Tsarist and Comunist Russia 17- Communist control and terror.

Faction and opposition in the 1920s.
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From the earliest days in power, who did the Bolsheviks face opposition from?
From others political groups, both on the right and left, many opponents throughout the Empire e.g. former Tsarist officers, and from ideological opposition (more perceived than real).
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What was the first concern?
Political opposition in Petrograd.
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What did the Mensheviks and SRs do that left Bolsheviks with the monopoly of power.
Menshevik and SR opposition in the Soviet Congress of October 1917 destroyed themselves by their walkout.
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27th October- what did Sovnarkom ban?
The opposition press. Ordered the arrest of Kadet, Menshevik and SR leaders.
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When was the Cheka established?
December 1917 under Felix Dzerzhinsky.
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What was this a sign of?
The regime's determination to destroy its opponents.
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What else made sure that the Bolsheviks destoryed all other opposition?
Cheka was combined with the dissmissal of the Constituent Assembly and the extension of the Red Army.
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What areas did the Cheka control?
Controlled units of the Red Guard and military. Most provinces had their own Cheka branch.
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From 1922, what was the Cheka renamed to?
the GPU and in 1923, the OGPU.
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What was the consolidation of Bolshevik power accompanied by?
By a form of 'class warfare'- intended to intimidate and exact reveneg on the middle and upper class.
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What happened to bourgeois property?
It was destroyed, and social priviledge ended, and discriminatory tax on the burzhui- the 'enemies of the people'
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The Red Terror.
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What created the 'Red Terror'?
The civil war of 1918-21- broguht together Bolsheviks and opposition groups. Sparked this new wave of terror.
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August 1918- what did an attempt on Lenin's life prove an excuse for what?
A frenzied written attack on the 'bourgeois'. Cheka rounded up thousands of who were under this label.
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How were confessions obtained?
Usually by torture- so began a 'Terror' that left hardly anyone untouched.
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September 1918- what did the Sovnarkom allow for the Cheka to do?
Gave it authority to find, question, arrest and destroy the families of suspected traitors.
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How were the Mensheviks and SRs involved in this?
All remaining ones were branded 'traitors' and 500 were shot in Petrograd alone.
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How did the Red Terror escalate?
Because local Cheka agents, trying to show their zeal, often took matters into thier own hands. They sought incriminations and discovered 'hidden' opposition.
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Who did the victims range from?
The Tsar and his family (shot on 17th July 1918) to ordinary workers suspected of counter-revolution as they were associated with the class enemy.
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Who else in society suffered as a result of the Red Terror?
Merchants and traders, professors, prostitutes and peasants (kulaks).
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What religious groups also suffered?
Priests, Jews, Catholics and Muslims. Around 8000 priests executed in 1921, for failing to hand over valuable possessions.
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How many people were shot between 1918-21?
500,000 to a million.
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What other methods did the Cheka use other than execution?
Some were tortured, sent to labour camps. (Some died as a result of physical work and performing on little or no food).
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Faction and control.
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By 1921, where did Lenin turn his attentions towards?
Opposition within his own party.
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Why did Lenin feel the need to turn his attention towards opposition in his party?
1920-1, there were some serious disagreements about economic and political policy. 'The Workers Opposition' was set up, demanding that workers have more control over their own affairs.
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What did he believe about such opposition?
it was weakening the Party. Wanted to restore Party unity.
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What was his 'Ban on Factions' 1921?
Meant thaat all Party memberes had to accept the decisions of the Central Committee. Anyone who opposed was threatened with expulsion from the Party. Opportunity for debate was thus removed.
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What did this mean for opposition?
It became virtually impossible in this authoritarian, one party state.
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Opposition to Stalin and the purges.
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How did Stalin extend the Terror?
He extended the use of Terror and class warfare, to enforce collectivisation through the destruction of the kulaks and maintain the Five Year Plans.
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How did he accomplish this?
Sent 'bourgeois managers', specialists and engineers, whom he accused of machine-breaking and sabotage, to labour camps.
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What was a clear indication of Stalin's determination for the chaos of his own economic policies?
The Shakty Show Trial of 1928- 53 engineers at the Shakhty coal mine was accused of counter-revolutionary activity after a decline in production. Given a show trial and forced to confess. 5 executed and 44 received prison sentences.
