Stalin's USSR
Have you tried...?

A. An Introduction to Stalin's USSR


Interactive Interview with Josef Stalin [interactive]
Allocate out a different topic from those listed in the drop-down menu to each student. In a subsequent lesson, each student then does a presentation to the class based on their findings. Best of all is if they choose the three most interesting questions and responses and memorise these. The questions are then given by each student to the teacher. Each student then has to sit in front of the class, and the teacher interviews each "Stalin" whilst the rest of the class takes notes.

Interview Josef Stalin

The Court of the Red Tsar: Overview of the CD Audiobook
A grid summarising the main themes and personalities covered in each section of the audiobook.

Court of the Red Tsar
3. Splat the Stalinist! [interactive]
Designed to help students learn about the significance of key characters of the Stalinist period in a fun way!

B. Rise to Power



A re-cap on the political situation in Russia in the early 1920s, a historiographical overview of the importance of the topic, some possible exam questions, and a discussion of Stalin's qualities (teacher version here).There is a completed teacher version available.

2. Divisions in the party before 1924
This worksheet focuses on the divisions in the party caused by the Red Terror, Civil War, War Communism and NEP. As such it provides a good introduction to some of the main characters such as Trotsky, Bukharin and Tukhachevsky. There is a completed teacher version available.
3. Lenin's Testament: Tasks [interactive]
Students make notes on the Interactive running dictation exercise on the last Years of Lenin before completing this worksheet, which analyses the problems thrown up by Lenin's Testament and assesses his opinion of each of the main contenders for power after his death. There is a completed teacher version available.
4. Lenin's Testament: Source
This is the primary source necessary to complete the previous worksheet. There is also a spurious obituary from "The Onion" for those of you who are feeling irreverent...
5. Who should succeed Lenin?
Students consider a comprehensive list of statements which outline the strengths and weaknesses of the main contenders for power. Using any sources available, students write “S” for Strength, “W” for weakness, in the appropriate column for each row where T=Trotsky, K=Kamenev, Z=Zinoviev, S=Stalin, B=Bukharin. There is a completed teacher version available.

The Rise of Stalin: A Sweet Roleplay Exercise! [interactive]
This interactive exercise forms part of the ActiveHistory unit on Stalin's Rise to Power.
Students take the role of five key members of the Politburo at the end of 1922.
The respective power of these figures is represented by distributing a large bag of sweets between them.
As events unfold, members of the audience have to consider who is gaining power, and at whose expense.
At each stage, the sweets are redistributed accordingly and the computer keeps a graphic track of changing fortunes.
Video clips from YouTube are built in at appropriate points to consolidate knowledge.
A printable worksheet is dynamically generated at the end of the exercise, providing graphics, narrative and follow-up questions.


7. Hexagon Learning - Essay Planning and Preparation
Students are provided with a detailed list of factors relating to Stalin's rise to power. These are organised under 3-5 headings. There is a completed teacher version available.

Completed Model Essay: Compare and Contrast the Rise of Mao and Stalin
PowerPoint Teacher Presentation: Why did Stalin become leader of the USSR?
These resources could be used following the completion of the essay as part of a feedback session, or as part of revision materials before the final examination.

9. Animal Farm: How useful is it for the historian studying Stalin's Rise to Power?
This can be used either towards the end of the unit, or as a revision exercise nearer to the examination. Students watch the first 37 minutes or so of the 1950s cartoon version of the film (which covers the rise of Stalin and which can easily be bought through Amazon). As they watch it, make a note of all of the characters, events, places and themes which are covered in the story, and in brackets make a note of what they think they actually represent (e.g. Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, the 1905 Revolution, the Comintern, the Civil War....). Plenty of ideas and guidance is provided in the worksheet.

The Rise of Stalin: Collapsible Revision Notes [interactive]
Ideal as a revision / consolidation activity



History in the News for Stalin's USSR

1. Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio wants to play role of Joseph Stalin  
2. Stalin digital archive nears completion #historyteacher Stalin digital archive nears completion
3. Orlando Figes to give away royalties from next book  
4. Brought to book with Orlando Figes It is ferocity and incompetence that have characterised Figes's own extraordinary war with academics, and dominated the headlines earlier this year. The stakes could not have been higher.
5. Stalin falls from grace in last bastion - his birthplace A statue of the former Soviet dicatator Josef Stalin was removed from a plinth in his birthplace in Georgia.
6. Incoming D-Day Memorial chief stands by Stalin bust While Mr. Reed said he can "appreciate the concern" of locals who have voiced their opposition to the bust, he said the bust can serve as a teaching tool to make visitors recognize the importance of Stalin as one of the leaders in World War II...
7. Destroying monuments to Stalin a silly attempt to rewrite history: Gorbachev Mikhail Gorbachev, whose attempts to reform the Soviet Union helped to bring about its demise, says he regrets the destruction of monuments to Joseph Stalin which he described as a “silly, anti-historical act”.
8. Stalin-era mass grave yields tonnes of bones Russia has uncovered at least 495 skeletons, many with head gunshot wounds, in a mass grave probably dating back to purges under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the 1930s, municipal authorities said.
9. Russia says probe into 1940 katyn massacre can't be reopened A top Russian official says there's no legal basis for reopening an investigation into the Katyn massacres, when thousands of Polish officers were killed by Soviet secret police.
10. Artists take on the new cult of Stalin  

History weblinks for Stalin's USSR

1. How children's books thrived under Stalin | Books | The Guardian  When Stalin's great purges made writing dangerous, a group of avant garde artists turned their attention to children's books. Philip Pullman on a new collection that reveals a vigorous freedom in a time?
2. Stalin: Hero image gives way to the dark dictator   
3. Why Stalin loved Tarzan and wanted John Wayne shot - Telegraph   
4. George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' resonated with Ukrainian refugees   
5. The first ever altered images   
6. SPLAT the Stalinist (Interactive game) #historyteacher #sschat   
7. Soviet Women of WWII - Retronaut #historyteacher - Great photos   
8. The Stalin Project   
9. Seventeen Moments   
10. A Brief History of Photo Fakery - The New York Times   
11. RealUSSR: Brilliant blog about ordinary life behind the Iron Curtain (via /   
12. Stalin's Wars: An Interview with Professor Geoffrey Roberts #historyteacher (via /   
13. October: Ten Days That Shook the World - MPEG Download!   
14. Battleship Potemkin: MPEG Download!   
15. Alexander Nevsky: MPEG Download!   
16. The National Archives Learning Curve | Heroes & Villains | Stalin & industrialisation   
17. Siegelbaum, Stalinism as a Way of Life  This site contains original Russian documents used in the book Stalinism as a Way of Life in English translation.
18. In Soviet Russia, Lake Contaminates You   
19. Stalin's USSR   



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