Jan Christiaan Smuts

Jan Christiaan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts

Jan Christiaan Smuts was born on his family's farm in the Cape Colony on May 24, 1870. The second child in the Smuts family, Jan grew up working on the farm and roaming the Afrikaner, the countryside dominated by Dutch-speaking colonizers in South Africa. At the age of 12 he attended school at Riebeck West, and after graduating he attended Victoria College in Stellenbosch. Smuts graduated with an emphasis on science and literature from Victoria College.

Upon graduation Smuts traveled to England on scholarship to study law at Christ's College, Cambridge University. Though he passed the legal examinations that allowed him to practice law in England, Smuts decided instead to return to the Cape Colony and practice law in Cape Town.

Upon Smuts's return to South Africa he practiced law and later wrote for the Cape Town newspaper, the Cape Times. He worked in Cape Town as a lawyer and writer until the Jamison Raid, where a militia from the British South African Company led by Colonel Jamison tried to lead a revolt of the Uitlanders, the term for British mining workers in the Transvaal.

In protest, Smuts moved to Johannesburg to practice law. After successfully establishing himself in the mining city of Johannesburg, he was appointed state attorney of the Republic of Transvaal in 1898 by President Kruger, which cemented Smuts's loyalty to the Boer nation-state.

His loyalty to the Republic of Transvaal was strongly evinced during the second Boer War (1898– 1902). As the war began to erupt, Smuts helped write a polemic essay, A Century of Wrong, to instill support for the Boer cause and to vilify British imperialism.

Smuts gained a distinguished notoriety in South Africa for leading a band of Boer fighters in the war. Smuts was a participant at the Vereeniging Peace Conference that led to the Vereeniging Peace Treaty, signed on May 1, 1902, which formally ended the war.

Smuts continued to be politically successful in South Africa after the war. He teamed up with Louis Botha in 1905 to create Het Volk, an Afrikaner political party to counteract the British governing elites. In 1906 Het Volk won the majority in the independent elections in the Transvaal.

As a cabinet appointee as education secretary and the colonial secretary, Smuts slowly climbed up the echelons of political power in South Africa. At the constitutional convention in Durban in 1908, Smuts drafted and reworked the South African constitution, which unified South Africa in December of 1909.

With the unification of South Africa, which led to a majority Afrikaner voting population among whites, Louis Botha became the prime minister of United South Africa in 1910. Under Botha Smuts was appointed to positions as the secretary of the interior, secretary of mines, and secretary of defense for South Africa. Smuts came under pressure from his own political party and the press for his numerous cabinet positions, later including secretary of finance.

Although he fought against the British in the second Boer War, Smuts fought alongside the British in World War I. He created the South African Defense Force, which helped with the defeat and subsequent acquisition of German East Africa and South West Africa.

As a member of British prime minister David Lloyd George's war cabinet, Smuts was one of the masterminds of the Royal Air Force. Smuts helped lead negotiations toward the end of the war at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Smuts also helped conceive and support the League of Nations.

Smuts was the prime minister of South Africa from 1919 until the Afrikaner-dominated National Party defeated him in 1924. After his tenure as prime minister Smuts dabbled in academia, especially philosophy, publishing his book Walt Whitman: A Study in the Evolution of a Personality.

Smuts returned to politics in 1933 when he again became the prime minister of South Africa. As an ardent anti-Nazi he led the South African effort in World War II, joining British prime minister Winston Churchill's war cabinet. After World War II ended Smuts signed the Paris Peace Treaty on February 10, 1947.

In 1948 the National Party, which supported apartheid, government based upon the separation of races, ousted Smuts as prime minister in the national election. At that point he officially retired from South African politics. Jan Christiaan Smuts died soon thereafter on September 11, 1950, on his family's farm in Doornkloof, Irene, South Africa.


Flag of Somaliland
Flag of Somaliland
Somaliland is an area along the northeast Horn of Africa bordering the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti, Somalia, and Ethiopia. It is roughly the territory formerly known as the British Somaliland Protectorate and has had a history of unrest and adversity.

In the mid-19th century France gained control of part of the Somaliland territory. At about the same time, Britain became interested in Somaliland as a source of supplying meat to troops stationed in the colony of Aden, where its ships refueled as they sailed to India. When the opportunity arose to take control of strategic parts of Somaliland because Egyptian forces were busy fighting in the Sudan, Britain acted quickly.

Negotiations with local Somali leaders led to the formation of the protectorate in 1887. Treaties with France in 1888 defined the borders between the two colonies. The next year Italy established its presence in other parts of Somaliland.

