Russia 1917-1991

What was the Constituent Assembly?
The Bolshevik's Elected Government
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What was the Red Terror?
A Bolshevik campaign against political opponents
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What was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk?
The peace treaty between Russia and Germany, in which russia forfeited Finland, Poland, and the Baltic States
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What was war communism?
An economic policy introduced by Lenin, involving rapid nationalisation of industry and requisition of surplus grain
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Who were the Proletariat?
The industrial workers
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What happened to art and culture under Lenin?
Art and culture flourished under Lenin, as he focused more on consolidating power. Artists were allowed a degree of freedom in order to find a "soviet art style". Whilst Lenin preferred traditional art, he did not stop the modern movements.
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What organistation was set up in the 1920s to create soviet art?
The Proletarskya Kutura, or the Polekult
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Who was the leading theorist in the Prolekult?
Alexsandr Bogelanov
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What did the Prolekult do to help the industrial workers?
It set up workshops to teach workers to read and write
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When and why did Lenin abolish the Prolekult?
Lenin realised it was impossible to force a new culture, so shut down the Prolekult in 1923
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Who was the main political figure for new culture movement in the 1920s?
Alexandra Kollontai
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When and how did Kollontai's political career begin?
In October 1917, Kollontai became People's Commisar for Social Welfare.
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What organisation did Kollontai found and what did it do?
Kollontai founded the Zhenotelel, which was the women's committee in the Soviet Government. It improved women's working conditions, education, and rights.
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Why did the quality of higher education suffer in the 1920s?
Less educated proletariat were chosen for higher education more than anyone from an educated bourgeois background.
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What kind of dictator was Stalin?
Stalin was a personal dictator- he controlled everything
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When did Lenin die?
Lenin died in January 1924
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How did Stalin make people believe he was Lenin's chosen successor?
Stalin visted Lenin daily, to make it seem they were close. He also prevented the Bolsheviks publishing Lenin's letter criticising him by saying it threatened "party unity"
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Why was Stalin popular amongst the Russian People?
Stalin was from a skilled proletariat background (father was a cobbler). His concept of "socialism in one country" was popular due to fear of foreign intervention. He had also killed people whilst doing robberies to raise money, showing committment
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Why was Trotsky unpopular amongst the Russia People?
While Trotsky was from a proletariat background, he was also Jewish, which made him unpopular due to widespread anti-semitism. His theory of a "world revolution" was disliked due to apprehension about going to war after WW1.
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What was Stalin's aim for the first Five Year Plan?
Stalin aimed to industrialise Russia, as they were 150 years behind technologically.
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What were the successes of the first Five Year Plan?
High progress made in short timespan; increased employment; increased coal, iron/steel, electricity production
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What were the failures of the first Five Year Plan?
Poor quality products/technology produced; corrupt officials
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What was the focus of the second Five Year Plan?
The intial focus was on consumer goods, but the start of WW2 shifted the focus on to the defense industry.
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What were high achievers called in the USSR, and what did they get?
High achievers were known as Stakhanovites, and were given better housing and goods
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What was Stalin's opinion on religion?
Stalin hated religion, and it was banned.
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What were two key changes Stalin made to the lives of the proletariat?
Sunday as a day of rest was abolished, creating a 7 day working week. Women were made fully equal to men, and could enter any career path.
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How did Stalin improve literacy?
Stalin introduced free basic schooling - literacy was at 85% by 1939
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How did Stalin create his cult of personality?
Stalin used propagande to rewrite his personal history
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How did Stalin use Art and Culture in the 1930s?
All art had to depict Stalin as a God-like figure (looking up/out - a visionary leader); socialist realism (art depicting workers at work) became popular; art was heavily censored to conform to Stalinist ideals
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How many people were deoprted to labour camps in Siberia under Stalin?
10 million
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Why did Stalin start Collectivisation?
Stalin wanted to modernise agriculture
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What was collectivisation?
Joining together a group of farms and putting them under state control
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What were the reasons for Collectivisation?
Replace NEP; increase party control over peasants (via commune manager); increase food productions with new machinery; allow more peasants to move to towns to work in industry
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When did Collectivisation start?
