Quotation Bank

Please find below a copy of Ryan Kemp’s excellent quotation bank from 2010

(You all owe him a drink)… 



  • Nicholas I “evil, palpable and oblivious to everyone”
  • 80-90% of Russians serfs
  • KD Kavelin, Russian professor 1856 “the garden knot which ties together all our afflictions”
  • 51 million serfs in Russia not citizens but property –  no rights, forcing them to marry, be beaten, bought and sold and exiled at the landlord’s discretion
  • Terrible system: number of incidents. Armed force used 185 times between 1856 and 1860


  • Alexander II “it is better to begin abolishing serfdom from above than to wait for it to begin abolishing itself from below”
  • Peasants farmed 20% less land after emancipation
  • Army service 27 years before, 15 after emancipation, 6 on active service
  • Count Tolstoy “Tsar Liberator”
  • Historian Westwood “with the possible exception of Khrushchev, no other Russian ruler did so much to reduce the suffering of the Russian people”
  • Mosse “Alexander proved himself a disappointing liberal and a inefficient autocrat”
  • JAS Grenville “a cruel joke”
  • Failure for the landowners: 248 million roubles used on debts
  • Redemption cost in black soil roubles was 341 for land value of 289
  • redemption payments over 49 years, by 1870 only 55% even be able to begin paying
  • 1861: 449 serious incidents of rioting
  • 1861- 1905 average land owned by nobles fell by 41%
  • 700 000 former manorial and military serfs received no land at all


  • Rural population rose from 50 million to 103 million between 1860 – 1914, 1 million a year growth
  • Durnovo attributed the slogan “we shall export and go hungry” to him
  • Colypin: 400 000 deaths
  • Bromley: 4 million
  • Grain exports increase by 18%
  • 850 000 moved to West Siberia between 1895 and 1905
  • Alexander III: Land captains to oversee the mirs


  • Land held by peasantry in 1877 31%, 1917: 47%
  • 1907 – 1916 2.5 million households left the repression of the mir
  • Number of households becoming independent: 1907: 48 271 1908: 508 344
  • Machinery appears: 66 000 reapers in Russia, 36 000 in western Siberia
  • Factory production increases from 13 million roubles to 60 million between 1900-1913
  • Trebilcock: increased the purchasing power of 160 million peasants by 15%
  • Wanted to create a “conservative bulwark of the status quo” according to R Hugley
  • Stolypin “the government has wagered on the strong and sensible”
  • Migration encouraged, 2 million migrate between 1906-1909
  • Political power further restricted by electoral changes to the Duma
  • Increase in production of some 27% between late 1890s and period 1909-1913

First World War

  • 9, 150 000 killed, 76.3% of those mobilised vast majority are peasants
  • First decree of Sovnarkhum 6th Nov 1917: 540 million acres of land given to peasants from landowners
  • Lenin wrote “we must give complete freedom to the peasants to proceed with agrarian revolution in their own way”

War Communism

  • Pravda: 25 million below subsistence levels
  • Figes “the people’s tragedy”
  • Lenin “crusade of iron detachments” to get grain, some as large as 45 000 men
  • Between 1913 and 1922
  • Grain harvest 80.1 – 50.3 millions of ton
  • 50% still farm by hand, 20% with wooden plough
  • Figes “by March 1921 soviet power in much of the countryside had ceased to exist”
  • Crop area fallen by 20%


  • Acton “golden age of the peasant”
  • Grain production 1920: 58% to 1926: 96% of 1913 level and few rural disturbances
  • Peasant co operatives grew from 14 – 18 million members indicating greater efficiency

Stalin’s collectivisation

  • 2 million tons short of grain required to feed the cities
  • Party conference of October 1927 “decisive offensive against the kulaks” “liquidate the kulaks as a class”
  • Stalin “the collective farm policy was a terrible struggle… it was fearful. Four years it lasted”
  • Issac Deutscher “the first man made famine in history”
  • Stalin “Transformation of our country from an agrarian to an industrial one”
  • Robert Conquest: 15 million deaths
  • 1929: 75% peasants, 1960s: 30%, massive social change
  • Number of pigs falls from 26 to 13.6 million in between 1928 and 1930
  • Russian female peasant  “you won’t have it the flames will have it” from account of Victor Kravchenko
  • AGR Smith “second serfdom”
  • Chris Ward “no one could challenge the assertion that collectivisation was a tremendous national tragedy”
  • Consumption of meat per person fell from 25 kilos to 13 whilst cattle fell from 70 to 34 million in between 1928 and 1932
  • Lynch “a large proportion of the Soviet people were sacrificed on the altar of Stalin’s reputation”
  • Grain enjoyed a 9% growth rate 1939-1941


