Stalins Russia 1924 1953 Year 12 The Rise
- Slides: 44
Stalin’s Russia 1924 - 1953 Year 12
The Rise of Stalin: Stalin’s Character & Early Career • Had ruthless determination to do whatever was necessary to further the cause of the Bolshevik Party, e. g. crime - rob banks & trains; endure repeated imprisonment & torture in Siberia. • Devoted to ideals of Communism & Bolshevik Party, e. g. turned his back on early religious education; saw Marxism as offering genuine hope of freedom, equality & prosperity for the working class, unlike Christianity, Tsarism or Capitalism (he was born in 1879 into miserable poverty in Georgia (conquered territory of Russian Empire)). • Steadily rose up through Bolshevik Party – eventually became part of its leadership: member of Central Executive Committee; editor of Pravda (party newspaper); after revolution - member of Sovnarkom (Commissar for National Minorities) and Politburo of Communist Party (General Secretary); organised defence of town of Tsaritsyn against Whites during Civil War & took part in Russo. Polish War (1920 -21) BUT he had favoured some kind of political deal with Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries in Spring 1917 (opposed by Lenin), supported the ill-conceived ‘July Days’ uprising and played only a minor role in the Bolshevik Revolution (unlike Trotsky) in Oct. /Nov. 1917 – the Bolshevik Party’s greatest achievement.
The Rise of Stalin: The Struggle for Power (1924 – 1929) CHANGED POLICIES TO WIN SUPPORT – used debates over ‘Permanent Revolution’ (Trotsky)/ ‘Socialism in One Country’ & continuation of NEP to discredit rivals & present himself as a reasonable politician who wanted best for USSR & Communist Party. UNDERESTIMATED BY HIS RIVALS – able to make alliances because Politburo members more worried about threat of others gaining power – Stalin not seen as credible successor to Lenin by them. How did Stalin become the leader of the USSR? General Secretary, controlled STALIN’S PERSONALITY – ruthless, determined, cunning, treacherous, manipulative. USED HIS POSITION IN GOVERNMENT & PARTY TO BUILD SUPPORT – As MADE POLITICAL ALLIANCES IN POLITBURO TO ISOLATE RIVALS ONE AFTER ANOTHER – initially all appointments – put own supporters into key posts while removing/ demoting those loyal to his rivals. MOUNTED PROPAGANDA allied with Kamenev & Zinoviev against Trotsky; switched to Rykov & Bukharin against K & Z; finally could CAMPAIGNS AGAINST RIVALS – used supporters’ talents (for writing rely on own supporters – now members of Politburo thanks to Stalin – against R & B (& last futile alliance of K, books, speeches & newspapers) to discredit rivals & present him as Lenin’s Z & T – too weak when finally allied against Stalin). successor.
Stalin’s aims 1928 -1953 • Modernise Soviet society & economy - creating a truly Communist and prosperous society • Ensure the national security of the USSR (After the death of Lenin Stalin had called for ‘Socialism in One Country’ ) • Maintain his position as leader
What were Stalin’s main policies 1928 - 53? • Collectivisation • The Five Year Plans • The Cultural Revolution (inc. the cult of personality & policies towards women, religion, education & young people) • The Purges • Leading USSR during ‘The Great Patriotic War’ (1941 -45)
The Five Year Plans (1928 – 1941) • Devised by GOSPLAN, the State Planning Commission for economic development since 1921, acting under Stalin’s orders. • • Three ‘Five Year Plans’ between 1928 and 1942: 1928 -32 - coal; iron & steel; oil; hydro-electricity; farming 1933 -37 - as above & manufacturing 1938 -42 – as above & consumer goods BUT shifted to rearmament early on & interrupted by Nazi invasion (1941). • The 4 th (1945 -50) and 5 th (1951 -55) Five Year Plans were launched after WWII - re-build industry & agriculture.
Rapid Industrialization and Collectivization of Agriculture “One feature of the history of old Russia was the continual beatings she suffered because of her backwardness. She was beaten by the Mongol khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She was beaten by the Swedish feudal rules. She was beaten by the Lithuanian gentry. She was beaten by the British and French capitalists. She was beaten by the Japanese barons. All beat her – because of her backwardness, because of her military backwardness, cultural backwardness, political backwardness, industrial backwardness, agricultural backwardness… We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in in ten years. Either we do it or we will perish. ” - Joseph Stalin, 1931
Why Was the NEP Abandoned? Strong, lingering opposition to the NEP among many Communists. * The persistence of capitalism, the continuation of poverty, the visible social presence of petty capitalists in the cities (NEPmen) and rich peasants in the countryside (kulaks) angered many. * Un-heroic gradualism frustrated many.
