Stalinist dictatorship

Soviet Union in Wartime

impact of the invasion:

22 June 1941 - Germany invaded, Stalin taken by surprise and unrepared as senior officers purged in 1930s.

within 24 hours - 1,200 Soviet aircraft destroyed and three weeks - a million troops killed/injured and 20 million under German control.

danger the regime might collapse.

sheer ruthlessness turned to an advantage and effective wartime gov emerged.

Stalin in military command and let generals direct campaigns.

wartime speech addressed 'brothers and sisters' for a nationalistic feel.

became the 'Great Patriotic War'.

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Wartime opposition

large number of national minorities- rise up against Stalinism.

No widespread uprising happened. - thousands had German collaboration

Stalin transferred over a million minorities to the far east.

Purges continued in wartime.

Terror exploited

1942 - no retreat, first month 13,000 'corwards' executed.

Prisoners of war 1945 - directly to labour camps.

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The Political impact of the war

reducing the role of the political commissars of army units

restored special badges of rank

armed forced encouraged to join Communist Party

half the members were from army/navy.

nationalism emphasised

declared a victory as a victory for communism

aso a victory for Stalin and the regime.

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Economic impact of the war

August 1941 - Leningrad surrounded and besieged.

October 1941 - fifty per cent of coal, iron and steel in German hands.

mobilisation of all available economic resources.

economy on war footing from five year plans - emphasis on heavy industry and armaments - great value.

rapid creation of military plants in Ural region. (beyond reach of Germans).

  • Nearly all industrial production was military needs.
  • railways built to connect industrial bases
  • tigthened labour discipline
  • harsher punishmets for poor work
  • strict rationing
  • 1943 - industrial productivity exceeded Germany
  • USA - planes, tanks, military vehicles (17.5 million tonnes). 5 million tonnes food.
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Social impact of the war

25 million lives were lost through starvation

Leningrad besieged for over two years - no heating, lighting or water.

Eight hundred thousand died in the city 1941-42 - more than combined UK/US death toll.

propoganda was patriotism

experienced and survived harsh conditions 1930

4/5 farmers were women

churches reponed for morale

propoganda was nationalistic

Stalin - Saviour.

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High Stalinism & Revival of terror

after end of war - USA new enemy (Cold war)

no reform after 1945 - country sealed off from West, censorship increased and NKVD strengthened.

strengthened personal control - removed state defence committee and demoted high-ranking generals, e.g. Zhukov, hugely popular, posted far away from Moscow.

Stalin became defence minister

dispensed with central committee and politburo, removing semblance of limitation of his authority.

relied increasingly on private advisors to bypass government bodies - exert absolute authority.

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Terror and the destruction of 'supposed opposition

revived terror as a political weapon (didnt reach pre-war levels)

many thousands executed for 'counter-revolutionary' activities.

Leningrad affair 1949 - two potential successors to Stalin and Stalin had several arrest, forced to confess and shot.

'Doctors Plot' - The Cold War  - intense fear of foreigners

  • 2 million soviet Jews were spied on
  • 1952 - Stalin conspiracy of Kremlin doctors of accused murder plot, seven of nine assassins were Jewish, hundreds doctors arrested and deported to labour camps

at height of hysteria - stalin died on 5 march 1953.

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High Stalinism and the 'cult of personality'

before and after war, Stalin was the 'embodiment of the nation'.

the father figure of the USSR

Stalin's birthday the biggest celebration in Soviet calender - a religious icon

'cult of personality' reached its height after the war, stalin portrayed as an exceptional genius and a 'man of the people', ever-present, all-knowing and benevolent.

70th birthday - giant portrait of stalin suspended in the sky over Moscow

death announced March 1953 - prisoners in labour camps rejoiced

widespread fear and genuine grief = Yevtushenko (poet) - 'all russia wept, so did i'.

no attempt for successor - played ministers off against eachother. party congress 1952 - politburo become presidium and raised members to senior positions, e.g. Malenkov and Khrushchev.

Three main contenders - Beria, malenkov, Molotov.

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