Taking you through AQA A2 History of the Soviet Union in as little time and as little pain as possible... see you on results day!


16 June 2010, AM

13 June 2010

Essay Plan: Stalin's War Leadership

This question is on the specification paper, and so there is a good chance that an alternate (eg the economy's significance) will come up on the actual paper, 2010.

"Stalin's leadership was the most significant reason for the Soviet victory over Germany in the 1941-1945 war" - assess the validity of this statement

Pearson states that "as a highly centralised dictatorship, Joseph Stalin almost certainly played a pivotal part in every aspect of the Soviet war effort", suggesting that Stalin's leadership was crucial to the war effort, and that the USSR would not have been as strong were it not for him. Although this is certainly true, many other factors did contribute to the war victory, including the merits of the Soviet economy under Gosplan, and the GKO (general defence council) which was established in Stalin's absence early in the war, as well as the infamous Soviet winter of 1941. Despite this, however, many historians agree that the USSR would not have been so likely to win the Great Patriotic War were it not for Stalin's efforts.

- Establishment of Stavka - PEARSON: "At a critical moment he proved himself to be resolute and decisive"
- Order No 270, Aug 1941, "all deserters will be shot and their families imprisoned"
- allowing military leaders to flourish
- turning the war into one of attrition, to his advantage, eg at Stalingrad - DOCKRILL: "Stalingrad marked the beginning of the end for Germany"
- Propaganda

- PEARSON: "Stalin's first, most fatal error was not to allow his troops to mobilise in time before impending Nazi disaster"
- absence at start of war - debated as to whether this really happened
- military purge, 1937
- responsible for many fatal flaws such as Seige of Leningrad

- HARRISON: "If WW2 was a test then the Soviet Economy passed it" - & Overy's correlation argument (years when economy failed (1942-3) war effort failed; as economy improved, war effort did, too)
- Winter argument, 1941

- was critical to the war effort, and arguably the most important reason

Ta-da! My fifth essay plan of the say (I did two on paper before I ran out of paper... oops?)

I need a life/a break...

- HistGrrl x
- GKO est in his absence

Essay Plan: Nationalism

This question isn't specifically about a longer period of time, such as the thematic questions tend to be, but it's important, I think, to address both long and short term issues when answering it.

To what extent was the failure of the Soviet leadership to address the potential threat from nationalism early enough responsible for the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991?

Although most historians agree that a considerable number of factors contributed to the break-up of the USSR in 1991, most state that the explosion of tensions within the nationalities were the major trigger for this. National tension had existed within the USSR since its very creation, with Ward stating that Lenin's greatest error was to allow republics to maintain their own names and governments rather than uniting them under one, central government, as this allowed for national movements to continue beneath the surface from 1917, so that when economic and political pressures became too much, as they did under Gorbachev, the nationalist threats all rose at once, creating serious problems for the government in Moscow. As Laver states, "the nationalities problem was a time-bomb waiting to explode".

- 1940 secession of Baltic States to USSR means that national tension especially strong
- Comparative openness under Khrushchev lead many to expect better & this tension continued to grow (eg Hungary, which was first Eastern Bloc nation to open its borders, 1988)
- major problems begin under Brezhnev - LAVER: "Letting sleeping dogs lie"
- LAVER: "If there was a nationalities problem then Brezhnev did not solve it"
- Helsinki groups
- Glasnost created greater problems with raised expectations
- BRESLAUR: "Gorbachev's greatest error was not to reconcile the results of glasnost with the rise of nationalism in the USSR"
- Ukraine's secession out of USSR seen as the moment at which the USSR finally knew it would collapse
- benefit of hindsight - WARD's comment that no one saw it coming

- MARPLES: "Gorbachev failed to recognise that Yeltsin and the radicals were the future"
- failures of perestroika = collapsing economy
- failure to make any decent decision about the economy
- allowing the Eastern Bloc to secede
- concentration on foreign policy
- August coup
- rise of other political parties
- political uncertainty and reshuffle of party organs etc

- had nationalism been combatted sooner, the USSR may not have collapsed when it did
- however other fundamental problems made the collapse inevitable, as Laver suggests

Last time I tried this essay, I singularly failed to understand it. I think this plan is kinda good, though, so YAY! :)


- HistGrrl x

Light Relief - Neda Speaks

This is hardly light relief, but it needs to be spoken about.

Please share it, and spread the word.

- HistGrrl x

Essay Plan: Opposition to Brezhnev

To what extent did the Brezhnev regime succeed in silencing opposition to its policies?

Opposition to the policies of the Brezhnev regime came from both inside and outside of the USSR, and, although Laver states that there was "no evidence of widespread dissatisfaction" amongst the Soviet people at this time, the growth of opposition in the form of dissidence, national revolts, and international tension was recognised as highly significant, and was, for the most part, successfully silent. However, the international dimension served to undo all the work done to silence such views from within the USSR, as the BBC Russian service kept citizens aware of opposition in all its forms, leading some to speculate that it was this opposition which eventually lead to the eventual national riots and emergence of other 'political parties' under Gorbachev.

- Sinyavskey and Daniel - lead to 1967 KGB unit "against ideological diversions"; imprisonment of all dissidents; tighter control over culture and social policy
- 1965 Red Square Protest - lead to the above
- Helsinki Groups - protesting peacefully for human rights; little effect
- Jewish Emigration; silenced by allowing it to happen
- Czechslovakia 1968 - successfully silenced, sent a warning to other nationalities
- worries of Islamic Fundamentalism - silenced through war in Afghanistan
- most people continued to conform; apathy the dominant political force

- writer contacted foreign journalists
- BBC Russian Service
- Boycott of Moscow Olympics sends a signal to the Russian people

- successful within the USSR, but lack of success in the rest of the world counter-balanced this by allowing people to continue to see resistance

Essay Plan: Effects of War

Asses the economic and social costs to the Soviet people of the Great Patriotic War of 1941 to 1945, in the years to Stalin's death in 1953.

Revisionist historians agree that, despite the devastation left in the wake of the Great Patriotic War, it did have a great strengthening effect on the Soviet people, having unified them against a common enemy and brought them together for so long. Although the lives and resources lost to the war effort were significant and almost certainly detrimental to the recovery of the USSR to Stalin's death in 1953, the economic "miracle", as Nove terms is, serves almost completely to nullify this. Social conditions, however, did not undergo the same miraculous recover, with the Cold War and paranoia on Stalin's part causing the grip over the population to tighten and social restrictions to become more all-encompassing than before. Thus, the social costs of the war may outweigh economic recovery, because of their more direct effects on the lives of the Soviet People.


- agriculture - scorches Earth
- industry lost resources in move East
- loss of workers
- focus on arms
- tighter control than ever before

- "remarkable"
- 1950 statistics up on 1940
- resources and trading partners gained from Eastern Bloc
- quantitative
- industry = :)
- NOVE: "agriculture, in Stalin's final years, was characterised by excessive centralisation of decisions, insufficient investment, extremely low prices and ill-judged intentions"


- 20 000 000 people dead
- Zhadnovshchina
- anti-cosmopolitanism
- Soviet nationalism
- loss of individual identity
- orthodox church rejected again
- living conditions still pretty dire
- Cold War isolationism
- LYNCH: "Paranoia had a large part to play in the Soviet politics of the time"

- not really...


