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Theme 3: Control of the people 1917-1985
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Theme 2: Industry and Agriculture 1917-1985
October 1917: Decree on Land gave peasants the right to seize land from the church.
November 1917: Decree on the Press- gave the government emergency powers to close any newspapers which supported counter-revolution (Purple boxes are media)
December 1917: Cheka established. Felix Dzerzhinsky was the head until 1926.
January 1918: Decree Concerning Separation of Church and State meant the church lost its privileged place in society. Church land and buildings were nationalised and religious education was banned in schools.
January 1918: First photograph of Lenin published- this was a form of propaganda used to promote the government. This was arguably the founding of his cult of personality.
Commissar of Enlightenment established Glavpolitprosvet
1920: Department of Agitation Propaganda (Agitprop) set up. It produced propaganda, often from avant-garde artists who were much more experimental than Lenin wanted.
1922: Glavlit, a new organisation which oversaw a more systematic censorship regime, is introduced by Dzerzhinsky. It included putting the GPU in charge of policing every publication in the Soviet Union, employing new professional censors, investigating all new books and compiling a list of banned books.
Union of Soviet Writers established
July 1934: Yagoda appointed head of the NKVD and was responsible for the hunt of enemies of the party. He was not extreme enough for Stalin. however, he did start the use of the secret police against the party, which was a turning point in Soviet politics.
1938: Two histories of the Communist Party, both edited by Stalin published- this was part of developing the myth of 2 leaders which led the Soviet people to believe that the October Revolution and the civil war had been masterminded by a dummvirate of Lenin and Stalin.
1949: The Leningrad Affair. Stalin ordered the purge of the Party officials in Leningrad who he thought were becoming too powerful.
3 monthes after Stalins death: Beria arrested and executed
1954: Doctor Zhivago refused publication in the Soviet Union. The novel led to cultural restrictions as it was critical of Lenins period as leader.
September 1965: Sinyavsky-Daniel trial. These where two artists who had enjoyed considerable freedom and fame under Khrushchev. However, as part of concerns about Khrushchev's 'cultural liberalism' they were given an unfair trail and sentenced to labour camps.
1967: Yuri Andropov promoted to head of the KGB. His role was more prominent than the role under Khrushchev but less so than under Stalin and Lenin. His main goal was to control dissidents through maximum control and minimum violence.
1968: Prague Spring. This was where reformers in Czechoslovakia attempted to liberalise Communist rule. However, this confirmed Brezhnev's view that cultural liberalisation was a danger to communist rule so after this there was increasing pressure for artists to conform.
1973: Solzhenitsyn, a high-profile dissident, is forced into exile in America after publishing a book which described the horrors of the Gulag.
1975: Helsinki Agreement on human rights. After this was signed, dissidents could use this against the Soviet government.
November 1917: created a state monopoly of advertising which ensured only the government could publish adverts
November 18th 1917: nationalised the Petrograd Telegraph Agency which gave the new government control of electronic means of communication. It became the central government information agency and was responsible for distributing news. It was later renamed ROSTA.
January 1918: established a Revolutionary Tribunal of the Press which gave power to censor the press; journalists and editors who committed 'crimes against the people' could be punished by the Cheka who were empowered to impose fines or prison sentences, confiscate property or exile offending writers.
Initially Lenin had closed down papers that supported the Tsar or the Provisional government, but by mid 1918 he had outlawed all opposition socialist papers as well.
Mid-1930s: works of Zinoviev,Kamenev,Trotsky and other leading revolutionaries from the 1920s is purged.
1928: Glavlit controls access to economic data and restrictions are place on 'bad' news such as natural disasters or industrial accidents.
1950s and 1960s: magazines were encouraged to published readers letters to help create a consumer society. However the letters often ended up exposing long term problems with Soviet society. Rather than suppressing the letters, Khrushchev's
By 1921 the communists had closed down 2000 newspapers and 575 printing presses.
Early 1920s: Pravda (communist party newspaper) has become one of the best selling publications in the Soviet Union.
