Courseworks

The USSR under Stalin, 1924 to 1941

* Stalin’s strengths- “comrade card index”- Held influential posts: Commissar for Nationalities; Orgburo; Politburo; from 1922 General Secretary- General Sec: power base, promoting + demoting- Party membership 801,000 (1925) =; 1.5mil (1929)- Decision making centralized* Rivals weaknesses- No one rivaled influence- Trotsky, Bukharin, Kamanev, Zinoviev all underestimated Stalin: ‘great blur’- Kamanev + Zinoviev: hesitation in October revolution- Trotsky: Menshevik, arrogance, Jew, lack of power (no desire/effort)* Round 1 – Trotsky- Lenin dies 1924- Stalin at funeral (chief mourner)/ Trotsky not- ‘Lenin legacy’ ‘heir’- Cult hero worship- 1924 – allies w Kamanev ; Zinoviev to prevent Trotsky becoming leader- Combined support overcomes Trotsky ; Political Testament- 1925 – Trotsky forced to resign as Commissar for War* Round 2 – Left (1925-27)- 1926 Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamanev – ‘United Opposition’- Resistance to Stalin from left of Party- Not so united – previous opposition- ‘Permanent Revolution’ versus Stalin’s ‘Socialism in One Country’- Attacked NEP – supported rapid industrialization & collectivization (pushing economy forward)- 1926 – ‘left’ defeated in Central Committee => met in secret & then accused of forming factions – expelled from Politburo- Stalin packs hierarchy with supporters* Round 3 – Right(1928-29)- 1928: Stalin proposes replacing NEP w rapid industrialization & collectivization- Right opposed – wanted NEP (but industrial growth languishing, problems securing grain to feed cities, not allowing USSR to move forwards: industrial power)- Right: Tomsky, Rykov & Bukharin- Party support for Stalin- April 1929, 16th Party Congress voted in favor of 1st Five-Year Plan & Collectivization announced in December=> Collectivization, agricultural policies* Stalin’s aims and motives- increase State control over grain harvest- Collectivization his answer to grain procurement crisis 1927-28- Prices low: peasant little incentive to part with harvest- 1929: forced importation, bread rationing- 1927: War Communism + forced grain requisitioning: “Urals-Siberia Method’- Collectivization: Stalin sees as essential for rapid industrialization.- For (supposedly): feed cities, yield surplus workers, surplus for export = capital, NEP: delivering only 2 million tons of grain for export (1927), more efficient- Concentrating peasants, collectives, OGPU = greater Party control- Constructing socialist economy* Reality- 120million people involved- State controlled collective farms established- Kulak class: policy of liquidation, Dec 1929 (applied to any peasant resisting collectivization)- 1930 forced collectivization: 14million collectivized households- Active resistance: OGPU (resistors: shot, deported or arrested) *quelled- With industrialization, jobs increase, urban pop. increase: Communist Party success- Resistance: slaughtering livestock (1/2 USSR cattle and horses, 65% of sheep lost) lengthy recovery- ‘Dizzy with Success’: Stalin claims brutality of Collectivization was out of central control- End to compulsion: voluntary- Concessions: small private plots, animals- However, pressure to collectivize was steadily reapplied* Results- 1935: 90% USSR rural land collectivized- However, most peasants living conditions had not changed- had no significantly increased agricultural productivity: grain harvest fell early/mid 1930’s- No incentive for peasantry: seemed like return to serfdom- State procurements rose: peasants yielded 39% in 1933- 1933-34 famine: preventable if regime hadn’t continued to export vast quantities of grain through terrible famine (5mill died in Ukraine alone)- Food rationing 1929-1935- Disaster: no incentive for peasants, large imports, famine=> Five-Year Plans* Aims- catch up with industrialized West; modernize Soviet industry to prevent invasion of hostile capitalist powers (Stalin)- NEP: doubted by party officials, ideologically ‘wrong’,- Trotsky had originally been pro dissolving NEP. 1928: Party favored a more socialist economic policy* Reality- 1st 1928-32; 2nd 1933-37; 3rd 1938-41- Gosplan: 1927 proposed ambitious Five-Year Plan. Emphasis on heavy industry- NEP ended; factory private ownership outlawed- State: total control over urban workforce; internal passports- Workforce: peasants forced of land; women recruited- Urban population 27-57 million (1928-41)- Money: exported grain buys western machinery; taxes raised; living standards depressed- Factories; isolated locations in fear of invasion; rich in mineral resources: Magnitogorsk, etc- Propaganda and bonus pay employed to inspire work rate and productivity: Stakhanov- Failure to meet target: Gulag* Results- Successful in expanding output, official Soviet figures grossly inflated: but 7-14% growth- Developed industry allowed USSR to outlast and outbuild Germany in war of attrition: Five-Year Plans were a major cause of Nazi Germany’s defeat- Major redistribution of population- Increase in literacy rates (education=educated workforce)* However…- Plans: not completed; affected by purges; disrupted by war- Targets quantitative not qualitative: produce poor- International prestige => Moscow Metro, Belomor Canal: little value- Fear of punishment affects workload and quality- Living standards fell; wages fell; overcrowding in towns; little consumer goods- caught up with west?=> Nature of Soviet State and Cult of PersonalityBackground* The State- closing of Constituent Assembly Jan 1918 = initiation of single party rule- outlawed other parties; expelled members; Secret Police (Cheka) => OGPU =>NKVD.