- economic costs were not too terrible and were easily recovered
- social costs were dire and never were solved until Khrushchev's arrival, when they were addressed
- social costs outweigh economic recovery in their effects on the Soviet people

Essay Plan: Social Conditions

I HATE SOCIAL CONDITIONS. Thought you should know.

Did the condition of the Soviet people improve or deteriorate during the era of Brezhnev and Gorbachev?

When Brezhnev took power in the USSR in 1964, the Soviet people had better rights and personal freedoms than ever before because of the comparative liberalism of Khrushchev's regime. However, living conditions in this period, and the treatment of suspect nationalities, for example, were not good, having not improved significantly since Stalin's day. Thus, the changes under Brezhnev and Gorbachev can be seen to have created definite improvements, leading to higher expectations from the Soviet people in the areas left unsolved, leading to one of the major causes of the fall of the USSR in 1991.


- divorce, contraception, abortion
- 50% more fruit, veg, meat and fish eaten
- equal pay in almost all professions
- Jewish emigration

- tighter cultural control
- 1967 KGB wing against "ideological diversion"
- alcoholism
- poverty
- position of women

BUT the regime tried to tackle the latter three problems with large-scale propaganda campaigns (see www.sovietposter.blogspot.com).


- Andropov's education and anti-alcoholism policies

- no time to make real change


- Glasnost raised expectation
- improvements in medical care
- campaign against alcoholism

- raised expectations
- LAVER: "Glasnost proved a double-edged sword for Gorbachev"
- no improvements in role of women

- improved in many areas but lead to unrealistic expectations from population

Hope this helps :) Questions?

- HistGrrl x

Essay: Destalinisation

Hello! Sorry for the gap between posts recently - I've been working from the library where there are very few opportunities to blog... but, I do get a lot done, so that's good!

Anyway, this is an essay I wrote a while back, in timed conditions, which my teacher has graded at a Level 5, which is the top band of a grade A. I thought it might help you to see what this looks like, as well as helping remind me!

To what extent was destalinisation responsible for Khrushchev's fall from power?

The process of destalinisation, defined by Thatcher as "the elimination of Stakuinist excesses and policies as well as the cult of personality from Soviet politics, post-1953" was the root of many of Khrushchev's policies, and most notably those which faced most criticism or which failed most quickly.Therefore, it seems reasonable to take the view of many historians that it was the biggest contributor to his downfall, despite many other evident factors.

Destalinisation influenced almost all Khrushchev era policies, including the economic reforms he attempted. Despite fierce opposition, which ultimately lead to failure, decentralisation was attempted in order to rid the system of bureaucracy. However, as some have suggested that by the end of Khrushchev's regime, there was up to a third more bureaucracy then there had been previously, demonstrating the flaws in this policy, as well as causing the 1963 growth rate to plummet to less than that of 1933. This, having come only a year before Khrushchev was ousted and at the height of the East/West competition, must therefore be seen as a highly significant reason for the plot against Khrushchev. Bemo also suggests that the extent of bureaucratic reform failures may have lead to further opposition, only helping to build the case for Khrushchev's ousting.

The restructuring of the Stalinist system which came with destalinisation wrought most change in the political system, where Khrushchev split the party into agricultural and industrial wings in an attempt to bypass the Stalinist Gosplan system and bring about more coherence. Again, this caused significant opposition from the bureaucracy, as well as leading to confusion and what Filtzer describes as "bureaucratic anarchy", making it perfectly clear to all those in positions of power that Khrushchev's reforms were not working. The distaste this surely caused will only have been exacerbated by his moves to give the party, as opposed to the government, more control than it had had under Stalin, by stating that members could only hold positions of power for a set period, and by reducing benefits and privileges which came with powerful positions, a move later attempted by Gorbachev. Although Filtzer praises Khrushchev for "putting the party back at the centre of the political stage", the vested interests within the party were disrupted, causing many of these high up in the system to turn against him. The fact that this was the first set of reforms to be overturned by Brezhnev and Kosygin must also surely prove it as having been a significant factor in his ousting.

Another element which Thatcher describes as having been pivotal to Stalinism, "aggressive foreign policy", was amended under Khrushchev and through destalinisation, in what the West have termed as "the thaw". With hindsight, it is easy to see how Khrushchev's international exploits may always have had the USSR's best interests in mind, this was not the view shared by the party at the time. He may have become what Laver has called "truly an international statesman", but his presence at home in solving native issues was more of a concern within the Soviet Union, and many historians cite that this is a major reason that he was forced from power.

There were, of course, other reasons for Khrushchev being forced from power, one of the most notable being his failed agarian reforms. Stalin had been criticised early on for his failure to accept advice, and the secret speech had condemned collectivisation, however the Virgin Lands Scheme under Khrushchev was arguably the greatest agricultural failure since the revolution. Khrushchev, being from a rural background, claimed to have a good knowledge of agriculture and therefore embarked on what most historians recognise as a vast propaganda campaign, into which insufficient planning and too much funding was placed. Although the first year saw a significant boost in agricultural output, this began to plummet in subsequent years, proving to party members that Khrushchev's agricultural knowledge was little more than arrogance. Laver, therefore, suggests that this was a highly significant reson for Khrushchev's fall from power.

Another vast blow which most accept as having vastly catalysed Khrushchev's fall from power was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which came just two years before Khrushchev eventually fell from power. Although with hindsight it is possible to see that the agreement made with US President Kennedy was beneficial to both the USA and the USSR, the only clauses officially disclosed suggested a victory in diplomacy for America. Coming as this did at arguably the most tense period of the Cold War, it appeared to many within the USSR that Khrushchev simply was not a strong enough leader and that 'backing down' to the USA was the ultimate proof of weakness. Historians agree almost unanimously that this was a highly significant event in the lead up to Khrushchev's fall from power.

However, perhaps the most significant proof that destalinisation was ultimately responsible for Khrushchev's fall from power comes in the manner in which he was ousted: peacefully, by the demands of his colleagues, who would surely not have dared to do the same under Stalin. Although destalinisation did not aim to end the strict control of the population (as demonstrated in Hungary in 1956), it did bring about the end of totalitarianism in the USSR, through a series of legal and cultural reforms, the relative successes of which are, in the West, generally deemed positive. Therefore, as Khrushchev himself has stated, he brought about the end of the total fear within the party, and, despite other contributing factors, this can be seen to prove that destalinisation was ultimately responsible for his fall from power in 1964.

So, hope that helps! :) More essay plans are a-comin'! :)

- HistGrrl xx

9 June 2010

Essay Plan: Perestroika

This is a horrible essay because of the wording of the question. I've planned it on paper, but it's atrocious, so I'm trying again here to see what happens. Inability to articulate ideas today may have something to do with the fact that I sat an exam this morning and am feeling a little bit more than a little bit fried...

