1878 (18th December)
Joseph Stalin was born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, to Besarion Jughashvili and Ekaterine Geladze in Gori, Georgia. His father was a poor shoemaker.
1878 (29th December)
Joseph Stalin was baptised.
Stalin’s father left the family and moved to Tiflis to seek work. Stalin’s mother worked as a cleaner but the family were very poor.
Stalin contracted smallpox but recovered.
Stalin attended the Gori Church School.
Stalin was injured after being hit by a carriage. The injury caused a deformity to his left arm. His father came to see him and after he was discharged his father set him to work as an apprentice at the Adelkhanov factory.
Stalin’s mother brought him back to Gori where he was able to continue his education. He was studying to become a priest.
Stalin was accepted as a student at the Tiflis Spiritual Seminary.
Joseph became disillusioned with his studies and became fascinated with revolutionary works such as Nikollay Chernyshevsky’s ‘What is to be Done?’ and Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’. He became committed to Marxism and attended secret workers’ meetings in the evenings.
Joseph left the Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary.
Stalin began work as a meteorologist at an observatory in Tiflis.
1900 (1st May)
Joseph organised a workers’ strike. His socialist activities had brought him to the attention of the Okhrana (secret police).
The Okhrana (secret police) tried to arrest Stalin but he escaped and went into hiding. While in hiding he began organising a demonstration against the authorities.
1901 (1st May)
Organised by Stalin, around 3,000 people demonstrated against the authorities.
Joseph Stalin was elected a member of the Tiflis Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP).
Stalin moved to Batumi where he began working at the Rothschild refinery storehouse. He helped to organise two workers’ strikes and after strike leaders were arrested he organised a mass demonstration. Troops opened fire on the demonstrators killing 13 people.
Joseph Stalin was arrested and imprisoned in Batumi Prison. Shortly afterwards he was moved to Kutaisi Prison.
1903 (11th August)
established the Bolshevik Faction at the Social Democratic Labour Party Conference in London.
Stalin was exiled to Siberia for three years.
Stalin escaped from Siberia and returned to Tiflis where he began working on the Marxist newspaper, Proletariatis Brdzola. While he had been in exile the RSDLP had split into two groups: the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. Although the Mensheviks were more popular in Georgia, Stalin preferred the Bolsheviks.
1905 (22nd January)
Father Georgy Gapon had organised a peaceful march to present a petition to the Tsar to ask for measures to be put in place to treat the Russian people more fairly. The marchers included men, women and children carrying banners of the Tsar singing religious hymns. However, when the marchers reached the Winter Palace they were met by a line of armed Cossacks who opened fire on the demonstrators. More than 200 demonstrators were killed and more than 500 injured. Father Gapon escaped and left Russia.
1905 (late January)
The events of Bloody Sunday had sparked a wave of protests, demonstrations, strikes and unrest across the Russian Empire. In Georgia many people were killed in violence between different ethnic groups.
Stalin was elected as a Georgian delegate to the Bolshevik conference in Finland. Stalin disagreed with Lenin’s view that the Bolsheviks should try to get candidates elected to the State Duma (parliament) since the Duma was controlled by the Tsar it had little real power.
Stalin attended the RSDLP (Russian Social Democratic Party) Congress in Stockholm. He and Lenin disagreed with some of the motions passed by the Menshevik majority and agreed to try to further the Bolshevik cause.
1906 (29th July)
Joseph Stalin married Kato Svandize at Senaki.
1907 (18th March)
A son, Yakov, was born to Joseph and Kato at Baji, Georgia.
Stalin attended the fifth RSDLP Congress in London.
Joseph and a number of Georgian Bolsheviks organised an armed robbery of a delivery of money to the Imperial Bank. Around 40 people were killed in the raid but Stalin and his gang escaped unhurt. The Mensheviks were unhappy about Stalin’s action and wanted to expel him from the Russian Social Democratic Party.
Stalin and his family had moved to Baku (Azerbaijan) where he and the Bolsheviks managed to dominate the RSDLP.
Stalin attended the seventh Congress of an international socialist organisation called Second International. The Congress was held in Stuttgart, Germany.
Stalin’s wife, Kato, died of typhus fever. His son, Yakov was placed in the care of his wife’s family in Tiflis.
Joseph returned to Baku where he and his gang of Bolsheviks continured to raise funds through illegal means such as forging currency, holding the children of wealthy people to ransom, running protection rackets and carrying out robberies.
