Tsarist and Communist Russia 1855-1964


Khrushchev - Downfall

  • Cultural dissidents - wanted greater freedom, keen to promote democracy and human rights. Their literature and publications circulated through samizdat (like black market/ sort of underground illegal publishing). Criticised the regime because it was still very authoritarian and power based. Opposition were condemned for their ''anti-social parasitic way of life". There was also a spread of Western publications, music and culture. 
  • Khrushchev was criticised in 1957 and party members tried to have him replaced (they engaged the vote of the Presidium) but he had the support of the KGB and the Central Committee. 
  • Breznev initially spoke well of Khrushchev at his 70th birthday (1964)
  • A few months later he, the Central Committee and Presidium began criticising his regime. 
  • Khrushchev was forced to resign in 1964 due to ''ill-health'' complications. 
  • They criticised him in a Pravda article for his ''hare-brained schemes'' and half-baked conclusions". 
  • Khruschev was not purged, he was given a flat in Moscow and a house in the country but was officially ignored and was denied a state funeral several years later. His son-in-law was purged because Khrushchev had given him too much power. 
  • Blamed for failures of Virgin Lands 1963. 
  • Criticism of his ''one-man'' style of leadership - still very Stalin-like. 
  • He gave his son-in-law too much power within the party. 
  • Cuban Missile Crisis 1962. 
  • Decentralisation of the economy angered people as did his focus on consumerism and nuclear weapons. 
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Khrushchev - Cultural Developments

  • Remember to be able to compare them to Stalin's cultural reforms. 
  • Censorship was relaxed - there became a ''thaw'' in the life of ordinary people. 'Ehrenburg's ''The Thaw'' inspired the ''Khrushchev Thaw'' - published in 1954. 
  • ''One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich'' by Alexander Solzhenitsyn - based on the life of a man in a prison camp, which highlighted the true nature of Stalin's regime, published in 1962. 
  • ''Dr. Zhivago'' by Boris Pasternak who'd been condemned under Stalin, recieved a Nobel Prize in 1957, but was not allowed to accept it since it was critical of the October Revolution. 
  • Tried to encourage the West to see how great the Soviet Union was. Foreigners were allowed to travel to Russia. World Festival of Youth 1957, youth from 131 countries and 34,000 attended. 
  • Keen to engage the young people, particularly Komsomol, the Pioneers etc. 
  • Recruited young people in the Virgin Lands Scheme. 
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Khrushchev - Social Developments

  • Remember to compare to Stalin, his emphasis on traditional values, poor working conditions, harsh punishments etc. 
  • Minimum wage introduced for collective farmers. (Under Stalin, the average wage of a kolkhoz farmer was just 1/6 of an urban worker). 
  • Minimum wage increased for working class and harsh punishments for lateness etc. were abolished. 
  • Fridges and TV's were seen in Soviet homes for the first time. 
  • Push for consumer goods which saw people owning more luxuries. 
  • Pensions were expanded for the elderly, disabled and sick - important because the war had left many families without a main provider. 
  • 108 million people rehomed as a part of Khrushchev's massive house building programme. Housing was still relatively destitute but made a big change from communal kitchens, bathrooms etc. 


  • Status was reintroduced into the party - with access to special health care, cars etc. 
  • Anti-religious propaganda was stepped up and national minorities were still repressed. 
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Khrushchev - Economy

  • Decentralised the Russian economy, angered many but made the economy stronger and further implemented Khrushchev's control. 
  • House building programme, focus on consumer goods and nuclear weapons, Space Race etc. 
  • Virgin Lands Scheme adopted in 1954 instead of Malenkov's policies (who was blamed for poor harvest in 1953). 
  • Focused on cultivating ''virgin and idle lands'' in Siberia/Kazakhastan. 
  • Production increased by 75% from 1954-1958 however... 
  • Cultivated little as the lands were so infertile, blamed for poor harvest in 1963. 
  • Top layer of soil eroded and thus unable to plant. 
  • Only 1/6 of maize planted was harvested. 
  • Focused on maize which didn't cope well in Russian climate, harsh winters etc. 
  • Had to import large amounts of grain from America in 1963 during a bad harvest. 
  • Focused on heavy industry e.g oil, iron etc. but also invested in nuclear weaponry too as a part of the Cold War. 
  • Also invested in large scale projects as a part of the 'Space Race' - Khrushchev recognised the need to catch up with the West. 
  • 1957, Sputnik, the first sattelite in orbit and 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. 
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Khrushchev's Rise to Power and De-Stalinisation

  • Rise to power - he was made General Secretary of the Party (1953), and thus was able to manipulate his role into power. Used his position to build a power base within the party (like Stalin). 
  • Leadership was initially a collective power struggle between the leading troika, Malenkov, Beria and Molotov. 
  • Beria, is seen as the reformer and the liberator (he liberated 1 million prisoners from the gulags) but is executed in a coup organised by Khrushchev in 1953 because he was threatening the Party by gaining too much influence. 
  • 1955 - Malenkov is removed as Head of State and replaced by Bulganin. 
  • Khrushchev and the other Party members did not associate themselves with Malenkov's economic ideas and thus Khrushchev's Virgin Lands Scheme was adopted in 1954. 
  • 1956 - 20th Party Congress, Khrushchev's ''secret'' speech solidified his influence as leader. 
  • He denounced the Stalinist regime and hence initiated the ''De-Stalinisation''. Criticised Stalin for his abuses of power and manipulation over the people. However, he only wanted to blacken Stalin's reputation, not the entire Soviet reputation (i.e the leadership of Lenin). 
  • Wanted Russia to become the country of Lenin once again. 
  • De-Stalinisation represented a new era of tolerance and freedom. No more purges, relaxation of censorship, 2 million prisoners released from the gulags by 1960. However, Russia still remained a one-party, centralised and authoritarian state and many feared the secret police (KGB).
  • The more radical critics were expelled from the party as ''rotten elements". 
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Stalin's Cult of Personality

