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Transcript of USSR Revision
Russia and the USSR 1941-1991 Triumph and Collapse:
Russia and the USSR 1941-1991 Revision Notes Military strengths and Weaknesses in 1941 Ideological: The Nazi's wanted to eliminate communism and impose German domination over the Slav race (as they were 'Sub-humans) and there was an estimated several million Jews in the USSR
Economic: there was a fair amount of 'Living Space' which the nazi's desired
Strategic: Defeating the USSR would make the Nazi's a dominant power Nazi Motives June- December 1941 The Main Stages of the War Stalin- 1941- 1953
Gorbachev- 1985- 1991 The
War Large investment into the military, especially in 1937
5 million soviet citizens in the armed forces
230 tanks and 700 aircraft being produced per month Large numbers, but were lacking in training, equipment, resources and initiative in leadership (due to military purges in the 1930's)
Traditional tactics of forming a defensive line meant that the Blitzkrieg tactics of the Germany army were able to overrun the USSR quickly. German invasion of the USSR
Romania, Hungary and Finland declare war on the USSR
Formation of GKO June Stalin's first wartime broadcast to the soviet people
Food rationing imposed in Moscow and Leningrad July September German forces cut off Leningrad
Germans begin offensive towards Moscow October State of siege declared in Moscow December End of german offensive against Moscow
Soviet counter-offensive outside Moscow September 1942- May 1945 The Main Stages of the War German offensive against Stalingrad September German army trapped in Stalingrad November January German surrender at Stalingrad March 1943- May 1945 The Main Stages of the War German offensive at Kursk fails July Siege of Leningrad finally lifter January July Soviet forces enter Poland German offensive at Kursk fails July Siege of Leningrad finally lifter January July Soviet forces enter Poland January Soviet forces invade Germany April Soviet offensive against Berlin May German Surrender- Victory in Europe January Soviet forces invade Germany April Soviet offensive against Berlin May German surrender- Victory in Europe Why the USSR won the war Stalin realised effective, efficient, decision making was crucial to winning the war.
He created and headed the GKO (State Defence Committee), which could affect any area of the state without any delay due to bureaucracy.
Also created and headed the Stavka as well, a new body for military planning.
Stalin took advice, there were real discussions. He invested more authority in those who proved themselves competent. Weakness of Stalin was his initial isolation after the German invasion, and his belief that Germany wouldn't invade.
Organizations were imperative to the survival of the USSR, especially as there was so much red tape in earlier government organizations.
However, Stalin's leadership itself did have flaws; he made some disastrous mistakes early on by refusing to allow retreats which wasted lives. Overall, the fact that Stalin led less as time went on helped the most. Stalin's Leadership Command economy meant speedy transformation of all factories for the war effort.
Labour Committee was set up to manage workers. Most industry in the West of the country, 3500 new factories were built.
Production was impressive; full capacity was never reached, little real planning into the evacuation of industry.
Movement of industry was important, the USSR couldn’t have resisted further advance
The inherent adaptability of the economy allowed a swift and relatively easy response to the unexpected invasion. War Economy 1944, with D-Day, the Allies opened up a second front in the West.
The US supplied the USSR with a large number of Jeeps, Trucks, and other equipment to Russia with Lend-Lease.
Not very important.
Germans were already on the retreat in the East. The second front may have shortened the war but a German loss was looking likely by this point.
The lend-lease however would have been fairly useful. Allies PROPAGANDA AND PATRIOTISM Called "The Great Patriotic War", shows how important patriotism was.
Some patriotic responses were spontaneous all-they were being invaded.
Many workers signed up to join the army or for extra work before being asked.
Partisan groups started up in occupied lands.
Most propaganda was to boost morale, not just to gain support.
The NKVD also shot deserters, instilling fear so that soldiers would fight to the death.
NKVD made people fearful, so people toed the line and soldiers too.
Bad news did come out, making people sceptical.
However, as it was a battle of existence, people’s hatred and fear of the German invasion kept morale and patriotism strong.
This morale can be seen in the longevity of the Leningrad Siege.
Propaganda was additional to requirements, hard judge how much effect propaganda had. RELIGION During the war Stalin gave more freedoms to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Enlisted great patriotic support from previously persecuted Christians.
The church dispensed its own propaganda too, and raised money for the war effort.
They also pressured the allies via the Church of England to open the second front.
The boost in morale for Christians did a little, but not a lot as patriotism was already very high.
Efforts to get the allies to invade earlier didn't work.
Money raised by churches was able to afford a tank brigade. HITLER'S MISTAKES Stalin gave more autonomy to his advisers, Hitler did the opposite.
Germany was also not prepared for a long war, focusing only on Blitzkrieg.
Important as military command in the USSR improved, but deteriorated in Germany as Hitler became reluctant to take on advice.
When Blitzkrieg failed, the German army suffered for it. Interpretations WESTERN: (Eg. Overy)
The war was more of a German failure than a Soviet success. The German troops were unprepared for a long war and not used to deviating from Blitzkrieg tactics. Hitler made errors that led to his loss. The Soviet people showed great courage.
