Stalin and the Soviet Union

Stalin dominated the Soviet Union for nearly 25 years during which time he oversaw the transformation of the USSR into a modern, industrial state; saw off the Nazi invaders; extended the Soviet 'empire' deep into central Europe; developed a nuclear arsenal and challenged the USA for global dominance after 1945. He was also responsible for the deaths of millions of people and established a dictatorship of unparalleled brutality.

After considering Stalin's early life, background and formation as a revolutionary socialist, this short course will look at the nature of the Bolshevik regime which emerged form the chaos of revolution and civil war between 1917 and 1924. From there we will explore the rise of Stalin to power after the death of Lenin and his subsequent victory over Trotsky. We will then move on to examine the development of a distinctly Stalinist style of government in the 1930s based upon collectivisation, industrialization and institutionalized state terror, whilst discussing the extent to which such a system was inherent in the Bolshevik concept of the state.

From there we will look at the seminal experience of invasion and war between 1941 and 1945 and the subsequent apotheosis of Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe until his death in 1953. Along the way we will also consider the arts under Stalin as well as reflecting on Stalin's role in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Dr Andrew Lacey
April 2016

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