Stalin met Lenin and Georgi Plekhanov in Geneva, Switzerland.
Stalin was arrested and sent to Bailov Prison to await trial. While in prison he continued to work to further the Bolshevik cause.
Stalin was exiled to the village of Solvychegodsk, Russia for a period of two years.
Stalin escaped from Solvychegodsk dressed as a woman and managed to get to Saint Petersburg.
Stalin was arrested and returned to Solvychegodsk. He began a relationship with his landlady, Maria Kuzakova.
Joseph was allowed to move to Vologda, Russia. He began a relationship with Pelageya Onufrieva.
Stalin left Vologda without permission and made his way to Saint Petersburg.
Stalin was captured in Saint Petersburg and sent back to Vologda for three years.
A son, Konstantin Stepanovich Kuzakov was born to Maria Kuzakova and Joseph Stalin at Solvychegodsk.
1912 (5th January)
The sixth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was held in Prague. Stalin was unable to attend due to being exiled but Lenin did attend. During the conference, Lenin and the Bolsheviks decided to form their own party independent to the Mensheviks. Lenin sent word to Stalin inviting him to join the new party.
Stalin escaped from Vologda and returned to Saint Petersburg.
In Saint Petersburg Stalin worked on the Bolshevik weekly publication Zvezda with a view to re-launching it as a daily Communist paper, Pravda.
Joseph Stalin was arrested and imprisoned in Shpalerhy Prison before being exiled to Siberia for three years.
1912 (5th May)
The first edition of the new daily Communist newspaper, Pravda, was published.
Stalin reached the Siberian village of Narym where he was to spend his exile. Fellow Bolshevik Yakov Sverdlov was also in the village.
Stalin and Sverdlov escaped their exile in Narym and returned to Saint Petersburg.
Six Bolsheviks and six Mensheviks were elected to the Duma (parliament). Stalin called for the two parties to re-unite but Lenin disagreed.
Stalin published ‘Marxism and the National Question’, a Marxist analysis of nationality, under the pseudonym K Stalin. He used the name Stalin for the rest of his life.
Joseph Stalin was arrested again and sentenced to four years exile in Turukhansk, Siberia.
Stalin was moved to Kureika in north Siberia. He began a relationship with Lidia Pereprygia.
1914 (1st August)
World War One
Germany declared war on Russia. Following the assassination of heir to the Austro-Hungarian Emprie, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, by Serbian nationalists, Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Russia then backed Serbia and mobilised troops. Germany was allied to Austria-Hungary and declared war on Russia to support its ally.
Lidia Perepyrgia was delivered of a child that died soon after birth.
Stalin and other exiled Bolsheviks were conscripted into the Russian army and summoned to return from exile.
150,000 workers took to the streets of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg had been renamed) on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday to protest at the desperate situation many were in – lack of food, poor living conditions and Russia’s continued participation in a war that was going from bad to worse.
Stalin failed the medical examination and was not allowed to join the Russian army. He was to serve the remainder of his exile at Achinsk.
Strikes and unrest continued in Petrograd amid calls for the Tsar to be overthrown.
1917 (22nd February)
20,000 workers from the Putilov Ironworks went on strike.
1917 (23rd February)
The annual International Women’s Day march from the suburbs to the centre of Petrograd turned increasingly political as they were joined by students, Putilov strikers and other disgruntled factory workers swelling the numbers of protesters to nearly a quarter of a million people.
1917 (23rd – 25th February)
People continued to demonstrate on the streets. Statues of the Tsar were toppled, people waved the red flags of the revolutionaries and called for an end to the Tsarist system
. Many also sang the anthem of the French Revolution, the ‘Marseillaise’, sympathising with its call for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
1917 (27th February)
ordered troops onto the streets to remove protesters by force. Although some complied killing around 40 protestors, Nicholas’s move worsened the matter by inflaming the mood of the protestors even more. Moreover, around 65,000 of the soldiers ordered onto the streets were new recruits who sympathised with the masses and they simply refused to fire on the demonstrators and joined them instead.
1917 (27th February)
A meeting of the Duma discussed the future of Russia. They established a Provisional Committee of The Duma and demanded that the Tsar abdicate immediately. At the same time the army generals ordered the soldiers off the streets telling them to support the Provisional Committee instead.
1917 (28th February)
A meeting took place and a Provisional Executive Committee was elected.
1917 (2nd March)
Nicholas II reluctantly abdicated as Tsar. He named his younger brother Mikhail as the new Tsar, a position which Mikhail refused. The Royal family were placed under virtual house arrest.
