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The Rise of Stalin & the Transfomation of the USSR: 1924-39

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Michael Ungar

on 15 February 2018

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Transcript of The Rise of Stalin & the Transfomation of the USSR: 1924-39

What is Totalitarianism
‘Socialism in One Country’ policy

Five Year Plans
The Trials 1935-8
The Gulags

The Cult of Personality
Nazi-Soviet Pact August 1939
“we are 50 or 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in 10 years . Either we do it or we shall be crushed."

The 5 year plans:
industrial expansion:
heavy industry ( coal, iron, steel, oil, machinery) = scheduled to triple output
increase in consumer goods

The pact was broken when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union less than two years later, on June 22, 1941.

Why Did Hitler Want a Pact With the Soviet Union?
Also known as the “show trials” and “ the purges”
What happened?
These officials were then made to
to these crimes
in public
They were
always found guilty
They were then sent to
labor camps
or suffered the
death sentence
started due to the murder of Sergei Kirov, one of Stalin's supporters on the Politburo (December 1934)
Called :
“the crime of the century”

Fairly certain that Stalin organized Kirov’s murder

Quote from Robert Conquest (British historian) :
“ the keystone of the entire eddifice of terror and suffering by which Stalin secured his grip on the soviet peoples".
4 years
Hundreds of important officials were arrested and tortured made to admit to crimes they (in most cases) didn't commit
Example of crime:
plotting with exiled Trotsky or capitalist governments to overthrow the Soviet state

Death sentences:
All the ‘old Bolsheviks’
Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and Radek...
The commander in Chief of the Red Army, Tukhachevsky...
Thirteen other generals and about two-thirds of the top officers

Labor camps:
About 8 million innocent people.

“The purges were successful in eliminating possible alternative leaders and in terrorizing the masses into obedience; but the consequences were serious: many of the best minds in the government, in the army and in industry had disappeared. In a country where numbers of highly educated people were still relatively small, this was bound to hinder progress”.

"A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized, heroic, and at times, god-like public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise"
record output = Stakhanovite Medal
Alexey Stakhanov

On August 23 1939
representatives from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union met and signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
guaranteed that the two countries would not attack each other.
Germany protected itself from having to fight a two-front war in the soon-to-begin World War II
Soviet Union was awarded land, including parts of Poland and the Baltic States
August 14, 1939

German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop
Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
The Economic Agreement
August 19, 1939.
Soviet Union to provide food / raw materials to Germany
Germans would give Soviets furnished products ( machinery )
=First year of war: agreement helped Germany bypass the British blockade.

The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
August 23, 1939 (week before begining of world war II)
Stated Germany and the Soviet Union would not attack each other.
Any problem between two countries handled amicably.
The pact was supposed to last for ten years; it lasted for less than two.
If Germany attacked Poland, then the Soviet Union would not come to Poland's aid
If Germany went to war against the West over Poland, the Soviets were guaranteeing that they would not enter the war = not open a second front for Germany.

When the Nazis attacked Poland :
Soviets did not intervene
On September 17, the
Soviets rolled into eastern Poland
to occupy their "sphere of influence" designated in the secret protocol.
the Soviets did not join the fight against Germany
, thus Germany was successful it its attempt to
safeguard itself from a two-front war.
The Nazis and the Soviets kept the terms of the pacts until
Germany's surprise attack
and invasion of the Soviet Union on
June 22, 1941.
The Secret Protocol-An Addendum
In exchange for the Soviets agreeing to not join the possible future war,
Germany was giving the Soviets the Baltic States

(Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).
Poland was also to be divided between the two
, along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers.
The new territories gave the Soviet Union enough land to let them feel safe from an invasion from the West.
Elaborated by Nikolai Bukharin in 1925
Put forth by Joseph Stalin in 1924
Adopted by Soviet Union as state policy
Due to the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1921 except Russia's, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally
Bukharin thought it important to consolidate soviet power in Russia, based on a prosperous peasantry (social class) and with a very gradual industrialization
To the chancellor of the German Reich, Herr A. Hitler.

I thank you for your letter. I hope that the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact will mark a decisive turn for the better in the political relations between our two countries.

