*** Cold War country trends -- The Soviet Union USSR

The Cold War: The Soviet Union

Cold War
Figure 1.--The Soviet Union was a major force throughout much of the 20th century and during that era lauded by the left as a worker's paradice. In fact, however, not only did the Soviets commit terrible attrocities on their own and neigboring peoples, but workers were paid far less than workers in the capitalist West. During the seven decades that the Soviet Union existed, it accomplished very little. Its main accomplishment was to defeat NAZI Germany during World War II, an accomplishment marred by the fact that the Soviet Union as a NAZI ally launched the War and carried out a series of aggressions and bloody attrocities as a NAZI ally/. The one very substantial Soviet accomplishment was to build a mass education system with high standards. This is a 1955 Soviet postcard illustrating the pride that the country had with its educational chievements. 9Notice the poor quality of the lthography.) The qulity of Soviet educaytion enabled the Soviets to compete with the West at a very high technical level such as the Space Race with the West. They created high-quality military equipment. It is interesying to note, however, that little other than weaponry came out of Soviet educational system and technological infrastructure. Virtually nonthing came of it in the way of new consumer products, innovative technolgy, new medicines or medical devices, or advances that have made the modern post-War world. And shockingly Russia today is like a backwatd Third world country with an economy based on exporting raw materials, especially energy. One of our Russian readers charges that posting this image and asking this question is 'dirty Russian hating'. Tragically this is probably a good reflection on public opinion in modern Russia.

The Cold War did not need to have been fought. No nation had territorial claims on the Soviet Union. And after two horrific world wars, the Europeans were determined to build a future without further wars. But just as Hitler was determined to fight another War after Germany's defeat in World War I, Stalin amasing a vast empire in Eastern Europe was determined to wage a struggle with the West. Stalin had both territorial and ideological motives. He had previously split Europe with Hitler a part of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact. He expected after Germany and the Allies fought a protracted war to be able to add Western Europe to his Eastern European empire. This proved to be an enormous mistake, but the Soviet Union was saved by the enormous sacrifice of the Russian people. After the war he first secured the Eastern Europen empire that he had hoped for as part of the arrangenent with Hitler. Then he plotted to occupy Western Europe as well. The NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was partof Stalin's masterplan to conquer Eastern and Western Europe. He believed that Hitler would invade France and the resulting battles between the Gernans and Allies (British and French) would so weaken these countries that the Red Army could occupy Western Europe as well as Eastern Europe that Hitler had coceded to Stalin in the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact. The collapse of the French Army, however, upset Stalin's plans and within a year Hitler without fear of a two-front war attacked the Soviet Union. Now with the end of World War II Stalin had a new opportunity to conquer Western Europe. Germany was defeated and no longer an obstacle. Important European countries had strong Communist parties that he controlled. It is unclear just how important Communist ideology as opposed to Russian nationalism was to him. But this was another factor in the Cold War. Red Army victories enabled Stalin to unleash the NKVD in Eastern and Central Europe and to create People's Republics, a euphemism for Communist police states. Only fear of the United States, thanks in part to his policies firmly ensconced in Western Germany prevented Stalin from opening a new military campaign to extend his conquests westward. A crash program aided by spies in the West helped the Soviets develop nuclear weapons (1949). President Truman's courageous stand in Germany and especially Berlin convinced Stalin that Europe backed by America was too tough a target. So within months of the first Soviet atomic bomb, Stalin launched an Asian adventure, equipping Kim Il-sung's North Korea with modern weapons and authorizing an invasion of South Korea. When this failed some authors believe that he was considering a new war in Europe now that he also had nuclear weapons. The Doctors' Plot was part of his calculation in launching another war. Only his death prevented a major action against Soviet Jews and possibly another world war (1953). Subsequent Soviet leders held back from directt war with the West, meaning primarily the United States, although differenves over Berlin and Cuba came very close to causing just such a conflict (1960s). Subsequent Soviet leaders were more cautious. Being firm believers in Communism they decided to win the Cold War with their superior econimic system. The failire of that system came as a shock not only to the Soviet leadership, but also to leaders throughout the Third World like Fidel Castro who had adopted the Soviet model, convinced it was more efficient than free market capitalism.

Launching the Cold War

There is some controversy as to when the Cold War began. Revisionist historians try to contend that it was President Truman that began the Cold War and not Stalin. This of course is absurd. Stalin's aggressive goals were plain to see when he formed an alliance with Adolf Hitker to launch World War II--the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The way he treated the Poles even after the NAZI invasion is further evidence that Stalin was pursuing the Cold war even before the term was invented. But the Cold war actually predated Stalin. The Bolsheviks who seized cointrol of Russia (1917) were actually suprised at their success. Mark dictrine predicted that the Revolution would occur in in industrial countries, nit in a bckward agricltural country like Russia. And from the beginning the Soviet secret police, the Chekka, has a substantial intenational section aimed at fomenting world revolution. And the Chekka and the later manfestaton, the NKVD, largely suceeded in gaining coinrol of Communist parties arund the world.

Historical Truth

History can make us uncomfortable. It includes brutalities and attrcities that we would often like to forget. The ascinating aspect of intrnet hstory is the ability to touch and receive inut from people all over the world. This has proven very valuable in our assessment of historivcal events and movements. We have commnly included these comments in our asessements. We even include comments we do not agree with because we think considring all points of view valuavle in our serach gor historical truth. We have a lot of German readers and our focus on World War II and the NAZI era often makes them unfomfortable, but they do not deny the histodiity we present. The reaction in Russia is very differnt. Despite the fact that the primary victims of Soviet totalitarianism was the Russian people. And Russian souces like Solzhenitsyn and Memorial confirm this. We get reactions from Russia like this, "Dont want to have any deals with dirty Russian haters as you. Kiss Nuland in her dirty asshole." [Victoria Jane Nuland is the UnitedStaes Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State. Te Russiam media ha carried attavk pieces on her.] We absolutely deny that there is any Russian hating here. It is true that weare very critical of the Soviet Union, Communim, and xenephonic Russian nationalism. We attempt to present a factual history of the Soviet Unionand the Cold War. Our asssment incluedes Russian sources and we welcome comments from Russian readers. Now it is possible for ideological-based historians and those who form historical views based on their ethnicity, natioalism, or religion to justify even the most vicious attricities aor deny the murder of millions. We see this in Khrushchevs memoirs especially the chapter on Hungary. {khrushchev] There are certain facts, however, that can not be spun no matter the creativity of those attemptng to defend the Soviet Union. First there is the dreaful Great Terror and broken lives of the Gulag. Second is the horrors of the Ukranian famine engineered by Stalin and the resulting weakness of Soviet agriculture. Third is World war II alliance with NAZI Germany and terrible NKVD attrocities in ocupied coyntries (1939-41). Fourth are the mass graves found througout western Russia--the work of Stalin's feared NKVD. Fifth is modern Russia, a country with a well-educated population and enormous reservoir of technical and scientific talent, but has an economy like a backward Third World country based on exporting raw material, especilally energy.

Stalin and World War II

The Cold War did not need to have been fought. No nation had territorial claims on the Soviet Union. And after two horrific world wars, the Europeans were determined to build a future without further wars. But just as Hitler was determined to fight another War after Germany's defeat in World War I, Stalin amasing a vast empire in Eastern Europe was determined to wage a struggle with the West. Stalin had both territorial and ideological motives. The NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was Stalin's masterplan to conquer Western Europe (1939). He ssentially split Europe with Hitler. He believed that Hitler would invade France and the reulting battles between the Germans and Allies (British and French) would so weaken the Allies that the Red Army could easily occupy Western Europe as well as Eastern Europe which Hitler had ceded to Stalin in the 1939 Non-Agression Pact. This proved to be an enormous mistake which nearly destroyed the Sovviet Union and Russian people. The collapse of the French Army, however, upset Stalin's plans and within a year Hitler without fear of a two-front war attacked the Soviet Union (1941). Ultimately the Soviet Union was saved by the enormous sacrifice of the Rissian people. After the War, Stalin first secured the Eastern Europen empire that he had hoped for as part of the arrangenent with Hitler. Then he plotted to occupy Western Europe as well.

Soviet Recovery

It is difficult for Western Europeans to fully appreciate the catasteophic expeiemced by the people of Eastern Europe. espcially the Soviets, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Here the Soviet Union was different becuse the war was largly conducted in the extreme west of the country invluding areas that the Soviets had annexed during the War (the Baltics, Poland, and Romania). The War as a result was largely fought outside of the Russian heartland. The Wehrmacht had pnetrated in to the Russian hearland in the final phase of Barbarossa (October-Novmber 1941), but much of this was recovered in the Red Army Winter Offensive before Moscow (December 1941). The Soviets also managed to move a substntial part of their industry east beyond the Urals which was not captured and destroyd by the invasding Germans. Even so the damge to the Soviet Union and the loss of life was noyhing short of horific. Some one in eight of Soviet citizens prished in the conflict. Something like one third of the econmy was destroyed, but this was in the far west and includes the non-Russian areas the Soviet Union annexed during and after the War. The country was awash with displaced people and families that were torn apart. A harvest failure and the damage done by he Germans in the Ukraine resulted in a regional famine, but the famine of 1946 killed a fraction of the numbers that died of hunger during the famine resultibg from the Civil War (1919-23) or the fanine Stalin inflicted on the Ukraine (1931-32). As the Soviets received American food aid throigh UNRRA. Soviet sources claim to have restored income levels to pre-War levels as early as 1948. We are not sure that this was the case. And the Soviets reported very high levels of economic expansion during the 1950s and 60s. Soviet economists began to claim that they would overtake the West. Agriculture continued to be weakpoint in the Soviet economy. Stalin refused to participate in the American Marshall Plan and would not allow the Soviet puppet government to participare as well. Instead they wererequired to partivcipate in the Molotov Plan. The Soviets had some advantages, virtually inexaustable reservs of raw materials and the ability to extract reparation from their occupation sector in Germany. And while the economy grew, Soviet workers lagged far behind workers in the West. Problems included massive military spending, the inherent inefficencies of Communism and central planning,

Eastern European Empire: Communist Peoples Republics

Red Army victories enabled Stalin to unleash the NKVD in Eastern and Central Europe and to create Peope's Republics, a euphemism for Communist police states.