Economic Development: The First Five-Year Plan (1928 -1932) • Rapid industrialization was necessary to protect the Soviet state from hostile enemies: - The rise of Nazi Germany in Europe - The rise of militarist Japan in the Far East
The Effects of the Cultural Revolution (1928 onwards) • Peasantry – After the NEP (1921 -28) & with the implementation of Collectivisation (1928 -33 and onwards) the peasants found themselves the victims of increasing state control & famine. They became a smaller proportion of the population as industrialisation progressed and were effectively restored to the miserable status at the bottom of society that they had experienced under Tsarism. • Industrial Working Class – Grew as a class due to the success of the Five Year Plans – their achievements in the service of the USSR were celebrated over other groups. Workers’ education programmes offered further ways to improve their position in society and fostered the idea of the ‘New Soviet Man’ – the model working class citizen. Living and working conditions improved after the initial horrors of rapid industrialisation, but remained of a relatively low standard. Healthcare services for all improved (hospitals, sanatoria, clinics, training for doctors, nurses & midwives) but never came close to the claims the Communists made for them from the moment they set up a state-run health service in 1917 and never adequate to meet the demands of a population experiencing rapid industrialisation and total war.
The Effects of the Cultural Revolution (1928 onwards) • Women (& Families) – Experienced some ‘liberation’ in their lives after 1917 – more freedom of choice in marriage, divorce & childbirth (abortion) and their interests represented by Zhenotdel (1917 -30) in the Communist Party – the family and women’s obligations to it were rejected as instruments of Bourgeois Capitalist Oppression. Cultural Revolution essentially reversed this trend, especially after the ‘Great Retreat’ (1934 onwards) when women’s traditional role in the family and society was promoted in the face of growing anxiety over the social ‘breakdown’ caused by rapid industrialisation (e. g. 1936 strict enforcement of marriage registration; divorce & abortion restricted; family defined as basic unit of Soviet society; homosexuality outlawed). This traditional role was reinforced by the Family Law (1944), which furthered encouraged motherhood to restore the population after WWII. In the long term, women did benefit from increased opportunities in the industrial workforce and the education programmes which went with these due to the demand for labour in the Five Year Plans and during WWII (500, 000 served in Red Army), but an equal status to men in society was never achieved.
The Effects of the Cultural Revolution (1928 onwards) • Young People & Education – Initially hailed as the young heroes of the new Soviet society and encouraged to actively challenge the ideas of the older generation (e. g. many orphans after Russian Civil War – state orphanages taught young people loyalty to Communist Party, not families; old textbooks destroyed; exams abolished). The Communist Party youth organisation, Komsomol (formed 1926), was used as a powerful instrument of propaganda and was in the forefront of the persecution of the Church in the 1920 s. With the ‘Great Retreat’ a more traditional role for young people was promoted – emphasis on traditional respect for authority figures and improvement in academic standards in education as society was transformed by rapid industrialisation (e. g. 10 years compulsory schooling; official curriculum & textbooks; state run exams; uniforms). Stalin & Communist Party more interested in creating an obedient & educated workforce rather than idealistic, but unruly & possibly insubordinate, young people (e. g. 1926 to 1940: literacy rate of pop. - 51% to 88%; school attendance 12 to 35 million).
The Effects of the Cultural Revolution (1928 onwards) • Religion – the Church was the object of persecution by Lenin and Stalin – the Communist Party & Stalin saw it as a rival for people’s loyalties & an obstacle to spreading Marx’s teachings, e. g. 1918 – Church lost state support; By 1924 – 300 bishops executed & 10000 priests imprisoned; 1928 onwards – peasant resistance to damage to church property (icons & bells) in rural areas was blamed on Kulaks. During WWII (1941 -45) there was a suspension of this campaign for propaganda purposes – the Communists were prepared to use any means to stiffen resistance to the Nazis and encourage self-sacrifice on the part of the population, e. g. churches in USSR: 1940 - 500; 1953 – 25000. After WWII the Christian Church was only tolerated by the government as long as it avoided becoming the focus of any form of political opposition against Stalin.