J. Stalin*

* Letter to Adolf Hitler from Joseph Stalin as quoted in Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives(New York: Vintage Books, 1993) 611.
What it is:
forced labor concentration camp
dangerous and physical labor
horrible living conditions
penal system: political opponent
achieving the USSRs economic goal
1.5 million prisoners died in the gulags at the hands of their own government
survivors: life destroyed by this brutal institution
6 or 7 million sent into exile
18 million people passed through the prisons and camps of the gulags
became the home of millions of prisoners
starvation: food rations
violence from guards and other prisoners
Authority's point
of view:
harsh climate
rehabilitate or destroy political openents
atcheving the economic gole:
-resource exploitation
12th Party Congress, 1923
"The spirit of the great Lenin and his victorious banner encourage us now to the Patriotic War"
Stalin’s Drive to Power

After Lenin's death, Stalin convinces two of the three most important party leaders to oust his primary rival - Trotsky - and rule together.

A year later he turns on them and has both removed from power.

Stalin was able to outwit all his rivals because no one saw him as a threat & he used his rivals against each other.
Stalin's underhandedness: Stalin took control over Lenin's funeral and told Trotsky, his primary rival to power,that the funeral was on a date after the actual ceremony, so Trotsky did not come back to Moscow for the funeral

What do you think people thought of Trotsky?
Stalin builds support through his position as Secretary-General of the Russian Communist Party.

This position gave him the authority to appoint people to important jobs and positions

How do you think Stalin used this power?

Universal v. One State - Stalin consolidates power.
Trotsky’s weaknesses: he wanted to spread the revolution to the whole world instead of focusing on building up Russia.

Stalin argued that the nation should prioritize strengthening the USSR first before thinking about other countries.

Stalin made Trotsky look like he no longer believed in the Russian Communist Party Thus, Stalin was more popular with the communists and able to get more support
November 1927, Joseph Stalin launched his "revolution from above" by setting two extraordinary goals for Soviet domestic policy: rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture.
Production goals unrealistic-- a 250% increase in overall industrial development & 330% expansion in heavy industry alone.

Factories & transportation were nationalized -- managers were given predetermined output quotas by central planners

Trade unions were converted into state-run organizations to push for increasing worker productivity.

Many new industrial centers were developed, particularly in the Ural Mountains - 1000s of new plants built throughout the country.

With the greatest share of investment put into heavy industry, widespread shortages of consumer goods & food occurred.
The increases in production were dramatic.

During the first five year plan (1929-1934) there was a 50% increase in overall industrial output and an average annual growth rate of 18%.

B/c target output levels unrealistically high, Soviet leaders created a system in which
poor quality
done quickly was preferable to producing quality products at a slower rate.

Role of secret police - always present & any criticism of production plans was treasonable
--led to further waste and inefficiency”
Agriculture: nationalize through collectivization.

In 1929 Stalin abruptly decided on immediate collectivization on an unprecedented scale.

Individual farm ownership abolished & peasants consolidated into collective farms -

Program was an excuse for Marxist class war in rural areas, as the peasantry naturally resisted the government's attempts to make them leave their farms.

These plans were resisted by those peasants who were well-off, the
Kulaks -
government unleashed deadly force against the wealthy kulaks, who were, according to Stalin's propaganda, exploiting everyone else.

15 million peasants uprooted from homes & marched at gunpoint across the country into inhospitable regions, where they were expected to farm--or, more realistically, expected to die.

As the program continued, hundreds of thousands were shot, and a terrible famine swept over the country, which Stalin did not stop - he used it as another weapon against the "kulak".

Between 4-5 million people died in the Ukraine & 2-3 million in the rest of Russia--while the Soviet Union, under Stalin's direction, was exporting 1.7 million tons of grain, and keeping millions of tons in state "reserves" in case
of war.

The Rise of Stalin &
the Transformation of the USSR: 1924-39

Georgia was a mountainous region, which at the time of Stalin's birth had been under the rule of the Czar for only about 50 years. Like other great despots (the Austrian-born German ruler Hitler, the Corsican-born French leader Napoleon), Stalin was an outsider, a provincial in the empire he came to rule.

Georgians possessed their own culture and language, which was radically different from the official Russian of the empire, and the young Stalin only began learning Russian when he was nine years old.

Years later, at the height of his power, he still spoke with a pronounced Georgian accent,
By about 1896 or '97 Stalin began to refer to himself as a Marxist in 1898 -he offered his services to Georgia's Marxists, as a professional revolutionary.
On behalf of the Marxists. Stalin organized bank robberies, arms deals, and assassination attempts and was put in prison in 1908. He was again arrested in 1911 and exiled.

He created Pravda in 1912. It was a Bolshevik newspaper. He was caught and again exiled.
What is the message?
The War Against Religion
Life in North Korea 22:00
The results, to put it mildly, were


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