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Chapter 8 Glossaries

Beria, L. (1899-1953)
Chief of the Soviet Secret Police from 1938 to 1953 Lavrenyi Beria was one of Stalin’s most trusted subordinates. In June 1953, after death of Stalin, he was arrested, charged with various crimes, and executed. According to Wikipedia, Beria ``is widely believed to be responsible for the death of Stalin.’’

In 1903 the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party split into two factions: Bolsheviks (majority) and Mensheviks (minority). In 1917, the Bolsheviks, in the name of the working class (proletariat), seized power and established a new state. That state became the Soviet Union. The first leader of Bolsheviks was Lenin.

Bukharin, Nikolai (1988-1938)
A Soviet leader, a party politburo member and the president of the Comintern (Communist International). Lenin characterized him as a ``major theoretician of the party.’’ Bukharin formulated the theoretical idea of ``socialism in one country,’’ put into practice by Stalin. In 1938 Bukharin was arrested and received the death sentence, for being an enemy of the Soviet state.

An ideal society without class conflicts. Attempts to establish such societies were made long before Marx, who wrote that private ownership of means of production is in conflict with communism. That is why a working class revolution is necessary to establish such a society. This idea, however, was contradicted by practice. The Russian proletarian revolution created a new class of privileged people.

Dialectical and Historical Materialism
Philosophical basis of Stalinism based on writings of Marx and his followers. Also the title of a booklet published in 1938 by Joseph Stalin. In that booklet Stalin wrote: ``Dialectical materialism is the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party. It is called dialectical materialism because its approach to the phenomena of nature, its method of studying and apprehending them, is dialectical, while its interpretation of the phenomena of nature, its conception of these phenomena, its theory, is materialistic. Historical materialism is the extension of the principles of dialectical materialism to the study of social life, an application of the principles of dialectical materialism to the phenomena of the life of society, to the study of society and of its history.” Studying of “diamat,” like studying other publications of Stalin, was imposed on Soviet students, and on students in many other countries.

Engels, F. (1820 -- 1895)
A German social scientist who wrote (in 1848, together with Karl Marx) ``Communist Manifesto’’ (1948). The title of the first book of Friedrich Engels, published in 1844, was ``The Condition of the Working Class in England.”

Gorbachev M. (born in 1931)
The General Secretary of the Soviet communist party between 1986 and 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, together with Boris Yeltsin, was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev wanted to improve Soviet reality by introducing open debates (``glastnost”) and by restructuring the economy (``perestroika’’).

An acronym for what can be translated into “federal administration of concentration camps.” This term became popular after ``Gulag Archipelago’’ was published by A. Solzhenitsyn.

An acronym for what can be translated as Committee of State Security, the name assigned to Soviet secret police and intelligence agency between 1954 and 1991. The present abbreviation (since 1995) is FSB, which stands for the Federal Service of Security (of Russian Federation). The older names were Cheka (established in 1917) and OGPU.

Part of the Russian far East, located between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Arctic Ocean. A large number of Gulag camps were located in Kolyma during Stalin’s era.

Khrushchev, N. (1894 - 1971)
Succeeded Stalin as the First Secretary of the Soviet communist party (1953-1964) and Premier of the Soviet Union (1958-1964). Nikita Khrushchev was a close collaborator of Stalin during many decades. But in 1956 he exposed some of Stalin’s immoral acts (in a secret report at a party congress). Weeks later the content of the report became widely known. This resulted in a great upheaval among party members, especially outside the Soviet Union.

Prosperous Russian peasants, considered to be class enemies by Stalin. The policy of “liquidation of kulaks as a class” was instituted by the communist party in 1930. This resulted in deportation of large number of kulaks to concentration camps.

Lenin, V. (1870-1924)

Principal leader of the Russian 1917 revolution. In 1922 Vladimir Lenin became the first head of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic. Here is a quote about the so-called ``Lenin’s testament,’’ extracted from Wikipedia.

``After his first stroke, Lenin dictated to his wife several papers regarding the government. Most famous of these is Lenin's Testament, which was partially inspired by the 1922 Georgian Affair and among other things criticized top-ranking communists, including Joseph Stalin, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin and Leon Trotsky. Of Stalin, who had been the Communist Party’s general secretary since April 1922, Lenin said that he had `unlimited authority concentrated in his hands’ and suggested that `comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post.’ Upon Lenin’s death, his wife mailed his Testament to the central committee, to be read at the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. However, the committee and especially the ruling `triumvirate’ — Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev — had a vested interest in not releasing the will to the wider public.’’

A set of social and economic theories developed by Lenin and his supporters. Leninism was based on ideas developed by Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, and put into practice during the 1917 revolution in Russia, and after the victory of that revolution.

Marx, K. (1818 -- 1883)

A German philosopher and political activist, Karl Marx was the author (together with Engels) of “Communist Manifesto.” He was also the author of a book on economy entitled “Capital.” Marx believed that capitalism would be replaced by communism.

