, Stalin and Rykov were also in the CPC in theory they were supposed to work together however they were all competing for power.

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What were Stalin’s strengths?

Stalin was ambitious and charming He was clever, and an excellent organiser and planner. He was a member of the Politburo and General Secretary of the Communist Party

What were his weaknesses?

He was capricious (impulsive and unpredictable). He had a quick temper and was incredibly suspicious.

How was Trotsky removed from the leadership contest?

Stalin and his supporters spread rumours that Trotsky never really had Lenin’s approval. Between 1925 and 1929, Trotsky resigned as Commissar of War, was expelled from the Politburo and Communist Party and was exiled to Kazakhstan and from the Soviet Union.

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How were the other contenders removed? (43)

Zinoviev and Kamenev

Zinoviev and Kamenev were left-wingers who were driven into an alliance with Trotsky. Zinoviev was expelled from the Communist party at the same time as Trotsky. Kamenev then followed at the end of the year. By 1928, it had become clear that Stalin had now replaced Lenin as the leader of the USSR.


Even though they had worked with Stalin against Zinoviev and Kamenev were his next targets. During 1925 he made an alliance with Bukharin, who was an earlier supporter of Trotsky against them. Once again. Stalin used rumours and accusations of disloyalty to the communist party against them. By 1926, the rivalry was out in the open. Bukharin, like the other ‘old Bolsheviks’ was out manoeuvred by Stalin.

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How did Stalin control Russia?

Who were the OGPU (44)

This was the police, yet weren’t really ordinary police as they dealt more with political upheaval. It was the Cheka under a different name. they could use many methods torturing confessions out of them 

What did they do?

They could use many methods torturing confessions out of them.

What were prison camps used for

This was where people were placed if were accused of being guilty, without trial.

How did the ‘Terror’ expand under Stalin?

The OGPU’s powers expanded and if anyone were accused by others they were purged. They were generally sent to camps in which got their name from the organisation’s name the ‘gulags’.

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The Purges

Why did Stalin begin the Purges?

Because he feared the growing opposition to himself and the state.

Who was purged?

The politburo The communist party Engineers, scientists + industrial workers The armed forces. Secret police. (important party leaders + people at social level.) (factories, schools + colleges were also purged of anyone thought to be ‘enemies of the people.

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Who was Kirov and why was his murder significant?

Kirov was a politburo member and was murdered possible on Stalin’s orders. Significant because

What was a show trial?

A show trial was a trial to find out if someone was guilty or not. The ‘old Bolsheviks’ (people who had been leaders of the revolution in 1917) were tried for treason and the assassination of Kirov.

Identify 4 reasons why show trials were important.

People didn’t realise how unfair they were. The accused usually confessed. Suggested that there was a danger to the revolution. Scared people into being less likely to be critical.

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Identify 5 effects of the Purges

7 million people were killed and a further 7 million were sent to prison An atmosphere of fear and suspicion was created: no one knew who to trust (and everyone lost their trust in the justice system). This enforced obedience, but also gave rise to a lot of resentment.
Removed a lot of skilled workers from industry, so factory production was reduced. But the state didn’t just lose skilled workers, it lost useful people at all levels, including 1 out of the 3 million members of the party, 93 of the 129 central committee members and 13 of the 15 top generals in the red army.
Produced a government and a party almost totally created by Stalin and were loyal to him. Experienced people had been replaced by Stalin’s yes-men. The country, especially the army, was weaker as a result.

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What types of propaganda did Stalin use?

Stalin propaganda was everywhere. Radio and newspapers had to produce Stalinist propaganda as they where state owned. Propaganda songs, poems, books. Banners and posters on buildings, in shop windows and on trains and trams. 

How did Stalin use education to control the people of Russia?

Children were taught the Stalinist view of the world and if teachers didn’t teach SV then they were Purged. Schools had to use text books full of propaganda in schools to teach the children. Children encouraged to ‘denounce’ family and friends of family who were ‘anti-Stalinist’.

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What was the cult of Lenin?

Stalin did his best to remove political completion and any early  revolutionaries, with the exception of Lenin.

What was the cult of Stalin?

Stalin's supporters quickly began building a cult of Stalin. Many people took to it wholeheartedly. Stalin always said publicity that Lenin and the soviet union and its people were more important than he was. 