  • Mc Cauley 70 000 Mir/Kolkozy destroyed, 1/3 under Nazi rule – 8 million die
  • Death rate for 8 nations. 47% for deported nations, ½ million died
  • Gestapo killed 90 000 at reprisal at Odessa
  • Greater destruction that the First World War
  • 1945: 100 million acres less than before outbreak of war


  • 32 million acres under collectivisation by 1955 in Siberia/Kazakhstan
  • 1956 – 50% of total grain harvest
  • Sympathised with farmers, talked to them, first peasant born leader
  • 30% of produce from 3% of privately owned land
  • 40% of population still worked land, far more in other countries
  • Higher prices paid for produce and effort to eradicate rural poverty
  • 500 000 volunteers went West with huge mechanised resources, very different to Stalin and Lenin
  • 1963 harvest failure in Kazakhstan and traditional grain growing areas

Industry Quote Bank



  • 1855 pop: 70 million, by 1897 126 million
  • Trade difficult: in 1855 not one port ice free all year round. FIND OTHER GEOGRAPHICALLY SIMILARITIES
  • Command economy created before Stalin, always designed to protect Russia rather than the ordinary Russians
  • 1855: only 1.6% of population in towns and cities
  • 1914: only 2.5 million industrial workers
  • 1939: 56 million people
  • Peasants flocking to towns and cities unplanned, unlike under Communism, where centres such as Magnitogorsk planned with determination


Reutern (Alexander II)

  • Railways 1600km in 1861, 22 000 by 1878
  • Rail traffic x 4 between 1865 – 75
  • 1866 – 1883 tonnage of freight increased eightfold
  • Foreign investment in 1870s only 100 million roubles
  • Vodka tax reformed (40% of revenue) made cheaper for peasantry
  • Banks: precious metal resources only 10.6% value of notes in circulation, by 1876 Reutern improves this to 29%


Bung and Vyshnegradskii

  • Vyshnegradskii raised import duties by 33% in 1891
  • Grain exports raised by 18% as part of “export and go hungry”
  • M Falkus pre Witte industry as “pockets in a rural economy”


Witte- “the great spurt”

  • By 1914 the world’s 5th  biggest  industrial power
  • Growth rate in 1890s just over 8%
  •  “(then) our economic backwardness may lead to politcal and cultural backwardness as well” – Witte
  • 1900 nearly half of company capital came from abroad
  • 269 foreign industries by end of century, all but 12 founded after 1888
  • Value output of all industry doubled in ten years + worker force of 3 million
  • Railway construction second only to US
  • Increased foreign investment from 26% in 1890 to 41% by 1915
  • Value of imports rose from 651.4 million roubles in 1904 to 1106.4 mil roubles
  • Pop of Petersburg in 1881 928,000 increases to 2,217,500 by 1914
  • Coal increases from 5.9 million tons in 1890 to 16.1 by 1900,
  • Railway track 23.6 in 1881 to 56.4 by 1901 (km 000s) more than any other country
  • Russia’s national income grew by 50% (1894 to 1913) compared to 52% and 58% in France and Germany but 70% in UK
  • Dependence on foreign capital: 1901-2     2400 firms collapse
  • 1900: Russia leading oil producer, 1913 only a third of the US


Military preparedness

  • 4 million lost in first 12 months
  • First 5 months, 25% of mobilised army killed
  • Russian general “in recent battles a third of men had no rifles”
  • Coal output: 1880-1884 4 million tons to 27 million tons


Condition of the workers


Alexander II:

  • “out of 181 industry enterprises inspected, only 71 getting correct wages”
  • “sanitary condition of workshops is much the same as that of living accommodation, that is for the most part unsatisfactory” – Moscow factory inspector 1882
  • 150 000 move to Siberia – internal exile