Opportunity in the West

Now with the end of World war II Stalin had a new opportunity to conquer Western Europe. German was defeated and no longer an obstacle. Important European countries had strong Communist parties that he controlled. It is unclear just how importnt Communist ideology was to him. But this was another factor in the Cold War. Only fear of the United States unexpectentantly enconsed in Western Germany prevented Stalin from opening a new military campaign.

Soviet Espionage

A crash program aided by spies in the West helped the Soviets develop nuclear weapons (1949). The NKVD/KGM was very skilled in espionage. The Soviets had very extensive spy networks in the United States and other Western countries.


The Bolsheviks and other revolutionaries were brutally treated by the Ocrana, the Tsarist Secret Police. After the Bolsheviks seized power, many included Lenin were convinced that they needed their own secret police to deal with counter revolutionaries. The Bolshevik secret police was created only 2 months after the October Revolution (December 1917). The Bolshevik used the Cheka to firmly establish their rule. It was to be temporary expedient that Lenin assured the population that would be dibanded when the party has consolidated their hold on power. The Cheka was organized by Feliks Dzerzhinskii. It was at first only authorized to investigate "counterrevolutionary" crimes. In the struggle with counter-revolutionaries, however, the Cheka began a much broader campaign against of terror against the propertied classes. The Cheka often resorted to summary execution without trials. Some Bolsheviks were outraged with the Cheka's brutality. Lenin and other Bolsheviks were convinced that the Cheka's campaign of terror was necessary. While the Bolshevik's victory in the Civil War (1918-21) Lenin did disband the Cheka. The responsibilities were transferred to the State Political Directorate/United Department of Political Police (OGPU/GPU) (1922). The power of the GPU were more limited than that of the Cheka. This changed, however, with the rise to power of Joseph Stalin. Stalin perpetually obsessed with threats to his power again invested the secret police with virtually limitless extra-llegal powers. The GPU was renamed the People's Comissariat (later Ministry) for Internal Affairs (NKVD/MVD) (1934). Under Stalin the secret police were no longer subject to party control or any legal constraints. The NKVD was authorize to act against subversive elements, oversee prisons and labor camps, as well as the reducation of political prisoners. The NKVD became the person tool of Stalin which used it not only to purge the Pary but to wage a campaign of terror against the Soviet people. Stalin in the 1930s initiated a campaign against peasants to collectivize agriculture which was followed by purges and the Great Terror. Stalin conventiently purged the heads of the secret police that carried out his crimes. His last secret police head was Lavrenti Beria. When Stalin died (1953), the Soviet leadership purged Beria from the Communist Party and had him executed before he could use his power to seize power himself. The NKVD in the de-Stalinization era was renamed the KGB. The Gulag was slowly reduced and the Stalinist Terror receeded. The Soviets leaders, however, until the advent of Gorbechev continued to use the secret police to suppress political and religious thought and to act without any real legal constraint. The KGB acted on its own during the late 1980s to resist Gorbechev's efforts to open Soviet society and played a key role in organizing the attempted coup against Gorbechev (August 1991).

Expelling Tito (1948)

Lenin and the Blosheviks from an early point moved to gain control of Communist parties first in Euriope and eebtually around the world. Stalin's NKVD was very effectibe in this process. Those who resisted like Trotsky were hunted down and eventually killed. Durung World war II, many Communists from German occupied countries sought refuge in Mocow. This gave Stalin and the NKVD the opportunity to purge Eastern European Communist parties of even wiff of independene from Moscow's dctates. Eliminating inependent minded Communists in foreign countries could get mssy. Killing Trotsky caused headlines. In Mscow, however, Eastern European Communists simply disppeared with little or no notice. Those Eastern European Communists who survived the war in Moscow and theNKVD purge, were then placed in power by Stalin as the Red Army drove west during the war. An excetionwas Yugoslavia , in part because Josep Broz and his colleague remined in the country and launched the only military resistance movenet outside the Soviet Union. Although Hitler ccupied Yusoslvia in a mtter of days, after nvading the soviet Union, he soon found he had a full-scale guerilla wa on his hands inthe Balkans. Tito's partisans never defeated the German, but they required Hitler to devote resources to the Balkans. And we the Germans were forced to evacuate the Balkans in the finl mnhsof the war, Tto with only liited Red army assance seized power. Tito was at first the most aggressve pf the Eastern European Communists. This began to change as Tito began to reject instructions from Moscow. Elsewhere in the Soviet Empire this would have meant death. The soviets found it more difficult to impose their wll on Yugoslavia. Stalin considred an invasion as would later occur in most of the astrn European satellirs, but he held back thinking that less drastic methods could be used. Stalin ordered the Coninform, an intrument of the NKVD to expell Tito and the Yugoslav Communists (June 28, 1948). The Cominfoem Assembly passed a resolution formally expelled Yugoslavia from the Assembly, essentiall the world Communist movement. They charged that Tito, had deviated from the correct (Soviet approved) ideology. Stalin considered Tito's resistance a prsnal affront, but the formal charge was Tito was guilty of disrupting the 'unified communist front against imperialism'. [Armstrong] Stalin also accused Tito of thesin of nationalism, a serious charge in the Comminust world.

Nuclear Weapons

A crash program aided by spies in the West helped the Soviets develop nuclear weapons (1949).

Berlin Air Lift (1948-49)

Berlin was at the center if the Cold War. Many believe that the Cold War began and ended in Berlin. The beginning would be the Soviet efforts to push the Western Allies out of Berlin. The end was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Berlin was conquered by the Red Army in savage fighting during the end of April 1945. Stalin was intent on the Red Army taking the prize and lied to General Eisenhower about his intentions. Wehrmacht commanders west of Berlin could not understand why the Americand did not push for Berlin. When the Red Army approached his bunker, Hitler committed suicide. As decided at the Yalta Conference, the three principal Western Allies (Britain, France, and the United States) were given occupation zones in the conquered NAZI capital. As Berlin was located well within the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, all supplies had to pass through the Soviet zone. As a result, the Western allies and the Berlin people were vulnerable to Soviet pressure. This and the symbolic value of Berlin made it the focal point of the Cold War. It was at Berlin that the first major confrontation of the Cold War occurred. Stalin decided in 1948 that he could blockade Berlin and force the Western allies out and the people of West Berlin into submission. Ironically the people of West Berlin were saved by American and British pilots, in most cases the same men that only 3 years earlier had been bombing German cities and had reduced Berlin to ruble. President Truman was determined that the United States would not leave Berlin and a massive airlift was organized and even during the winter, more supploes were reaching Berlin than before tht Soviets had instituted the blockade. One of the pilots was struck by the Berlin children who still lived in desperate conditions after the War. The children of course had little idea of the larger issues involved, but were caught up in the episode when one of the pilots began dropping chocolates in little parachutes when he reached Berlin. Other pilots began doing the same. The Berlin children began calling him Uncle Chocolate and thousands wrote with directions as to how to how the American pilots could hit their homes! Finally with the success of the Airlift, Stalin relented and rail and road links were reopened in 1949.

Kasenkina Affair (1948)

The now largely forgotten Kasenkina affair was a Cold War incident involving a Russian school teacher, Oksana Kasenkina, was ordered back to Moscow. She had been teaching the children of Soviet diplomats in New York. She was taken in by Soviet dissidents. The Soviets insisted that she was mentally unstable and at any rte had changed her mind. It became a Cold War incident when Soviet Consul, Jacob M. Lomakin, personally returned her to the Consulate. He claims to have received permission from the New York City police. Lomakin was not a typical stone-faced Soviet diplomat. He was posted to New York as a journalist by TASS, but after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941) he became involved with Lend Lease. Lend Lease became a priority for the Soviets and Soviet personnel in the United States became involved. He was personable and would talk amicably with the Americans and U.N. personnel he worked with. This is not to say he was not fully committed to Stalinism. He argued vehemently for censorship as a positive tool while working on the United Nations subcommittee on Freedom of Information and the Press. At U.N. sessions, Lomakin opposed the increasing hostility between the Soviet Union and the West, but blamed in all on America and Britain. When the Kasenkina Affair was picked up by he press, Lomakin attacked the McCarthyites in the press. The actual facts in the incident re murky, but notably Lomakin was involved in a similar incident on the West coast (1943). ["Former FBI"] As a result of the Kasenkina affair, the State Department declared him personna non grata and deported him. We note that the existing Wikipidea article (August 2022) sounds like it was written by a Soviet Cold War propagandist, especially blaming the continuation of the Berlin Air Lift on the Americans. The 'mentally unstable' comment is also suspicious given how the Soviets often confined dissidents to mental hospitals.


