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Russia – Exam Part A . Or, how to succeed in analysis by really trying. Glenn Matthews Melbourne Grammar School. The examination is worth 50% of total study score School study scores (SAC marks) are worth 50% and are moderated against the examination and the GAT

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russia exam part a

Russia – Exam Part A

Or, how to succeed in analysis by really trying

Glenn Matthews


Grammar School

The examination is worth 50% of total study score
  • School study scores (SAC marks) are worth 50% and are moderated against the examination and the GAT
  • The examination is 2 hours in duration
  • PLUS
  • 15 minutes reading time

SECTION A – Revolution 1

Part 1: AOS 1

2 extended responses of 12 lines each worth 10 marks

Q. 1

Q. 2 [10 + 10 = 20]

Part 2: AOS 2

Analysis of short document, commentary or interpretation

Q. 3 a, b, c, d, e

[2 + 2 + 6 + 10 = 20]

SECTION B – Revolution 2

Part 1 : AOS 1

Extended response to a document, image or commentary

Q. 4 a, b, c, d, e,

[2 + 2 + 6 + 10 = 20]

Part 2: AOS 2

Essay question

One question for each revolution – (they are a bit different this year)

(69 lines or less) [20]

area of study one
Area of Study One
  • Revolutionary Ideas, Leaders, Movement and Events.
  • When
  • The period for this area of study is
  • Russian Revolution 1905 to October 1917 (Bloody Sunday to the Bolshevik Revolution)
  • The collapse of the old regime in the following terms:
  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Institutional
  • Everyday
  • Values
  • Historians have put forward different theories about the causes of revolution; for example,
  • inadequate response to structural change,
  • political divisions,
  • the failure of rising expectations
  • the loss of authority
  • the erosion of confidence in the old order.
more why
More Why
  • Why did social tensions and ideological conflicts increase in the pre-revolutionary period?
  • Why could social tensions and ideological conflicts not be contained within the traditional order?
  • What events or circumstances eroded confidence in the government or weakened capacity of the ruling class to meet challenges to its authority?
  • How important were ideas, leaders or movements in explaining why the revolution happened? Think about Marxism and Leninism versus Liberalism in the Russian Rev.
  • How important was Lenin in bringing about the success of the revolution?
  • Why do some historians focus more on circumstances and longer term developments as the main contributors to revolution and determinants of the course it would take?
key knowledge
Key Knowledge
  • The chronology of key events and factors which contributed to the revolution.
  • The causes of tensions and conflicts generated in the old regime that many historians see as contributing to the revolution: for example
    • rising and unfulfilled class expectations
    • fluctuations in economic activity
    • failed attempts at economic, social or political reform
    • perceived social or economic inequality or lack of political voice
    • the impact of war or economic crisis that contributed to revolution
    • the social and economic impact of WWI on Tsarist Russia
  • The ideas and ideologies utilised in revolutionary struggle; Marxist ideas in the Russian Revolution
  • The role of revolutionary individuals and groups in bringing about change, for example in Russia Kerensky, Trotsky, Lenin and the Socialist Revolutionaries, Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
key skills
Key Skills
  • Document the chronological events that contributed to the revolution.
  • analyse information about the causes of tension and conflict in the Old Regime that contributed to revolution
  • Analyse the ideas that were utilised in the revolutionary struggle
  • Analyse a range of historical evidence to evaluate the role of revolutionary individuals and groups in bringing about change.
  • Synthesise evidence to develop a coherent argument about the role of revolutionary ideas, leaders movements and events in the development of the revolution.
