Soviet Union (1922-1991)

Soviet Union, former state in Eastern Europe and North Asia (1922–91), with 22.4 million km2 (of which 5.57 million km 2 in Europe) and 288.62 million residents, the capital was Moscow.

The Soviet Union was a union state that consisted of 15 union republics. It saw itself as the dictatorship of the proletariat and showed totalitarian features from the start. The leading role of the CPSU (short for K ommunistische P artei d it S owjet u nion) was enshrined in the Constitution from the 1936th According to the constitution of 1977, the collective head of state was the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. In fact, however, the general secretary of the party was considered the highest representative of the state.


After heavy defeats in the First World War, in which Russia took part against Germany and Austria, the first revolution occurred in March 1917, in the course of which the tsar had to abdicate. According to softwareleverage, a bourgeois republic was proclaimed in Russia, but this was replaced by the Bolshevik one October Revolution was eliminated that same year. Leading head of the Bolsheviks, who focused on the teaching of Karl Marx (Marxism) was supported by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. In addition to the actual revolutionary core of intellectuals and workers, he had succeeded in inspiring the peasants and soldiers for the revolution; Workers and Soldiers Councils were formed (Council system), which were supposed to bring about the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. In March 1918, Russia concluded the peace of Brest-Litovsk (Belarus) with the Central Powers, and on July 7, 1918 the constitution of the Russian Federal Soviet Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was adopted.

In the civil war (1918-21) the Soviets asserted themselves with the help of the Red Army against anti-revolutionary, monarchist forces (White Army) and against foreign interference. Soviet Socialist Republics (Ukraine, Belarus, Transcaucasia) were also formed in the outskirts of the former tsarist empire, and in December 1922 they united with the RSFSR to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were added in 1924, and Tajikistan in 1929.

After Lenin’s death (1924), Yossif Stalin took over the leadership of the Communist Party (CPSU). He forcibly transferred the land into communal ownership of the peasants (“collectivization of agriculture”), who were in Collective farms organized and promoted industrialization. His political opponents (including Leon Trotsky), including those within his own party, were silenced; The climax were the political “purges” of 1935–39 with show trials and numerous death sentences against critics of his dictatorship.

In 1939 the Soviet Union concluded a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in the Hitler-Stalin Pact; Germany assured her of eastern Poland for this. After the outbreak of World War II, the Soviet Union invaded Poland, in the winter of 1939/40 it annexed the western part of Karelia, which had been Finnish until then, and in 1940 Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union in breach of the treaty assurances, but the Soviet Union was able to prevail in the “Great Patriotic War” thanks to the massive support of the Western allies.

At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet troops were in Berlin and on the Elbe. The Soviet Union asserted itself in possession of eastern Poland, Carpathian Ukraine, northern Bukovina and Bessarabia; from 1945 on, the northern part of East Prussia also belonged to the Soviet Union; the neighboring states came under strong Soviet influence. The Soviet Union shielded the “Eastern Bloc” from the West with the “Iron Curtain”, enforced its claim to communist leadership in these states and sought to secure it in alliances (Warsaw Pact, Council for Mutual Economic Aid).

The relationship between the Soviet Union and the western industrialized countries was marked by hostility and tension after the Second World War (East-West conflict). Stalin died in March 1953; his successor was Georgi Malenkov for a few months. Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 proclaimed the “de-Stalinization” but was overthrown in 1964, ousted him.

In the 1960s, conflicts between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China created a new source of conflict. A cautious détente policy towards the West began in the 1970s, pursued by successive heads of state Leonid Brezhnev, who at the same time emphasized the supremacy of the Soviet Union in the Eastern Bloc (Brezhnev doctrine), Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. With the military intervention of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (1979-89) this policy of détente suffered a setback.

It was not until Mikhail Gorbachev took office in 1984 that the far-reaching reform of the political and economic system of the Soviet Union began; Gorbachev pursued a course of transformation (perestroika) alongside the principle of public information and discussion (glasnost). In 1990 the CPSU’s claim to leadership was given up and Gorbachev was elected president.

Long simmering nationality conflicts now broke out in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. By December 1990, all Union republics declared their sovereignty, led by the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Serious economic crises, the loss of power of the CPSU and the separation of the Eastern bloc states from the Soviet Union, which among others. also led to the restoration of German state unity, culminating in a coup by communist politicians and the military against Gorbachev in August 1991. However, with the support of Boris Yeltsin, the President of Russia, the coup was quickly put down. After all drafts for a new treaty for the preservation of the Union were unsuccessful and the majority of the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States, founded in December 1991 as a loose confederation of states (CIS), the USSR was dissolved at the end of December 1991.

Soviet Union (1922-1991)