Agriculture proved to be the Aquillies Heel of not only the Soviet Union, but whre ever Communist regimes were established from incuding Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Venezuela, and Cuba. The problem was two-fold. First, farmers pasiontely wanted to own their land and Marxist ideology turned private ownership into a crime. Second, Communist regimes wanted to control a country's society and private oeneship of a major economic society limited that control. The result was that Communist seizure of power and the resulting collectivization of agriculture resulted in declining agricultural productivity, reducing the ability to both export and to feed the domestic population. A Communist state had the power to seize the land a kill the peasantry that resisted. They proved unble to coax the same bounty out of the land that the free peasantry had achieved. And no country was faced with this dilemma more than the first Communist state--the Soviet Union. Combined with the motivating incentive of privte ownerhip, Stalin as a matter of policy used the NKVD to actually murder or send the country's best farmers to the Gulag. Tsarist Russia before the Revolution was the bread basket of Europe. Grain exports were the primary export commodity of Tsarist Russia. With the Revolution, these exports declined and eventually ended. The Soviet Union as a result not longer had the export earnings, but had difficulty adeqquatly supplying the domestic market. And there were not only shortages, but actual famine. Famines wre not only the result of Soviet policy, but used to destroy those who resisted such as the Ukranin peasantry. Soviet agriculure never recovered from Stalin's collectivaation program (1931-32). Not fully understood by the Rusian people is the millions of Soviet citizens saved by American food programs. An excetion here was the Ukranian Famine because Stalin suceeded in keeping conditions know to the outsid world. Ametican food aid saved millions of Soviet citizens after World War I through a massive relief effort (1919-23). America lso rovided massive food shipmens through Lend Lease during World War II (1941-45). America also provided needed food after the War through UNRRA (late-1940s). Amd in the later years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union with its failing collectivized af=griculure was forced to purchase grain from the United States (1970s). American food aid also aided Rusia after the imploion of the Soviet Union (1990s)

Korean War (1950-53)

President Truman's stand in Germany and especially Berlin convinced Stalin that Europe backed by America was too tough a target. So within months of the first Soviet atmomic bomb, Stalin launched an Asian adventure, equipping Kil Il-sung's North Korea with modern weapons and suthorizing an invasion of South Korea. The North Koreans Army crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 to forcibly unify Korea. The Soviets had provided modern weapons in great quantity to the North Koreans. Embolded by the Communist victory in China during 1948-49, Kim-il-Jong obtained Stalin's approval for the attack. President Truman immediately ordered war material be provided the South Koreans and then air support for the South Korean Army. Seoul fell within days. Truman went to the United Nations which, because the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council, approved a military opperation to repell the North Korean attack. Truman than ordered American military intervention. The Soviets had helped the North Koreans build a powerful military force. The United states after World War II had significantly scled back its conventional military force. As a result, the North Koreans pushed the South Koreans back to a small perimiter around the southern port of Pusan. Generl MacArthir from Japan organized an amphibious invasion at Inchon which caught the North Koreans between two forces. North Korem resistance collapsed and MacArthur rushed north accross th 38th parallel to completely defeat and occupy North Korea. Tuman was skeptical, but MacArthur assured him that Chinese warnings to intervene were bluff. They were not an America norces approaching the Yalu River were mauled by a massive Chinese attack. For a while it looked like the Chiese would tota;lly defeat the U.N. forces, but the front was finally stabilized north of Seoul. What followed was 2 years of stalemate which became a major political issue. Peace talks with the Communists were frustrating. Th major issue became the Communist demand that all POWs be returned, even the ones who did not want to be repatriated. Finally a ceasefire was reached. Stalin died in 1953. Eisenhower became president in 1953 and fulfilling a campaign promise, went to Korea. The armistice went into force (July 27, 1953). More than 3 million Koreans were killed as a result of the War. Millions more were made homeless refugees. About 1 million Chinese soldiers are believe to have been killed. American casualties totaled nearly 55,000.

The Doctor's Plot (1953)

The Doctor's Plot (врачи-вредители was concoted by Stalin to begin a wave of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. As far as we know, it was a creation of Stalin's own dark mind. We know of no aid or adviser who brought the idea tyo him as was often the case with Hitler. The full details are not completely understood because they were in Stalin's mind. There is, however, quite a bit known because after Stalin died, there was some documentary evidence and personal accounts as the doctors were released and new Soviet leaders began the preparations for the subsequent de-Stalinization campaign. The reason for the campaign seems to have been the same as the anti-Semetic campaign of Tsar Alexander III. By playing off the existing anti-Semitism of many Russians, the attention of the average Russian could be focused on Jews rather than deficenies of the Soviet state and Stalin's dictatorial rule. And by charging poison, Stalin was was playing into the prejudices of many Russians. A widely held medieval belief was that Jews poised Christians. They were widely blamed for the 14th century plague that devestated Europe. Other historicans believe that Stalin was preparing a major confrontation with the West now that he also had a nuclear arsenal. He calculated that that Soviet actions against the Jews would have helped to raise the level of internaional strife. Stalin like Hitler believed that Jews had great influence within the American Government and would have reacted to an anti-Semetic campaign. Stalin launched his campaign by accusing nine doctors, including six Jews, of planning to poison the Soviet leadership. The completely innocent doctors. Stalin's personal instruction to tortured them to obtain confessions needed for a show trial. His orders to the NKVD interogators were reportedly, "Beat, beat, and again beat." Along with the arrest of the nine doctors, an unknown number of other Soviet Jews were dismissed from their jobs, arrested, shipped to the Gulag, or executed. The NKVD which was expert in such matters obtained the confessions, and a show trial scheduled. Some scholars believe that the next step after the doctors were found guilty in the show trial was to launch old-fashioned pogroms throughout the Soviet Union after which Jews would be transported to Siberia en masse. Stalin reportedly already had the NKVD obtain signed appeals from prominent Soviet Jews begging him to protect Jews by sending them to Siberia. Other scholars deny these charges. There seems to be, however, no disagreement that Stalin planned a massive purge of Jews in the Communist Party and Soviet Government. Only days before the Doctors' Trials were schuled to begin, Stalin unexpectedly died (March 5, 1953). The trials were never held. Pravda announced that the arrested doctors were innocent and had been released (April 1953). [Rappaport] Ironically, the fact that his Jewish doctors as well as other Moscow doctors were arrested meant that Stalin did not get very good medical attention when he collapsed. A further irony is that while this massive attack on Soviet Jews (who were the only remaining large population of European Jews), progressives in the United States were accusing the United States of anti-Semitism because of the scheduled execution of atomic spies Juilius and Ethel Rossenberg. And they had helped steal atomic secrets because they believed that the Soiviet Union was a haven for Jews. In reality, it was Stalin's possession of nuclear weapons that have him the confidence to move against the Jews and the West.

Soviet Cold War Propaganda

Soviet Cold War propaganda reached its heights during the 1950s and 1960s and was only moderated somewhat by Détent during the 1970s. The Government orcestrayted a concerted effort to demonise capitalism while trumpeting the virtues of communism. Democracy was a trickier matter. The Soviets could not openly attack democcracy as it was such a widely accpeted political system, rather they questioined what was called democracy in thge West ahd insisted that the Soviet system was true democracy. The East Bloc was still largely closed with the new Iroib Curtain. Thus Soviet propagads couls still claim that condiions in the Soviet Union and east Bloc were worker's pardise where workers and farmers lived proserous, fulfilling loives in contrast to the povery and dismay of workers in the American-dominated West. This still worked in the Soviet Union as it was still a closed society, although many Red army soldier still recalled the bounty of American Lend Lease. Europe was a differnt bmatter because of the Germany and widr Western Europen Economic Miracke took hold, Western Europe emerged from World War II as much more prosperous than Eastern Europe. Soviet propaganda simply denied the truth and told the Big Lie charted by NAZI propgandist Josef Goebbels. Some Cold war issues were debateable, but on matter was not, the truth about the vibrant economies of the United staes abd Western Europe (1950s-60s) and the Asian Tigers (1970s). The comparison with the moribund ecomnonies in Estern Europe anfChina ws stark. In sharp contrst to Markist theory, it would be workers who would bein to challenge Soviet propagands. This began with the Easter German workers' riots (1953). Other charges include conlonialism, racusm, and war mongering. The charge of conolnialism was telling, As Europe was in the process of beginning to decolonize, the Soviets had bonstructed a huge colonial empire in Eastrn Europe. Peace was another major theme in Soviet propaganda. Never mentioned was the role that Stalin abd the soviet Uniin played in launching World war II and Stalin's role in launching the Korean War. As American commited its forces , the Vietnam War became a docus of Soviet propganda in the 1960s and early-70s. Vietnam Soviet leaders placed an emphasis on communicating ideas of social responsibility and cooperation on cntrast to the cut-throat competition of the West. The goal was to build the new Soviet Man. This of course was in line to Marrxist ideology. No thought was given to actual human nature or the societal benefits of competition. The citizenry was prsented with heroic images of Soviet leaders, soldiers, workers and peasants. In contrat the snarling, animalistic caricatures of American, British, and West German leaders depicted the West as the demonic enemy of not only the nobel Soviet people, but of himanity itself. Every effort was made to paper over totalitarian control, but notably there was only one vew pernitted in the East Blox in contrast to the lively political and economic debate in the West.

People's Republic of China (1949)

The Chinese Civil War began after World War I and it was bloody from the beginning (1920s). Mao gained control of the Chinese Communist Party at about the same time that Stalin gained control of th Soviet Union. The Civil War continued even after the Japanese invasion (1937). Most of the fighting againt the Japanese was done by the Nationalists (KMT). The KMT withdrew into the interior, but coninued to resist. The Japanese Ichi-Go Offensive badly damaged the KMT armies (1944). The continuing Japanese control of large areas of the richest Chinese agricultural created famine conditiins that were largely blamed on the KMT. These and other devlopments played a major role in the Communist victory. Stalin also helped by turning over captured Japanese arms to th Communists. Until this, Stalin was not particularly supportive of Mao and the Communists. This was because the Chinese Communist party was the one natinal party that he did not comtrol. Coommunist armies defaeted the KMT armies (1948). The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) was proclaimed (January 1, 1949). A few months later, the Soviet Union exploded an atomic and began considering giving Kim-il Sung support to invade South Korea (1950). China did not onay a role in this, but ultimately would fight a war with the United States over Korea (1950-53). As long as Stalin was alive, Mao was differential toward him. His additud toward Khrushchev was very different, esopecailly with the the De-Stalinization process. The Cold War was waged at the same time as post-Wold War II decolonization. The PRC used the Bandung Conference to insist that it was a new, cooperative force in what would become known as the Third World (1955). Mao proclaimed the PRC as the revolutionary savior of the the Third World, leading the anti-imperialist liberation. Mao after Stalin's death thus began to challenge the Soviet Union for leadership of the Communist movement. [Mitter] The PRC managed to maintain its anti-colonalist leadership marative even while at the same time brutally colonizing Tibet (1959).