1917 (2nd March)
The First Provisional government was formed, led by Prince Lvov, a member of the Kadet party.
Following the overthrow of the Tsar, Stalin left Achinsk and travelled to Petrograd where he resumed work on Pravda.
Stalin came third in the Bolshevik elections to the Bolshevik Central Committee after Lenin and Zinoviev.
A son Alexander was born to Joseph Stalin and Lidia Pereprygia.
1917 (3rd April)
Lenin returned to Russia after having exiled himself for the past 10 years.
1917 (7th April)
Lenin’s April Theses which set out his ideas for Russia were published in Pravda.
The Provisional Government lost popularity because it had not taken Russia out of World War One.
1917 (May to June)
Workers saw no improvement in their working conditions and were becomming increasingly dissatisfied. In June 175,000 workers went on strike.
1917 (2nd July)
1917 (3rd – 4th July)
Stalin helped to organise a series of demonstrations against the government. Workers were joined on the streets by soldiers and the Kronstadt sailors calling for power to the Soviets.
1917 (4th July)
Prince Lvov, head of the Provisional government resigned.
1917 (5th July)
The Government blamed the July days on Bolshevik leaders and many, including Trotsky, were arrested. Lenin escaped to Finland. Stalin evaded capture, remained in Russia and took control of the Bolsheviks.
1917 (18th July)
The Socialist Alexander Kerensky took over as head of the Provisional government.
The Russian royal family were moved to Tobolsk in Western Siberia.
Alexander Kerensky was persuaded to release those Bolsheviks that had been imprisoned following the July Days.
Leon Trotsky became leader of the Petrograd Soviet. He worked closely with Lenin to plan a Bolshevik takeover.
Throughout the late Summer and early September support for the Bolsheviks had grown and by the end of September membership had reached 200,000.
1917 (7th October)
Lenin returned to Petrograd.
1917 (9th October)
The Bolsheviks established a Military Revolutionary Committee led by Trotsky.
1917 (10th October)
A meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee called for a Bolshevik Revolution.
1917 (24th October)
Armed workers, Bolshevik Red Guards and the Kronstadt sailors occupied key buildings around the city of Petrograd.
1917 (25th October)
Armed Bolshevik supporters entered the Winter Palace and arrested members of the Provisional Government.
1917 (26th October)
A congress of Soviets was held which appointed the first Soviet government and appointed Lenin as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars. Joseph Stalin was made Commissar for Nationalities and given an office close to Lenin’s. He gave up working on Pravda. Leon Trotsky was made People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
1917 (late October)
Stalin countersigned many of Lenin’s decrees which included the closing of newspapers that were critical of Communism.
Stalin signed the Decree on Nationality which allowed ethnic minorities in Russia to have the right of secession and self-determination.
Following negotiations with the Finnish Social-Democrats, Stalin granted Finland independence.
1917 (6th December)
The Cheka (Communist secret police) was established. Its main purpose was to arrest, imprison and execute opponents to Lenin.
1917 (14th December)
Lenin used the Red Army to take control of all the banks.
1917 (22nd December)
A Bolshevik peace delegation led by Alfred Joffe began negotiating a peace with Germany to take Russia out of World War One.
Lenin changed the name of the Bolshevik party to the Russian Communist Party.
1918 (7th, 8th January)
The harsh demands placed on Russia by Germany were not well received. Germany wanted to take the Baltic states as well as Poland and Ukraine from Russia, a move that would result in the loss of one third of Russia’s population and agricultural land as well as half of its industry. Lenin faced opposition in his government over the continuation of the peace negotiations but eventually won the opposition over.
1918 (23rd February)
Trotsky formed the Red Army. It was comprised of workers and peasants.
1918 (3rd March)
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
This treaty ended Russian involvement in World War One. The signing of the treaty ended the left Socialist Revolutionary’s support of Lenin.
1918 (5th March)
Fearing a possible foreign invasion in support of the Romanovs, Lenin moved the capital of Russia to Moscow. The royal family were moved to Ekaterinburg.
Lenin’s government was facing opposition from a number of forces collectively known as the ‘White’ forces. Based in the south, they had been led by Kornilov but following his death were led by Deniken. Another ‘White’ force led by General Yudenich were forming near Petrograd.
1918 (22nd April)
Compulsory military service was introduced for all workers and peasants that did not hire labour.
