APW CCOT Soviet Union
From 18011941 great and drastic changes came to the Soviet Union. Although the
Soviet Union was put on a new path of history during this time, they were still connects to their roots as aspects of their society prior to 1801 continued. The Russians were technologically inferior to the rest of Europe and seemed to be living in the past. After losing two wars they expected to win, they finally realized just how far behind they were, and took action to get back to the top. Not only did the Soviet Union industrialize, but they changed the government too.
They left their Tsar regime behind, on their path to become the first communist nation. Not all was changed during this time, as the Russians held strong to certain styles of rule within the different governments. All of their leaders, whether they be Tsar or communist were oppressive and autocratic. Russia was able to turn themselves around and become one of the major players in World War Two single handedly defeating Germany in the Eastern front. They changed only what needed to be and turned a empire living in the past into a force to be reckoned with.
One change that took place in the Soviet Union during 18011941 was their extremely efficient switch from an non advanced nation to a worthy opponent due to industrialization. After losses in the RussoJapanese War, and the Crimean War, the Soviet Union began reordering their priorities in an attempt to get back to the top. Looking around the rest of Europe, Russia saw the military power brought about by advanced technology that the other powers had. Britain, France, and Germany all were making advancements. The Germans were making better tanks, and submarines called UBoats while the French and British were perfecting guns and artillery. The
Russians were one of the only countries in Europe that didn’t participate in the Scramble for
Africa (18811914). It wasn’t because they didn’t want to but because they weren’t advanced enough to do it. The first step back to the top of the food chain came when Tsar Alexander III
(who ruled from 18811894) started the construction of the TransSiberian railroad. This railroad successfully connected all of Russia for the first time, allowing the nation to easily transport food, money, and weapons all around the country at an extremely efficient rate. Although this was a huge step for the Soviet Union, the journey was not complete and more work needed to be done. A few decades after the implementation of the railroad, Joseph Stalin came to power with a plan that would help continue what Alexander III started. Stalin had this idea of a FiveYear plan that was going to revolutionize Russia’s industry. It did in fact change their industry, increasing it by 500%. He knew a change was needed, and took some drastic and maybe even unnecessary actions for the benefit of his country. This FiveYear Plan was created on the idea that the industry be controlled and developed by the state. Towns were being developed and there were many big projects being drawn up, like that of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Dam. After all this time being behind their European counterparts, the Soviet Union was once again a major industrial country that was only getting more powerful.
Along with the major change to an industrial society, the Soviet Union also changed their government from the rule of Tsar’s to a communist country. Russia was ruled by the Tsar for a very long time. From 18011917, the Tsar’s all came from the lineage of Catherine the Great.
Just like with the industrialization of the Soviet Union, the RussoJapanese War, and the
Crimean War sparked a need for a change in the government. The civilians were growing tired of the Tsar’s rule and discontent was quickly spreading. In the early 1900’s the citizens had had enough and pushed for a change of the government. Nicholas II (the Tsar at the time) heard their requests and created the Duma in 1906. The Duma was an elected legislative body that was put in place to give the people more say in the decisions of their country. However, the creation was
pointless as Nicholas ignored all requests of the Duma and kept all the power to himself. He had a big ego and even though it would have greatly benefitted his country, he refused to surrender to
Germany in World War One and cost Russia tons of money and resources for it was a total war.
The people and the Duma had enough and overthrew the Tsar during the Russian Revolution of
1917, calling themselves the Provisional Government. However the Provisional Government didn’t last long as it was abdicated later that year in September and Russia was declared the
Russian Republic. One or two months later (depending on the calendar) the Russian Republic was faced with the October Revolution. During this revolution, Vladimir Lenin and the
Bolsheviks (red army) who were Communists came to power and the newly founded Russian
Republic was quickly turned into Soviet Russia. From then until his death in 1924, Lenin was able to place the roots for a strong communist dictatorship in Russia. The Treaty of BrestLitovsk and the Civil War (19181921) were two major happenings that allowed this. He was able to avoid losing too much to the total war that was World War One and defeated all the enemies of communism that tried to take him down. The USSR was founded the same year Lenin and died and after four years of struggle, his successor Stalin finished what he started and continued keeping Russia communist. As we have seen time and time again the government of a country was switching because the citizens of the country made a push for equality and more say in their own government.
Even though there was so much change in the government during this time, there always seemed to be an oppressive and autocratic leader calling the shots. Starting with the Tsar’s in
1801 and ending with Stalin, all the rulers were absolute rulers that had many drastic effects on the citizens of the nation. During the time of the Tsar regime, there was a secret police, millions
of serfs, and censorship on everything. After the fall of the Tsar’s and the rise of Lenin, the people were now oppressed under Lenin’s War Communism policy during the civil war. The policy was implemented to counteract the economic struggles Russia was facing but ended being very oppressive and not as helpfully as the people would have hoped. Under this policy the farmers agricultural goods were plundered by the Russian government. As bad as that may sound, it only got worse once Stalin got to power. Stalin replaced Lenin’s War Communism policy with the New Economic Policy (NEP). Known as possibly one of the most oppressive rulers in history, Joseph Stalin was a ruthless man. He gave the government control over all means of production, nationalizing farms, factories, and banks. On top of the implementation of the NEP, Stalin also started collectivization. This policy merged all the individual farms into group farms so the production was thus collective. Through collectivization, Stalin manufactured a famine that would kill tons of people in the Soviet Union. With the cult of personality, Stalin placed fear in the hearts of those who didn’t support him so that they would not speak out against him. The brave few that did were executed as part of Stalin’s purge trials, which were responsible for the killing of many who Stalin believed to be enemies of him and communism.
Through all the change this nation went through, there was always a constant. For 140 years, there was always an oppressive, and absolute ruler at the reigns; taking hold and never letting go.
From 18011941, Russia revolutionized their country. They were able to overcome a
50100 year gap in industry in just 10, and modernized the government from the Tsarist to
Communist. Yet a house can’t be built without a foundation. Unfortunately in Russia, their house was built on a foundation of autocratic leaders, whom they suffered under for hundreds of years.
Sometimes there is sacrifice to get to the top, and this country and it’s people sacrificed a ton so that they could get their dream house.