Destalinization (1953-64)

Many Soviet citizens hoped that the relaxation of political repression that occurred during the Great Patriotic war would continue and expand after the war. This did not occur. Instead Stalin aided by by fellow Georgian NKVD Chief Lavrentiy Beria began to retigten his grip. Bolstered by victory over Hitler and the NAZIs, that grip was unasiable. And the NKVD was an instrument of repression unparalleled in history, more formidable even than Hitler's SS. The Doctor's Plot was to usher in a sweeping repression of Soviet Jews and preceived opponents as well as a more agressive confrontation with the America and the West. Unfortunately for Stalin and fortunately for the world, one of the Jewish dictors arrested was Stalin;s own personal dictor. And while he was being beaten in the Lubyanka prison, Stalin suffered cebreal hemmorage that led to his death. Only then was a reform process possible, although not guaranteed. What followed is now referred to De-Stalinization, descontructing the murderous police state, expansive police state and personal agrandizement that Stalin created. Scholars debate the time period involved, but seems roughly concurrent with the reign of Nikita Khrushchev (1954-64). The process began with Stalin's death and the arrest and excution of Beria. It was announced by Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress who shocked the delegates. Khrushchev himself had reign in the process after the Hungarians took him seriously. Even so, the Destalinization pricess was very real. First there were official pronouncemrnts, not all made public. Second, were major poltical policy chanbges (especiakly the end of terror as a governing tool and a return to a more collective leadership. Khrushchev did begin to wind down the Gulag. Third, there were important economic changes. Fourth, there was real, if limited liberalization of intelectial life. This was highly varible. Pasternak was persecuted during the Khrushchev era. Fifth, there were symolic changes. Here especially important was the end of the Stalin cult, meaning using the full resources of the state to litwrally deigy the leader. Destalinization was finally ended by Brezhnev who seized control from the mercurial Khrushchev (October 1964).

Hungarian Revolution (1956)

The Hungarian Revolution was a spontaneous nationwide revolt in reaction to the Stalinist brutalities of Mátyás Rákosi who ran Hungary as brutally as Stalin had the Soviet Union. The Hungarian Revolution ocurred in the midst of Nikita Khruschev's de-Stalinization program. Hungarians began to expect changes in their country. Rákosi was one of the brutal dictators that Stalin had imposed on the people of Eastern Europe. The Revolution broke out October 23, 1956. Students in Budapest bravely staged a demonstration which attracted others as they marched through the central city to the national Parliament. A delegation of the students went into the Radio Building in an effort to broadcast their demands. They were detailed by authorities which could have meant a long prison term. The demonstrators outside demanded their release. The State Security Police (ÁVH) answered by firing on the demonstrators. The demonstrators moved back, but news rapidly spread throughout the city and soon the city erupted in widespead protests and violence. And the disorders appeared in other cities as well. Anti-goverment groups organized militias and attacked the ÁVH as well as Soviet troops. AVH prisons were opened and Communist officials were jailed. Some officials and AVH men were executed. Quickly organized councils seized control of municicipal goverments all over Hungary. A provisional government disbanded the ÁVH, announced a decesion to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, and committed to quickly holding free elections. The new governnment was in control of the country by the end of October. Soviet authorities announced a willingness to withdraw their militart forces. It is unclear if this was a ruse or that the Politburo actually changed its mind. One historian contends that Khruschev did not want to appear weak in the face of Western Operations in Suez, thus explaining the massive use of force in supressing the Hungarian rebellion. [Hitchcock] Soviet forces invaded Hungary (November 4). The Soviets killed thousands of civilians. The poorly armed militias were no match against Soviet tanks and well-armed and trained soldiers. The Revolution was ended by November 10 when organized resistance ceased. Mass arrests began. Hungarians that could, fled to the West. Austria opened its border and about 0.2 million Hungarians fled their country. Assessments of the Revolution vary. It caused many Communists in the West to question their beliefs. The brutality of the Soviet invasion and the Soviet supervised reprisals caused many in Eastern Europe at first to dispair amd conclude that the Soviets could not be confronted. Gradually Eastern Europeans began to conceive of non-violent approaches to challenging the Soviets.

Competition with the West

Sunsequent Soviet leders held back from direct war with the West, meaning primarily the United states, although differences over Berlin and Cuba came very close to causing just such a war (1960s). Subsequent Soviet leaders were more cautious. Being firmed believers in Communism they decidd to win the Cold War with their superior econimic system. The failure of that system came as a shock not only to the Soviet leadership, but also to leaders throughout the Third World who had adopted the Soviet model, convinced it was more efficient than free maeket capitalism.

Defectors: Authors, Dancers, and Svetlana

A new phenomenon occurred with the advent of socialist states--the defector. Sociasliststates are by definition totalitarian because only a totalitarian state can abolish private property. Theroughout history, reimes did not generally prevent people leaving a country, alyhough people with skills such as silk making might be prevented. In the 19th century the Tsarist Goivernment, for example, did not restrict emigration. In fact, they were happy to get rid of Jews, Poles, and others. The soviet Union and other Communist Government took a different look. The Boirder Police were strengthen not onky to protect the Sovirt Union, but to prevent people from leaving. It is not all together clear why the Soviets andityher Commijisdt government reacted so harshly with potential emigrees, which they interpreted essentially as defection. There are several possible reasons. First if you present your country as a workers' paradise, it is hard to explain why workers wanted to leave. Second, if you want to hide conditions in the country every emigrant carries with them a truthful view of conditions and a personal story. Third, as a pervasive police state, defectors could be used for slave labor in the Gulag. During the Stalinist era, trying to leave was basically a one way ticket to the Gulag. After De-Stalinization it was possible, but very difficult and applicants would lose your job and any way to make a living. Few Soviets had any opportunity because the borders were so closely patrolled. The only Soviets that had a real opportunity were the few Soviet citizens who were rewqarded with travel opportunitiesm meaning primarily arists abd atheletes. This became a major issue when some Soviet Jews tried to emmigrte. The Soviet Union had its defenders in the West. This included primarily artists and academia. Curiously, except for spies, even the most sevre critcs of America were not anxios to flee to The Soviet Union for free speech or artistic expression. In contrast some noted Russian authors did flee to the West or at least had their books published in the West. The most noted authors were Boris Pastrnak and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. High profile dancers also sought asylum in the West to be able to freely develop their art. And in this group was Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter. It seems that among Stalin's victims were his wife and sons. Of course defection was a two way street, only Americans and other Western citizens weere free to leave the country. There were not very many, but there were a few. There were some people like Bernie Sanders that were estatic about socialism and the Soviet Union, but very few seemed to ask themselves why living conditions were so poor or wanted to live there.

Sino-Soviet Split (1960)

One might expect the Soviets to have been strongly supportive of the Chinese Communists. Stalin's early relationwith the Chinese Communists were mixed. There were a range of crosscurrents that complicated fraternal ideological afinity. National interests led Stalin to question the growth of a strong Chinese state which would border lightly populated Siberia. And Stalin sensed from an early stage that he would not be able to control the Chinese Communist Party, unlike the Communist parties in Europe and other countries. And as concern with the Japanese grew, Stalin saw the Kumoingtung as a way of resisting Japanese military expansion. The Comminist victory in the Civil War was, however, presented to the world as another step in the inevitable triumph pf Communism. Mao traveled to Moscow to negotiate the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance (1950). China under the agreement confirmed certain rights to Soviet Union. One example was continued use of the naval base at Luda in Liaoning Province. The Soviets committed to military support, shipments of modern weapons, and a major economic and technological assistance program. This included technical advisers and machinery. China did not question Soviet leadership of the world communist movement. Many Chinese Communists at the time saw the Soviet Union as the model for development, especially because the Soviets turned largely rural Russia into an industrial power. China's participation in the Korean War (1950-53) strengthen China's position in the Communist world as they and not the Soviets intervened directly to support the North Koreans. The U.N.-sponsored trade embargo forced China to trade primarily with the Soviet Bloc. At this stage in their relationship, the Chinese were more closely associated and dependent on a foreign power than at any early period in history. Gradually strains in the Sino-Soviet alliance gradually began to surface. A range of issues were involved, including ideology, security, and economic development. Ironically one factor was the death of Stalin (1953). While Stalin's approach was to control other Communist movements, in China Stalin had immense prestige because of his defeat of Hitler and confrontaltional approch to the Western capitalist countries. Chinese leaders were disturbed by Nikita Khrushchev policies, especially deStalinization announced at the 20th Party Congress (1956). The idea of peaceful coexistence with the Capitalist West was another problem. The Soviet Sputnik launch seems to have strongly impressed Mao as did other early Soviet successes in the Space Race. Like many in the developing world, Mao saw these Soviet achievements as proof that Marxism was a scientific system and that because of this, the world balance of power had shifted in the communists' favor. As he phrased it, "the east wind prevails over the west wind". As a result, rather than Khrushchev's peaceful coexistence, Mao wanted a more militant policy toward the Capitalist West. And other aspects of the Soviet relationship alienated Mao and other Chinese leaders. High on the list was what was seen as a lack of support for the recovery of Taiwan. The Soviets made no effort to placate the Chinese. A Soviet proposal for a joint naval arrangement offended the Chinese (1958). It was couched so as to put China in a subordinate position. The Soviets (who had close relations with India) maintained strict neutrality during the Sino-Indian border disputed (1959). And centrally, the Soviets proved reluctant to honor its commitments to provide nuclear weapons technology. One indication of declining Soviet influnence was Mao's Great Leap forward, a significant departure from the Soviet economic model (1957-60). The first major step in the break between the two Communist powers was the Soviet decesion to withdraw military and technical advisers (1960). For China, the break with the Soviets was not unlike its break with the West after its victory in the Civil War. The Chinese were determined to pursue a policy of self-reliance and independence of action. This was more important than the benefits of technical and economic assistance. And Mao no longer was willing to be seen as Moscow's junior partner.