Stalin was sent to Tsaritsyn to secure food for the new regime. He used violence to ensure that his quotas were met. While there Stalin sent soldiers of the Red Army to defeat anti-Bolsheviks, a move which Lenin was unhappy about.
1918 (17th July)
The Romanov family were executed and buried in shallow graves.
1918 (30th August)
Lenin survived an assassination attempt by Fanya Kaplan but was badly injured. Stalin told Lenin that there should be a ‘mass terror’ against those responsible.
Lenin introduced the Gulag system of labour camps to contain opponents of his regime.
Stalin led an inquiry in Perm to find out how the Red Army had been defeated there.
Stalin reluctantly drew up documents recognising the independence of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. He felt that areas of Russia should not be able to gain independence.
Stalin married Nadezhda Alliluyeva who had been working as his secretary.
Stalin returned to Moscow.
Stalin attended the launch of the Communist International by Lenin. The organisation was to help spread Communist revolution through Europe. Stalin disagreed with Lenin that other European countries would fall to Communism.
Stalin went to Petrograd to supervise the defeat of the Whites.
The Red Army had virtually defeated the White force led by Kolchak.
Stalin returned to Southern Russia to oversee the defeat of White forces there.
The Bolshevik Reds had won the war against the whites.
Stalin was appointed Head of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate charged with ensuring that local administration was carried out efficiently and without corruption.
1920 (21st April)
The Polish leader, Jozef Pilsudski, formed an alliance with the Ukranian leader, Symon Petlyura
1920 (7th May)
War began when the Polish army occupied Kiev
The Soviet Red Army launched a counter-offensive against the Poles and marched to the Polish border.
1920 (early August)
Soviet forces had reached the outskirts of Warsaw. Western European powers fearing a Communist takeover of Poland, sent a military force to help the Poles.
1920 (mid August)
The Red Army were forced to retreat from Poland and a peace treaty was signed.
1920 (late August)
There was conflict between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky blamed Stalin for failures in his handling of the Russo-Polish war while Stalin blamed Trotsky for signing a peace with Poland.
Stalin supported Lenin’s New Economic Policy.
1921 (21st March)
A son, Vasily Stalin, was born to Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva at Moscow, Russia.
Stalin paid a visit to Georgia to support Georgian Communists. At the end of his visit he brought his son Yakov, back to Moscow.
1922 (1st January)
In a bid to combat rising inflation a new Russian Ruble was introduced. 1 new ruble was worth 10,000 old rubles.
Lenin created a new post, General Secretary and chose Joseph Stalin for the post. Although often critical of Stalin, leading members of the Politburo supported Stalin’s appointment since they presumed that the post would be insignificant.
1922 (25th May)
Lenin suffered a stroke while recovering from surgery to remove a bullet that had been lodged in his neck since a failed assassination attempt in 1918.
Lenin’s health began to recover.
Lenin began a part time return to work.
Lenin suffered a second stroke that left him paralysed on his right side. He withdrew from politics though he remained leader of the Communist Party. The effective leader of the party was Kamenev who took the Chair of the Politburo.
1922 (29th December)
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was created. It comprised the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Social Republic, the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Stalin put into operation a recruitment drive to bring more workers into the party.
Lenin completed his Testament. A document that proposed changes to the structure of Communism and also gave his thoughts on his possible successors. Lenin indicated that he was uncomfortable with Joseph Stalin and suggested that he be replaced as General Secretary. The document was to be read out at the 12th Party Congress.
Lenin suffered a third stroke that left him totally paralysed and unable to speak.
1923 (after March)
Although Lenin remained the leader of the Communist Party he could take no part in the actual government of the country. There emerged a power struggle between the Right and Left of the party. Stalin formed an alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev known as the Triumvirate which became the dominant faction. Trotsky who was left wing opposed the Triumvirate.
Lenin’s wife kept the Testament secret in the hope’s that Lenin would recover and be able to deliver it himself.
Declaration of the Forty Six
This was a document written by forty-six left-wing communists expressing their concern about the lack of democracy in the party.
1924 (21st January)
Vladimir Lenin died. Stalin took control of Lenin’s funeral.
1924 (26th January)
Petrograd was renamed Leningrad to honour Lenin.
1924 (7th March)
A new gold ruble was introduced to stop inflation. This new ruble was equivalent to 50,000 old rubles.