  • Stalin was viewed as the father of modern Russia. 
  • Used propaganda to solidify his cult of personality, e.g on his 70th birthday, a large portrait of him was hung above Moscow, lit up by a halo of searchlights. 
  • Stalin's death provoked widespread and genuine grief. While those in the gulags rejoiced, thousands queued to see Stalin's enbalmed body put to rest. He'd led the Soviet state for over 25 years and his legacy had left a profound mark on the people. 
  • He'd prepared no successor in forecast of his death. However a prominent troika emerged as Molotov, Malenkov and Beria. They wanted to scrap the Politburo for a larger Presidium. 
  • Speeches were made at the 1952 party congress by Malenkov an Khrushchev. 
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High Stalinism and the Revival of Terror

  • Stalin became more paranoid after a stroke in 1946. 
  • He only relied on his closest advisors e.g Zhadanov. 
  • Zhadanovschina 1947, marked the return to socialist realism. Artists and writers were condemned again for anti-Soviet works. 
  • Beria had replaced Yezhov as Head of the NKVD - Stalin attempted to erase his old foe from the public's memory and altered photos which featured now rejected members of the regime. 
  • No reform after 1945 except censorship was increased and powers of the NKVD. 
  • Next party congress held in 1952
  • By 1945 - death rate in the gulags had reached 25%. 
  • Leningrad Affair 1949 - Stalin purged senior members of the Leningrad party organisation (who'd gained support during the Leningrad siege. The leaders were seen as possible successors to Stalin and threatened him so he had them forced to confess and then shot. 
  • Doctor's Plot 1952 - Stalin had relaxed his view on Jew's when he thought that Israel (new Jewish state created in 1948) had needed a potential ally. But when they chose the USA instead this angered Stalin. Meanwhile, some Kremlin doctors were blamed for Zhadanov's death because they'd failed to treat him properly. Stalin claimed that they were doing the same to him, trying to kill him. He had 9 arrested and 7/9 were Jewish. He died before their execution. 
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Stalin and WWII - Social Impact

  • Patriotism boosted the morale of the army. 
  • Production increased and by the end of the war, Russia was a world superpower. 
  • Millions died (25 million) mostly civilians. 
  • 800,000 died during the siege at Leningrad - more than combined UK/US losses. For two years there was no heating, lighting or hot water. 
  • Women made up 4/5 of the kolkhoz farms, often ploughing by hand. 
  • In 1944, Stalin embarked in reform to increased the birth rate. Families with less than two children had to pay more taxes or threatened having their ration cards taken away. 
  • Churches were reopened as Stalin believed it would boost the morale of the people in defending their ''Holy Mother Russia". 
  • Stalin emerged as the nations saviour and the people were proud to defend their ''Holy Mother Russia". 
  • After the war Stalin abolished the State Defence Committee and demoted important Marshalls such as Zhukov. 
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Stalin and the Economy WWII

  • Stalin had not anticipated war but had built many factories east of the Urals which acted as a natural barrier against the Germans. 
  • 10% of industry was moved east or built anew (3,500 factories). 
  • By 1943, Russian industry had overtaken German industry. But Russia was still behind the West. 
  • Recieved 5 million tons of food from America in the ''Lend, Lease'' programme. 
  • Factory work was stepped up, factories placed under martial law - harsh punishments for negligence, lateness and absenteeism. A 72 hour day became the norm and workers often slept in the factories. Strict rationing was introduced (millions died as a result). 
  • 25 million civilians died due to starvation. 
  • 8.6 million troops were killed. 
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Stalin and WWII

  • Outbreak of WWII surprised Russia. Within 24 hours, 1,200 Soviet aircraft were redundant. 
  • After 3 weeks, 1 million troops were killed or injured and 20 million living under German rule. 
  • Stalin addressed the public as his ''brothers and sisters'' and encouraged them to fight for ''Holy Mother Russia'' - not for socialism. A surge of patriotism swept the country. 
  • Established the State Defence Committee to control the military but unlike Hitler, allowed his generals to conduct their own military campaigns. 
  • Some national minorities showed to sympathise with the Germans and so Stalin had them moved east to Siberia or sent to work camps. Lithuanians, and Volga Germans were among those treated the most harshly. 1/3 of all national minorities were deported. 
  • Prisoners of war who returned in 1945 were seen as having been conspiring with the Germans or corrupted by Western ideas so were placed directly into labour camps. 
  • Hailed ''the Great Patriotic War" - fighting for Russia not socialism. 
  • Stalin declared that victory over Germany was a victory of communism over fascism. 
  • Stalin was seen as a great hero and great leader. 
  • Battle of Stalingrad 1942: Order number 227 "Not One Step Backwards" - anyone seen retreating was shot. The city was to be defended at all costs since it bore Stalin's name. 
  • Seige at Leningrad 1941-42. 
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Stalin - The Great Terror

  • 1937/38 marked the Yezhovschina or the Great Terror. 
  • This terror was pointed towards ordinary innocent citizens. 
  • The population were encouraged to reveal hidden enemies (aided by communal living) and students were asked to root up any anti-Soviet parents or teachers. 
  • NKVD powers were increased with Stalin's paranoia. 
  • Deported national minorities. 
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Stalin and the Use of Terror - The Purges