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The 1936 Constitution

In 1936 a new constitution was introduced, this was also known as ‘Stalin’s Constitution’. This was mainly propaganda as it promised democracy. The Supreme Soviet now ran the country. Everyone could vote and voted directly for representatives. Everyone was guaranteed rights such as the right to work, to education and healthcare. In practice the Supreme Soviet only met for a few days a year and the Politburo still had the real power. There was only one party and that was the communist party As all candidates were chosen by the state Various guaranteed rights ignored ‘in the interest of national security’

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How did Stalin use censorship to control the people of Russia?

He used censorship to control the information that people received. Things in the media that people say or can read. They controlled newspapers, radio and propaganda. He did this so that everyone saw the good things about Stalin and only the things about him being a great leader rather than anything negative.

What was Social Realism?

A culture that Stalin wanted everyone to follow. In this he felt education was important but should be easy to understand and poets and musicians should have a patriotic message.

How did it help Stalin to control Russia?

It meant that everyone saw the good things about Stalin and so that he could see who wasn’t patriotic and could easily be seen as an enemy of the state

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How did Stalin rewrite history?

Stalin’s censors edited the past, they didn’t just tell people what to say about the past. They went on to work on evidence, removing or changing it. They destroyed many documents, books or photos, removing people who weren’t in Stalin’s favour (e.g. Trotsky) 

How did this help to increase Stalin’s control?

It made Stalin seem like he had no enemies and everyone liked him.  It made seem like a good person, rather than the bad person he was. Therefore increased his popularity and power over the people.

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Key Topic 4:

Economic and Social Changes 1928-39

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Why did Stalin want to modernise industry and agriculture? (red 96)

Fear of invasion
He was worried that the western countries were much more modernised than Russia and this could increase chances of an invasion on them.
Disappointing output
Industry wasn’t doing as well as planned as the output was very small and
unsuccessful due to the work rate and also many workers had bad working and living conditions and also many were inspirited into world war one
Communist principles
They thought that methods such as collectivisation and
industrialisation would increase communism as land and wealth was shared out between the state and the citizens.
He thought that these
policies would give him more power over Russia and make him seem more  intelligent and an even better leader.

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What  were the 5 year plans

A set of targets for industry set by the central planning organisation, Gosplan.

What was Gosplan?

The state planning authority, an organisation run by the communist party. It was given the task of planning the industrialisation of the USSR under the Five- year plans. The Gosplan set targets for industries and allocated resources.

What happened during the 1st 5 yr plan?

The plan that concentrated on heavy industry, such as coal, steel and iron. The ‘new’ industries, such as electricity, motor vehicles, chemicals and rubber, were also targeted but consumer industries, such as textiles and household goods, were neglected.

What happened during the 2nd 5 yr plan?

At first targets were set for increased production of consumer goods. Some of the mistakes of the first year plan such as too high targets, were avoided. During the second plan, the production of armaments trebled. Living standards did not increase and strikes were not permitted.

What  happened during the 3rd 5 yr plan?
it was abandoned when
Germany invaded the soviet union in June 1941. It concentrated on the production of household goods and luxuries, such as bicycles and radios.

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What were the successes of the 5yr plans (100-4)

Advances in industry  Although the  plans’ targets were  not ALL met, all Soviet industries made remarkable advances and by 1940, the USSR was the world’s second largest industrial power behind the USA. 
New industrial towns
Lots of new industrial town were located in the areas of the USSR, east of the Ural Mountains, as it was a good and safe place from attacks for the West. Skilled workforce At first the soviet workers lacked many of the skills needed to carry out industrialisation, many were essentially illiterate, unskilled and undisciplined., but between 1929 and 1937, major investments in Education and training in skilled workforces, the major costs for the education were clearly useful. 

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What were the failures of the 5yr plans?

Overambitious targets

The targets for the five year plan were very ambitious and were set at very unrealistic levels. As a result of this, some of the goals were not achieved. Officials sometime gave false production figures in order to keep the demands of the Gosplan happy.  The production of textiles actually declines during the first five year plan and the housing industry was virtually ignored. Above everything there was a major shortage of goods, and the quality remained And over-riding problem in each of the plans. 

Working and living conditions.

Economic progress was often achieved at the expense of harsh living and working conditions. Some of the biggest tasks in the plans were carried out in appalling conditions all because of the forced labour, like the peasants in gulags. Many of these workers were peasants who had opposed collectivisation and had built, amongst other projects, like the Bellmore Canal and the Moscow Metro. Peasants were also pressed into working in the factories, even though they were not used to this kind of harsh working and the conditions, this  was similar for the workers before the revolution. 