Alexander III and Nicholas II

  • Workers in 1890s, faced the set working day, applications of machines and fines for absence and inefficiency
  • Year: 1890: 245 deaths, 3508 injuries
  • Year: 1910  556 deaths, 66608 injuries
  • 1904: average Petersburg apartment: 16 people – 6 per room
  • Faced instability due to the capitalist trade cycle: for example in 1901 + the diversification of industry after 1905 brought hardships
  • Strikes peak in 1899- affects 97 000 workers  2 863 000 in 1905,  and 1 337 000 in 1914
  • Diseases of cholera, typhus, measles, TB, polio
  • LENA gold fields massacre: April 1912: crowd of 5000 fired upon, 270 die, 200 wounded
  • Urbanisation :Robert Service – by 1913 working class reached 11 million
  • Over a thousand workers died during 2 weeks of street fighting in Moscow, 1905 when called by the Bolsheviks
  • “Stolypin’s necktie” in 1908 825 terrorists are executed
  • 1861 – 1881 pop. of Moscow rises by 30% – Eric Wilm “the majority of these city dwellers lived in squalid conditions”
  • “ a combustible situation began to develop between tenants and sweatshops of the industrial centres
  • Strike levels in  1914 – 1.4 million days lost, 3754 strikes,  2401 political
  • 1910-1914 – proletariat up by 1/3 – Hans Rigger – Moscow 1912 – average accommodation  per apartment is 9 people


Industry Quote Bank


  • Treaty of Brest Litovsk- loses 25% population, 25% industry,
  • Sovnarkom: 12th Nov: decree on work: 8 hr day. 48 hr week

War Communism

  • Inflation multiplied 1917 costs by 4 million in 1922 – was welcomed
  • Dec 1920 population of 40 capitals fallen by 33% compared to 1917
  • Petrograd fell by 57.5% and Moscow 44.5%
  • Index of gross industrial output fell from 100 in 1913 to 31 in 1921
  • Pop of workers fell from 3 024 000 in 1917, to 1 243 000 in 1922
  • Percentage of those in town fell from 18% to 16% in same period
  • By end of 1921 famine threatened over 36 million Russians, by 1922 million already dead



  • Acton “golden age of the Russian peasant”
  • £20 million worth of aid, plus Red Cross= 80 000 tonnes of food
  • Monthly wage of proles rose from 10.2 roubles in 1921 to 15.9 in 1923
  • Trotsky “scissors crisis” rising industrial prices and falling agricultural prices
  • Iron, grain, coal and steel still below 1913 levels
  • coal goes from 9.5 to 18.1,
  • steel from 0.4 to 2.1


Five Year Plans

  • “We are fifty to a hundred years behind the advanced countries. we must make this distance in ten years, either we do this or they will crush us” Stalin 1928
  • “the transformation of our country from an agrarian into an industrial one” Stalin a “command economy”
  •  “engineers, directing the reconstruction of the human soul” Stalin to writers
  • “there is no fortress the Bolsheviks cannot take” Moscow Metro, Magnitogorsk and Dnieprostroi damn given max publicity
  • Belomor Canal constructed by 300 000 workers without equipment, 72 000 released, rest sent elsewhere
  • Economic growth rate of 5-6%
  • Approx 1500 power stations, factories and metalworking plants built in first plan alone
  • “Magnitogorsk was a city built from scratch” John Scott, pro soviet communist
  • 1940 steel production increased 450%, coal production rose by over 500%, oil doubled, 1940 GNP doubled
  • Population Growth rate of 12-13% by time of German invasion
  • Urban working class from 11 million in 1928 to 38 million in 1933 (18% of pop in 1926 to 33% in 1939)
  • 1926 1.8 million students, by 1938-39 this was 12 million
  • Limitations
  • “many thousands of engineers and technologists to distant concentration camps represented a severe loss” Alec Nove
  • Production figures frequently false – Eugene Zaleski possibly closest unbiased economic analysis available
  • Shelia Fitzpatrick “gigantomania” emphasis on quantity over quality
  • Success not universal, textiles industries destroyed by collectivisation and consumer goods/lighter industries neglected



Victory in Great Patriotic War

  • Germans occupy: 63% of coal production
  • All men aged 16-55 women 16-45, entire populations to war production
  • Military share of budget rose from 29% to 57% (by 1942)
  • Between July n Nov 1941, 1503 industrial units had been moved
  • “Workers, office employees, engineers and technicians worked like heroes” GS Kravchenko’s Stalin’s war machine