  • Shakty show trial 1928 - used to condemn 53 workers who were forced to confess to anti-Soviet sympathism. 
  • Crisis of 1932 - Stalin's wife committed suicide and condemned Stalin and his policies in a suicide note. This and growing critcism from within the party (e.g Ryutin platform and Kirov) made him even more paranoid. 
  • Ryutin platform - were against Stalin's policies and gained growing support which Stalin feared. Kirov (leader of the Leningrad party organisation) spoke out against Stalin's economic and social policies and argued for more moderate reform. Him and Stalin were given ''Status of Equal Rank'' which meant that they had the same position within government. While this angered Stalin, he was also glad as it meant Kirov took some of the blame for his failed economic policies. 
  • Kirov murdered in 1934 under suspicious circumstances. Stalin used this as a pretext for the arrest of members from what her called Trotskyite and Zinoviev-Kamenev factions (blamed Trostkyites for Kirov's death). 
  • 1936 - Assassination of Zinoviev and Kamenev as well as others for being too Trotskyite - show trial. 
  • 1937 - other Bolsheviks and Navy Officers shot. 
  • 1938 - Murder of Bukharin, Rykov and Yagoda among others. (Yagoda is replaced by Yezhov). 
  • Growing criticism from the public saw Stalin influence Yagoda to put prisoners to more use. They were sent to work camps (already established under Lenin) called gulags. 25,000 died in the gulags within this period. 
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Stalin - Cultural Change

  • Religion was repressed as it had been under Lenin. This destroyed the traditional peasant way of life and a way of respecting their country. Protestors were branded as ''kulaks''. By 1940, only 500 churches remained although a shocking 57% still declared themselves as religious in 1937. 
  • Stalin repressed national minorities in the Great Retreat, even though he was from one himself. He declared  Russian the official language of the USSR: all lessons were conducted in Russian. This contrasted with Lenin's acceptance. 
  • While Lenin believed that art should ''serve the people'' - Stalin thought different. He believed that art and literature should serve to represent socialist values. He embarked on a programma known as ''socialist realism'' 1934 which meant that writers and artists work had to conform to Soviet standards. From 1934, all Soviet writers had to belong to the Union of Soviet Writers for which Maxim Gorky was chairman. All literature, art and music had to reflect Soviet values. Those who didn't comply were punished such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn who spent most of his life in a gulag and Boris Pasternak who wrote works such as Dr. Zhivago. Films had to convey Soviet values too - a popular one was ''Lenin in October'' by Eisenstien. A popular book was ''How the Steel was Tempered". 
  • Stalin also emphasised propaganda. He was portrayed as the father figure of the Soviet Union and a close associate of Lenin's. He became the personification of the nation. 
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Stalin - Society

  • Class developments - Stalin continued class warfare and communal living as a part of de-Kulakisation. Poor living conditions charaterised communal spaces and death tolls were high. 
  • While Stalin had initially accepted Lenin's changes, he soon embarked on his ''Great Retreat'' back to traditional values. Abortion was criminalised as was homosexuality. Divorce was made harder since men abused its powers and there would be a falling birth rate during famine and war later on. Women were encouraged to remain in their traditional position as mother rather than workers, although, by 1940, women made up 43% of the working population. 
  • Stalin greatly benefitted from young party membership. By 1940, Komsomol had over 10 million members. 
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Stalin Economy - Collectivisation

  • In 1928, Stalin also embarked on a programme of collectivisation. 
  • Established peasants into collective farms to help increase agricultural production. 
  • Embarked on a mass tractor building programme in the 1920's and 1930's. 
  • The state took 90% of peasants grain. 
  • Peasants who resisted were assumed as burzhui or kulaks, rounded up and sent to the gulags/work camps.
  • By 1930, 50% of all land had been collectivised. By 1939, 90% of all land had been collectivised. 
  • 1930 - Pravda published ''Dizzy with Success" article about the positive results of collectivisation. Stalin allowed for some transgression of his policies during this time via allowing some peasants to have private plots. 
  • 1933 - famine in the Ukraine, peasants were hoarding grain and killing livestock rather than handing it over. Lack of meat in the Soviet Union. 
  • Thousands resisted and were brutally repressed. 
  • Pre-war levels of grain production were not reached until 1939. 
  • Destroyed the traditional peasant way of life, community, traditions, festivals, religion etc. 
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Stalin Economy - the Five Year Plans

  • Five Year Plans (FYPs) initiated as an idea in 1927 - five years worth of production in order to meet specific targets in order to catalyse the expansion of Russia as an industrial superpower. 
  • Used central planning such as Veshenka and Gosplan to set targets for individual factories. 
  • Stalin often announed the plans as being completed early to overemphasise Soviet success, e.g in 1929, the targets for 1932 were revised upwards.
  • 1st FYP - 1928-1932: Focused on heavy industry, iron, oil, steel etc. Electricity production trebled by 1932. 
  • 2nd FYP 1933-1937: Focused on heavy industrial and large scale projects ''Gigantomania'' such as the Moscow Metro (completed in 1935), the Dnieprostroi Dam (completed in 1932) and industrial city Magnitogorsk (where building commenced in 1928). The Dneiprostroi Dam increased electricity production by 5x!!! Also involved propaganda campaigns such as the Stakhanovite Campaign 1935, which was meant to inspire a worker's incentive and thus speed up production. 
  • 3rd FYP 1938-1941: Focused on heavy industry and armaments (in anticipation of war). Cut short by WWII. 
  • However, life remained bleak for the working class. Conditions were poor and this was exacerbated by the growth in the urban pop. Quantity was put over quality. 
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Establishment of the Stalinist dictatorship

  • Following a 4 year power struggle, Stalin managed to emerge as victorious. 
  • Had the support of the Central Committee. 
  • Able to expel radicals from the party e.g Trotsky who was expelled in 1926. 
  • Benefitted from more party membership, younger less educated individuals who knew that loyality could protect them and their families. 
  • 1936 Constitution, which Stalin nicknamed ''the most democratic in the world'' (which it wasn't). 
  • It promised autonomy to the regions (but Stalin ensured there was little). 
  • Promised elections every 4 years (these didn't happen). 
  • Promised civil liberties such as freedom of speech but these were mostly ignored. 
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Lenin's Death and Stalin's Rise to Power