  • Consider a range of historians interpretations
for success you need
For success you need
  • Good knowledge of both areas of study of both revolutions
  • Understanding of what the examiners are looking for (examination criteria)
  • Clear, succinct writing style –including accurate spelling (especially of specific terms and terminology of study guide) and punctuation
  • Legible writing
  • Lots of practice at analysis of graphics and texts and writing of short essays
  • Lots of practice at doing sample papers and questions in time limit
the criteria
The Criteria
  • The examination paper will address all the criteria. All students will be examined against each criterion.
  • Understanding and appropriate use of historical terms, concepts, commentaries and interpretations
  • Application of evidence to support arguments and conclusions
  • Knowledge of the commencement, ongoing development and/or consolidation of the revolution
  • Knowledge of key events, factors, individuals and/or groups influencing the revolution and its consolidation
  • Analysis of the revolutionary struggle and the creation of a new society
  • Evaluation of change in the revolution
historical terms
Historical terms
  • political, social, economic, institution, ideology, every day values, cultural, traditional order, new order, rising expectations tension, crises, conflict, consensus, stability, radicalisation, foreign intervention, consolidation of revolution,…
  • Class, equality, freedom, poverty, change, continuity, autocracy, democracy, socialism, communism, anarcho-syndicalism, dictatorship of the proletariat, Dialectical Materialism totalitarianism, Marxist Leninism, Leadership, psychopath, violence, criminality, Revolution!
  • memoirs (memories of the events recorded at a later time), observations about events made at the time by people who did not see everything that they wrote about e.g.
  • John Reed Ten Days that Shook the World
  • Emma Goldman’s writings.
historian s interpretations
Historian’s interpretations.
  • There is a large range of these.
  • Keep it simple and concentrate on Soviet view versus other views.
  • In this Stalinist view the Bolsheviks led the masses to glorious revolution, and everything they did was right.
  • It takes the Bolshevik view to the next level of propaganda and does some serious editing of the historical record.
  • Anti – Soviet views cover the whole spectrum from Trotsky to Pipes.
  • Don’t get too worried about the differences – just hammer the soviet view.
leon trotsky bolshevik view
Leon Trotsky – “Bolshevik” View
  • Young Trotsky
  • “A four of a kind son of a bitch, but the greatest Jew since Jesus Christ”
  • The American Ambassador
e h carr
E. H. Carr
  • Pro Bolshevik View
the exam
The Exam
  • Examiner’s report and exams from 2005 onwards are available in full on the VCAA website.
  • Just Alta Vista Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority Revolutions
do s and don ts
Do’s and Don’ts
  • Look at old exam papers so that you are familiar with them, the layout, the requirements. Find them at the VCAA website
  • Know what you have to do in Part A and Part B (what do you have to do?)
  • How many marks do you get if you do the same rev twice?
  • What happens when you do two revs per section?
  • Do write in black pen – don’t write in pencil - this can be difficult for assessors to read.
do s and don ts1
Do’s and Don’ts
  • Strategy – don’t necessarily do first question first. I would start with the documents and then go back to the 10 mark questions.
  • Reading comprehension, gets the intellectual juices flowing, gives you something concrete to get underway with,
  • can come straight out of reading to answering the questions
  • Don’t have to reread.
  • Think about what you are going to write and jot some points down
  • Problem is not filling the page but not filling it too quickly with words that lack concision and sentences that simply don’t say enough.
  • You have plenty to say – you really need to plan a response so that you answer the question properly
the exam1
The Exam

