the great patriotic war and stalins dictatorship, 1941-1953

1. the great patriotic war and impact

- operation barbarossa 

- stalinist reaction 

- course of the war

- soviet command economy 

- foriegn aid to the ussr 

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operation barbarossa - 1941

plan to break the nazi-soviet pact and invade the USSR in june 1941 

the Nazi's had been preparing since 1940, and launched attack on 22nd June 1941 

they had three prongs of attack: leningrad, ukriane and moscow 

they wanted to control the soviet economy and eradicate communism

they had caputured 1.3 million soldiers by september 1941 

was it a success? 

  • planned an attack from all angles 
  • USSR were not prepared for war 
  • german military is better trained than the USSR 
  • stalins breakdown meant bad leadership 
  • within two weeks of attack many countries had been seized 
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course of the great patriotic war

- june 1941 to summer 1942 

soviet russia struggle against successive german offensives, suffering massive loses of people and territory 

- 1942 to summer 1943 

soviet russia established its war effort and halted german advances 

- 1943 to summer 1945 

soviet armies move onto the defensive and recaptures vast areas and achieved total victory 

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soviet response

- stalin miscalculated the effectiveness of the nazi soviet pact 

- stalin takes no action when foriegn sources say he may be fearing invasion 

- stalin shirnks away from making radio broadcast to the people 

- two week depression before stalin does anything 

- appealed to unity between the nations rather than disgregarding ethnic minorities 

- relied for too long on inferior commanders, as the purge of the army left them with less 

- showed no urgency in retaining leningrad 

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soviet command economy

this is a centralised economy that is controlled by the government. flow of materials is gudied so it all went into the war effort. as the country was run this way prior to the war, during the 5 year plans, there is no transition period. this means they have an advantage over the nazis 

  • stvka 
    • organisation to discuss the running of the war and organise it 
    • key poliyicians and generals such as molotov and stalin 
    • they were top imiltary command of USSR 
  • sorge 
    • richard sorge was a master spy that told stalin information about japan 

how did they survive? 

some factories deliberatley destoryed, so Nazi's cannot take the victory used 20,000 trains to relocate industry east to siberia

given around 500 million dollars worth of aid from the USA such as food, weapons and trucks 

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2. defeat of the nazis

- defeat of the nazis 

- babi yar 

- why they won 

- rebulding the ussr 

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defeat of nazis, babi yar and race to berlin

the great patriotic war lasted from june 1941 to june 1945 

life under the nazi's 

  • estimated death toll from around 12 million people, there was massive destruction of factories, urban housing and hospitals. 
  • the nazi's spoke of liberating the U**R from their communist system, however many soviet people were loyal and shunned away from germans who owned their land 
  • BABI YAR = the ** rouded up jewish people from the U**R. 34,000 taken shot and put in mass graves 

german surrender 

8th may 1945 they surender

stalin shows great urgency in the race 

he wanted to control europe and gain a buffer zone for communist ideaology 

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why they won

good fortune? 

  • had a vast geographical size which gave them an advantage over german forces, who also face overstretched lines and lack of people to cover them 
  • USSR population was nearly 3 times greater than germany, means its easier for them to replace loses 
  • USSR had vast natural resources such as oil, meaning they outprouduced germany 
  • german weaknesses:
    • fighting a two front war 
    • lack of natural materials and rescoures 
    • hitler had sacked good generals in favour of 'yes-men' 
    • mass bombings by british hurt their effort 

good leadership 

  • command economy already established, means there less economical strain and move main economy to siberia so out of war zone 
  • stalin capable leader after bad start becomes ruthelessly effective 
  • stalins allies such as UK prove great threat to germany 
  • vital military and economic aid 
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rebuilding the USSR after the war

why was this imoportant? 

  • the war had ruined the economy and strongly backtracked the progress made 
  • cold war was on the verge of starting 
  • wanted to regain position as a threatening world power 


- rougly 20m military and civilian deaths 

- intensity of war had destroyed all progress since 1930's 

- stalin had promised the USSR would be a world power by the 1960's 

- ukriane was specifically targeted as it has oil there 

- loss/ruin of 98,000 collective farms and 73 million animals 

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4th and 5th five year plans

were combined together into one long plan 

  • focus
    • rebuliding heaving industry, mining, electricity, transport, improved living standards, consumer goods. by 1948, they had reached the same levels as 1938 levels. 
  • plans helped by 
    • war reporations were recieved and central planning helped it work through. the soviet people were commited and patriotic. 
  • weakness' of the soviet government 
    • they were overloaded by military expenditure, lots of the cost of government spending covered this, there was a labour shortage. famine, argriculture is slow and has patchy recovery over time. 
  • stalins damage 
    • stalin wrote a book titled 'economical problems of socialism in the USSR' which discourages policies towards change. this means they use this to slow down the pace of more reform 
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3. high stalinism

