The rise of russia

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(CHAPTER – 10 / Section - 2)

The physical geography of Russia begins to open up to accessibility. The vastness of the country lends itself to many points of entry and also provides the country with an array of resources.
The Russian Land

  • The northern region possessed the forest supply, which gave much of Russia its lumber and animal fur

  • The southern region is filled with fertile land for farming and the southern steppe, treeless grass lands which supplies pasture land for cattle and acted as a highway between Europe and Asia

  • Russia’s network of rivers also provided transportation for their products and for the people to travel amongst the various regions of the country

Growth of Kiev
During the Roman times the Slavs moved into the southern portion of Russia. They were organized into single clans and had a single political organization.
They would have a dramatic impact on the growth and development of this portion of Russia.

The Varangians
During the 700 and 800’s the Vikings and Varangians moved from Scandinavia creating a relationship with the Slavs.
The Vikings were recognized by the Slavs as being Varangians. The two groups soon established an extensive trade exchange and the Varangians also collected tribute from the Slavs.

Byzantine Influences
Early trade had brought the city of Kiev into the center with the Byzantine Empire. With the increased exposure Constantinople would send out missionaries to convert the Slavs.
In 863, two Greek monks, Cyril and Methodius adapted the Greek alphabet so they could translate it into Slavic languages.
This became known as the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic written word becomes and still is used today amongst the people.
Because of this strong influence in the region Princess Olga of Kiev, in 957, converts to Byzantine Christianity creating a movement in which Byzantine Christianity became the major religion in Kiev.
It was not until her grandson Vladimir that the new religion began to spread across the country. Vladimir soon married a sister of a Byzantine emperor bringing a mass of priests to Kiev.
The prince would organize mass baptisms in Kiev. The Byzantine presence creates for the Russians a written language, a class of educated Russian priests.

The priests adapt Byzantine art, architecture and music. The rulers set a close relationship with the church.

Through time the government would control the church making it dependent on the government and make it a pillar of state power.
Through time Kiev would lose power due to rival families. Trading and growth would be hampered by the constant wars. Weakened the Russia country became an easy target for the roving Mongols.

Mongol Conquest
In the early 1200’s the grandson of Genghiz Kahn, Batu moved into the Russian countryside. His troops would be known as the “Golden Horde” due to the color of their tents.
The “Golden Horde” would loot and burn much of the Russian countryside. Over the next 240 years the “Golden Horde” would harshly rule the country slaughtering many of the people.
They would eventually set up a government that was tolerant but were very demanding in heavy tributes and demanded the princes to acknowledge them as overloads.
If the princes paid the tribute they were pretty much left alone.

Mongol Influences
The Mongolian Rule had six effects upon the Russians:

  • Heavy taxes would cause peasants to flee or become serfs

  • The Russian Orthodox Church grew more powerful

  • Peace resulted in new trade with China and Eastern Europe

  • Women became totally subject to male authority

  • Russia was ruled by a strong central government

  • Russia was isolated from contact with the Western Europeans and thus fell behind in the arts and sciences

Moscow Takes the Lead
Over time the princes within Russia would regain their power. This was enhanced because of the extensive river trade and would create a relationship by subduing neighboring towns.
In 1380 the Russians rally and defeat the Mongols and a new reign began with Ivan the Great. From 1462 to 1505 he was able to unite much of northern Russia and recovered much of the land that had fallen to neighboring Slavic lands.
Ivan builds the framework for absolute rule and tries to limit the powers of the Boyars, great landowning nobles.
Ivan also adopts the Byzantine court ritual.

From this point on any successor of the Russian rule would adopt the title Czar, the Russian word for Caesar. Ivan lays claim that the Czar is in nature like most men, but in authority he is the highest God.

Ivan the Terrible
The grandson of Ivan the Great he sets out to further centralize royal power. The privileges of the Boyars are further limited.
When Western Europe was beginning to dismantle the Manor System, Ivan the Terrible creates new laws that tie the Russian serfs to the land.
After the death of his wife Ivan becomes unstable and begins to go on uncontrollable mad rants and rages. He even kills his own son.
Ivan creates the Oprichniki, agents of terror that sweep across the lands enforcing his will.
They were dressed in black robes and rode black horses decorated with saddles that had a dogs head and a broom. This symbolized the watchful eye upon the people and the ability to sweep away any discourse.
This strong arm tactic earns him the name of “Ivan the Terrible”.
The most lasting legacy of Ivan the Terrible was to introduce the tradition of extreme absolute power.