  • 1922 - Stalin is appointed as General Secretary. 
  • 1922, Lenin dictated his last political testimony which was critical of members of the party and implicitly indicated who he wanted as leader, (Trotsky - although he criticised him as well). 
  • Stalin was very much criticised in the political testimony, and after Lenin's death in 1924, he claimed it could not be publicised because it spoke of his removal from the position as General Secretary. 
  • Some were more afraid of Trotsky and his concerns for a worldwide socialist revolution which Stalin disagreed with. 
  • From 1924-1928, there was a power struggle between the main members of the Politburo, however, Stalin emerged on top. Nomenklatura 1923.
  • Stalin used his position as Gensek to manipulate a pull of power from within the party. He told Trotsky the wrong date for Lenin's funeral so it was seen that he was essentially Lenin's main supporter. 
  • He accused Zinoviev and Kamenev of right-deviation. 
  • Trotsky's position as Commissar for War was removed in 1925, he was expelled in 1926 and exiled in 1929. (Killed in 1940). 
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Lenin - Society and Culture

  • Class warfare encouraged. Seen everywhere through anti-bourgeoisie propaganda. Lenin further encouraged communal living between families (they'd share a kitchen and a bathroom) and this would help root out any anti-Communists/Soviets since everyone was spying on each other. People feared the Cheka or being sent to a work camp. 
  • Women were given greater privileges under Lenin - abortion was legalised in 1920 and divorce was made easier. Women were encouraged to join the workforce and have careers (although this was reversed under Stalin's ''Great Retreat"). Homosexuality was also legalised. 
  • Education was improved. Made free and compulsory for all classes. Emphasised Russian lang and lit, maths, science etc. and also focused on Soviet values. 10% of all schooling was lessons in Soviet values such as lessons which would prepare children for the workforce like ''socially usefull labour''. 
  • Communist youth divisions such as Komsomol (1918) and the Pioneers (1922) legitimised the strength of the Bolsheviks. By 1940, Komsomol had 10 million members. 
  • The Church was persecuted, Karl Marx - ''opium of the people''. League of the Militant Godless 1922, directly persecuted religion and churches. By 1940, only 500 churches remained. 
  • Lenin promised freedom for national minorities (reversed under Stalin). Tolerated national minorities, e.g use of Jewish language Yiddish which became more widely used. 
  • Lenin thought that art and literature should ''serve the people''. He was strict on anti-Bolshevik literature or newspapers but not overtly as strict as Stalin. 
  • Lenin valued propaganda since he was portrayed a God-like figure and the saviour of socialism.
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Lenin - Economy (NEP)

  • NEP = New Economic Policy, 1921-1924. Lenin didn't like NEP very much because it was more capitalist than communist. 
  • Russia had now recovered from the civil war - which the Communists had won, however, both agricultural and industrial production was poor. Lenin realised that state intervention was needed because the factory workers didn't know how to run the factories. 
  • NEP introduced to combat the failure of the economy so far, because War Communism had failed to improve industry. 
  • By 1921 - industry was only 20% of what it had been in 1914. 
  • Measures of NEP included: Instead of grain requisitioning, peasants were taxed 20% on their grain and had to hand it over to the state. Allowance of private trade, e.g small business such as restaurants and cafes. The state would control the ''commanding heights'' of the economy (economic centralisation), e.g heavy industry, iron, steel, railways etc. 
  • However... In 1923, NEP caused a crisis known as the ''Scissor's Crisis'' (as named by Trotsky. This was because there was too much grain pouring into the cities, so price of grain went down, but industrial production was decreasing so industrial prices went up. 
  • There was a revival of the kulak class and NEPmen traders and speculators (who were disliked among the people). 
  • To combat this, Lenin eventually stopped taxing peasants in kind and taxed them in cash.
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Lenin - Economy

  • War Communism 1918-1921, introduced after the failure of State Capitalism (i.e letting workers have all the control). Fit with Lenin's overall ideology about communism and the corruption of the burzhui. 
  • The Bolsheviks are renamed the Communist Party c.1918. 
  • Introduced as a measure to combat food shortages and labour shortages in 1918. Internal passports introduced 1918 to limit the flow of peasants/workers to the cities/around Russia.
  • Lenin centralised the economy - nationalised the banks (ended the flow of capital) and national industries such as oil, iron, cotton and sugar. 
  • 1917 - establishes Veshenka as the Supreme Economic Council. Gosplan introduced in 1921. 
  • Main aspects of War Communism: Grain requisitioning, Red Guards forcibly taking grain from peasants. Rationing was given in order of priority - burzhui were lowest priority. Ration cards replaced the need for currency. Industry - armaments for Red Army soldiers were prioritised. Strict factory punishments with fines for lateness etc. 
  • Problems: Peasants hoarded grain. Not enough grain reached the cities because of the poor transport system. Quantity over quality - more armaments but a poorer quality. 
  • Use of terror, e.g Red Guards forcibly taking grain from peasants, religion was repressed. Wealthy members of society were purged as were the civil service. Cheka powers increased. 500,000 were executed between 1918 and 1921. 
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Lenin - Civil War