"Perestroika was a disaster because it brought down a system that people had learned to live with without putting anything substantial in its place" - To what extent to you agree?

Historians agree almost unanimously that Gorbachev's policy of Perestroika, introduced in 1987 to 'restructure' (and thus reinvigorate) the Soviet economy, was a disaster by 1991: as Laver states, "Perestroika appeared to be making things worse". It can thus be seen to have brought down the Soviet Union because of the discontent it caused amongst a population who knew no other system and who saw "nothing substantial in its place". However, it can also be seen as a disaster because of the rifts it caused within the communist party, and because of the vast economic failures it caused, which are also commonly seen as having caused the break-up of the USSR.

Yes - that's why it was a disaster
- LAVER: "Over the previous decade or more, many people had increasingly benefitted from the existing system" - living conditions, full employment etc
- POPOLOV: "It was done with slogans, not a programme of reform that ordinary Russians could understand"
- Attempts to create a market economy in state confines would never work and were always going to cause problems
- People began to see the weaknesses in the system
- Caused general strikes in the nationalities because nothing solid was there
- Rise of other parties (for same reaons)
- Yeltsin (see above)

No - it was a disaster for other reasons
- Made no attempt to tackle legacy of corruption
- Confusing administrative changes
- Devaluation of rouble; 15% decrease in production
- Agriculture ignored
- Rifts within the party inherently weakened the system and allowed Yeltsin and the radicals in

It cannot be doubted that "perestroika was a disaster", and, although there are many reasons for this, the fact that it weakened the system and lead to general discontent because no new system replaced it is perhaps the most significant of these reasons. As Gorbachev said in his final speech as leader of the USSR, before it seceded to the Russian Federation, "the old system collapsed before the new one could begin to function".

If anyone could tell me if that makes sense, I would be eternally grateful!

- HistGrrl x

7 June 2010

Essay Plan: Economic Overview

This is an example of an overview question (45 marks) for which I have created an essay plan.

I always plan in exams, but not in this much detail; it's a good revision technique! In exams, I use bullet points first, briefly - say, one per paragraph - and then write the introduction, as this is where I lay out my argument, so I can make sure that I don't divert from the plan and that I know what it is that I'm arguing.

As this is an overview question, I've planned it per leader.

How far was the failure to achieve effective economic reform between 1941 and 1991 responsible for the break-up of the USSR?

Most historians agree that economic problems throughout the history of the USSR have been a significant cause of discontent both within the party and without, leading to stagnation during the Brezhnev era and beyond and ultimately having a large part to play in the discontent of the early 1990s. The failure of all leaders to significantly reform the system can thus be seen not only to have caused rifts in the party but to have resulted in the break up of the USSR by 1991.


- caused the rigidity of the economy which meant no one after could reform
- historians agree that it was strong and that it was what was necessary during the war and in its immediate aftermath, but that is became too rigid
- HARRISON: "If WW2 was a test then the Soviet Economy passed it"
- Legacy of superpower status: OVERY: "The Soviet state was transformed by this process, and communism, close to collapse in the Autumn of 1941, came to be the dominant political force across Eurasia from East Germany to North Korea"

- attempts at reform fail, but boost economy - maintaining it for the mean time
- tries to remove bureaucracy; causes it to grow by 1/3 making it harder to change later on and proving the fact that it was impossible to reform
- FILTZER: "Khrushchev never attempted to remove the basic levers of Stalinism within the USSR; those of central planning"

- NOVE: "Economically speaking, the Brezhnev period has to be seen as a disaster"
- no attempts at reform made, save for in agriculture, where they weakened the system further by causing unnecessary change and directing investment away from industry with no tangible successes resulting
- one reason for the rise of dissidence?
- black market undermining the system just left to grow

- dies before black market reforms have a chance to work

- lights nationalist fire; general strikes etc
- causes party rifts

- political corruption
- Gorbachev's personal failings

- Yes, in the long-term, it was a significant reason for the collapse of the USSR

Hoping this help!

- HistGrrl x

Themes: Social change

I'm not going to look at specific elements within social change independently, but rather have come up with this rather lovely table for you. Click to see it larger :)

Print it and learn it :)

- HistGrrl x

Themes: Leaderships

The comparison of leaderships makes up a large part of the analysis of political change.

- strong, decisive leadership which commanded respect
- ideology
- brutal, dictatorial, paranoid, resistant to change
- rigid control and denial of outside influences
- death toll & purges
- economy strong but extremely rigid and controlled
- no dissent because no dissent tolerated

- popular, accepting of reform and more humane
- unpredictable, coarse and indecisive
- dismantled Stalinism
- peaceful co-existence
- ignored party responsibility for crimes
- economic failures

- stable, reliable
- poor judgement, conservative, corrupt
- abuse of system
- cult of personality
- treatment of peasants
- stagnation
- ideology lost meaning

- more liberal and Western
- recognised need for change
- indecisive, inconsistent, hesitant
- opened society
- more realistic defence and foreign policy
- contribution to break-up
- not an economist

I was going to put pictures of the leaders on this post, but I thought it might scare away my readers. Eeek...

Interesting thought: Russian leaders alternate - bald, had hair, bald, had hair etc

Lenin - bald
Stalin - had hair
Khrushchev - bald
Brezhnev - had hair
Andropov - bald
Chernenko - had hair
Gorbachev - bald

That's... um, interesting, right? And, um, of course, highly significant to their leaderships...

- HistGrrl?

Themes: Nationalist Tension

Nationalist tension has always existed within the USSR, and has always been a cause of instability and a worry to leaders. As with some other topics, we'll investigate the war and the "High Stalinism" period separately.

The War Years
- Jews, Tartars and other minority nationalities treated with hostility and suspicion
- worries that they'd ally with the Nazis
- many deported to Siberia or rounded up and sent to labour camps
- the fight for "Mother Russia" alienated many
- Nazi treatment of Jews and Slavs commonly seen as having been a major cause of Nazi loss (believed them subhuman so wouldn't allow them to fight for the Reich)
- Tartar exile 1944; Keys suggests was one of the only rational racial exiles, as many had actually allied with the Nazis - entire Tartar race (200 000 people exiled to Central Asia, with 40 000 dying on the way)
- most were fully involved in Soviet war effort
- 'Guilty by association'
- LAVER: "Stalin was obsessed with a supposed national threat"

High Stalinism
- wartime paranoia continues
- national tensions kept at bay by totalitarian nature of regime

- LAVER: "through nationalist reform, the USSR was also discouraged"
- Poland and Hungary, 1956
- Warsaw Pact
- break from Stalinist cultural control
- Stalinist treatment of religious groups (eg Jews wanting to emigrate to Israel)

- Stagnation & poor economic growth lead to rises in national tension, especially from the better of nationalities who did not wish to be associated with Russia
- Helsinki accords lead to hope of reform
- Dissidence more potent amongst national minorities
- Prague Spring
- LAVER: "If there was a national threat then Brezhnev did not solve it"
- Deliberate 'russification' or republics/letting sleeping dogs lie
- Brezhnev Doctrine
- Olympics lead to campaign of Soviet nationalism

Gorbachev and the collapse of the USSR
- 'Glasnost' lead to hopes of national freedom
- Economic failure and 'left over' dissatisfaction lead to increased growth in nationalism
- fuelled by political moves to democracy
- LAVER: "a timebomb waiting to explode"
- break up began in nationalities
- August Coup lead many nationalities to claim independence
- break up of Warsaw pact
- Lithuania
- trigger cause of collapse of USSR?

