Tsarist and Communist Russia 14- The Communist Dictatorship

How did the Bolsheviks survive the first few months in power?
With a mixture of concession and ruthless action.
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What did they overcome?
the strikes and protests from the working class and by-passed the Soviet to establish a Bolshevik-led government headed by Sovnarkom.
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What did they do in relation to other political groups?
Prevented other political parties from sharing power and issued decrees designed to win support for the new regime.
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What happened to the Constituent Assembly?
Dissolved in Jan 1918.
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What did the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk do?
Gave the government the peace it neded to survive, despite being controversial.
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What was the 1918 Constitution?
Stated that supreme power resed with the All-Russia n Congress of Soviets. Made up of deputies across local elected soviets across Russia.
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What was the central executive committee of that congress?
the 'supreme organ of power'. Acted like a president.
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What was the congress made responsible for?
For electing Sovnarkom for the purposes of the 'general administration of the affairs of the State'.
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What did the system appear to be on the surface?
Highly democratic.
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But what were some of the limitations?
Vote was reserved for the 'toiling masses'. during the election of the All Russian Congress of Soviets, the workers vote was weighted out of proportion of five to one against the peasants. The structure was centralised. Party main focus.
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What was the greatest test for Bolshevik survival?
The Civil War of 1918. Anger over the concessions of the Treat of Brest-Litovsk of March 1918 merged with the exisiting political opposition to craete the 'Whites'.
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Who gae support to the whites?
Russia's previous wartime allies e.g. Britain, France, USA.
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Why did they give support to the Whites?
Ideologically- capitalist nations against communism. To defend their own interests in Russia
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What had been created by spring 1918?
An anti-Bolshevik volunteer army in the South of the country- fianancied by Germany.
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What did the Bolsheviks do as a result of the growing threat?
Moved their capital from Petrograd to Moscow in March 1918 .
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What did the spark of war come from?
An outburst by the Czech Legion in western Siberia in May.
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Who were the Czech Legion?
Formed by Czech nationalists in Russia during the war. 1918- numbered 45,000 soldiers. Forced travelled along the Trans-Sierian railway, Bolshevik officials tried to arrest them,a nd fighting broke out.
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By the end of 1920, what was the outcome?
Bolsheviks primarily won due to geographical advantages and superior orgaisation in the face of the whites.
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But what was this in cost of?
Perhaps 10 million deaths from hunger and epidemic diseases, as well as military action.
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Why did the war continue into 1921?
It was more of a nationalist struggle against Polish armies.
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Describe what happened.
Poles invaded West Ukraine, reaching Kiev by May 1920. Under direct order from Lenin, a successful counter-offensive was issued against them.
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What did Lenin believe might happen there?
A communist revolution would break out in Poland, and spread westwards. This proved false.
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What happened after this?
The Poles rose again and defeated the Red Army.
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What did this lead to?
The Treaty of Riga (March 1921)- granted Poland self rule along with Galicia and parts of Belorussia.
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What did the civil war do for government?
Brought greater centralisation and party control.
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What was the party strcture based on?
Annual congresses, elected by mass membership. Actual policies and decisions were shaped by the Central Committee.
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In 1919, what else was introduced as a 'sub-committee'?
The Politburo. Became the real centre for party policy. First election Politburo of 1919 incl. Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.
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Sicne these were key govt officials, what did the govt become an instrument for?
Carrying out policies made in the Politburo and the Central Committee.
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What happened to Sovnarkom during this time?
Met less frequently.
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What else was set up alonside Politburo?
The Orgburo. Supervised the work of local Party committees. Supervised the permanent Party secutary.
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What was decided about local soviets?
Should only consist of Party members (even though it's someowhere where peasants and workers can voice their opinions)
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What did teh 1921 Ban on Factions mean for the party?
Any decision taken by the Central Committee of the Communist Party had to be accepted by the whole party, or face expulsion.
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What did this make difficult?
To criticise party decisions anywhere within the govt structure.
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How did the party grow in complexity?
April 1922- new post of General Secutary. Created to coordinate it's workings. Added another layer to the Party structure.
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Who was this post filled by?
Stalin. Only member to have a seat in the Politburo and the Orgburo. Also a member of the secutariat.
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IN 1923, what was introduced?
The Nomenklatura system. Added to the party's domination.
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What was the Nomenklatura?
People who held key positions in areas such as govt , industry, agriculture and education. Only part if granted by the Communist party.
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How many party and govt posts were drawn up?
c5500. Appointments to those depended upon the agreement of the Party Central Committee.
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What was this to ensure?
That people in key positions were trustworthy.
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What was democratic cemtralism?
Communist idea of democracy was that because workers and peasants elected members of their local soviets, who then chose the who would sit on higher level soviets and the All Russian Congress of Soviets- they exerted power over political decisions.
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Although Lenin spoke of democratic centralism, what happened?
