One of the most significant events within the Cold War was the dissolution of the Soviet led Warsaw Pact. Created in 1955, the Warsaw Pact was the answer to West Germany’s admittance into NATO, which was seen as increasing the risk of war and threatening the security of “peaceable states” (The Warsaw Security Pact). Despite the Warsaw Pact’s charter claiming that social or political systems did not matter, all member states were communist. Continue reading
On May 26th, 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev signed an agreement limiting the use of anti-ballistic missiles (Strategic Arms Limitations Talks). This agreement, known as the SALT I treaty, would mark the beginning of détente between the two superpowers. However, this thaw in the Cold War would not bring international peace. For example, the United States was still worried about the Soviet Union’s funneling of foreign aid and military assistance in the developing world (Freeze, pg 445). Détente would finally end with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Continue reading
A general theme in transitions of power is this, “out with the old, in with the new.” Following his ascension to First Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev pursued a policy of De-Stalinization and decentralization. These policies bolstered Khrushchev’s position within the party as well as dismantled Stalin’s lasting influence in Soviet politics. One controversial move by Khrushchev was the establishment of 107 regional economic councils, sovnarkhozy, corresponding to the territorial divisions of oblasts and autonomous republics (The Anti Party Group). Freeze points out, “The underlying idea was to bring decision-making closer to the enterprise to ensure better management and greater productivity” (p. 422). Continue reading
“The people of our country, who treat the Red Army with love and respect, are now starting to be disappointed with it, lose faith in the Red Army, and many of them curse the Army for its fleeing to the east…The conclusion is that it is time to stop the retreat. Not a single step back!” (Order No. 227). These were the words from Stalin’s Order 227, which demanded an iron will from the Red Army to hold and drive back the invading German forces. This fiery order came after a series of failures to successfully repel the German assault. Continue reading
Communism and religion have always been at odds with one another. This antagonistic relationship started with Karl Marx when he famously wrote, “It [Religion] is the opium of the people” (Marx 1844). Religion was seen as a tool with which the ruling class used to suppress and control the working class. However, with the seizure of the state apparatus by the Communist Party, the working class was emancipated from religion. Decrees against religion soon followed, such as in 1918 when church property was nationalized by the state without compensation (Freeze, pg. 335). By 1923, the criminal code of the RSFSR included penalties against such things as “Imparting religious instruction in state or private educational institutions to children or minors” and “Fraudulent actions performed for the purpose of rousing superstition among the masses…” (From the Criminal Code). While religion was being accosted on the legal front, anti-religious propaganda was used to push religion from the cultural side. Continue reading
In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels theorized that the inevitable progression of society would lead through a path of feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and end in communism. In 1901, fifty-three years after the publication of the Communist Manifesto, social-democrats in Russia were reflecting on the nature of a revolution to achieve the next step in society’s progression. This revolution was fraught with questions. How would the revolution happen? Who or what would be the catalyst for revolution? And what would the end goal look like? Many different parties came forth with their answers but could never find complete agreement with one another. It is in this ideological disarray that Vladimir Lenin would write What Is To Be Done. In it, Lenin would argue against the points of his “economist” contemporaries and assert his ideas of a political organization or party, separate from labor unions, to spread Marxism to the working class. Continue reading
This photo by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, taken in Zlatoust, shows Andrei Petrovich Kalganov along with his son and granddaughter. Andrei Kalganov, age 72, is dressed in a caftan adorned with medals. Noticeably, Kalganov’s caftan contrasts with the attire of his son and granddaughter, both of whom are dressed in Western fashion. This aspect of the photo is eye catching as it displays the diffusion of Western culture in a westernizing Russia. I was intrigued by this photo as is depicted the spread of Western styles to Russia, even as far as the end of European Russia.
All three are employed by the Zlatoust Arms Plant, located in the raw material rich Ural mountains. The factory itself was founded by European experts, mostly from Germany, to produce steel products and weapons (Vershinin, 2015). The factory relied mostly on individual craftsmanship for the production of weapons. (Vershinin, 2015). As seen in the picture, Andrei Kalganov is shown wearing medals for mastery and excellency in his craft, leather sheathing saber scabbards (Three Generations). The plant continues to operate today. While the factory armed soldiers with sabers, lances and knives through its operational history, today the Zlatoust Arms Plant specializes in ornate weapons for both ceremonial and collector purposes (Vershinin, 2015).
Prokudin-Gorskii, Sergei Mikhailovich 1863-1944. “Three Generations. A.P. Kalganov with Son and Granddaughter. The Last Two Work in the Shops of the Zlatoust Plant.”WDL RSS. Library of Congress, n.d.<https://www.wdl.org/en/item/5293/#q=Prokudin-Gorskii+study+of+three+generations&qla=en>. Accessed 21 Jan. 2017.
Vershinin, Alexander. Zlatoust: The Cutting Edge of Russia’s Steel Arms Production. Russia Beyond the Headlines. 6 July. 2015, http://rbth.com/defence/2015/07/06/zlatoust_the_cutting_edge_of_russias_steel_arms_production_47503.html. Accessed 22 Jan. 2017.