How significant a threat were nationalities all along?

Many historians have speculated that the national threat which came to dominate Soviet politics towards the end of the USSR had been long-existent and that it had simply reacted particularly harshly to more political freedoms and to drastic economic conditions. The threat was clearly present in some nationalities, such as Ukraine, since well before the Second World War, when Ukrainian peasants fought especially potently against the collectivisation drive; and the fact that most historians agree that the moment Ukraine seceded was essentially the moment that the USSR fell suggests that this long-existent tension was incredibly important in the collapse of the USSR.

The tensions in the Baltic states which were taken during WW2 were certainly the strongest, as they had the longest tradition of independence and were most able to remember the pre-Soviet era: thus the fact that Gorbachev's one attempt to halt secession happened as he sent tanks into Lithuania suggests that even the regime saw these as the greatest threat.

The threat of religious races has also been seen as highly significant, with the only major threat from within the USSR, under Khrushchev, being from the highly repressed Jews wishing to emigrate to their newly formed republic of Israel. Religious tensions also exacerbated problems within the Asian republics under Brezhnev, as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan faced particularly harsh repression as well as strong economic incentives to conform, with much investment being given to these.

Hope this helps! That's pretty much half your essay written for you because I got a little carried away!

Much love xo

- HistGrrl x

6 June 2010

Themes: The Role of Stalinism

Assessing whether Stalinism was maintained after Stalin's death, and to what extent, is a very simple and somewhat likely exam question - and would definitely be my preferred thematic exam question!

(Remind yourself of how I define Stalinism HERE)

So, to what extent was it maintained after Stalin's death? This time, we're looking by element of Stalinism, not by leader.

Dictatorship of one man

- arguably all leaders post-Stalin lead in this way
- Khrushchev and Malenkov in the collective leadership
- the party's desire, post-Khrushchev, not to let any one leader hold so much power again
- Brezhnev chosen as a "man of the centre" (Tompson)
- Brezhnev's willingness to ask for advice
- Khrushchev's outsting
- Gorbachev's more liberal, Western viewpoint, and the fact that he had political opposition

Cult of personality

- Brezhnev arguably had one; "a personality cult without a personality" (Tompson)
- Khrushchev was accused of building one
- Khrushchev and Brezhnev's assumptions of all Stalin's old positions

Dominant ideology

- LAVER: "Ideology had simply lost its meaning to many within the USSR by 1982"
- not seen as so dominant in ever after Stalin's death

Command Economy

- Brezhnev's inability to remove Gosplain
- Khrushchev's separation of ind/ag
- Gorbachev's desire for "a free market within the confines of a state-controlled economy"
- the dominance of FYPs

Aggressive Foreign Policy

- Warsaw Pact
- "The Thaw"
- Détente
- Afghanistan
- Brezhnev Doctrine
- Helsinki
- Regan/Bush and Gorbachev
- USSR joining the UN
- end of the Cold War

Use of terror

- Khrushchev-era legal reforms
- Dissidence and Brezhnev
- End of "reign of fear" - Khrushchev ousted, for eg
- Purges on same scale never happened again

So, was Stalinism maintained in the USSR after Stalin's death? I think we can almost categorically agree not.

Now, have a break. I feel like I need one; you do too! :)

- HistGrrl x

Themes: Economy

The Soviet Economy is a topic highly likely to come up, and so an understanding of it and themes within it is very important.

I'm going to look at a few key dates in detail to help spot trends.

1941 - how prepared were the USSR for war?

The top line shows 1941 levels of industrial production and the bottom line shows 1942.

- Gosplan, FYPs and collectivisation prepared the USSR for war
- strong armaments industry
- industry in less vulnerable areas
- central planning system well geared towards war
- HOWEVER 1942 statistics show how badly the invasion hit the USSR & how it caused serious damage to industrial infrastructure
- agriculture was similarly hit because of the "scorched Earth" and German advances through Ukraine

1950 - how well had the USSR recovered from war?

Purple bars show 1950 statistics; green show 1950 plan targets; red show 1945 stats; and blue show 1940.

- for the most part, the Soviet economy recovered bizarrely well from the war
- 1940 quotas were always exceeded by 1950 & most of the 1950 plan targets were, too
- quantitative statistics, not qualitative
- propaganda projects
- agricultural production up on 1945, but down on 1940
- scorched Earth damage
- NOVE: "agriculture, in Stalin's final years, was characterised by excessive centralisation of decision, insufficient investment, extremely low prices and ill-judged intentions"

1965 - how successful were Khrushchev's reforms?

Blue shows 1958; red shows 1965 targets; green shows 1965 actual results

- supposed failures not as bad as is often claimed
- agriculture characterised by campaignist schemes
- confusion of bureaucracy and changes to it
- ind/ag wings left added complications

1985 - how far was the economy declining?

The weird cream colour is 1981-85; maroon is 1976-80; and purple is 1971-75

- lack of investment/innovation
- conservatism
- black market
- lack of regard for environmental concerns
- tried to replace Gosplan, but was not successful
- little put into economy = little comes out (ind)
- agriculture received significant investment, which came to nothing

1991 - economy in crisis?

Blue is national income (what people were paid); red is industrial out-put; green is agricultural out-put

- even official Soviet statistics showed significant decline in growth, and even genuine economic decline
- indecision
- Gorbachev was not an economisy
- the party lost economic control

Shocking final statistics to leave you with a true sense of the desperation of the Soviet Economy...

Growth rates 1960-1985

Blue is Soviet statistics; red is American estimates; green is a leading Soviet economist, Kahin.

All show the economy to be declining at unprecedented rates.

Why did the economy decline so drastically, though?

- indecision
- inability to modify the Stalinist system
- vested interests in the bureaucracy
- the extent of the bureaucracy
- falling birth rates and lack of people to work
- lack of environmental concern
- absenteeism and alcoholism
- determination that the system that existed was the right one
- the role of the black market and the mafia
- lack of trading partners, once the Eastern Bloc began to turn away from the USSR
- loss of party control over the economy under Gorbachev

And... that's the economy done.

Questions, as ever, are welcome. I still can't believe I understood and created all those graphs! Statistics used sourced from Laver textbook on the era.

- HistGrrl x

PS - email me if you want full-size copies of the graphs, and I will transfer them over GoogleDocs.

5 June 2010

Themes: Foreign Policy

When talking about Foreign Policy, you must ALWAYS talk about its significance within the USSR. Talking about it as a stand-alone element is neither relevant to the course, nor analytical. So, how did it affect leaderships and perceptions of leaders? Did it bring opposition or prove weakness?

