Russian Empire 1721-1917
• Nearly two hundred year Empire ends with the
Russian Revolution of 1917.
• Empire was the successor to the Tsardom of
Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union.
• One of the largest empires in world history,
surpassed in landmass only by the British and
• At one point in 1866, it stretched from eastern
Europe across Asia and into North America!
Russian Empire 1721-1917
The Capital of the
Russian Empire, St.
Petersburg was founded
by Tsar Peter the Great.
It was changed to
Petrograd in 1914
because St. Petersburg
sounded too German.
Renamed Leningrad in
1924 (for Vladimir
Lenin). In 1991 the city
was once again called St.
Petersburg. Today it is
Russia's second largest What’s the
city with 4.8 million largest city in
inhabitants! Russia today?
Quick Review Events of 1917
• February: Bread riots, Workers fill the streets
of St. Petersburg
• March Revolution: Soldiers join protest, Czar
Nicholas II abdicates the throne
• “Soviets” are formed! *these are councils
made up of workers, soldiers, and peasants
• The Bolshevik Revolution Begins!
Bolsheviks and the Revolution
• Bolsheviks: Mass organization of workers. Considered
themselves the leaders of the revolutionary working
class of Russia. In 1903, appointed Lenin as leader.
• Rise to power during the October Revolution phase of
the Russian Revolution of 1917.
• Belief: Lenin believed that Russia was being
used as a tool of French and British capitalist
imperialism in World War I and that
participation in the conflict was at the heart est
of those interests. “PEACE, BREAD, LAND”
Russia to U.S.S.R
• The Russian Revolution of 1917 caused the
downfall of the Russian Empire. Following the
Russian Revolution, there was a struggle for
power between the Bolshevik party, led by
Vladimir Lenin, and the anti-communist White
• In December 1922, the Bolsheviks won the
civil war, and the Soviet Union was formed
“Peace, Bread, and Land
• "We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist
order!" Lenin to Congress of Soviets in October of 1917.
• Proposed a Decree on Peace (no more WWI)
• And Decree on Land (transferring ownership of all
"land-owners' estates to the state), and all lands
belonging to the Crown, and to monasteries" to
the Peasants' Soviets.
• The Congress passed the Decree on Peace unanimously, and
the Decree on Land faced only one vote in opposition.
• Leninism: The Russian application of Marxist
economics and political philosophy originated
by Vladimir Lenin.
• Comprises political and socialist economic
theories, developed from Marxism, and
Lenin’s interpretations of Marxist theory, for
practical application to the socio-political
conditions of the agrarian Russian Empire
(1721–1917) of the early 20th century.
• Why did the Russian people resort to drastic
measures to bring about change?
• Peace, Hungry, land
The River Neva flows through much
of the center of St. Petersburg
(R: the “Winter Palace” )
• Chinese premier Sun Yat-sen,:
• “You, Lenin, were an exception. You
not only spoke and taught us, but
translated your words into deeds.
You created a new country. You
showed us the road of joint
• Winston Churchill, who encouraged
British intervention against the
Russian Revolution, in league with
the White Movement, to destroy the
Bolsheviks and Bolshevism, said:
• “He alone could have found the way
back to the causeway... The Russian
people were left floundering in the
bog. Their worst misfortune was his
birth... their next worst his death.”
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin died in
January of 1924 at the age of
53. Original cause of death
was stroke, later changed to
• Communism: A classless society (in the Marxist-
Leninist version) in which capitalism is overthrown
by a working class revolution. Gives ownership
and control of wealth and property TO THE
• Totalitarian: Government system in which a
single party controls EVERY aspect of citizens
lives through a single-party dictatorship
• Socialism: political theory or system in which
the means of production and distribution are
controlled BY THE PEOPLE and and operated in
equity. (In Marxist theory, the stage after the
• Marxism: is an economic and sociopolitical
worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry.
Centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a
dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique
of the development of capitalism.
• Détente: periods of relaxation of tensions
between U.S. and U.S.S.R during Cold War
• Imperialism: The practice of one country
extending its control over the territory, political
system, or economic life of another country.
• Soviet Union: Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (U.S.S.R) a constitutionally socialist
state that existed between 1922 and 1991.
Ruled by the Communist Party (designed by
Lenin and Stalin).
• USSR was technically a union of 15
independent Soviet republics.
• Government and economy was highly
Soviet Union and Stalin
• A power struggle begun in 1924 with the
death of communist leader Vladimir Lenin
ended in 1927 when Joseph Stalin gained
• Stalin launched a PLANNED Economy
campaign that turned Soviet Union into a
• ***UNDER Socialism, the government makes
the basic decisions about the economy.
• 1936 Stalin writes new Constitution
• Legislature called Supreme Soviet
• Citizens expected to vote for members of
Supreme Soviet (only one political party
though so voters had no choice)
• Supreme Soviet made the laws-Communist
party ran the Soviet Union.
• Totalitarian Rule under Stalin run by
• Implemented the first of the “Five-Year Plans”
in 1928 which set goals of Modernizing and
developing Soviet industry and increasing food
production through collective agriculture.
• “We are 50 to 100 years behind the advanced
countries…either we do it or they crush us,”
• Emphasized heavy industry over consumer
• Poured resources into building steel mills and
dams for hydroelectric power.
• Coal and oil production increased.
• Steel, oil and other industries climbed rapidly
but at a high human cost!
• Factories and mines were operated by forced
• Many people were worked to death.
• Free workers forbidden to strike.
• Any who protested DISAPPEARED into Stalin’s
huge network of prison and slave-labor
• Industrial growth required increased food
• Stalin combined millions of small peasant
farms into large COLLECTIVE farms.