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What was the message behind these show trials?
The regime had to maintain it's vigilance against those who were set out to destroy it.
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What happened to the critics of Gosplan?
Removed. Further traisl took place throughout the Soviet Union. Industry Party show trial Nov 1930- specialists accused of sabotage.
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1933- Metro-vickers Trial?
British specialists were found guilty of wrecking activities.
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By 1929, what could Soviet prisons no longer cope with?
The number of kulaks, bourgeois specialists, wreckers, saboteurs and opponents that arrived.
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What was Yagoda tasked to do?
Commissioned to investigate ways in which the prison population could be put to better use.
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What was his proposal?
Involved building on the corrective-labour camps established by Lenin. Creating a series of new camps of 50,000 prisoners each
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Where were they placed?
Remote areas of the North and Siberia- where diamonds, gold, platinum, oil, nickel etc were all found.
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What did these corrective camps offer?
Offered minimum 'per capita' funding and imposed econmies of scale.
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How would these help the economy?
Gulags would contribute to economic growth, whilst offering appropiate 'correction' for the prisoners.
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Under whose authority were the gulags under?
The OGPU and then the NKVD.
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How many did the gulags hold by 1934, when the NKVD controlled it?
1 milion people.
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Name one major gulag project?
The construction of the White Sea canal. Dug only using axes, saws and hammers in freezing temperatures. 100,000 prisoners were employed in 1932, but 25,000 died in the winter.
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The crisis of 1932.
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November 1932- what happened to Stalin personally?
Stalin's wife committed suicide. Left a note criticising Stalins policies, showed sympathy for political enemies.
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How did Orlando Figes say how this effect Stalin?
Said that it 'unhinged him'- saying the ones closest to him were betraying him behind his back.
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What else happened in 1932?
There was a famine in the countryside. Spate of workers' strikes in the towns, primarily driven by economic factors.
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What made Stalin's position insecure?
Old opponent, Nicholas Bukharin had been re-elected to the Central Committee in June 1930.
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1932- what was the 'Old Bolsheviks'?
An informed group included Smirnov, held meetings to discuss Stalin's removal. All were quickly arrested by the OGPU, Smirnov expelled from the Party.
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What was a second group called?
Led by Ryutin (former Moscow Party secutary), criticisms were known as Ryutin Platform. Disapproved Stalin's political direction and personality. Even sent an appeal, sgined by members of the communist Party, to the CC urging Stalin's removal.
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What happened to Ryutin and his circle?
Arrested and suggested Stalin called for their immediate execution, but overulled by the Politburo anad in particular, Sergei Kirov.
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What happened as a result of this?
24 were expelled from the Party and exiled from Moscow. Other 'Old Bolsheviks' e.g. Zinoviev and Kamenov were also expelled for simply knowing of the group's existence.
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What happened to Ryutin in particular?
Sentenced to 10 years in prison. Shot on Stalin's orders in 1937.
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What did his wife's suicide and the Ryutin affair lead to?
April 1933- he annouced a general purge of the Party. Over the next two years, conducted a paranoid struggle in whcih over 18% of the Party were purged.
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The Kirov Affair 1934.
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What did Stalin annouce at the 17th Party Congress in 1934?
The 'Anti-Leninist opposition' had been defeated. Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky etc all admitted their 'errors' of challenging Stalin.
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But, in the elections to the CC, Stalin received...?
150 NEGATIVE votes- showed his unpopularity.
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Why did a split open up within the Party?
Had those who wanted to maintain pace of industrialisation, and others in the Politburo e.g. Kirov, who wanted to stop forcible grain seizures and increasing workers' rations.
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Who were the only two in the Politburo who firmly supported Stalin?
Molotov and Kaganovitch.
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How popular was Kirov becoming?
Received a long-standing ovation for his speech advocating a more moderate approach to industrialisation.
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What other issue arose from the 17th party Congress?
The abolition of the position General Secutary. Stalin and Kirov, as well as Zhdanov and Kaganovitch, were given the title 'Secutary of Equal Rank'.
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What was the impact of this?
Meant everyone took responsibility for the economic crisis, hut also made Stalin no more important than anyone else.
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When was Kirov murdered, and overview of murder?
December 1934. Circumstances were suspicious and Stalinwas quick to claim it was a Trotskyite movement, led by Zinovievites to overthrow the Party.
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What decree was passed the next day?
