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Chapter 3.1: What led to the rise of communism in Russia?
In the early 20th century, a German thinker, Karl Marx, began to spread the influence of communism.
A communism society is a society where the wealth is shared equally among the people.
Many opponents of the Tsar were inspired by Marx’s ideas and some formed political party.
In February 1917, there was a series of strikes in the capital city due to a few reasons:
The living conditions deteriorated due to World War I. The Tsar was blamed for Russia’s poor performance on the battlefield as Russia large numbers of Russian soldiers were depleted.
The farmers wanted a fairer distribution of land.
The food could not be sent to the cities due to problems with the transport system, causing food prices to skyrocket, as workers demanded more food.
On 15 March, the Tsar decided to abdicate as he knew that he did not have the support of the army or his people.
The soldiers joined the striking workers, took over public buildings, released prisoners and looted food shops.
This event was known as the February 1917 Revolution.
A Provisional Government was set up to run a country in place of the Tsar.
The main aim of the Provisional Government was to bring about a peaceful change of government in Russia.
The Provisional Government:
Its job was to govern elections till elections could be held for a new parliament which would consist of members elected by the Russian people.
It had several tasks: Hold elections for the Russian people to choose their own government by 1917, grant full and immediate amnesty to all political and religious prisons and exiles and cooperate with the committees of workers, peasants and soldiers which had taken over the major Russian cities.
Failure of the Provisional Government:
Chose to keep Russia in World War I: Resources that could improve the lives of the Russia people was used up, in addition causing large numbers of Russian soldiers demoralized at the continuing military setbacks.
Did not carry out land reforms: The slow pace of land redistribution cause the peasants to murder or chase away the landowners and take the land for themselves, and the Provisional Government could not stop them.
Had to struggle for power with the soviets: The Provisional Government had to deal with the increasing influence of the soviets.
Lenin won support for the Bolsheviks for his promises of land, food and an end to the war. When the Bolsheviks continue to riot, the Provisional Government ordered the arrest of Lenin.
The commander of the Russian Army tried to remove the Provisional Government.
The Provisional Government could not match the troops, therefore turned to the Bolsheviks and gave them weapons to form the Red Guards.
The Provisional Government managed to survive the confrontation of the Russian Army with the Red Guards.
When Lenin went back to Russia in October 1917, he led the Bolsheviks in a successful attempt to overthrow the Provisional Government.
Therefore, Lenin established the world’s first communist regime.
As Bolshevik did not have the support for majority of the Russian people, they had to fight a bitter civil war with their opponents. The Red Guards unite and won the war after 3 years of fighting.
In 1924, the former territories of the Russian Empire were combined to form the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) a.k.a. USSR.
Its capital is Moscow.
The Bolshevik Party adopted a new name called the Communist Party.
Chapter 3.2: What led to the rise of Stalin
Stalin was Lenin’s successor as he managed to outsmart all his rivals to become the leader of the Soviet Union in 1929.
Lenin wanted his will to be read at the Party Congress where all the important members of the party would be present.
The will was not read out as its contents were sensitive.
Stalin tricked his biggest rival, Trotsky into missing Lenin’s funeral, causing many Party members being angry with him.
Stalin organized the funeral as if he had always been close to Lenin, giving himself the role of chief mourner at the funeral.
Another factor that explains why Stalin rose to power was Trotsky’s weaknesses as
He drew his support from a narrow base (youths, students, red army).
Most party members considered him as arrogant,
He was complacent about building support between the ranks of the party,
His idea of world revolution did not find broad acceptance as they did not want more fighting.
Most felt that Stalin’s idea of Socialism in one country was more practical.
Stalin formed alliances with other members to get rid of his opponents.
Stalin formed an alliance with Kamenev and Zinoviev as he knew they wanted his support in the struggle against Trotsky for the leadership of the Communist Party.
However once Trotsky was eliminated, Stalin found new allies to remove them as well.
Stalin’s position, Secretary-General gave him conside3rable power as he could appoint his supporters to important posts, making many people loyal to him. He also controlled the local party committees, spreading his influence even more broadly among the rank and file members.