Times of Troubles
From 1604 to 1613 Russia was embroiled in many disputes over who would succeed. There would also be many peasant uprisings and outside invasions would prey upon the unstable lands.
An assembly of the zemsky sobor clergy would finally step in and chose a new czar a 17 year old named Michael Romanov. This selection would bring the Times of Troubles to an end and usher in the Romanov dynasty.
This dynasty would rule Russia until 1917. Many of the succeeding rulers would continue the expansion of the boarders and establish strong autocratic rule.
Later Peter and Catherine the Great would attempt to enhance the country, but eventually Russia would fall prey to the lack of development and turn to a revolution to recreate a dominating country.


(CHAPTER – 23 / SECTION – 5)

Remember serfdom had come to an end in Western Europe around the 1700’s.
However, it survived and spread further within Russia. Reformers hoped to free themselves from this existence.
But any efforts to modernize or change were met with the wrath of the czars, who imprisoned and sent the participants to Siberia.

Conditions in Russia
In 1815 Russia was not only the most populous nation in Europe, but also a great power.
With its growth over the ages Russia was able to acquire lands from Europe to the Pacific and to the southern regions of the Baltic’s.
With the vast size in territory came the wealth of endless resources and the ability to influence global interests.
However, its autocratic government and expansion came as sense fear from the other European nations.

Obstacles to Progress
Despite Peter and Catherine’s attempts to modernize Russia it remained an economically and socially backwards nation.
One of the main obstacles to progress was the rigid social structure. Once more the rich landowners controlled society and rejected any change that would threaten their power.
The middle class not yet developed and the majority of other people, the serfs, were unable to bring about change.

The general make-up of Russian society was the serfs who were peasants.
Others outside of the class were the servants, artisans or soldiers that became part of the czar’s armies.

Russian Absolutism
For hundreds of years the czar’s were able to rule with absolute power. Any serf’s that worked in any industries had their pay taken by their masters.
Any Enlightened Russians knew that serfdom was inefficient and that Russians economy would remain backwards.
Missing from Russia was the Enlightenment thinking that had grown from the French Revolution.
Alexander I
In 1801 the new ruler seemed open for a change from the Liberal ideas.
Alexander eased censorship, promoted education and even talked about ending serfdom.
However, after the invasion of Napoleon and the results from the Congress of Vienna, Alexander pulled back from making any changes.
He feared losing the support of the wealthy land owners and joined with the Conservatives to suppress any liberal and nationalistic ideas.

Revolt and Repression
When Alexander I died in 1825 a group army officers led a rebellion known as the “Decembrist Revolt.
The experience of battling Napoleon exposed them to liberal ideas and now demanded a constitution and other reforms.
However, the new czar, Nicholas I, ended the revolt and cracked down on all of the dissenters.
Nicholas also used spies to search out any dissenters and burned books from Western Europe that might hold liberal ideas.
Many of the liberal revolutionaries were judged to be insane and were exiled to Siberia.
Nicholas I and Absolutism
To strengthen his reign Nicholas used the three pillars of Russian absolutism symbolized in the motto “orthodoxy, autocracy and nationalism.

  • Orthodoxy referred to the strong ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the government.

  • Autocracy referred to the absolute power of the state.

  • Nationalism involved respect for Russian traditions and suppression of non-Russian groups within the empire.

Nicholas realized that Russia needed to modernize and tried to do so through some new laws economic reforms.

However, he realized the changes could not be so dramatic for fear of losing the support of the rich land owners and thus any loss to the czar’s powers.

Reforms of Alexander II

Alexander II began his rule amongst the Crimean War. Russia’s loss exposed its backwardness and lack of development as compared to the other nations of Europe.

With this experience the people began to make demands for changes. Pressed from all aspects of the countries classes Alexander agreed to new reforms.
In 1861, Alexander issued a royal decree that required the emancipation of all serfs.
With this move came further problems. Newly freed serfs were now required to by the land they had so long worked on.
Lacking any money to purchase the land coupled with too small of land tracks the serfs found it hard to make the change.
However, the new freedom brought a resource for the new industries growing in the country.
Plus the freeing of serfs brought the hope for further changes.