1924 (23rd May)
Lenin’s wife handed over Lenin’s Testament for it to be read out at the 13th Party Congress. The document was critical of the main contenders for party leader but they were reluctant to suppress it so soon after Lenin’s death especially as Lenin’s widow was insistent that his wishes should be carried out. A compromise was reached where it was read out but largely ignored. Furthermore, Stalin’s supporters in the Triumvirate, Zinoviev and Kamenev stated that Stalin had changed and that Lenin’s comments were no longer relevant. Trotsky was defeated and Stalin accepted as new leader.
Stalin announced that he wanted to pursue a new theory of Socialism in one country. Zinoviev and Kamenev could not accept this, both sharing Lenin’s ideal that Russia was just the first of many countries to embrace Socialism and so the Triumvirate split. Zinoviev and Kamenev now formed a new opposition to Stalin who allied himself with Bukharin.
Stalin removed Trotsky from government and also from his position as head of the Red Army. Stalin knew that Trotsky was his main rival and did not want him able to influence either policy making or the army. Indeed Stalin feared that Trotsky could use the army to remove Stalin and make himself head of the government.
At the fourteenth party congress Zinoviev and Kamenev opposed the NEP and advocated large scale industrialisation. They also put forward arguments in favour of World socialism rather than socialism in one country. However, their arguments were easily put down by Stalin and Bukharin and they were removed from the Politburo.
1926 (28th February)
A daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, was born to Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva.
As a result of strikes and the unrest of the past few years there had been a shortfall in grain production. As a result the price of grain had risen alarmingly. The opposition left again argued for a change in policy. Zinoviev and Kamenev now allied themselves with Trotsky forming the United Opposition.
The left opposition leaders, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev were removed from the Communist Party.
In a bid to keep state expenditure low, grain procurement prices were lowered. Additionally a rumour that there could be war with Germany led to people hoarding food.
Stalin rejected Lenin’s New Economic Policy, split with Bukharin and began working against him.
The Central Committee stated that the State had the right to exercise guidance over literature. This effectively introduced censorship over literature.
Stalin visited the agricultural regions of Siberia and the Urals. To alleviate the grain crisis he imposed grain requisitioning quotas and accused the kulaks (rich peasant class) of hoarding grain. The peasants responded by decreasing grain production.
Trotsky was exiled to Kazakhstan.
Stalin began removing Bukharin’s followers and supporters from the party.
Bukharin won a victory against Stalin during the Central Committee meeting. Stalin stopped grain requisitioning.
Stalin introduced his first five year plan.
Stalin knew that Russia needed to modernise to become more efficient and also self-sufficient. Steel and iron production was to be increased considerably as was the production of energy and tools. To achieve his aims factories were to name and shame those that did not meet required production quotas. Any worker that was absent due to illness or who did not output quotas required was deemed to be working against the state and could be imprisoned or executed.
Stalin’s son, Yakov, tried to commit suicide. Stalin never forgave him.
Trotsky was found guilty of being a counter-revolutionary and was banished from the Soviet Union. He was given refuge in Turkey and settled near Istanbul. While in Turkey he published his “History of the Russian Revolution”.
1929 (7th November)
Stalin published the “Year of the Great Turn” which outlined his move towards greater industrialisation and collectivisation. It signalled the end of Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP)
At the Central Committee meeting it was decided to send 25,000 industrial workers into the countryside to help impose collectivisation. They were known as the twenty-five thousanders.
Forced collectivisation was introduced. All farmers were to pool their resources and work collectively to maximise production of their land. They were to work under the supervision of a twenty-five thousander who in turn reported back to the central committee.
1929 (18th December)
On his 50th birthday Stalin made a speech highlighting mistakes made by Lenin. The speech was designed to give the message that Lenin’s Russia was gone and that his, Stalin’s Russia was just beginning.
Lenin’s new mausoleum was unveiled.
The first of the twenty-five thousanders were sent to the countryside where they were supposed to be the chairmen of collective farms. Many were not well received by local officials and peasants and were given inadequate food. Those that succeeded in their tasks were given awards by the Party.
1930 (30th January)
The Politburo approved a move to eliminate the kulak class. The kulaks were exiled or sent to concentration camps.
The first of the twenty-five thousanders were sent to the countryside where they were supposed to be the chairmen of collective farms. Many were not well received by local officials or peasants and were given inadequate food. Those that succeeded in their tasks were given awards by the Party.
Around a quarter of all farm animals were slaughtered and eaten by peasants facing collectivisation because they did not want them going to the collective.