Cost of the war/ High Stalinism

  • GPW leaves 36 million dead, 70 000 villages destroyed, according to M Mc Cauley
  • 63 000 km of railway lost, 50% of all urban living space gone, 25 million homeless
  • Demanded reparations of $10 000 million and stripped industry, plus labour from 2 million German prisoners of war
  • 4th five year plan (1946-1950) and 5th five year plan (1951 – 1955), in all major areas 1940 levels of production had been surpassed by some margin
  • steel: 27.3 compared to 18.3
  • National income 61% higher than pre war level
  • Wages nearly twice 1940 level


  • 105 Sovnarkhoze in  1963
  • 15 million new flats
  • From 1955 to 1966; cars (2 – 5) radios (66 – 171)
  • But in US cars: (398) radios (1300),
  • 1965: over 4700 scientists, more than any other country: first country in space age
  • 1957: Sputnik first satellite: designed by Korolev, who had been imprisoned by Stalin
  • Luna I (1959) to Venus, and Mars I (1962) to Mars
  • 12th April 1961, Yuri Gagarin first man in space

Condition of the Workers

Lenin- War Communism

  • All inhabitants under 50 forced to join “personal labour corps”
  •  “civil war sausage” horses disappeared
  • Wages in 1919 were 2% of 1913 levels
  • Urban worker spent ¾ of income on food
  • Freezing winter of 1919-1920, 3000 wooden houses stripped for fuel
  • “it was almost in ruins, as if a hurricane had swept over it” “the people walked around living corpses” E Goldman whilst 5000 Bolsheviks lived in Kremlin + best hotels

Stalin’s Five Year Plan

  • “you said that the factory owners, exploited us, but the factory owners did not force us to work in four shifts, and there was enough of everything in the shops”
  • “You are bloodsuckers and that’s not all”
  • “there is nothing the worker needs” REPORT FROM WEAVERS TO FACTORY OWNERS
  • 1929 “uninterrupted week” 1/5 of workers having their day off, rather than weekends
  • Absenteeism from work (Nov 1932) punishable by loss of job/housing, passports in Dec 1932, doubtful canteen and medical attention made up for this
  • “existence of rationing, price differences and shortages, but also queues, declines in quality and neglect of consumer requirements” Alex Nove living standards lower
  • 1928-1933, “the most precipitous decline in living standards known in recorded history” Alec Nove
  • Real wages in 1937, not more than 85% of 1928 level
  • Number of workers (1927-32) doubled (11.3 million to 22.8 million)
  •  but living space only 16% increase
  •  “overcrowding, shared kitchens, frayed nerves, limited sanitation and poorly maintained buildings became a way of life for a whole generation of Soviet people” Mc Cauley
  • 1940: working week extended to 6 days, absenteeism (including lateness by 20 mins) punishable by imprisonment
  • 1928, Shakhty, 53 engineers arrested, 11 shot, rest of Gulags and 1933: six British engineers arrested
  • Value of ordinary workers wages halved between 1928 and 1940, had to compete to become “stakhanovites”


Stalin’s Labour Camps

  • Northern areas: drops to -60 Kolyma
  • 1938: 20% die a year – 1936-1950: 12 million dead
  • “surrounded with piles of frozen corpses on three out of four sides” Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • 1929: 300 000, 1932: 2 million, 1937: 6 million, 1938: 8 million


Government Quote Bank


Alexander II (1855-1881)

  • So called “Tsar liberator” by Count Tolstoy
  •  “most intelligent and humane of Romanovs” but also “indolent, weak and indecisive” according to Hite
  • Some reforming ministers but also appointed reactionary ministers such as Count Tolstoy, and Shuvalov and reactionary Pobedonostev as tutor to his heir
  • Opposition:
  • Persecutions in 1870s, virtual war against revolutionaries such as “to the people” “black partition” and the “people’s will”  who had flourished due to “freer political atmosphere created by the Tsars reforms”
  • Populism dominated radicalism in 1870s,
  • 1874-5 3000 young radicals invaded countryside “to the people” failed over 1600 arrested between 1873-1877.
  • Foundation by members of “land and liberty” of first worker’s unions in Odessa 1875 and St Petersburg 1878
  • First assassination attempt in 1866 by student Karakozov, survived attempt in April 1879, December 1879 and February 1880
  • Achieved very little until assassination of Tsar which only led to more reaction. Could neither destroy nor replace the establishment


Alexander III (1881- 1894)

