Welcome to the Russian dictatorships section of the site.

Those of you who used the old site will know it as predominantly a vehicle to discuss Russian history. These pages are designed to support Little Heath A2 students studying for their summer examination. Our examination board is OCR, and the paper is Historical Themes – Option B: Modern 1789 – 1997. The paper code is F966/02, and we are studying Russia from 1855 to 1964.

As before, we envisage that different students will use different parts of the site in different ways. Most students find the schemes of work and assessment sections above as particualrly useful for reference. You should however also look at the additional materials section. This has lots in it to support and extend your studies. Look for example at the excellent quotation bank from a previous student. Below this post will be articles of news about Russian History. You will also see posts here that will be used for online discussion homeworks where we will want you to add (ideally constructive) comments.

Above all however, we want this to be your site. However you use it is fine, but please take ownership of it.

 Mr Kydd


Oh and just for old times sake, here are two top historians (Mr Podesta and me circa 2030 ?) debating the Sevastopol mutiny of 1905 - perhaps…

YouTube Preview Image

Please find here the department’s 5Rs document (Research, Reflect, Review, Read around, and Respond to feedback). It sets out what A Levels students should expect from us, and what we expect from you.

Finally,  this is a complete list of all the past questions from the new course. However, students are reminded thar the latest Ofqual pronouncements on examinations which instructed the boards that;

  • All parts of the course must be examined.
  • No question should be (exactly) repeated.

You class teacher will discuss what this means for your revision with you. Perhaps more useful in essay planning is this revision work booklet.

Mr Kydd.

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Battle of the statues

statuteIf all of the present developments between “Russian” Ukraine and “Ukrainian” Ukraine are hard to follow, then you might like to have a looks at the following. Here you can see a map to show how Ukrainian statues have been destroyed. Broadly it follows ethnic lines. This BBC report and this BBC magazine article explain the long history of idolatory in Russian and Soviet history. 

One final point – Lenin of course was of Tartar origin…

Mr Kydd.

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What do today’s Russians think about Lenin?

Lenin todayPlease click here for an article from RUSSIA – beyond the headlines. It discusses modern views of Lenin, and the never-ending question of what to do with his body.

Today’s generation of Russians have rather mixed feelings when it comes to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution . The issue of burying Lenin’s body, which is still kept in a mausoleum in Red Square, comes up again and again. For the older generation, however, he remains an important historical figure, whereas young people are often unable to tell him from a comic book hero”.

Have a read and see what you think. It touches on the question – how much is a historian’s views of the past informed by the time in which he or she lives ? If this interests you, then search for my comments on AJP Taylor on the main site.

Mr Kydd.

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The cartoon that came in from the cold

Animal FarmYou may remember in the last week of the summer term we watched the 1955 cartoon version of  Animal Farm as part of your introduction to the Russian dicatorships course. What I did not realise at the time was that although a British film, it was paid for by the CIA. This article by Karl Cohen in The Guardian explains the remarkable story of how US intelligence secretly funded the landmark British movie. Animated propaganda was not of course new (it had been widely used in the Second World War), but what makes this noteworthy for me is that this was a huge box office success and critically acclaimed.

This certains helps to explain the diversion from the Orwell book. In terms of the chronology of our course, we should refelct that it would have been made when Stalin was still alive, when the Korean War was still raging, and before Khrushchev started to speak of peaceful co-existance.

Maybe it is worth rewatching it with this iinformation in our heads.

Mr Kydd.

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Writing on Khrushchev

russiaI have spoken to you before about the excellent BBC Radio 4 series Russia: The Wild East by Martin Sixsmith. The second series is presently being rerun, and it has just got to Khruschev.

Writing meaningfully about Khrushchev is something that students often find demanding on the synoptic paper, so you may wish to listen to the two following fifteen minute programmes - The rise and fall of Khrushchev and The Secret Speech.

The programme description is included below.

Martin Sixsmith walks down Cosmonauts Alley in Moscow where plaques and statues commemorate the achievements of the Russian space programme.

He uses archive recordings from 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. The USSR had beaten the US, and Khrushchev claimed vindication: “once-illiterate Russia has pioneered the path into space. Let everyone who has sharpened their claws against us know this!” He was determined to prove the USSR equal to the US, but he struggled to modernize and the Soviet Union remained a police state. He insisted the era of socialist struggle was over and fancifully predicted Communist perfection by 1980.

Having committed himself to big improvements in living conditions he had to start delivering, but Shostakovich’s operetta Cheryomushki shows just how far the Soviet Dream had diverged from the reality of everyday life. The economy was slow to respond to Khrushchev; with few incentives to work hard, people joked ‘they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.’ With agriculture failing to meet the country’s needs, Khrushchev embarked on a series of disastrous grand schemes but still had to cut the defence budget to buy food. Perceived military vulnerability lead to thawing relations with the West, but Khrushchev continued to bluff and intimidate.