Other Reforms
Alexander brought more changes:

  • The new system of government was responsible for new roads, schools and agriculture.

  • Legal development as in trials by juries

  • Easing of censorship

  • Lessening of military terms from 25 to 15 years of service

  • Russia’s industrial growth

  • Education of women

Reaction to Change
The vast reforms failed to capture the support of many Russians.


  • Peasants had freedom yet no land to work on

  • Liberals wanted a constitution and a elected legislature

  • Socialists had adopted western ideas demanding even more changes

All of this caused the czar to move away from changes to creating more control over the people.

Revolutionary Currents
In the 1870’s socialists traveled into the country side to try and sway the peasants to making changes.
The problem was that many of them did not understand what they were saying and turned them into the police.

With a renewed tide of repression against the people the radicals turned to terrorism.

A revolutionary group called the “People’s Will assassinated several officials and eventually killed Alexander II.
In response to his father’s death, Alexander III revived the harsh tactics of Nicholas I.
Alexander III increased the power of the secret police, established strong censorship and exiled critics to Siberia.
The next move was to silence the non-Russians by insisting on one Russian language and one church, the Russian Orthodox Church.

Persecution and Pogroms
Russia had developed a large Jewish population as it acquired territory from Poland and the Ukraine region.
The czar limited the amount of Jews that could attend universities and people that could practice professions such as lawyers and doctors.
Jews were also restricted in what areas they could live.
Officials often encouraged pogrom, violent mob attacks on Jews killing and looting their homes or businesses.

The police would not stop these actions. Facing no protection from the law or government large numbers of Jews left Russia to the U.S and became known as refugees, people who flee their homeland to seek safety elsewhere.

Building Russian Industry
Alexander III and Nicholas II finally move Russia into the Industrial Age. The key to Russia’s economic development came through the economic advisor of Count Serge Witte.
Some of his ideas included:

  • Building railroads that connect iron and coal mines with factories,

  • The railroads would better transport processed goods across Russia and

  • The securing of foreign capitol to invest in the development of transportation systems and industry.

The creation of industry would bring on social and political problems. Government and business leaders supported it and nobles and peasants denounced the development.

Urbanized peasants experienced the plight of working in the factories. Socialism would use the plight of the factory workers and try to instill new thinking.
In the 1890’s one socialist, Vladimir Ulyanov began spreading the word of Karl Marx amongst the workers.
His older brother had been executed for plotting the assassination of Alexander III.
Using an alias he would later create a new Russia. His real name was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

Turning Point: Crisis and Revolution
In 1904 war broke out between Russia and Japan. Czar Nicholas called out to the people and asked that they fight for “the Faith, the Czar and for the Fatherland”.

Russia would experience one humiliating defeat after another.

A Peaceful March
With news of the defeats the people let loose all of the pent up angry that had grown over the years.
Liberals cried out for a constitutional government after seeing case after case of corruption and the workers demanded better wages, working conditions and fewer hours.
An attempt to bring the feelings and voice of the people to the czar peacefully Father George Gapon organized a march for Sunday, January 22, 1905.
The procession was filled with the voices of prayers, the singing of hymns and pictures of the czar. Also with them was a petition addressed to Nicholas asking for justice and freedom.

Bloody Sunday
Fearing for his safety Nicholas fled the winter palace and brought in the soldiers. As the marchers approached the palace they began to see the lines of the soldiers.

Suddenly gunfire rang out and women, children and men began to fall. As they fled a voice from a woman rang out “the czar has a banded us, they have shot away the orthodox faith.”

This one day, single event brought an end to the peoples trust or belief in the czar as a leader.

The Revolution of 1905
Months after the “Bloody Sunday” event the people would show their distaste by holding strikes, taking over local governments, peasants taking over land and other nationalities crying for separation from Russian control.
The cries and actions of the people forced Nicholas to introduce new reforms. One such action came in the October Manifesto.
The manifesto promised freedom of speech, union and assembly for the people of Russia.
He agreed to create a Duma, an elected national legislative branch. No law would be enacted without the vote of approval from the Duma.

Results of the Revolution

The October Manifesto won over the moderates, but left the socialists isolated. The separation helped the czar deal with the turmoil because he had no real intentions of allowing the strikers or revolutionaries diminish his power.

