Russia in the Inter-War Years

Leaving Cert > Dictatorship and Democracy in Europe > Russia in the Inter-War Years

"The love of Stalin - the happiness of the people!"
A Soviet propaganda poster featuring Josef Stalin. What message do you think it's trying to give?

In Third Year, you occasionally met the Soviet Union. Hitler made a pact with it in 1939, it was one of the Allies in World War II, and it fought the Cold War against America for decades after that. Now, in Leaving Cert, you learn about the Soviet Union's own history.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 saw the Tsar (king) overthrown and Russia transformed from an empire into a soviet republic. A civil war soon broke out between two factions of the revolutionaries: the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. After three years of fighting, the Bolsheviks emerged victorious and the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (formerly Russia and all of its territories) came into being, with Vladimir Lenin as its leader.

Lenin introduced new economic policies (all under a plan called the New Economic Policy) to transform Russian society. He died after a series of strokes only a few years later, and was succeeded, after a violent power struggle, by Josef Stalin. Stalin set about creating a totalitarian dictatorship: he created a cult of personality around himself, he removed his political opponents in purges and show trials, and he tried to industrialise the Soviet economy through his Five Year Plans and Collectivisation. These measures were largely successful, but by the late 1930s bigger problems were looming on the horizon...

Continue to Italy in the Inter-War Years

  • Lenin's hold on power: 
    •  The Cheka, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
  • The Russian Civil War, 1918-21:
    • Whites and Reds, War Communism, Red Terror, Why Lenin and Trotsky won.
  • The New Economic Policy (NEP):
    • Kronstadt Rebellion, the main points of the NEP, the results of the NEP.
  • Stalin's rise to power:
    • Death of Lenin, Stalin's beliefs, Power struggle (Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev), Creating a totalitarian dictatorship, Purges and Show Trials.
  • The Soviet Alternative: Transforming Society and Economy:
    • Five Year Plans and Collectivisation: aims, measures and results.

Key Terms:  
Communism, Dictatorship, Totalitarianism, Cult of Personality, Propaganda, Collectivisation.
(click here)

Key Personalities: 
Vladimir Lenin
Josef Stalin.

Case Study:
Stalin's Show Trials 

A young Stalin (left) and Lenin (right). Lenin didn't trust Stalin by the end of his life, but
Stalin kept this secret and used photos like this to promote himself amongst the public.

Higher Level (100 marks each)
2015: How did Mussolini and/or Stalin use propaganda and terror to remain in power?

2014: What challenges faced the Soviet Union in peace and war, 1924-1945?

2013: How did Stalin transform the Soviet economy and/or use show trials to consolidate his power?

2012: What were the main characteristics of Stalin's rule in Russia?

2011: To what extent did Lenin and/or Stalin bring about social and economic change?

2010: How effective were the internal and external policies of Josef Stalin?

2009: How did dictators use propaganda and/or terror to maintain their power?

2008: What did Lenin and Stalin contribute to communism in Russia?

2006: To what extent did Stalin transform the society and economy of the Soviet Union?

Ordinary Level:
2014, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part C:
How did Stalin's show trials affect life in the Soviet Union? (40)

2012, Dictatorship and Democracy Part C:
What changes in Stalin bring about in Soviet Russia? (40)

2011, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B
2013, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B
2014, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. (30)

2011, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part C:
Why did Stalin set up show trials and to what extent did they achieve his desired result? (40)

A Soviet propaganda poster for Collectivisation.
The bottom captain reads
"Poor and middle class, increasing crops, establishing a technological culture,
and strengthening the economy!"
How do you think this poster was used?