Russia and the Soviet Union in the 19th and 20th Century

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Russia and the Soviet Union in the 19th and 20th Century

Alexander II (1855  1881)  "THE REFORMER"
     Recognized the major issue of serfdom and the problems it created
     1861 (when the U.S. was beginning the Civil War) Alexander emancipated the serfs; however, the
       serfs had to "buy" their freedom by paying back their former masters
     Serfs were given tracts of land that was not good for farming and this would lead to further
     ZEMSTVOS  were local assemblies that dealt with local mandates, such as education and social
       services; they were dominated by nobles, so they were not very liberal-minded
     Revised the legal system to administer justice fairly to all classes
     Reformed military to allow all enlisted to rise to officer status if merit warranted it
     Alexander was not open to reforms such as a constitutional monarchy, but was planning on
       introducing a plan for a representative assembly, but was assassinated the night prior to its
       issuance (his death had nothing to do with his plans to have a representative assembly)
     Alexander's reforms (although conservative by European standards of the day) led to the rise of
       political organizations that demanded more rights  The People's Will was one such organization
       and in 1881 a member of this group assassinated Alexander II

Alexander III (1881-1894)
     Blamed reforms for his father's death and vowed to revoke them
     Policy was one of, "orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationalism"
     Repression of ideas and the rise of radical groups, especially socialists
     Repression against Jews and any others who were not members of the Russian Orthodox Church
     Policy of Russification to get minorities to become "Russian;" this included areas controlled by
       Russia  parts of Germany, Poland, and Finland
     Alexander survived several assassination plots, including one planned by V.I. Lenin's older

Rise of Socialism in Russia
     The Russian Social Democrats and the Russian Social Revolutionaries were two very small groups
         that advocated a revolution based on the concepts of socialism.
     Generally socialists advocate a democratically controlled economy run for the benefit of all.
         Capitalism is replaced by cooperation and the business cycle by planned stability. Often they
         believe that property should be shared in common, and private ownership of industry and land
     The ideas of Marx were inspirational; however, Marx believed in a "scientific socialism" that
         would emerge naturally through an evolution of economics. One of his major ideas was that
         eventually the workers (in an industrial economy) would rise up against the owners and the
         workers would lead a temporary dictatorship  DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT.
     These early socialist groups would eventually evolve into the Bolsheviks and the Menshoviks.
         The Bolsheviks believed in helping the revolution along by calling for an immediate revolution
         and dictatorship of the proletariat while the Menshoviks believed in waiting for the natural cycle
         to emerge. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) was the leader of the Bolsheviks.
     The Socialists received little public support until the great depression of 1899 and the humiliation
         and great loss of life suffered by Russia during the war with Japan (1904-1905).

Nicholas II (1894  1917)
     Very incompetent ruler; chose advisors poorly and was totally out of touch
     Poor economic policies and bread crises along with Russo-Japanese War led to a revolt in 1905
     The revolt was NOT led by socialists, but rather by a priest (Gapon)
     January 9, 1905  Gapon marched to St. Petersburg to present the Tzar with a list of grievances;
        troops fired on the marches and about 100 people died  this event is known as BLOODY
       Bloody Sunday was followed by strikes and peasant revolts
       October, 1905 as a result of the economy and the Russo-Japanese War, Nicholas issued the
        October Manifesto
       The October Manifesto called for a Duma (legislature), civil liberties (freedom of speech,
        assembly, and the press) and plans to reorganize the government
       The Duma was called in 1906, but never was successful because of internal fighting

World War I
     There were four long-term causes of World War I: 1) Nationalism; 2) Imperialism; 3)
       Militarism; 4) Alliance System
     Of these, nationalism and the alliance system were the primary factors that led to Russia entering
       World War I
     Russians are the largest group of Slavs in the world; this makes the Russians related to the Serbs
       (another Slavic group); Russian intervenes numerous times in the Balkan Crises in the early 20th
       century as the Slavic peoples of the Balkans have problems with the Ottoman and Austrian
     Tensions between Austria and Russia had led Austria to seek an alliance with Germany; France
       and Russia form their own alliance in 1892 and Great Britain joined the alliance (Entente) in 1904
     June 28, 1914  the heir to the Austrian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by
       Princip, a Serbian member of the Black Hand; Austria blames Serbia for not warning Austria of
       the plan (Serbia didn't know the details to warn them); when Austria makes demands on Serbia
       and Serbia refuses, Austria declares war on Serbia; Russia responds by mobilizing for war against
       Austria (mobilizing is an act of war); soon Germany, France, and Great Britain join in the fun for
       World War I
     The Germans main concern was fighting a two front war, so they propose the Schlieffen Plan
       whereby France would quickly be defeated and Germany could focus on fighting Russia on the
       Eastern Front; the plan doesn't work  it only leads Great Britain to enter the war
     August, 1914 Russia invaded Prussia and Galicia; the Russians quickly had a major defeat at
       Tennenberg (90,000 troops surrendered to the Germans); the Russians held their own in Galicia
       and Poland, but when General Hindenburg took over the German forces, Russia was defeated
     In 1915, Russia lost most of its territory in Poland and the Baltics; Tzar Nicholas takes over
       command and his wife is left behind to run the country with freaks like Rasputin advising
     In 1916, Russia lost 500,000 men in the Brusilov Offensive; about another 500,000 were
       captured; Rasputin is killed by members of the Romanov family
     The draft increased Russian forces from 1,350,000 to 6.5 million and then to 12 million, but about
        of them never received any weapons; the large; 1.7 million died with millions more seriously
       wounded; 76% of all Russian soldiers met some drastic end (death, dismemberment; missing in
       action, and captured)

