A2 Russian HistoryWatch
Mock exam time is looming and that means examinations of Russia and its Rulers.. Does anyone have any revision material (specifically profiles or essay plans) they would generously share on this thread for anyone who needs them? I'm currently working on some but would be grateful for the help myself! Haha...
Thanks & good luck to anyone else taking mocks after Christmas! Merry Christmas to all
I'm going to quote in Tank Girl now so she can move your thread to the right place if it's needed.
Assess the view that Russia’s communist leaders did more toimprove living and working conditions than the Tsars. From the period of 1855 to 1964 both the Communist leadersand the Tsars of Russia showed attempts to improve living and workingconditions for the people of Russia. By the end of this period, the living andworking conditions had genuinely improved, despite the rollercoaster of conditionallevels. It is hard to group the leaders into Communists and Tsars when it comesto their improvement of living and working conditions, as all individual rulersshowed improvements to a different extent. A lot of the time, what one leaderdid, the other leader would reverse. A good example of this is the policies ofLenin and Stalin. In this essay I shall assess which of the two types of leadersdid the most to improve the lives of Russian people from 1855-1964. Alexander II came to power in the middle of the Crimean War,a time of poor conditions. The diets of the Russian people were very poor asmany lived on grains; housing was also very poor as it consisted of smallwooden huts that were often shared with animals and accidentally burnt down dueto the use of kerosene lamps. Alexander II introduced the Emancipation Edict in1861, this promoted serfs to peasants, as well as giving them the right tomarry, to own land and the freedom to move. He also introduced redemptionpayments, which allowed peasants to pay for their land over 49 years, easingthe strain of money on the peasants. Alexander II improved living conditonsthrough the Emancipation Edict. However, his growth of the industrial workforceled to overcrowding in the towns and cities. Although conditions were stillpoor, they are arguably better than they had been previously. Alexander II made the initial movement toimprove the living and working conditions of Russia’s people. Without suchimprovements, living conditions may not have improved to the extent that theyhad by 1964. For this reason it can be argued that Alexander II, a tsar, didthe most to improve the lives of Russia’s people. Khrushchev (a communist) was the last leader of this period.In an attempt to improve living and working conditions, Khrushchev introducedDestalinisation, giving some freedom back to Russian people, removing the negativeinfluence Stalin had on living and working conditions. However, this back firedwhen revolution in Hungary became apparent; Hungary had misinterpretedKhrushchev’s actions as an act of complete freedom. In response to this revolution,Khrushchev killed over 27,000 Hungarians, implying that his efforts to improveliving conditions had been unsuccessful. Khrushchev also attempted to improveliving and working conditions through the cultivation of the virgin lands.Khrushchev paid poor families and peasants to move to Siberia to farm, however,this worsened the situation for the poor as the soil erosion was high and farmingwas poor. A way in which Khrushchev successfully improved the living andworking conditions for Russian people was through his welfare reforms. Thesebenefits provided things such as council housing, improving Stalin’s ‘space notrooms’ policy. Although the Communist Khrushchev was not always successful atimproving the lives of Russian people, he did make hard attempts. He tried alot harder to do so than some of the Tsar leaders, Alexander III and theProvisional Government for example. It can also be argued that the living andworking conditions in Russia were of a much better standard at the end ofKhrushchev’s rule than they had been at the end of Nicholas II’s reign (thelast Tsar), therefore maybe the communist did more to improve living andworking conditions than the Tsars did. Lenin was another communist leader, however his rule did notend with as high standards of living conditions as Khrushchev’s had and Lenin’sattempts of improvements didn’t quite match those of Alexander II’s. In Lenin’scampaign, he promised ‘Bread, land, peace and all power to the soviets’,however, he didn’t quite fulfilling the wishes of the Russian people. InitiallyLenin introduced the Decree of Land, which allowed peasants to keep the landthey had taken during the rule of the Provisional government. Although it didn’tmake the living conditions of peasants any better than that they were alreadyexperiencing, it did maintain a higher living standard than they had