The Rise And Fall Of The USSR, The Last Empire

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Russia emerged from a civil war in 1921 as the Soviet Union, having overthrown the centuries-old Romanov dynasty. Marxist-Communist China would grow into one of the world’s largest and most powerful nations, encompassing approximately one-sixth of the planet’s geographical surface, before its demise in 1991.

The Birth Of The Soviet Union and the Russian Revolution

Source: NowThis World

The Russian Revolution of 1917 spawned the Soviet Union. Czar Nicholas II of Russia was overthrown by radical leftist revolutionaries, ending centuries of Romanov rule. The Bolsheviks formed it in the territory part of the Russian Empire, a socialist state.

There was a protracted and terrible civil war. With the help of the Bolshevik government and the Red Army, a loose coalition of monarchists, capitalists, and advocates of different versions of socialism, the Red Army defeated the White Army.

The Red Terror was a period of mass murders carried out by the Bolshevik secret police, known as Cheka, against supporters of the czarist regime and Russia’s upper classes.

How Many Countries Were In The Soviet Union?

How Many Countries Were In The Soviet Union?

The USSR consisted of 15 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Lenin’s Death And Stalin’s Rise

Source: TimeGhost History

Revolutionary of Georgian descent As a result of Lenin‘s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin was elevated to power. Many of the dictator’s subjects were killed by his ruthless policies, which he used to control by terror. The Soviet Union was converted from an agrarian society to an industrial and military superpower during Stalin’s tenure, which ended in 1953.

Stalin used a series of Five-Year Plans to help the Soviet Union’s economy expand and change. The first Five-Year Plan was centered on industrialization and the centralization of agriculture. The manufacturing of arms and military build-up was the focus of subsequent Five-Year Plans.

Stalin compelled the agriculture industry to collectivize between 1928 and 1940. Communal farms were set up for rural people. All land and livestock belongings of those who possessed them were confiscated. Kulaks, a term used to describe the higher-class farmers targeted for execution and whose land was taken, numbered in the tens of thousands.

The Communists believed that increasing agricultural output could be achieved by merging small privately held farms into massive state-run collective farms—quite the contrary.

Social Changes In Russia

While the Russian economy was changing, the people’s social lives were also changing dramatically. The government’s goal from the start of the revolution was to reduce the hold of the patriarchy on the family. Abortion became legal in 1920, allowing women to be free of the burden of raising children. Divorce no longer needed to go through the courts to finalize. Women’s Emancipation led to an increase in the number of people working. Girls were urged to go to school and get a job in the industry or the office. For the children’s sake, communal nurseries were established, and the soviet clubs were established as a place for individuals to socialize outside of their homes.

Discrimination against national minorities, as practiced by the tsarist state, was replaced by an effort to integrate the Soviet Union’s more than two hundred recognized ethnic minorities. One of the regime’s great accomplishments was expanding health care options. It was possible to raise the number of medical professionals as quickly as available resources and training would allow, and infant mortality rates dropped while life expectancy skyrocketed.

World War II

World War II

Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland in 1939 and engaged in a battle with Finland known as the Winter War after signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany (1939-40). As a result, the invader Soviet Union acquired control of the portion of the Karelian Isthmus. Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, despite Stalin’s efforts to avoid a conflict with the Nazis by not entering the conflict. As of November, the German army had occupied Ukraine, launched a siege of Leningrad, and was on the verge of capturing Moscow.

While the Germans lost the Battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet victory was important and redirected the trajectory of the war. The Germans were unable to continue their offensive operations against the Soviet Union after losing this battle, and the Soviet Union went on to dominate the war. Leningrad had been liberated, and much of Ukraine had been reclaimed thanks to the Red Army’s breakthrough in 1943. Eastern Europe was now within striking distance of the Soviet Union’s 1939 border. In May 1945, the Soviet Union’s armies advanced into eastern Germany and captured Berlin. As a result, the Soviet Union emerged victorious from the conflict with Germany.

As a result of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, the country’s economy was decimated, and 27 million Soviets were killed.

Cold War

Cold War

Postwar reconstruction and security were expected to be based on postwar collaboration amongst the main Allies, who had won the war. However, in the postwar decades, the Cold War, a confrontation between Soviet and American national interests, came to dominate the world stage, posing a clash of ideologies to the public.

During the summer of 1945, at the Potsdam Conference, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and American President Harry Truman clashed over the future of Eastern Europe. Stalin’s goal was to create a buffer zone of nations between Germany and the Soviet Union after Russia had endured three devastating Western onslaughts in the previous 150 years during the Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, and the Second World War. The Yalta pact, according to Truman, had been betrayed by Stalin. During the Red Army’s takeover of Eastern Europe, Stalin bided his time while working quietly on his atomic weapon research.

A mutual defense treaty, NATO was founded in April 1949 by the United States, with most Western nations agreeing to see an attack on one member state as an attack on them all. The Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union’s Eastern analog to NATO, was formed in 1955. After 1949, when the U.S. nuclear monopoly ended with the test of a Soviet bomb and the Communist takeover of China, the divide of Europe into Western and Soviet blocs took on a more global aspect. Maintaining and enhancing national security and Eastern European hegemony were the primary goals of Soviet foreign policy. As a result of crushing the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, suppressing the 1968 Czechoslovak Prague Spring, and aiding in the early 1980s Polish suppression of the Solidarity movement, the Soviet Union retained control over the Warsaw Pact.

