Vocabulary: Communism in USSR
Bourgeoisie: upper, or merchant social class, whose status or power comes from employment, education, and wealth
Collectivization: highly ambitious program of state-guided crash industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture.
Comintern: (Communist International) est. 1919, intl Communist organization, to fight by all available means, including
armed force, for the overthrow of international bourgeoisie, and creation of an intl Soviet republic as transition stage to
complete abolition of the State.
Commissar: official political or military tit e ) used after Bolshevik revolution as respect for rank and authority,
People's Commissar (government) and Political Commissar (military).
Five-Year Plans: “The Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the USSR” a series of nation-wide centralized
exercises in rapid economic development in USSR. There were 13 five-year plans. 1928-1995 (not completed as USSR
dissolved in 1991). Some were successful, some not. Some were completed, some not.
Gulag: the government agency that administered the penal labor camps of USSR , at least 476 separate camps, each
one comprising hundreds, even thousands of individual camps, 5-7 million prisoners in camps at any one time, approx.
10% of prisoners died each year.
Komsomol: "Communist Union of Youth". Organization est. 1918, youngest members were 14, the upper limit was 28.
Younger children could join the ―Pioneers‖.
Kulak: notably well-off peasants, independent farmers who owned larger farms and used hired labor, this class of
landowners became independent farmers and supported the Tsar’s govt (viewed as Anti-Communist)
NKVD: (Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del) leading secret police organization of USSR, responsible for political
repression during Stalinist era. Conducted mass extrajudicial executions, ran the gulag system of forced labor, mass
deportations, guarded borders, espionage, and political assassinations, responsible for foreign subversion of govt.
Politburo: Political Bureau, executive organization of the Communist Party.
Proletariat: working class, lower social class
Red Army: Armed forces organized by the Bolsheviks 1918, during Russian Civil War, in 1922 became the army of the
USSR. ―Red‖ refers to the blood shed by the working class in its struggle against capitalism.
Stalinism: the political regime named after Stalin, leader of USSR 1924-1953. Includes extensive use of propaganda to
establish a personality cult around an absolute dictator, and extensive use of secret police to maintain social submission
and silence political dissent.
Troikas: is a political committee consisting of three members
Important People: Communism in USSR
Vladimir Lenin: April 22, 1870 – Jan. 21, 1924, Russian Revolution, Bolshevik Party
1920 created New Economic Policy (NEP) required farmers (and some industries) to give the government a
specified amount of raw agricultural product as a tax. Private ownership restored to small parts of the economy,
especially farming (but not to the land itself). Agricultural production increased greatly. Instead of the government
taking all agricultural surpluses with no compensation, the farmers now had the option to sell their surplus yields,
and therefore had an incentive to produce more grain.
Died from a stroke 1924
Great friend of Lenin, helped est. Russian Revolution and new USSR
Rival of Joseph Stalin
After Lenin’s death, he was expelled from the Communist Party and deported from the Soviet Union.
Trotsky's theory was of Permanent Revo ution which contradicted Sta in’s Socia ism in One Country‖)
Stalin undermined Trotsky, didn’t te him about Lenin’s funera
Stalin publicized Trotsky's pre-revolutionary disagreements with Lenin, and the fact that Trotsky came out against
publication of Lenin’s Final Testament (in which he pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of both Stalin and
Trotsky as his successors)
Both Lenin and Trotsky were highly intelligent but Stalin was more peasant
1940 Stalin used secret police and foreign espionage to have Leon Trotsky assassinated in Mexico
Joseph Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili) born December 21, 1879, in Georgia
Personal Life: Mother: serf, Abusive Father: cobbler, 3 siblings died
Never cried. Hated authority, showed extreme cruelty
Age 7, severe small pox scarred face, photographs retouched pockmarks; left arm crippled
Priesthood, attended Seminary, great singer in choir, poet, expelled 1899, joined street gang (Marxist)
Worked in oil refinery (owned by Rothschi ds), worker’s union, fires, strikes, demonstrations, sent to jail 1902, he
organized the criminals and soon boss of the jail. 1905 escaped Siberia, illegal fundraising, kidnapping, bank
robbery. Sent to prison 1908, escaped again
3 wives, 1 wife may have committed suicide, numerous mistresses, children, legitimate and illegitimate
1 son shot himse f Sta in’s harshness) survived. Sta in said "He can't even shoot straight". Yakov served in Red
Army WWII, captured by Germans. They offered to exchange him, Stalin turned the offer down, "I have no son".