The Effects of the Cultural Revolution (1928 onwards) • The Cult of Personality – Stalin himself benefited the most from the Cultural Revolution – the ‘cult of personality’, which was propagated by it, strengthened his position as leader.
The Arts & Media and the Cultural Revolution • Cinema • Newspapers • Literature: Union of Soviet Writers, 1932 onwards • Performing Arts: Music; Theatre; Opera & Ballet • Art Architecture Festivals Radio Komsomol & Education Posters, Place Names & Statues • Science • • • Socialist Realism
The Cultural Revolution (1928 onwards) n Did it totally transform Soviet society & culture? – Not really – True Communism was not achieved, but the Cultural Revolution did cultivate a new sense of national identity for the Soviet peoples, presenting an image of Soviet society which was appealing to many – serving the needs of Stalin’s major policies – the Five Year Plans, winning the Great Patriotic War and maintaining his position as leader. n Many ‘cultural producers’ did collaborate with the regime, willingly & unwillingly, BUT many did not – remarkable degree of variety in what was produced given the repressive nature of Stalin’s rule! n Successfully promoted the cult of Stalin’s leadership and drummed up Russian nationalism during WWII – ultimately it was another factor for the survival of the Stalinist USSR as a state.
The Purges • From 1934 to 1938 Stalin conducted a series of purges of the Communist Party, Red Army and other sections of Soviet society – millions died in labour camps, executions or mass killings. • The instrument for this was the secret police – NKVD under first Yagoda (1934 -36) and later Yezhov, the ‘poisoned dwarf’, (1937 -38) (later part of the policy against ordinary citizens in the localities is sometimes known as the ‘Yezhovschina’). • 01/12/34 – Decree against Terrorist Acts – gave NKVD unlimited power to hunt down enemies of the state (on the same day as Kirov’s murder which triggered the Purges). • A product of Stalin’s paranoia and the result of the tensions awakened by the drastic agricultural, industrial and cultural policies pursued by Stalin, which made Stalin vulnerable to criticism. • A series of ‘show trials’ of prominent Communists and military leaders justified the purges – Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rykov and Bukharin all admitted to plotting against the Stalin and the Party, becoming ‘Trotskyite’ scapegoats for the USSR’s troubles. Trotsky himself (in exile since 1929) was finally assassinated on Stalin’s orders in 1940 in Mexico.
Genrikh Yagoda NKVD chief when failed to initiate purges in the scale Stalin expected he was shot
Yezhov and other party thugs
Mikhail Tukhachesky The soviet marshal and hero of the civil war shot in 1937
The first five Marshals of the Soviet Union in November 1935. : Mikhail Tukhachevsky, Semyon Budyonny, Kliment Voroshilov, Vasily Blyukher, Aleksandr Yegorov. Only Voroshilov and Budyonny survived the Great Purge.
The Purges • By 1938 Stalin had turned on Yezhov (replaced by Beria) and the NKVD itself – all opposition had been erased and Stalin was again seeking popularity and focusing on the national security of the USSR. (By this point 1 in 8 citizens had been arrested at some point in the purges & almost every family had lost at least 1 of its members as a victim of the terror – the fear & suspicion generated by the purges in society had secured Stalin’s hold on power but now threatened to cripple the USSR. ) • The Purges had secured Stalin’s hold on power, generated more labour for the GULAG system and brought the Red Army to heal, but they did immense damage to the operational capability of USSR’s armed forces – 1938: Red Army was in an appalling state on the eve of WWII, (highlighted by its poor performance in ‘The Winter War’ (1939 -40) with Finland, in spite of outnumbering Finns 4 to 1 (800 Soviet tanks vs. 100 Finnish ones; 27, 000 Red Army troops killed in first month of fighting – only won in March after a change of commander & by sending in overwhelming force against the Finns).
Lavrenti Beria He succeeded Yezhov as NKVD chief. He was shot soon after Stalin died in 1953
Foreign Policy 1918 - 1936 • Under Lenin and his Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Chicherin, Soviet foreign policy followed 2 contradictory strands: – • Fomenting of ‘World Revolution’ – Comintern founded (1919); USSR won back much of land lost in 1918 during Russian Civil War up to 1921. • Pragmatic agreements with other states – Treaty of Rapallo with Germany (1922). • This continued under Stalin, although less emphasis was placed on ‘World Revolution’ as Stalin had called for ‘Socialism in One Country’ – in other words peaceful coexistence with Capitalist countries for the immediate future (Comintern not disbanded under Stalin).