Section A Part 1

examiner s report
Examiner’s Report


  • In 2008 assessors found a significant reduction in students’ factual knowledge and skill in working with documents and visual representations as evidence of the period.
  • Poor handwriting and control of expression was prevalent; it would be useful for students to practise writing neatly in defined spaces and to learn to spell terms accurately.
  • Teachers should also remind students that pencil is not to be used in examinations.
  • There were still a number of answers in dot point format; students cannot obtain full marks when answers are presented in this way.
2008 examiner s report
2008 Examiner’s report
  • Quite a number of students still made errors in their selection of options and wrote on the same revolution in both parts of the paper. This mistake meant students lost marks for one of the sections.
  • As in the past the discriminating part of the paper was the response to the document and visual representation questions.
  • Some students seemed unaware that they needed to use the extract or visual representation by direct reference to it and also use both their own knowledge and knowledge of historians’ views.
examiner s report1
Examiner’s Report
  • Russia
  • Knowledge of the October Manifesto was very good. Most students showed knowledge of the fundamental laws, and detailed knowledge of the failure of the Dumas and how this contributed to growing frustration.
  • Question 2 on the actions of the Provisional Government was also handled well and students showed very good ability in explaining a sequence of events in the development of the revolution.
the opening salvoes
The opening salvoes
  • These first questions are relatively short, but tricky because you have to squeeze in a heck of a lot.
  • Use relevant information – don’t use irrelevant information.
  • The chief examiner is interested in language use in this section.
  • She wants to see that you are using language properly to show us that you understand the sequence of events that contributed to the revolution.
section a part 1
Section A Part 1
  • Generally students used factual information well but the cues in the question to make judgements (‘how did’; ‘explain the importance of’; ‘contribute to a revolutionary situation’; ‘in the development of the revolution’) were often overlooked by students.
  • Many students tended to just list or narrate whatever they knew about the topic.
  • The better answers showed an ability to link the evidence to the question and respond to the cue of ‘how did’.
  • Correct and specific historical terminology was evident in the best answers.
section a part 11
Section A Part 1
  • The best answers delivered an argument, as was required by the wording of the question, and delivered points chronologically.
  • Overall, successful responses identified three or four clear points about the event or actions and developed an argument using precise factual information such as names, dates and statistics that were linked to the question, often using specific terms to indicate a relationship between points rather than merely implying a connection.
section a part 12
Section A Part 1
  • Better students demonstrated an understanding that revolution is a developing process.
  • Medium level responses tended to have some accuracy, perhaps showing the student’s ability to use one piece of statistical information or other form of factual knowledge. They were general in content and loosely controlled. There may have been only two main ideas, which were described in loose terms, and other ideas were less relevant or of lower significance. These responses sometimes wandered from the timeframe or lacked relevance.
  • Less successful answers often used only one or two points and expanded on them, while others simply developed a narrative.
2007 exam
2007 Exam
  • Russia [1905.October 1917]
  • Using three or four points, explain how Russia’s involvement in World War I contributed to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II by January 1917. Provide evidence to support your answer.
section a part 1 russia
Section A Part 1 Russia
  • Knowledge of the effect of WWI on Russia was generally well evidenced.
  • Students mainly included three main factors leading to the abdication of the Tsar:
  • He took charge of the army;
  • Alexandra was left in charge of Russia
  • The influence of Rasputin.
  • The degree of precise factual detail often differentiated between those students who received a high score and those who received a medium score. Other information that could have been used included economic factors related to the war ie problems of supply
  • Demoralisation and lack of belief in the current system
  • The following is an example of a medium level response to Question 1.
2007 student response medium
2007 Student Response - Medium
  • Once Tsar Nicholas II involved Russia in World War 1 his country was plagued by problems, many of which lead to his abdication in January 1917. Firstly, by assuming command of his own army, any defeats at the front would hold him directly responsible and easy prey to Bolshevik propaganda. Secondly, by leaving the capital in the hands of Tsarina Alexandra and the mysterious Rasputin he was gambling Tsarist Russia’s future in the face of revolutionists such as Lenin and Kerensky. Not only this, but the resources poured into the war was astronomically considering many peasants were still awaiting ‘peace, bread, land’; three things Lenin would later offer. Seeing the Tsar had engaged Russia in a foreign war and had literally (and symbolically) left Petrograd many of the proletariat saw this as a time for radical change. And seeing they made up 82% of the population, once Nicholas didn’t have your support he was forced to abdicate and finish the 300 year old Romonov dynasty.
part 1 second question 2008
Part 1 Second Question 2008
  • c. Russia [1905–October 1917]
  • Using three or four points, explain how the formation of the Provisional Government in February 1917 contributed to the development of the Russian Revolution. Provide evidence to support your answer.
high ranking answer 2008
High Ranking Answer 2008

In February 1917 leaders of the fourth Duma formed the Provisional Government and forced the Tsar to abdicate. Under the leadership of Prince Lvov, they issued liberal democratic reforms which included freedom of speech and the release of all revolutionaries. This amnesty was a mistake as it allowed revolutionaries like Lenin to return from exile and to resume contributing to the revolutionary situation. Their second mistake was the continuance of the war, which was extremely unpopular among the people and resulted in a loss of support for the new regime. They instead turned to the Soviets, resulting in a period of ‘Dual Government’, where the Provisional Government held authority but no power and the Soviets, power but no authority.

