Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A Pelican Introduction
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What caused the russian revolution?did it succeed or fail?do we still live with its consequences?orlando figes teaches history at birkbeck, university of london and is the author of many acclaimed books on russian history, including a people's tragedy, which the times literary supplement named as one of the '100 most influential books since the war', natasha's dance, the whisperers, crimea and just send me word. The financial times called him 'the greatest storyteller of modern russian historians. '
and frustrated by the conservatism of their seniors, promoted under Stalin, who said no to anything that was not specifically allowed by the authorities. Dudintsev later said it had been his aim to unmask as the real ‘enemies of the people’ those Soviet officials whose careerist interests had sapped the revolution’s energies. The high point of the thaw came in November 1962 with the publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the first novel to explore the theme of Stalin’s labour
opposition activists of the Democratic Forum, which won the largest vote in the multi-party elections to the new parliament. The Hungarian revolution led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the downfall of the Communist regime in the GDR. The crisis began when the Hungarians opened their border to Austria, allowing thousands of East Germans to travel to the West. Attempts to stem the exodus led to mass protests, especially in Leipzig, putting pressure on the government. Speaking on US
tales about Marie Antoinette and the ‘impotent Louis’ had circulated on the eve of the French Revolution in 1789. None of these rumours had any basis in fact (Vyrubova was a dim-witted spinster infatuated with the mystical powers of Rasputin and medically certified to be a virgin by a special commission appointed to investigate the charges against her in 1917). But the point of the rumours was not their truth or untruth: it was their power to mobilize an angry public against the monarchy. In a
Bolsheviks worthy of Comrade Stalin,’ they were told. ‘Beat down the kulak agent wherever he raises his head. It’s war – it’s them or us! The last decayed remnant of capitalist farming must be wiped out at any cost!’3 During just the first two months of 1930, roughly half the Soviet peasantry (around 60 million people in 100,000 villages) was herded into the collective farms. The collectivizers used various tactics of intimidation at the village meetings where the decisive vote was taken to form
18 per cent of the Party’s 3.2 million members were expelled in the purge. Most were relatively new recruits, who had joined the Bolsheviks since 1929, when controls on enrolment were relaxed, resulting, it was feared, in the influx of ‘careerists’ whose loyalty could not be trusted. It is striking that the leadership remained so insecure more than fifteen years after coming to power. That insecurity was rooted in the problem – faced by many revolutionary movements – that once it found itself in