In 1906 the Duma was dissolved after it criticized the government. Nicholas responded by appointing Peter Stolypin as the prime minister.
In an attempt to restore order Stolypin employed the use of arrests, pogroms and executions.
Stolypin also understood that to regain peasant support he would have to do so through land reform.
His attempts to enhance the education and other programs were too limited and would not satisfy the demands of the people.
In 1911 Stolypin was assassinated and the following Dumas would be composed of conservatives that maintained the control of a monarchy.
All of which would create the perfect elements for change in 1914.


(Chapter – 28 / Section - 1)

The monarchy was lured into a false sense of security. They believed their mere presence in public would create a strong sense of loyalty and wash away any ill feelings about how their lives were. In fact failure to reform would bring the end of the czar and its hundreds of years of rule.

The March Revolution
Russia within this time period was a poor under developed country. The majority of the people are peasants living in poverty.
Long Term Unrest

  • Only when under pressure did the czar create any changes to economic, social or political ways of life.

  • The Duma had no real power within the government’s structure. Nicholas II was too weak to make any changes and relied upon the secret police to maintain control.

  • Other problems lied within a corrupt bureaucracy and overloaded court system.

  • Marxists began to use the proletariat, the growing factory and railroad workers, to create a revolution.

Impact of WWI

  • At the outset the nation held a strong sense of pride and was unified to fight for the Pan-Slavic movement.

  • Problems: unable to create enough supplies to arm the men to fight.

  • Transportation system fails and is unable to supply the front lines.

  • By 1917 over 1,300,000 men had been killed in battle, 4,200,000 wounded and 2,417,000 had been captured by the enemy

  • Food was in short supply and this led to rising prices. By January 1917 the price of commodities in Petrograd had increased six-fold. In an attempt to increase their wages, industrial workers went on strike.


  • Alexander was caught under the powerful spell of Gregory Rasputin. However, Rasputin was an illiterate peasant and self-proclaimed “holy man” whom czarina depended upon for advice.

  • Czarina believed in Rasputin’s powers when he helped ease her son’s hemophilia.

  • Rasputin has so much power that he decides who stays or goes in positions of power in the government.

  • People’s confidence in the government begins to wane and in December 1916 several nobles assassinate Rasputin.

  • They poison him with enough cyanide to kill several men-yet lives. They shot him several times-yet he gets up after being shot and runs away. They club him until he is unconscious and throw him into the river- yet he dies from drowning.

Collapse of the Monarchy

  • On 26th February Nicolas II ordered the Duma to close down. Members refused and they continued to meet.

  • The Overthrow of Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II in February 1917 wasn’t planned out by Lenin. It was the spontaneous result of the accumulated hatred of the Russian people bursting out in mass demonstrations that paralyzed Petrograd and other cities.

  • Within a matter of days, the once all-powerful regime was isolated, its army and security forces refusing orders to defend it--and the Tsar was forced to abdicate.

  • At the end of February 1917, female workers from some of the main factories in Petrograd organized strikes and marches to mark International Women’s Day, and to demand an end to desperate food shortages.

The actions spread quickly in heavily industrial areas of Petrograd like Vyborg, with more and more factories walking out.

  • But after the overthrow of the Tsar, the Russian parliament, known as the Duma, created a Provisional Government made up primarily of parties representing Russia’s capitalists.

  • The most hated figures of the Tsar’s regime were excluded, but so were the radical parties representing Russia’s workers and peasants. In Petrograd and in other cities, they set up soviets or councils of workers and soldiers.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks

  • Lenin adopts the name after becoming a revolutionary because of his hatred of the czar government.

(Why did he hate the czar?)

  • Aleksandr I. Ulyanov, was executed (1887) for his participation in a plot on the life of Alexander III. Lenin would marry the daughter of a poor noble family, her name was Nadezhda Krupskaya.

Early Career

  • Lenin read and followed the works of Karl Marx.

  • He would speak to the industrial workers and predict that they would over throw the government.

  • He calls for an elite group to lead the revolution and set up a “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

  • This group was a small percentage of the socialists, yet Lenin gives them the name Bolshevik’s, meaning majority.

A New View of Marx
Many Western European socialists believed that gradual and moderate reforms in suffrage, higher wages and social welfare programs would bring about change. The Bolsheviks and Lenin reject this approach.

Lenin Returns from Exile
In March 1917, Lenin still in exile watches Russia stumble its way through WWI. Germany sees a way to weaken its enemy and helps Lenin return home.