Foreign Policy 1924 - 1941 • Chicherin remained as Commissar for Foreign Affairs until 1930 – replaced by Litvinov (had been largely leading policy since 1926) • Litvinov attempted to establish good relations with other states through treaties & compromises which would safeguard USSR against foreign aggression, especially Nazi Germany after 1933: • 1931: Japan invades Manchuria (northern China) – USSR sold its railway there to the Japanese, rather than make this a cause of future conflict. • 1934: USSR joined League of Nations • 1935: Franco-Soviet Pact – both agreed to assist Czechoslovakia if it was attacked; Comintern recommended Socialists & Communists abroad form political alliances with other parties for the first time
Foreign Policy 1936 - 1939 However: • Traditional suspicion of the USSR got in the way of closer diplomatic relations with Britain & France which could have blocked Nazi aggression: • 1936 -38 – Britain & France appeased Hitler rather than opposing him outright. • 1936: USSR gave aid to the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War – Britain & France remained neutral. • 1936: Anti-Comintern Pact – Germany & Japan, and later Italy (1938) allied against the threat of the USSR. • Sept. 1938 – Stalin not invited to the Munich Conference (Britain, France, Italy & Germany) to discuss the fate of Czechoslovakia – diplomatically isolated. • 1938: Rearmament became the aim of 3 rd Five Year Plan. • April 1939: Following the invasion of Czechoslovakia, negotiations with Britain & France to form an alliance against Germany came to nothing.
Foreign Policy 1939 - 1941 1939 – 1941: a new direction in foreign policy • May 1939: Litvinov (took over from Chicherin in 1930) replaced by Molotov – Stalin now wanted an understanding with Nazi Germany (sworn enemies of Communism) to protect the USSR in the short term. • 23 rd August 1939: Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact – secret protocols in the treaty allow the USSR to: • Partition Poland with Germany (Sept. 1939) • Occupy parts of Finland (March 1940) and the Baltic States (July 1940) • Stalin also seized northern Bukovina & Bessarabia from Romania (June 1940) whilst Hitler was taken up with the war in France (May – July 1940) – not part of the Pact! • Stalin had taken back most of the land lost in the Treaty of Brest. Litovsk (1918), making a buffer zone facing Germany
Foreign Policy 1924 - 1941 Had Stalin’s foreign policy been a success? • 1926 – 1939 Litvinov maintained peaceful relations with other states – ‘Socialism in One Country’; Five Year Plans modernised the economy. • 1939 – 1941 Extended Soviet territory. • When USSR was attacked in 1941 Germany was already at war with Britain. BUT… • USSR had become diplomatically isolated again. • A devastating (and potentially disastrous) war with Nazi Germany had not been avoided.
Foreign Policy 1941: Stalin was confident that Germany would not attack the USSR in the immediate future because Germany would be preoccupied with its war with the British Empire, but… • Autumn 1940 – Nazi invasion of Britain postponed – German land forces not tied up, Hitler turned his attention east. • Soviet moves against Finland Romania (Germany’s main oil supplier) alarmed Hitler. • ‘The Winter War’ with Finland (Nov. 1939 – March 1940) highlighted the limitations of the Red Army – 120, 000 soldiers killed, compared to 22, 000 Finns – Hitler was confident the USSR could be defeated easily. • USSR had no allies – ejected from the League of Nations in 1939 over the invasion of Finland. • Hitler’s deep hatred of Communism came to the surface again. (Stalin continued to believe there was no immediate danger right up to the German invasion, rejecting a great deal of intelligence to the contrary about a German military build up on the USSR’s borders (e. g. reports from Richard Sorge in Japan – USSR’s most successful spy). As a result when the invasion came Stalin’s nerve temporarily broke and he fell into deep despondency, leaving the USSR effectively leaderless at the outset of the fighting. )
The USSR and the Nazi Invasion “The history of the old Russia has consisted in being beaten again and again…because of her…backwardness, military backwardness, industrial backwardness, agricultural backwardness. She was beaten because to beat her has paid off and because people have been able to get away with it. If you are backward and weak then you are in the wrong and may be beaten and enslaved. But if you are powerful…people must beware of you. We are fifty to a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make up this gap in ten years. Either we do this or they crush us. ” From a speech by Stalin, 1931 “Lenin left us a great legacy and we have fucked it up. ” Stalin addressing the Politburo at the start of the Nazi invasion, June 1941 “The issue is one of life and death for the peoples of the USSR. We must mobilise ourselves and reorganise all our work on a new wartime footing, where there can be no mercy to the enemy. In areas occupied by the enemy, sabotage groups must be organised to combat enemy units, to foment guerrilla warfare everywhere, to blow up bridges and roads, damage telephone and telegraph lines, to set fire to forests, stores and transports. In occupied regions, conditions must be made unbearable for the enemy. ” From Stalin’s radio broadcast, 3 rd July 1941