  • “natural conservatism enhanced by brutal death of his father”  reign = the Reaction
  • Establishes the Okhrana, and 1881: Statute concerning Measures for the Protection of state security and special; order: special courts and increased repression, removal of ministers
  • 14 000 killed by Okhrana under all Tsars
  • Introduced land captains, to control peasants and overrule the Mir
  • Weakened revolutionary groups executed Lenin’s brother and four others in 1887.
  • Pobedonostev had great influence along with Tolstoy and Katkov
  • Pobedonostev “an unintentional destroyer of tsarism” wanted to keep Russia in a “frozen state” – tutor to Alexander III, Nicholas II and later his chief advisor.
  • Director General of Holy Synod one of tools of repression. Gives absolutism an intellectual energy. Jewish problem could be solved by killing one third, expelling another third and assimilating the remaining.
  • “Reinforced the natural tendencies of Alexander III”, told him to reject 1881 Loris- Melikov proposals. “actually did more than anyone else to destroy it” 
  • 1881 defeat of constitutionalist proposals – no intention of completing the reforms of his father
  • Russia after 1881 under the Safeguard system. “police state” according to Bromley. Rather than a peaceful state. Rigid system of repression due to exile to Sibera/executions
  • 1890 Zemstva Act and 1892 Municipal Government Act decreased power of Zemstvas, instead it concentrated on improving local services
  • 1884 University Statute tighter control on universities, stress on religion
  • 1887 Decree to prevent children from humble backgrounds “encouraged to abandon the social environment to which they belong”
  • Perhaps made Tsarism weaker given that he did not reverse any of his father’s reforms, his power was limited to some extent, his measures only changed the nature of reform, contradictory,
  • Russification
  • 1897 census: 55% of population made up of other nationalities
  • Attempts at unification of Western lands and Trans Caucasus (1860s) and Baltic provinces (1880s) and Finland (1890s)
  • Mass revolts in Finland, and Bobrikov’s assassination by terrorist in 1904 – after attempts at russification
  • Garrison of 100,000 constantly in Poland, revealing about success of this policy yet was important (25% of Russia’s industrial output and 8% of population)
  • Anti Semitism increases after more tolerant Alexander II. “alien forces” according to Nikolai Ignatiev, minister of interior 1881, “a diabolical combination of Poles and Jews”
  • 1881: encouraged series of anti jewish pogroms. Over 600 decrees against Jews including confining them mostly to the Pale of Settlement
  • 1891: 2/3 of Moscow’s Jewish population expelled.
  • Failed to strengthen autocracy. Attempt to deal with what Lenin termed “the prison of peoples” just builds up long term resentment, one of reasons many Bolsheviks were from russified states (Trotsky, Stalin, Khrushchev (Ukraine). Non Russians played disproportionate role in revolutionary groups.

Nicholas II (1894-1917)

  • Further racism 1903: just two days Pograms, 47 murdered, 400 wounded
  • Hans Rogger “Nicholas had no knowledge of the world or of men, of politics or government”
  • Dismissed hopes “for public institutions to express their opinion on questions which concern them” saw them as being “carried away by senseless dreams”
  • Pledged to uphold “the principle of autocracy as firmly and unflinchingly as my late, unforgettable father”
  • Russo Japanese war: 27th May Baltic Fleet loses 25/35 ships Lack of effectiveness led JN Westwood to question “which of the two belligerents was western and which oriental”
  • Bloody Sunday 22nd January 1905
  • “failure to adapt politically to the substantial social and economic changes that had taken place” Murphy and Morris
  • War added to military pressure. Peasant unrest since 1902, industrial strikes between 1902 and 1904 in most cities
  • Demonstration of 150 000 people. Panic leads troops to fire, killing estimated 1000
  • Richard Charques claims it did more than anything else “to undermine the allegiance of the common people to the throne”.
  • Gapon “may all the blood that must be spilled fall on you, you hangman”
  • February 1905 400 000 workers on strike, 2.7 million by end of the year
  • Local peasant disturbances: 3228 serious enough for troop intervention and damage of 29 million roubles
  • First Soviet of 400-500 workers of 5 trade unions/96 factories seen as a dress rehearsal in the USSR, but only lasted 50 days, more co ordination of strikes than work of socialist leaders
  • How did government survive
  • Trotsky: “a constitution has been given, but the autocracy remains”
  • “the whip wrapped in the parchment of a constitution
  • 1906 fundamental Law “restrictions in both theory and reality” (Service)
  • Rebellion in Moscow ended with 1000 rebel deaths
  • In 1907 terrorism kills 1231 officials and 1768 private citizens in attacks
  • Stolypin “enlightened conservatism” under Article 87 of the Fundamental Laws carried out 825 executions in 1908. Same Article left Tsar power to govern by decree when Duma not in session
  • 1906-1912 600 unions and 1000 newspapers shut down – assassinations drop to 365 in 1908
  • First (April  1906) survives only 76 days,  the Second just three and a half months of uproar
  • New electoral law of 1907 left 50% of votes in hands of landowners, urban proletariat only 2%, peasantry 23%
  • Some success: universal primary education adopted after May 1908, 1914 close to 50% complete, involving 7.2 million children. No advance in unis/secondary
  • Some open political discussion now tolerated and in the press with political parties, unlike before 1905. To offer that then retain autocracy further was dangerous
  • Ended dynasty that had ruled autocratically since 1613