Before 1928 there was a relatively high degree of debate and disagreement about how communist principles should be put in place, making the regime fairly pluralistic.
August 1918: an assassination attempt causes Lenin's cult of personality to become more religious. His survival was described as 'miraculous' and his willingness to suffer for the people turned him into a modern day Christ.
1919: during the civil war, even though resources were scarce, busts and statues were made of Lenin. Lenin's photograph appeared with various titles, such as 'Leader of the Revolutionary Proletariat'- Lenins cult was very much based on promoting socialism.
1919 and 1920: a new style of writing about Lenin emerged- he was portrayed as being humane, a man of the people who refused luxury. Lenin was uncomfortable with the propaganda but understood its importance in consolidating Bolshevik power.
Ballad of a Soldier (1959)-a film which focused on the role played by ordinary people rather than on Stalin which films in Stalin's time had focused on . Many films under Khrushchev focused on soviet victory in the second world war or the victory in the civil war.
1961: millions of viewers watch a five-hour programme celebrating Yuri Gagarins space flight.
1963: a programme celebrating Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space is shown on television. The programme stressed her ordinariness-she was born on a collective farm and became a textile worker.
Late 1970s: Brezhnev was trying to use television to his advantage by keeping tight control of the footage of the war in Afgahnistan, so the horrors were not exposed. However by the late 1970s this backfired as television was showing a physically and mentally incapableman.
1950s and 1960s: magazines were encouraged to publish letters from readers, to encourage consumerism. However, the letters exposed long-term problems with Soviet society such as alcoholism. Instead of suppressing these letters Khrushchev responded with its own campaigns against wothless men.
1961: Soviet television broadcast the nations first television news show Estafeta Novosteo (News and Mail).
1937: 'Leader, Teacher and Friend' a painting by Grigory Shegal is published. The cult of Stalin implied that Stalin was continuing on the path created by Lenin, and this painting emphasised that.
1945 onward (after the war): Stalin's role as War leader became the focus of propaganda, and he was increasingly shown as a military genius who saved the nation from Hitler, rather than a revolutionary and a thinker which had been focused on before.
1945 onward: Linked to the shift in propaganda after the war, Stalin's depiction in pictures changed. Before he had been shown wearing blue-grey military tops, but now he was shown wearing white- the uniform of Generalissimo, a rank created for Stalin.
1950s: Cult of Lenin revived under the slogan 'Lenin lives'. This was part of moving away from Stalin-ism and showing that Khrushchev's government was based on Lenin's revolution.
By 1958: Khrushchev had developed a cult of his personality, which showed his as responsible for successes such as the Space race and rising harvests from the virgin land schemes, a great reformer who perfected the Soviet society, and a respected statesman who negotiated with the US president as an equal.
By the 1960s: Khrushchev's cult of personality had turned against him- he had associated himself very strongly with unsuccessful policies, like the virgin land scheme, and had failed to deliver on promises of out-producing the USA- people became less confident about him as a leader.
1967: Brezhvnev organised a festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the revolution to emphasise his cult of being a true Leninist.
Brezhnev cult showed him as- a great Leninist, a military hero, dedicated to ensuring world peace and a man of the people. However people could see through his claims- eg. his lavish lifestyle showed he wasnt a man of the people
The 1922 Soviet Constitution guaranteed freedom of conscience for all soviet people. This meant there was theoretical freedom of religion.
January 1918: Metropolitan Bishop Vladimir was tortured and shot in Kiev.
January 1918: Orthodox priests in Moscow massacred a church decree excommunication the Bolsheviks.
November 1918: the Politburo issued a secret order to the Cheka sanctioning the mass executions of priests (most were killed within 2 years).
Roman catholics were a minority so not as badly treated until the Civil War when they started getting executed.
The government had a contradictory policy to Islam. Initially they seized the property of Waafs (islamic foundations and charities) but this policy was quickly reversed. Communist leaders even encouraged local muslims to join the party. Islam was not linked to Tsarism, so not as bad.
After the Civil War: mass executions, violence and deportation stopped.