A political philosophy developed by Karl Marx, Friederich Engels, and their followers, formulated in the 1848 Communist Manifesto, stating that the history of mankind has been governed by a struggle between classes. Capitalism, according to Marxists, was ready to fall due to its internal contradictions. The historic mission of the proletariat (working class) is to destroy capitalism and to establish a classless system called communism.

Mao Zedong (1893 - 1976)
A Chinese Communist Party (CPC) leader. Also the leader of People’s Republic of China (PRC). Unlike Stalin, Mao believed that Chinese Revolutionary activities should be based on agrarian, rather than urban, proletariat. PRC emerged from civil war (after Chiang Kai-shek was defeated and pushed to Taiwan). Proletarian dictatorship in PRC was no less cruel than in the USSR.

In 1903 the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) split into two factions: Bolsheviks (majority) and Mensheviks (minority). The split resulted from disagreements about rigid adherence toward party discipline, promoted by Bolsheviks. In 1912 Bolsheviks left the RSDLP and formed their own party. After the 1917 revolution Mensheviks were treated as enemies of the state of proletarian dictatorship.

Molotov, V. (1890-1986)
Stalin’s minister of foreign affairs. Vyacheslav Molotov, an old Bolshevik, was a central figure in the Soviet Government. He was intimately involved in all of Stalin’s campaigns (liquidation of kulaks, the Five-Year plan of rapid industrialization and show trials). He was dismissed from the politburo by Khrushchev.

Moscow trials (1936-1938)
A set of show trials of Soviet leaders accused of treason and attempts to assassinate Stalin. Accused were old Bolsheviks and top Red Army commanders. Most accused were condemned to death and executed immediately.

Nazi-Soviet Pact
A Treaty of Nonaggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, signed in Moscow in August 1939. Both sides benefited from this pact --- Germany deprived England of a potential ally and the Soviet Union gained time to build its military strength. The pact contained secret protocols dividing several independent countries, including Poland, into German and Soviet spheres of influence. Western Poland was invaded by Germany several days after the pact was signed. Then Soviet troops entered their ``sphere of interest’’. Soviet campaign, named ``liberation of brotherly nations,’’ resulted in large-scale deportations to Siberian concentration camps. The German invasion of Poland marks the beginning of the W.W.II. Less than two years later the Nazi-Soviet pact was broken; Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941.

October Revolution
The 1917 revolution, led by Bolsheviks, to abolish Russian Provisional Government and to give power to the Soviets (workers’ councils). This resulted in the three-years-long Russian Civil War. The Soviet Union emerged from this war in 1922, two year before the death of Lenin.


This term is often used in reference to the central executive committee of the Soviet Communist-Bolshevik Party.

Proletarian dictatorship
According to Marx, the most progressive social class is the proletariat. Its mission is to abolish the capitalist system and establish a classless society. The term was used to describe the transitional period during which brutal dictatorship was necessary to suppress the resistance of capitalists. The ideology of proletarian dictatorship, further developed by Lenin and Stalin, was used as justification of Soviet brutalities.

Putin, V (born in 1952)
President of the Russian federation (1999 -- 2008). Vladimir Putin is also known to have been a KGB agent, and a political activist in St. Petersburg, during Yeltsin’s presidency. He is well-known for the statement “He who does not regret the breakup of the Soviet Union has no heart; he who wants to revive it in its previous form has no head.”

Social Revolutionaries (SR)
A popular leftist political party in Russia before the 1917 revolution. The SRs supported Bolsheviks but they were divided on numerous issues. That is why they were later declared to be enemies of revolution. Like Mensheviks, the SRs were persecuted in the Soviet Union. One member of the SR party, F. Kaplan, tried to assassinate Lenin in 1918.

Solzhenitsyn, A (born in 1928)
A Russian writer (1970 Nobel Prize in literature) best known for ``The Gulag Archipelago,’’ a book about Soviet concentration camps. After being expelled from the Soviet Union, Alexander Solzhenitsyn lived in the USA; he returned to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Stalin, J. (1878 -- 1953)
A leader and ruler of the Soviet Union. From 1922 to 1953 Joseph Stalin was the General secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

An ideology said to be based on Marxism-Leninism. The term also refers to a political system established by Stalin, which was based on extensive use of secret police to brutally suppress real and imaginary opponents.

Trotsky, L. (1879 -1940)
A well known Bolshevik working with Lenin. Known as a leading organizer of the Russian revolution, and a founder of Red Army, Leon Trotsky opposed Stalin. This led to his expulsion from the Communist party and his deportation from the Soviet Union. He subsequently criticized Stalinist bureaucracy, and was assassinated by a Soviet agent in Mexico.

An abbreviation standing for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, the full official name of the Soviet Union.

Yeltsin B. (Born in 1931)
The President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, together with Gorbachev, was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. Each of these communist leaders was disillusioned by Soviet reality and wanted to improve it.

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