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Who was Alexi Stakhanov?

He was a miner and became a hero of the Soviet Union in August 1935 because it was claimed that he shifted 102 tonnes of coal, which was almost 15 times the normal amount for a single shift. It was in fact untrue and he had two helpers who helped remove the coal.

What was a shock brigade?

Groups of workers who were selected or volunteered for especially arduous tasks.

What was a Stakhanovite?

A follower of Alexei Stakhanov who were dedicated to hard work.
How did Stalin use these groups to increase his power and control?
He has loyal workers who do everything for the sake of him which ensures he has control over what gets done and it’s what he wants.

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Why did Stalin want to collectivise farms? (106-8)

The grain crisis of 1927

There was said to be a grain crisis in 1927 and Stalin was keen to ensure adequate supplies.

To fund industry

For the five year plan to be successful, agriculture had to be modernised. Because of fewer peasants, therefore, would have to produce more food, as greater numbers of workers needed to be fed.

Destroy the kulaks

He disliked the richer peasants, who hoard food for their own consumption.

Imbed communism

Collectivisation fitted in with communist ideas of common ownership.

Control the countryside

It would give Stalin control over the countryside and the peasantry, something that Lenin failed to achieve.

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How did collectivisation work?

What was a kolkhozy?

A collective farm run my committees of peasants.

What was a Sovkhoz?

A collective farm but was large, state farms were run by a manager it also had more facilities such as nurseries and schools, also better organised.

How did the farms work?

All the land belonged to a state and peasants had to meet a production target for their crops, They told the state what their collective needed to feed people and seed for the next year- the state had to approve of this. Peasants couldn’t leave and work in towns either. They were organised into brigades of families, about 15 people.  Each person worked a number of set days for the state, on jobs like repairing roads, their hours and jobs were set by the state , the state provided equipment and seed

What was a Motor Tractor Station and why were they important?

where they borrowed tractors and combine harvesters!

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Opposition to Collectivisation

Identify 4 criticism’s of collectivisation

Were told what animals to breed what crops to grow no freedom. Set jobs and set hours too work (fined if they did not obey) Had to divide everything equally even inherited land Harshly rationed

Why were Kulaks targeted by the state?

The state wanted to believe the peasants supported collectivisation, they new they didn’t, in doing so blamed the kulaks for all the opposition and influencing the people. Behaving un-communist, making profits and hiring workers

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Who were the kulaks? 

Some acted like pre-revolution landlords treating workers badly and were also hated and feared. Although in some situation the peasants and the kulaks had trust. Most educated and well respected village leaders. Village run communes- land redistributed depending on the number of people in the household.

How did the peasants resist joining collectives?

Some didn’t join a kolkhoz (collective farms)  Produced food for themselves, resisted it, 1928 began to enforce collectivisation Peasants reacted badly, killed their own animals hid seed/crops/tools, some burned their homes, between 1929/1933 half the pigs and a ¼ of the cows were slaughtered

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What was Stalin’s reaction to those that opposed collectivisation?

Many villages didn’t join kolkhoz they carried on farming for themselves, they did not feel responsible to produce enough food for industrial workers. But in 1928 it began enforcing collectivisation. The peasants reacted badly, many of them killed there animals and hide the seeds and crops and tools.
Some burned
there homes rather then it being taken away for collectivisation. Between 1929 and 1933 half the pigs and over quarter of the cows in the country were slaughtered.

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Identify 5 failures of Collectivisation (62)

The most obvious failure was the famine of 1932-1933. Stalin did not help the peasants as much as he could have. Peasants remained resentful to collectivisation in many places. The peasants damaged machinery  such as tractors. Lack of co-operation was so widespread that in 1935, the state had to introduce a Kolkhoz Charter that allowed peasants about an acre of land to grow their own crops on and keep cows and pigs.

Identify 5 successes of collectivisation

By 1935 over 90% of farmland was collectivised. People adapted to using machinery and their local MT Stations worked well. More and more people went to agricultural school. The steep fall in grain production and numbers of animals began to recover. The state now kept and distributed the surplus food stocks.

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I am studying Russia at AS level, but still found this really useful as I didn't do History at GCSE and struggling a bit! thank you very much!

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