SOVIET: (Eg. Rzheshevsky)
There was a determined resistance by the people of the USSR from the very beginning, showing great bravery. However, a large contribution was made by the party, as most that received the highest military honours were party members. Much of the support was not only for the state but also the regime. Allied operations and lend-lease did little.
Stalin did indeed show good qualities of a war leader, getting better as it went on. However, contributions by skilled Generals, as well as the heroism of ordinary people, soldiers and partisans were also important. The War Economy also played an imperative role. High Stalin-
ism Beginning of the Cold War Stalin is suspicious of the West and vice versa as ideologically opposed.
Due to winning the war, the USSR is now almost a world superpower.
The UN is formed in 1945 at the Yalta conference, including the USSR.
Stalin will not give up lands taken from the Germans as he wants it as a buffer zone.
Later in 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill are replaced by Atlee and Truman.
Roosevelt was much more lenient towards Stalin than his inexperienced successor.
Potsdam conference goes well but problems arise when the USA tests atom bombs but refuses to
share technology with USSR-Stalin very suspicious.
USSR bomb project steps up, communications with West and borders close.
Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan undermine soviet influences.
Comecon set up by USSR in response (Council for economic assistance), a council of communist
governments. West sees it as a threat, which it is.
Stalin then starts in 1948 to shut off amenities and borders of USSR-held Berlin. Berlin airlift starts,
lasts into 1949. Stalin backs down.
1949, NATO is set up-clearly as a threat to the USSR, and B-52 bombers are moved to Britain. In the
same year, the USSR creates its own first atom bomb, and subsequently reaches nuclear parity. The
Cold War well and truly starts. Results of foreign policy under Stalin Hysterical isolationism.
Paranoia in the Party, resulting in purges and terror.
Larger spheres of influence to maintain.
New enemy and more expense on Military. (Especially the cost of the new nuclear arms race with the West.) ECONOMIC RECOVERY AFTER THE WAR INDUSTRY
Background: The USSR had seen huge industrial growth between 1917-1941. The 5 year plans were good at simply boosting output, which was necessary at the time, but as the USSR became industrialised the system became increasingly out of date and increasingly ineffective.
Heavy Industry damaged during the war, Loss of workforce, Destroyed cities, Lack of Industry in west of USSR, Need for economic power to confirm superpower status, Possibility of Hot War with previous allies
Once out of the war, the USSR needed to recover. Stalin reduced centralisation of economic ministries, and made them independent of the party. GOSPLAN had its own powers reduced, to limit it to solely planning, whilst arrangement of supplies was transferred to individual ministries. However, the basic method of economic planning, the 5 year plan, stayed intact. THE 4th 5-YEAR PLAN 90% of investment went into capital goods, and quantity was still more important than quality as before.
Targets were broken down into short and long term targets, and more communication when setting targets.
Industry was still labour intensive, inefficient, there were few consumer goods, and equipment was obsolete. >Reduced trade and economic help meant no new money came into the economy.
Industrial production was 75% higher than in 1940 in 1950
Many communications and factories were rebuilt
Long hours compensated for war losses, people worked hard.
BUT; People were tired and hungry due to hard work and poor conditions. Penalties were harsh. Agriculture 1930's agriculture was partially successful and increased with Collectivisation but it still wasn't back at its pre WW1 level. Scorched earth policies on both sides left some of the previously most fertile areas in the west unsuitable for decent harvests.
In a much worse condition than industry,
Still effected by the trauma of collectivisation
Stalin treats agriculture more as a source of revenue than anything else, exporting much of it
Stalin distrusts peasants
Western land was the best for crops, but now destroyed
Response was to extend collectivisation further between1945-47 and into the Baltic States.
Targets were increased, as well as taxes on peasants (Stalin doesn't trust them as they aren't workers). >Attempts were made to get more women to join the agricultural workforce; initiatives were on the whole unsuccessful as many peasants were starving. The overworking of women also was an unpopular policy.
Overall, grain quotas were rarely met, though by 1950 results were nearly at 1940 levels-but the target was 127% of 1940 levels. It was not until after 1952 that the pre war level was reached, but the 1954 harvest was still below levels of 1913!
On the one hand, the people stayed hungry, the economy stayed ineffective, and people were as oppressed as ever and there was still a lack of consumer goods. But, output in industry was restored, and agriculture did improve-if very slowly. INTERPRETATIONS WESTERN: (e.g. Kenez)
Stalinist methods worked in increasing industrial output, and the speed of recovery was impressive. However, Agriculture grossly underperformed and was a major weakness to the economy.
SOVIET: (e.g. Nove)
The USSR had a stronger industrial structure than ever before, ready to face the arms race. Agriculture was characterised with bad decisions, too much centralisation and insufficient investment.
Industrial recovery was great. Agriculture did not recover well at all due to actions of the government. STALIN'S DICTATORSHIP Themes of Stalin's pre-war rule continued. People wanted to be rewarded for their efforts in the war with more freedoms and rights, but they weren't, though the situation did improve slightly.