  • Civil War from 1918-1921. 
  • A result of the Bolsheviks seizing the power and unwilling to share it with everyone else. Many workers had hoped for a share-owning democracy with a leadership which was representative of all the major socialist parties. 
  • Mostly between the non-Bolshevik Whites who opposed Bolshevik rule e.g Kadets, Mensheviks, SR's and ex-Tsarist army soldiers etc. The Bolsheviks had their own Red Army led by Trotsky. 
  • 1921 - Krondstadt Rebellion - initially supporters of the Bolsheviks but soon mutinied. 
  • Bolshevik regime was threatened which left him shaken, so laws became stricter, religion was repressed, anti-Bolsheviks condemned, the power of the Cheka stepped up and ''show-trials'' used to condemn SR's. 
  • Economic issues during the war e.g lack of grain and food. 
  • Lenin therefore adopted War Communism. 
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Lenin - Ideology and the One-Party State

  • Lenin outlined his ideology in his book ''State and Revolution'' 1917. 
  • Him and Trotsky argued for a worldwide socialist revolution. They believed that a worldwide communist revolution would help speed up Russia's progression, but sacrificed this opportunity by ending the war (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, March 1918). 
  • Peasants identified closely with his ideas because he argued that the power should be in the hands of the people. Peasants took land for themselves and Lenin encouraged the ''looting of the looters''. Made the wealthy share their houses and encouraged communal living. 
  • The workers in the factories however were not very competent in controlling the factories (which Lenin would later resolve through economic centralisation). 
  • Lenin created a Bolshevik only Sovnarkom and named his Party the ruling power on ''behalf of the proletariat". 
  • This caused civil war to break out - mostly Bolshevik Reds vs non-Bolshevik whites e.g Kadets, Mensheviks, SR's, Tsarist army officers etc. 
  • This caused the Bolsheviks to adopt a more centralised version of government who resorted to terror to enforce their laws. The state was moved to Moscow and Lenin centralised the economy by nationalising pretty much everything. 
  • Introduced a ''ban-on-factions'' within the party in 1921 to prevent party members from deviating away from socialist ideas. 
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Lenin's Consolidation of Power

  • Lenin's seige at the Winter Palace had been a true success. 
  • The All-Russian Congress of Soviets had named the Bolsheviks and the SR's as the most influential, Mensheviks and right-wing SR's walked out. 
  • Lenin established Sovnarkom - a government of political commissars. He was chairman and Trotsky was Commissar for War. 
  • Established the Decree on Land (all land is declared to be the property of the people), Decree on Peace (immediate end to the war) and Decree on Workers' Control (workers could take control of the factories) - all 1917. 
  • Ranks and titles within the party and the army were abolished (representative of communism). Banks and church lands were nationalised (and so was all industry later on in economic centralisation). 
  • Class warfare was encouraged against the bourgeoisie (burzhui) and kulak class. 
  • Anti-Bolshevik newspapers were closed down. 
  • Cheka was established Dec 1917. 
  • Kadets, Mensheviks and SR's were arrested. 
  • Constituent Assembly - met for one day 5th January 1918 and was closed immediately because the SR's had won more votes. Lenin argued that the Bolsheviks would rule on behalf of the proletariat. Anyone demonstrating in favour of the assembly was shot. 
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1917 Revolution

  • Protestors demonstrate on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. 
  • February Revolution - International Women's Day March (Feb 23rd) turns into a protest of workers and students c.200,000 demonstrators calling for bread and reforms. 
  • February Revolution: Petrograd Garrison mutiny against the Tsar showing he lacked support. 
  • March - Tsar resigns. A Provisional Gvt. is established, they continue the war effort. Tsar and his family are placed under house arrest and killed in 1918. 
  • April - Lenin dictates his April Theses.
  • July - July Days. 
  • August - Kornilov Affair. 
  • By October - Revolution had come. 200,000 Bolshevik supporters and 10,000 Red Guards, Trotsky is leader of the PG. 
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Lenin and the Bolshevik Takeover

  • April Theses, April 1917 "Peace, Bread and Land'' - gained the Bolsheviks a lot of supporters. 
  • July Days, armed uprising of soldiers, sailors and factory workers in Petrograd, attracted some Bolsheivk followers but threatened the Bolshevik regime. Many were arrested and some fled, e.g Lenin to Finland. 
  • Kornilov Affair - Kerensky appointed General Kornilov to control unrest in the city, however, Kornilov became too powerful too quickly and tried to stage a coup. Kerensky had to release some Bolshevik prisoners to help defeat Kornilov. They receieved support and weapons when doing so. 
  • By October 1917, the Bolsheviks had gained a majority in the Moscow and Petrograd soviets. They had 200,000 members and a force of 10,000 Red Guards. 
  • Krondstadt sailors, supported the Bolsheviks in their efforts and helped legitimise the revolution. 
  • 26th Oct - Storming of the Winter Palace, the Bolsheviks arrest the remaining members of the PG. 
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Provisional Government and Petrograd Soviet

  • Leading forces of Russia in 1917. Didn't really agree on anything. The PG was the main source of government. Known as dual authority. 
  • Prince Lvov - first leader, a liberal, led a government comprising mainly of liberal Octobrists and Kadets. 
  • Alexander Kerensky - only socialist in government, sat on the executive committee of the PS. 
  • PG had the authority, but the PS had weaponry and an army (the Red Army) so held the real power. 
  • PG promised civil liberties and amnesty for political prisoners but failed by not ending the war or doing something about the peasants land. 
  • By the summer of 1917, the PG lacked a support network. 
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Nicholas II - WWII

