Student Number: 27048382 Modern History Essay ‘With reference to the quote and your own knowledge, assess the impact of the Terror on Soviet society in the late 1930’s. In the late 1930’s, the purges and show trials which comprised the Terror, had a significant impact on Soviet society. The Communist party was coerced in powerlessness, the working class suffered considerably, both physically and psychologically, and copious members of the intelligentsia were exiled or killed as a direct result of the Terror. Furthermore the military was damaged, as many of the leaders of the Party’s formerly powerful Red Army were purged. The purges and show trials aimed to terrorise Soviet society into compliance with Stalin’s regime, and ‘remove potential enemies,’ to allow Stalin to found an almost entirely ‘new’ Communist party, which comprised of ‘more dependable’ members.
In the early 1930’s Stalin felt threatened by his growing opposition and was determined to bring the party under his total control. At the 17th Party Congress in 1934, Sergei Kirov received the vast majority of votes which led to his assassination due to the threat that he posed to Stalin’s leadership. Many argued that this was a turning point in Russian history. It unleased a terror that killed millions in the next four years. Stalin was able to eliminate all effective opposition through a series of purges.
Indeed, those caught up in this nightmare thought that Stalin’s only perceivable motive was to destroy the best people in the party.  Theories concerning the cause of the Great Terror have been many over the years and the event defies explanation by one simple answer. Modern scholarship suggests that instead of just one cause it was, in fact, the combination of several factors, including the political situation in the 1930’s, Stalin’s personality and psychological state, and the economic advantages of The Terror that all conspired together to form the unfortunate events that took place. The political events that eventually led to the Great Terror began in February of 1934 at the Seventeenth Party Congress. Dissatisfaction and grumbling began to emerge behind the scenes against Stalin and he saw evidence for the first time that his position as leader was threatened.
This resulted in risings such as the Spartacist rising where communists fuelled by the success of the Russian revolution almost occupied nearly every major city in Germany. However, the Reichstag led by the SPD had stepped into a power that was left by the Kaiser, and as a result of this it had no real option but to accept the Versailles Treaty. The most irritating part for the German people was the to pay reparations to Britain and France. Germany's failure to pay her debt led to the invasion of the Ruhr, resulted in very little success for France but did succeed in the complete collapse of the German economy. This led to the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 Hitler aided by General Lundendorff and a few hundred supporters marched on the Munich town hall as a pretext to a national revolution, unfortunately for Hitler this attempt failed and he was sent to prison.
Political and social unrest increased however, with the revolutionary Bolsheviks gaining widespread support. During the July Offensive, the Russian Army was soundly defeated by the German and Austro-Hungarians, leading to the collapse of the Eastern Front. The Russian Army was on the verge of mutiny and most soldiers had deserted the front lines. Kerensky's government was overthrown in October 1917, and the Bolsheviks assumed power. The Russian Civil War began in the wake of the collapse of the provisional government.
It is clear that Terror and intimidation were important factors in allowing the Nazis to consolidate power 1933, for the reason that violence still had an impact on political developments, for example, even negotiations between Hitler, von Papen and Hindenburg took place against the conditions of well publicised acts of SA (Storm troopers) violence. In May 1933 ¬, ¬SA members stormed trade union headquarters and disbanded it. This violence cuased many leaders of the SPD to flee abroad and in June its party was officially banned. The majority of the 3000 members of the party that remained were arrested and taken to the Dachau concentration camp where they were later tortured and killed. This ulitmately potrays the brutality of the Nazis, which effectively contributed to their consolidation of power.
1953 saw the death of Soviet Russia’s greatest leader, in a never-ending atmosphere of anxiety, betrayal and paranoia. Stalin had become the state, not through the path of diplomacy, but through tumultuous bloodshed and trickery. He held absolute power and anyone foolish enough to protest against him and his path to the ultimate communist Utopia would find them selves dead or in a forced labor camp. The roots of this ultimate power lie in the years 1929-39, where Stalin employed the ‘Great Terror’, with the purges to secure political and economic control over the Soviet state. This essay will deduce how effective the ‘terror’ was employed to secure these corner stones.
Source 9 written by Michael Lynch adopts both prospective of USSR expansionism and also US economic interests, however Lynch also emphasises misjudgement and misperceptions which contribute to the conflict conceived at Cold War. Collectively the three sources contributed factors which explain the developments of the cold war; throughout this essay you will find that soviet expansionism was a determining factor to the escalation at the Cold War. Wolfson (S7) takes a Russian expansionist prospective, which emphasis that confrontation was caused by Russian expansionist tendencies, placing an emphasis on the USSR, labelling them as an aggressive country, which had “ambitious aims of consolidating communist control”. Morris (S8) is in accordance with this Russian expansionist prospective as the aggressive tendencies contributed to the US taking a dollar imperialist stance to “prevent the spread of communism”. From this prospective Russian expansionism was a key factor in the developments of the cold war.
‘How far do you agree with the view that the most important cause of the Great Terror was the murder of Kirov in 1934?’ Sergey Kirov’s murder in 1934 was undoubtedly a decisive factor in the outbreak of the Great Terror in 1936. Stalin’s claim that Kirov’s murder was part of a widespread conspiracy against the government gave him a convenient excuse to begin arresting and executing several enemies within the Communist Party whom he deemed ‘suspicious’, despite several people believing Stalin himself was responsible due to the threat that Kirov posed to his leadership. There are however other factors, such as Stalin’s paranoia, Stalin’s personal ambitions, and the ever-increasing likelihood of war between the USSR and Nazi Germany, that can also be considered potential decisive factors in Stalin’s decision to implement the Purges. This essay shall explore the aforementioned factors and attempt to evaluate their significance. It shall eventually be concluded that Kirov’s murder was a significant, but not a solely responsible, cause of the Great Terror.
More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were killed because of their nationality. Poles, as well as other Slavs, were targeted for slave labor, and as a result, almost two million perished. Homosexuals and others deemed "anti-social" were also persecuted and often