IB History


Triple Alliance signed - Italy - Germany - Austro-Hungary


Italy - Germany - Austro-Hungary

Kaiser Wilhelm II becomes German emperor

15 June 1888
  • Last German emperor

The Arms Race

1890 - 1914
  • Countries anticipated war

  • France armed forces grew by 68%

  • Russian armed forces grew by 100%

  • German armed forces grew by 77%

Franco-Russian Alliance signed

  • Partially in response to the signing of the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy in 1882

Wilhelm launches 'Weltpolitik'

  • Bismarck had never been very interested in acquiring colonies

  • Wilhem was, he was jealous of the British Empire and wanted to turn Germany into a world power

  • Acquired very few new colonies yet his expansionist foreign policy created friction with Britain and France

Entente Cordiale agreed between France - Britain

8 April 1904

First Moroccan Crisis

1905 - 1906
  • Wilhelm travelled to Morocco to announce Germany's commitment to helping Moroccan independence

  • Basically this was telling France they could not increase their influence within Morocco without consulting with Germany first

  • Germany did not expect Britain to support France but they did

  • Further solidified the Entente Cordiale between France and UK

Naval Race - Germany vs. Britain

1906 - 1912

German government wanted a large navy because:

  1. It rallied patriotism (?)
  2. Essential for a colonial power
  • Britain believed it had to maintain its position as the greatest naval power

  • Britain was initially not alarmed by Germany, but by 1906 things heated up and it developed into a Naval Race

  • The race brought about the construction of the Dreadnought, which rendered all previous battleships obsolete

  • The Naval Race + Moroccan Crises soured Anglo-German relations

Anglo-Russian Entente signed

31 August 1907

Bosnian Crisis (Annexation)

  • Austria-Hungary announces it is annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • This angers Serbia as Bosnia contains many Serbs, and control of Bosnia by themselves would give them access to sea

  • This angers Russia because it didn't want Austrian power to increase, and they remain close allies with Serbia.

  • The crisis ended when Germany threatened Russia with war. Russia was this weak from the Russo-Japanese war and 1905 Revolution.

  • However, Russia vowed to rebuild there army from thereon forth in order to help Serbia the next time they required so

2nd Moroccan Crisis (Agadir Crisis)

  • Germany sent gunboat 'Panther' to Agadir to protest France sending more troops to Morocco

  • Eventually fizzled out when France gave Germany territory in the Congo

  • Ultimately the incident brought Britain and France closer and raised suspicions about Germany

Balkan Wars

1912 - 1913

Balkan League (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro) attacks Ottoman Empire and wins.

-Serbia gained greatly, most significantly taking Albania.

-Germany and Austro-Hungary eventually pressured Serbia out of Albania

-Russia stood by again, only further motivating them to be available to support Serbia when needed

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

June 28 1914
  • Black Hand, Serbian nationalist-terrorist group with close links to their own government, assassinates Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo

  • Austria-Hungary uses this as an excuse to take strong action against Serbia. Helped by the fact that Germany made assurances that they would support Austria if war came.

Austria-Hungary harsh ultimatum sent to Serbia

July 23 1914

Serbia rejects ultimatum - Austria-Hungary declares war

28 July 1914

Russia mobilises

29 July 1914


August 1914 - November 1918

Germany declares war on Russia

1 August 1914

Germany invades Belgium (Schlieffen Plan)

3 August 1914

Germany declares war on France

3 August 1914

Britain declares war Germany

4 August 1914

Treaty of London 1839 stated that Britain would come to Belgium's side if attacked

Battle of the Marne

5 September 1914 - 12 september 1914
  • Allied counter-attack lead to Germany abandoning their push towards Paris

  • Ultimately meant the Schlieffen-Plan had failed

  • Arguably this is the point where Germany lost the war

Sinking of RMS Lusitania


Civilians killed, angered world

Part of America's cumulative reason to enter the war

The Treaty of London 1915 - Triple Entente and Italy

April 1915
  • Triple Entente and Italy. Made to gain Italy as an ally against Germany

  • Many territorial post-war gains were promised to Italy.

    • Eventually when they were not kept, contributed towards Mussolini's rise and nationalistic anger.

Sykes-Picot Agreement

May 1916
  • Secret agreement between France and United Kingdom determining their proposed spheres of influence in the Middle East if they were to defeat the Ottoman Empire

  • Bolsheviks exposed the agreement after coming to power in 1917 to the great embarrassment of France and UK

Zimmerman Telegram intercepted


Invited Mexico to join Germany in war; promised American territory in return.