  • War begins in 1914. Russia is shocked but Nicholas hopes it'll distract the Russians from the current situation of unrest. 
  • Failure at Battle of Tannenburg (300,000 killed or injured) and loss at Mansurian Lakes. 
  • Reports of inefficient weaponry, poor clothing, footwear and lack of food reaches Petrograd (as it was renamed to sound less German). 
  • Sale of alcohol was forbidden and the country divided into military zones. 
  • 1915 - Kadets, Octobrists and Progressives form ''the Progressive Bloc'' and demand constitutional change. The Tsar dissolves the Duma. 
  • Zemstva argue that the Tsar is incompetent for all the changes he's made, e.g alcohol ban failed because peasants managed to brew their own. 
  • 1915 - Tsar takes personal command of the army and blamed for the mass loss of life during the Brusilov offensive (1916). 
  • Tsarina Alexandra and Grigori Rasputin are left in charge. Rasputin has too much influence over the Tsarina and promotes poor decisions. People don't trust him because he's a weird mystic man. He's executed in 1916. 
  • War drained Russia. Suffered debt, famine and rising prices. 
  • Food did not reach the cities despite workers and soldiers being prioritised. Railway system meant that food didn't reach the cities. Peasants began hoarding grain etc. Prices for ordinary good rise by 300%. 
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Radical Opposition - Nicholas II

  • Socialist Revolutionaries (SR's), associated with Viktor Chernov, editor of the party journal, established in 1901. Took the ideas of socialism and populism and combined them. Wanted to appeal to the majority of people, so peasants and workers. 50% of their membership was working class. They carried out 2,000 political assassinations between 1901 and 1905, including Pyotr Stolypin in 1911 and Plehve in 1904. The Tsar carried out almost 3,000 assassinations of the SR's. 
  • Social Democratic Worker's Party: Established in 1898, would later split into the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Split in 1903 at their Second Party Congress into the Bolsheviks (majority) and Mensheviks (minority). 1902, Lenin publishes "What is to be done?". Although initially the Mensheviks assumed more support than the Bolsheviks, Bolshevik party membership grew as did their party journal ''Pravda" (the truth). They'd split because Lenin wanted total dedication to revolution only and Martov (leader of the Mensheviks) believed it was more important to build up the support of the working class. Everyone was sick of Tsarism so associated themselves more greatly with the Bolsheviks. 
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Nicholas II - Liberal Opposition

  • Found their natural home in the zemstva. Professionals/white coat professionals who recognised what was wrong with Tsarism and wanted universal suffrage and an elected assembly. 
  • Liberal author Leo Tolstoy, popularised the need for political change. 
  • Sergei Zubatov - head of the Okhrana, legalised trade unions in 1901 and set up his Mutual Assistance League, although it was disbanded in 1903 because it partook in too many strikes which were illegal. 
  • 1899 - Beseda Symposium formed as one of the first liberal parties. 1903 - formed a coalition with the Union of Liberation influenced by Pyotr Struve. 
  • Prince Lvov, also a liberal. 
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Nicholas II - Social Divisions and Cultural Change

  • Peasants still suffered heavily. They were ignored in the drive for industrialisation and their plots were too small to produce enough grain to sell and make a surplus. *****-farming was still widely used and the use of the solcha (wooden plough). The mir further constricted new farming techniques and Russian farms produced just 1/4 of what British farms produced. The gulf grew between the kulaks (richer peasants) and ordinary peasants because of the reformation of the Peasants Land Banks. Only 10% of land had been redistributed by 1914. 
  • The growth in the influence of the zemstva provoked a growth in the middle class. More, lawyers, doctors and teachers were needed. The middle class grew by 144% between 1850 and 1900. 
  • The working class also grew and more peasants were moving to the towns and cities. By 1914, 75% of St.Petersburg had been born in the countryside. However, conditions in the cities were poor and although there had been some reform to factories, life was still one of hardship. By 1914, only 40% of houses in St.Petersburg had running water. 
  • The Church still held a profound influence over the peasants and especially in education. 
  • Censorship was ended in 1905 so more radical and influential literature spread across Russia. 
  • More children were going to school. By 1914, 45% of 8-11 year olds were in education. 
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Nicholas II - Factory Reforms

  • 1886 - contracts of employment had to be drawn up. 
  • 1892 - protection of women and children's rights.
  • 1912 - health insurance was introduced. 
  • 1914 - working hours reduced to 10 hours a day. 
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Nicholas II - Economic Change

  • Sergei Witte - developed the economy and industry. New rouble introduced in 1897 backed up by gold. Encouraged foreign investment and oversaw the production of the Trans-Siberian railway, which was mostly finished by 1903. 
  • By 1914, Russia had 62,000 km of railway track. 
  • By 1914, Russia was the 5th largest world power in terms of economy. 
  • Between 1894 and 1914, the economy steadily grew at 8% per annum. 
  • Prioritised heavy industry over light industry. 
  • Agricultural changes - initiated by Stolyin in 1906. 
  • Stolypin's ''Wager on the Strong'', attempting to help the agricultural sector grow and prosper. 
  • Encouraged 3.5 million peasants to move to Siberia. 
  • 1906 - the mir is abolished and farms are being consolidated into private plots rather than collective farms. 
  • 1906 - Peasant Land Banks are reformed (introduced in 1883). Faciliates land ownership but creates a class of kulaks. 
  • 1907 - temporary obligation and redemption payments are abolished as promised in 1905. 
  • 1909 - Russia is the worlds largest cereal exporter. 
  • However... there were limitations - Only 10% of land was consolidated by 1914 - 90% remained collectivised. Old methods still remained. Stolypin was extremely repressive "Stolypin's Necktie''. Land in Siberia wasn't arable. Stolyin executed in 1911 so his methods did not have time to prosper. 
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Nicholas II - The Dumas

  • 1st Duma (1906-1906) - Duma of National Hopes: dominated by Kadets and radicals and many peasant representatives. Proposed for further constitutional reform. Was dissolved for being too radical. Bolsheviks and SR's did not participate. 
  • 2nd Duma (1907-1907) - Duma of National Anger: Stolpyin engineered elections in favour of the Octobrists (Tsar supporters). Bolsheviks and SR's participate. Dissolved because not many agreed with the Tsar's reforms. 
  • 3rd Duma (1907-1912) - Duma of Lords and Lackeys: Stolypin changes electoral laws (1907) to reduce peasant and workers' votes. Dominated by Octobrists and Conservatives and therefore, more compliant. Still some disputes with the Tsar. 
  • 4th Duma (1912-1917) - Right-wing and left-wing deputies could not agree. Duma was increasingly ignored. Progressive bloc threatened the Tsar so he dissolved the Duma in 1915. 
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Nicholas II - October Manifesto and Fundamental La