Yakov later committed suicide in concentration camp by running into an electric fence.
Numerous towns, villages and cities were renamed after him
The Stalin Prize, Stalin Peace Prize
Titles ("Coryphaeus of Science," "Father of Nations," "Brilliant Genius of Humanity," "Great Architect of
Communism," "Gardener of Human Happiness," and others)
Rewrote Soviet history to provide himself a more significant role in the revolution.
All portraits, statues, monuments erected to glorify him and all distorted his true build. (not tall or well built, only
Nickname was Koba, a Robin-Hood like hero 1883 novel The Patricide, also Josef, Iosef
Nicknamed "Uncle Joe" by the Western media.
Joined Lenin’s Bo shevik faction of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Democratic Centralism) 1907
1912 Lenin created separate Bolshevik Party, Stalin joined
1913, Stalin published Marxism and the National Question
1913, sent into exile (3 x) had son with 13 yr old orphan girl, released March 1917 (just after Feb Rev)
Moved to Petrograd, ousted Molotov (cocktail), and editors of Pravada (official Bolshevik newspaper) Lenin still
in exi e, dec ined to pub ish Lenin’s artic es asking for overthrow of Provisiona Govt)
Lenin’s Revo utionary ideas won pub ic support, Sta in Pravada) called for overthrowing the Provisional Govt
Stalin elected to the Central Committee, & then Politburo of the Central Committee (May 1917)
1921 Red Army invaded Georgia (his hometown) Stalin made his own rules: hard, severe repression of all
opposition (self-loathing of where he came from)
1922, named Secretary General, Communist Party
Power struggles with Leon Trotsky.
Lenin died 1924 (stroke), New leader had to be loyal to Lenin, Stalin organized funeral (left Trotsky out),
pontificating speeches of Lenin’s g ory
Manipulated his opponents, formed a troika (3) with Zinoviev, and Kamenev against Trotsky—then he joined
Bukharin and Rykov against Zinoviev and Kamenev (July 1926 Zinoviev and Kamenev formed the ―United
Opposition" with Lenin’s widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya).
1928 Stalin had Trotsky and Zinoviev expelled from the party, exiled
Stalin gained popular appeal as a 'man of the people' from the poorer classes
Politics: ―Sta in‖ means ―Man of Stee ‖ (named himself)
―Cu t of Persona ity‖ Great Father figure (and secret murderer)
Stalin ruled U.S.S.R. 1929 – 1953, became the focus of massive adoration and even worship.
Ruthless maneuvering, got rid of all potential rivals, execution.
1930s, Stalin launched the Great Purge, got rid of all who had brought him to power. Est. more than 1.2 million
party members (½ the party) arrested between 1936-1939, 600,000 died by torture, execution, or Gulag.
Stalin World War II
Stalin purged military leadership, executed officers, leaving U.S.S.R. unprepared for WWII.
To avoid war with Germany, Stalin signed non-aggression pact with Hitler, August 1939.
Hitler invaded U.S.S.R. June 22, 1941, Stalin not seen for 2 weeks, then addressed nation, took command of
troops. Operation Barbarossa known to Soviets as the Great Patriotic War: 1941-1945
Stalin feared Hitler would use Soviet citizens to fight his regime, people imprisoned in Gulags, ordered NKVD to
respond, murdered 100,000 political prisoners (bayoneted people to death, tossed grenades into crowded cells.)
580,000 POWs (Germans, Japanese, Hungarian, Romanian) never returned by Soviets
Any Soviet soldier who had been a POW was suspect- generals, officers, ordinary soldiers, sent to special
concentration camps, NKVD investigated them, 20% sentenced to death only 15% allowed to return
Stalin seen as great wartime leader who led the Soviets to victory against the Nazis.
By the end of the 1940s, Russian patriotism increased due to successful propaganda efforts.
Domestic Policy: "Socialism in one country”
Terror regime (the "Stalinist system"), Est. secret police (NKVD).
Millions killed through famine, execution, deportation, Gulag
Ethnic groups deported: Ukrainians, Poles,Koreans, Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens,
Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, Meskhetian Turks, Finns, Bulgarians, Greeks, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians,
Jews, Kulaks, resettled to Siberia, Central Asia, appalling conditions, taken by cattle truck, 100s of 1000s died
during trip, those who survived forced to work without pay in labor camps
Stalin replaced New Economic Policy (NEP) with Five-Year Plans (1928): transformed peasant society into
major industrial power
USSR became Great Power by 1931, 2 largest industrial nation in world, collectivization and industrialization.