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Whta organisation controlled the colllective farms?
The Collective Farm Committee
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What was a Kolkhoz?
A Collective farm
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Was Collectivisation popular amongst peasants?
No, especially with Kulaks (rich peasants)
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Was Collectivisation enforced from the beginning? Why?
No, because Stalin wanted peasants to collectivise voluntarily
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What percentage of produce made on collective farms was aqcuisitioned by the Government?
90% of all produce was taken to feed the proletariat, leaving 10% to feed the collectives
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When was Collectivisation enforced?
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How did peasants respond to enforced Collectivisation?
Large protests - livestock killed, crops/barn burnt
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What percentage of farm land was collectivised by 1939?
99% of all farm land, with 90% of peasants living on Kolkhoz.
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Who did the soviets focus on to create a new culture?
The children, as older generations rejected communist ideas
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What was a major health/social problem in the USSR?
Alcoholism - vodka was readily available and people drank to help themselves cope
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What is Zhclanoshchina?
The belief that Russians are superior to other peoples
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What was the key art movement at the begining of the Russian Revolution?
The Avant Garde art movement helped the Soviets gain power
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When and why was the Avant Garde movement banned?
Avant Garde was banned in the 1930s because it was considered "elitist"
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What were Socialist Realist novels like?
Socialist realist novels depicted the proletariat succeeding over all odds
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Why did Stalin like Socialist Realist art?
It did not require a high intelligence to understand, so could be viewed by anyone
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How was Socialist Realism a tool of the dictatorship?
It presented the public with simple ideas as a distraction
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What were Anti-Soviet Tendencies?
Western influences in art and culture
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What was Reactionary Bourgeois Western Culture?
Accepting bourgeois influences from the west
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What was the Honour Court?
An institution to examine anti-patriotic acts (main perpatrators of show trials)
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What is Xenophobia?
A fear of foreigners
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What was the Great Terror?
Stalin's purge of "non-soviet" people, resulting in 3 million deaths
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Why did Stalin start the Purges?
Stalin was paranoid of betrayal from within the party as he wanted to maintain his power
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What did Stalin use to commit the Purges?
The secretariat and CHEKA
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What was the Secretariat?
A collection of records on all Communist Party members
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What was CHEKA?
The secret police under Lenin
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What happened to people found guilty in the Purges?
They were either executed or sent to the Gulag
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What did Stalin change the CHEKA to?
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When was the first Purge?
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What was the Chistka?
The removal of 22% of party members opposed to economic plans in 1932-35
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When and what was an Administrative Purge?
An Administrative Purge (first in 1921) was removing individuals by making them redundant.
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What does Chistka mean?
The Russian word for Purge
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Who criticised Stalin in 1932?
Ryutin, the former party secretary (his criticisms were echoed by Stalin's wife Alliluyeva before her suicide)
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What did Ryutin criticised in 1932?
Collectivisation, target culture, and other reforms.
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Who criticised Stalin at the 17th Party Conference?
Kirov (Stalin's second in command and head of the Leningrad Party) after being encouraed by party members
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What was Stalin's response to Kirov's criticisms?
Kirov was assassinated and Stalin started the Great Purge
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What kind of party members did Stalin accuse during the Great Purge?
Leftists and Older Bolsheviks, because they had more credibility than Stalin
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What were officials accused of during the Great Purge?
Being allied with Leon Trotsky, an ex-party member turned radical.
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What was the first major show trial and who was accused?
The Trial of 16 and many leftists (like Zinoviev and Kamenev) were accused
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Who were Zinoviev and Kamenev?
Bolshevik politicians who were amongst the first Bolshevik revolutionaries
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What groups were attacked during the Great Purge?
Party members, the military (nearly all military officials were killed), civillians (engineers, foreigners, writers, artists, managers) and the NKVD
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When and what was the Great Purge?
The Great Purge was the purge of innocent civillians for no reason in 1936-38
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According to Official Soviet Archives, how many people were killed per day during the Great Purge?
1,000 people per day
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Why was Kirov such a threat to Stalin?