  • After the 1905 revolution the Tsar promised constitutional change in the October Manifesto. 
  • Promised a state Duma, universal suffrage, freedom of speech, abolition of censorship etc. also promised an end to redemption payments. 
  • Most liberal groups accepted the manifesto, but radicals rejected it. 
  • In April 1906, the Tsar issued the Fundamental Laws. 
  • These basically said that, while the Duma was allowed, the Tsar would have supreme autocratic power and the ability to override any votes or dissolve any Duma - he'd rule by decree. This, to an extent, reasserted autocracy, however, many thought that the Tsar was overexercising his powers and didn't agree with it. 
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Nicholas II - Political Situation by 1905.

  • Tsar Nicholas II wasn't like his father and Tsarism didn't come naturally to him. He'd excelled at subjects like history and literature during his schooling but struggled to grasp the concept of politics and economics. 
  • 1903-04, years of the ''Red Cockerel" a series of protests, strikes, riots etc. 
  • Workers were paid poorly and peasants still had to abide by their landlords rules. Strikes were high and although banned, continued to happen illegally. 
  • By 1905, there was increased unrest and divisions. 
  • Also 1904-1905 was the Russo Japanese war. Plehve argued for a ''short, swift, victorious war'' but Russia was defeated by Japan for lack of munitions and transport (Trans-Siberian railway was not yet finished). While the war was intended to act as a distraction of unrest - it only provoked more of it. 
  • January 1905 - Bloody Sunday - Father Gapon led a procession of 20,000 with a petition demanding for workers to have better conditions, an end to the war and an elected assembly. 
  • The St. Petersburg Garrison responded by opening fire on the protestors. 
  • 1912 - Lena goldfields massacre, also a strike where the army intervened and shot hundreds dead. 
  • Provoked and stimulated the idea for change. 
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Alexander III - Economy

  • Mikhail von Reutern (1862-78) - reformed the Treasury, abolished tax farming, established the banks, gave subsidies to industrial projects. Cotton industry was expanded. 
  • Bunge (1881-1886) - abolished the poll tax in 1886. 
  • Vyshnegradsky (1887-1892) - made Finance Minister in 1887, attempted to set the foundations in order to reform Russia into an industrial superpower. Put up import tariffs in order to encourage foreign investment, raised indirect taxes (which meant the peasants and poorer people suffered), negotiated foreign loans e.g France 1888, grain requisitioning introduced as a means of combating food shortages in the cities. 
  • However - Vyshnegradsky was blamed for famine in 1892 (and thus dismissed) because of his excessive programme of grain requisitioning. However, the economy grew and by 1892, the budget was in surplus. 
  • Witte (1892-1903) - Made finance minister after Vyshnegradsky's failure to reform. Mostly continued what he'd done but with added extras. E.g, continued seeking additional loans from abroad to encourage foreign investment. Launched the building of the Trans-Siberian railway, and encouraged foreign experts e.g engineers to oversee the project. Increased investment in heavy industry etc. 
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Alexander III - Agriculture

  • After emancipation, peasants still suffered. 
  • Their land was often too small to produce a surplus, they were restricted by the mir, *****-farming and internal passports - ignored in the drive for industrialisation. 
  • Many joined bands of migrant labourers in search of a peasant community. 
  • However, peasants did benefit from the creation of Peasant Land Banks in 1883 and nobles benefitted from the Nobles' Land Bank in 1885. 
  • This led to the creation of rich kulaks who often bought the land from their impoverished neighbours. 
  • Most landowners sold off their land and became rich businessmen. 
  • Peasant life expectancy was just 28, in England it was 45. 
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Alexander III - Russification and Anti-Semitism

  • Alexander who was influenced by his conservative tutor Konstantin Pobedonostsev was a slavophile, who preferred Russian value over any other and thus condemned many national minorities. 
  • Russian was declared as the official 1st lang. of the empire, all court cases were conducted in Russian, as were zemstva sessions. 
  • Public office was closed to those who didn't speak Russian fluently. 
  • Pobedonostsev was made Over Procurator of the Holy Synod. (Autocracy, Nationality, Orthodoxy). 
  • Education for priests was improved. During Alex. III's reign, 37,000 Lutherans converted to Orthodoxy. 
  • Nationalities who suffered most were Poles, Finns and Baltic Germans. 
  • Anti-Semitism was also encouraged to repress the Jewish minority. 
  • Thousands sent to the Pale of Settlement. 
  • Anti-Jewish pogroms 1881-1884. 
  • Many Jews either emigrated, changed their name or joined revolutionary groups such as Leon Trotstky and Julius Martov. 
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Alexander III - Reassertion of Autocracy

  • Different to his father, more conservative, strong in his outlook, influenced by his tutor Pobedonostsev. 
  • Wanted to restore autorcracy because it had been weakened by his father's reforms. 
  • 1881- Manifesto of Unshakable Autocracy, which reflected the mantra ''Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality". 
  • Reversed many of his father's reforms and kept opposition at bay. 
  • Arrested 150 members of the People's Will and had many executed (those responsible for his father's assassination). 
  • 1889 - Land Captains introduced, mainly nobles, had the power to overrule a zemstva vote or intervene in court cases. Order the flogging of peasants
  • The Third Section had been replaced by the Okhrana. Department of Police supervised the Okhrana. 
  • 1887 - Closed court cases (where trials were held in secret) were introduced and bribery of judges and a lack of jury returned to corrupt the judicial system. 
  • 1890 - peasant vote to the zemstva was reduced to peasants now had little opportunity to speak up against problems in their local communities. 
  • Zemstva, mostly liberal or conservative. 
  • Censorship was restricted and the Church controlled education. 
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Alexander II - Spread of Opposition