Prompted America to enter the war

Woodrow Wilson's 14 points

January 1918

WW1 Armistice signed

11 November 1918

Paris Peace Treaties

1919 - 1920

Weimar Republic Established


Treaty of Versailles

28 June 1919

The Treaty of St. Germain - Austria

September 1919
  • Acknowledged dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire

  • War guilt acceptance

  • Reparations

  • Limited armed forces to 30k

The Treaty of Neuilly - Bulgaria

November 1919
  • Reparations

  • Armed forces limited to 20k

Lost territory ex. Northern Macedonia

The Treaty of Trianon - Hungary

June 1920
  • Delayed because of unrest in Hungary

  • Reparations

  • Armed forces limited to 35k

  • Lost territory ex. Croatia, Slovakia

The Treaty of Sevres - Turkey

August 1920
  • Territory loss

  • Straits of Dardanelles under international control

Washington Naval Conference

November 1921 - February 1922
  • US, UK, France, Italy, Belgium, China, Netherlands and Portugal


  • Internationalisation of 'Open Door Policy' , respect to China's Sovereignty and agreement to equal trading rights for all

  • Naval size ratios accepted - USA and UK accepted parity, ending UK naval domination

  • UK and US agreed not to build new naval bases in West Pacific


  • Ships under 10k tons not restricted ex. submarines

  • Treaties did not cover land forces

  • No enforcement mechanisms agreed upon in the case of a country breaching its own terms

    • Could not prevent Japanese aggression in 1931
  • USSR not invited - potentially major force in Pacific

Ruhr Occupation

1923 - 1925

France and Belgium sent 60,000 troops to occupy the Ruhr

The Ruhr produced 80% of German steel and coal

Done so to collect reparations and also to provoke Rhineland separatism - Belgium and France wanted an independent Rhineland

Beer Hall Putsch - Hitler-led

  • Hitler wanted to take power by force. In 1923 he led around 2,000 Nazis to the centre of Munich to try and seize power

  • Uprising failed and Hitler was arrested. From thereon forth Hitler was convinced that force was not the way

The Treaty of Lausanne - Turkey v2

July 1923
  • Modifications to treaty of Sevres as Turkish nationalistic uprising and war against Greece rejected Sevres

The Dawes Plan

August 1924
  • 200 million USD loan to German from US and other nations

  • Complete rescheduling of reparation payments

  • Reparations Agency established to supervise arrangements

  • France promised to evacuate the Ruhr

Locarno Treaty

October 1925

Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Belgium

  • Belgium, France, Germany accepted the western borders of Germany including the demilitarised Rhineland

  • Britain and Italy would act as guarantors of the Franco-Belgian-German borders

  • Any breaches would be referred to the League

  • Germany committed to settling disputes w/ Poland and Czechoslovakia peacefully

  • Germany would enter the League


  • Germany finally treated as an 'equal' rather than a 'criminal'

  • Appeared to herald a new era of international peace and co-operation (LOCARNO SPIRIT)

Historians argue that Locarno was superficial as the 3 major leaders had incompatible policy objectives:

Chamberlain - sought to enhance France's sense of security without committing militarily

Briand - Preoccupied with increasing security for France

Stresseman - Sought to improve UK-French relations to rework Versailles

Kellog-Briand Pact

  • 65 countries 'renounced war as an instrument of national policy'

  • Reserved the right to self-defence

  • Rather superficial

  • No mechanics put in place to enforce terms; did not define 'aggression'

  • Did not prevent Japan, Germany or Italy from launching wars in the '30s.

The Young Plan

  • To act as a replacement to the Dawes Plan as it was realised that Germany could still not afford to repay

  • Significant reduction of reparations owed

  • Foreign loan of 300 million USD to Germany

  • Allied troops withdrawal from Rhineland

  • Wall Street Crash prevented the plan to ever get off the ground

Wall Street Crash

October 1929
  • Initiated the Great Depression which played a significant role in the outbreak of WW2.

  • Lead to a tariff war and world trade fell by 66%

  • "The social consequences of the slump pushed populations in the weaker economies towards political extremism and violent national self-assertion" - Richard Overy

London Naval Treaty

October 1930

USA, France, UK, Italy, Japan

  • Extension of Washington Treaties

  • Countries agreed to extend a moratorium on capital ship construction for a further 5 years

  • Agreed upon ratios and regulations of submarine construction and possession

    • Submarines classified as 'Surface vessels'

Manchurian Incident

1931 - 1933

Mukden Incident

March 1931
  • Japanese army stationed in Manchuria blew up Japanese railway and blamed it on Chinese

  • Used this as an excuse for occupation


  • Chiang Kai-Shek put little resistance, prepared to sign truce in 1933. He was more occupied with the internal enemy, the Chinese Communist Party, and trying to unify the country.


  • Slowly and inefficiently

  • Set up the Lytton Commision to investigate the Mukden Incident

Geneva Disarmament Conference

1932 - 1934

League of Nations Members + UK and US

  • Effort to actualise the ideology of disarmament

  • Didn't go quite to plan

  • Germany wanted parity with Germany : France should either be limited to 100k troops, or Germany should be allowed to rearm

  • France refused, argued it was only possible if the League made guarantees over frequent German inspections.