The March and November Revolutions
     As a result of strikes, food shortages, and the massive outrage over World War I, Tzar Nicholas II
       abdicated in March (February on the old Russian calendar) of 1917
     The government was replaced by the PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT led by Kerensky  a
       socialist, but a very moderate one
     The Provisional Government sought reforms, but remained in WWI
     The Germans wanted to find a way to get the Russians out of the war so that they could focus on
       the Western Front, so in April the Germans helped sneak Lenin into Russia (Lenin had been in
       exile in Switzerland)
     The workers in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) were forming committees (cross between a labor union
       and city council) called SOVIETS
     The Soviets had to ensure public safety in some cities as more protests emerged
     By November (October under the Russian calendar) of 1917, Lenin had escaped to Finland (after a
       massive arrest wave) and the Bolsheviks were being led by Leon Trotsky under the promise of
       "peace, land, and bread"
       Trotsky arranged for Bolsheviks to take over power stations, railroads, and communication
        centers; in a matter of ten days, the Provisional Government collapsed, Lenin returned to Russia,
        and the Socialist had seized control of Russia
       Lenin began to negotiate to end Russia's role in the war; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk removed
        Russia from war and required Russia to give up claims to the Baltic states and Poland

Russian Civil War
     In the elections in November, the Bolsheviks expected to win big at the elections; however, that
        didn't happen, so the Bolsheviks chose to seize power
     From 1917 to 1920 the Bolsheviks (who took the name COMMUNISTS in 1919 and the
        Mensheviks fought a bloody Civil War (Reds vs. the Whites)
     The Allies tried to help the Whites so that they would re-enter WWI; but they weren't really any
     Lenin and Trotsky launched "Red Terror" against the Mensheviks
     Ultimately Stalin joined Lenin and Trotsky and together they orchestrated the victory of the

Comintern/Third International
    Lenin and Trotsky fully expected the Russian Revolution to lead to massive revolutions
       throughout Europe and ultimately the world so they formed the Third International (also known as
       Comintern) to unite all the world's communists/socialists
    Russia believed that they should ultimately lead all the world communists/socialists and this led to
       Russia and the Soviet Union to assert their role in an international movement for the next 70 years

New Economic Plan
    Lenin's initial economic plan of immediate socialism (war communism) was not successful, so
       Lenin began a program of half socialism and half small-scale capitalism called NEP
    The program was successful, but some viewed Lenin's plan as an attack on socialism
    1924 Lenin died and two possible successors emerged: Trotsky who wanted to end NEP and
       Bukharin who supported continuing the NEP; while these two men were wrangling for control,
       Stalin seized power

Joseph Stalin (1879-1953)
     Stalin worked with Bukharin to get rid of Trotsky, then he got rid of Bukharin
     1936 Stalin began a series of "trials" where former opponents confessed to all sorts of crimes
        against the state; this began the first of several "Purges" that would occur under Stalin
     During this time, 10 million Russians were arrested as "enemies of the state" and most were either
        killed or sent to camps or Siberia
     Trotsky had escaped Russia, but in 1940 Stalin assassins would hunt him down in Mexico
     Stalin ended the NEP and began the first on many FIVE YEAR PLANS
     The first Five Year Plan called for collectivization of farms with the plan being to use surplus
        crops to pay for industrialization
     Kulaks  wealthy, landowning peasants  opposed the loss of land and often killed their own
        livestock and sabotaged crops to undermine the state; Stalin had millions of Kulaks shot and
        others were intentionally starved to death
     In 1931 the Vienna banking system crashed (victims of the world wide Great Depression) and
        other banks began to fail; this affected Russia (now the Soviet Union) and her ability to import
     Stalin continued with Five Year Plans and at the cost of starving millions of people by selling
        crops that Russians needed to eat to the world, Stalin was able to make the Soviet Union the third
        strongest industrial economy in the world
World War II
     Stalin did not have the weapons or the leadership (he killed most of his military leaders during a
       purge) so he wanted to avoid getting in the way of his aggressive neighbor  Hitler
     August 22, 1939  Stalin and Hitler sign a Non-Aggression Pact where they pledge not to fight
       each other; other parts of the plan was that Stalin and Hitler could divide Poland and Stalin could
       reclaim land given up at the end of WWI  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland
     While Europe got caught up in WWII, Stalin focused on industrialization and purging enemies
     June 22, 1941  Hitler, for reasons still unclear  decided to invade the Soviet Union  Operation
       Barbarossa; Stalin was unprepared and really mad that Hitler had LIED TO HIM
       1942 Hitler had cut off Leningrad (St. Petersburg) from supply lines (1 million would starve to
       death) and he set his sights on Stalingrad; this was a personal battle for Stalin; the siege would
       last six months and would cost 500,000 soldiers and civilians (many "civilians" picked up
       weapons and fought alongside the official soldiers) but ultimately the Germans would be defeated
       at Stalingrad
     Soviet troops went on the offensive in Poland and were successful against the Germans
     The Soviets pretty much fought the eastern front alone
     June 6, 1944 the Allies launched D-Day and the Germans were soon retreating on all fronts
     The American, British, and Soviet armies meet outside of Berlin and the decision is made that the
       Soviets were enter Berlin first  May, 1945 Germany surrenders (May 8th)
     The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and prepared to fight in the Pacific, but the U.S. drops
       the atomic bombs and ends the needs for Soviet help (August, 1945)
     The Soviets lost at least 20 million people as a direct result of WWII; the number goes to 25
       million when numbers of people who died the year after the war ended (nutrition, disease, etc.) is
       added; another 25 million Soviets were made homeless by WWII

