Troublesome
Aspects of Unit 4:
Russia
Adrian Jones, Danielle Vida and Dmytro Ostapenko
La Trobe University
Source: Comrade Lenin Sweeps the Globe Clean, 1920
Mikhail Cheremnykh and Victor Deni
Key problem areas in AOS2: Russia
• Distinction between popular demands/promises (“Peace, Bread,
Land”; “All Power to the Soviets” and Bolshevik ideology
(Marxist-Leninism)
• Popular ideals vs. party ideals
• Theme of crises and compromise
• Essay response
• Key ideas that are often neglected or misunderstood:
• Orthodox Marxism vs. Marxist-Leninism
• Democratic centralism
• War Communism
• Internationalism
Approaching the Essay Response
• Start to PLAN the main sub-arguments of the essay during
reading time.
• Underline keywords in question and make sure you reuse them
in the essay. For instance, ‘‘people’s tragedy” in the 2011 exam
paper.
• Create a brief paragraph plan.
• Aim to structure the essay chronologically or thematically
• Although you need to show you understand the sequence of
events (causes and consequences), avoid ‘narrative’ in your
essay (storytelling).
• Your main focus should be on presenting a relevant argument
supported with specific use of knowledge.
Use of evidence
It is essential that your argument is
supported with precise factual detail
Discuss and explain the relevance of these
facts as you raise them – do not assume that
they speak for themselves
Different types of evidence
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Dates/names
Statistics
Reference to specific events and historical documents
Eye-witness accounts
Soviet historiography - see Short History of the CPSU
Secondary sources (historians views) - a bonus, but not
essential. This should NOT take over your essay! Use
very short quotes that can be easily integrated into
your sentences or paraphrase specific historians
arguments. Always avoid ‘stand alone’ quotes.
***Try to critically engage with different viewpoints
Sentence starters and examples:
Critical evaluation of historians views • One must take into account the fact that Pipes is a Cold
Warrior historian…
• Pipes/Lynch, coming from the liberal perspective…
• The fact that_____’s account was written prior to the
opening of the Soviet archives is a major limitation of
this explanation.
• Revisionist historian, Fitzpatrick....
• Revisionist cultural historian Orlando Figes...
• Such a viewpoint, clearly deriving from the Marxist
school of thought...
Example sentences on historians
views
• Volkogonov, while typically classified as a revisionist, is a complex
Russian historian, whose personal experience of living in the
Soviet Union ultimately influenced his perspective on the
Russian Revolution.
• Whilst John Reed was an eye-witness participant of the October
Revolution, his account lacked objectivity and is ideologically
shaded by his role as founder of the American Communist
Party…
• However, one cannot ignore the fact that Trotsky’s account of
the Russian Revolution is written retrospectively, following his
forced exile during the Stalin regime.
More examples…
• Christopher Hill’s Marxist view of the Russian Revolution, which
is highly sympathetic towards Lenin, must be understood in light
of the immediate post-World War II, pre-Cold War atmosphere
in which Hill was writing in; the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust
were revealed to the Western world, and popular feeling
towards Britain’s ally, Russia, was still hospitable.
• The “History of the CPSU”, the official Soviet perspective, is
undoubtedly reflects the official Bolshevik propaganda of the
Stalin era, written for the soul purpose of glorifying and
justifying the existence of the Soviet state.
Exam/SAC essay preparation for Russia AOS2
• Many different types of practice essay questions
• Use of violence, coercion and terror
• Compromise of ideals
• Crises and response
• Impact on society
• For peace of mind, include some topic specific questions: i.e.
civil war, war communism; crises of 1921.
• Change and continuity (be careful not to focus on the old
regime!)
• Group feedback sheets and discussion after each practice essay –
a great time saver and a way to provide more detailed
constructive feedback to students (see handout).
• Students may want to repeat responses after feedback
discussion

Source