Russian history - Marblehead Public Schools


The rise and rule of

Joseph Stalin

A background to George Orwell’s work

Karl Marx

(May 1818-March 1883)


Marx – father of socialist ideas; sees the world through purely economic lens

1848, The Communist Manifesto

Capitalism is oppressing the common worker

Goal is to make $ and grows unchecked

Industry will eventually become a large conglomerate, further oppressing the worker

Marxism, cont.

As a result of unchecked capitalism:

Workers will revolt, est. a TEMPORARY dictatorship

Dictatorship dissolve businesses, return assets to the workers

Once worker has control, needs addressed, dictatorship dissolve as no longer need gov’t structures

The problem with Marxism

Marx does not account for the dramatic change in the change in working conditions, etc. as a result of advocacy

(trust busting, unionization, labor reform, etc.)

Also does not account for the human desire for power, control

When you are a dictator, why would you give up the power???

Vladimir Lenin

(April 1870 – January 1924)

The rise of Lenin

Lenin takes the theoretical ideas of Marx and turns them into a political movement

Exiled by Tsar Nicholas for political activism – returns to Russia after 1917 Revolution

Leader of the Bolshevik Party which takes over after Revolution, creating socialist state

Social reforms include: nationalizing industry, providing healthcare, providing education

Trotsky vs. Stalin

The beginning

Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin were both protégés of Lenin

Trotsky was leader of the military and Stalin was

Bolshevik Party Secretary

Trotsky, more moderate. Saw duty to spread communism to the world

Stalin wanted strong communist state, which included the limitation of freedoms, rights – too


Death of Lenin, rise of Stalin

Lenin dies in 1924

Secretly selected Trotsky as his successor as Lenin felt Stalin was too violent

Stalin raises the party against Trotsky and has Trotsky exiled to Mexico in 1927

During the Great Purges of 1936-1938,

Trotsky publicly spoke out against Stalin

Murder of Trotsky:

Ice pick through skull

Stalin: Dictator

Stalin takes over as leader of Russia from late 1924 to his death in March, 1953

Begins his rule by overhauling the basic structures, sets unrealistic goals:

Collectivization of lands for agriculture results in massive famine, esp. in Ukraine

Public works projects (roads, canals) cost hundreds of thousands of lives

Stalin: Total control

Fear – use of torture and gulags

Under Stalin, state controls:



Faith (there is none)



The Great Purge


During this period, Stalin was determined to rid Russia of all “enemies”

More than 2 million of his own people were tried and executed by the state, often admitting to false crimes under torture

Millions more sent to gulags (work camps) in Siberia to work to death


Stalin: Above the horror

Even though Stalin was the cause of the horror in Russia, through carefully crafted propaganda, he remained the adored leader of


Death of Stalin

Stalin died on March

7, 1953

Millions came to pay their respects

Under his rule, approximately 10 million people died, not including the 20 million killed during



Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, spoke out against the tactics used by

Stalin to harm the Russian people; considered it a violation of Lenin’s plan for


Russia remained a communist state until


George Orwell

(June 1903 – January 1950)

Orwell: the early years

Born Eric Blair to aristocratic parents in India

Attended school in the UK but failed out of college; joined the Indian Imperial Police and was sent to Burma (modern day Myanmar)

Felt the British were oppressing the Burmese by not allowing them to develop economically

Returned to UK on leave in 1927 and decided to resign from police

Began writing and teaching

Orwell: the socialist

While conducting research for a novel The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell was exposed to the depressed working-class of England

This experience crystallized his feelings towards socialism

In 1936 when the Spanish Civil War broke out,

Orwell went to Spain to fight against Franco’s forces and support the socialist efforts in Spain

Orwell allied himself with the Workers Party of

Marxist Unification

Orwell in action

Orwell saw action in numerous places, including the street fights of Barcelona

In May, 1937, Orwell was shot in the throat by a sniper, which just missed his main artery. His voice is damaged and he is declared medically unfit for service

Orwell: the political writer

Orwell returned from Spain in 1938 just as the UK was entering into war

Orwell found a job at the BBC where her reported and put together programming for India to combat the Nazi propaganda designed to rip the British empire apart

He also was a member of the Home Guard, which he saw as a “People’s militia”

He quit after two years, in part to finish Animal Farm, which was published in Britain in August, 1945

Nineteen Eighty-four was published in 1949