Kirov was popular and liked by party members, and had publically spoken out against him
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Why were Old Bolsheviks targeted?
They knew Lenin didn't like Stalin and had the status and power to usurp him
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Why did low-ranking party members frame higher-ranking officials?
They wanted to be loyal to Stalin; vengenance against cruel officials; take their power; fear of Stalin
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Why was the Gualag beneficial for the USSR?
It provided free labour and increased fear
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When and why did the Purges end?
The purges ended at the start of WW2 (1944) as it took up most of Stalin's attention and people could be sent to the front instead of being executed (this was normally lethal)
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Who was Yagoda?
Head of NKVD who orchestrated the assassination of Kirov and the execution of Zinoviev and Kamenev. Was executed after failing to persecute Nickolai Bukharin (a suspected Trotskyite)
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What were Trostkyites?
Party members who were allied with Trotsky
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Who was Yezhov?
Head of NKVD after Yagoda, was most active during the Great Purge, purging 3000 of his own people. Was replaced by Bervia and executed for being an "enemy of the people"
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Who was Beria?
Head of NKVD after Yezhov, and eventually became Deputy Prime Minister in 1941. Attempted to seize power following Stalin's death but failed and was executed
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What happened to Stalin at the begining of WW2?
Stalin suffered a mental breakdown and his paranoia increased.
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How was Stalin viewed after WW2?
He was seen as a war hero, but this reputation disappeared after the Berlin Blockade and the Korean War
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What was the Doctors Plot?
9 Doctors (6 were Jewish) were accused of murdering soviet officials, causing a wave of anti-semitism. After Stalin's death, it was revealed the scandal was faked and all doctors were aquitted.
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Why did Stalin fabricate the Doctors Plot?
Stalin wanted to start a new purge, and he also wanted to use them as a scapegoat for his recent failures
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How and when did Stalin die?
Stalin died following a massive stroke caused by drinking, but was not given medical attention due to his staff being afraid of distrubing him. He died in March 1953
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Who replaced Stalin following his death?
Stalin was replaced by a collective leadership - Malenkov, Khrushchev, Molotov, Bulganin, and Beria
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Who was Nikita Khrushchev?
First Secretary of the USSR, who would enventually become Premier
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Who was Georgi Malenkov?
Deputy Prime Minister (1953-58)
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Who was Vyochlav Molotov?
Foreign Minister of the USSR
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Who was Nikolay Bulganin?
Defense Minister, who eventually became Chairman of the Counsel of Ministers
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Why did the collective leadership fail?
The west was unsure who was officialy in charge
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Who took power following Beria's execution?
Malenkov, who focused on raising living standards by taking money from the military
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What were the impacts of Stalin's death?
Improvement in International relations; improved standard of living; improved economy; relaxation of internal politics; Policy changes for Eastern European satellite states
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Who took over after Malenkov was exiled?
Nikita Khrushchev, who became Premier
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How did World War 2 affect the Soviet Economy?
Damaged infrastructure; lack of consumer goods to promote socialism in the Cold War; disruption of agriculture
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What plan did Khrushchev announce at the 20th Party Congress?
De-Stalinisation, which was to reverse Stalin's terror state, destroying his image and legacy, reverting to Leninist communism
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What did Khrushchev use to denounce Stalin?
Khrushchev used Lenin's Testament - said that Stalin would only abuse power
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What did Khrushchev criticise Stalin for?
Weakening the Red Army; mismanaging WW2; deporting nationality groups; purging of political leaders; Yugoslavia policies; his cult of personality
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What was Socialist Legality?
Procedural/staturatory rights for citizens
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What did the Legal Codes of 1960 establish?
Legal norms, administrative laws. Random arrests were also prevented
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What did Rule 21 (introduced 1961) do?
Limited terms of office for officials- caused outrage due to people losing power
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What different parts did Khrushchev split the party into in 1962?
Agriculture and Industry
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What did Khrushchev focus on during his 20th congress speech?
His focused on Stalin's abuse of the party, but didn't mention the terror against the population
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What is the supposed reason for Khrushchev's secret speech?