As this theme is harder to analyse, I'm providing examples of short paragraphs of analysis after the information.

This theme is going to include the war as a separate element to High Stalinism - and I should probably warn you that I'm doing this one off the top of my head...

The Great Patriotic War
- working with the Allies
- suspicion of foreign powers
- against Germany, Norway and Finland
- A-Bomb
- "Soviet Sphere of Influence"
- Potsdam and Yalta conferences - the cause of the Cold War?
- Lend-Lease

The tensions created by the beginning of the cold war lead Stalin's regime to become even more internal and to spend a lot more on military and defence, dramatically effecting the economy. The Atomic Bomb also lead to changes in policy towards scientists and mathematicians, who were given more civil liberties in order to incentivise them.

High Stalinism
- THATCHER: "aggressive foreign policy"
- Aggression over East Berlin
- Defence spending rocketed
- Comecon
- Not involved in diplomacy with the rest of the world
- Seen as trying to "take over the world"

The internal nature of Stalin's regime at this time lead to distaste and bad feeling from the West, making later easing in relations even harder. However, the "percieved menace of the West" left Stalin with a suitable excuse to become more brutal in his internal policy, and lead him to be presented as a stronger leader, something that many historians agree Russians find necessary in their leaders - especially at this time, when memories of the Tsar were still existent.

- the "thaw"
- U-2 incident
- Berlin Wall
- Start of the Vietnam War in earnest
- Warsaw Pact
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- economic aid to the third world
- alliance with China breaking down
- Sputnik and the space race
- Suez Crisis, 1956

Khrushchev's role in Soviet Foreign Policy is often seen as having been fatal because of the contradictions between the supposed "thaw" of destalinisation and the problems he caused with the West, over instances such as the building of the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact and Cuban Missile Crisis. The "thaw" made him unpopular in the USSR, and his handling of these major events presented him as weak and aggressive both at home and abroad.

The effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis were especially fatal, given that clauses of the Kennedy/Khrushchev agreement which lead to the removal of US nuclear warheads from Eastern Europe were kept secret on the international stage, making it seem as though he had backed down, and thus presenting him as weak within the USSR. This is commonly seen as having been a major cause of his downfall.

- Détente
- Helsinki
- Moscow Olympics
- Afghanistan
- Brezhnev Doctrine

Laver has argued that "Brezhnev presided over a crucial period of Soviet Foreign Policy", given that his actions provoked distaste and opposition both within the USSR and abroad; although the initial SALT treaties and détente meetings were successful in the West as well as in the USSR, the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 is often seen as having been the breaking point. Causing millions of Soviet deaths, and often being referred to as "Russia's Vietnam", the war was as unpopular at home as it was in the West, where a boycott of the Moscow Olympics was called in protest, demonstrating the regime's unpopularity abroad to dissidents at home, thus exacerbating the problem.

- popular in the West; seen as an international statesman
- membership of the UN
- ending the cold war?
- talks with Regan and Bush successful

Despite Gorbachev's vast successes in nuclear disarmament and in making the USSR acceptable on the world stage, he is often perceived within the USSR as having cared too much for Western ways of life and for PR as opposed to serious policies. Some argue that, had he spent less time on Foreign Policy, the collapse of the USSR in 1991 could have been averted.

As ever - any questions, just ask! :)

- HistGrrl x

Themes: Position of the CPSU

In this post, I'm going to examine the changing position of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) throughout the period 1941-1991. It's vague - but remember, you only have 45 minutes to cover fifty years. You can't go into too much detail and still be analytical!

Remember to differentiate between the PARTY and the GOVERNMENT. At certain points, they were synonymous, but at certain points they were completely different.

The changing role will be judged by leader, and "govt" is short-hand for "government".

- dominant
- all-powerful
- congresses rarely met
- economic and social control rigid and complete (Gosplan, Zhadnovshchina etc)
- Govt and party synonymous

- FILTZER: "It was Khrushchev who placed the party back at the centre of the political stage"
- moves to consolidate his own power gave the party more power
- split into industrial and agricultural wings
- legal reforms meant it had less control over people's lives
- government and party organs became more seperate

- reversal of Khrushchev's reforms
- Nomenklachura and stability of cadres
- LAVER: "ideology had all but lost its meaning to many within the USSR by 1982"

- anti-corruption drive to take power back from the mafia

- law and party separated
- couldn't hold a state and party position
- membership fell by 3 million in 1990
- removal of incentives
- BRESLAUR: "Gorbachev refused to recognise that Yeltsin and the radicals were the future"
- economic control revoked 1988
- CPSU banned in aftermath of coup
- emergence of other parties

Specialist terminology has been used in this post - if you don't know it, please feel free to ask! :)

And... that's one theme down!

- HistGrrl x

Themes: Explanation

The course also requires students to be able to take a sweeping view across the whole fifty-year period studied. There will only be one question on this length of time, and you will not necessarily have to do it (as there are three questions and you only have to answer two), but it is never-the-less a good way to revise, and it would be foolish not to plan for these, in case there is another question that you just can't answer. Like... one on Brezhnev for example.

The most likely themes to come up are -

- the role of the CPSU
- the economy
- foreign policy
- nationalities
- leaderships
- political change (covered by "Leaderships" and "the role of the CPSU" - role them together for this topic & I won't bother covering it separately)
- the role of Stalinism
- social change
- and elements within social change

Although Laver, the chief examiner, is reported to have warned students to neglect culture at their peril, the relative lack of information on this, especially within his own textbook for the course, makes study of this unnecessarily difficult, and so I will not be covering it here - or answering a question on it, should one arise!

I'm going to cover these themes in the same way as ever. Usually, however, thematic questions are easier to plan for in exams, as there isn't all that much that can vary, so these are also good as sample essay plans.

- HistGrrl x

Light Relief - Reminding you why

Image - weheartit.com

This is just a quick reminder about why we're going through the pain of the USSR in so many ways...

Hope it helps remind you & gives you the motivation to hang on in there!

- HistGrrl x

4 June 2010

Unit Four - Collapse of the USSR

Only four cards left... we can do this!

Growing threat of nationalism

- LAVER: "A timebomb waiting to explode"
- increasing discontent with Moscow's economic policies
- Gorbachev had no real understanding of how to handle nationalist problems
- threat especially evident where nationalist tradition was strongest

Moves towards separation

- Armenian discontent thorughout Soviet period
- war broke out in the late 1980s with Karbakh declaring independence in 1991

- March for independence, April 1989, attacked by Soviet troops
- Sovereignty declared Nov 1989
- 99% vote for independence, March 1991

- signalled real collapse of Societ grip, 1990s

- large moves for independence
- chain of hands in peaceful protest

Was nationalism a significant cause in the collapse of the USSR?