The hold of the one party state was tightened.
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What did the civil war see the communist government do?
Abadon it's earlier support for 'national self-determination' as promised in the decree of Nov 1917.
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Although displays of national culture languages were permitted, what was denied?
Independance movements. They were seen as 'counter-revolutionary'.
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1922- Georgia, what happened?
Demands from Georgia for greater independance. Brutally crushed on the orders of Stalin. Actions were condemned by Lenin however.
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The constituion was changed- what was created?
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) created in Dec 1922.
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Were there any differences between USSR and RSFSR?
lthough Lenin praised Trotsky in creating the USSR, rather than imposing direct control from Moscow (mirrored tsarist imperialism), the states were actually under very strict control.
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The development of the Stalinst dictatorship
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How were the structures created by Lenin changed under Stalin?
The rule by one party and centralised control was extended by Stalin. Asserted a dominant personal influence.
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What did the party continue to do?
Predominate over state institutions. Control was ensured by use of parallel structures at all levels, and through the dual power of the Party and nomenklatura,.
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But what was Stalin increasingly concerned about?
That the Party should reflect his own wishes.
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Consequently, what happened?
Party congresses were held less frequently. None were held between 1939 to 1952.
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As General Secutary, what could Stalin control?
The more important positions of the Party apparat. The apparat then contolled the nomenklatura, meaning Stalin commanded all important positions.
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Who did Stalin prefer to work with?
Preferred to work with personally selected committees rather than a full Politburo. Used power to buld up the Party membership.
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Give one Party membership scheme.
'Lenin Enrolment' between 1924-5. In commemoration of Lenin's death.
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What was the result of this ?
Party doubled in membership to 1 million.
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Further extensions increased from....?
1,677,910 in 1930 to 3,555,338 by 1933.
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Where were new members drawn from?
From younger and less well educated urban workers and ex-peasants. No interest in ideology but concerned with career.
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What was intrduced in 1936?
A new consitution, drawn up by Bukharin.
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What did it claim?
Stalin was the 'most democratic in the world'.
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What was the All-Russian Congress of Soviets replaced by?
a new 'Supreme Soviet'- made up of the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities.
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What did the new constitution promise?
Local autonomy to ethnic groups and support for national cultures and languages.
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What else did the consititution promise?
Four-yearly elections- the right to vote for all over eighteen (raised to 23 in 1945) including the former people who had been denied voting rights.
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What other rights did the constitituion allow?
e.g. freedom from arbitrary arrest and the right to free speech.
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So, how did the new consitution look?
It looked democratic and it's main intention may have been to impress foreigners.
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But, in reality, did the new rights seem to be allowed?
no- they were largely ignored.
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Even thought the constitution acknowledged the right for any union republic to leave the union, what happened in Georgia?
They were purged as soon as they tried to leave.
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What were elections like i this new constituion?
Elections were not contested, so the right to vote was merely to affirm the choice of representative.
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How many times a year did the Supreme Soviet meet?
For a few days twice a year. This was said so they could continue with regular employment.
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'Stalinism' and the cult of personality.
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Dec 1929- what did Stalin develop?
His own cult- promoted an image of himself that helped to inspire confidence during a period of rapid change.
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What was Stalin portayed as?
Lenin's true disciple and companion with slogans such as 'Stalin is the Lenin of Today'.
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What did paintings, sculptures etc produce Stalin as?
'the mighty leader', 'father of the nation', 'universal genius' .
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When was Stalinist cult fully established?
In the years 1933-39, but didn't reach it's full height until after WW2.
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what was published as the main historical textbook?
The History of the All-Union Communist Party in 1938. In this, Stalin assumed a major role in the Oct Rev, whilst Trotsky and others were portrayed as 'enemies of the people'.
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How did photos play a role?
They were doctored to remove Stalin's enemies, and show Stalin at Lenin's side.
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How many copies had the book sold by 1938?
34 million copies.
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How much adulation did Stalin receive?
The intensity was rarely seen before. Showed the strength of support he acquired in the Soviet Union.
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What did people feel towards Stalin?
A sense of emotional attachment. Reflected the loyalty to the Tsar, that the peasants had, who could do no wrong, so Stalin seen as a Father to his people.
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What had Stalin been referred to as?
'The Red Tsar'.
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What else was he seen like?
A 'Godlike figure'. Portrait was carried around and displayed as a religious icon.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What did they overcome?


the strikes and protests from the working class and by-passed the Soviet to establish a Bolshevik-led government headed by Sovnarkom.

Card 3


What did they do in relation to other political groups?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What happened to the Constituent Assembly?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What did the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk do?


Preview of the front of card 5
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