Government Quote Bank



  • Move to dictatorship and autocracy
  • “Lenin’s bullying tactics would soon lead to a situation where only one man would be left in the party – the dictator” Figes
  • Also establishing a “dictatorship of proletariat” when 80% of population are peasants
  • Coalition with Left SRs from Dec 1917 – March 1918 – clearly had opposition, needed allies
  • Internal conflict: 10th Party Congress March 1921, ban on all factions, o
  • At assembly elections, only 24% of vote (although majorities in Moscow and St Petersburg)
  • Dissolved assembly on 5th Jan 1918 after demand for subservience was rejected by 237 votes to 137 – Bolsheviks and left SRs withdrew and sent in Red Guards
  • “unmistakeably clear that they intended to pay no heed to public opinion” Richard Pipes
  • March 1919 Politburo of only 5 members replaced Central Committee
  • Red Army formed in Jan 1918, open to “class conscious workers” – 50 000 Tsarist officers trained them
  • August 1919 300,000 increased to 5 million by Jan 1920
  • Trotsky reintroduces death penalty, regimental councils curtailed to restore discipline
  • Treaty of Brest Litovsk – loses Georgia, Ukraine, Lativa, Lithuania, Poland and 26% of population, 32% arable land, 33% manufacturing industry, 75% coal and oil
  • “we gained a little time and sacrificed a great deal of space for it” Lenin
  • Volkogonov, Soviet Colonel General “Lenin cannot be accused of personal cruelty. The main argument for the terror was to protect the working class”
  • “he continued to lean in favour of dictatorship and terror” Robert Service
  • Trotsky claimed he used it at “every suitable opportunity”
  • “the Red Terror constituted from the onset an essential element of the regime. It never disappeared hanging like a permanent cloud over Soviet Russia” Richard Pipes
  • Offical figure: 6300 conservative at best. Conquest claims 500 000, G Leggat 140 000
  • Both greater than 14 000 killed by Okhrana
  • Lenin urged that “energy and mass nature of the terror must be encouraged”
  • Foundation used by Stalin, “cosmetic exercise” (Service) when changes to GPU



