- At the time of WWI
(1914-1918), the Russian Empire was the largest in the world.
- Russia was ruled by
the Tsar and a group of nobles.
- However, the Tsar was
losing popularity among the Russians during WWI.
- The Tsar was forced
to give up his power during the February Revolution.
I. RISE OF COMMUNISM
A. Impacts of WWI & The Fall of Tsar
for the war to end:
- Faced food & coal shortages.
- Without coal, people have to
endure several winter seasons.
- Many resorted to the same source of
limited food supply, causing the wait for food to be long.
- Tsar Nicholas II was blamed for
taking direct command of the army in 1915, as he caused many soldiers to
- In 1916 alone, 1.5 million out of
the 13 million who joined who deserted.
- By 1917, there was little respect
for the Tsar and soldiers did not see any point to continuing to fight.
- Peasants want a fairer
distribution of land.
- The Social Revolutionaries helped
these peasants by seizing land by force and redistributing among the
- Crops from the countryside have to
be sent to the cities and the military.
- This causes over usage of
transport system to deliver food, and this led to food shortages in the
- "Bread" riots then
arises throughout the country as workers demanded more food.
- Inflammation of food prices.
hardships caused by WWI on the Russian people and the inability to resolve the
hardships will eventually lead to the fall of the Tsar monarchy and this opened
the opportunity for other ideas like democracy or communism to be seen new
alternatives by the Russians.
B. Unpopularity & Fall of the Provisional Government
1. Decision to
keep Russia in WWI:
- The Provisional Government feared
that turning their backs on WWI may threaten the peace treaty with the
- Used up resources that could have
been used to improve the lives of Russians.
- Large numbers of soldiers were
demoralized by continuing military setbacks.
- Support for the Bolsheviks grew.
forms were not carried out:
- The Provisional Government
included members who were rich landowners who had a vested interest
in delaying or stopping redistribution of land.
- The peasants, who made up the
majority of the Russian people, were dissatisfied with the slow pace of
- Hence peasants murdered or chased
away the landowners to seize the land for themselves.
for Power with the Soviets:
- The Soviets are groups of Russian
workers, peasants and soldiers who had organised themselves into councils
that would govern an area.
- E.g. the Petrograd Soviet took
charge of the city's food supplies on 12 March & gave Russians food.
inabilities of the Democratic Provisional Government to meet the demands of the
people caused them to be disappointed with democracy and to support communism
with the forms of Communist Bolsheviks and its Red Army instead.
C. Strengths of the Communist Bolsheviks and Red Army
- The Red Army was disciplined &
united compared to their enemies.
- Manpower of the Red army increased
to ~300 000men.
- Had much support from the navy and
- They also had support from major
industrial cities such as Petrograd & Moscow.
- Relatively more popular than
promises made by Lenin, the leader of Communist Bolsheviks, to improve the
lives of the Russian people made those people support Communism and the
increased strength of the Red Army ensure that their opponents could be easily
II. RISE OF STALIN
A. BG Info:
- When Lenin died in 1924, there was
a struggle to replace him as the new leader of Soviet (Communist) Russia.
- Trotsky was widely considered as
the most possible successor due to his strong influence in the Red Army
and contributions to the October Revolution.
- However, by 1929, Stalin managed
to get rid of Trotsky and became the new leader of Russia.
B. Outwitting his rivals
pretended to be close to Lenin:
- He held the role of chief mourner
at Lenin's funeral.
- He gave Trotsky the wrong date of
the funeral, making other enraged with the thinking that the most likely
successor is actually disrespecting Lenin.
2. Stalin formed alliances:
- Kamenev & Zinoviev wanted
Stalin's support in eliminating Trotsky for the leadership of the
Communist Party, hence they formed an alliance.
- However, after that, he found new
alliances to dispose them too.
abuses his power as Secretary-General:
- He had the power to appoint
- Hence, many key party officials
owed their position to him and were loyal to him.
- Controlled the central Party
machine & the local Party committes. Thus, his influence was spread
even more broadly among rank and file members.
- Packed a 1925 Party meeting to
vote that Trotsky to be removed from his post.
outwitting his rivals, Stalin was able to establish his power base very firmly
to ensure that he was recognize by both the Communist party and the Russian
masses as the succesor to Lenin as Russia's new leader.
C. Weakness of Trotsky
- Complacent about building support
within the party.
- Drew support from a narrow base,
which comprises of only youths, students & his Red Army.
- His idea of world revolution was
not supported by many.
- Before he joined the Bolsheviks,
he made many anti-Lenin speeches.
- He was also once a member of
Mensheviks, a rival of Bolsheviks.
gave Stalin the opportunity to be regarded by both the Communist party and the
Russian masses as a better choice as the successor to Lenin as Russia's new
III. IMPACTS OF STALIN's RULE IN RUSSIA <ECONOMIC>
A. BG Info:
- Stalin wanted to
transform the Soviet Union into a modern industrial state.
- He believed that the
country needs to develop rapidly to be prepared for an attack from
- He focused on
developing heavy industries such as steel, metallurgy,chemicals,oil,coal
- Under Stain's rule,
industrialisation progress came with very high human costs.
