The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

History: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Richard Lewis

Second Advisor

John Ness

Keywords and Subject Headings

Stalin, Nationalities, Post-World War II, Pogrom


The intellectual foundation of Soviet society, written by Marx and Engels, did not articulate how a society was to move from a non-socialist society to a socialist one, when there are many ethnic groups represented in the country. As a result, early Soviet leaders needed to answer the question of how to deal with the various ethnic groups in the country, especially after the oppressive rule of the Tsars. Two interpretations of what was to be done, in regards to the nationalities question, were presented by Lenin and later Stalin. Lenin offered a broad, representative or national view while Stalin presented a specific view that all had to be, or become, Russian.

Stalin used the national question to work his way into a position of greater power while Lenin was alive. After Lenin's final stroke, on January 21, 1924, there was no longer a strong person to limit Stalin's power. Stalin continued to use the chaos of the Bolshevik bureaucracy to eliminate opponents and use the Marxian idea of revolution to purge undesirables from the Soviet Union so that he could maintain power. A case study in the way Stalin used nationalities to gain and maintain power was the Jews. Stalin's culminating event purging them from the Soviet Union was attempted in the "Doctors' Plot".

Understanding how Soviet Russia dealt with its nationalities will give insight into how the new Russian state will deal with its ethnic diversity and its dealings with the West.



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