seenbefore. Alongside this, the Decree of workers gave the control of the factoriesto the workers, improving their lives by allowing more freedom. However, thispolicy was soon reversed by the Decree of Nationalism, which gave all controlto Lenin and allowed War communism to happen. War Communism saw the sufferingof peasants through grain requisition, which led to the Famine of 1921, killing5 million people. This supports that idea of living conditions bring very poorfor the Russian people, who hadn’t suffered a famine since 1891. Although thelives for the Russian’s were hard during Lenin’s time, they did see someimprovements, such as the legislation of abortion and divorce. However, thecommunist leader did not make any significant improvements to the living andworking conditions to Russian people, as he had done more damage than harm. Nicholas didn’t do anything for the people of Russia the1905 revolution which was a protest against poor living and working conditions,implying that the Tsar weren’t doing well with improvements so far. As a resultof the revolution Nicholas introduced the October Manifesto; this promisedcivil liberties and set up the state duma, a parliament for the people. 1906saw the introduction of basic insurance, as well as this Nicholas alsointroduced Stolypin’s reforms which lowered taxes on the poor (ended redemptionpayments introduced by Alexander II) , gave peasants more rights (such as landownership) and created rich peasants, Kulaks. Stolypin’s reforms improved thelives of many, just slightly. Nicholas II’s actions meant that the Octobristrebels were kept happy through things such as Trade Unions, which had not beenlegal before. This effectively improved the lives of people in Russia, howeverliving conditions were still poor and the rationing and war effort from WorldWar One did not help. In 1911 the Sewage system attempted to minimise thespread of disease. Although this helped outbreaks and improved lives slightly,living conditions were still poor. Nicholas also tried to improve the lives ofRussian people by introducing the Trans-Siberian railway, promoting thetransportation of foods and goods. Nicholas II made a vast impact on the livingand working conditions in Russia, improving them to some extent. However, whenhe was forced to abdicate in February 1917, conditions were still relativelypoor. The end of Nicholas’ reign represents the end of the Romanov dynasty andas it ended with relatively poor conditions, suggests that the Tsars did notimprove the living conditions of Russia as much as the Communist leaders did. Stalin introduced free secondary school for all, asuggestion that he attempted to improve lives of Russia. However, highcensorship and Russification meant that the lives of Russian people were verycontrolled. Soon after coming to power, Stalin illegalised abortion anddivorce, removing two of the few living improvements Lenin introduced. Stalin’spoor living conditions were highlighted by his ‘space not rooms’ policy, whichsaw large families with little privacy and cramped space to live in. Stalinpromoted terror through his random purges on the poor and vulnerable; thiseffected a large amount of the population as one in Eighteen people were targeted.Dekulakisation resulted in the biggest famine Russia experienced; with 13million people dying. This was the second significant famine to appear duringthe communist rule, implying that living conditions were poor and attempts toimprove them were not very strong. Stalin did little to improve the living conditionsof Russian people as there was a lot of fear and little freedom. Alexander III did the least out of the Tsars to improve theliving and working conditions of Russia’s people. However, it can be arguedthat he still tried harder in his attempts than Stalin did. The peasants LandBank helped peasants pay redemption payments, improving the conditions for thepeasants to quite an extent as it helped them out financially. However, thereforms of Vyshnegradskii known for the phrase ‘we ourselves shall starve, butwe shall export’, saw high export rates, resulting in the 1891 Famine. However,this famine was not as big as the famine’s experienced in Communist times,implying that Tsar Alexander III did more to improve the living conditions ofRussia than the Communist rulers Stalin and Lenin. To conclude, at the end of the communists leaders rule in1964, living conditions were better than of that at the end of the Tsars rulein 1917. To this extent it can be argued that the Communist leaders did more toimprove the living and working conditions of Russian people. However, eachleader had a different level of attempt and the classification of communistsand Tsar leaders cannot be made. The initial improvements made by Alexander IIshow that he did the most out of all the leaders as he kick started thesuccesses of improvements.