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Stalin Succeeds Lenin 1924 – 1939


AFTER THE PEACE with Germany, Lenin had hoped for a breathing spell which would give him the chance to build up his backward country. Instead, there had been civil war and it left Russia worse off than ever. Although the government had taken over all the industries, they were producing very little. A way had to be found to give the people the necessities of life, especially food. To do this, Lenin proposed to put into effect something he called the New Economic Policy, soon known as NEP. While large industries would remain in the hands of the state, small businessmen could operate on their own and peasants could sell farm products to the consumer. To many people, including some within his party, this seemed like a return to capitalism. Lenin denied it. He said that NEP was only a temporary measure to allow the country to get back on its feet. Besides, Marxism was not a set of rules to be followed blindly. Marxists must always adapt themselves to the circumstances of life. In spite of the opposition, Lenin succeeded in winning support for his plan and the New Economic Policy was in effect from 1921 to 1928. Food remained an urgent problem. Crops were poor in 1922 and there was famine in the land. Several million persons died of hunger and the number might have been greater if aid had not arrived from the people of the United States. Even so, the New Economic Policy was working out well. Conditions were beginning to improve and in 1923 the Communist party approved the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The U.S.S.R., also known as the Soviet Union, included Russia, the Ukraine, White Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Lenin was in poor health and in 1922, after his …

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Rasputin and War 1914-1917


THE TSARINA Alexandra was a religious woman. That was why she was immediately interested in Rasputin, when he was introduced to her in 1905. Rasputin was neither a priest nor a monk. He was a starets, or Holy Man. There were a number of such Holy Men in Russia at that time. They left their homes and families to wander about the country, living on charity and devoting themselves to religion. Often people came to them, hoping to hear words of wisdom and advice on how to conduct their lives. The tsarina, too, felt the need of someone to give her advice and words of wisdom. She was troubled by the problems of the tsar; she kept urging him not to give up any of his power and then there was her fifteen-month-old son. He was the tsarevitch, the prince who would someday be tsar — if he lived. For he suffered from hemophilia, a hereditary disease that prevented his blood from clotting properly. Even a slight wound might cause him to bleed to death. THE HOLY MAN Rasputin became a frequent visitor to the palace. It turned out that he had a strange ability to soothe and comfort the tsarevitch and make him forget his pain. Some people said that he hypnotized the boy. At any rate, Alexandra came to believe that her son’s life depended on Rasputin and her faith in him grew from day to day. With his long beard and his long hair that reached to his shoulders, Rasputin did indeed look like a Holy Man, but the life he led had little to do with holiness. He had an enormous appetite for food and drink. It was no secret around the palace that he spent many a night in wild, drunken parties, staggering home early …

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