He was able to pack a 1925 party meeting to remove Trotsky from his posts.
Stalin established an authoritarian regime and dictatorship.
He was a dictator as all the political power was in his hands and thus have complete power of his government, like making laws without seeking agreement, banning other political parties from the Soviet Union.
People who opposed him were beaten, jailed or killed.
Stalin used propaganda to persuade people to accept and obey him as the rightful leader of the country. Example: Exaggerated his achievements and made writers and journalists write about him as a hero of the people.
Exercised control through the education system, which was brought under government control. Therefore, schools had to teach Marxist and Leninist ideas and instill complete loyalty to the state among the students.
Chapter 3.3: What was the impact of Stalin’s dictatorship on Communist Russia?
Stalin’s aim was to modernize and develop the Soviet Union into a great country. He therefore implemented 2 measures to transform the Soviet Union’s industries and agriculture: Rapid Industrialisation and Collectivisation of agriculture.
Stalin wanted to transform the Soviet Union into a modern industrial state because he believed that the country needed to develop rapidly to be prepared for an attack by the non-communist countries that might invade the Soviet Union.
His economic plans focused on developing heavy industries like steel, chemicals, oil, coal, electricity.
New industrial cities were built to develop the steel industry.
Foreign experts sympathetic to the Communist cause were hired to teach the Russians in technical areas.
More women were employed and farmers were encouraged to move from the cities to work to the industries.
Stalin used several 5-year plans to speed up the industrialisation of the Soviet Union.
The first plan from 1928 to 1932 focused on heavy industries, especially iron or steel. Output was to be doubled for iron and steel production, electricity, chemicals and engineering. It was thus ordered to be completed in 4 years instead of 5.
Although Stalin announced that the first 5-year plan was a great success, it was not entire successful as it encountered several problems in its early stages. Very few workers had the skills hat were required for factory work, many were illiterate and machines were often damaged due to workers ignorance or lack of training. Workers were not used to city life and found it hard to adjust to the new environment.
The second plan from 1933 to 1937 was focused on industries producing goods like clothing’s.
However from 1934 onwards the Soviet Union thought that another war might occur, thus priority was given to industries related to military production.
This emphasis continued under the Third 5-year plan where factories were built away from the reach of Western invaders.
Transport and Communication networks were also improved greatly during this period to allow the Soviet Army to move quickly in the event of a war.
The Third 5 Year Plan from 1938 to 1942 was disrupted when the Soviet Union was invaded by Germany in 1941. With the USSR’s entry into World War II, all the country’s resources were focused on defeating the Germans.
Industrialization had several impacts:
Poor Work Conditions: Many restrictions were placed on workers in the Soviet Union.
System of rewards and training for workers: The Communist government decided to offer salaries based on how much a worker produced. As the labour force was uneducated, new schools and universities were built. Primary education was made compulsory and thousands of teachers, scientists and engineers were trained.
Changing Living Conditions: Initially, due to the emphasis on heavy industries, industries that produced basic gods suffered in the cold winter as they could not buy suitable clothing due to short supply, therefore have to be rationed.
The situation started to improve after 1935 where rationing ended as production increased and more goods became available.
Free education, subsidized health care and places for leisure improved the lives of the Russians.
457200038100Farms in Russia were collectivized: Summary
ImStalin's desire to modernise agriculture led him to collectivise the farms, amalgamating them and putting them totally under state control. In the end, this did lead to more efficient farming and increased production, but in the short term it involved him in a 'war' with the kulaks, and a disastrous fall in output, which led to famine.
Reasons why collectivisation was carried out:
Soviet agriculture was backward: Old-fashioned/ inefficient/ no machinery/ too small/ subsistence (only grew enough for themselves).
Food was needed for workers in the towns.
There was not enough food to feed the towns.
Town-workers were needed.
Cash-crops were needed to buy machinery.
Kulaks opposed communism – they hid food from the government. Stalin wanted to destroy them.
Summary of Collectivisation:
It is the grouping of farms into a unit known as a collective farm.