Berlin Wall (1960)

The most visible aspect of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall and the Wall The Communists built between East and West Germany. Until 1961, East Berliners and other East Germans could take a subway car to flee to fleet to West Berlin and on to West Germany. The number of East Germans fleeing to West was an embarrassment to the Communists who after all claimed to be creating workers' paradises. The glaring differences between the vibrant economic life of Berlin and the gray, drudgery of a Communist People's Republic was particularly apparent. The number of trained professionals in particular threatened the economy of East Germany. The Wall changed this. It did stop the flow of people West, although heart rending sites of small numbers of people braving the increasingly lethal dangers of the Wall moved West Germans. President Kennedy visited Berlin in 1962 to demonstrate American resolve in this vulnerable outpost of freedom. He told Berliners. "There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin. Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us." The Wall effectively separated Germans for nearly 30 years. Once completed only small numbers succeeded in crossing it. Many died in the process.

Cuban Missle Crisis (1962)

The most dangerous point of the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy's handling of the crisis has been generally hailed as a triumph of presidential leadership, although his miteps upon assuming office may have contributed to the crisis. . The Soviert Union secretly began installing balistic missles in Cuba capable of hitting Atlantic coast American cities. American surveillance photographs detected the missle sites and President Kennedy ordered a naval blockade to prevent further deliveries. The President considered an invasion if the Soviets did not remove the missles. This was the closest the two sides came to nuclear war. American stategists were astounded that Khrushchev would take such a risk. Khrrushvhev later claimed in his memoirs that it was to protect Cuba. Many scholars dismiss this as a cover story. It was an effort to jump-start Soviet military capabilities. A massive prodution of misskles was inter-continental missles was planned, but was still largely on paper. THE CIA understood this. Assessing the Soviet Union's strategic capability hd been the major purpose of the U-2 flights. Khrushchev who was skilled at buster thought he could bluff. He had met the new amerixcan president in Vienna and was unimpressed. Khruschchev was a high-stake gambler, but not demented. His peasant shrewdness in the end led him to back down. [Tauubman] We know now that the world came much closer to a nuclear exchange than was no at the time. Russian forces in Cuba had tacticl nuclear weapons and probably would have used them if the Unitd states had invaded. Also U.S. destroyers assigned to the blockade were forcing Soviet submarnes around Cuba to the surface. Two of the submarines involved came very close to using nuclear-tipped torpedos. Either action could have very possibly resulted in full-scale nuclear exchange.

Middle East

Soviet Science

The Soviet Union opened a brand new front of the Cold War with the launching of Sputnik (Otober 4, 1957). The launching of Sputnik was not just a technical achievement with military implications, it also had ideological considerations. Often accounts of the Cold War focus on ideological differences between East and West. Technology played a critical role in the Cold War which is often overlooked. Marxists proclaimed Communism as a new, scientific approach to organizing human society. As a result, science assumed an important ideological status in the Cold war. Obviously if Marxism was the optimal organization of human society, the Soviet Union should be able to produce the best science. And Soviet propaganda trumpeted Sputnik as a symbol of the superiority of Soviet science. In the long run, superior Western technology played an important role in the West's victory. The West's superiority was, however, not apparent in the 1950s. Communism was at the time an ideology embraced by millions around the world. The Russian Revolution and spread of Communism to Eastern Europe and then China seemed to show that Communism was the wave of the future. Soviet technological achieveements like Sputnik was further evidence that Communism, central planning, and atheism were the wave of the future.

Space Race

The Soviet Union opened a brand new front of the Cold War with the launching of Sputnik (Otober 4, 1957). Often accounts of the Cold War focus on ideological differences between East and West. Technology played a critical role in the Cold War which is often overlooked. Marxists proclaimed Communism as a new, scientific approach to organizing human society. As a result, science assumed an important ideological status in the Cold war. Obviously if Marxism was the optimal organization of human society, the Soviet Union should be able to produce the best science. And Soviet propaganda trumpeted Sputnik as a symbol of the superiority of Soviet science. President Kennedy understood both the scientific and ideological importance of the space race and committed the Unitesd States to land on the moon. Both America and the Soviets mobilized their sciebtific and industrial resources for a race to the moon. In the long run, superior Western technology played an important role in the West's victory. The West's superiority was, however, not apparent in the 1950s.

Chemical and Biolgical Warfare

Discussions of the dangers of a military conflict between the Unitd States and the Soviet Union focused on nuclear weapons. Much less was written about chemical and bacteriological warfare (CBW). Both sides worked in CBW, but the Soviet effort was massive and virtually nothing was known about it. Only after the end of the Cold War did details begin to leak out about the extent and nature of the Soviet CBW program. The Soviets deceloped both chenical and biological weapons, but the greatest effort was on biolgical weapons. American strategy in the Cold War ws massive retaliation, only to use nuclear wrapons if the Soviets launched a first strike. And tht was the end of the American stratgy. The Soviet strategy included a second phase. After Soviet nuclear weapons had destroyed American cities, the Soviets planned a follow-up strike to inplant horrifying plagues. This would destroy the countryside and what was left of American society. Here biological weapons were much more potent than chemical weapons because of their self-propagating capability. The Soviets developed the most leathal biological weapons in human history. The American effort pauled in comparison to what the Soviets developed and was officially terminated (1969). The Soviets developed multiple-drug resistant antrax as well as 'stealth' pathogens that would be virtually undectable. [Leitenberg and Zilinskas] The work with genetics is interesting given how Stalin set back Soviet gnetics decades when he support Lychenko and his socialist genetics. The Soviet work involved genetically engineered bacterial and viral pathogens. It is difficult to assess the Soviet motivationn for creating these weapons. Soviet officials and military leders were apparently convinced that the Uited states was developing similar wepons. It is unclear how they reached this cinclusion other than America had the capability to do so. The Soviet biological weapons program was mssive, including ten of thousands of people, There was a serious accident at a bio-weaopons plant in Sverdlovsk (1979). While the destruction of nuclear weapons in the United States and Soviet Union were carefully monitored, nothing like that occurred eith the Soviet CBW stockpiles. The United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty banning the production of biological weaoons (1972). ThecSoviet Union continued, however, researching and producing biological weaoins in secret, a flagrant violation of the Treaty. Russian President Borris Yeltsin after the disolution of the Sovie Union admitted tonU.S. officials admitted te existence of the secret program. Since then journalists and former Soviet scietists (inclusing defectors), and U.S. officials have publiched accounts of the Siviet program. It is very likely that all these deadly strains are still kept in the freezers of Russian military research laboratories today. It is interesting to note that while American geneticists were mapping th humn genome and using genetics to develop new drugs and improved seeds to increase crop yields, virtually the only creation of Soviet geneticists were these terrible pathogens. Not only is there a moral dimensions to this, but also an economic dimebsion. Large number of Soviet scientist and technicians worked on this project which despite mssive spending returnedn no real benefit to the Soviet economy and people.

Cultural Competition

Soviet Education

The one very substantial Soviet accomplishment was to build a mass education system with high standards. Nikita Khrushchev describes the linitations during the Tsarist era on the educationla opportunities of pasants and workers. The creation of a mass educatin system system providing educatinal opprtunities for almost the entire population was an enormnous achievement that can not be denied. Now there were some eakneses in Soviet educatin, but it was undeniably a sstem delvering a very high standard of education to a large swath of the Soviet populatiomn. We are not sure how well the system worked in Central Asia, Wethink that the the systemwas very effective in the European areas od the Sobiet Union (Russia, Baltics, Belarus, nd Ukraine), but we are less sure about the educational achievement levels of the Central Asian minorities, many of who are Muslim. Hopefully some data exists on this. It enabled the Soviets to compete with the United States a a very high technical level such as the Space Race. It actually produced more competent technicians and scitists than the American educational system. It is interesying to note, however, that little came of nis enormous achiement it in he way of new consumer products, innovative technolgies, new mediines or medical devices, or advances that have made the modern post-War world. And shockingly Russia today is more like a backwatd Third world country with an economy vased in exporting raw materials, especially energy, than a modern industrial nation.

