The Soviet Union

By: Frankie Sperka

Beginnings of Change for the Russian Government

Breaking Away from the Czarist Rule

Czar Nicholas II mistreated many Russians by neglecting to provide them with affordable food, and other necessities for living. Many Russians were very poor and struggling to get by, many even died of starvation. Many people began to want a government that sufficiently provided the necessities of the people. People began to protest their insufficient autocracy, and call for a government in which its citizens are treated fairly. A group known as the Bolsheviks, believers in communist values who were willing go to extreme measures in hopes of freedom, emerged as a main revolutionary group promoting independence and fair treatment. Lead by Vladimir Lenin, the Bolsheviks defeated the Czar and overthrew the Autocracy upon the completion of the March Revolution in 1917.

The Bolsheviks Gain Control

Upon defeating the Czar and destroying the Autocracy, a previously created Russian Parliament of sorts, known as the Duma, established a temporary government known as the Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks quickly defeated this governing system and took control of Russia.

Lenin Establishes a Government

Vladimir Lenin was the leader of the Bolsheviks who promoted the values and ideas of Karl Marx and helped to establish a new and stable economy and government. Lenin created the communist party of Russia. This Communist form of government was largely supported by Russian peasants who supported Lenin during the revolution. This helped strengthen the bond between Lenin's supporters. Lenin and his allies then endured a three-year long civil war in which Lenin and his supporters fended off bitter Russians and whites who felt angry about communist control in Russia. Defeating these revolutionaries strengthened Lenin and the Bolsheviks control of Russia.

Stalin Gains Control

Joesph Stalin became a great political ally of Lenin, and eventually would become his successor. Despite Lenin's warnings about Stalin and his potential for corrupting the government in order for personal gain, Stalin eventually did succeed Lenin and became the leader of Russia. Stalin became obsessed with power and formed a totalitarian state, in which the Russian government controlled all aspects of public and private life. Stalin then went on to perfect communism and Russian nationalism by forcing citizens to speak the Russian language, practice no religion, and remain totally loyal to Stalin and the country. Stalin made his citizens believe that he was the greatest and most intelligent human being ever to live the Earth, sent to save Russia and make it into a modern and industrial place that thrived. Stalin frequently used violence and terror to instill fear into citizens so that they would continue to be loyal to him. Stalin even became paranoid with his own communist party and launched the Great Purge. This event killed anyone who threatened Stalin's power, causing him to become the sole leader of Russia.
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Stalin frequently used propaganda such as this image (known as socialist realism) to promote communist values and soviet life.

Establishment of the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was created under Lenin but established as a powerful government during Stalin's control. Despite his brutal methods, Stalin was successful in creating powerful industries and a strong military in Russia. Through the use of his five-year plans, which set impossibly high requirements to which hardworking peasants had to fulfill, Stalin was able to close the massive industrial gap between Russia and the other industrialized countries of the time period. These methods made Russia into the military superpower that would become during WWII and the Cold War.

Soviet Union in World War II

In the beginning of the war, Russia and Germany signed a nonaggression pact. This meant that the two countries would not attack one another but would not become allies. This kept Russia out of the early stages of the war as a neutral country. This pact also split the country of Poland between the two nations. The two countries continued to keep to this nonaggression pact until June 22, 1941 when Germany went against this pact and invaded the Soviet Union. From this point forward, the USSR disregarded the antiaggression pact and join the allies in the war.

The Collapse of the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union prospered for many years before its final collapse on December 25, 1991. Its collapse was due to the bad economy that the USSR had. Revolutions began and people wanted their own independent nations once again. And so it was on December 25, 1991 that 13 out of the 15 nations that made up the USSR left the union and became independent nations once again.

The Lasting Effects of the Soviet Union

Although typically seen as a good thing, the demise of the Soviet Union left devastating effects on many countries that once were members of the USSR. For example, upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country of Ukraine fell into anarchy. In order to earn money, people would steal anything they could find. These things would include park benches for to sell for their metal, any scrap metal, breaking into homes, cutting power lines and selling them, even stealing from businesses in order to earn extra money. This was caused by the socialist economy in Ukraine. People began to be greedy about their money and didn't want to make the same amount as everyone else, so they began to steal from one another and scavenge anything they could find. The collapse of the Soviet Union took a drastic toll on many countries, each having to establish their own government and economy following its collapse.

Russian Leaders

My Reaction

This is by far the most interesting project I have ever done. Just today, I talked to my guitar teacher who is from Ukraine. She told me all about the collapse of the Soviet Union and what is was like, first hand, in the chaos, fear, and uncertainty. I loved it so much to talk to someone about something that I was learning about in class and have it applied to the real world. She also told me about the propaganda and 'brainwashing' that the Soviet Union had done to their students while they were in school. I found the whole thing fascinating. I hope that I am able to talk to more people about the history that they have lived through and learn their stories, because that to me is the coolest thing in the world.

Works Cited

"English Online." The Russian Revolution. English Online, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"Fall of the Soviet Union." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"Invasion of the Soviet Union, June 1941." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"Joseph Stalin." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"Russian Revolution - March 1917 - History Learning Site." History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"Vladimir Lenin Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"World War II | 1939-1945." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.