1930 (2nd March)
Stalin published his article “Dizzy with Success” in which he called for a temporary halt to collectivisation claiming that the collectivisation quota outlined in his 5 year plan had been reached and that “some of our comrades have become dizzy with success and for the moment have lost clearness of mind and sobriety of vision”
1930 (25th April)
The GULAG was officially established. Correctional forced labour camps had been used previously but were now to be called gulags. They were to be used to house those individuals that were a threat to or disrupted the functioning of the Soviet State. They began housing kulaks immediately
Grain procurement quotas for Ukraine were raised by 42% as Russia was facing famine. Ukraine was the most productive agricultural region in the Soviet Union, nevertheless the raising of quotas meant that there would not be enough food for the populace of Ukraine. Despite the fact that people were literally starving to death the Soviet policy of not allowing peasants access to food produced by the collective until quotas had been met meant that around 7 million starved to death.
Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda, shot herself. It was publicly reported that she had died from appendicitis. Stalin’s children were told the same story. .
Stalin announced that his first Five Year Plan, introduced in 1928, had been such a success that he was ending it a year early.
The production of armaments was increased in response to Hitler’s seizure of power and the re-arming of Germany.
Trotsky moved to France after the left wing government agreed to give refuge to those exiled from the Soviet Union. However, the move faced strong opposition from the French Communist Party when Trotsky tried to rally support to overthrow Stalin. Trotsky also tried to encourage German Communists to rise against Hitler and Fascism in Germany. As a result the German government put pressure on France to expel Trotsky.
Stalin had secret talks with Hitler.
1934 (1st December)
Sergei Kirov was assassinated at his office. Kirov was a member of the Politburo who had disagreed with some of Stalin’s policy. It is likely that the assassination
was carried out on Stalin’s orders. Stalin had become increasingly distrustful of those close to him. This event marked the beginning of the Great Terror
Zinoviev and Kamenev were among a number of Russians accused of complicity in Kirov’s assassination.
The Norwegian government agreed to allow Trotsky and his family to move to Norway. While in Norway Trotsky wrote “The Revolution Betrayed”. In the book he criticised Stalin’s Soviet Union stating how it did not measure up to the ideals of the 1917 revolution.
1935 (2nd May)
Treaty of Mutual Assistance
This treaty of mutual assistance was signed by Russia and France in the face of German re-armament by Hitler
Stalin announced his General Plan for the Reconstruction of Moscow. A Union of Soviet Architects were commissioned to draw up plans for the reconstruction. Stalin’s aim was to show the World that the Soviet Union was a great country.
1936 (9th March)
The Politburo passed a resolution to protect the USSR from spies. A Commission chaired by Nikolai Yezhov was given the power to purge spies from the USSR.
1936 (25th March)
The head of the NKVD, Yagoda, put forward a measure to remove all Trotskyists to remote camps.
A Committee for Art Affairs was established to tighten the laws on art material that was produced. Art that was produced should reflect life experiences in industry and should inspire workers.
1936 (28th April)
The Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars) ordered the removal of unreliable people from the border regions. Nearly 70,000 Polish and Germans were removed from Ukraine and sent to Kazakhstan.
1936 (20th May)
The Politburo approved the measure to remove Trotskyists to remote camps.
1936 (19th June)
Yagoda sent a list of 82 Trotskyists which included Kamenev and Zinoviev to the Politburo.
1936 (27th June)
In a bid to halt the falling population, abortion, which had previously been free to all women, was now banned. Divorce was also made more difficult and payments to those with large families were introduced. The move was dubbed the ‘Great Retreat’ due to the shift in stance from the 1920s when the family had been considered a bourgeois and free love had been encouraged.
Stalin sent troops, aircraft and tanks to Spain to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.
1936 (19th – 26th August)
The first ‘show trial’, The Trial of the Sixteen saw Zinoviev, Kamenev and fourteen others arrested in January 1935 confess and be found guilty of crimes against the state, notably the assassination of Kirov, plotting to disrupt the five year plans and conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the government. They were executed.
1936 (26th September)
On Stalin’s orders Yagoda was replaced by Yezhov as head of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. Yagoda was demoted to be People’s Commissar for Postal and Telegraph.
1936 (4th October)
The first ‘sentencing by lists’ saw 585 Trotskyists and Zinovievists whose names were on a list sentenced without a trial.
1936 (6th December)
Trotsky, who had been sentenced to death by the USSR, was offered refuge in Mexico.