  • Desired additional measures such as establishment of international peace-keeping force


  • Hitler used France's refusal for parity as an excuse and in October 1933, he withdrew from the conference and gave notice for Germany's intent to leave the League of Nations

  • Overall a disastrous failure for the League

German Elections - Nazis win

July 1932

Establishment of Manchuko

September 1932
  • Japanese puppet state established in Manchuria

  • In 1933, the League of Nations refused to recognise Manchuko as an independent state

  • In response, Japan left the League

  • All in all the Manchurian Incident proved that the League was toothless and gave further confidence to Mussolini and Hitler.

Hitler appointed Chancellor

January 1933
  • Hindenburg appoints Hitler Chancellor, on the condition that only 3/11 cabinet members are Nazis

  • He hoped the remaining members would be able to control Hitler (He was wrong)

Hindenburg dies - Hitler becomes Fuhrer

August 1934

Reintroduction of German conscription + rearmament

March 1935

Hitler announces publicly that Germany intends to build an army of 550,000 men and fully rearm

Stresa Front Established - France - Britain - Italy

April 1935

Abyssinian Crisis

October 1935 - 1936

- Mussolini aimed to link up Italy's existing colonies in Africa, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland.

  • Satisfy Italian nationalists who had been angry at Italy's failure to acquire colonies as a result of the Paris Peace Settlements

  • Claim he he was recreating glories of the Ancient Roman Empire


  • Contrary to Mussolini's expectations, the League condemned the invasion

  • Employed sanctions:

    • Sales of rubber, arms, and certain metals to Italy were banned
    • Loans to Italy were banned, as were Italian imports


  • They were introduced 6 weeks after Italy's invasion

  • Did not include materials Italy needed the most such as oil, iron, steel and coal. The League did not want to destroy relations entirely.

  • Non-members such as USA, Germany and Japan continued to trade freely with Italy


  • Italy took all over Abyssinia

  • League was discredited once again

  • Hitler used it as a distraction and re-militarised the Rhineland

  • Mussolini and Hitler grew closer

  • Mussolini withdrew Italy from the League

Italy invades Abyssinia

October 1935
  • Prior to invasion, Abyssinia had appealed to the League a total of 4 times for something to be done.

  • Surprise, surprise, League did nothing.

Second London Naval Treaty

December 1935 - March 1936
  • Extension of Washington and London treaties

  • Most notably, Japan insisted on parity with Britain and US in terms of fleet ratio (absurd request).

  • This request was denied and Japan walked out and did not sign the treaty

Re militarisation of the Rhineland

March 1936
  • International community pre-occupied with Abyssinian Crisis

  • Hitler decides to re-militarise the Rhineland, against Versailles and Locarno

  • League condemns action but nothing more

Rome-Berlin Axis signed

October 1936

Full-scale Japanese invasion of China

July 1937

Anschluss achieved - Germany annexes Austria

March 1938
  • Peaceful annexation, Nazi supervised plebiscite

Munich Conference - Sudetenland approved

September 1938
  • France, USSR, Britain appeased Germany by allowing them to occupy the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia

Germany occupies remainder of Czechoslovakia

March 1939
  • Hitler also demanded Memel back from Lithuania

  • Hitler disliked Czechoslovakia because:

a. It was a result of the much-hated Paris Peace Settlements

b. Contained German speakers who were being kept from Germany

c. It was a French and USSR army and therefore constituted a threat to Hitler's eastward expansion

Hitler demands Danzig and access to Polish Corridor

April 1939
  • Hitler demanded access to rail + road through the Polish Corridor

  • Poland, now backed by Britain, refused and ordered partial mobilisation in a tense moment

  • Hitler had probably hoped that Poland would accept and become allies to attack the USSR together

Nazi-Soviet Pact signed

August 1939
  • Bought time for Stalin to build up an army for the inevitable war with Germany

  • Germany promised Polish territory

Germany invades Poland

September 1 1939

Germany invade USSR (Operation Barbarossa)

June 22 1941

Yalta Conference

February 4 1945 - February 11 1945
  • Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met - What happens when war ends?

  • United Nations established, division of Germany and free elections in the east

Potsdam Conference

17 July 1945 - 2 August 1945
  • Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met again

  • Tensions raised over the future of Poland

  • US does not tell Stalin about atomic bomb

During WWII the allies could set aside their fundamental difference as there was a greater threat in work; Axis Power. Once war ended, Allies begin to realise how different they were and how friendly relations could not continue much longer - > TENSION

  • Dissolution of Germany leaves a massive POWER VACCUM

"An Iron Curtain has descended over the continent"

  • After WWII, USSR ensured the establishment of communist governments throughout Eastern Europe through interference and rigged elections

1st Vietnam War

1946 - 1954
  • Vietnam, part of French empire, fought for independence

  • The Vietnimh, led by communist Ho Chi Minh didn't really care about ideology but rather wanted independence for his country

  • The Vietnimh defeated the French in 1954. Under the Geneva Agreement, Vietnam was split on the 18th parallel, North + South

The Cominform

  • International forum for communist movements

  • Meant to coordinate policies of international communist movements

  • Spread influence

Truman Doctrine

March 1947

USA announced intentions to provided military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to prevent them falling under Soviet influence.