Reduction of Terror:
Terror of sorts still existed into the 50's. Purges were mainly restricted to inside, not outside the party membership. This started in Leningrad in 1948 when 200 were arrested or shot, and moved onto other parts of the country. In 1948, partly due to Anti-Cosmopolitanism, there was a resurgence of Anti-Semitism, such as the supposed "Doctor's Plot" in 1953. 1000's of Jews were arrested, harassed or killed. Partly the purges in this period can be put down to Stalin's Paranoia (also reflected in a resurgence of Nationalism), especially around the end of his life where he was ill.
Anti-Cosmopolitanism: Threat of Western influence resulted in mass censorship of foreign media and literature, cutting off communications. Anything produced by any writer, author, artist, director, &c. had to follow party line. Saxophones were banned.
Resurgence of Nationalism: Coupled with Anti-Cosmopolitanism, an intense forced rise in nationalism. Partly due to Red Army troops seeing first hand better conditions in Western countries during the War, realised that the State's portrayal of the West was false. Stalin, scared of being undermined by the West, made the Party Line that everything Russian was best.
Ultimately, these were effects of the Cold War. The USSR suffered for it too, its self imposed isolation was not only bad for the economy, but also the sciences, technological development, and all sorts of innovation and education.
Political and Ideological changes:
Stalin was still the hub of government. He was needed to give approval to certain laws, and he ultimately had the final say in anything.
The Cult of Personality meant that his people saw him as infallible. What is true is that he took fewer decisions after the war, leaving more to his subordinates, although they still had to obey his wishes as he had to be consulted on each proposal. Any direct order was followed without question. However, a question has arisen over Stalin's real authority over other party members.
Theory 1: (e.g. Kenez)
Stalin was very deliberate with his ruling. He knew there were rivalries within the party, so played his colleagues against each other. He would give power out to subordinates not because it meant that if a policy or idea failed, it could be attributed to the minister in charge of it-even though Stalin would have given it the go ahead, which meant he could take credit if it went well, as it would be what he'd told them to do.
Theory 2: (e.g. Hahn)
Though Stalin still presided, it was his subordinates that ran things, and were quite happy to lie to him, he was old, sick, and unpredictable meaning he could not really control his staff, but his cult of personality kept the party's influence over the people. Even so, the power Stalin still held didn't stop his subordinates being terrified of him. He relied on information given to him as he barely left Moscow, who knows what he was told. Historigraphy Terror - McAuley- Soviets forced to completely devote themselves to the Stalinist regime... believing in the justice of Stalin made it easier to accept the punishment Khrushchev Rise To Power Collective leadership was formed and colleagues were proposed for positions in the party, and a politburo was formed, half the size of the previous.
Khrushchev was chair & Malenkov was head of Government and Party.
Beria started to manoeuvre for power first. He understood the desire for reform, so made propositions:
liberalisation of communism,
reduction of party in government,
1 million prisoners to be released.
Khrushchev, with the backing of Bulganin, General Zhukov, and Malenkov moved against Beria.
Zhukov and other generals arrested and executed Beria for being an enemy of the people. This was in June 1953.
Main rivals for leadership are now Malenkov and Khrushchev.
Malenkov resigns as head of the Party, which Khrushchev takes over. Khrushchev and Malenkov adopt very different positions: Khrushchev Vs. Malenkov KHRUSHCHEV
First Secretary, in the Party.
Supported the Party taking a larger role than government.
More Stalinist than Malenkov's approach.
Argued that for the USSR to catch up with the West, more investment was needed in the Military and heavy industry.
Supported agricultural reform and proposed the Virgin Lands campaign in 1954. MALENKOV
Head of the Government supported the reduction of Party influence.
Argued that more investment was needed in consumer goods and light industry.
Supported agricultural reform, Malenkov made any agricultural reforms such as the State paying more for deliveries. DE-STALINISATION STARTS-
THE SECRET SPEECH In 1956, at the 20th Party Congress, Khrushchev held the Secret Speech.
It lasted 4 hours, and denounced Stalin's excesses, blaming the terror of Stalinism on Stalin and Beria.
The speech gained support from many younger party members and ordinary people and also served to remove Khrushchev and many other party members from any blame for Stalinism.
Khrushchev made the party and himself ‘innocent’ in Stalin's rule.
Does not, however, attack Stalinism itself-as the fundamentals of Stalinism are still what Khrushchev wants to follow, just the excesses. For the next two years both men struggled for influence but in February 1953, Malenkov admitted mistakes in some of his policies and resigned as Premier but remained in the Presidium. His replacement as head of government was Bulganin, who was no match for Khrushchev. The Anti-Party Plot In May 1957 Malenkov, Molotov, Bulganin and others plotted together to demote Khrushchev to Agricultural minister, (the Anti-Party plot).
However, Zhukov was loyal to Khrushchev and warned him. Khrushchev's supporters were flown in to the Presidium meeting where Khrushchev would have been demoted and voted against it.
Khrushchev got his revenge, and attacked the group, accusing them of being implicit in the excesses of Stalinism, and got them demoted instead.
In 1958, Bulganin was sacked as head of the Government and Khrushchev took his position, as well as commander in chief of the armed forces. Khrushchev is in control-he has the same positions as Stalin did 5 years earlier.