Throughout its rule by European colonial forces, Somaliland was divided by the whim of nations, often causing hardship for the inhabitants. In 1899 the "mad mullah" Sayid Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan began a Somali rebellion against British rule that was to last almost two decades.

When the British withdrew to their coastal outposts in 1910, they left the interior in chaos. There was constant fighting among the Somalis and little food available. As much as one third of Somaliland's male population may have died from fighting or starvation.

Britain returned to the interior in 1920 and began a series of administrative and social reforms that were halted by World War II. In 1925 Jubaland, a region in Kenya, was added to Italian Somalia. Shortly before World War II Italian-speaking regions of Ethiopia were joined with the Somali territories to become Italian East Africa.

Map of Somaliland
Map of Somaliland

During the war Somalia saw a great deal of fighting, with the British taking control of the Italian districts and ruling a combined Somaliland Protectorate from 1941 until 1950, when the Italian districts came under the auspices of the United Nations.

In 1956 Italian Somaliland was granted autonomy, and in 1960 it was granted total independence. In the same year Britain gave its ill-prepared protectorate independence. At the time, Somaliland had only one secondary school and only a few college-educated individuals. An infrastructure was almost nonexistent, and the indirect rule system used by Britain had not trained Somalis for positions of authority. For a period after 1960 Somalia and Somaliland were united as the United Republic of Somalia.

Anastasio Somoza García

Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García

Founder of the Somoza dynasty, which ruled Nicaragua for 43 years (1936–1979), Anastasio "Tacho" Somoza García became chief director of the Nicaraguan National Guard (Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua) in November 1932, despite his lack of military experience. His rise to political and military prominence can be attributed primarily to his political and family connections and his capacity to charm U.S. policy makers with his fluency in English.

Born in San Marcos, Nicaragua, to a wealthy Liberal coffee planter, in his teens he traveled to Philadelphia to live with relatives. There he honed his English skills, taking classes at the Pierce School of Business Administration.

In Philadelphia he also met his future wife, Salvadora Debayle Sacasa, a member of one of Nicaragua's most prominent Liberal families. Returning to Nicaragua, he engaged in a number of unsuccessful business enterprises, including a stint as a used car salesman. With the outbreak of civil war in 1926, he joined the Liberals on the side of ousted president Juan Bautista Sacasa, his wife's uncle.

A minor Liberal chieftain who led a failed assault on the Conservative garrison at San Marcos, he gained prominence in U.S. military and diplomatic circles by serving as interpreter during U.S.-brokered negotiations between Liberal and Conservative factions.

Under the administration of José María Moncada (1928–1932), he was appointed governor (jefe político) of León department and later foreign minister and consul to Costa Rica. Principally by ingratiating himself with U.S. officials and exploiting his family ties, by 1932 he had become the assistant director of the Guardia Nacional, whose main task was suppressing the six-year insurrection led by nationalist rebel leader Augusto C. Sandino in the mountainous north.

After being appointed director of the National Guard on the strong recommendation of U.S. ambassador Matthew E. Hanna, Somoza engaged in a series of unsuccessful peace talks with Sandino. On February 21, 1934, in the capital city of Managua, he had Sandino and members of his entourage assassinated, soon followed by a series of massacres of Sandino's supporters, most notably at the Río Coco cooperative near the Honduran border.

Tensions mounted between Somoza and President Sacasa, elected in 1932. In June 1936, Somoza orchestrated a coup against Sacasa and in December, in a rigged election, was elected president with over 99.9 percent of the vote. The same year he published an important book, The True Sandino (El verdadero Sandino), demonizing Sandino as a criminal psychopath. After 1936 his Nationalist Liberal Party dominated the country's politics.

His regime can be characterized as a populist, patrimonial dictatorship that ruled through a combination of shrewd co-optation and violent suppression of opposition. Amassing enormous wealth through exploiting his political power, by the mid-1940s he had become the country's largest landowner, in part by expropriating the properties of German nationals.

A staunch ally of the United States in World War II, he responded to mounting domestic opposition in 1944 by reorganizing his ruling bloc, permitting limited opposition, and orchestrating the passage of a progressive labor code in 1945 intended to defuse opposition among the country's incipient urban working class.

In the late 1940s he ruled through a number of puppet presidents elected in his stead (Leonardo Argüello, Benjamin Lacayo Sacasa, and Victor Román Reyes) until his rigged reelection in 1950. On September 21, 1956, the poet Rigoberto López Pérez shot him dead in the city of León.