  • This begun containment, policy in which USA would see the US help contain communism throughout the world

  • The US would not return to isolationism

"Preventing communism, after all, remained the guiding star of American foreign policy" - James Patterson

The Marshall Plan

April 1948 - 1952

"Dollar imperialism" - Molotov

  • US announced this economic extension to the Truman Doctrine

  • US said it was to help in the recovery of post-war Europe, but was evidently also to increase American and capitalist influence throughout Europe

Berlin Blockade

24 June 1948 - 12 May 1949
  • USA + UK + France united their divided sections of Germany to form West Germany.

  • Russia responded by isolating West Berlin from West Germany, aiming to force USA out.

  • Railway, canal and road was blocked

  • USA responded by airlifting supplied into West Berlin

  • USSR could not shoot down planes without causing war, so in 1949 they lifted the blockade

  • Embarrassment


  • Response to Marshall Plan

  • Economic council which could finance USSR's satellite states, access their resources, give them economic advice and align their economic policies

  • Part of USSR plan to industrialise, collectivise and CENTRALISE Eastern Europe

Korean War

25 june 1950 - 27 july 1953
  • Japanese occupied Korea from 1910-1945. When Japan was defeated, North went to Russia and south went to the US.

  • The 38th parallel, not intended to be a permanent division, was decided at Potsdam conference.

  • Russia and US left in 1949, and without warning in 1950, North Korea invaded South

  • Not clear why? Maybe Russia, maybe Kim-Il-Sung, leader at the time


  • Truman and the US were convinced this was Stalin's doing

  • US led a UN military force into South Korea

  • By September the forces had recaptured Seoul and South Korea. Should have pulled out, but Truman wanted to invade North and unify Korea with free elections.


  • By October UN troops had captured Pyongyang and had arrived North towards the Chinese border

  • China, worried that the US would invade Manchuria, launched a counter-attack with 300,000 forces in November 1950

  • By mid-January 1951, the Chinese drove UN troops back South of the 38th parallel and captured Seoul.

  • US fought back and re-captured the South, settling with CONTAINMENT of communism

  • Peace in 1953


  1. Korea devastated; 4 million dead, further solidified division

  2. China proved military power, arguably became a super-power then

  3. China and US strained relations for the first time

Vietnam War

1956 - 1975
  • No Dinh Diem, president of South refused to prepare for elections for united Vietnam.

  • His government lost popularity, opposition groups became active, most prominently the Vietcong, a guerilla warfare group

  • It was discovered that the Vietcong were receiving supplies from Ho Chi Minh's North Vietnam

  • Eisenhower, obsessed with 'the domino theory', sent troops to South Vietnam. Officialy to protect the independence of the Vietnamese people, but really to stop communism - 1956


1961-1963: JFK kept American involvement light, to an 'anti-guerilla' role

1963-1969: Lyndon Johnson

  • National Liberation Front (opposition) held much control over South Vietnam.

  • Believed Ho Chi Minh directly controlled the Vietcong. Dropped more bombs on Vietnamese cities than fell on Germany during WWII

  • 500,000 troops sent to South Vietnam in addition to bombing. Vietcong managed to very succesfuly retaliate.

  • Situation was hopeless for America, and public opinion quickly changed. Bombing stopped in 1968

1969-1974: Richard Nixon

  • 'Vietnamisation' - started arming and training the South Vietnamese army to look after their own defence and so that the US could gradually withdraw

  • Restarted heavy bombing of the North

  • Failed, by the end of 1972 Vietcong controlled over 50% of South Vietnam


  • Reckless and terrible bombing of North

  • Use of chemicals such as napalm to destroy jungle + people

  • Deaths of thousands of innocents; massacres, civilian deaths were just incidental

  • March 1968, My Lai, 500 innocent civilians killed by American troops - One of the many MASSACRES


  • Americans pulled out, fighting continued and Vietcong captured Saigon in 1975 with North Vietnam

  • Vietnam then unified under Communism

  • Big American failure


  1. Vietcong and NLF had the support of much of Vietnam

  2. Vietcong were masters of guerilla warfare and knew the lands and how to fight in them

  • Nguyen Giap was legendary general
  1. Vietcong supported by North Vietnam, Russia and China

  2. North Vietnam were fighting for their country > USA was only fighting for ideology and influence

Big victory for Communist world; big failure for America

Berlin Wall erected

  • USSR suggests to US that they leave West Berlin

  • Kennedy refuses; Berlin Wall built in response

Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962
  • US and USSR had started to focus on production of atomic weapons

  • Fidel Castro seizes power from corrupt, US-backed dictator Batista in 1959

  • Castro nationalises US estates and factories.

  • US breaks relations from Cuba. Russia jumps in and builds relations.

