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Soviet Union DBQ

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In 1924, the Soviet Union faced a power struggle when it’s leader and creator Vladimir Lenin died. His successor however, came into power and immediately began to make changes. This man knew exactly what he wanted to keep and more importantly what he wanted to change. His birth name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, but who could possibly rule and leave a legacy with that name? He then adopted the name Joseph Stalin, (which means man of steel.) and began to rule the Soviet Union. At this time, the Soviet Union was well behind all the other countries; Stalin made many changes to the soviet society, employing many methods to achieve his aims. Stalin was a part of the Bolsheviks which was the communist party of the Soviet Union. The Kulaks were the wealthy landowners and they were capitalists and did not approve of Stalin’s beliefs and methods. One of the changes Stalin implemented in order to achieve his one of his many goals, was to collective farms.

Collectivization is the act of seizing land from the wealthy (which in this case were the Kulaks) and using it for communal use. This means that the Kulaks’ farms would get broken up to little parts and given to the peasants. In document 4, an excerpt from a speech that Stalin delivered in 1929 he says, “The socialist way, which is to set up collective farms and state farms into large collective farms, technically and scientifically equipped, and to the squeezing out of the capitalist elements from agriculture.” Stalin was determined to remove any and all capitalist that were not in his favor. Another change Stalin implemented was to stop feeding the livestock with the wheat being grown. In document 5, there is a graph showing the declination of the livestock in the first and second five year plan. In a total of 10 years, the amount of livestock was virtually cut in half!

In comparison, the wheat production increased significantly in the ten years in which the livestock was cut in half. The wheat being produced was no longer given to the livestock who would intake a great amount of food, but was now being fed to the people of the Soviet Union. In response to this change, the livestock began to disappear. Last but certainly not least, Stalin began to target industries that would set the stage for rapid industrialization in industries such as energy, and infrastructure – the structure of the Soviet society. In document 2, we see that the targets set for each industry within the next five years is significantly high. For example, in 1927-1928 coal was at 35.4 million tonnes and the target in 1933 was for coal to be at 68.0 million tonnes. Stalin knew that he had to help the Soviet Union modernize and industrialize in order to no longer be vulnerable in the face of the other countries. In the previous paragraph, we see Stalin implement many changes in order to reform the soviet union but lets take a look into the methods he used in order to reach these changes.

In document 7, the excerpt from the book published in the U.S.S.R says, “The Kulaks stooped to all possible means to wreck the collectivization campaign. They murdered collective farm activists and Party and government officials sent to the villages to help the peasants… The Soviets had the right to banish them from their villages…The exploiter class – the rural bourgeoisie – was finally abolished…” The collectivization was not only to take away the land from the kulaks but it was also to eliminate their whole class. Stalin stopped feeding the livestock to feed the people but their were great purges during his rule. In document 6, the excerpt from the book by Adrian Karatnycky it says, “While harvests were precipitously declining, Stalin’s commissars continued to confiscate grain. Peasants were shot and deported as rich, landowning Kulaks.” The commissars took the grain and instead of giving it to the people they would send it to Russia. Stalin used the forced famine as political strategy whose aim was to crush all vestiges of Ukrainian national sentiments.

Lastly, in document 8 from the excerpt of “The Land of the Soviets” it says, “in 1940 there were 9,971,000 industrial workers, which was nearly three times more than in 1928. The working class was also changing: its efficient, technical and cultural levels were growing rapidly.” By targeting the money making industries, their workers also had to improve and we see that they strengthened their economic position and converted it into a powerful industrial state. Stalin achieved his goal to communize the Soviet Union by using all these methods in order to make the changes he wanted. Stalin made many changes to the Soviet society, employing many methods to achieve his aims. He presented himself as a leader and a legend. In reality, Stalin was over – aggressive and he was a key figure in the Bolshevik’s seizure of power. The true question in Stalin’s case is, do the ends (communism) justify the means (repression)?

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