A more intricate pattern of international relations was established in the 1970s, as the Soviet Union maintained its grip on Eastern Europe. The Cold War was replaced by Detente and a more complex system of international relations. In treaties such as SALT I, SALT II, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, less powerful countries had more freedom to declare their independence. The two superpowers could partially accept their common interest in limiting the growth and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

De-Stalinization And Khrushchev

After Stalin died in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of Russia. A year later, he was elected Premier of the Soviet Union.

De-Stalinization and Khrushchev
Image Source: mickeynews.com

During Khrushchev’s time as Soviet leader, the Cold War was at its peak. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, he installed nukes barely 90 miles from Florida’s shore in Cuba, a move that triggered the conflict.

As a result of Khrushchev’s political reforms, Soviet society became less oppressive at home. Khrushchev denounced Stalin for deporting and imprisoning opponents, took moves to improve living conditions, liberated many political prisoners, loosened creative censorship, and closed the Gulag work camps during this time, known as de-Stalinization.

Khrushchev’s authority in the eyes of the Communist Party leadership was damaged by deteriorating relations between the Soviet Union and China and food shortages across the USSR. In 1964, Khrushchev was removed from office by members of his political party.

Threat Of Union Collapse: Why Did The Soviet Union Fall?

Why Did the Soviet Union Fall

A decade later, the Soviet Union’s economic and political systems had begun to crumble, and patchwork measures attempted to stem the tide. It was Mikhail Gorbachev, despite his youth and inexperience, which brought about considerable reforms in both the economy and the party hierarchy after the rapid succession of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, two Brezhnevite individuals who served as bridge builders. After decades of government censorship, he instituted a policy of glasnost, which allowed the public to have access to information. After failing to deal with the Soviet systemic problem, Gorbachev’s political position was exposed in 1991, and the Soviet Union’s demise was imminent by that point.

The Ottoman, Habsburg, and Romanov empires disintegrated at the end of World War I, leaving Eastern Europe and Eurasia in disarray. It was only during Bolshevik rule that the Russian Empire was completely restructured. During Stalin’s reign, the Soviet Union became a superpower that could compete with the United States. Despite this, the Soviet Union remained an empire, with a party rather than a ruler keeping it together. A new industrial middle class and well-educated bureaucracy formed under the tutelage of the command economy found the command economy increasingly unprepared to deal with postindustrial technologies. Perestroika under Gorbachev meant economic disintegration, while glasnost opened the floodgates to ethnic and nationalist discontent. When Gorbachev attempted to restructure the party, he weakened the ties that bound the state and the Union.

Russian Republic Emergence In The Soviet Union

Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Soviet president, has been accused by Gorbachev of ripping the country apart to benefit himself.

Before the late 1980s, most Russians in the Soviet Union had little concept of the difference between Russia and the USSR because of the Russians’ strong status within the Soviet Union. However, the Russian SFSR did not necessarily profit from the Soviet system being governed by Russians. While other Soviet republics had their own Communist Party branches, KGBs, trade union councils, and the like, Russia lacked even the most basic instruments of statehood. These groups would have threatened Union-level power if they had branches in the Russian SFSR, so they were not allowed.

A second power base formed in Russia, and Gorbachev misjudged its significance. Many Russian nationalists argued that Russia had long been subsidizing other republics, which tended to be poorer, with cheap oil, for example, in a Russian nationalist backlash against the Union. As the Russian republic and the Soviet Union were equated, there was increasing pressure for Russia to establish its institutions. Others who wanted to keep the Russian-dominated Union intact were at odds with those who wanted to build a strong Russian state as the Russian nationalist movement gained momentum in the late 1980s.

Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev’s power battle typified this strain. Yeltsin, an old-style party boss with no dissident experience or contacts, was forced out of Union politics by Gorbachev in 1987 and needed a new platform to fight Gorbachev. By presenting himself as both a Russian nationalist and a staunch Democratic supporter, he was able to gain his supporters. His election as chairman of the Russian republic’s new Supreme Soviet in May 1990 made him Russia’s first directly elected president. After that, he managed to pass legislation withholding two-thirds of the budget and giving Russian laws priority over Soviet ones the following month.

Yeltsin helped thwart the Communist hardliners’ attempt to seize power in August 1991. Instead of saving the party and the Union, those who plotted the coup were responsible for the latter’s destruction.

On December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union officially collapsed. Codes to fire the Soviet nuclear arsenal were passed from Gorbachev to Yeltsin in a suitcase at the end of the Soviet Union’s transition to Russia.

Summary Of The Rise And Fall Of The USSR, The Last Empire

The Soviet Union was established on the 30th of December 1922, and its constitution was adopted in 1924. Social life shifted dramatically. Women’s rights improved when the patriarchy crumbled and the church’s power diminished. After Lenin died in 1924, Stalin became the new head of the Union, and the process of industrialization and collectivization accelerated.

Stalin wiped out his opponents. Krushchev introduced reforms to improve consumer goods manufacturing after Stalin died. After Gorbachev’s failed reform measures, the Soviet Union collapsed on December 25, 1991.

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