  • 1961, Bay of Pigs invasion fails because JFK removed air support at the last minute

  • Later, Castro announces he is Marxist and Cuba is socialist.

  • Kruschev decides to set-up nuclear missile launchers in Cuba.

  • A Lockheed U2 American aircraft detects the launchers under construction on a reconnaissance flight.


  • Advisers recommend JFK to bomb the sites

  • Instead JFK shows restraint and:

  1. Alerts American troops

  2. Naval blockade of Cuba

  3. Demands the dismantling of missile sites

Tense moment, closest to full out nuclear war


  • Russia removes missiles and sites in Cuba

In return

  • US promised never to invade Cuba again and removed missiles, which were out-dated anyway, from Turkey.

  • The hot-line was introduced, allowed quick communication between the White House and Moscow

League of Nations Membership


1919 - 1933

Walked out over Manchuria


1919 - 1940


1919 - 1946

*Only nation to remain a member throughout the League's existence


1919 - 1936

Walked out over Abyssinia


1926 - 1933

Excluded at first, eventually walked out over the Disarmament Conference


1934 - 1939

Initially excluded over Communist government. Later expelled over invasion of Finland


Unemployment falls from 5,600,000 to 200,000

1932 - 1938
  • Hitler started spending a lot of money on large public works projects such as the Autobahn which required mass employment

Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda established

  • Established by Josef Goebbels

  • All films had to pass censors

  • Radios VERY important

  • Reich Radio Company controlled all radio emissions

  • Cheap radios were mass produced so all households had one and could be influenced by propaganda at all times

The Decree for the Protection of People and State


Allowed indefinite detention without trial

German Civil Service purged


'The Enabling Act'

March 1933
  • Allowed Hitler to make laws without consulting the Reichstag

  • Very important step towards establishing authoritarian control

Reichstag Elections - Nazis = 44%

March 1933

All 18 German State Governors replaced by Nazis

April 1933
  • Hitler's decisions of course

All German trade unions banned

May 1933

All German political parties except Nazis banned

June 1933

Nazi Sterilisation Law

14 July 1933
  • Sterilisation for those who had hereditary or mental illnesses made compulsory.

  • 320,000 people were sterilised

Nuremberg Laws

  • Deprived Jews and non-Aryans of German Citizenship

  • Continuation of the Nazi boycott of Jewish services/goods


Russo-Japanese War

1904 - 1905
  • Russia wanted to expand further into Asia which eventually brought them into conflict with Japan

  • Russia expected a quick victory which would impress the Russian population and distract them from domestic issues

  • Sadly not to be; Russia embarrassed

Battle of Port Arthur

8 February 1904
  • Japan made serious gains; first warning signs that this wouldn't be a quick victory as Russia had anticipated

1905 Revolution

January 1905 - June 1905

Considered a dress rehearsal for the 1917 revolutions


  1. Growing peasant unrest over high taxes, overpopulation, bad harvests from 1890s, and growing peasant LITERACY meant they were becoming more coordinated

  2. Industrial unrest:

  • Rapid industrial growth ended abruptly in 1899

    • Foreign investment dried up
  • 1900-1905 recession caused high unemployment and wage cuts

  • Increasing number of strikes in 1890s over terrible living/working conditions

  1. Growing political opposition
  • 1898 Social Democratic Party established - Marxist

  • 1901 Social Revolutionary Party - Peasant revolution

  • Liberals were angered by military failures against Japan

  1. Growing unrest in non-Russian peoples
  • Russification of Alexander III and Nicholas II

  • Russian language and Orthodox Church imposed on non-Russian subjects

  • Resulted in an increase in nationalism

  1. Russo-Japanese War ('04 - '05)
  • Embarrassing
  1. BLOODY SUNDAY (catalyst)
  • Protesters marched on Winter Palace in St. Petersburg

  • Russian troops fired upon the crowd and killed over 1,000 unarmed civilians

  • Resulted in general strikes around Russia

Bloody Sunday

January 22 1905
  1. BLOODY SUNDAY (catalyst)
  • Protesters marched on Winter Palace in St. Petersburg

  • Russian troops fired upon the crowd and killed over 1,000 unarmed civilians

  • Resulted in general strikes around Russia

Battle of Mukden

20 February 1905 - 10 march 1905
  • One of the largest land battles ever prior to WW1

  • Last and decisive land battle of Russo-Japanese War

  • Japanese victory; Russia driven out of South Manchuria

October Manifesto issued

30 october 1905
  • Resulted in the establishment of the Duma

  • This was undermined entirely by the issue of the Fundamental Law (1906) which gave Nicholas II the right to veto anything, and the Duma ministers were responsible to Nicholas II, not the Duma itself.

Inflation - Government spending + 800%

1914 - 1916

February Revolution 1917

February 1917

Unplanned, spur of the moment, protests over food shortages devolved into riots and spiralled out of control. Petrograd troops mutinied.


  1. WWI Military disaster:
  • Russian mobilisation was quick and surprised Germans, yet Russian General Staff only planned for a 3 month war, so no plans for Munitions production were put in place.