Est. 25 million farmers forced onto state farms. Collectivization killed 14.5 million people (starvation) Soviet
agricultural output was reduced by 25%.
Soviet authorities confiscated (stole) grain and food under Sta in’s orders
Famine 1932-1934,(the Holodomor, planned Genocide) Caucasus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, millions died
Not crop failure but excessive demands of state, ruthlessly enforced, cost lives of 5 million Ukrainian peasants.
Stalin refused to release large grain reserves (exporting grain) convinced Ukrainian peasants had hidden grain
away (lie), strictly enforced collective-farm theft laws. ―shoot peop e who stea food.‖ signed by Sta in in red ink.
6,000 executed and tens of thousands imprisoned.
1933, earnings sank to about 1/10 (1926), political prisoners forced into unpaid labor (slavery), communists
members "mobilized" for construction projects.
Foreign experts, (British engineer Stephen Adams) improved manufacturing processes.
1 2 Five-Year Plans had rapid industrialization, significant economic growth (cost millions of lives.)
Modernized the backward Soviet economy, new products developed, scale and efficiency of production
Collectivization (Collectivism): intended to increase agri. output with large scale mechanized farms, bring
peasants under govt control, more efficient tax collection, caused drastic social changes, drastic drop in living
standards for peasants, violent reaction, starvation.
Stalin wanted 1 yr results industrial production 200%, agri 50%, when estimates not met Stalin blamed kulaks.
Severe violence against kulaks," "kulak helpers," and "ex-kulaks" shot, Gulags, deported
No foreign capital or trade available, international reaction to Communist policies, virtually no modern
infrastructure. Stalin financed industrialization by restraining consumption (Soviet citizens) to ensure that capital
went for re-investment into industry, and ruthless extraction of wealth from kulaks.
The Great Purge:
Dec. 1, 1934 Prominent leader Kirov was killed, shot in back of neck (killer was Leonid Nikolaev)
Stalin claimed part of larger conspiracy led by Leon Trotsky against Soviet govt (this was a lie, some say Stalin
killed him to remove competition)
Sta in, ―fearing he might be next‖ decided to initiate purges instead of passively wait.
1936 Arrested, executed Lev Kamenev, Grigory Zinoviev, and 14 more, all supporters of Trotsky and other
suspected enemies of the state were arrested
Held 4 key trials: Trial of the Sixteen (August 1936); Trial of the Seventeen (January 1937); Trial of Red Army
Generals, (June 1937); and Trial of the Twenty One (March 1938).
Trotsky c aimed ―a river of b ood‖ separated Sta in's regime from Lenin.
No one was untouched during the purges. Any "anti-Soviet activities", execution lists, Enemy of the People
Rewrote history in Soviet textbooks and propaganda materials. Notable people executed by NKVD were removed
from the texts and photographs as though they never existed.
Foreign Policy: Confrontational, Stalin in charge of Soviet policies during the early phase of the Cold War.
Stalin met with British PM Churchill and U.S. Pres FDR at Tehran (1943) and Yalta (1945), and with Churchill
and Roosevelt's successor, Pres. Truman, in Potsdam (1945), dividing the postwar world into "spheres of
State secret police (NKVD) and international intelligence (KGB, spy games, espionage, propaganda, James
Bond) against Germany, Great Britain, France, Japan, USA
1940 used secret police and foreign espionage to have Leon Trotsky assassinated in Mexico
Post WWII: U.S.S.R. occupied most of Eastern Europe, installed Stalinist regimes, Soviet ossupied zones
Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland (attacked 2x through Poland, never again!), Czechoslovakia, Romania,
Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania (Communist Bloc)
Greece, Italy, France were friendly towards Stalin
Stalin believed the Americans and British "imperialism" would clash--eventually "socialism" would win.
Stalin said E. Europe would participate in U.S. Marshall Plan (1947), then Stalin forbade it.
Stalin supported the creation of Israel 1948. One of the first to recognize the new country. Golda Meir came to
Moscow as first Israeli Ambassador to the USSR. But he later changed his mind against Israel.
USSR in Germany
USA and USSR (2 world superpowers) believed Germany was the key
USSR used espionage intelligence, USA not stocking more atomic weapons, had not even assembled any after
the last was used at Nagasaki, Stalin decided to test Western power.