He was succeeded by his sons Luis omoza Debayle (dictator, 1956–1963) and Anastasio "Tachito" Somoza Debayle (dictator, 1963–1979), both of whom governed with strong U.S. support. The latter, more avaricious and less prone to compromise than his elder brother or father, was overthrown on July 19, 1979, in the Sandinista revolution and later assassinated in Paraguay by a Sandinista hit squad. Within Nicaragua, popular memories of Somocista rule remain overwhelmingly negative, emphasizing especially the three dictators' cruelty, corruption, and cupidity.

South African Native National Congress (pre - 1950)

South African Native National Congress
South African Native National Congress

The South African Native National Congress was the predecessor of the African National Congress (ANC). It changed its name in 1923 to reflect a growing demographic that included members outside of South Africa.

The South African Native National Congress was founded on January 8, 1912, in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (now the Free State), by John Dube, Pixley Seme, and Sol Plaatje in opposition to the South African Native Land Act.

The group had existed for almost a century under various auspices with similar goals. However, it was not until 1912 that the group was able to formally gain recognition in South Africa and abroad as a counter to the repressive white rule.

Opposition to the land act began in 1909 when a group of black delegates met in Bloemfontein to object to the act's predecessor, the South Africa Act. This act and those that would come after centered on South Africa's land tenure system.

The land act, eventually passed in 1913, was the first law in the 20th century to create group areas. It declared that the whole of South Africa would be exclusively for white South Africans, with the proviso that certain "scheduled areas" would be kept in trust solely for the welfare and benefit of black South Africans.

The scheduled areas made up approximately 13 percent of the total land area and were mainly occupied by tribal communities. The act facilitated the formal establishment of African reserves, which would later become a political behemoth under apartheid's separate development policies as Bantustans.

Although the population of black South Africans vastly outnumbered white South Africans, only 7 percent of South Africa's land area was set aside as reserve land. The economy of South Africa during this period was highly dependent on the gold discovered in the high veld.

With little else to sustain the growing South African economy, the South African government encouraged mining companies and the resulting offshoots in big cities such as Johannesburg to draw migrant labor from the reserves.

In addition to addressing the labor needs of the mines, the act also set out to eliminate independent rent-paying African tenants and cash croppers residing on white-owned land by restricting African residence on white land to labor tenancy or wage labor and prohibiting African land ownership outside of the reserves. Initially, the South African Native National Congress aimed to express dissatisfaction with the Native Land Act as well as the treatment of black South Africans during the South African Boer War.

The founding members of the congress were of an educated and elite background. John Dube was a minister and a schoolteacher; Sol Plaatje (the secretarygeneral) was a court translator, author, and newspaper editor; and Pixley Seme was a lawyer with degrees from Columbia University in the United States and Oxford University in Great Britain. In contrast to later calls by the African National Congress, the trio was not pushing for the end of British rule in South Africa, just the beginning of equality and representation.

In order to express the group's discontent with the present government in South Africa, they sent a delegation led by W. P. Schreiner to London to try to convince the British government not to accept the Union of South Africa that was being put forward by the Afrikaner government in Pretoria. While it was a futile effort on the part of the South African Native National Congress, it did strengthen the bonds of the members of the new organization.

Although initially the organization was elitist, only representing those black Africans with education, it did attempt to represent both traditional and modern elements of African society. Like most groups and organizations worldwide at the time, however, women were not admitted.

The draft constitution of the South African Native National Congress that was put forth in 1912 outlined five basic aims:
  • To promote unity and mutual cooperation between the government and the South African black people
  • To maintain a channel between the government and the black people
  • To promote the social, educational, and political uplift of the black people
  • To promote understanding between chiefs and loyalty to the British Crown and all lawful authorities, and to promote understanding between white and black South Africans
  • To address the just grievances of the black people
Although the contents of the constitution were not radical, the official constitution was not passed until 1919. The South African Native National Congress would send another delegation to Britain in 1913 led by Sol Plaatje to officially protest the Native Land Act.

Plaatje would travel later to Canada and the United States, where he would meet Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. DuBois. The efforts of the group would have little effect until the group became the African National Congress.

Soviet Five-Year Plans

Soviet five-year plans propaganda poster
Soviet five-year plans propaganda poster

The Five-Year Plans (which existed from 1928 to 1990 with the exception of a break from 1965 to 1971) were the means by which the Soviet Union managed its centralized economy. Using the plans, the Soviet Union devised priorities, assigned resources, determined objectives, and then measured the results.

What is more, the Five-Year Plans were not only used to achieve objectives in a given time period but were the means by which the Soviet government took and maintained complete control over all economic matters.

The Five-Year Plans came into existence in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. In the years after World War II, this method of top-down planning and control was more or less forcibly adopted by the Eastern European nations that came under Soviet control.

