Rise of Communism in Russia

Prior to the start of the communist revolution in Russia, the Tsarist leadership was faced with a multitude of problems. First and foremost the citizenry was upset at the worsening state of affairs of the battlefield of World War I. With over 2 million soldiers dead or wounded, and the German forces continuing their long march through Russia, the citizens of Russia wanted change. This anger with the government was further compounded by a series of protests set forth by hungry, angry workers all across Russia. The events that were to follow would set forth a series of event that would eventually lead to the rise of the Soviet Union.

In a desperate attempt to quell the social unrest and help restore the confidence of the people the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, set up a new government (referred to as the Duma) that was meant to rule over the people. In 1917 the events reached a crisis point as women began protesting while waiting in lines for bread. The results of which were the Tsar ordering soldiers to the area, who upon arrival joined forces with the protesters instead of dispersing them. In a desperate bid to prevent the crisis from worsening Tsar Nicholas dismissed the Duma; however the order had no effect as the Duma still convened to try to deal with the situation. It should also be noted that during this time period the nation began dividing itself into Soviets, or council, which would also rule the people.

In early March the Tsar, upon the advice of his peers, abdicated his throne, ending the rule of the Romanov dynasty. Following his abdication, a provisional government was created to rule the nation, with little success. Such an example of its failure was its ability to deal with the Petrograd Soviet Order #1, which stated that the Soviet had overriding authority over the decisions made by the provisional government. Another major fault with this provisional government was its decision to share power with the aforementioned Soviets, a decision that would inevitably cripple themselves and cause their loss of power. Other problems arose from the basic makeup of Russian society, as the peasants were in favour of more socialist reforms while the upper echelons of society were more liberal.

During this time period Russia was still fighting in World War I. The Bolsheviks, using this unpopular conflict to their advantage, advocated an end to this conflict, as well as other socialist reforms that flew in the face of Duma policy. It was due to the advocacy of these changes that propelled the Bolsheviks into a place of power. This rise in popularity is evident given the fact that the Bolsheviks won the majority of votes in the elections that occurred that September in Petrograd. From his position in power Lenin urged the Soviets to rise up against the current government to consolidate their power. This event led to the storming of the winter palace, where Soviet forces took control of the palace and further proclaimed themselves as the rulers of Russia.

Another important aspect of the new Soviet government was its foreign affairs front. Lenin began encouraging and supporting communist revolutions, which although these newly formed communist governments were unstable and inevitably failed, clearly demonstrated the internationalist trait of communism.

During this time period Lenin began the employment of a large secret police detachment, which was mainly used for its fear tactics to terrorize political opponents. Lenin also adopted propaganda efforts such as the portrayal of the Soviet takeover of the Winter Palace to show the nation how proud they should be of their new government. Other Soviet achievements during this time period were the advancement of women’s rights, the increase in literacy among the general population, and a massive amount of innovation.

Almost a year before the time of Lenin’s passing; Lenin wrote a testament in which he gave his personal opinion of various people within the Soviet leadership. Aside from advocating various other people for the position of General-Secretary; Lenin made it quite clear that Stalin should not be allowed to become the General –Secretary and furthermore should be removed from any position of power. Lenin’s public denunciation of Stalin did not deter him however, and soon Stalin began manipulating the system to gain power. Between 1924 and 1925 Stalin began his campaign against Leon Trotsky for being unfaithful to Marxist-Leninism in an attempt to consolidate power. In December of 1925, while in an alliance with Bukharin and others, Stalin extends his campaign to include Zinoviev as well as Trotsky. His crusade against Trotsky and Zinoviev would continue by their removal from the government, followed by punishments until they were eventually gathered up and condemned through show trials. As this was occurring, even those who had helped Stalin during his ascension to power were gathered up and executed, as seen through the case of Bukharin, who shortly after the removal of Zinoviev becomes the target of Stalin’s attacks.

During this time period, the first of several Five Year Plans were implemented in order to bolster the Soviet economy. Stalin, desiring to modernize the agricultural sector of the economy, realized that without improving the oil and gas as well as the electrical sectors of the economy then any attempt to improve the agricultural industry would be futile. In 1928, he introduced his Five Year Plan, which targeted mainly on the increase in coal, iron and electricity production. Under this system of economy, those who could not keep up were reprimanded, and after a while if no progress had been made with the worker they could be accused of attempting to sabotage the Five Year Plan and then would be executed. Another problem that the Five Year plan faced was the massive famine in 1929, which left millions dead and even more living below subsistence.

In 1934, in what would later become known as the Great Purge, began after one of Stalin’s political opponents, Sergei Kirov, was found murdered by Stalin’s goon squad. For several years after that many people who were thought to be an enemy to the state or opposed to Stalin’s ideas were found and then put into work camps or sentenced to death. Aside from using the customary knock on the door in the middle of the night and then the person disappears, Stalin also rounded up high profile political opponents and put together show trials in order to convince the public that those who were opposed to Stalin were at risk of meeting a similar fate. This purge did not officially end until the March of 1939, although the assassination of Trotsky occurred about a year and a half later while Trotsky was in Mexico.

After signing the Nazi-Soviet agreement and partitioning Poland between the two nations, and after the major defeat of the Allied Nations in Western Europe, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in order to fulfill the notion of Lebensraum. Stalin, in shock from the betrayal by his ally, is slowly pushed back by the advancing German forces until the Battle of Stalingrad occurs, from which point the Soviet forces were able to drive the Germans back all the way to Berlin. Part of the reason why the Soviet forces were doing horribly in the beginning was due to Stalin’s assassination of the top military leaders in the Great Purge, and furthermore due to the lack of training of his army. It was during World War II that the nations of the West were able to get along with the Soviet Union, although that alliance lasted a relatively short period of time, as relations deteriorated shortly after the defeat of Germany.

Red Flag (movie)
http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/eu/mod03_1917/context.html