Category: Motherblog Central

5th Blogpost Guidelines: Defending the Motherland

This week we turn our attention to build-up to The Great Patriotic War (aka World War II) and the immediate post-war period.  Please use one of the modules from 1939, 1943 or 1947 in Seventeen Moments in Soviet History on-line archive. You should consult Ch. 12 in the Freeze text. If you are writing about something specific to the war, it would be worth considering William C. Fuller’s discussion on pp. 383-392 of Freeze about the reasons for Soviet victory.

I have also flagged some resources that might be of interest on my blog here.

As you develop your topic, think about how your post might address either of these questions:

  1. Why was Stalin’s Soviet Union so ill-prepared for the war?
  2. How did the Soviets nonetheless manage to prevail?

There’s plenty of action, drama, and complexity to keep us all engaged this week.  Ни шагу назад!

4th Blogpost Guidelines


We begin with the upheaval at the end of the twenties, when the forced collectivization of the peasantry and a massive industrialization campaign permanently transformed Soviet life. Indeed the “Great Turn” brought changes so profound and wide-reaching that the period of the First Five Year Plan (1928-1932) is often seen as a “second” revolution. The decade that followed was one of Shockworkers, Stalinist family values, and Purges, as well as a social-political phenomenon scholars have called “The Great Retreat.” So, the thirties are going to be exciting to study!

Revolutionary Culture

Komsomol Activists

“Activists” (from a Komsomol Album)

Victorious in the Civil War, the Bolsheviks faced a series of challenges as they moved to secure the peace, consolidate their gains on the home front, and advance their agenda for transforming society. This week’s posts engaged many of these issues, from the ideologically compromised but politically necessary New Economic Policy, to the campaign against the church, and changing norms around gender and the family.

Third Blogpost Guidelines

Beat the Whites with a Red Wedge - El Lisitsky 1919

“Beat the Whites with a Red Wedge.” By El Lissitzky –, Public Domain,

For your third blog post, use the resources in Seventeen Moments of Soviet History (1921 and 1924) to examine a significant aspect of the Russian Revolution. Make sure to check out and use the primary materials. You should also consult the Freeze text (the rest of Chapter 9 and Chapter 10).

Changing Lives in Imperial Russia

From people laboring in the fields of central Russia, to melon sellers in Samarkand, this first round of posts highlights the ethnic and geographic diversity of Imperial Russia at a time when the world seemed both very traditional and in flux. This first edition of our course digest includes an abundance of featured content, touching on everything from sword making, and “tea with a splash of vodka,” to the changing fortunes of the Solovki monastery and a Star Wars themed “Phantom Railways” screencast.

The semester’s first student’s choice award goes to a marvelous discussion of the blood red cathedral in Mozhaisk and the evolving relationship between church and state. Please enjoy these posts and the whole weekly edition. We’ll be back with news about the 1917 revolutions in a couple weeks!

First Blog Post Guidelines

Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich Prokudin-Gorskiĭ, “Nadgrobnyĭ Kamenʹ Na Mogilie Khadzhi-Khusein-Beka, Dostavlennyĭ Tamerlanom,” still image, 1910, //

For your first blog post, please select a photograph from this online exhibit at the Library of Congress and analyze it in the context of social and economic change in late Imperial Russia.

A photograph such as this one, for example, might lead you to explore the religious, ethnic and economic diversity of this vast country. Looking forward to our discussions over the next couple of weeks, you should think about how the combination of economic modernization and the autocracy’s resistance to political change would inform developments leading up to the fall of the Romanov dynasty and the rise of the Bolsheviks in 1917.