high ranking answer 20081
High Ranking Answer 2008

This was evident in the Kornilov attack in August where Kerensky armed the Soviets so they could protect Petrograd from Kornilov’s soldiers. This Dual Government created great political instability as it allowed the Bolsheviks to build support during September with a majority in the Moscow Soviet. Now armed, courtesy of Kerensky, Trotsky formed the Red Guard and Military Revolutionary Committee in preparation for armed insurrection. After gaining confidence in the Provisional government’s weakness and their own popularity, the Bolsheviks seized power in the name of the Soviets on the 25th of October 1917. The formation of the Provisional Government in February 1917 was to be followed by a series of mistakes made, which contributed to the development of the revolution by all other parties being able to exploit these weaknesses. The Bolsheviks would eventually be able to exploit these weaknesses and successfully stage the October Revolution in 1917.

di explains it for yuz
Di explains it for yuz

Typically, the medium range responses had some accuracy, showing the ability to identify perhaps one or two pieces of information. They were general in content and loosely controlled. There might have been only two main ideas, which were described in loose terms and other ideas might have been less relevant or of lower significance. They sometimes wandered from the time frame or slipped in relevance. There was little demonstration of the pathway to revolution.

section a part two creating a new society
Section A Part Two Creating a New Society

Document Analysis -though it could be a graphic or a commentary now.

what students did last year
What students did last year
  • Students demonstrated good ability to read and comprehend basic information in the documents. There was less skill in analysing the views expressed.
  • Students may benefit from practise writing short summaries of the viewpoint contained in the extracts.
  • Students do not need to know the school to which a historian belongs, rather they should know what the historian is saying about the revolution.
The majority of students were able to identify the relevant information directly from the document to answer the two questions. However, it was clear that students were not using the document by quoting from it to frame their answer in Questions 3c-d. It is a requirement to quote from the extract.
  • Question 3c. was accessible to most students. Weaker answers told a story of events rather than explaining in the context of the document, using it, as well as including several pieces of additional information. Improvement is needed in reading the question and identifying what to focus on.
gettin it rong
Gettin it Rong
  • Question 3d. was poorly done. Students seemed to either repeat knowledge already presented or compare historians.
  • They did not tackle the ‘strengths and limitations’ of the document as evidence and at times referred to the strengths and weaknesses of the event itself. There was a lot of ‘dumping’ of learned quotes that lacked relevance to the context of the document and question. A typical weak statement was, for example, ‘this is written by a historian and not someone who experienced the event first hand and therefore it is bias’.
  • Students should also learn how to use the terms ‘bias’ and ‘biased’ correctly.
High-scoring responses used outside factual knowledge to illuminate ideas presented in the document. Medium and weak responses either did not move beyond information contained in the document and did little more than describe or paraphrase the content, or on the other hand, they ignored the document and simply expressed their own knowledge.
  • Most students made a generalised attempt to analyse the view but they must identify specific words in the document that provide clues to the position held by the author. The best approach is one where a historian’s viewpoint is explained and the response shows how it differs from, or confirms, the ideas expressed in the extract.
russia 1917 to 1924 death of lenin
Russia 1917 to 1924 Death of Lenin

Figes, Orlando, A People’s Tragedy, pp. 613–614

What about the argument that War Communism was a re[s]ponse to the exigencies* of the civil war? To be sure, the Bolsheviks, like all the wartime governments in Europe at this time, were trying to control the economy in the military interests of the state . . . But War Communism was not just a response to the civil war; it was also a means of making civil war. The civil war was not fought only on the battlefields. It was a fundamental aspect of the Bolsheviks’ revolutionary strategy, and was also fought on what they called the ‘internal front’, in society and the economy, through the policies of War Communism. Unless one acknowledges this fundamental fact – that the policies of War Communism were seen by the Bolsheviks as an instrument of struggle against their social or ‘internal’ enemies – it is impossible to explain why these policies were kept in place for more than a year after the White armies had been defeated. The case for War Communism as inspired by ideology is also insufficient. Certainly, the Bolsheviks were all united by a fundamental belief in the possibility of using state coercion to effect the transition to socialism in a backward peasant country such as Russia. This was the essence of their ideology. They also shared a deeply ingrained mistrust of the market which could be defined as ideological. Foreign socialists were shocked by the violence of the Bolsheviks’ hatred of free trade. The Bolsheviks did not just want to regulate the market – as did the socialists and most of the wartime governments of Europe – they wanted to abolish it.