  • Constitution of 1924; other nations could leave if its “non Russian working class” wished, but could not in reality
  • “their identification with the General Secretary as a forceful practical politican” SE Cohen historian
    • 1948: purge of Jewish intellectuals, 1952 seeing conspiracies everywhere, Khrushchev “very distrustful sickly suspicious”. Jan 1953 9 Jewish doctors in Kremlin arrested
    • “Monarchical power of Stalin”, “had even more personal control than Ivan the Terrible”. Service
    • Political Repression
    • By 1922 series of purges had rid party of ideological diversity
    • Party grew from 1.3 million in 1928 to 3.5 million by Jan 1933 – but less workers (only 48.6% rest intelligentsia”
    • Expelled 40 000 party members in 1930s
    • Great Purge, 1935-8, began with death of Sergei Kirov
    • Zinoviev, Kamenev and 17 others also arrested with long prison sentences
      • Members denounced and accused as “Trotskyites” “Zinovievites” “counter revolutionaries”
      • Show trails. First in 1936. Trail of 16, Zinoviev, Kamenev and 14 others, all but one confessed, were shot day after
      • Trail of 17, January 1937, all found guilty. 13 shot
      • Last/biggest in March 1938 “trial of 21” involved Bukharin, Rykov and 19 others, accused of a “Trotskyist-rightist bloc”
      • According to Soviet writer Nadeszhda Mandelstam “portraits of Party leaders had thick pieces of paper pasted over them as one by one they fell into disgrace”
      •  “burned the works of disgraced leaders in their stoves”
      • Between 1947 and 1952, Politburo and central committee never met, even more dictator after the war
      • 1948 purged Leningrad branch, 1000 officials shot
      • Alexander Solzhenitsyn “it was like mishandling a detonator- it was the last mistake of your life”
      • 700 000 executed in total
      • Secret Police
      • GPU/OGPU and NKVD (from July 1934) followed on from Cheka. “in practice it never lacked the power to do whatever it was required to do by the party” historian Leonard Schapiro
      • Gulags
      • 2 million zeks in 1932, 6 million by 1937, 8 million by 1938
        • By 1938 20% of zeks died each year. Between 1936 and 1950 around 12 million died in total
        • Repression/control in the armed forces
        • By 1933 all senior commanders and 93% of officers were party members
        • Great terror spread to armed forces. Marshal Tuchachevsky, most famous Russian general and several other generals were shot and arrested.
        • By 1939 every admiral, 3/5 Red Army marshals and half of all officers in army had been shot
        • Society
          • 1920s: tried to destroy family. Wedding rings abolished, abortion on demand, divorce by request
          • 1934: 37 divorces to every 100 marriages. 154 000 abortions to every 57 000 live births in Moscow
          • 1936 new family law sort of reverse this trend. Tax exemptions for larger families, abortion now criminal
          • Free health service for all. Holiday pay for many workers + insurance scheme however often had to share flats, few consumer goods
          • League of militant atheists set up back in 1924. by 1933 had 5.5 million members
          • 1935 education law allowed stricter discipline
          • Religion: nearly 40 000 Christian churches and 25 000 mosques closed and leaders arrested/imprisoned. Claimed old Russia must be “ceaselessly beaten”
          • Almost total disappearance of illiteracy. 1939, people aged 9 – 49, 94% in towns, and 86% in countryside could read/write
          • Writers had to belong to “union of soviet writers”
          • Personality Cult
          • “red corners” set up in people’s homes with busts of Lenin and Stalin
          • Newspapers referred to him as “Man of steel, iron soldier, universal genius, shining sun of humanity, granite Bolshevik.
          • Pravda 1950 “if doubt your abilities, think of him – of Stalin”



  • Has Beria and others shot on rise to power
  • only soviet leader to fail internationally, in Cuban missile crisis June 1961, is deposed, goes way of all reformers
  • relaxed Stalin’s repression and Gulag numbers
  • Ian Grey, commentator “leaving deep rooted problems untouched” and “nation had drifted in a state of change and turmoil”
  • On his own reign “the fear’s gone. That’s my contribution”
  • Destalinisation “the thaw”: speech against cult of the individual – 20th party congress- “turning point in the USSR’s politics” according to Robert Service
  • YET Gulags, secret police, and collectivisation continue, if to a lesser extent
  • Orthodox churches continually punished – only 7500 left
  • No greater independence for nationalities, crushes revolts in Poland and Hungary 1956
  • R Stiles “easy to underestimate the euphoria that gripped the younger generation”
  • Khrushchev “true we didn’t accomplish everything”


LYNCH “the replacement of one form of authoritarianism for another”

Berdiaev on Bolsheviks “all of the past repeats itself, and acts only behind new masks”

Russian elections of 2008, Putin as anxious to retain power as those Russian leaders before, indeed autocratic desire through both Communists and Tsars

Difficulties of Gorbachev in reforming backwards and vast empire led to the end of Communism – similar to Alexander II and Khrushchev


  • Dixon argues that Orthodoxy “started sending out young student priests to the factories “,
  • Hans Rogger “the three props of the system”, orthodoxy, army and landlords
  • Nicholas I “autocracy, nationality and orthodoxy” compared to Lenin’s “bread, land and peace”
  • “peas off a wall” to the people movement
  • Alexander II JAS Grenville “indolent and indecisive”
  • Alexander III Simon Dixon “heavy of limb and heavy of brain”
  • Nicholas II Edward Acton “simply out of his depth”

Turning Points Acton Quotes

  • “a moment when a country’s History turns”
  • “thunderous distinctions” between Tsarism and Communism
  • “this should have been their golden moment” for workers in 1917 but it was in fact a “bitter paradox”.


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