  • Russia could no compete with Germany's industrial strength.

  • No Ministry of Supply was established and the Government reacted slowly to munition shortages.

  • 1915, Nicholas II appointed himself Commander-in-chief, despire ministers' pleas for him not to

    • He was based hundreds of miles away from the Duma and ministers in Petrograd - In Magilen - Population blamed him for defeats.
  • By 1917 over 10 million causualties

  • Germany Occupied deep West Russia

  • Morale was low

  1. Economic woes
  • Inflation was a huge problem, between 1914-1916 Government spending increased by 800%

  • Prices increased by 400%

  • Government was printing more money and abandoned the gold standard.

  1. Food shortages
  • 15 million peasants were called up to the army, therefore food production dropped and caused shortages throughout.

Nicholas II abdicates

2 March 1917
  • Duma ignored dismissal and continued meeting.

  • Decided that the establishment of a new government and the abdication of Nicholas II was necessary in order for order to be restored.

  • Nicholas II agreed to sped down for his younger brother Michael

  • Michael refuses and so a Russian Republic is formed

Bolshevik Revolution 1917

October 24 1917 - October 26 1917

Provisional Government, led by Kerensky fell within 8 months of establishment because it failed to resolved the issues that faced the monarchy.

  • PG had very few loyal troops left and the uprising had much support so there was relatively little fighting. Only 5 killed in Petrograd.


  1. Their own reforms
  • Created liberal reforms such as freedom of press, release of political prisoners, abolition of the death penalty and the Tsarist secret police
  1. Dual authority
  • Provisional Government shared power with the Petrograd Soviet. The city's council extended its jurisdiction nationwide during revolution.

  • While Petrograd slowly planned their system of Government, the Petrograd Soviet spead their influence and set up across Russia

  • Essentially, the Provisional Government never had full control.

  • Provisional Government represented propertied class; chosen by Duma. Petrograd Soviet represented the working class. CLASH.

  1. Continued WW1 defeats
  • PG did not sort out a treaty.

  • Typified by the failed Kerensky Offensive. In June of 1917, Kerensky organised a massive offensive, which failed completely.

    • By July 7: 1 million casualties
    • Army started to lose faith in PG and morale
  1. Peasant land seizures
  • Provisional Government acknowledged that land redistribution was necessary but kept postponing it

  • Peasants took the initiative and seized land, redistributed it themselves.

  • Not efficient, led to food shortages and further damaged PG credibility.


  1. Lenin persuaded the Bolsheviks that a 2nd revolution was possible.
  • The party initally believed that they should support the PG in order to prevent a RIGHT-WING COUNTER-REVOLUTION.

  • Lenin convinced the Bolsheviks that it was not their duty to extend freedom to all classes, but to transfer power to the working class.

  1. Lenin's policy of opposing the PG
  • Bolsheviks became anti-PG, so when people stopped supporting PG, they turned to Bolsheviks.
  1. Lenin revised Marx's line on the peasants
  • Marx dismissed the peasants as incapable of acting as a revolutionary class

  • Lenin argued that the Russian circumstances were such that the peasants could be a genuine revolutionary class

  • Russia's population was 80% peasants at the time

  • This resulted in a gain in Bolshevik support among the peasants and some Socialist Revolutionaries

  1. Kornilov Affair (August 1917)
  • General Kornilov, commander of Russian troops on the South-West front, believed it was necessary to destroy the Russian revolutionaries before Germany.

  • Told Kerensky he would bring loyal troops to Petrograd to restore order - essential a coup d'etat

  • Kerensky, short on support, released many Bolsheviks and armed them. Kornilov was stopped, and the incident further highlighted PG weaknesses and increased Bolshevik support

Land Decree

26 october 1917

"Private ownership of land shall be abolished forever"

  • Land given to the peasants. Was in line with Communist ideology and satisfied the peasants.

Elections to Constituent Assembly 1917

November 1917
  • The Bolsheviks, amongst many other, had criticised the Provisional Government's delay of elections. Lenin therefore let elections go ahead.

  • Bolsheviks only won 24% seats in the election while Social Revolutionaries won the majority

  • Bolsheviks withdrew and Lenin sent the Red Guard to slow it down; permanently dissolved.

