Friday, January 11, 2008

Joseph Stalin and Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism is a form of dictatorship government that wants total control over its citizens; their public and private life. Stalin's real name was Losif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili however, on December 21, 1879, he adopted the name Stalin, which means "Man of Steel." In 1922, Stalin was made secretary general of the communist party. When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 Joseph Stalin promoted himself as dictator of the Soviet Union. He was determined to transform the Soviet Union into a powerful industrial state. Stalin used propaganda, censorship, and terror to force his will on the Soviet people. In 1928, he launched his first five-year plan. The five-year plan was going to turn the country into a major industrial power within five years. The nation's resources were built into steel mills, electric power stations, and any other industries/supplies needed. There was growth in areas such as coal and iron output. Another part of the five-year plan was to set up large scale farms for peasants to work on. Stalin forced millions of peasants to give up their land and work on large, government-run operations. Soon after, Stalin became extremely paranoid and began to turn on members of the party he had once called supporters. This was the beginning of "The Great Purges". Through 1936-1937, Stalin personally signed 40,000 death warrants. Priests were rounded up and shipped to be executed because Stalin wanted everyone and everything to be the same/equal. By the end of the terror, less than 1,000 churches remained out of at least 20,000.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Film Lesson: Doctor Zhivago

The film Doctor Zhivago depicted the Russian Revolution because it showed how the Russians were trying to stand up for what they believe in by going against their leaders. In the opening scene of the film we see a large group of people marching in the streets towards czar Nicholas II's palace in Petrograd also known as St. Petersburg. These people were angry workers who wanted better working conditions and equality. The workers were being taken advantage of. As a result of the riots and demonstrations Nicholas II's general/guard ordered soldiers to make the crowd go away. Some of the people did not leave peacefully or quickly enough for the soldiers so they started attacking the crowd. That scene depicted an event called "Bloody Sunday". When Doctor Zhivago returned home from the war to Moscow he found out that he was sharing his house and some of his belongings with many other families. This is an example of communism because in a communist country no one owns anything because everything is shared.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Causes of WWI

World War I which was also called the "Great War" began in 1914 and lasted until 1918. There were many causes of WWI including the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, nationalism, and militarism.

The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

On June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were shot by a Serbian nationalist. The Serbians wanted to convert the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (the Dual Monarchy) into a Triple Monarchy so that they could be included. The Serbians wanted to be self governed like Austria and Hungary. However, Austria could not find any evidence that the Serbian government had any connections with the assassination. Austria wanted to be assured of the German support just in case of war. On July 6, Germany assured Austria that if there was an Austro-Serbian war, Germany would stand by Austria and give them support as an ally. When Austria sent written demands to Serbia, they didn't like their response so they declared war on July 28, 1914.


All the countries within Europe were building large armies during the pre-war years. Before the conflict happened, the militaries of each country had drawn up complete plans for preparation. Secret battle plans brought along spies, which spread great hate and fear.

Collapse of the Alliance System
The alliances were made in secret which brought along distrust and suspicion among the European powers. Everyone was so suspicious they never talked about specific plans if a war was to break out because they feared distruction.