Early 1920s: Groups such as the Sufi groups are set up to defend Islam from Soviet attacks. By 1936 Stalin had destroyed almost all of these groups.
1941: The USSR enters WW2 and makes a pragmatic alliance with the church to appeal to the patriotism, boost morale and inspire people to fight. He makes a deal with Metropolitan Sergey that if the church proclaims Stalin is 'Gods chosen leader' he will end anti-religious propaganda and censorship of religious magazines. He also re-opened 414 church in the final year of the war.
1946-1948: Preisthood expanded from 9000 to 11,000 following Stalins allience with the church.
Mid 1950s: Some protestant Churches began to prophesy that the Soviet regime would end within a generation. This was a trigger for Khrushchev's persecution because he realized church attendance was a form of resistance.
1958: Khrushchev starts his anti-religious campaign. This included closing churches that were re-opened after the second world war, closing Roman Catholic monasteries and preventing people from accessing holy places.
1960: Propaganda campaign encouraged men to take the leading role in the education of their children to prevent women from passing on their religious beliefs.
1958-1964: 3000 church buildings closed. However, Khrushchev campaign against religion was met with much resistance and caused a new type of dissident to flourish.
1964: Brezhnev comes to power and ends Khrushchevs campaign against religion. Instead he promotes spreading atheism.
1968: Brezhnev opens the institute for scientific Atheism which published articles in newspapers and advised teachers to spread atheism in the classroom.
Late 1960s: The Soviet government describes Islam as a 'progressive, anti colonial and revolutionary creed' in an aim to create allies in the Middle East.
1960-1985: Despite Brezhnev's pro-athiest campaign, religious faith remains at a stable 20% throughout this time.
1914:In 1914 in Russia, there were 55,173 Russian Orthodox churches .
January 1918: The Cheka and the Red Army close down the Constituent Assebly.
1917-1921: During this time, Lenin uses the Cheka to help requisition grain, stop private training and ran concentration camps that housed Soviet enemies.
1922: Lenin instructed Dzerzhinsky to set up a agency within the GPU to monitor the press. Lenin was also suspicious of intellectuals and instructed Dzerzhinsky to have them deported.
August 1922: Dzerzhinsky organised the trial of the Socialist Revolutionary leaders, who were accused of treason and sentenced to death.
1933: The doctrine of sharpening class struggle was used to justify the ever increasing terror.
September 1936: Yezhov becomes head of the NKVD.
1937: Yezhov purges the NKVD of loyal communists who were opposed to terror and replaced them with people who had no loyalty to the party. His reforms led to the Trial of the 17 and the Trial of the 21.
1937-1938: Yezhovchina. During this period around 1.5 million people were arrested and 600,000 people executed. Particularly urban, educated men between 30 and 45 who held senior positions in government.
The terror expanded and accelerated due to popular participation. For example, party officials and factory managers were arrested by groups of citizens and tried for their crimes.
1940: Yezhov and 300 of his associates were shot in 1940.
November 1938: Beria becomes head of the NKVD
1944: Beria orders the deportation of the 500,000 Chechen's to Siberia. This was part of a wider movement to deport any ethnic minorities that might side with the USSR's enemies during the war.
1953-1953: The Doctors Plot- the arrest of Stalins medical staff many of whom were Jewish (Stalin was an anti-semite)
1955: Khrushchev comes to power and renounces mass terror and stops using it as a weapon against the party. He organised the rehabilitation of thousands of former Party members.
1959: Khrushchev announces there are no longer any political prisoners in the Soviet Union.
1968: Andropov issued KGB order no. 0051 which set out the policy of increased surveillance of and action against dissidents.
1964-1966: a series of trials of well-known artists cases outcry among other nations about artistic freedom. This embarrasses the soviet union and forces Andropov to find more subtle methods of suppression.
1967: Andropov establishes Directorate V, a special branch of the KGB for dealing with dissidents.
Early 1970s: A number of famous artists who consistently opposed the authorities are allowed to emigrate. This is one main technique Andropov used to deal with dissidents.