* urgent demands

the questions
The questions
  • a. Identify the two Bolshevik goals of War Communism as stated in the extract.
  • i.
  • ii.
  • 2 marks
  • b. Identify from the extract two internal types of battle necessary for the victory of the Revolution within Russia.
  • i.
  • ii.
  • 2 marks
the questions1
The Questions
  • c. Using your own knowledge and the extract, explain how the policy of War Communism operated in practice 6 Marks
  • d. Explain the strengths and limitations of this extract as evidence to explain the Bolshevik victory in the Civil War from 1918 to 1921. In your response refer to different views of War Communism.
section a part two analysis of a document
Section A Part Two – Analysis of a document
  • Content
  • It is important to identify relevant information from the document in this section.
  • Questions “a” and “b”
  • Keep in mind that these are meant to be easy questions. That is important. If they are meant to be easy, then the answer should be easy to find, not tricky or puzzling. The simplest response will be the right one here so don’t make things too complex.
section a part two
Section A Part Two
  • Questions c. and d. were more difficult and distinguished the high-performing students. In order to be successful in these questions, students needed to, firstly, use the extract by directly referring to parts of it to explain your answer and, secondly, use your own knowledge in part c. and d and evidence from historians in part d.
c for context
C…for Context
  • Overall, students should start by referring to the document, noting its date, who produced it and the reasons why it was produced.
  • Placing it against a historical background is necessary in order to develop and explain the rest of the answer.
  • High-scoring responses used outside factual knowledge and combined this with ideas presented by the document.
  • Medium and weaker responses either did not move beyond information contained in the document, doing little more than describing or paraphrasing the content, or ignored the document and just expressed the student’s own knowledge.
more c
More C
  • Most students made a generalised attempt to analyse the view presented but they must identify specific words in the document, which are clues to the experiences or difficulties in the historical period, and use these clues for a focussed explanation.
  • They must also provide specific factual information.
  • The question on historiography, d., was attempted by most students and most students were at least able to refer to ‘historiographical schools’. Many students adopted an approach that showed good scaffolding of their answers.
  • They addressed the question, demonstrated an understanding of the context and timeframe by referring to events and factual information, identified and explained strengths and historians that may agree and then explained limitations and which historians might agree.
  • Providing contrasting historical viewpoints was a strength of such answers.
  • Students are strongly discouraged from merely producing an outline of the perspective of particular historical ‘schools’ without referring to the document material. Better answers do not need to label historians, and labels such as ‘liberal’, ‘soviet’, ‘libertarian’ etc., are to be discouraged because they do not demonstrate real understanding of a particular view.
pipes and bush
Pipes and Bush
  • Pipes is a right-wing liberal historian.
  • Bush is history.
orlando figes
Orlando Figes
  • Orlando Figes – liberal, revisionist … but don’t worry about that stuff too much. It is what he says rather than the label that matters.
sheila fitzpatrick
Sheila Fitzpatrick
  • Sheila Fitzpatrick – Social Historian, but don’t worry too much about that. Concentrate on what she says rather than concerning yourself too much with the finer points of historiographical perspective.
another sheila f
Another Sheila F.
  • Do not trust the views of this particular Sheila Fitzpatrick.
  • It is much better to know what a historian said about an event, incident, person, period of history and the evidence they use to support your view.
  • Therefore students need to practise measuring views expressed in documents against historian’s or contemporaries’ views of particular events.
how the questions were answered
How the questions were answered
  • Students had little difficulty with the short questions. Responses to Question 3c. showed that most students had good knowledge of the way War Communism functioned, although surprisingly, many answers did not show precise knowledge of the use of terror.
the tricky stuff
The Tricky Stuff