Soviet Jews

The Pogroms launched by Tsar Alexander III made drove many Jews from Poland abd other areas of the Pale where Jews were allowed to live in Tsarist Russia (1880s). It made the Tsar and the Tsarist regime a subject of fear and hated. Jewish raducals turned to revolutionary politics. These were ethnic Jews often without any religious afiliation with the Jewish community. Many Jew put there faith in socialism and were active in the Russian Revolution. The most famous was Trotsky, but there were many other prominant Jews. The same was true in the socialist movements in other European countries as well. After Stalin seized control of the Soviet Union, supression of all religious groups became more intense, but gradually unwritten restrictions on Jews developed. Historiand generally believe that the Doctor's Plot was the beginning of a major anti-Semetic campaign Stalin was planning at the time of his death (1953). This was never launched, but Soviet Jews were desciminated against and decined basic religious and cultural rights. And they like other Soviet citizens with rare exceptions were not allowed to emigrate. The issue of Jewish immigration first received international attention durung the Nixon Administration. Two Jews who had been denied exit visas began plotting to hijack a plane. They were arrested, tried and sentenced to death (December 1970). The press picked up on this and it caused an international outcry. The Soviets backed down and decided not to execute the two men. This brought the issue of Jewish emigration tothe internstional spot light. It was a difficult issue for them, because if Jews were allowed to emigrate it would make it difficult to deny similar rights to other Soviet citizens and to explain why people whould want to leave the 'workers' paradise. The Nixon Administration was primarily interested in bilateral relations with the Soviets and pursued detente. Senator Henry Jackson made human rights an element in that relationship. The passage of the Jackson-Vanik Act (1974) forced both the Soviets and American administrations to address the civil rights issue as part of the bilateral relationship. Authors disagree as to the importance of Jewish emigration. Secretary of State Henry Kissenger seems to have seen it as more of an irritant in United States-Soviet relations. Another author writes, "It armed Soviet citizens with the greatest weapon against their closed society: the opportunity to vote with their feet and leave." [Beckerman]

Soviet Life

An interesting topic is what life was like in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This includes approximately four decadeds, more than half of the span of the Soviet Union. The first decade included the beginning of the Cold War and the rule by Stalin. Stalin died (1953) and was repudiated by the 20th Party Congress (1956). This ended Stalinism, but what followed was periods of relative liberalism and conservative reaction. Even so there was never a teturn to Stalinist Terror. While this meant change the underlying political reality was that the Soviet system did not trust the people. Governernt was retained in the hand of Party aparatchecks which the public had no role in choosing. Economically there were improvements. The life style of the acerahe citizen improved substantially in the 1950s and 60s. His living circimstances, access to consumer goods and diet improved through the 1960s. After that there was little improvement and Soviet citizens had libing conditions far below that of Western Europe. This was not altogether apparent to Soviet citizens, except for people in the Baltics--especially the Estonians who had the cgreatest access to Western media. Despite the imprivements, living conditions were poor. There were longlines at food stores and the choice and quality of both food and consumer goods was far below that of Western Europe. In sharp contrast to the West, the Soviet consumer had basically no influence. Soviet managers were rewarded for meeting the plan, but for pleasing consumers. Agriculture remained a major weakness with poor yields. Industry was hearalded as a great sucesss, but the inefficenes of Soviet industry did not become generally apparent until the fall of the Soviet Union and manufacturers had to compete with foreign companies. These inefficeines were of course the reason that living standards during the Soviet era were so faer below Western Europe. The comparison with Western Europe is the best insex because both Russia and SWestern Europe has well educated populations. Most urban residents lived in aparment blocks. There were many reports of shody construction and poor maintenance. Most people did not have private cars. Health care was free, but in many ways poor. There wee high levels of alcoholism and life spans were below European levels and unlike the West, not improving. Travel was limited even with the Soviet Union. Some citizens were able to take cacations, usually through work place/factory arrangenments. The Soviers put considerable emphasis on education. Educational standards were high, but had a high political content. Access to higher education was based on a mixture of ability and political reliability.

Young Pioneers

The Soviet Union was the world's first modern totalitarian state. After the Civil War as the Bolshevicks began to consolidate their power they began to create a youth movement to shape the upcoming generation. Totalitarian states must control all aspects of the population's life. And shaping youth is a critical aspect of this. At the time the principal international youth movement was the Boy Scouts and Scouting influenced the new Pioneer Movement. Unlike Scouting, however, there was little family involvement. The Pioneer Movement was entirely comtrolled by the state through the Communist Party. The Party used the Pioners to indoctrinate young people in Communist ideology and as a way of recruiting and evaluating new recruits. At first it was a movement just for the workers but was eventually broadened into a mass movement for all young people. The Young Pioneers became virtually compulsory and was managed through the schools. The Government underwrote the costs of the Pioneer Movement including a summer camp program. One interesting aspect of the Pioneers is the rapidity with which the movement disapeared after state financial support was ended.

Czechoslovakia: Red Army Invasion (1973)

The Soviets enginered a coup in Czechoslovakia (February 1948). Czechoslovakia was the last Eastern European country occupied by the Soviets that had any semblance of a democratic government. Stalin was not interested in bridge building. He wanted a reliable, compliant Czechoslovakia like the other satellite states of Eastern Europe. The Communists armed their supporters and staged street demonstragtions. They were supported by th police because the Ministry of the Interior was in the hands of the Communists. The army might have supoorted the Government if President Benes had decided to resist, but he believed that Soviet troops would intervene. Czecholslovakia at the time was almost entire surounded by Soviet satellites or Soviet occupied eastern Germany and Austria. He therefore yielded to the Communists and the country soon had a Stalinist Government. The Soviet takeover of Czecheslovakia in 1948 had many unintended consequences for Stalin. After the 20th Party Congress (1956), the capricious nature of Stalinist terror was regularized, but Czechoslovakia and the other Soviet Eastern Europeans satellites contunued to be governed as a police state, strictly controlling people's lives. Fear gradually diminished and social and artistic freedoms increased in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s. This led to increasing discussion of political freedom. The Prague Spring (Pražské jaro) refers to a brief period of political reform and liberalization began in Czechoslovakia (1968). Czech Communistl leader Alexander Dubcek who came to power January 5, 1968 initiated a series of liberal reforms. Dubchek replaced hard-line leader Antonin Novotny as First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party. In the end, the Soviet settled the debate--with Red Army tanks. The Prague Spring ended with and the invasion of 650,000 Soviet and Warsaw Pact troops (August 20, 1968). The period following the Prague Spring and Soviet invasion is known as the period of "normalization". The Soviets reinstalled the hard liners in power. They acted as apologists for the Soviet invasion. Any opposition to the reintroduction of Communist orthodoxy was quashed. The political, social, and economic life of the country stagnated. The first inkling of opposition to the Communist orthodoxy was Charter 77. More than 250 human rights activists signed the Charter 77 manifesto (January 1, 1977). They criticized the Communist government for failing to implement human rights provisions in several different commitments, including the United Nations \Charter an the Czechoslvakian constitution. Charter 77 was unsucessful in changing the nture of the Czech Communist government, but gradually police state tactics were softened, allowing a degree of discent and discussion as long as it was not to public. Gorbechov's reforms in the Soviet Union had repercussions in the Soviet Eastern European satellites. Communist leaders attempted to maintain Communist orthodoxy through police state actions. The Communist regimes were, however, clearly crumbling when Gorbechov signalled that the Red Army would not be used to keep the regimes in power. This essentially undercut the regimes because they had little domestic support. The Czech communist police violently broke up a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration and brutally beat many student participants (November 17, 1989). Charter 77 and other groups united to create the Civic Forum. The popular support afforded the Civic Forum was such that the Czechoslavkian Communist Party, with virtually no popular support, essentially collapsed. Husak and party chief Milos Jakes resigned (December 1989). Havel was elected President (December 29). The transition was a starteling transformation and occured along with similar changes in East Germany. The lack of violence resulted in it being named the Velvet Revolution.

Détente (1970s)

The Cold War which began in the aftermath of World War II, at least Western realization of Sovier policy, included various periods of rising and falling tensions. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had by 1970s built up massive and very expensive nuclear aresenals. Arenals that were capable of destroying the other country. President Nixon advised by Secretary of State Kissengr, while winding down the Vietnam War, decided to pursue Détente with the Soviet Union. The two can be seen as the architects of Détente. This was at the time surprising because Nixon was known as a Cold War warrior. At the same time China emerged from the Cultural Revolution as an increasingly independent actor. This was a key development as it allowed the United States to play each off against the other. Détente refers to Soviet-American relations, but occurred at the same time accomdations were reached with Communist China. The Soviets increasingly concerned with China and a lagging economy, decided to do business with the United States. One of the first steps was the massive Russian Wheat Deal (1972). This was testimony to the failure of Soviet agriculture. The cornerstone of Détente was the Strategic Arms Limitation Treary (SALT) (1972). The Yon Kippur War (1973) almost derailed Détente. President Nixon wrecked his presidency in the Watergate scandal, but Preidents Ford (1973-77) and Carter (1977-81) decided to contine the effort. And there was support in the Democrat-dominated Congress. Another major achievement of Détente was the Helsinki Accords (1975). The Soviets probably underestimated the impact of the human rights provisions. The Soviets mnade concessions on Jewish emigration which had become a major human rights issue. President Carter was committed to continuing Détente. Détente ended with the Soviet invasiion of Afghanistan which shocked President Carter (1979). This was followed by other provative Soviet ininiatives, especially forcing Martial Law on Poland to control worker unrest (1981). And finally President Reagan was elected (1980). President Reagan was committed to more forcibly opposing Soviet provocations, especially introducing IRBMs in Europe. This essentially ended what was left of Détente