'New Thinking' Foreign Policy
- linked to perestroika
- disarmament
- Eastern Europe allowed to secede
- Global Strategy - membership of UN for eg
- 3rd World Relief ended


- Had great popular support
- Angered Gorbachev because of radicalism
- May 1990, elected President of Russia
- 28th Congress, June 1990, rifts over Gorbachev's economic policy occur and he resigns from the party

The Coup

- 18 Aug 1991, Gorbachev held under hosue arrest at his holiday home in the crimea
- Gorbachev refuses to back dwon
- plotters declare a state of emergency, renouncing the union treaty
- needed popular support, which they thought they'd have
- Yeltsin called for resistance to the coup and declared a presidential edict accusing the plotters of treason under Russian law
- Yeltsin declares control of all Russia
- Plotters arrested

- plotters didn't arrest Yeltsin
- didn't have military support
- media informed people of resistance to the coup
- ordinary people rallied behind Yeltsin
- there was little left for the plotters to take over
- Gorbachev refused to back down

- Gorbachev didn't learn from this
- Balance of Power shifts in favour of Yeltsin
- Nationalist forces in republics boosted by confusion at the centre
- 24 Aug - Gorbachev resigned as head of party
- 29 Aug - CPSU banned
- uncertainty leaves Yeltsin in power

How significant was the coup in the collapse of the USSR?

Assesment of Gorbachev

- unpopular
- VOLKOGONOV: "the last Leninist"

- not firing Yeltsin sooner
- never understood nationalist feeling
- substanceless policies ("slogans")
- personality, Raisa, etc
- concern with Foreign Policy
- refusal to work with Yeltsin
- failure to recognise seriousness of coup

- recognised need for reform
- negotiated peaceful break-away of Baltic States
- ended cold war
- chose colleagues for ability
- didn't use force

What was Gorbachev's role in the collapse of the USSR?

Why did the USSR collapse?

- Nationalism
- Economy
- Gorbachev's errors
- Growing discontent
- Political corruption

Which was the main reason?

YESSSSSSSS... we made it. Course revised.

I'll be back soon with thematic assessments and sample essays - but, for now, take some time off. Relax, have a cuppa (again), and watch some terrible TV. (: Congrats x

- HistGrrl x

Unit Four - Gorbachev

Back to some semi-interesting history! Yay! :)

The rise of Gorbachev

- rapid
- orthodox political apprenticeship
- cautious change within clearly defined paramaters
took control during Chernenko's dying months
- leadership style more relaxed and Western

Problems facing the USSR

- stagnation
- 25% of the economy on military spending
- Afghan war

- vested interests
- bureaucracy
- links to economy
- age of party members
- inbuilt system; inability to alter it
- problems faced by previous reformers, eg Khrushchev

- living standards ~
- consumer goods
- alcoholism
- inequality

- Cold War
- Star Wars
- Afghanistan

Which were the most significant problems faced by the USSR at this point?

Motives for change

- not a radical agenda
- focus on reforming the party and economy for efficiency

- established party elite
- lower ranks of party
- intellectuals, scientists etc
- vested interests
- Military-Industrial Complex

Why were these people opposed?


- reminiscent of FYPs
- growth rate actually declined
- problems of old system to be addressed
- innovations - campaign against corruption & alcoholism; regrouping of industrial miniteries for efficiency; joint enterprises law 1986 allows foreign industry in
- unpopular

- tinkering!
- no change to centralisation
- political reform - change to party power to interfere with economy; 1988 State Enterprises (workers can sack managers); 1988 co-operatives (effectively legalised black market)
- food rationing reintroduced
- 1990, poverty rising

- political change affects economic activity
- central planning often ignored, esp. in Republics
- growth of unrest, eg strikes

- Shatalin plan rejected
- compromise reached - commercialisation of state enterprises; relaxation of state control; rouble becomes fully convertible
- satisfied few
- ends Jan 1991 with the law on private property ownership, effectively nullifying communism

- most often translated as "openness", REALLY means "publicity"
- PRAVDA: "the timely and frank release of information shows trust in people, respect for their intelligence and their ability to assess events"

How significant were Glasnost and Perestroika in facilitating the end of the USSR?

Why the economy failed

- poor planning
- confusing administrative organisation
- arbitrary decision making
- unrest in the work force
- costly projects, eg Afghan war
- existing problems

Was economic failure a significant cause of unrest?

Political developments

- perestroika showed the need for political change
- legal changes made the law-making system independent of the party
- new constitution - never finished
- congress of people's deputies
- Supreme Soviet to become working parliament
- 2-tier system at all-Union level
- local Soviets to be more accountable
- contradictions
- party reform
- presidency, March 1990
- growth of opposition
- results of change lead to collapse and loosening of Soviet grip on republics etc

How significant were political reforms under Gorbachev in the collapse of the USSR?

Social conditions

- raised expectations
- culture ~
- black market
- alcohol abuse
- medical improvements
- different across republics

And... you guessed it! How significant were these?

Only one more section of this unit left! Hooray! :)

Any questions? Get in touch!

- HistGrrl x

Unit Four - Andropov and Chernenko

Wikipedia will suffice for these two - essentially, they were so old that nothing happened.


- Andropov
- Chernenko

- HistGrrl x

Light Relief - Outnumbered

Not quite so historical as last time, but never mind - enjoy!

- HistGrrl x

Unit Three - Brezhnev

I should probably explain how I'm creating these posts. I've boiled all my year's notes down into revision cards which I'm copying up here with embellishments, to help me and help you.

This section is all in one post because it's only five cards long. Thank you Lord.

Brace yourselves!

The Leadership of Brezhnev

- Chosen because he was known as a man of the centre and a moderate
- Regarded as a solid political operator
- Post-Khrushchev era, stability necessary
- Kosygin as PM

- joint leadership lasted 4 years
- 1964 Plenum over-turns Khrushchev's structural reforms
- rivals, eg Shilepin, eased out
- Kosygin reforms fail, 1970, and his influence ends

There is no question for this section. Huzzahs!

Era of conservatism

- stability of cadres
- CC increased in size to 470 members in 1981
- Nomenklachura
- devolved decision making
- party membership fell
- further consolidation

- 1977 constitution
- women ~ getting better?
- education and living standards increase
- social change, eg religion
- culture and dissidence

- Kosygin reforms, 1965 - industry accountability for costs & profits, not squandering resources. Same problems as Khrushchev faced. Prices still decided centrally & same flaws as ever
- Industrial - optimism of developed socialism meant things were left the same & Gosplan wouldn't give up power
- Agriculture - much investment, few results. Integration of farms into local industry, peasant internal passports
- Russia fell behind republics
- refusal to move from Stalinist command model
- Military-Industrial Complex
- Stagnation

What effects did the limited reforms have? Was this truly an 'era of conservatism'?

The rise of dissidence

- no way to measure popular opinion although no evidence of wide-spread discontent
- less authoritarian
- cultural and social policy of conservatism
- regime didn't want Khrushchev-era openness OR Zhadnov-era stifling
- artists never knew what official line was

- first dissidents; writers imprisoned for anti-Soviet propaganda, 1965
- accepted by Khrushchev
- showed era of destalinisation over
- KGB wing set up, 1967, to crush "ideological diversions"
- challenged freedoms promised by Brezhnev Constitution

- contact with foreign journalists
- BBC Russian service
- Red Square demonstrations, 1965

- Prage Spring, 1968
- Helsinki Groups
- Religion - Catholic dissent in Poland and Baltic; Jews demand emmigration; Muslim dissent most feared
- Nationalities - going native; Russification or complacency debate
- Opposition to the war in Afghanistan = international element

What was the significance of dissidence to the regime?

