Collapse of the Soviet Union - Outline | Student Handouts
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The Collapse of the Soviet Union
Free Printable World History Outline on the Collapse of the Eastern Bloc - Scroll Down to Print (PDF)

       I.            Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

a.       Better known as the Soviet Union or USSR

b.      Formed officially in 1922

c.       Eventually contained 15 republics

                                                               i.      Today’s Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Latvia, and Estonia

                                                             ii.      Formed from Russia, it’s former territories, and territories acquired following World War II

d.      Fell apart in 1991Collapse of the Soviet Union - Free printable outline for high school World History students  (PDF file).


     II.            Soviet Leaders

a.       Vladimir Lenin, 1917-1924

b.      Joseph Stalin, 1924-1953

c.       Georgy Malenkov, 1953-1955

d.      Nikita Khrushchev, 1955-1964

e.      Leonid Brezhnev, 1964-1982

f.        Yuri Andropov, 1982-1984

g.       Konstantin Chernenko, 1984-1985

h.      Mikhail Gorbachev, 1985-1991


  III.            Early history

a.       Russian Revolution

                                                               i.      Russia and its territories still largely unindustrialized

                                                             ii.      Revolution overthrew the tsar

b.      Russian Civil War

                                                               i.      Red (Bolsheviks) eventually beat the Whites

                                                             ii.      Bloody conflict

                                                            iii.      Whites assisted by foreign powers such as the United States

1.       Reds saw foreign powers as threats to the fledgling Soviet state

                                                           iv.      Left country in worse shape than before the revolution


  IV.            Vladimir Lenin’s leadership

a.       NEP – new economic policy

                                                               i.      Allowed for some degree of private enterprise

b.      Attempted to improve the Russian/Soviet economy without foreign assistance

c.       Desire to spread communist revolution worldwide


     V.            Joseph Stalin’s Five-Year Plans

a.       Replaced the NEP

b.      Command economy focused on increased production of agriculture and heavy industry

c.       Little production of consumer goods


  VI.            World War II

a.       Country still not on par with the rest of Europe when Germany invaded

b.      Country was left devastated by the fighting

                                                               i.      Millions upon millions killed

                                                             ii.      Cities bombed beyond recognition

                                                            iii.      Fields and crops destroyed

c.       Recovery long and hard

                                                               i.      No outside assistance

                                                             ii.      Superpower

                                                            iii.      Had to rebuild USSR while securing hold on Eastern Europe (iron curtain)


VII.            Stalin’s harsh regime

a.       Totalitarian regime

                                                               i.      No freedom of speech

                                                             ii.      No tolerance for dissidents

                                                            iii.      Harsh censorship

                                                           iv.      Enormous amounts of propaganda

                                                             v.      Soviet realism in art

b.      Gulags – forced labor camps for “enemies of the state”

                                                               i.      Dissidents, undesirables, religious people, etc.


VIII.            De-Stalinization

a.       After Stalin died in 1953, Khrushchev eventually came to power

b.      De-Stalinization was the attempt to do away with the totalitarian remnants of Stalin’s regime

c.       Greater freedom of speech

                                                               i.      For example, formerly banned books were now in print

d.      Many dissidents were released from gulags and prisons

e.      Production of consumer goods increased

f.        Firm control continued

                                                               i.      Hungarian uprising, 1956 – put down by Khrushchev

                                                             ii.      Prague spring, 1968 – put down by Brezhnev


   IX.            USSR’s command economy after World War II

a.       Soviets rebuilt their industrial base with German equipment

b.      Space race

                                                               i.      Sputnik I launched in 1957

                                                             ii.      Yuri Gagarin first person in space in 1961

                                                            iii.      Valentina Tereshkova first woman in space in 1963

c.       Arms race

                                                               i.      Competition with the U.S. to have the largest arsenal

1.       At the expense of manufacturing consumer goods

a.       Consumer goods inferior

b.      Luxury items very rare

                                                             ii.      Massive military budget

1.       Many historians believe that the U.S.A. won the Cold War by outspending and bankrupting the U.S.S.R.

d.      Agriculture

                                                               i.      Collective agriculture highly unproductive

                                                             ii.      Soviet Union forced to import grain

e.      Bureaucracy

                                                               i.      Production levels determined by Moscow rather than by plant managers

                                                             ii.      Local needs not addressed

f.        Workforce

                                                               i.      Guaranteed employment

                                                             ii.      Little motivation to do quality work


     X.            Soviet Union’s “Vietnam” – Afghanistan

a.       1970s – Soviet Union backed a communist government in Afghanistan

                                                               i.      This government attempted to redistribute land according to communist ideals

                                                             ii.      Afghan warlords (who owned the land) fought against land redistribution

b.      1979 – Brezhnev sent in Soviet troops

                                                               i.      Warlords supported by mujahedin

1.       Mujahedin – Muslim religious fighters

2.       Hated the atheism of communism

3.       Also opposed to foreign intervention

                                                             ii.      Soviet troops fought in Afghanistan for years with limited results

c.       1980s – United States became involved

                                                               i.      Afghanistan became in some ways another “proxy war” of the Cold War

                                                             ii.      American government sent weapons to mujahedin such as Osama bin Laden


   XI.            Mikhail Gorbachev’s rule

a.       Came to power in 1985

b.      Foreign policies

                                                               i.      Removed Soviet troops from Afghanistan

                                                             ii.      Signed nuclear disarmament treaties with the U.S. under President Ronald Reagan

c.       Domestic policies

                                                               i.      Glasnost – policy of openness

                                                             ii.      Perestroika – restructuring of the Soviet economy and government

                                                            iii.      Shrunk the bureaucracy

                                                           iv.      Allowed some degree of private enterprise

                                                             v.      Increased local control

                                                           vi.      Farmers’ markets


XII.            Collapse of the Soviet Union

a.       Results of reforms

                                                               i.      Inflation

                                                             ii.      Increased shortages

                                                            iii.      Unemployment

                                                           iv.      Sparked unrest in satellite states and republics

1.       1989 – Bulgaria and Poland free of Soviet control

2.       1991 – Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) independent

b.      Failed coup d’état

                                                               i.      Military-backed hardliners attempted to oust Gorbachev

                                                             ii.      Failed, but Gorbachev still resigned

                                                            iii.      Remaining Soviet republics separated

1.       Commonwealth of Independent States formed from several former republics

2.       CIS now largely defunct

                                                           iv.      No more Soviet Union


XIII.            Russia as an independent country

a.       Boris Yeltsin

                                                               i.      First president of Russia, 1991-1999

b.      Vladimir Putin

                                                               i.      President, 2000-2008

c.       Dmitry Medvedev

                                                               i.      President since 2008

                                                             ii.      But Vladimir Putin still in control of country as prime minister (Update: 2012 - Medvedev and Putin switched roles during the election, with Putin back in power as president.)

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