IRBM Confrontation

The Intermediate-range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) confrontation initiated by the Soviet Union has to be one of the great strategic miscalculations of history. The IBRM confrontation began with the Soviets establishing nuclear superority in Europe, but which backfired with first German unification and ultimately the implosion of the Soviet Union itself. It proved to be decisive moment of the Cold War. Soviet nuclear strategy was to build more and larger nuclear weapons. President Richard Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev signed the ABM Treaty and interim SALT agreement (May 1972). This had placed limits on the two countries number arsenals for the first time. SALT did not totally resolve the nuclear issue because it only covered ICBMs. The two countries also had older Intermediate-range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) systems deployed in Europe before ICBMs were developed (1950s-60s). These aging IRBM systems were becoming obsolete and both sides had greatly improved technology. One alternative was to just let the systems go obsolete and rely on the ICBM systems allowed under SALT for deterence. It would have been the Détante approach. The Soviets decided, however, to abandon Détante and go for nuclear superiority in Europe. The Soviets began deploying the RSD-10 Pioneer (ракета средней дальности -- РСД/ Пионер» tr.: Raketa Sredney Dalnosti --RSD). The RSD-10 Pioneer was an advanced intermediate-range ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead (1976). The NATO designationnwas the SS-20 Saber. The internal policy debates in the Kremlin are unknown. Western analysts have postulated various reasons for the Soviet decision. Certainly the strength of the American anti-War/withdrawl from Vietnam and the anti-War/Bomb movement in Europe helped tempt the Soviet hard-line leaders. How to respond became a point of contention between Democrats who tended to prefer a soft line toward the Soviets and Reublicans who tended to orefer a hard line. Advisers around future President Ronald Reagan such as Richard Perle saw the Soviet SS-20 as a part of a Soviet bid for global power. [Cant, p. 243.] There were other possibilities, but there is no doubt that the SS-20 gave the Soviets nuclear superiority in Europe. The Soviets apparently believed that the Americans an their Western Allies would not respond. There was widespread anti-nuclear sentiment in America's NATO allies. There was of course no protest against the S-20s in the Soviet controlled Warsaw Pact nor in Western Europe. The possible American response to the Soviet SS-20 was deployment of the Pershing II and Ground Launched Cruise Missles (GLCMs). The Dmocratic Carter Administration (1977-81) did not immediately reciprocat with American deployment of upgrded IRBMs. The United States rather sought a diplomatic solution, offering not deploy either Pershing IIs or GLCMs if the Soviets ceased their SS-20deployment and withdrew those alreasy deployed. The Soviets not only rejected the the American offer, but continued to deploy more SS-20s. As a result, Presient Reagan within months of his inaguration began deploying the short-range MGM-52 Lance nuclear missile (July 1981). They were met with protests at Engstingen, West Germany. Much larger protests follow in Bonn (October 1981). This was in part because of support for Willy Brandt's Ost-Politik and wide-spread Ban the Bomb sentiment throughout Europe. The Soviets ordered Communisrs Paries in Europe and allied groups to support the protests. The protests only escalated increased when the United States began deploying Pershing II (November 1983). Presidenr Reagan was criticised by the Democrats, but the individual bearing the brunk of the protest effort was West German CDU Cancellor Helmut Kohl who took office in the midst of the controversy (1982). Kohl was strong proponent of European integration and French–German cooperation and a steadfast ally of the United States and supported Reagan's polices of confronting the Soviet Union. The protests were especially strong in Grmany because of deployment there. The result was that Kohl's Government weatered the protests and the American missles deployed. Buttheir were far greater consequences. The hard-line Soviet leaders had spent vast sums trying to reach nuclear superority over the United States, stressing the weak Soviet economy. And the result was total failure. The Inited States matched their efforts, first with ICBMs and now IRBMs. As a result of the failure of the hard-liners, a more modernistic leader Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachevto be the eighth leader of the Soviet Union (1985). Gorbechev was determined to avoid another costly arms race with America and was not inclined to use coersive force like other Soviet leaders. He was willing to dealto prevent another costly arms race, in this case Reagan's Strategic Defense Iniative (SDI). In a stunning series of events that fllowed, and which no one anticipated, Germany was unified (1989) and the Soviet Union collapsed (1991).

Wheat Deal (1970s)

Sovier agriculture never totally recovered from Stalin's collectivization program (1931-33). The Soviet Union had some of themot productiuve farm land in the world--the Nlack Earth Belt. Before the Revolution, the Russian Empire especially Ukraine was the braed basket nof Europe. As a result of collectivuzation amd Stalin's orders for the NMVD to kill the Kulaks (the best farmers in the Soviet Unioin, agicultural productivity fell. The Soviets tried various ways of increasing pridyction , exceopt return ing the kand to imduvidual owners--that was out of the question for ideolgical grounds. One of the efforts was to bring marginal lamd into production. This increased Sovuet vulnerability to climatic events. [Genadyand Golubev and Nikolai Dronin] Due largely to Soviet economic mismanagement and climatic fluctuations, the country ecperiene crop failurs of various dimensions. [Miller, pp. 52–53.] The marginal land being used was especially vulnerable when rains slacked. A drought occurred across Europe (1972). This resulted in a catastrophic wheat crop failure. The Soviets suffered an extremely hot summer with with unusually low precipitation. I was not all climate issues. The Soviet Goverment had legalized abortions (1953). By the 1970s this had significant impacted the ryral work force. The Goivernment for several deacdes had prohbited free movemnent. Soiviet cutiuzens neede permission to move and permission to move nove to Moscow and other major cities was difficult to obtain. This essetially reintrodued serfdom. It was not unil ythis time that collective farm workers began receivimg tgheir internal passports. Mamy ran away frim the collective farjns as soon as theu could, further reducing the agricultural work. The sutuation was so severe that the Government began dtafting people fof farm work, some times for periods as long as 3 months. Soviet authorities began buying grain on global markets, including Australia and Canada. It was not something the Soviets did rrgularly because it was an admission of ecomomic falure, afmitting go the economic success of the West. But they faved severe food shiortages. President Nixon approved massive grain sales to the Soviets. Albright25, 1973). Nixon saw it as an effort towards normalizing relations wigth the Soviets. The deal was criticized becayuse the grain was sold far below the subsudized price the Governent had paid for it. [Albright] Congress was not only ctitical of the orive negiatiated, but also of Soviet policies toward Jews, many of whom wanted to leave the Soviet Union. Congress oassed the Jackson-Vanick Amendment (1975). This tied the grain salkes to Soviet emigration policy. Namely allowinh Jews, Armenians, baptists and other religious minorities desiruing to leave the Soviet Union to do so. in greater numbers. President Carter suspended the purvhases after the Soviets invsded Afghanistan (1980) President Reagam resumed the shipments a year later under President Reagan. At the time, much of the press discussion was the low prices the Sovirts paid. We know now, that Ameruican bebefited from the taklnbted induividuals thatv emiograted as aresuklt of the Wheat Deal. he highly educated and talented Soviet Jews included men who created Google, WhatsUpp, E-bay, Paypal, contrinbuted to other Silicon Valley companies--all schivemnts thst weere not possible in the Soviet Union. After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan (1979), President Carter stoped the grain deliveris. Presudent Reagam would resume them.

Soviet Economy


Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (1979)

The Sovier War in Afghanistan is a conflict that spans the Cold War and the war on Islamic terrorism. America still had a Cold War fiocus, but the Islamic Revolution in neigboring Afghanistan occurred in the same year as the Soviet invasion. Soviet motivation was less clear cut. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to support the beleagered communist regime (1979). Russian paratroopers landed in Kabul (December 1979). A civil war was raging between the Communist Government and much of the tradition-bound population in the countryside. Loyal Communist, Prime Minister Hazifullah Amin, was trying to uproot centuries of Islamic tradition and repace it with a Soviet-stle people's repulic. Much of the country was outraged. The Government arrested thousands of Muslim leaders and many more fled Kabul to the mountains in an effort to eavade Amin's secret police. It was not just a matter of tradition, Amin's communist government was atheist and wanted to pdopt atheist campaign. President Carter was shocked. His response was to boycott the Olympic Games held in Moscow. Thousands of Afghanis flocked to join the Mujahdeen, both to resist the Russians and to protect Islam. They were determined to overthrow of the Amin government. The Mujahedin declared jihad, holy war , on the Russians and Amin. The Soviets claimed that they had been invited in by the independent Amin government and that they were protecting a friendly government from the Mujahdeen that they saw as terrorists. The Soviets and their Afghan allies proved both brutal and increasingly unpopular. Disatisgied with Amin's performance, the Soviets shot him and installed Babrak Kamal. Besieged in the countryside, Kamal was totally dependent of the Soviets. Many soldiers in the Soviet equipped Afghan Army deserted to join the Mujahdeen. Kamal needed 85,000 Soviet soldiers to remain in power. The Soviets were able to control the cities, but at first not the countryside. Soviet airpower gradually gained increasing control and wreaked heavy casualties on the Mujahedin. An unlikely partnership between Texas congressman Charlie Wilson and the CIA saw to it that the Mujahideen got Stinger missles. This erased the Soviet airpower factor. And without it the Soviets could not extert effective control beyond the cities. After 10 years of bitter fighting, the Soviets finally withdrew (1989). They left their Afghani allies to their fate. Few would have guessed at the time of the Soviet invasion that this poor, isolated central Asian country would play a major role in the Cold War and set uin motion a chain of events that would lead to the end of the Cold War and the disolution of the Soviet Union.