• Collectivization led to disaster.
• Peasants protested, millions resist. Destroy
crops and livestock and contribute to terrible
famine that spread across the Soviet Union in
• Stalin’s response to peasant protest?
• Red Army soldiers shot peasants who refused
to give up their farms. KULAKS (prosperous
peasants) sent to brutal labor camps.
• Between 5 to 10 million people died as a
result of collectivization and state terror.
Stalin…“Man of Steel”
• Mid 1930s Time of Purges and public trials
Purge=expel “Great Purge”
• Stalin’s high ranking rivals within the
Communist Party and military officers charged
with treason and either executed or
• Great Purge increased Stalin’s Power but
Soviet Military weakened (Hitler building)
Non-aggression Pact with Germany
• Stalin signs pact in 1939 to protect his
• Within two years Hitler broke pact attacks
• WWII most devastating war in their history
• By the end of WWII more than 20 million
people, approximately 20% of the Soviet
population had died.
• 1945. WWII ends. Stalin sets up friendly
communist governments in Eastern Europe
Germany never again will invade Soviet Union
• 1941-1945 U.S. and Soviet Union allies versus
Germany in WWII
• 1945 U.S. friendship ends “Cold War” begins
• Stalin dies in 1953
Soviet Union Fast Facts
• Russian official language (multinational country)
• Communist leaders become elite social class:
wealth, housing, best schools, goods
• Communists hostile to ALL Religions
• Why? Religion competes for peoples loyalty
• “Not a single house of prayer will be needed
any longer in any territory of the Soviet
Union,” –Joseph Stalin
• Soviet Economy had • All Soviet children
major problems received at least eight
• Food shortages (often years of schooling
rotted in railway cars • By 1960s, Soviet Union
before it reached cities) had virtually ended
• Industry low production illiteracy.
• *Demand exceeded • 5th Grade=intense study
production in almost all of English
areas • Taught, “Evils of
• Following Stalin's death, Nikita Khrushchev
succeeds-Communist party stays in tact
• 1956 denounces Stalin as a tyrant who caused
the Soviet people great suffering
• Reduces censorship, brutal terror of Stalin
• Visits Des Moines, Iowa cornfield in 1959
worried over his country’s low crop yields
Leonid (Lee-ah-nid) Brezhnev
• Communist party leader 1964-1982
• Ends openness of Khrushchev regime
• Dissidents (people who speak out against
government) jailed, exiled or sent to hospitals
for the mentally ill
• Global influence of the Soviet Union
grew dramatically during his reign
• Communist Party leader of the Soviet Union
from 1985 until 1991 (Last USSR head of state)
• Stated that Soviet Union was, “on the brink of
disaster,” as food and housing shortages hit
• Alcoholism and absenteeism among workers
• Black Market, corruption gave little incentive
to work hard (Russians-Sting)
• Policy of Glasnost or Openness
• Perestroika-restructuring of Soviet economy
• Lifted controls from the Press, opened media
to political debate, 1989 “free elections”
voters given a choice of candidates for each
End of Soviet Union
• End of 1990, communist • Dissolution of Soviet
government toppled, Union on Dec. 25, 1991.
program to create a
• Boris Yeltsin radical
reformer wins election
over Gorbachev in 1991
• August 1991 Communist
coup attempt failed
• Soviet Union falls apart
republics declare their
Changes and Challenges
from Communism to Democracy
• Transition from planned economy to free
market economy difficult (HYPERINFLATION as prices
soar, imported goods more plentiful-just not affordable)
• Known as Privatization (to take something out of
state control, to transfer to private ownership)
• 75% of Russians lost pensions (like our SSI)
• Life expectancy fell from 66yrs to 58yrs
• 2000 to present: period of prosperity (oil $$$)
• President Vladimir Putin
elected in 1999
• Platform: Bread,
• Promise to bring back
• March 2012 should win
Countries in the world under Soviet influence 1959
• The 15 soviet socialist republics that gained
independence at its dissolution: Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Belorussia (now Belarus), Estonia,
Georgia (now Republic of Georgia),
Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan), Latvia,
Lithuania, Moldavia (now Moldova), Russia,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and
Stalin and Communism
• Joseph Stalin 1st General Secretary of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from
1922-1953. Takes over after Lenin’s death.
• Leads with “Iron Fist” leading the USSR through a
large-scale industrialization program (weapons,
• Harnessed arts and press through
nationwide radio network.
Joseph Stalin Rise to Power
• Two keys to Stalin: established a planned
economy and suppressed political opposition
to him and the Communist party
• Consolidated more and more power in his hands
• Put down all opposition groups within the
Communist party including Leon Trotsky, the Red
• Stalin's idea of socialism in one country became
the primary line of the Soviet politics
Stalin and Soviet Union
• The initial upheaval in the changing
agricultural sector disrupted food production
in the early 1930s, contributing to the
catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932–1933, one
of the last major famines in Russia.
• In 1937–38, the Great Purge, a period of mass
repression in which hundreds of thousands of
people were executed, including Red Army
leaders convicted in coup d'état plots
building in Moscow)
"Seven Sisters" is the
English name given to
a group of Moscow
in the Stalinist style.
Built from 1947 to
1953, in an elaborate
Russian Baroque and
Gothic styles, and the
technology used in
Space Race and Cold War
• The successful development of the Soviet nuclear
program enabled the country to become the
world's second nuclear weapons power; the
Soviet space program was started as spin-off of
the nuclear project (sputnik).
• Soviet Union's first atomic bomb test in 1949, a
missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to
the United States—as many mocked the idea of
launching satellites and manned spacecraft.
Nonetheless, the first Soviet rocket with animals
aboard launched in July 1951