Many think Khrushchev's speech was to associate himself with reform whilst linking his rivals to Stalin's crimes
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When was Khrushchev's secret speech officially released?
1989 - word of it spread prior to this, caused shock and disillusionment
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What was Khrushchev's Thaw?
A period of liberalisation with relaxed censorship, a literary renaissance, and the release and rehabilitation of policitical prisoners
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Why did Khrushchev focus on agriculture?
He knew agriculture would have to grow for industry and living standard to improve, as Stalin had not focused on agriculture
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How did Khrushchev change the Collectivisation system?
Gave them more freedom on their operation; disbanded MTSs for farms to own equipment; englarged farms; increased food prices; replaced forced seizure with planned purchasing; encourage private plots and markets
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Where did Khrushchev get his agricultural policies from?
Many of Khrushchev's policies were stolen from Malenkov
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What was the Virgin Lands Scheme (1954)?
Young Communists (Kosmol) were sent to develop land in Siberia and Kazakhstan to create new farm land
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What was an MTS?
Motor Tractor Station - lent machinery to collectives
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What was the Corn Campaign (1955)?
Plan to grow corn as fodder in the USSR
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Why did the Corn Campaign fail?
The USSR could not grow cor due to low rainfall and worng soil types
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Who advised Khrushchev to not grow corn?
Roswell Garst, an American Farmer. He also sold corn to the USSR
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How far were Khrushchev's agricultural reforms a failure?
Did not lessen effects of 1963 drought; agriculture still inefficient; production levels coudln't compare to US
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How far were Khrushchev's agricultural reforms a success?
Food production increased (only slightly); good framework for further improvement; better administration; easier access to technology
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Why did Khrushchev think agriculture and industry were closely linked?
Agriculture produced food for the proletariat, increasing output; industry produced machiery and fertiliser; better machinery means less workers for agriculture, more workers for factories
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What elements of industry did Khrushchev focus on and why?
Light industry (consumer goods) and chemical production - he wanted to broaden the base of the Soviet economy
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Why did Stalin's regime prevent Khrushchev's reforms?
Bureaucratic systems prevented initiative and development, and didn't encourage innovation; system was clumsy and wasteful, making it difficult to deal with trends and unforseen events, couldn't meet demand
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What were the Liberman Reforms?
A series of economic reforms introduced under Khrushchev
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What were Regional Economic Councils?
Regional Economic Councils were groups that supervised deicision making in a local area (opposed to being made centrally). There were 105 economic councils
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How did Stalin's strict labour laws changed?
Working hours per week were reduced from 48 to 41 and incentives were reintroduced
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What percentage of profits could industry managers keep for investment?
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What kind of education was emphasised?
Vocational education - specialist schools were set up and expanded
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What was the aim for Liberman Reforms?
Increase autonomy for local managers and allow market to decide prices
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What was the Seven Year Plan and when was it introduced?
The Seven Year Plan (1959) focused on chemicals and fuel - especially oil and natural gas
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What part of the chemical industry did the Seven Year Plan focus on?
Synthetic Fibres (to improve consumer goods)
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Where did most of regional development funding go to?
East of Urals (had large gas reserves) recieved about 40%
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What were some of the successes of the Seven Year Plan?
Target industries increased output; more available consumer goods; increased standard of living
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What were some failures of the Seven Year Plan?
Poor quality of goods; small economic base; poor labour productivity; inefficient; slowed economic growth; confusion in party
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What was the Comrades Court?
An elected public body which promoted communist attitudes (via persuasions and social influence) and dealt with petty crimes like labour violations
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What was Khrushchev's opinion of religion?
Khrushchev was a strong atheist - he launched an anti-religion campaign in 1959
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What happened in Khrushchev's anti-religion campaign?
Mass closure of churches (went from 22,000 to 7,800 in 1965), monasteries, convents, and seminaries; children banned from being taught religion, attending church and recieving Eucharist
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What is paratism?
Someone not doing socially productive work - a decree was issued to combat it
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What is Socialist Legality?
The idea the the Government and Party were subject to laws
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What was the Crisis of 1957?