Soviets declared East Germany a separate country, ruled by the communists
June 1948, Soviets blocked railroad and street access to Western-occupied sectors of Berlin, capital of West
Germany , denied access to western German occupation zones-German Democratic Republic (GDR)
The Berlin Blockade (1948-1949)
Blockade failed (May 1949) western powers brought the Berlin Airlift –an unexpected massive aerial resupply
campaign, dropped food for people, 227 flights delivered 2 tons
Stalin's last year of life, last major foreign policy initiatives 1952 Stalin Note, called for German reunification,
Superpower disengagement from Central Europe. Britain, France, and USA suspicious, rejected the offer.
USSR in Asia:
Aug 1945, U.S.S.R. joined war against Japan, Stalin wanted to expand Soviet influence into Asia, N. Korea.
Soviet Red Army overran Manchuria (last month of WWII) also occupied Korea (above 38 parallel north)
Mao Zedong’s Communist Party of China, with some Soviet support, won Chinese Civi War, USSR officially
recognized Mao's PRC Peop e’s Repub ic of China) as a y 1949
1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, both countries provided military support to communist N.
Korea, Stalin gave green light to N. Korean leader Kim Il Sung to attack South Korea, June 1950.
After various border conflicts war broke out with US-allied S. Korea 1950, starting the Korean War (1950-1953)
Girls given an adequate, equal education; women equal rights in employment
Expansion in job opportunities (esp. women) industrialization (repressions, men lost WWII)
Advances in health care; increased the lifespan and quality of life
Soviet people universal access to healthcare and education
1 generation free from typhus, cholera, malaria (increased life span 10 years)
1 generation women able to give birth in hospital, with access to prenatal care
Education improved, mass literacy campaigns (1930s)
Engineers sent abroad to learn industrial technology, foreign engineers (100s) brought in to teach
Transport hubs improved, new railways built (railroads ran on time)
Workers who exceeded their quotas (Stakhanovites) received incentives for their work
Many could afford the goods mass-produced by rapidly expanding Soviet economy.
Society and Culture
Russian Nationalism, history, language, linguistics, national heroes
Socialist Realism: art, sculpture, music, drama, literature, strictly controlled by Stalin
Science strictly controlled, state-financed research, banned most physics and quantum mechanics, criticized
(idealism), scientists sent to labor camps or executed
Some science and technology approved: development of BESM-1 computer 1953, launching of Sputnik 1957
―Revo utionary‖ expressionism, abstract art, avant-garde discouraged, denounced
Careers made, broken, repressed, persecuted, tortured, executed ―non-conformists‖
Pre-Rev. Russian émigrés survived: Stanislavski (theater), Tolstoi, Vertinsky, Kuprin
Architecture: Stalinist Empire Style, updated neoclassicism, “Seven Sisters of Moscow”
The Moskva Hotel, Moscow built with mismatched sides, Stalin had signed off on 2 proposals submitted, by 2
independent teams of architects, all were too afraid to clarify the matter.
Russian Orthodox Church: persecution 1930s, nearly extinct, leveled churches
o 54,000 churches in 1917
o Low 100s churches 1939
o 10,000s priests, monks, nuns persecuted, killed
o 100,000+ shot, purges of 1937-38
o Schism within Russian church (outside USSR) until 2007
o Certain religious sects outlawed, persecuted (Baptists, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism)
o 100s churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, monuments, monasteries destroyed
Dictator died March 5, 1953, age 73
Natural causes?? All-night dinner (party) with interior minister Lavrentiv Beria and future premiers Georgi Malenkov,
Nikolai Bulganin, Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin lay in his room the next day, suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of
his body. Guards under orders not to disturb him. Not discovered until that evening. Died 4 days later. Beria boasted to
Molotov that he poisoned Stalin: "I took him out." 2003, joint group of Russian and American historians announced that
Stalin ingested warfarin (powerful rat poison that inhibits coagulation of the blood and causes victim to hemorrhagic stroke
How many people killed under Stalin's regime? 3 million to as high as 60 million, average est. 20 million but historians
believe data unreliable. For example, many suspects tortured to death while in "investigative custody" were not counted
as executed, ethnic deportations, repression, POW, East Germans not counted accurately
Nikita Khrushchev, 1956, denounced Stalin, ―de-Sta inized‖ country