Russia Under Stalin: 1927-1953

Stalin dominated the USSR from 1927 until his death in 1953. He established a brutal totalitarian regime in the names of Marx and Lenin where millions perished in the gulags and in the famine of the 1930s, especially in the Ukraine region. Thousands also perished in the purges of the 1930s including thousands of army officers. All industry was nationalized and agriculture was subjected to a ruthless agenda of enforced collectivization from 1928. Stalin led the USSR during WWII, first as an ally of Nazi Germany for 22 months Aug 1939-June 1941 and then as an ally of Britain, France USA and the western alliance. Russia gained atomic bomb technology in 1949.


  • Face-to-Face


  • Deutscher, Isaac, (1990), Stalin : A Political Biography, Penguin ISBN-10 0140135049
  • Montefiore, Simon, (2005), Stalin : The Court of the Red Tsar, Vintage ISBN-10 1400076781
  • Fitzpatrick, S. (2017), The Russian Revolution, Penguin Modern Classics ISBN 198806701


  • The struggle for dominance of the Communist Party and of the USSR between Trotsky and Stalin and their allies 1924-1929
  • Enforced collectivization of agriculture and the nationalization of industry from 1928 with the first Five Year Plan 1928-1932, “Socialism in One Country”
  • The devastation of the Great Purges in the 1930s, consolidation of power
  • Foreign Policy from 1924 and the significance of the Non Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany in August 1939.
  • Victory in World War II at great cost and the aftermath of World War 2 and the quest for atomic capability which was achieved in 1949.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Gain a sound understanding of the key events in the emergence of Communist Russia under Stalin from 1927-1953.
  2. Discuss the impact of the totalitarian regime on all aspects of life under a Communism regime.
  3. Discuss the various motivations for the violence and brutality and the huge numbers of casualties throughout the period.
  4. Discuss the role of key individuals including Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Kirov, General Zhukhov, Molotov and the legacy of Lenin who died in 1924.

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