What had changed in Russia from 1905-1939?
Having the Bloody Sunday be the starting point of crueler and unimaginable events that came afterwards during the time period between 1905 and 1939, many things had changed in Russia. There were constant revolutions taken into action by the peasants, resentful soldiers and the Bolsheviks. As a consequence, the government changed. New government systems such as the Duma were introduced; however, not everything was effective. There were conflicts between people even after the Tsar abdicated, and the motives of the leaders changed. Before Tsar Nicholas II was abdicated, his motive and intention was to keep up the royalty of his family and prosper. On the other hand, when Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power, Lenin tried to make the country better than it was under the Tsar’s control. There were new policies introduced and issued, and the status of the peasants constantly changed. The War Communism restricted many rights and freedom of the peasants, and as a new policy called New Economic Policy was introduced after the War Communism, the peasants got a portion of their rights back. The things that the peasants were allowed and forbidden changed all the time, and there were more fear and hunger. By the time Lenin was dying, there were increased violence. The members of the Politburo, especially Joseph Stalin, would do anything to reach a higher social class and gain more power. There came murders and cruelty, and so as time passed by, there were increased violence. Moreover, people would do anything to maintain their authority. For example, Stalin was determined to wipe out Trotsky from USSR. When Trotsky was exiled and moved to Mexico, Stalin made sure that all the evidence and traces of his life in USSR was clearly removed. Trotsky’s name was removed from documents and official publications, and photographs of him were burnt. Trotsky’s supporters were purged from the Party, and in many cases, imprisoned or killed. Even more, the government’s control over the civilians grew as well. There were labor camps and Gulags, and the peasants had no other choice but to do what they were told.
What had stayed the same in Russia from 1905-1939?
Many things had changed in Russia from 1905 to 1939, but many had stayed the same as well. In fact, nothing much had changed. The pyramid type of social system and classes didn’t change much even after many policies had been issued and introduced. The distribution of power was unequal just like in 1905 under the Tsar’s control, and the peasants weren’t happy at all. The peasants were expected to work for the supreme leader and the government, and therefore there were constant rebellions due to tremendous resentment. Even after new leaders’ controls, famine was striking the whole country, and the peasants were the ones who were impacted the most from it. Famine meant that the peasants would have to grow more crops, which also meant more labor with nothing much coming back to them. Moreover, although the “leaders” had changed, the fight and conflict for power didn’t diminish. People did anything to get what they wanted and to meet their goals in terms of politics and authority. In one way, we can arguably say that because the fact that people wanted more power didn’t change, it led to other changes such as more violence and cruelty.
In 1939, how were Sergei’s and Alexander’s lives the same or different from 1905?
Even until 1939, Sergei was always kept fed because of his status in the army and his high authority. Being the loyal soldier he was, despite the changes of the government and the policies issued which impacted the peasants greatly, he had his place in the army and nothing much was like a challenge to him. Alexander, on the other hand, until 1939, had to give up his own ration of food for the rest of the family; his ration wasn’t even enough for Alexander himself. During the years under Stalin’s control over USSR, he was forced to go to the labor camp and work for the government projects. However, it wasn’t only him who had to go to the labor camps. By the end of 1930s, there were labor camps in every part of the USSR. Alexander was very disappointed with the Five Year Plan, despite Stalin’s plan of developing USSR’s economy, industry, agriculture, education and all the public services. Alexander started to think back and compare his life in 1939 to his life in 1905, and started to wonder if his life was better before. Regardless of his deep thought, he knew that it wasn’t safe anyhow for him to share his thoughts out in the public. Alexander’s life had changed as the country changed, but what he actually did didn’t change.
Was it worth it?
I can arguably say that the 34 years of unimaginable pain and suffering was definitely not worth the outcome. The social class and division had remained the same in 1939 just like it had been in 1905. In 1905, the Tsar and the upper class lived in prosperity, while the peasants had the burden on their shoulders to work for the government and supply the country with food, resources and everything. Even after the revolution and countless deaths between the time period of 1905 and 1939, people were craving for more authority and power. The “leaders” of Russia didn’t stop expanding their powers even after they had enough; they wanted more than enough. However, they weren’t the ones who were working, but it was the peasants who were working and producing everything for the government and the supreme leader. Thinking back to the whole purpose of the start of the revolution and 34 years of hard work, everything had begun because people wanted better lives. But then in 1939, they were still in factories, labor camps farmlands working for the upper class, not having felt that their lives had gone better. Therefore, the 34 years of all the work, revolution and events were not worth it.
800px-Canal_Mer_Blanche. Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_camp#/media/File:Canal_Mer_Blanche.jpg. Accessed 23 Jan. 2019.
Belbaltlag_Detail. Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom, gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/stalin/work-src/images/belbaltlag_detail.jpg. Accessed 23 Jan. 2019.
Other peasants and I working at the labor camp.
Thousands and millions of workers in the labor camp.