Operation RYaN (Early-1980s)

The 1980s are sometines seen as a time of deescalation of the Cold War and this in fact became the case with the rise of Mikail Gorbechev, but the early-80s were a different matter, especially with the election of President Regan, not so much because of Reagan, but because of the Soviet reaction to Regan which reached levels of paranoia among the leadership. The result was Operation RYaN -- an acronym for Raketno-Yadernoe Napadenie / Ракетно-ядерное нападение (Nuclear Missile Attack). This was a Soviet military intelligence program. The hard-line Soviet leadership beame convinced that the United States was planning a first strike attack to destroy the Soviet Union. Soviet intelligence was ordered to focus on potential contingency plans of the Reagan administration to launch a nuclear first strike. [Andrew and Mitrokhin] The program was initiated Yuri Andropov who at the time was chairman of the KGB (May 1981). Soviet concern was intensified with the the United States and German announced the long awaited deployment of the Pershing II IRBMs. Here the Soviets had only themselves to blame the Pershing IIs were a response to the Soviet deployment of their new SS-20 IRBMs. Soviet leadersappeared to have concinced themselves that the Xarter Administration sodt response to Soviet provocations was the new Cold War normal and that muscular American responses to their provications (like SS-20) deployment were intolerable challenges. Whatever the reason, the Soviet concern over an American first strike continued to escalate. The Pershings were fired from mobile launch vehicles, making it virtully impossible to target. The flight time from West Germany to European Russia was only a mere 4-6 minutes. This meant that there would be little or no warning. The massive sums spebt on forst ICBMs and now IRBMs had left the Soviets more vulnerable than before. Soviet concern grew even higher when President Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (March 23, 1983). Soviet officials appear to have convinced themselves that SDI technology would render the United States invulnerable to Soviet attack, thereby allowing the Americans to launch missiles at the USSR with no fear of retaliation. Matching the Americans wiih a another massive arms program was something that seemed beyond the capabilities of the weakening Soviet economy. At the electinics tehnologie involved were not a Soviet strong point. There was an incredible lack of understanding of both America and the technological lead. The Soviets expanded the RYaN program. The level of concern was a factor in the Soviet shootdown of KAL 007 near Moneron Island (September 1, 1983). The Soviets apper to have concluded that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) exercise Able Archer 83 was a disguise for an American first strike. The United States acting on intelligence warnings downsized the exercize. The Soviets reduced the RYaN effort after the deaths of its elderly main proponents, the aging Yuri Andropov and Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov.

Poland: Solidarność (1980s)

Solidarność (Solidarity) had deep roots in Polish history. The Red Army and NKVD laid the foundations of a Communist police state as Soviet power drove out the NAZIs in the final year of World War II. It violation of commitments made to the Allies, Stalin not only refused to deal with the London-based Polish Government-in-exile, but actually arrested and executed their suporters in areas of Poland freed from the NAZIs. Communists stole the 1946 parlimentary elctions, putting the final touches on a Communist dictatorship, called euphmatically a People's Republic. It gradually became clear that backed with Soviet tanks, these Communist dictatorships could not be removed by force, although there were periodic violent outbreaks of resistance in Poland and elsewhere in the Soviet empire. Nonviolent action against Communist authorities began very early in the history of Communist Poland. At first they had little impact on the Government and were supressed with great violence by the authorities. Poland was different than the rest of Eastern Europe in that the Roman Catholic Church was so deeply ingrained in the lives of the people and the country's national ethos. Try as they may, the Communists were unable to destroy the Church or break that bond. This provided an organizational basis for passive resistance. It took some time for anti-Communists to develop tactics to confront the Communists. Here a nother factor was the gradual development of limitation on the use of force by the Communists. Under the Stalinist regime of the early 40s, even non-violent tactics woylkd nt have worked. And over time to the surprise of the Communists, there economic sytem as in the Soviet Union was proved not to work. This mean that people in the Soviet Empire could not live the same prosperous lives as in the West. So in addition to national and religious opposition, economic oposition developed among the very people that according to Marxist doctine was the bedrock of Communism--industrial workers. After three decades of Communist control and indoctination and basically ineffectual civil resistance -- Polish workers began to develop tactics through which Polish society could begin to challenge Communist authorities and their Soviet masters. Various Polish groups supported by the Church began organizing and consolidating itself in a broad coalition of social forces. The result was the foundaion of Solidarność (August 1980). This coincided with the election of Ronald Reagan in the United States (November 1980). This mean from the beginnng Solidarność had strong international support as well domestic support. Solidarność at its core was rooted ts in trade unionism which both confused and delegitimized the Soviet imposed Communist regime. It undermined the ideological but clearly dishonest claim that the Communit People's Republic was a free “workers’ state”. Solidarność undermined the Communist controlled unions which were in fact a mechanism for controlling workers. Solidarność created the independent political space which allowed for alternative institutions, activities, and open discussion could not only occur, but flourish. Solidarność leaders had learned that they could not win in a violent confrntation with the Communist authorities backed by the Soviets. Thus Solidarność carefully pursued its political objectives using strict nonviolent discipline as carefully calculated self-imposed limitations. It woulld not be an easy struggle again gepography, Poland's location between Germany and Russia made this a mamouth challenge. Kremlin leaders could read a map. Poland separated the Soviet Union from Germany. An perhaps the highest poriority of Soviet foreign policy was to prvent the unification of Germany, epeciallyunifcation undr a free, West German leadership. And there was no way to prevent unification once Poland'sCommunist regime was overhrown.


Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev played a central role in ending the Cold War. Thus is a role that often does not get the attention it deserves. Americans tend to focus on President Reagan. The Russians would lik to forget Gorbechov because he was largely respionsible for the implosion of the Soviet Inion. Unlike Reagan, he is not a popular figure in his own country. The relaxation of the police state role and the openness that he sought in effect destroyed the Soviet Union and its Eastern European Empire. Gorbachev was unwilling to use the instruments of state security to suppress the people of Eastern Europe and the nationalities within the Soviet Union. This seems to have been essentially a matter of morality. It is unclear to what extent he realized the consequences of his actions. Like many in the Soviet Union, he believed in Communism. This is understandable, because Soviet schools and universities, permitted no real discussion of the fundamental tennants of Communism. Gorbechov and his advisers thought it just needed to be reformed and given a humane force. As far as we can detrmine, he did not understand thefindamental flaws in Communism or the fact that Communist rule could only be sustained by brute force and a secte police. In the end the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991. This was not Gorbachev's intention, but he inadvertently launched a new undivided and much freer Europe. [Hitchcock] He has survived the tumultuous events and lives quitely in Moscow. He has not, however, explained his decesions or subsequent imapct of those decesions.


We are particularly interested in the expeiences of individuals. Russians readers have provided us us some infirmation, but we have not yet recieved detailed childhood experiences which for our website we find particularly important. There was a lovely program on PBS's POV series--'My Perestroika' (2011). The program followed the experiences of five Russian children who were children duting the final decade of the Soviet Union and then their adjustment in the post-Soviet expeiment with democrracy and then President Putin's return to authoritarian rule. We hope to add additional entries, but the POV individuals are a fascinating start.

Russia's Future

Russia today is a very different state than the Soviet Union. hTe terrible attrcitities of the Stalinist era no longer occur. It is not, however, a Western democracy. The West's concern with Islamic Fundamentalistrs, perhaps better called Islamo-Fascists, have taken the focus off Russia. There is concern that Russia was headed toward a Fascist state. Post-Cold War Russia has many similarities with post-World War I Germany. Tghere are prevalent attitudes toward race and nationalism in Russia that are troubling. There are also prevalent attitudes that Russia has a right to cintrol political trends in neigboring countries. It is unclear at this time where President Putin is taking Russia. It seems clear now that Putin is moving Russia toward an authoritarian state, just how authoritarian we are not sure. Just how auhoritative is unclear. His suppression of independent media is troubling as is his suppression of oposition political parties and an independent judiciary. Some authors contend that he sees economic integration with the West as essential. But yet he seems to believe that Russia requires a different political and social political structure than the West. My concern, however, is that President Putin is taking Russia down a path very different from that of asn> Western Europe and now Eastern Europe. Here I don't mean to say America, but the Western world in general.

Russia and America

We find in surprising given the number of times that America has aided Russia in times of need, nefore, during, and after the Soviet era, that so msny Russians have such negstive attitudes toward the United States. On numerous occassions the United States has aided Russia and the Russian people. Millions of Russians were saved from starbation as aresult of American food shioments to Russia. And much of this was done whiole the DOviet Union was involved in major espionage efforts to uyndermine yhe United Stsates. The most importsnt reliuef effiorts were after World War I and during World War II, but there are many other instances in which the United States has been of great assistance to Russia and the Russian people. In all of Russian history no other country has ever aided Russia in any substantive way, let alone the emormous assistance America has provided Russia. My experience is that some Russuans are aware of some American of the American aid, but most either are not ware of the full extent of the aid or do not want to admit for wghat ever reason the full extent of Anerican aid.


Albright, Joseph. "The full story of how Amepиka got burned and the Russians got bread", The New York Times (November 25, 1973), p. 36.

Andrew, Christopher and Vasili Mitrokhin. The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. (Gardners Books: 2000).

Armstrong, Hamilton. Tito and Goliath (New York: Macmillan Co., 1955).

Beckerman, Gal. "Kissinger's distortion: The true story of Soviet Jewish emigration," The Washington Post (December 28, 2010), p. A13. Beckerman addresses the subject of Jewish emigration in much more detail in his book, When They Come for Us, We'll be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewery (2010).

Cant, James. "The SS-20 Missile – Why Were You Pointing at Me?" in Erickson, Ljubica; Erickson, Mark. Russia: War, Peace and Diplomacy (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005), pp. 240–53.

Golubev, Genady and Nikolai Dronin. Geography Droughts and Food Problems in Russia (1900–2000) (Center for Environmental Systems Research: 2004).

Khrushchev, Nikita. Edward Crankshaw, intro, commentary, and notes. Strobe Talbott, trans. and ed. Khrushchev Remembers (Little Brown: Boston, 1970), 639p. This a fascinating book because it includes such rich details on Stalin's inner circle as well as Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin. And at times we see a rather fact-based discussion, such as the chapter on the Cuban Missle Crisis. Other chapters, however, such as the one on the Hungarian Revolution conform to the Soviet propaganda view and are abolute fantasy.

Leitenberg, Milton and Raymond Zilinskas. The Soviet Biological Weapons Program (2012), 890p.

Miller, Jack (1969). Life in Russia Today.(B. T. Batsford: 1969)..

Mitter, Rana. "China and the Cold War," The Oxford Handbook of the Cold War Ed. Richard H. Immerman and Petra Goedde (2013).

"Former FBI agent recalls the involvement of Lomakin in 1943 West Coast 'Shanghaiing'" Mew York Times (August 16, 1948), p. 3.

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