A collective farm is one where farmers in a particular area combine their land together to form a single large unit.
Tools and animals were shared.
Each farm has a common pool of tractors which were rented out.
The farmers would work together and share what the farm produced.
Farmers would sell a percentage of their crops to the government at low prices to get food supplies to the cities easily in return for machines like tractors and harvesters.
Government officials managed the farms.
Stalin wanted farmers to join collective farmers but did not work as:
Many farmers did not want to abandon their traditional way of life.
Collectivisation led to food shortages during the Civil War years.
Stalin thus adopted a policy of collectivisation by force by ordering Communist officials to force farmers to hand over their crops and confiscated them.
The farmers reacted by killing Communist Party members.
Fewer crops were harvested after collectivisation than in previous years as farmers would burn their crops rather than handing them to the government, causing famine.
Stalin blamed the kulaks for failure of collectivisation as they did not want to give up their land to the government.
Therefore, Stalin decided to take serious measures. The NKVD officials formed collective farms and forced the farmers to sign documents agreeing to the formation of collective farms. They were especially harsh to the kulaks.
Then, the fields, livestock, farming tools and buildings were taken over.
Orders were given to shoot farmers who resisted or send them to labour camps.
Impact of Collectivisation:
Riots and Resistance: The farmers rioted and engaged in armed resistance to try and stop forced collecivisation. Stalin responded by killing 17 million horses, but there was not enough tractors to replace them.
Getting rid of people who opposed collectivisation: Villagers who did not cooperate were forced to move from their villages to the labour camps where they had to work on Stalin’s construction projects.
Famine: Severe food shortages occurred as the farmers burnt their crops and grew less food rather than giving them to the government. It was made worse by natural disasters. The USA offered to help however Stalin declined the offer and suppressed information about the famine, selling the crops left to other countries to buy machines. About 10 million people died in the famine.
Achievement of Stalin’s aims
Stalin achieved his aim as he had a cheap and regular supply of crops.
He managed to force 25 million farmers to join collective farms.
He freed workers from the countryside by mechanizing the farms, allowing more farmers to work in the factories.
Under the 5 year plans, Stalin oversaw the rapid expansion of the Soviet Union’s heavy industries. Production of consumer goods increased as well. These plans helped the USSR to face the threat from Germany when it came under attack in June 1941.
Development of a terror state: Purges. The head of the communist party in Leningrad was shot. Stalin used his death to launch an attack against his opponents in the Communist Party. Stalin arrested many people who wanted to kill Stalin. In 1936, the old leaders were put on show trials and confessed to all the charges against them. They were executed after their confessions.
1 million lower ranking Party officers were expelled and were either shot or sent to labour camps.
4236720102870Impact of Stalin’s rule and terror: Fear and suspicion. No evidence was required for an arrest, anyone who had a grudge could get rid of another person by denouncing them to the NKVD (secret police) who will take people away in the middle of the night or at dawn.
Mass executions: As more than 20 million Russians were victims of purges. Therefore, Stalin became extremely powerful and no one dared to oppose or challenged him. Those who had been purged were removed from any photograph. Even the old heroes of the Revolution were forgotten. From the 1930 to 1953, Stalin was the only leader that mattered.
Religious Persecution: Russians were not allowed to practice their religion.
Tight control over culture: Besides using harsh measures to make the Russians fear and obey him, Stalin also tried by controlling the culture of the Soviet Union.
Education: Stalin used education as a way to control what people were taught; teaching of history was changed to focus on the importance of Lenin and Stalin. The other leaders were ignored.
Arts: Only writers, artists and musicians who made art praising Stalin and his programmes could remain in their jobs, the rest were arrested.
Impact of Stalin’s control over culture: Stalin forced authors and artists to depict him in a good light. Paintings were expected to act as propaganda for Stalin’s programmes like industrialisation, causing a lack of variety in the arts of communist Russia.
Cult of personality: Stalin tried to make people worship him as leader. Pictures of him were everywhere.
By the late 1930s, Stalin had indeed help Communist Russia to catch up with the other countries in terms of development.
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