The November Revolution
Lenin was helped by another Marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky. To the war torn, hungry people of Russia Lenin and Trotsky promisePeace, Land and Bread.
By the summer of 1917 a hungry, poorly supplied and led army begins to desert in mass numbers. Peasants seize ands from their landlords.

The Bolshevik Takeover
The situations in Russia were perfect for a change and the Bolsheviks, with the help of the Red Guards, armed factory workers who helped overthrow the provisional government. Joined by the sailors the Russian government was toppled in a few days.
In Petrograd, members of the government were meeting in a room at the winter palace. Suddenly word came to the leaders there that the Bolsheviks were storming the palace.
Within minutes the provisional government had fallen without the shedding of any blood.

The Bolsheviks in Charge

  • After the Bolshevik Revolution Lenin quickly agrees to peace with Germany giving up large tracks of land and people.

  • The Bolsheviks ended private ownership of land and distributed it to the peasants.

  • Workers were given control of the factories and mines

A new flag is created, red in color with the hammer and sickle placed upon it to represent the union between the peasants and workers.

Russian Civil War

  • This peace agreement with Germany was done because the communists know that they would face several enemies at home.

Opposing Forces
For three years civil war would rage between the “Reds”, the Communists and the Whites”, the forces that remained loyal to the czar.
The Allied powers of WWI hoped to alter the direction of the civil war. They were hoping that the Whites would prevail so the Russians would return to fighting against the Germans.
The Reds used the foreign fighters as a tool to inspire Nationalism; to rid the nation of foreigners.
The war was brutal where Whites slaughtered innocent people and attempted to assassinate Lenin.
The Communists launched there own reign of terror to subdue their enemies.
They organized the Cheka, secret police force. The Communists killed the former czar and his family so they would not become a rallying tool.

War Communism

  • Communists took over banks, mines, factories and railroads

  • Peasants were forced to give surplus food to the hungry people in the cities

  • Trotsky creates a strong and successful army. Every army was taught to follow and become loyal to the cause

  • The order to shot every tenth man if a unit performed poorly. A tactic used by the Romans to instill drive in an army

A Costly Triumph

  • Millions die from the war

Lenin and the Communists had succeeded in attaining power, but the long road laid ahead to rebuilding and creating a stronger Russia.


(Chapter – 28 / Section - 2)

In January of 1924 millions view the body of Lenin. However, the debate goes on to where to place the body.
The Communist party prevails and it lies encased for the next 65 years. The preservation of the body is to display the goals of the party will never die away.

Building the Communist Soviet Union
Russia had faced WWI and then several years of civil war. To rebuild the nation would take a long and demanding process.


  • In 1922 the communists create a constitution that is both democratic and socialist

  • It establishes the Supreme Soviet, giving all citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote

  • All means of production would belong to the workers and the peasants

  • In reality, the communists party, not the people, controlled the Soviet government. To maintain control the communists would use the secret police and the army.

Lenin’s NEP

  • Failure to create an effective economy forced Lenin to rethink his idea for rebuilding Russia

  • Peasants produced less farm produce because the government would take most of it away

  • 1921, Lenin creates a new economic program called the New Economic Policy or NEP

  • Government would still control the banks, foreign trade and large industries, but allowed small businesses were allowed to reopen for private profit

  • Government stopped seizing extra peasant grain and allowed them to grow extra on small plots that could be sold for profit

  • This program, even though it got away from the Communist ideology, allowed the economy to grow back to prewar levels.

Stalin Gains Power
Lenin suddenly dies in 1924 and a struggle for power begins among the Communist leaders.

  • Leon Trotsky was a brilliant Marxist thinker, skillful thinker and the architect of the Bolshevik Revolution.

  • Trotsky wanted a Marxist revolution to take place around the world.

  • Joseph Stalin was not an artful speaker or a great thinker. However, he was a shrewd politician and a behind the scenes organizer.

  • Stalin wanted to solidify the socialist revolution at home first, rather than try a failed plan to involve the world.

  • He changed his name from Djugashvili, to Stalin, meaning “Man of Steel”. Once studying under the priesthood he was imprisoned for reading a book about the French Revolution.

  • Stalin spent time amassing money for the revolution by stealing and terrorizing people.

He did very little in the planning or development of the revolution, but became General Secretary to the Party.