  • It appeared that Question 3d. presented many students with problems because they did not answer the question about‘Bolshevik victory in the Civil War’. Instead students wrote again about War Communism or Civil War but did not write about alternative reasons for victory outside of Bolshevik actions. Many students simply delivered a comparison of views about War Communism. Students must pay attention to the question and break it down. A surprising number of students claimed that the limitation of the piece was that the historian ignored the violence of the Cheka. Students should be aware of the historian’s work as a whole since Figes devotes much space to discussion of the brutality of the Cheka. Students should have been able to grasp that Figes argues the duality of the policies surrounding War Communism, which he says were not only a means of fighting the war against external enemies but also a means of targeting counter-revolutionaries. Following is an example of a high level answer to Question 3c. The response does both things required by the question; it quotes from the extract and uses additional knowledge to discuss how War Communism operated.
high level response for c
High Level Response for C
  • War Communism was introduced in 1918 to keep the army supplied during Civil War 1918-1921. It did so by placing Russia under a ‘command economy’ where the state directly influenced the economy as Figes states, ‘in the military interests of the state’. This was achieved by the nationalisation of all banks, businesses and factories and grain requisitions. These grain requisitions were carried out by the cheka, who used force to collect the grain from peasants. Due to food shortage peasants were hoarding their grain, however due to War Communism’s requisitions over 7 million died due to starvation. Through the use of violence the Bolsheviks succeeded in keeping the army supplied but this was done at the expense of their popularity among the people.
2007 part d
2007 Part D
  • The following is a medium level response to Question d. This answer starts strongly with the extract and the student attempts to contextualise; however, the response then falls into a discussion of historians’ views without linking them to the extract.
medium level response for d
Medium Level Response for d.
  • The extract displays Lenin’s passion and desire to strive for his goals. This extract can provide some insight into the extreme lengths taken, such as the violent role of the Cheka or the extreme reaction to Kronstadt. Figes and Pipes both describe the Terror as a tragedy, as Figes book title says ‘A People’s Tragedy’ although Pipes takes a much more conservative viewpoint and far more anti Bolshevik and therefore anti Terror, whereas Figes accepts the socialist views, but condemns the terror. Pipes is more influenced by the American conservatism or ‘reds under the bed’. There are few weaknesses in this extract to explain the terror, it is an extreme and in a way of lexicon, violent extract, with the emphasis on ‘parasites’.
2005 richard pipes
2005 – Richard Pipes
  • Russia [November 1917–1924 death of Lenin]
  • Pipes on Lenin’s attitude to the Russian civil war
  • To Lenin it [the civil war] meant the global class conflict between his party, the vanguard of the “proletariat,” and the international “bourgeoisie”: “class war” in the most comprehensive sense of the term, of which the military conflict was only one dimension. He not only expected civil war to break out immediately after his taking power, but took power in order to unleash it. For him the October coup d’état would have been a futile adventure if it did not lead to a global class conflict. Ten years before the revolution, analysing the lessons of the Paris Commune, Lenin agreed with Marx that its collapse was caused by its failure to launch a civil war. From the moment the World War broke out, Lenin denounced pacifistic socialists who called for an end to the fighting. True revolutionaries did not want peace: “This is a slogan of philistines and priests. The proletarian slogan must be: civil war.” “Civil war is the expression of revolution . . .” wrote Bukharin and Preobrazhenskii in a widely read manual of Communism. Trotsky put it even more bluntly: “Soviet authority is organised civil
  • war.” From such pronouncements it should be evident that the civil war was not forced on the Communist leaders by the foreign and domestic “bourgeoisie”: it lay at the heart of their political program.
  • Reference: Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919–1924, pp. 5–6
  • a. Name two things civil war meant to Lenin according to Pipes.
  • the beginning of global class conflict between his party, the vanguard of the “proletariat,” and the international “bourgeoisie”
  • ii. “class war” in the most comprehensive sense of the term, of which the military conflict was only one dimension.
  • 2 marks
  • b. What two reasons are given by Pipes that Lenin regarded the October coup d’état as futile without civil war?
  • i. The survival of the revolution - analysing the lessons of the Paris Commune, Lenin agreed with Marx that its collapse was caused by its failure to launch a civil war.
  • ii. Took power in order to unleash it [civil war].
  • 2 marks
the responses
The responses
  • Strangely, weaker students sometimes did better on these questions. They knew little so relied on the document entirely and often got it right. It is after all just reading comprehension.
  • Stronger students were sometimes inclined to write from their own knowledge and ended up with less well directed answers.
the context question
The Context question