An attempt by Malenkov and Molotov to remove Khrushchev by trying to persuade the Presidum
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How did Khrushchev deal with the Crisis of 1957?
He removed Malenkov and Molotov by changing their positions - Malenkov became Mongolia's Ambassador and Molotov was head of electricity
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What was Khrushchev's aim for housing?
He wanted to give people private apartments instead of communal flats. He planned to build millions of standardised apartment blocks
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How did Khrushchev lose power?
He was voted out of office by Stalinist party members
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Why was Khrushchev voted out of office?
His reforms weakened party members by divinding responsibilites; erratic leadership; he lacked expertise in many areas (i.e. agriculture); he failed in the Cuban Missile Crisis; people wanted stability; bad relations with China
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Who succeeded Khrushchev?
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What is meant by Colourless?
Lacking in revolutionary spirit; focused on keeping the system running instead of making improvements
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How did Brezhnev gain power in the Politburo?
He was skilled at building alliances and support networks - he was popular amongst low ranking officials due to his background as a factory worker
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What is a Gerontocracy?
A system run by old people
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What is Mature Socialism?
An communist ideology that attempts to keep things the same
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What were the Kosygin Reforms?
A series of economic reforms drawn up under Khrushchev that aimed to stimulate production via business independence and a market economy - based on Liberman Reforms
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Why did Brezhnev reverse the Kosygin Reforms?
The resembled reforms made in Czechslovakia that caused protests - they were deemed poltically dangerous
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What was one of Brezhnev's popular slogan?
"Trust in Cadres" - it won him support of bureaucrats interested in stability
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How did Brezhnev secure his power?
Moving allies into influential positions and manoeuvred opponents into non-threatening positions
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What were some key events of the Brezhnev era?
Conflict with China over Ussuri River; Czechslovakia Reform Movement; Conflict in the Middle East and invasion of Afghanistan
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What were the strengths of the Brezhnev Era?
Stability; general peace; lack of severe punishment
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What were the weakness of the Brezhnev Era?
Economic stagnation; lack of reform; reliance on US imports
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What problems were caused by economic stagnation under Brezhnev?
Standard of living problems - housing and food supplies didn't improve; lack of consumer goods; raiding of government property; large black market; increase in alcoholism
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What was education like under Brezhnev?
Increased working people had secondary education; decrease in access to higher education for people with secondary school education (mainly children from professioanl families)
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What was science like under Brezhnev?
Failed in space race against USA; advancements in metallurgy and thermonuclear fusion; lack of computer technology
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What was art and literature like under Brezhnev?
Greater variety of works; greater artistic experimentation; strictures of socialist realism loosened; Western musicians allowed limited appearances
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What was religion like under Brezhnev?
Increased in popularity despite government disapproval
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What are some causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union?
Individuals (Gorbachev, Yeltsin); Nationalism; economics; ideology; cold war; oil crisis
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What were Glasnost and Perestroika?
Glasnost = openess; Perestroika = restructuring society to make a people's government
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What was Democratisation?
Giving power to the people
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How was Gorbachev's policy of openess (glasnost) used against him?
It was used by his enemies to criticise him
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How was Democratisation implemented?
Allowed people to vote for members of the Congress of People's Deputies (elections controlled by communists). The Congress weakened the totalitarian system and was criticised as Gorbachev tinkering with the system
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What was the Chernobyl Incident?
A meltdown at Chernobyl Nuclear Powerplant which spread radition across Europe. The Government did not publically admit it happened, resulting in delayed evacuations and increase in leukimia and birth deformities.
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What were Gorbachev's 4 major political reforms?
Seperation of Party and State; power shift from the Party to the Soviet via financing; Reduction of central comittee departments (20 to 9); merging of ministries to superministries
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What was Gorbachev's background?
Gorbachev came from a working background with 2 agriculture degress - he was highly unqualified
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Card 2


What was the Red Terror?


A Bolshevik campaign against political opponents

Card 3


What was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What was war communism?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Who were the Proletariat?


Preview of the front of card 5
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