  • Cultivated due to his more liberal reforms allowing political freedom, e.g 1862 ''Young Russia'' a student organisation. 
  • Liberals found their natural home in the zemstva which became a forum for debate concerning criticism of the regime. 
  • Uprising of populist opposition began in the 1860's and there were two assassination attempts on his life after which he became more reactionary. 
  • Spread of radical literature e.g 1869 - Communist Manifesto and 1872, Das Kapital, popularised the need for political change. 
  • Land and Liberty, Narodnik/Populist party eventually split in 1879 to form the People's Will (group who assassinated Alex II). 
  • Populists wanted an end to Tsarist rule and tried to get the peasants on their side by disguising themselves of peasants and ''going to the people''. 
  • However, most peasants, because of their church education, remained loyal to the Tsar and around 1,600 populists were therefore executed. 
  • However, the People's Will succeeded in killing the Tsar in 1881. 
  • Reform was linked to opposition which made Alexander more reactionary after 1866. 
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Alexander II - Reaction

  • Alexander could see that his reforms were provoking backlash and opposition after he narrowly survived two assassination attempts in 1866 and 1879. 
  • His reforms had been in the areas of local government, education, judiciary reforms etc. 
  • After 1866, education reforms were reversed. Primary education reverted back to control by the Church rather than the zemstva, and only gymnazi students were allowed to attend university after 1871. Women were restricted from attending school or university, the curriculum was restricted and focused on subjects that didn't promote radical thinking. This meant many people travelled abroad in order to get a better education. Dmitri Tolstoy replaced the liberal Golovnin as Minister for Education. 
  • 1866 onwards - the powers of the zemstva were reduced, no longer controlled primary schooling etc. 
  • 1866 onwards, police and law courts were reformed. Head of the Police = Pyotr Shuvalov. Police stepped up their game and tried to get rid of any opposition. In 1878, prisoners could face show trials and they could be tried in secret military courts. The Vera Zasulich trial meant show trials were no longer used. 
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Alexander II - Reform

  • Military reforms, Dmitrii Milytin, 1861-1874. Conscription was made compulsory for all classes. Conscription length was reduced to 15 years and 9 spent in reserve. Military colleges set up to educate the poor peasants. Military colonies abolished and better weaponry. Meant that Russians won the 1877 Russo-Turkish War (although took longer than expected), however bribery still existed and nobles bribed peasants to take their place. 
  • Education Reforms 1863-74: Instigated by liberal reformer Golovnin. Primary schools were placed under the hands of the zemstva, no longer under Church control. Curriculum was expanded at secondary schools and universities, e.g science, history etc. Universities were made self-governing in 1863 and could set their own courses up. No. of students in primary education and university trebled. However, few peasants went to school and only received a poor Church education. 
  • Judicial Reforms 1864: No more bribery of judges, their pay and training was improved. Courts with juries established so that the system was no longer as corrupt.
  • Local Government Reforms 1864 and 1870: A system of local government was established in 1864, they did stuff like built bridges, fixed roads etc (power to improve public services). They were established at a local level in 1864 and promoted peasant participation but was mostly compromised of nobles. It was extended to a more national level (cities) in 1870. 
  • Ecclesiastical Commission 1861: Set up to look into dodgy priests. 
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Alexander II - Emancipation Edict 1861

  • Emancipation Edict 1861 - ''freed'' peasants from their landlords. 
  • State peasants were emancipated in 1866. 
  • Gave peasants the ability to travel, own land, marry, set up businesses and enjoy legal rights. Some were liberated from their landlords who receieved large amounts of compensation. The mir was made responsible for the collection of taxes and peasant redemption payments. 
  • However... It was not as good as it seemed. 
  • Most peasant rights remained theoretical, few travelled away from their mir and were further restricted by internal passports. 
  • The mir restricted the progression of farming methods and thus old fashioned methods persisted. Some land allocations were too small (9 acres) and some were insufficient to live on. Only 50% of peasants (kulaks) enjoyed a surplus. 
  • Landlords kept the majority of land. 
  • Peasants were forced to 49 annual redemption payments at 6% interest (longer than the life expectancy of most peasants), which provoked the spread of opposition for the Tsar. 
  • The temporary obligation payment, obrok remained for a two year period. 
  • There were 647 peasant riots following emancipation. 
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Alexander II - Inspiration for Reforms

  • Political, moral and economic reasons for reform. 
  • Crimean War 1856, highlighted Russia's economic and military backwardness. It was decided that change was needed. 
  • In order to allow for industry to grow and develop, peasants needed to not be tied down to their land, Alexander concluded. 
  • The morale of the army was low, peasants were poorly trained, Russian artillery was poor and there was a huge class divide. 
  • Peasants made up a hefty 80% of the population whereas the nobles only made up 1%. 
  • Alexander was influenced by his uncle Grand Duke Konstantin and his aunt, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlova to make the changes. 
  • During the 1850's, Alexander travelled the empire seeing how peasants lived their everyday lives which further provoked him to embark on a series of reforms. 
  • Enlightened bureaucrats such as the Milyutin brothers also saw a need for reform. 
  • By 1859, the state faced a debt of 54 million roubles because peasants were restricted by debts they owed and the mir who didn't allow for new farming techniques. 
  • It was seen that Russia would never match with the West, so change had to be made, Westernisers were overtaking Slavophiles. 
  • Nihilists believed in sweeping away traditions. 
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