Foreign relations

- Detente
- Prague Spring
- Brezhnev Doctrine
- China
- Easten Bloc
- Superpower states - 25% economy on military spending
- Afghanistan

Was foreign policy as significant in this period as under Khrushchev?

Assessments of Brezhnev

- conservatism/inaction
- destroyed the view of most citizens that the USSR had had some successes
- unable to sustain defence policies
- corruption
- 1977 constitution
- rise of dissidence
- relations with Republics worsened
- politicians pre-occupation with determining his successor

- didn't revert to Stalinism
- dissidence not a major problem
- better relations with the West
- problems had existed for some time

- LAVER: "unfortunately, the reality did not live up to the aspirations"

What did the USSR bequeathed to Brezhnev's successors look like?

AND HE'S DEAD! I never thought I'd be so happy to type those words!

If I were you, I'd have a rest for a moment or seven. I'm posting some more light relief in a moment, but you need a break. Seriously. BREZHNEV IS THE MOST BORING MAN IN HISTORY.

True fact.

- HistGrrl x

Unit Two - Destalinisation (part three)

Back again! Make sure you're ready for this - because pretty soon, it gets even more boring. Yes, pretty soon, we're tackling B-R-E-Z-H-N-E-V... *shudders*

Anyway. On with the show. :)

Ousting Khrushchev

- May 1957, majority of Presidium members threatened to demote Khrushchev
- Zhukov stood against them and said the military would intervene without a vote
- plotters gave in and Khrushchev had them removed from the Presidium

- Khrushchev's supporters in key positions
- became Commander-in-Chief
- held all Stalin's old positions
- established a system where a % of the powerful positions had to be re-elected each Congress

- reforms failed; concerns
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- called to a Presidium meeting in october 1964 and presented with a list of his own short-comings
- no supporters came forward; he resigned

What were the main effects of the Anti-party conspiracy and Khrushchev's downfall?

Criticisms of Khrushchev

- disliked
- brash
- opportunist
- seen as building a cult-of-personality
- too focussed on foreign relations

- party reforms too radical
- economic growth declined
- agriculture still failing
- bad consumer goods
- nuclear expenditure annoyed army

- 1956 Suez Crisis
- provocative Berlin policy
- 3rd world aid brought no benefits
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- destalinisation caused problems in the Eastern Bloc and China
- general conduct upset colleagues

What was the main reason for Khrushchev's fall from power?

So, that's Khrushchev been and gone! On to Brezhnev...

(You might want to find yourself a stiff whisky before the next blog. I warn you in advance... *shudders*)

- HistGrrl x

Unit Two - Destalinisation (part two)

Back again with more Destalinisation - having taken a break to watch a lovely film and enjoy the sunshine! Hope you did too xx

Economic reform

- over-taking the West
- improving major weaknesses in the Soviet system
- didn't want to rest on Stalinist fear

- decentralisation
- central planning remained
- 40% more investment in Eastern regions
- more consumer goods
- Gosplan functions divided

- Virgin Lands
- taxes on private plots reduced
- collectives merged with state farms
- fixed wages and state benefits for peasants
- city dwellers weren't allowed to keep cattle

- LAVER: "Khrushchev's reforms did not really help the economy"
- FILTZER: "Bureaucratic anarchy"

How far did the Khrushchev reforms aid/hinder the economy? To what extent were they responsible for the Brezhnev era's stagnation?

Other Reforms

- the removal of Stalinist excesses from Marxist doctrine

- restructuring and decentralisation
- LAVER: "The party diehards would not easily forgive Khrushchev for placing such obstacles in the path of traditional Soviet communism"
- FILTZER: "It was Khrushchev who placed the party back at the centre of the political stage"

- 'reform communism' - move away from Zhadnov-era rigidity
- foreign culture allowed in and foreign visitors encouraged
- political prisoners released (some)
- cultural freedoms returned to writers and artists etc

- new legal code, Dec 1958
- defendants couldn't be convicted on confession alone
- 'Enemy Of The People' no longer a crime
- Comrade Courts tried minor crimes, but encouraged corruption
- death penalty reinstated, 1961, due to black market

What effect did Khrushchev's social reforms have on his standing within the party?

Limits to destalinisation

- writers could still be classified as dissidents
- Westernised behaviour rejected
- modern art rejected
- many liberal reforms revoked before Khrushchev fell from power
- persecution of radical/religious groups
- party still decided what was allowed

What did this prove about destalinisation?

Foreign relations

- Cuba
- Eastern Bloc; Poland, Hungary, Berlin
- Buffer states remained
- Warsaw Pact
- Khrushchev seen as having weakened the union

What effect did this have on Khrushchev's leadership?

Back soon with the process of ousting Khrushchev - yes, I know, it gets more and more exciting... *rolls eyes*

Have a cuppa. Again. And email a friend. And then come back to this! Fuuuuuun ;)

- HistGrrl x

Defining Destalinisation

Destalinisation, as defined by Laver, is -

The removal of Stalinist excesses, such as the cult of personality, from Soviet politics, post-1953.

Learn this definition, too - you'll need it for essays!

- HistGrrl x

Defining Stalinism

In defining Destalinisation, it's imprtant to define Stalinism.

My favourite definition comes from Thatcher, who defines Stalinism in six crucial elements:

- Dictatorship of one man
- Dominant ideology
- Cult of Personality
- Use of Terror
- Aggressive Foreign Policy
- Command economy

Learn this; any essay on Stalinism will require you to know it!

- HistGrrl x

Light Relief - We Didn't Start The Fire

Any history student who's never heard Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" is, frankly, rubbish! :)

It'll remind you of how Malenkov followed Stalin, and help with dissidence in the later years, too.


- HistGrrl x

Unit Two - Destalinisation (part one)

Emergence of new leaders after Stalin's death

A joint leadership existed for a time, but new leaders rapidly fought their corner.

- down to Earth
- took initiative
- power-base
- listened to and respected
- visited provinces and met people
- lucky
- crude and unsophisticated
- over estimated himself
- not good at seeing the "bigger picture"

- educated
- friendly with Stalin
- promised higher living standards
- friendly with Beria
- less concerned with limelight
- hated by some important colleagues
- errors of judgement

- prominent in party
- lacked political skill
- powerful enemies

- hated
- ruthless

Which leader had the better qualities for leadership at this point?

Power struggle

- collective leadership took over after Stalin's death, with Beria and Malenkov in positions of greatest power
- Beria brought down in a coup while in Berlin; lack of power-base made him an easy target and he was arrested and shot in June 1953
- Khrushchev used party roles to seize initiative
- left Khrushchev and Malenkov to secure power

- Malenkov in state and government administration
- Khrushchev in party and used power-base to ensure party dominated government
- different economic approaches - Khrushchev's was more Stalinist and thus what the party wanted
- Khrushchev more ambitious than Malenkov
- Feb 1955, Malenkov resigns, and Khrushchev establishes dominance

To what extent does Khrushchev's rise to power echo Stalin's?