The USSR in World War II • • • Nazi invasion in Summer 1941 – Operation Barbarossa Objective: Archangel-Astrakhan Line – Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev & the Ukraine all to be captured – political, communication & economic systems effectively would be seized in a lightning campaign which would wipe out the Red Army in the field (3 army groups attacked along a 1000 mile front). Failed in spite of dramatic initial gains (Zhukov’s counter-offensive before Moscow) – re -launched as Operation Blue in Summer 1942. Objectives: reach the River Volga and swing north to encircle Moscow; seize Soviet oilfields in the south – Caucasus Mountains. Failed (Zhukov’s counter-offensive before Stalingrad) – Operation Citadel launched in Summer 1943 to trap and destroy massed Soviet forces in the ‘Kursk Salient’, following retreat from Stalingrad. Failed - Nazis are forced gradually to retreat out of USSR and the Balkan peninsula (1943 -44) by series of costly Red Army rolling offensives (Soviet forces shifting focus of attacks when Germans moved to reinforce embattled area) masterminded by Zhukov (Romanian oilfields taken Oct. 1944). UK & US forces advancing from west after D-Day (June 1944) – massive pincers. January – May 1945 – USSR launches the last great offensive of the war in Europe which drives Nazis out of Poland all the way back to Berlin. August 1945 – USSR declares war on Japan – invades Manchuria and destroys Japanese forces there.
Why was the USSR victorious? • Outnumbered Axis forces • Russian winter – repeatedly upset Nazi plans (1941 - 42, 1942 – 43) • Resilience & determination of the Russian people (over 17 million killed, but they still fought on!) – ‘Borodino spirit’ – fostered by Stalin’s successful propaganda campaigns to raise morale, inc. not persecuting the Church (prepared to use any means to give the Russians the will to fight on) • Strong leadership – Stalin (civil) & Zhukov (military) – Zhukov was largely given a free hand by Stalin in conducting the war, unlike Hitler who constantly meddled in military plans - Red Army reorganised effectively into modern fighting force with specialist units - ‘Tank Armies’; ‘Shock Armies’; partisans behind enemy lines; massed artillery formations - after damage of the Purges, Winter War & initial disaster of 1941. • Terror among civilians and soldiers enforced by the NKVD & Death to Spies – ultimately the Soviet peoples had to fight even if they did not want to. • Hatred of Nazis (sworn enemies of Communism) – especially after the atrocities committed against Soviet civilians. • T 34 tank – a decisive weapon – mass-produced – best tank of the war • Industrial production continued in the east – 1300 factories moved from the war zone to the new industrial areas beyond the Urals e. g. Magnitogorsk. • Aid from the western allies – intelligence reports from UK, (code-breaking carried out by ULTRA) and industrial products from USA (Lend-Lease Agreement from 1941) – maintained Soviet war production.
Stalin in 1945 n n n Under his leadership the USSR had won WWII (1945 – adopted the title Generalissimo to stress his part in ultimate victory). The Red Army had advanced into the heart of Europe – How did Stalin’s priorities now change? Creating a truly Communist society remained the stated goal of the USSR, but the entrenched power of Stalin & the Communist Party made this impossible. ‘Socialism in One Country’ could no longer be the rationale for Soviet policy – the USSR’s conquest of much of eastern and central Europe meant it was no longer the only Socialist state in the world. It had become a ‘superpower’ whose military might made it a far greater threat to its Capitalist neighbours than the USSR of the 1920 s and 30 s. A huge amount of Soviet territory had been devastated by the Nazi invasion. Reconstruction of the Soviet economy was now necessary. Stalin’s position as leader was secure (although he was no less paranoid) – he no longer exercised strict control over political appointments (everyone in high office owed their position to him anyway), but he maintained his supremacy through intrigue, coldbloodedly fostering suspicion, fear and rivalry among his subordinates.