April 1969: Andropov proposes to set up a network of mental hospitals for dissidents. The policy is endorsed later that year. Repressive psychiatry was Andropovs preferred weapon against dissidents.
November 1972: The KGB adopted a policy of issuing official warnings as a part of focusing more on prevention than repression. Around 70,000 Soviet citizens received a KGB warning in the 1970s.
1968: Sakharov publicises an essay called Reflections on progress which criticises the USSRs stance on human rights. The essay is published in the West and he becomes to high profile to persecute. In the end he is kept under constant surveillance and force to remain in the city of Gorky.
1979: The soviet government launched the Law and order campaign to tackle the fear of growing dissent following a series of problems in the country such as economic slow down. The 1980 Olympics also made law and order more needed.
1982: Andropov becomes Soviet leader, but while he was largely successful at suppressing dissidents as head of the KGB, he could not stop the growing corruption and resentment felt by the people. The loss of faith in the system lead to social malaise and although he did introduce a series of polices in 1982, he soon became ill and was unable to sustain the campaigns.
1918-1920: Prolekult- the proletarian culture movement, was set up. Through the movement, normal people had access to local studios where they could paint, sculpt ect. By 1920 there were around 84,000 members of Prolekult.
October 1920: The National Congress of Prolekult was held. Following an appeal for Prolekult to support the Soviet government (it had previously been free of Party control), the Congress voted and voluntarily merged with the Commissariat of Education.
1928: 'October: Ten Days That Shook the World' is a film made by Sergei Eisenstein that dramatised the events of the October revolution. This is an example of revolutionary cinema.
Late 1920s: The Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia emerged and painted in the traditional style, which was praised by the party.
Initially, there was a degree of creative freedom while the Bolsheviks were preoccupied with the Civil war. However, when the war ended there was tighter control of artistic expression. There were also increasing worries about contemporary art forms such as jazz, encouraging moral problems.
1930: The Union of Soviet writers was established and Socialist Realism was developed which was an art style which aimed to participate in the building of socialism.
1925: The Steel Step was an experimental ballet that was designed to celebrate Soviet industrialisation. Under Stalin in the 1930s ballet became more traditional.
1936: Soviet artists were purged.
1951: 'They are writing about us in Pravda' was a painting by Vasilev showing plentiful harvests. Much of Soviet art under Stalin was celebrating his policies such as collectivism and was deeply unrealistic.
1934: The film maker Vertov made a film called three songs about Lenin. There was little from for dissent from Stalins vision, but focusing on Lenin was one subtle form of rebellion.
1953-54: The first of a series of cultural thaws caused by Stalin's death. The government authorized a series of novels that criticized Stalin After each of these 'thaws' there was a temporary freeze.
1956-1957: Another cultural 'thaw' following Khrushchev's secret speech.
1961-1962: Another cultural 'thaw' following the Twenty second party congress and the vote to remove Stalin's body. Solzhenitsyn's novel was published during this time. The freeze that followed led to the imprisonment of several artists.
1959: Propaganda poster 'The Alcoholic' was published. It aimed to encourage popular oversight where citizens where supposed to keep other citizens under surveillance.This kind of power was a change from the Stalin era where the Soviet people where depicted as heroic.
Late 1950s and early 1960s: There was a campaign against loose women who were seen as 'style hunters' because they wore western clothing. However this did not stop the rise of fashion hunters. There were also campaigns suppressing female sexuality.
During Brezhnevs time in power there was still concern about suppressing western fashion. However, even though Soviet magazines ridiculed Western ways of dressing by the mid 1970s it was thought that the fashion hunters had 'won'.
Late 1950s: because all books had to be publsihed in official publishing houses, there was a rise in self-published (samizdat) magazines.
Early 1970s: It was thought during this time there were 7000 to 8000 dissidents receiving psychiatric treatment. International pressure meant show trails were uncommon.
Brezhnev was skeptical of Khrushchevs cultural thaws and unlike Khrushchev, he wanted to celebrate the Stalinist era and soviet triumph in WW2.
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