  • Lenin was opposed to Western ideals of democracy

Cheka established - Bolshevik secret police

December 1917

Russian Civil War

1918 - 1920

Opposition to the Bolsheviks formed in the Whites:

  • Social revolutionaries (who had won the recent constituent election
  • Supporters of the PG
  • Supporters of Tsarism
  • Nobles (who's land had officially been given away in the Land Decree)
    • USA
    • Britain
    • France
    • Italy
    • Japan

Started by Czech Legion, Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war who clashed with Bolsheviks and eventually joined Whites


  1. Whites lacked political unity or unified leadership - Diverse aims and composition

  2. Whites failed to co-ordinate attacks

  3. Communists were more unified + better leadership

  • Lenin + Trotsky both excellent leaders

  • All fighting for the same cause

  1. Communists controlled more advantageous positions
  • Industrial areas including Petrograd and Moscow
  1. Lenin presented Bolsheviks as a patriotic force
  • Whites were foreign supported too which helped
  1. Foreign support for Whites was limited and eventually withdrawn

  2. Peasants hated the Whites, who wanted to give the land back to the nobles

  3. War Communism ensured that the Red Army was properly supplied

Communist Government survives

Closer of the Constituent Assembly

January 1918
  • The Bolsheviks, amongst many other, had criticised the Provisional Government's delay of elections. Lenin therefore let elections go ahead.

  • Bolsheviks only won 24% seats in the election while Social Revolutionaries won the majority

  • Bolsheviks withdrew and Lenin sent the Red Guard to slow it down; permanently dissolved.

  • Lenin was opposed to Western ideals of democracy

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

March 13 1918

Lenin knew in order to consolidate power, he needed to quickly exit the war, which meant harsh punishment.


  • Russia lost Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Finland, Georgia.

    • 33% of its population
    • 33% of its arable land
  • Massive reparations: 6000 million marks

  • Russia to weak to fight on, Lenin wanted to focus domestically.

War Communism

June 1918 - March 1921
  • Factories nationalised

  • Food seized from peasants

  • Old, inflation-ridden currency abandoned

    • Wages were now in food and fuel


  • Peasants decided it was not worth growing food for Communists to steal

    • Resulted in famine - 7.5 million deaths
    • Mass migration away from cities
  • Did not prevent industrial and agricultural output from falling

BUT, most importantly

  • Ensured Red Army was supplied

CP Members: 730,000 ----> 3.5 million

1921 - 1933

Resolution of Party Unity

  • Banned factions within the Communist Party

  • Example: Worker's Opposition who were banned and 150,000 of them were purged

New Economic Policy

March 1921 - 1928
  • Facing economic collapse, War Communism abandoned

  • Many members horrified as it was a retreat towards CAPITALISM.

    • Lenin displayed his leadership by convincing them


  • Grain requisition ended

  • Peasants had to sell 10% of their grain to the government as a form of tax, but the remainder they could sell.

  • Introduction of a new currency

  • Reintroduced private ownership of small-medium factories



  • Economy started to slowly recover, industrial output reached 1914 levels and agriculture started to pick up


  • Trotsky criticised the 'Scissors Crisis'

  • Essentially, food prices fell yet manufactured goods did not.

  • Consequentially peasants could not afford tools and other goods needed.

USSR Established

December 1922
  • Soviet Socialist Republics could make minor policies such as those related to health and education

    • BUT, economic, foreign, and defence policies were all Moscow-controlled
  • Dawn of the single-party state

  • Lenin banned Menshivik + Socialist Revolutionary parties

    • Communist Party was the sole legal party
    • Single-party state
  • Lenin expelled 100,000 members of the Communist party, mainly former Menshiviks and Socialist Revolutionaries

Power struggle begins - Stalin emerges as leaders

21 January 1924


  1. Party Position
  • Member of Politburo

  • General Secretary of Communist Party:

  • Power to promote/dismiss officials

  • Used this to his advantage, dismissed enemies and promoted friends.

  • As party grew, power became more centralised meaning more power for Stalin

  • Conversely, Trotsky held no positions of real power and so couldn't establish a power base.

  1. Underestimated by colleagues
  • Did not have charisma or confidence of Trotsky

  • Once dubbed a 'grey blur'

  • Therefore party members focused on preventing Trotsky from seizing control

  • Party decided against posthumously publishing Lenin's Political Testament in which he was extremely critical of Stalin and recommended his dismissal. Lucky boy.

  1. Trotsky flaws
  • Trotsky was generally disliked, though of as arrogant; his own brilliance worked against him.

  • Not fully trusted; had been a Menshevik and only joined Bolsheviks soon before the Bolshevik revolution

  • Stalin outmanoeuvred Trotsky when he appeared at Lenin's funeral as the chief mourner after misleading Trotsky about the date

  • Trotsky was ill and weak just when he needed to be strong

  1. Sly politics; took advantage of disagreements

LEFT WING: Trotsky - "Abandon NEP!"

RIGHT WING: Bukharin - "Keep NEP!"

  • Stalin initially supported the Right and used their support to dismiss the left

  • Shortly after her turned against the right and their support of NEP in favour of rapid industrialisation and had them dismissed

  • By 1930, he had the majority of his enemies replaced by supporters

Lenin RIP

21 January 1924

First 5 year plan

1928 - 1932
  • Industrial output increased by 236%!