The Trial of the Seventeen was the second ‘show trial’ that dealt with those former allies of Trotsky including Radek, Piatakov and Sokolinokov. They were accused of plotting with foreign powers, sabotage and maintaining contact with the exiled Trotsky. Thirteen were executed the others were sent to gulags where they later died.
A memo was sent to Party Officials telling them that they should increase efforts to rid the Soviet of spies and traitors. The NKVD set targets for numbers of arrests.
Stalin purged the army. He was concerned by the fact that the Red Army had been established by Trotsky and that many Generals had been appointed by Trotsky. Eight Generals confessed to treason following torture and were executed. 34,000 soldiers were executed over the following eighteen months.
The third Five Year Plan was introduced. It was largely concerned with rearmament in order to prepare for war with Germany.
The Trial of the Twenty-One was the third ‘show trial’ that accused rightists and Trotskyists of attempting to overthrow Socialism and complicity in the murder of Kirov. Among those accused were former head of the NKVD, Yagoda, Bukharin and Krestinsky. Bukharin was also charged with attempting to assassinate Lenin. They were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. All those that had been close to Lenin during the years of Lenin’s Communism were now dead.
1938 (22nd August)
Beria was appointed deputy to Yezhev, head of the NKVD. With Stalin’s approval he began to take over Yezhev’s role.
1938 (1st October)
Edited by Stalin himself ‘The Short Course of the History of the All-Union Communist Party’ was published. The book erased Trotsky from the Party history and also highlighted the contributions made by Stalin to the Communist Party.
1938 (25th November)
Yezhev asked to be relieved from his role as People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs. He was succeeded by Beria who was totally loyal to Stalin.
The State Planning Committee (Gosplan) ordered construction of nine new aircraft factories.
1939 (3rd March)
Yezhov was relieved of all his posts.
Stalin announced the end of the Great Terror.
1939 (10th April)
Yezhov was arrested and imprisoned. Under torture he confessed to being an enemy of the state. He was executed the following year.
1939 (24th August)
-Soviet pact was agreed in Moscow. The Treaty officially agreed to maintain a non-aggression stance and increase trade between themselves. Privately the treaty agreed to divide Eastern Europe between themselves with Germany taking Western Poland and Czechoslovakia.
1939 (1st September)
1939 (17th September)
The Red Army invaded eastern Poland as agreed with Hitler.
1939 (17th September)
The Red Army invaded Finland but were unable to take control. Stalin agreed a peace with Finland.
Around 15,000 Polish army officers were murdered in the Katyn Forest.
The Red Army invaded and occupied the Baltic States which were made part of the Soviet Union.
1940 (20th August)
Trotsky was assassinated by Stalin’s agents in Mexico. He died the following day.
Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Japan.
Secret intelligence revealed the extent of Germany’s re-armament and Stalin concluded that war was imminent and took control of the country’s defence.
The third Five Year Plan came to an end.
1941 (22nd June)
Hitler invaded Russia – Operation Barbarossa. Although Stalin knew that Hitler would break the Nazi-Soviet Pact and invade Russia he had not expected the invasion until mid 1942 at the earliest. Consequently the Soviet Army was not prepared and was initially pushed back.
1941 (late June)
Stalin ordered a scorched earth policy that all workers should destroy or sabotage any industrial equipment that could fall into German hands and that agricultural land be burned so that the German army had no food.
Stalin ordered a purge of military intelligence personnel to find those responsible for not discovering Hitler’s plans to invade Russia. The Soviet army was in a very difficult position. It was facing war with Germany while at the same time facing purges and poor supplies.
1941 (16th August)
Stalin issued Order no 270 which ordered that anyone facing capture should committ suicide or fight to the death.
Hitler launched Operation Typhoon – a bid to capture Moscow. With the Germans advancing on the city the people panicked which led to rioting and looting.
The American ‘lend lease’ scheme was open to the Soviet Union. While it had little impact on industrial production it was useful in increasing food supplies and transport. Stalin was reluctant to use lend-lease since many American made goods were of much better quality than Russian produced goods thus proving that Capitalism was superior to Communism; something he did not want to do.
General Zhukov successfully managed to counter-attack the Germans and push them back some 200km from Moscow.
Stalin ordered the Soviet army to attack and take Kharkov from the Germans. The attack failed.
1942 (26th May)
Stalin signed a treaty of alliance with Winston Churchill, leader of Great Britain.
Hitler launched Operation Blue – an attempt to capture Stalingrad
Stalin issued Order No 227 that stated that anyone retreating would be used as cannon fodder on the front lines.
