Dedicated to the 100 million victims of communism worldwide.
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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
History
Russia Under Communism

Lenin died in 1924, disappointed in his failure either to shape Russia as he had planned or to spread the revolution worldwide. After a brief struggle for succession between Trotsky and Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), power passed into the hands of the latter. By the end of the 1920's, Stalin was in complete control of the Communist empire, labeled Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR. He proceeded ruthlessly to implement Lenin's program.

He robbed the peasants of their land, livestock and implements, "collectivizing" farming: in the process millions of peasants perished. Next, he carried out a program of forced industrialization, ostensibly meant to transform Russia into a great industrial power but in reality to make her military force second to none for he counted on provoking a new world war as a means of exporting Communism abroad. In 1937-38 he carried out an unprecedented massacre of hundreds of thousands of opponents, real or imaginary, among them most of Lenin's closest associates, having them tried and convicted in show trials or else summarily shot or confined to concentration camps.

In August, 1939 Stalin realized his intention of starting another global war by signing a non-aggression treaty with Hitler which enabled the German dictator, with his eastern border secure, to launch a war of conquest in the west. During their two-year alliance, Stalin supplied the Nazis with all the raw materials they needed to conquer Europe. He believed, not unreasonably, that this vital assistance assured him of Hitler's good will. But contrary to his expectations, in June 1941, Hitler, having given up his attempt to conquer the British isles, sent his vast army against the USSR. The invasion, initially successful, eventually bogged down and the Red Army pushed the Wehrmacht out of Russia to the very center of Berlin. According to recent estimates, Soviet losses in the war, both military and civilian, amounted to 43 million.

Contrary to the expectations of many Soviet Citizens, their sacrifices in the war did not bring them relief from Communist deprivations and despotism. On the contrary: abandoning the war-time Alliance with the West, Stalin launched what came to be known as the "Cold War," a State of unremitting tension with Europe and the United States which required a military buildup well beyond the Soviet Union's resources that drained its economy further, inflicting still greater hardships on its population.

When Stalin died in March 1953, the country was exhausted. His immediate successors, led by Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971), relaxed the terror and somewhat eased the Cold War but the country stagnated. By the mid-1980's it became apparent to the Soviet leadership that the Situation called for major reforms.

To carry them out, it appointed as the General Secretary of the Communist Party the relatively young and open-minded Mikhail Gorbachev (b. 1931). Gorbachev at first tried to carry out the reforms within the existing system but before long he discovered that the entrenched Communist apparatus resisted all change. So he launched an ambitious program of "rebuilding" (perestroika) by inviting Soviet Citizens to express their grievances and wishes through a policy of openness (glasnost') and elections to a genuine parliament. Unexpectedly, once released, the force of public opinion swept aside the entire rigid political edifice built by the Communists over seven decades.

In 1991, led by the newly elected President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), the Soviet Union fell apart into its 16 constituent republics. The Russian Federation became formally a democratic republic but in fact turned into a quasi-dictatorship disguised by a democratic facade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio:

Richard Pipes is an American historian who specializes in Russian history, particularly with respect to the history of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War era he headed Team B, a team of analysts which analyzed the strategic capacities and goals of the Soviet military and political leadership.

Click for sources of the victims of communism

USSR:
Location:  Eurasia
Capital:  Moscow
Communist Rule:  1917-1991
Status:  Collapsed - 26.12.1991
Victims of Communism:
20-30 million