  • Stalin was able to place his own people into positions of power within the party, thus isolating Trotsky.

  • Stripped of party membership Trotsky flees Russia in 1929 and is assassinated in Mexico by an agent of Russia.

Lenin called for Stalin to be removed as General Secretary, a post to which Lenin had only promoted him in 1922.

There was no suggestion that Stalin should be removed from the Politburo or Central Committee.
In any case, Lenin was too ill to follow through on his suggestions, thereby opening up vast speculation as to whether he might have prevented Stalin from coming to power had he lived longer.

Stalin’s Five Year Plan
Stalin understands quickly that Russia’s military failures in the past were tied to the lack of industrial development and attempts to create Russia as a modernized industrial power.

In 1928 he proposes a series of Five Year Plans

  • The plans are to address the building of industry, improving transportation and in crease farm out put.

  • To achieve such growth or development he brings all of the economic activity under government control.

  • Russia develops a command economy in which government officials make all basic economic decisions.

  • Russia’s plan has business allocated monies and given resources v. capitalism the free market controls economic decisions and keeps any profits.

Mixed Industrial Results
His first phase placed a high set of demands among transportation and industrial development.
From 1928 through 1939 huge industrial development took shape in power plants and steel, oil and coal production rose sharply.
This was in part successful due to the incentive plan; produce a lot and be rewarded, fail to meet expectations and expect punishment.

  • Standard of living and wages remained low. Standard of living really never changed.

  • Poor management planning. Most managers were concerned in meeting quotas and produced mass quantities of low quality goods.

  • Shortages grew in several areas of need and surpluses in areas of goods that were not needed.

  • Failed to meet the needs of the people in clothing, cars or household goods.

Revolution in Agriculture
Lenin’s allowing peasants to hold small plots of land was taken away because Stalin feared it showed the lack of control by the government.

  • Stalin forces the peasants onto collective’s, large farms owned and operated by peasants as a group

  • The people were able to keep their houses and personal belongings, but any animals or equipment became the ownership of the state

  • The state also set all prices and controlled access to farm supplies

  • The government was to teach and supply the people with modern tools so the farm produce would grow and be used to supply workers in the cities as well as sell the extra abroad to gain monies for the state.

A Ruthless Policy
Peasants reacted by killing farm animals, destroying equipment and burning crops. Stalin responds by sending in troops to force the people to abide to the new changes.
Stalin also attempts to destroy Kulaks, wealthy peasants. They were arrested and sent to labor camps where thousands would die from forced labor.
Farm peasants would grow just enough to feed themselves. Stalin responds by taking all of the produce and leaves the people to starve.
It is believed that 5 to 8 million people starved to death in jus the Ukraine area alone.
Stalin’s attempt at collectivization was described as being disastrous.

The Great Purge
In 1934 Stalin launches the Great Purge, his reign of terror. Stalin always had the fear that people were plotting against him.
To maintain his absolute power Stalin would remove or kill Old Bolshevik party members with young leaders would make the new people very loyal to Stalin.
He also expanded his target to army heroes, industrial managers or common people. The purge of several of the military leaders would exact a terrible toll as WWII began.
Between 1936 and 1938, several trials were used to show the plot of others to undermine the government. Many were sent to labor camps and some executed.
More than 4 million people were purged from society. The Great Purge greatly increased Stalin’s power.

Soviet Foreign Policy
From 1917 to 1939 the Soviet Union would follow two very different paths in foreign policy. Both Lenin and Stalin both wanted to fulfill Marx’s goal of world wide socialist governments.
Lenin would develop the Communist International, Comintern, to aid revolutionary groups around the world.
However, the Soviets wanted to join the League of Nations to help improve relations with the West.

  • US have a fear of Bolshevik plots and a “Red Scare” develops in the 1920’s

  • Great Britain learns of a scheme to turn a strike into a Bolshevik revolution in 1926 and severs ties with Russia

  • Great Purge shows how unstable country is and how they treat their own people.

Three Revolutions Compared
The US, French and Russian revolutions brought major changes to their governments, but were brought about by different means and with different results.

  • US does not order mass executions or seize lands.

  • Constitution serves as model to other nations for democratic governments.

  • France executes thousands and nationalizes lands for the Church and the aristocracy.

  • French create widespread revolutions across Europe.

  • Russia seizes land and executes or creates the death of millions by poorly planned programs and fear of plotting against the government.