1942 (23rd August)
The Battle of Stalingrad began. Stalin ordered the army to hold the city at all cost.
The Soviets launched a counter-offensive at Stalingrad (Operation Uranus).
The Germans were defeated at Stalingrad.
1943 (14th April)
Stalin’s son, Yakob, died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
1943 (5th July)
The Battle of Kursk began.
1943 (5th July)
The Battle of Kursk ended with victory for the Soviet Union.
Stalin attended the Tehran conference with Churchill and Roosevelt to discuss strategy to defeat Hitler.
The Germans had been driven back and two thirds of German-occupied territory had been reclaimed.
1945 (early January)
Soviet forces had entered Germany and were advancing steadily.
1945 (4th – 11th February)
The Yalta Conference was a meeting between Stalin, Churchill and Roosvelt to discuss details of the end of the war. It was agreed among other things that:
Germany and Berlin would be divided into four occupied zones – Soviet, British, French and American
Prisoners of war would be returned to their country of origin
Poland would be allowed to stage free elections
1945 (30th April)
Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker. The Russian Red Army had reached the outskirts of Berlin and Hitler did not want to be captured by the Russians.
1945 (early May)
Stalin’s Soviet Red Army had now occupied: East Germany, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria and Albania in addition to the entire Soviet Union which included the former Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belorussia, Ukraine and Moldova.
1945 (8th May)
Germany signed an unconditional surrender agreement ending the war in Europe.
1945 (9th May)
Soviet workers were given the day off. For many it was their first day off in years. Throughout the war they had been expected to work 12 to 18 hour shifts seven days a week.
1945 (17th July)
Stalin met with Clement Atlee of Britain and Harry Truman of the United States to decide administration of Germany. It was decided to divide Germany into four zones controlled by Britain, Soviet Union, United States and France. Berlin would also be divided.
Soviet prisoners of war were returned, against their will. Stalin deemed them guilty of not following his orders to evade capture and they were all exiled to Siberia where most died.
Stalin’s health was beginning to fail. He became concerned that others in the party may try to push him out.
The Zhdanov Doctrine was formulated by Central Committee secretary, Andrei Zhdanov. The doctrine stated that the World was divided into two camps: the Imperialist Capitalist camp headed by the United States and the Communist headed by the USSR. It went on to state that conflict in culture should be between the good and the best and that culture that did not represent the good or the best (follow the party line) should be banned.
1946 (5th March)
Winston Churchill made his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech where he warned the Western powers against the expansionist aims of the Soviet Union and stated that an ‘iron curtain has descended across Eastern Europe’.
Across Eastern Europe, Stalin ensured that elections were rigged so that Socialists and Communists were elected. He then imposed the Soviet model across Eastern Europe.
1947 (5th October)
The Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties was formed to co-ordinate Communist parties across Eastern Europe.
Stalin ordered a blockade of Western Berlin. He wanted to stop supplies reaching Western Berlin which was under the control of the Western Allies. It was only relieved after Allied aircraft airlifted supplies into the Western part of the city. Stalin maintained the blockade for a year before giving in and ending the blockade.
The Leningrad Affair.
Leningrad was the Soviet Union’s second largest city and Stalin was concerned that the he did not have total control over it. When senior Leningrad party officials organised a trade fair to raise money to help those that had survived the siege of Leningrad they were accused of using the state budget to further Leningrad, of trying to make Leningrad more important than Moscow and of taking state funds for themselves.
A military alliance of western powers called the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed.
The Soviets successfully exploded their first atomic bomb, RDS1. Stalin believed that it was important for the USSR to have nuclear weapons even though their usage would probably mean the end of the World.
The Western sectors of Germany held by the United States, Great Britain and France were merged into the Federal Republic of Germany.
The Soviet-held East Germany was re-named the German Democratic Republic.
Stalin appointed Nikita Krushchev as Central Committee Secretary.
1950 (14th February)
Sino-Soviet Friendship. This was a friendship agreement between the Soviet Union and China.
1950 (25th June)
War began between North and South Korea after the North invaded the South. Stalin and China supported the North while the United States helped the South. The war which lasted until July 1953 served to further distance the Soviet Union from the West.
Stalin’s health continued to decline. He mistrusted everyone even believing that his doctors were plotting to kill him.
1953 (1st March)
Stalin suffered a brain haemorrhage.
1953 (5th March)
Stalin died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 73 years.