- Monopolization of State institutions by Communist Party: Sovnarkom (Lenin and ministers) Oct 1917.* The Party- 1919 Politburo: initially only Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Kamanev, Zinoviev (more power then Sovnarkom)- Stalin: unequalled power in party- Politburo > Central Committee > Party Congress- 1921 Split in Party: Workers Opposition (for trade unions) and Democratic Centralists (democracy)- Lenin 10th Party Congress banned factionalism (survive Kronstadt Rebellion, etc). Ban never lifted (silence rivals)* 1924 Constitution- Set up USSR: federation of 4 Republics, and 16 autonomous republics (*less governing power than the republics)- Union Government in Moscow controlled important matters: e.g. economic and foreign policy* Soviet State under Stalin- Power in Party => Lenin: Sovnarkom, Stalin: Politburo (increased Party control over State institutions + personal power)- Towards ruthless dictatorship: NKVD enlarged; prison camps expanded* Stalin Constitution 1936- 1936-77 “Stalin Constitution”- USSR Democratic on paper: increased no. of republics (11) but Moscow still with ultimate power- Supreme Soviet legislative body created. “Democratic”: secret ballot elections; 18+ years vote. However: one candidate for each region; no choice.- Supreme Soviet: Soviet of the Union and Soviet of the Nationalities: only met few times each year; no power; merely gave approval- Public relations exercise: “Democratic”- introduced during height of Purges and Show Trials=> Extent of Stalin’s power* Stalin’s control over Party- All rivals eliminated: purges, show trials- dominated all committees: Politburo and Orgburo- run Party => run government => run country* What was extent of his power?Traditional View- Creator of efficient dictatorship- Lenin destroying old political system allowed for Stalin to create a more totalitarian system and greater personal power (Stalin) than either Mussolini or HitlerRevisionist Views- Extent of efficiency- “dizzy with success”=> Cult of Personality- 50th birthday 1929: Party newspaper, Pravda, thousands of greeting for Stalin- Lenin’s devoted disciple- Artists, writers expected to promote image of his genius: distort history=> Purges – impact on society* Background- had occurred before 1930: less- 1921: first purge, 25% Party expelled- 1936-39: unprecedented purge of Party- Gulags* Kirov’s murder, 1934- Kirov, Leningrad Communist Party boss: murdered Dec 1934- Stalin’s involvement? Pretext to the Terror?- NKVD given extensive powers to deal with terrorists: investigations by completed within 10 days and that there be no lawyers at terrorist trials.- 1934-35 fall in arrests (positives in five-year plans)* Show Trials1936- first major: Kamanev, Zinoviev and 14 other leading “old Bolsheviks” convicted of treason and executed => accused of Kirov’s murder- Confessions- Sept. NKVD boss Yagoda arrested, replaced by Yezhov: Great Purge/Yezhovschina1937- 353,000 executed- August: Politburo legalized torture- Second major show trial: “the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Centre” tried for conspiring with Nazi Germany => 17 leading Communists tried and executed- April-May leading Generals arrested- By end of 1938 two thirds of Red Army’s senior officers had been arrested and shot.1938- Third major show trial: 18, including Bukharin and Rykov1939- Yezkov arrested and replaced by Beria: end of mass arrests- Millions remained in Gulags- 1940: Trotsky murdered in Mexico by Stalinist agent* Why did they happen (diff. interpretations)- “opponents”- impose authority and suppressing opposition to policies- War scares created a climate of fear and suspicion- “dizzy with success”=> Impact of the Purges- 2.8 million party members in 1934, about 1million expelled by 1939- 8-9million arrests; 3million in Gulags- Red Army’s leadership purged and therefore inexperienced at start of war with Germany 1941: fatal- Arrests of engineers, managers: undermined Second and Third Five-Year Plans=> Foreign relations* Background to Stalin’s Foreign Policy- Little foreign support after Bolshevik victory 1917* Stalin looks for allies- Hitler: anti-communist- tried to secure USSR with allies in West* How did Stalin try to make the USSR more secure- 1934: joined League of Nations- 1935: signed treaties w France & Czechoslovakia – promising support- Comintern- 1936-39: gave military aid to Republicans in Spain (but Franco won Civil War)- After 1938 Munich Conference (Stalin not invited) Sudetenland handed over to Germany (part of Czechoslovakia) Stalin concluded Non-Aggression Pact w Germany=> Nazi Soviet Pact* Why?- Time for rearmament program- Hopeful: Germany in long & exhausting war w France & Britain- Extend USSR territory & influence over Eastern Europe* What?- Secretly divide Poland- Germany gave USSR help to conquer Bessarabia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia & Finland* Results- September 1939: Germany invaded Poland, USSR invades eastern Poland – Poland surrendered end of October. Britain & France declare war on Germany September- Winter 1939-40: Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania occupied by Red Army: USSR demanded land in Finland => war. USSR expelled from League of Nations* End- June 1941: Germany invades USSR => Operation Barbarossa- had tried desperately to maintain peace: arms to Germany, ignored intelligence reports of immanent invasion* USSR & Far East 1938-41- 1938/39: armed clashes between Japan & USSR in Outer Mongolia- April 1941: Japanese sign Non-Aggression Pact w Russia- Stalin avoids war on two fronts

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