  • Using your own knowledge and the extract, explain
  • why the Bolshevik government supported the civil war
    • Lenin drew on lessons from Paris Commune which collapsed due to lack of Civil War.
    • He took power “in order to unleash” it.
    • Provided a chance for Lenin to use Trotsky, the Red Army and Dzerzhinsky’s Cheka to defeat White Armies of Denikin, Wrangel, Yudenich, Kolchak and other internal opposition and consolidate power.
the context second question
The Context – second question
  • ii. why Pipes says the Bolshevik government’s support for the civil war ‘lay at the heart of their political
  • program.”
  • For Pipes, violence was all they really understood
  • Trotsky’s direct statement that Soviet authority is organised civil war.
  • For Pipes, the Lenin, Trotsky, Sverdlov and the other Bolsheviks were violent thugs, so war is just Bolshevism flying its true colours – notes elsewhere the summary executions, intolerance of opposition, concentration camps and generally repressive policies and corrupt abuse of power
  • Could with some justification argue that their political program contained little else, judged on the failure of War Communism in political and economic terms.
  • 3 + 3 = 6 marks
historiographical question
Historiographical question
  • “Explain the usefulness of this extract in understanding the role of the civil war in establishing a new political order and a new society up to 1920.”
  • We now have terms like strengths and weakness, or significance in this section.
  • This is an invitation to engage with historiography.
  • The first 3 or 4 lines should be directed at a Pipes versus others line of discussion.
  • You must then move on to the things suggested by the document and address yourself to the question of the New Society and the role of the civil war – and hence leaders like Lenin, Trotsky, the Red Army, War Communism, the Cheka, the White Army and assess how useful this document is to helping us understand these elements.
  • A document should always be partially, never wholly useful or useless.
  • Show that you have skills in evaluation.Show your awareness of its strengths and weaknesses and other points of view.
  • Show us some HISTORY. Ie
  • Names of the leaders of the White Armies – Kolchak, Yudenich, Denikin, Wrangel, Kornilov.
  • The Foreign Intervention by USA, Britain, Japan etc
  • An understanding of Trotsky’s role leading, rallying and organising the Red Army from his train.
  • War Communism, the failure of grain requisitioning, the collapse of the economy, the antagonism of the population to both sides.
  • How Bolsheviks misrepresent themselves as in control – lurched from crisis to crisis.
  • War Communism a retrospective term
  • Show the limitations and strengths of the source. How Pipes understates Bolshevik support – at least 25% as a minimum they had mass backing for their policies
  • Why is the source incomplete?
  • Pipes is a committed anti-Bolshevist. Liberal Historians tend to concentrate on individual decision makers
  • Lenin viewed as weak, lying and bent on violence and destruction.
  • Whose view (in socioeconomic terms) is reflected.
  • We know it shows only one view – you must go further to indicate what views are not shown.
  • Ie The Liberal View of Pipes attacks the Soviet view of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but lacks the understanding of the masses of social historians like Read, Fitzpatrick or Christian, which means that, as Wheatcroft points out, the Bolshevik domination of the Soviets and their mass support is completely discounted.
sample response
Sample Response
  • This extract is limited in its usefulness, as it is written as an interpretation of Lenin’s psyche from a Liberal perspective. Liberal historians generally concentrate on the ‘revolution from above’ and tend to ignore the influence of the people in establishing the new order. As a Liberal historian, Pipes is obviously bised against the communist ideas of Lenin and therefore focuses on his and the Bolshevik’s ‘political program’ and does not acknowledge the tactfulness and sheer determination that other historians may credit Lenin for. Though Pipes points out Lenin’s ‘apparent’ agenda for civil war, he fails to recognise the underlying political factors that influenced the people of Russia to deal with threats of counter-revolution from royalists and moderates alike.
another sample
Another Sample
  • The extract is useful as it presents key Bolshevik leaders’ views on the role of the civil war in consolidating their power. It displays the militaristic and violent nature of the party and consequently, the new political order. It also implies that violence was a key aspect of shaping the new society. This extract however, does not include factors such as economic pressure and social discontent that also played a vital role in determining the new society. Although not affecting the militaristic nature, it does not account for the impact of War Communism that undermined the support for a socialist state, nor the growing unpopularity of the Bolsheviks that pressured for a change from the communist ideals.