Major Conferences for the Big Three
    These conferences made all the plans for a post  WWII Europe  no separate treaty was ever
       signed with Germany; treaties were signed however with Japan, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria
    Casablanca  Churchill and Roosevelt decide on an unconditional surrender for Germany; Stalin
       not there, but was supportive of the conference
    Teheran Conference  November 1943  plans for Operation Overload  D-Day  are made; Stalin
       wants it to happen sooner so that he can get help on the eastern front; however, it won't happen
       until 1944; Stalin agrees to declare war against Japan
    Yalta Conference  February, 1945 Germany would be divided into zones that would be
       administered by the allies; Berlin would be divided and administered by the allies; and all land
       "liberated" by the Soviet Union would remain under its "sphere of influence" this would include
       Poland south to the Balkans  would become the "Iron Curtain"
    Potsdam Conference  July, 1945; Roosevelt has died, so Truman has replaced Roosevelt and
       Churchill loses election and he is replaced by Attlee; Stalin is the veteran here and he insists on
       keeping the arrangements made at Yalta; Truman receives word of the successful experiments
       with the atomic bomb, but keeps it TOP SECRET
    1945  San Francisco Conference  supports the Atlantic Charter that was created in 1941 and that
       set up the United Nations

The Cold War Begins
     Unlike previous conflicts, not a direct military confrontation, although wars were fought in Korea,
        Vietnam, Afghanistan and elsewhere as part of this conflict.
     Development of nuclear weapons made direct confrontation virtually unthinkable.
     Instead the conflict was mostly fought with diplomacy, propaganda, espionage, and irregular wars
        in the former colonial world.
United States.
     In 1945, the U. S. militarily and economically the most powerful nation in the world.
     Suffered 500,000 combat deaths and many other casualties, but land was not physically destroyed
     The United States armed forces in 1945 included the largest navy and the most well supplied army
        and air corps in the world; had control of the atomic bomb, the most powerful strategic arm in the
        world, but the armed forces were reduced from 13 million to 1.5 million
     The United States Economy: 43% of world's electricity in 1947; 57% of world's steel in 1947. ;
        63% of world's oil in 1947; the highest share of the world's total economy held by one country in
        history; Part of the reason for this was that the economies of most of the other major powers were
        in a shambles due to the war.

Soviet Union
      It suffered most losses during the war
      Tremendous military and economic capacity.
      Much of the heaviest fighting in World War II occurred on Soviet soil including many towns,
         villages, industries, transportation facilities, farms destroyed.
      It continued to maintain the largest standing army in the World.
      Because of the losses of the war, the Soviets occupied and eventually integrated much of Eastern
         Europe as "allies".
      To serve as a buffer zone and an area of economic interest.
      To extend the Communist system beyond the borders of the Soviet Union.

The United Nations
     The San Francisco International Conference of April-June 1945 formulated a charter for the
        United Nations
     the first member nations (51 in all) agreed use this new organization "to save succeeding
        generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to
     General Assembly -- The main representative body; to meet annually to address general problems,
        pass resolutions, and vote on the entry of new members; every member nation is represented in
        this body, today the member nations number nearly 200.
     Security Council -- to function year round and was to act in dealing with international problems
        and emergencies that would need immediate action; representatives of the United States, the
        Soviet Union, Britain, China, France were to serve as permanent members of the council and any
        one member can VETO any action
     Many other components include: the International Court of Justice at the Hague, UNRRA (United
        Nations Relief and Recovery Agency), UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, and
        Cultural Organization), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), WHO (World Health
     The United Nations was not able to settle the disputes between the East and the West

Nuclear Threats
    Use in World War II: At Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just two of these Atomic Bombs killed over
        120,000 people.
    Soviet-American Rivalry develops and Soviets began a crash program to have their own atomic
        bomb; tested the first Soviet atomic bomb tested in Siberia in 1949; Since both superpowers had
        the bomb, brought about "a balance of terror."
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