Gave Yagoda, head of the NKVD, powers to arrest and execute anyone found guilty of 'terrorist plotting'. Around 6500 people were arrested under this law in December.
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January 1935- which key members were arrested?
Zinoviev, Kamenov and 17 others were arrested and accused of instigating terrorism. sentenced between 5-10 years of imprisonment.
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How many associates of Zinoviev were arersted in jan/Feb 1935?
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During the course of the year, how many 'former people' were arrested, exiled or placed in gulags?
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How many Party members were expelled?
250,000 after investigation by the NKVD, as 'anti-Leninists'.
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The Great Purges, 1936-38.
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Whilst Stalin was seemingly creating a more liberal society, what else was he doing?
Preparing for a new purge- one more far-reaching than ever before.
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August 1936- show trial involving Zinoviev and Kamenov and 14 others took place. What was it's purpose?
Not to only gain confessions and convictions, but to 'prove' the existence of political cospiracies against Stalin.
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What was the result of the show trial?
All 16 were found guilty of involvement in a Trotsky-inspired plot to murder Stalin and other Politburo members. All executed, along with 160 other 'accomplices'.
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As a result, who replaced Yagoda as head of the NKVD?
Yezhov. Yagoda had not been active enough to uncover the conspiracy.
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Jan 1937- further show trial of 17 prominant communists was staged. Who did this include?
Radek. Accused of plotting with Trotsky, to sabotage industry and to spy. After giving their 'confessions', 13 were sentenced to death.
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Who did Yezhov accuse of knowing about this conspiracy?
Bukarin. Refused to confess, so expelled from the Party and arrested.
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May/June 1937- 8 senior military commanders, whom were considered 'heroes of the civil war' were...?
Arrested, tortured and made to sign false confessions. Tried in secret, at a military tribunal, and shot.
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What was this followed by?
A further purge of military personnel- of the 767 of High Command, 512 were executed.
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The third and largest major political show trial took place when?
March 1938- 21 Bolsheviks were interrogated. Bukharin, Rykov and Yagodha and 13 others were shot.
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The Yezhovchina, the purge of ordinary citizens, 1937-8..
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in 1937/8, what did the Great Purges merge with?
The Yezhovshchina. Named after Yezhov, the head of the NKVD. Spread down from the Party hierarchy to the every town and city in the Soviet union.
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How so were they terrorised?
They were terrorised, executed or sent to labour camps, affeted every area of society.
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Who was this Great Terror directed to?
The ordinary citizens of society.
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When did the persecution reach it's height?
MInd 1937. Lasted until Dec 1938, when Yezhov replaced Beria.
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July 1937- when did a Politburo resolution condemn?
'Anti-Soviet elements' in Russian society. An arrest list of 250,000 was drawn up. This included artists, musicians, scientists and writers, and managers and administrators.
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What was established in every area of society?
A quota system. Every region was expected to find a proportion of oppositionists.
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What was located everywhere?
Surveillance- ordinary citizens ordered to root out 'hidden enemies'- check up on fellow workers, even watched friends and families for displaying oppositional thoughts.
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What did the NKVD maintain?
A strict vigilance. Employed 'reliables' in offices, universities and factories. Everyone lived in fear.
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The end of the purges
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Although the purges continued into WW2, what happened to them?
The pace slowed down after the end of 1938.
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What had the Yezhovschina threatened to destablilise?
The State and the industry. Both suffered.
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Consequently, how did Stalin use Yezhov?
Used him as a scapegoat, accused him of excessive zeal. Nov- replaced him with Beria.
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What did the 18th Party congress declare?
'The mass clensings were no longer needed. Around 1.5 million cases were reviewed, 450,000 were quashed, 128,000 were closed.
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What happened to Yezhov?
He was arrested and shot in Feb 1940.
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Same year, assassin murdered?
Trotksy in Mexico- meant all Bolsheviks who may have had a greater claim to leadership than Stalin were removed.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


From the earliest days in power, who did the Bolsheviks face opposition from?


From others political groups, both on the right and left, many opponents throughout the Empire e.g. former Tsarist officers, and from ideological opposition (more perceived than real).

Card 3


What was the first concern?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What did the Mensheviks and SRs do that left Bolsheviks with the monopoly of power.


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


27th October- what did Sovnarkom ban?


Preview of the front of card 5
View more cards


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