Communism in the 20th Century


Russian Revolution

March 8, 1917 - November 8, 1917

Vladimir Lenin, along with fellow communist revolutionaries, revolted against the government and seized power. They established the Russian SFS Republic and promoted Vladimir Lenin to Chairman.

Vladimir Lenin's Rule

November 8, 1917 - January 21, 1924

Vladimir Lenin greatly reformed the government to match communist ideals.

Communism Spreads

Approx. 1920 - Approx. 1929

During the 1920s, Ho Chi Minh, a leftist revolutionary, helped start many Communist parties in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam.

Name Change

December 30, 1922

Lenin officially changed the name of the Russian SFS republic to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Stalin Takes Control

January 21, 1924 - October 16, 1952

Following the death of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, took control. Stalin replaced Lenin's more anarcho-communist laws with an authoritarian command economy. He swiftly increased the steel production in the country, nearly doubling the output after 10 years. Stalin also drastically ramped up the amount of people being imprisoned for defying the communist government, jailing around 14 million people in Gulag labor camps between the start and end of their operation.

Chinese Civil War

August 1, 1927 - May 1, 1950

The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong, and the incumbent government of the Republic of China. It lasted for over 20 years, with a short break in the middle, where the Second Sino-Japanese War occured. The CPC won and took control over much of mainland China.

French Suppression

Approx. February 1929 - Approx. 1939

During the late 1920s and 1930s, the French, in an attempt to reconquer Vietnam for France, executed many high-ranking communist party officials. This dramatically cut the influence of communism in the country, but did not entirely wipe it out.

Communist Party Founded

February 3, 1930

On February 3, 1930, the Communist Party of Vietnam is founded. This leads to a gradual increase of influence in the country, especially in the 1940s.

The Great Purge

Approx. 1934 - Approx. 1939

During this period of time, Stalin commenced a “Great Purge” where millions of suspected nonconformists were executed, exiled to remote parts of the USSR, or thrown in Gulag labor camps, including many of his high ranking officials.

Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

August 23, 1939

Before WWII, tension between Nazi Germany and European countries increased. Stalin attempted to form alliances with European powers but was unanimously rejected. This led to signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a treaty forming an alliance between Nazi Germany and the USSR and dividing the lands they would take.

War with Nazi Germany

June 22, 1941 - December 5, 1941

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany executed Operation Barbarossa, an attempt to conquer the USSR. The USSR had violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by invading land Germany had called. The Nazis surprisingly won many of the battles, all the way up until the Battle of Moscow, where 1.25 million Red Army soldiers successfully held off over 1.9 million Nazi soldiers for 3 months, ending the war.

First Indochina War

December 19, 1946 - August 1, 1954

Vietnamese communists revolt against France in an attempt to install a socialist state. Surprisingly, they win, and agrees with France that above the 17th degree of latitude, Vietnam will be communist.

Cold War

Approx. 1947 - December 26, 1991

The Cold War was a period of tension between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. It began after World War II, when the USSR and United States emerged as the two main superpowers. The USSR and its allies gained control of the eastern part of Berlin, Germany, and the US and its allies gained control of the western part. The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991.

North Korea under Kim Il-sung

September 9, 1948 - July 8, 1994

Kim Il-sung, the leader of the Communist Party of South Korea, takes charge after the split. He transformed the economy into a command economy, and attempted to follow in the footsteps of Joseph Stalin, creating the North Korea we know today. He is overwhelmingly praised in the country due to extreme government propaganda and isolation from the outside world.

Korea Splits

September 9, 1948

After WWII, The United States controlled the southern part of Korea and the USSR controlled the northern part, split along the 38th line of latitude. They attempted to rule together, but failed, leading to independent states resembling their former controller's government.

Mao Zedong Rules China

September 21, 1949 - September 9, 1976

Mao Zedong seizes power and turns China into a communist state. He establishes many efficient reforms and is generally well-liked by his people until the Great Leap Forward. He dies on September 9, 1976, but he is widely regarded as a hero in China, which remains a communist state.

Korean War

June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953

During this war, North Korea tried to conquer South Korea. The North initially had far more power, but the US and United Nations backed the South to prevent its capture. The result was a stalemate, which created a demilitarized border which still exists today.

Cuban Revolution

July 26, 1953 - January 1, 1959

The 26th of July Movement, a socialist movement led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, overthrow the US-backed dictator at the time, Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar. Fidel takes supreme power.

Vietnam War (Second Indochina War)

November 1, 1955 - April 30, 1975

The Second Indochina War began in 1955 but didn't pick up much speed until the early 1960's when US President John F. Kennedy ramped up the attack on North Vietnam. North Vietnam knew their land better than South Vietnam and its allies, and the Viet Cong, assistants of the North who lived in South Vietnam, helped slow the attack. This led to a Northern victory, unifying Vietnam into one communist state, which it remains today.

Great Leap Forward

Approx. 1958 - Approx. 1961

The Great Leap Forward was a political campaign led by Mao Zedong. It was an attempt to swiftly change the agriculture-base economy into an industrialized one. However, it fell apart and 15-30 million people died in a resulting famine.

Fidel Castro's Cuba

February 16, 1959 - December 31, 1999

During this time, Fidel Castro was the most powerful political figure in Cuba. Despite leading an anti-authoritarian socialist movement, he pushes for communist policies, leading to a communist Cuba by 1970. United States, fearing the spread of communism, implements sanctions on Cuba, leading to tension between the two countries. Cuba remains a communist state.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 17, 1961

The United States, in attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro, invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Unfortunately, Cuba knew the invasion was coming. Cuba had 25,000 troops ready; the United States only had 1,500. It resulted in a decisive Cuban victory.

Berlin Wall Comes Down

November 9, 1989

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall, a physical but also metaphorical separation between the two powers, is opened.

USSR Dissipates

December 26, 1991

After years of short-reigning leaders and political turmoil, the upper chamber of the Soviet Union's Supreme Court issued a declaration acknowledging the end of the Soviet Union.