He told Western ambassadors that the triumph of communism was inevitable. “Like it or not,” he said, “history is on our side. We will bury you.” But humiliation in Cuba undermined his authority. While on holiday on the Black Sea in October 1964, he was summoned to Moscow and forced to resign. “I’m old and tired”, he told a friend. “Let them cope by themselves. I’ve done the main thing. The fear has gone now; we can talk as equals. That is my contribution.”

Mr Kydd.

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Am I in proportion Year Thirteen ?

Agriculture timelineAs we are now onthe brink of writing our first fully synoptic essays on the peasants I think it would be helpful to return to our agriculture timelines.

Task :- Have a look again at the timeline. Now that you understand this theme what do you think of it ? In pairs discuss it and post a comment below thinking carefully about the relative positions of the key events.  Make sure that you explain your reasons behind your comments.

Mr Kydd.

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Coming in October …

…Fight club.

The plan is for an online History debate between Mr Kydd’s set and Mrs Canning’s set. It will be done through posting comments to this post. Judging will be by Ms Vignali’s set.

The aim is to get you really thinking about how to construct analytical and powerful arguments in as few words as possible.

The rules.

Obviously the first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule is also that you do not talk about fight club. However the third rule is that each school will get two posts of no more than 200 words. Credit will be given for the power of your arguments and evidence deployed (you should aim to interact with it where it is appropriate). 

The timeline will be as follows.


The week starting the 30th September – My set have a week to make their first post in favour of the motion.

The week starting the 7th October – Mrs Canning’s set have a week to put their first post against the motion.

The week starting the 14th October – both sets have a week to post a rebuttal of the other school’s argument.

The week starting 21st October – Judging to take place. Ms Vignali’s set will focus on the power of the argument (not which idea they agree with more). 


Mr Kydd


To what extent is it correct to suggest that Alexander II deserves his reputation as the Tsar Liberator ?

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Enrichment article – 1913-2013: How Russia Botched an Entire Century

Nicholas-II-TsarPlease click here for this Alex Bayer’s article in the Globalist. In many respects it presents a standard American survey of Tsarist under-achievement followed by Communist misrule. Typically, for example, he states “Russia’s political economy has not moved forward much over the past 100 years. Despite mind-boggling mistakes, mismanagement and crimes of its leaders, Russia even now has much unrealized potential.” 

It certainly hits on key synoptic themes of our course – such as the desire for  economic modernisation and the use of repression. In truth I think it is readable, but I am not sure that I agree with it all. You might like to read and note its main conclusions now – at the start of our course – and then review it when we have completed our studies.

Mr Kydd.

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Summer Reading

BookReview1Lovely people,
As agreed, the purpose of this post is to allow you to post your summer book review comments below. You really don’t need to write much – one to two paragraphs is fine. Do then look at  each others’ comments (especially if you have read the same things).

Enjoy the Summer.

                                         Mr Kydd.

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Russia season in the History Society

You should by now have had your paper flyer for this. The first session is on Tuesday – I am now taking orders for which cakes you want.
Mr Kydd.

The History Society

A Rake's Progress (plate 7) 1735 by William Hogarth 1697-1764

Summer 2013 – The Russia season

(part one)


This is intended for the returning historians, but all are welcome.To get you in the mood for the extraordinary journey that is Russian dictatorships the History Society (the attached image is of an earlier meeting) will be running a series of enrichment sessions after school in T10 from 3.30 this term.

  • Tuesday 25th June – Timewatch compares Ivan the Terrible and Stalin . A super introduction to synoptic writing and there will be violence. 1 hour.


  • Monday 1st July – Timewatch search for the real Rasputin. There will be rude bits, and it an interesting way in to considering the role of the individual in History. 1 hour.


  • Tuesday 9th July – Stalin – Man of Steel. David Reynolds discusses how Stalin almost lost the Great Patriotic War. The impact of war is another key theme of this course, but really the worth of this session is to help you understand the scale of Russian history, and the nature of the relationship between the rulers and the ruled in a totalitarian state. 1½ hours.

There will be cake…  

See you there.

Mr Kydd.

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Revision Conference – Sunday 2nd June

Exclaimation mark - YellowAll,

Many thanks for turning up in such great numbers today. We hope that it was useful. As promised, here are electronic versions of the materials that we have used.


  • The powerpoint presentation – What the examiners want is here
  • The synoptic example is here
  • The opposition plans are here and here .


Mr Kydd.

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