millions of tonnes 1937 1945 1950 Coal 128 147. 3 261. 1 Oil 28. 5 19. 4 37. 9 Steel 17. 7 12. 3 27. 3
Post War Reconstruction • • Two more Five Year Plans were launched to rebuild the Soviet economy after WWII: 1945 -50 - re-build industry & agriculture 1951 -55 - ‘prestige projects’ - made regime look good, but achieved little economically Remarkable progress was made because: The first three Five Year Plans had given the USSR an industrial infrastructure to build upon – trained workers; communication networks; industrial plant - much of the chaos of the Plans in the 1930 s could be avoided. The USSR was able to economically exploit its new political sphere of influence in eastern Europe, e. g. stripping German industry of machinery. Armaments production continued after WWII as the USSR sought to maintain its superpower status in the Cold War - stimulated the industrial economy. Agriculture did not recover as well as industry – remained relatively backward - the peasantry remained the second class citizens of the USSR. millions of tonnes 1937 1945 1950 Coal 128 147. 3 261. 1 Oil 28. 5 19. 4 37. 9 Steel 17. 7 12. 3 27. 3
Foreign Policy 1945 -53 • After the war Stalin was unwilling to sacrifice or compromise upon any of the diplomatic & military gains the USSR had made during WWII – his confrontational foreign policy was to create the opening phase of the Cold War conflict and was only mitigated by the USSR’s economic limitations and the threat of atomic war with the USA: • Yalta & Potsdam Conferences (1945) – Stalin used these to assert Soviet claims over occupied Europe – made few concessions to the USA (Truman) & UK (Churchill), who soon came to see Stalin as a menace to liberty in Europe: Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech (1946); ‘Truman Doctrine’ (1947) aid states resisting Communism. • Comintern had been abolished in 1943 – but its subversive role was taken effectively taken over by NKVD (replaced by KGB after Stalin’s death). Cold War subversion pursued in professional way. • ‘Satellite States’ were set up: the leadership of the new Communist states in eastern Europe were all loyal to the USSR thanks to Comintern. Stalin increased the USSR’s influence over them through Comecon (1949) – economic cooperation; Cominform (1947) – political coordination.
Foreign Policy 1945 -53 • Berlin Blockade (1948 - May 1949): Stalin attempted to force the western allies out of West Berlin as relations between the former allies soured. Forced to give way when the western trade embargo on the USSR proved damaging to economic reconstruction – a permanent rift between Stalin and the West now opened up: the closest Stalin came to starting WWIII! (but also shows the limits to his aggressive foreign policy). • Atomic Bomb (Aug. 1949): by developing atomic military capability the USSR could challenge the only other superpower, the USA, on its own terms – ensured that the Cold War deadlock and particularly the ideological division of Europe would continue. • The USSR’s military occupation of Manchuria & North Korea (1945) greatly assisted the setting up of Communist regimes in North Korea (1948) & China (1949), leading in turn to the… • Korean War (1950 -53) – whilst the USSR did not intervene in this war directly, Stalin provided economic and diplomatic support to North Korea and China in the first open conflict of the Cold War: at Stalin’s death, the Cold War deadlock had also spread to Asia – Stalin had advanced the cause of Communism unreservedly and hedged the USSR with ideological allies.
Stalin’s Last Years Stalin’s Personal Rule: • Stalin remained paranoid about maintaining his position to the end of his life, e. g. ‘The Leningrad Affair’ (1949) – another purge of Communist Party to root out potential rivals – included those with distinguished war record. • Regularly humiliating and undermining the other members of the Politburo reinforced his political & psychological authority over them. • Jewish Doctors’ Plot (1953): In the last months of his life Stalin was preparing to undertake another major purge of the government – it was alleged that a plot against his life and the Communist Party was being orchestrated by the Jews – doctors were trying to poison him. As a result Stalin refused any kind of medical treatment when he fell ill. Before the plot could be ‘unmasked’, Stalin died of a stroke, aged 73.
Stalin’s Legacy • Entrenched power of the Communist Party and the demands of the Cold War made reform of the USSR almost impossible. • Khrushchev 1955 - 1964 - reformer • Brezhnev 1964 - 1982 • Andropov 1982 - 1984 • Chernenko 1984 - 1985 • Gorbachev 1985 – 1991 - reformer • Gorbachev’s attempt to liberalise the regime after 1985 ultimately led to the end of the Cold War, the fall of Communism and the end of the USSR & its empire by 1991. • The effects of Stalin’s policies are still evident in Russian economy & society today.