  • Chaotic, unorganised, goals constantly changing

  • Moscow Metro, 1500 new factories built

  • Eventually Stalin decided to end the plan in 4 years

Russian GDP tripled

1928 - 1940

Rapid industrialisation - 5 Year Plans

1928 - 1941

Russia was '100 years behind other European nations'

Had to industrialise quickly to protect itself from attack, which Stalin anticipated


Stalin employed both harsh measure and incentives to promote industrialisation


  1. Iron discipline, workers threatened with punishment for absence or unfulfilled quotas

  2. Gulags prisoners used for massive projects

  3. Show trials of engineers and managers who were accused of 'industrial sabotage on behalf of capitalist powers' - Terrorised the workforce into compliance


  • Higher wages for skilled labourers and exceeded targets; although it was anti-Marxist

  • Propaganda, heroes of socialist labour medals


  • Collectivisation gave them more control of grain, used to feed growing towns and buy machines

  • Heavy taxation

  • Driving down living conditions

  • Massively increasing industrial workforce


  • HUGE expansion of Soviet industry, although official statistics were over-exaggerated

  • 1928-1940, Russia GDP tripled!

  • USSR overtook Germany, UK and France in industrial output

  • Literacy rate rose from 51% to 81%

    • 70,000 libraries built

Overall, very successful

  • Argued that Stalin's relentless pace and ruthlessness resulted in industrialisation that ensured Russia survived Nazi invasion

Collectivisation in, NEP out


24 million peasant households -> 240,000 collective farms

  • NEP had enabled economic recovery but growth was now slowing.

  • Collective ownership would replace individual ownership

  • Collectivisation seen as a way to provide surplus food, money, and manpower required for rapid industrialisation

  • Also seen as a way to eliminate class enemies, Kulaks and NEPmen who were products of NEP

  • With party officials overviewing collectivise lands, the peasants could be kept under close watch and control


  • Stalin aimed to 'liquidate the kulaks as a class'

  • Winter 1929-30, 1.5 million kulaks had their land dispossessed

  • Many were deported to Siberia, or shot

  • This acted as a warning to other peasants

  • By 1935, 90% of farmland had been collectivised

1932-33 Famine

  • Man-made, result of collectivisation

  • Government took to much and peasants resisted

  • Most kulaks killed all their livestock

  • Over 5 million starved



  1. Party had more control over peasants and countrysides
  • Historians termed it as a new form of 'serfdom'
  1. Party had huge control over grain which was:

a. Fed to growing industrial workforce

b. Exported and sold to fund industrialisation

  1. Urban populations skyrocketed. People left rural areas because of collectivisation
  • 12 million increase in first 5 years of collectivisation, which provided the workforce for 5 years plans


  1. Grain production and overall productivity increased only slightly
  • Peasants lacked incentives as land/crops were not theirs

  • Party only gained control, not productivity

  • Long term consequences - USSR had to buy large amounts of grain from USA and Canada in the 1960s

  1. Livestock levels dropped dramatically and did not recover until 1950s
  • Peasants slaughtered 50% of their livestock

Famine caused by collectivisation

1932 - 1933

Second 5 year plan

1933 - 1937
  • Learned from past mistakes, set lower targets

  • Early on very successful, factories built in first 5 years plans were up and running

  • BUT factories and workers were being overworked so productivity dropped

  • Purges took away many skilled workers, managers, and engineers

Sergei Kirov assassinated

1 December 1934

OPPOSITION: In 1934, Sergei Kirov gains more votes than Stalin in Central Committee elections

  • He is murdered; historians split over whether it was Stalin or not

  • Stalin used Kirov's murder as an excuse

  • So there probably was genuine concern over party opposition involved.

90% of farmland collectivised


The Great Purges

1936 - 1938
  • Purges had always been common; eliminate class enemies and suppress political opposition

  • 1936-38 was different, unlike anything seen before. The Great Terror saw a purger of over 1/3rd of the CP.

    • 600,000 killed
    • Millions of civilians and armed forces imprisoned
    • Gulags everywhere


  1. OLD RIVALS: Stalin wanted to build up his own reputation by eliminating old Bolsheviks and rivals

  2. PERSONALITY played a role; Stalin was known to be vain, mistrustful and unforgiving

  3. OPPOSITION: In 1934, Sergei Kirov gains more votes than Stalin in Central Committee elections

  • He is murdered; historians split over whether it was Stalin or not

  • Stalin used Kirov's murder as an excuse

  • So there probably was genuine concern over party opposition involved.


  1. RIP
  • 600,000 party members were killed

  • Millions of normal citizens arrested and died

  1. Army weakened
  • Half of the Red Army officers were purged, weakening the army and further encouraging Hitler
  1. Fear = Obedience
  • Climate of fear developed in Russia following the purges; Stalin was successful in terrorising his population into obedience
  1. Economy
  • Purges affected economic growth as skilled labourers were also targeted
  1. Party domination
  • Stalin dominated the Communist Party now
  1. Cult of personality
  • Promoted the Stalin cult of personality

Third 5 year plan

1938 - 1941
  • Focus on industries linked to rearmament because Stalin was fearful of an attack by Hitler

  • Cut short by Nazi invasion, June 1941