It is interesting when reading back on how many historians and scholars predicted the fall of communism or capitalism and the end of the Cold War always being in such a dramatic way. Not to say that this change was not dramatic and did not have points of tension, one would rarely consider the idea that there would be an internal war within the Soviet Union to preserve it at that point.
It’s always certainly interesting to see how intertwined the economy was with the alcohol market in the Soviet Union. Our group on Thursday did a brief post on this, but did not take into account fully the fact that the country would now have been lacking the revenue streams they had been getting prior to the anti-alcohol campaign.
Even though Chernobyl destroyed and damaged a large area of the Soviet Union, and the economy was completely shaken, the resolve of the government not to take action or admit its faults was just as astounding as events earlier in the history of the Soviet Union. Though maybe not as horrific as the things that Stalin did during his time at the seat of power, the inability for the Soviet Union to act on its own as a superpower showed many flaws in an ailing system. Anytime I hear about or read about Chernobyl, it feels as if it was a foreshadow of the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union only a few years later because of the response that the nation had to it and the groundwork it laid for freedom within the press, and actual Western aid to the region (as we had discussed in class)
The event happened with almost no forewarning to the world and when it did happen it took days before Gorbachev actually addressed the world to the fact that there had been the first major nuclear accident that would result in a meltdown in the history of the nuclear world. It would take years before the actual full evacuation order of certain areas near the reactor would be given, showing the dying nature of the Soviet government and its old mindset that they would be able to cover up any environmental damages from the world as had been done with any humanitarian crisis leading up to this point, but the snowball effect of a more open press within the Soviet Union prevented that. Tensions between the parts of the Union already stood high and the fact that the government could not pick up its feet and pull together a proper response on its own or in a timely manner proved the very fact that the system was outdated, out-modeled, and no longer functional in the world it current was living in. It’s certainly not to say that had another government been in power or this even happened in a different nation that the response would have produced better results, rather, this event is one of the highlighting moments of the central governments downfall of power during the late 1980s before the sudden collapse of the entire Soviet system in the 90s. The fall of the USSR though seeded with years of issues and problems that brought about its downfall would physically occurr in a similar manner as Chernobyl, extremely fast and extremely devastating for those who held it close to the mindset they lived in.
It’s very interesting how the Soviets held onto many of the actions and events from WWII and I agree with you that who could blame them considering the heavy loss they suffered in population and just general destruction of property. The premise of this book and tv series sounds extremely interesting and I’ll have to look it up sometime to see it myself!
This is a great general overview of why they went in and what actions caused the quagmire they would eventually be forced to embarrassingly in a way withdraw from years later. Great post!
This is a very good overview about the beginnings of the manned space race. The importance these missions had were not only to show the technology that was required to send a man into space but the sheer size of crafts that would be easy to fit with missiles and use against the United States if the USSR ever needed to resort to a long-range attack during the Cold War.
Reading this I have to agree with the comment above about the fact that there were not more revolts than the one mentioned. It seemed like religion was so heavily invested into Russian culture that not force, not even Stalinism, Leninism, or Communism would have such a major sway in the changing of an entire society.
This past Thursday we broke up into groups to explore different topics regarding the changes and events going on within the Soviet Union during the sixties. My group in particular was to investigate the conversations between Khrushchev and Gagarin after he had just landed from the first manned flight into space. While that conversation seemed basically to be a public relations fluff type piece with the leader of the Soviet Union asking questions such as “Tell me, Yury Alexeyevich, do you have a wife, children?” and “Are your parents, you mother and father living? Where do they live now, what do they do?” the more in-depth aspect were the constant mentions on how his actions would speak louder than words to the the rest of the world in regards to how advanced Soviet technology and education was in comparison, especially when comparing to the United States. Exploring beyond this single document, into places such as the 1961 section of Seventeen Moments on the First Cosmonaut you find that there is more to the story than just smart scientists and a good education system that allowed the Soviets to explore space at a much faster pace (at first) than the United States. In fact, just as the United States did, it relied heavily on the technology and resources that the military had been developing for long-range missiles. The fact that it is heavily relied upon by the military work and not pure independent breakthroughs can be seen as you explore into even more detailed bits about his flight on the site Russia Space History: First Flight. This site exposes the bits that were kept covered up until after the fall of the Soviet Union, such as the fact that Gagarin was not told of his current capsules status because of lack of communication between Ultra-shortwave ground stations, particularly the one in Eastern Russia/Siberia area. Although the Soviets presented this flight to the world as flawless, the landing was extremely off, the decent and service modules detached much later than planned, and the fact that after the engine braking occurred there was a period when the spacecraft began to spin around at very high speeds, jeopardizing the safety of the mission and the Cosmonaut. I think this first milestone in manned spaceflight regardless of who had actually done it, the Soviets or United States had the chances of being riddled with errors such as these and it it very interesting that it took many decades for the truth to be told. The broader implications of what these accomplishments did were more important than the tiny details that at any moment had the possibility to turn them into sheer disasters for the world to see.
What a great post! I do think people forget that the true nature of the space race, even though many leaders and intellectuals saw it as the advancement and exploration into the beyond, our next jump after the Earth had seemed to be fully explored and settled, was truly about showing off military might towards each different Superpower, especially during this period of the late 1950s and early 60s when this technology had been only theory and speculation just a decade or two before.
The amount of love he received from the common people while shocking because of his actions during his entire reign is not entirely surprising though. Stalin stopped the Nazis who almost all the Soviets saw as some sort of force that would not only bring an end to Communism, but possibly to the end of life as they knew it. His methods were horrific and the changes he implemented into the country deadly in any sense, but at the same time they did bring economic growth to Russia in a way that it could never do so during the 19th century and even just that minimal improvement, plus the title he helped earned the USSR of Superpower most likely helped him get this high status even in death.