- NKVD under beria 

- the doctors plot 

- the leningrad affair 


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reinforced terror and zhadonovism

during high stalinism the terror from 1930's was reinforced 

  • isolation of the USSR from non-soviet world, as there was fear of ideological contamination 
  • prisioners of war were treated extremely harshly due to them having western ideals 
  • people in stalite states had to be feircely loyal or were to be sent to the gulags 
  • laws were passed in february 1947 meaning you cannot marry anyone outside of the USSR 

zhadanovism and cultural purges 

  • conducted cultural purges that got rid of anything not soviet 
  • censorship of art, media, newspapers to only pro-commuinst ideals
  • jazz music is banned for it's place in cultural differences 
  • only media that portrayed america and capitalism as a failing system was allowed to be processed to the average person 
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leningrad affair

leningrad was a significant place as it was the birthplace of the revolution and named after lenin 

what happened: 

  • leningrad soviets targeted and accused of forming an anti-bolshevik movement 
  • 2000 people in leading positions were removed from them, arrested or placed in new gulags 

key figures 

  • nikolayev, alexsky and popkov are executed on october 1st 1950. 
  • these were the heads of Gosplan, Education and Leningrad, respectively 

reasons for the affair 

  • stalin didn't want these soviets to become too powerful within the ideological capital 
  • the city had its own economic fair with could be acussed as non-commuinist because it would invigorate leningrad 
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the doctors plot - 1953


  • death of zhadanov: a doctor named Lydia TImashuk accused other doctors of intentionally treating zhadanov poorly. however he drank a lot which meant he was already ill, the doctor treating him happened to be jewish 
  • anti-semitism: anti-zionism = against the creation of a jewish homeland. Golda Meir, israel ambassador was welcomed with cheers by the USSR people, stalin did not like this as he saw them as an agent of the USA. sees as a motive to rid of upper jewish people as they were against the creation of a soviet culture
  • oppourtunity to purge: jewish politburo members were imprisioned, as well as "anti-patriotic" groups that are purged. stalin began to draw up a list of bolsheviks he wanted to purge. threatened minister of security, Nikolai Ignatiev with execution if he didnt obtain confessions. 
    • consequences 
    • hundreds of jewish doctors were killed, arrested and tortured, not allowed in hospitals and non jews feared them
    • 9 senior doctors were condemmed but stalin dies before they are killed and their trials are cancelled.
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4. transformation of soviet unions position

- formation of a soviet bloc 

- breakdown of east west relations 

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formation of a soviet bloc

the USSR gains control of many countries 

baltic states - these are absorbed into the USSR 

an abundance of buffer states that protect russia from western threats 

  • poland = become a part of wider soviet influence. the communist party wins in 1947 
  • greece = currently in a civil war between communists and royalists, but is favoured by the britihs. they are taken into soviet influence but cannot compete with marshall aid 
  • czechslovakia = liberated by USSR but is allies with US, they are then within sphere of influece, and the anti-communist party leader is killed and the communist party prevails 
  • romania, albania, hungary and bulgaria = all allowed a level of 'independence' but have rigged elections and become fully communist 

sphere of influence is wide in eastern europe and now they have quite a lot of communist countries surrounding them

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breakdown of east/west relations

  • age one
    • U.S representative Kenan urged the US to take action against the USSR in the 'Long Telegram' in 1946
    • ex-prime minister of the UK Winston Churchill speaks of an 'Iron Curtain' being drawn across europe, against communism and advises strength to form against the USSR in 1946
  • stage two 
    • italy and france gain strong communist parties by 1947
    • 'The Truman Doctrine' commited the USSR to "containing" commuinism in 1947 
    • in 1947, the U.S announced the 'Marshall Plan', which supplied aid to rebuild europe. stalin disagreed with this has it wasn't communism 
  • stage three 
    • to gain full control of Berlin, Stalin launched the Berlin Blockade in 1948 which cut all road and rail links from west to berlin. western powers not willing to risk war, means the US have to settle on soviet terms. but stalin was defeated by the berlin airlift that flew in supplies for the US. stalin did not risk shooting down enemy planes, and the blockade was lifted by 1949.
    • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) defend europe from soviet aggression as this is when the first soviet bomb was created. 
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