Secret Speech, 20th Congress of the CPSU, 1956

- Khrushchev needed to consolidate his leadership and this was an easy way to do it
- 20th Congress, 1956, closed speech to delegates only

- denounced excesses of Stalinism
- Stalin's behaviour declared to be out of touch with Marxism-Leninism
- Limitaions - wrong-doings pre 1934 ignored, focus on Stalin not the party, no suggestion of flaws in the system, not blue-print for the future, accepted 'correctness' of major policies

- 1/2 1956 CC admitted post 1952; new members admitted to make up for anti-Khrushchev reactions
- LAVER: "The essential features of Stalinism survived intact"

What impact was the Secret Speech to have?

Breaking Destalinisation down to save us all from dying of boredom! Have a break; have a coffee; eat a biscuit and see you soon! :)

- HistGrrl x

Unit One - High Stalinism

Impacts of the war

- gender imbalance makes role of women more important
- Soviet nationalism
- new terror
- cult of personality built up again

- 4th Five Year Plan (FYP) - very effective
- quantitative targets, not qualitative
- labour intensive
- war-time allied aid lost
- industrial production in 1950 almost 70% higher than 1940
- sphere of influence stripped USSR of its assets
- most historians argue the remarkable extent of post-war recovery
- Agriculture absolutely terrible & neglected - inefficient & ill-judged, prices too low, excessive centralisation
- too great a focus on the A-Bomb
- Lynsenkoism held technology back

- isolationist
- political paranoia
- sphere of influence
- Soviet Nationalism
- anti-'cosmopolitanism'

- Stalinism?
- Authoritarianism?

Which were the greatest impacts of the war? Did the war have a positive or negative effect?

Political developments

- totality of control debated
- never lost control
- role of paranoia
- role of party decreasing
- most believe his position was firm and absolute
- dealt with colleagues on a one-to-one basis

- STALIN: "I am clearly Lenin's pupil"
- presented as fatherly
- height of influence was 1949, for his 70th birthday
- Laver suggests he disliked this but recognised its ideological importance

- same basic structure as 1936
- state positions held little meaning and some suggest that everyone was picked for their contrasting views, so that they could never agree on a coup against Stalin

- 10% of population were members
- ideological commitment or career advancement
- controlled all areas of Soviet Life

And, those are the important aspects of post-war Stalinism.

As always, if you have a question, ASK! :)

- HistGrrl x

Unit One - The Great Patriotic War

The USSR on the eve of war - Strengths and weaknesses

- good defence economy created by Five Year Plans
- industry to East of Urals - harder to attack
- adaptability to total war
- DAVIES: "The armaments industry of the 1930s was by far the most outstanding success of the Soviet pre-war economy"
- OVERY: "The pre-war experience of economic planning and mobilisation helped the regime run a war economy on an emergency basis"

- people used to hardship and tight control

- Red Army Purge, 1937
- Stalin only used to "attrition" warfare

What strengths and weaknesses did this leave the USSR with?

Impacts of the invasion

- economy fell dramatically, 1941-2
- central planning worked well for a war economy - the USSR was arguably the only true war economy of WW2
- came out stronger
- agriculture decimated by "scorched Earth"

- 20 million Soviet citizens (inc. military and civilians) killed
- exile of suspect nationalities
- campaign of Russification

- fuelled by suspicion of outside world
- renewed need for buffer states
- lead to SOME advice being taken

- conscription
- victory
- reliance on the 1941 winter

How big an impact did the invasion really have on the USSR in both the long and short terms?

Stalin's war-time leadership

- diplomacy before the war, buying time
- centralisation of power, STAVKA
- creation of GKO (State Defence Committee) to by-pass bureaucracy when making important decisions
- personal strengths - commanded respect etc
- allowed Zhukov to help
- learning to take advice
- grasp of strategy
- total war
- Order Number 270, August 1941 (all deserters to be shot and their families to be imprisoned)

- failures at the start of the war
- PEARSON: "Stalin's first, most fatal error was not to allow his troops to mobilise in time before impending Nazi disaster"
- to blame for many failures, eg Siege of Leningrad
- military purge
- lack of modern, military knowledge

How significant was Stalin's leadership in the Soviet war victory? (This is a regular exam question, and should not be ignored)

Economy during the war

- total war adaptability
- Lend-Lease
- Movement East
- preparation
- falling productivity at the start
- out-producing Germany

- large industrial capacity
- quick mobilisation of people to war effort
- relocation of industry
- out-producing Germany
- HARRISON: "If WW2 was a test, then the Soviet Economy passed it"

- industry in vulnerable areas
- agriculture. Full stop.
- relocation fraught with problems
- shortage of skilled labour

How great an impact did the economy have on the war-effort as a whole?

Impacts on Soviet Society

- Russification
- Orthodox Church
- hailing old war heroes, eg Peter The Great
- 'Mother Russia'
- anti-German, not anti-Nazi

- tartar exile
- Volga Germans
- 250 000 working on German side
- most fully involved in Soviet War Effort
- LAVER: "Stalin was obsessed with a supposed national threat"

- membership rose by 3 million, mostly members of armed forces = total support

- running factories etc in men's absence
- employment rose 47%
- in party, proportion rose to 18.3%

- worked for Russia from behind enemy lines
- attacked German soldiers and destroyed equipment
- often killed for their work

Which social issue was most significant to the war effort as a whole?

Kay Battles of the War

- October, push begins
- 600 000 troops killed by Germans
- resistance aided by harshest winter on record
- Hitler refused to allow withdrawl
- Russian counter-attack, Dec 1941, leads to Germany's first defeat of the war
- FERGUSON: "the era of Blitzkrieg was over"

- Soviet troops told to "defend at all costs"
- Soviets turned it into a war of attrition
- Soviet operation Uranus, Nov 1942, meant Germans were surrounded by 22 Nov, in the "Kessle"
- Hitler ordered General Paulus to stand firm
- surrender 31 Jan 1942
- DOCKRILL: "the beginning of the end for Germany"

- biggest tank battle in history!!
- NAGORSKI - "the turning point of WW2"

Which are the most significant battles and why? Remember, you'll never be asked about a battle; you'll merely have to refer to its significance in the war as a whole.

And, that's the war over!

Obviosuly, the USSR won - they pushed back to Berlin in May 1945, and Hitler committed suicide, meaning victory in Europe.

If you have any questions or thoughts, or would like information on sources or resources, please don't hesitate to comment!

- HistGrrl x

Introduction to posting style

Each post in The History Girl is going to be written in the same style.

First, we'll tackle units, part of a unit at a time, in short, simple bullet points, and then we'll look at themes, followed by construction of a strong essay, and exam technique.

And, of course, we'll not forget the historiography!

At the end of each section will be a question in italics - something for you to think about as you revise.

Hope this help - and good luck with your exam!