  • Russia aides other nations to bring about socialist revolutions within their countries.


(Chapter – 28 / Section - 3)

From the 1930’s until his death in 1953, Stalin attempted to build a picture of strength and to be portrayed as a “Godlike” figure.
Writings, film and pictures were to depict him as “Wise” and the son of Lenin.

An Age of Totalitarian Control
Marx stated that the state would melt away. However, under Stalin the Soviet Union turned to a Totalitarian State where the government regulates every aspect of its citizens’ lives.

To ensure obedience Stalin’s Communist party used the secret police, censorship and terror.
Personal letters were opened, listening devices were used to hear conversations and any complaining would bring swift persecution and departure to work camps or even death.

In every of public life the people were constantly being exposed to propaganda. Movie theaters and schools would teach the people the successes of Communism and criticize capitalism.
He would promote the actions of snitches. A 13 year old boy had a statue built for turning in his own father as being a spy against the government.

War on Religion
Marx believed in atheism, a belief that there is no God. The state targets the Russian Orthodox Church, because it strongly supported the czar.
The state seizes land and churches turning them into offices and museums.

  • 15 Roman Catholic priests were placed on trial for teaching religion to young boys

  • Jewish synagogues were seized and the use of Hebrew was banned

  • Islam was discouraged; however they were tolerated more because the Soviet’s hoped to gain support of Middle Eastern countries

Changes in Soviet Society
The New Elite
A new small group of Soviet citizens were able to join the party. They were able to have better housing, shop at better stores and have access to more options.
They lacked the ability to maintain the communist ideology and choose to get ahead for their own benefit.

Social Benefits and Drawbacks
Improvements that most of the people experienced were free education for all. Technical schools as well as Universities were available to most for the first time.
Lack of rural development or opportunities drew many people into the city. State apartments were unable to match the demand and many families would live in a single room.
Bread was plentiful, but meat, fresh fruit and other foods were in short supply.

A major goal was to educate all of the children. There was the need to have educated people to bring about a modernized industrial nation.
The schools taught:

  • Communist values

  • Atheism

  • The glory of collective farming

  • To love Stalin

Students also participated in a number of outside activities such as sports, parades and to help harvest the crops.

Stalin’s wife actively participated in the revolution and brought to light the importance of women in the movement.
One change that occurred for women was that they won legal equality.
In 1905, Alexandra Kollontai campaigned for women’s rights. She saw how women were important in factories and construction because the man’s wages were too low to support the family.

The Arts and the State
At first the Bolshevik Revolution brought greater freedom within the arts. Artists, under Lenin, were allowed to experiment with ideas and forms.

Socialist Realism
Under Stalin heavy state control brought about restraint. Stalin forced artists and writers to conform to social realism, that Soviet life should be shown in a positive light.
Common themes of art included peasants, workers, heroes of the revolution and Stalin.


The government controlled the type of art shown; the style of music to be played and what books could be published.
If you followed the party guidelines you were rewarded, if not you were denied material, jobs and places to work. More so you faced government persecution.
Osip Mandelstam was Jewish poet that was persecuted by the Communists for criticizing Stalin.
During the Stalin era writers would stop publishing and become translators or work in government clerical positions.
If you did publish something the writers were forced to communicate in their work hope in the communist future.
One of Russia’s greatest poets Anna Akhmatova could not write her poems because they did not follow state guidelines.
However, one Soviet writer was able to produce wonderful works of writing such as “And Quiet Flows the Don”, written by Mikhail Sholokhov. His works depicted a story of a man who fought in WWI, Russian Revolution and the civil war. He goes on to win the Noble Prize for Literature.
Vladimir Mayakovsky was a Russian poet and playwright, among the foremost representatives of early-20th century Russian Futurism. He was one of the only Russian writers to be able to travel freely during the Stalin era.
Near the end of the 1920s, Mayakovsky became increasingly disillusioned with Communism.

On the evening of April 14, 1930, Mayakovsky shot himself. The unfinished poem in his suicide note read, in part:

The love boat has crashed against the daily routine. You and I, we are quits, and there is no point in listing mutual pains, sorrows, and hurts.

The Stalin era brought mix results. The industrialization and military mirrored that of other super powers.

Yet the human toll it caused the imprisonment and deaths of millions of people.
Soon other countries would develop other forms of government. The one party states would create new dictatorships.

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