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Stalin and the Communist State: The Rise of Totalitarian Dictatorships in the Interwar Period

Event Justification during WWII

Based on that evidence (and please choose an event that has evidence), how was the trauma of world war justified (or was it)? In this reflection, please include a specific event of WWII and its outcome - either short-term or long-term. What specifically happened, why did it happen, and what was the result of that event? Be sure to cite primary sources (e.g. from the textbook) - and let me know where you found those texts - to support your observations. For this final reflection, you may have to look on the internet for reliable sources to answer the second portion of the assignment.

what was the outcome/impact of the event (and thus its "justification"). Article is down below Stalin and the Communist State: The rise of totalitarian dictatorships in the interwar period began in Russia following its early departure from World War I. The war had greatly highlighted Russia’s weak and ineffective leadership, both politically and militarily, in addition to its relative lack of industrialization compared to the Western powers. Furthermore, Russia was forced to make tremendous land concessions when it surrendered to the Germans in 1917, only to watch that land further divided up by the Allies at Versailles. In the ensuing years of the Russian Revolution, the move towards communism brought about a complete reordering of Russian society and the creation of the world’s first socialist state.

The country’s name was changed to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or Soviet Union. The country’s leader, Joseph Stalin was able to ultimately seize power and gain total control of all aspects of Soviet power, the economy and life. Keeping a firm grasp upon the inner workings of his government was Stalin’s first and most important priority. Getting rid of major political opponents was high on his list, so he exiled his major rival, Leon Trotsky. The process itself began with the creation of a powerful police state that heavily monitored all aspects of Soviet life. Instead of serving and protecting, the Soviet secret police used terror, murder and intimidation to carry out the policies of Stalin’s government.

Education was used to promote the virtues of communism with Stalin at the head. Propaganda was used extensively to control the information received by citizens. Enemies or anyone perceived to be a threat to Stalin’s authority were systematically destroyed through the use of a secret police that ruthlessly arrested and/or executed any opposition. Millions were sent to Soviet work camps in Siberia, known as gulags, where life expectancy was typically one winter. Not only did The Great Purge focus on those Stalin believed were after him, but he was becoming paranoid, and believed that everyone was out to get him. He also became increasingly power-mad by demanding constant praise, applause and validation of his work.

Stalin's Rise to Power and Control of Soviet Power

The far- reach of the purges was not limited to those who opposed Stalin. Regular people were just as at risk to be placed in the gulags. Some reports claim that over 20 million people imprisoned, and nearly 10 million of them died. These numbers do not include those who were executed before they ever reached the Gulags. While many of these aspects of Soviet life under Stalin’s rule were hidden from international view, Stalin’s impact on the Soviet economy got the attention of the world. For the Soviet Union to overcome the humiliating defeat to Germany in World War I and to become a global power to be reckoned with, the Soviets needed to increase the availability of essential industrial products like oil, steel, and electricity, in addition to significantly improving agricultural production.

One of the major ideas that Stalin brought to the table with him was to create collectives in Soviet Russia. This meant that the government would take control of the production of all goods. Stalin took control of all aspects of the Soviet economy by instituting a series of economic plans that sought to modernize the country. After some initial setbacks industrially, Stalin’s plans significantly enhanced the Soviet Union’s position as a modern industrial power. Stalin’s economic plans succeeded in providing full employment and economic growth in the Soviet economy during the early 1930s at a time when western democracies were struggling heavily with the global depression. Even as early as the 1920s, as young democratic countries arising out of the ruins of World War I struggled economically to provide jobs for workers, Russia’s initial transition to communism was beginning to seem like a better solution than capitalism.

As unemployed workers took to the streets in protest of ineffective governments and poor economic conditions, violence often resulted, and many perceived communism to be a significant threat to stability and social order. They responded by supporting individuals and political parties who promised to counter communism, bring about social order, and restore a perceived path to destiny that had somehow been lost due to the outcome of World War I.

For Italians and Germans, those individuals were Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and their emergence as totalitarian dictators took similar paths. One of the only things that scared Stalin was the power that Hitler had in Germany. He saw what type of control he was exerting and became frightened to what that might mean for Russia. He decided to enter into a Non Aggression Pact--a national treaty with another nation where both countries agree not to engage in military action against each other, with Germany in order to keep some control over what he saw as the upcoming instability on the European Continent.

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