B. Stalin's industrialisation reforms
- There are unrealistic production
targets & appalling work conditions.
- e.g. of work conditions:
- Workers could be transferred from one place of work to another without their agreement
- could be dismissed if they missed a single day of work.
- had to work seven days a week.
- By 1929, there was labour unrest, as workers protested against their conditions.
- However, the government responded by taking strict disciplinary action against workers who were underperforming or engaged in sabotage.
of rewards & training for workers:
- Salaries were offered based on
- Vacation discounts & medal are
awarded to hardworking ones.
- Primary education was made
- New colleges, schools & unis
were built for the uneducated labour force.
- By 1930s, Russians were able to
obtain well paid, high skilled jobs.
- Initially due to the emphasis on
heavy industries, industries that produced basic goods were neglected.
- Basic goods were in short supply
and had to be rationed, which meant that each family could only buy a
fixed amt. of items.
- Prices of basic good skyrocketed,
causing actual value of workers' salaries to fall by ~50% as they could
only buy less with the same amt. of money between 1928 & 1933.
- After 1935, production increased
and more goods became available. Thus rationing ended in 1936.
- Although subject to strict factory
discipline & severe punishments, workers received cheap meals &
- Free education, subsidised health
care & provision of extensive leisure facilities have significantly
improved Russians' lives.
C. Stalin's collectivisation reforms
- Farmers felt that Stalin is
disrupting the traditional way of living that they were used to.
- 1,400 of assassinations of
Communist Party members in 1928 was reported.
- Stalin blamed Kulaks, the richer
land-owning farmers, for the previous failure of collectivisation, and
ordered their elimination.
- Stalin responded to the farmers'
attempt to stop forced collectivisation by ordering 17 million horses to
- But, not enough tractors to
replace the amount of horses killed.
rid of opponents of collectivisation:
- Villagers that did not cooperate
were forced to be sent to the gulags (labour camps) where
they were made to work on Stalin's construction projects.
- Natural disasters like droughts
and foods contributed to famines.
- Farmers burnt their crops &
grew less food to be sent to the Communist officials to preserve their
- >10 million peasants and their
- Ukraine is known as the 'bread
basket of Russia' which sent food to other parts of Russia that did not
produce enough food.
- Hence, famine in Ukraine in 1931
also affected Soviet Union areas to suffer food shortages.
industrialisation & collectivisation reforms was significant because it
resulted in the rapid development of Soviet Union's industrial &
agriculture sector. However, many Russians suffered especially during the
beginning years of the reforms in which millions of people died from the
enforcement of the reforms and also from the famines caused by the reforms.
IV. POLITICAL & SOCIAL IMPACT OF STALIN's RULE IN RUSSIA
A. BG info:
- Kirov, head of the
Communist Party in Leningrad, was shot outside his office.
- Stalin accused his
political opponents of murdering him & plotting to murder him.
- Stalin's secret
police (NKVD) arrested millions from 1934 to 1938.
- Those who were
arrested were either expelled, sent to labour camps or shot at.
B. Stalin's Purges
- NKVD was given a quota in which
they had to arrest a min no. of 'enemies'.
- No evidence is required for
- False accuses were made frequently
especially of intellectuals as they were seen as a threat to Stalin's
rule, in which they might have organized other Russians to resist Stalin.
- Force innocent people to sign
confessions & implicate others.
- Comments of Stalin were
- Causes people to be paranoid of
the door knocking at night.
- >20 million Russians were victims
of the purges.
- Causes fear among people, not
daring to oppose him.
- Those who had been purged were
removed from photographs, as if erasing their existences itself in order
to ensure that people left no memory of other potential hopes, and only
Stalin as their guide.
- Russians were not allowed to
practise their religion.
- Before the Communists took over
Russia, most Russians were devout members of the Orthodox Christian
- Young Communist party members
spread anti-religious propaganda by distributing pamphlets, journals or
organising lecture that criticised religion for promoting 'harmful
- Places for practising religions
were then vandalized & leaders responsible for each religion were
purges allowed him to get rid of all his political opponents who might be a
threat to his leadership in RUssia. As a result, no one dared to oppose him for
fear of being purged and Stalin was able to have full political control over
Russia as its dictator.
C. Stalin's tight control over culture
- Stalin used education
& the arts to control the culture in Russia.
- The teaching of
history was changed to focus on the importance of Lenin & Stalin.
- Wrtiers, artists and
musicians were also made to praise him & his programmes.
on the Arts Scene:
- Artists and authors were forced to
depict him in a good light.
- Arts were used as propaganda for
Stalin's programmes such as industrialisation.
- This caused lack of variety in the
arts of Communist Russia.
2. Cult of
- Portrayed himself as a fatherly,
cheerful and popular man.
- All offices, classrrooms &
factory floors had pictures him. Pictures & statues of him were
- Made all successes of the country
to be attributed to him.
attempted to control the mindset of ordinary Russians so as to brainwash them
to support him wholeheartedly despite the hardships they had. This further
strengthed Stalin's power as the dictator in Russia.