Starting in 1928, there were 11 Five-Year Plans (1928–32, 1932–37, 1938–42 [interrupted by the beginning of World War II in 1941], 1946–50, 1951–55, 1956–60, 1959–65 [designated the Seven-Year plan], 1971–75, 1976–81, 1981–85, and 1986–90).

Immediately after the revolution of 1917 and through the Russian Civil War, the Soviet leadership attempted to manage the economy through what it referred to as War Communism. All industrial and agricultural enterprises were nationalized by the state to better manage what was produced and distributed. War Communism lasted until 1921, when it was replaced by the New Economic Policy (NEP). NEP represented a significant change in the structure of the economy.

While heavy industry remained under direct state control, smaller concerns could operate on an entrepreneurial basis. It was, essentially, a small-scale, partial return to private enterprise. Farms were not to be appropriated by the state; they had to deliver a tax but could keep the rest to sell or use as they wished.

NEP was extremely popular not only among the citizens who saw its tangible benefits but among a large percentage of the Soviet leadership. There was, however, a faction that believed that the Soviet Union was so far behind the West that NEP was unsatisfactory.

Building the Soviet Union to the point where it could ensure its military, economic, and political survival required effective management of all resources. In addition, as would be made clear by the Stalinist policies of the late 1920s on, exercising control over every aspect of life was considered to be essential.

By 1927, as Jospeh Stalin assumed a more secure position and could begin to impose his policies, NEP's days were numbered. State control would return but in a more effective way than had existed under War Communism. Under this imperative the Five-Year Plans began, the first to be performed from 1928 to 1932.

From the beginning, the Five-Year Plans mainly emphasized heavy industries. First raw materials such as oil, coal, timber, and iron ore had to be extracted. Then factories and even factory cities had to be constructed. The most famous, but not the only one of these, was the city of Magnitogorsk, built to be a major steel producing center.

From these factories and centers, capital goods to manufacture other goods would be made and distributed. Population movements to support these efforts, the construction of roads and railroads, and the building of ships, all to support the industrialization component of the plan, were considered and included.

Lighter industries and consumer goods were assigned a very low priority but were factored in to the plan. Every aspect of economic activity was subject to planning and control, even agriculture, important because although the Soviet Union comprised a huge landmass, only 10 percent of it was suitable for growing crops. The scarcity of food in the years of the civil war through the 1920s was a major source of unrest and possible destabilization.

Each plan was different in that it would emphasize different objectives. In the first two plans (1928 to 1937), creating heavy industry for the Soviet Union was the single most important goal, and all of the plan components were coordinated to support that goal.

In later years, there was an increased emphasis on making consumer goods available to the general population. The plans after World War II focused on rebuilding and repairing the immense destruction that had occurred during the war. In the postwar years, there was once again a very heavy emphasis on increasing agricultural production.

The planning of each Five-Year Plan was a process with defined stages, objectives, and roles to be played by the designated participants. Although planning through the years evolved and each was different, a look at how it was done for the second Five-Year Plan gives a good general sense of how it was done.

In 1931 general work on drafting the second Five-Year Plan began. Each department or industry would develop its targets to be reached during the period under consideration. The State Planning Commission (GOSPLAN) acted as coordinating agency.

It worked with all departments to adjust targets and prepare a cohesive nationwide plan. In preparing the planners would have to take into account the Politburo's grand objective and required resources. The plan's general provisions with substantial detail were completed by early 1933.

In November 1934, the plan received its final approval by the XVII Party Congress. After approval there might be some changes to the plan, but there were no significant departures. In 1935 and 1936, the changes made to the plan were primarily to increase quota quantities to be produced. In this phase, Stalin often took a more or less direct role in encouraging increases in expectations. There were changes to the objectives in 1936 and 1937.

Officially in 1937, the plan came to an end, and the objectives were considered to have been met. Stalin, however, attacked the alleged success of the plan, stating that the goals and objectives were set so low that no satisfaction could be taken from meeting them.

What is significant about this statement is that 1937 was considered to be the worst of the purge years. As perceived political enemies were being rounded up, sabotage and lack of commitment to the fulfillment of the Five-Year Plan was one of the "crimes."

Quotas, or norms, were an integral part of the plans, and the assignment of objectives to an industry or factory percolated down to teams and the individual workers. Meeting one's goals was an important responsibility.

In the prison camps of the Gulag, whether one ate or not would depend on whether one met a norm in construction, cutting timber, or mining gold. Outside the Gulag, however, the rewards for production could result in significant rewards. In 1935 a miner named Stakhanov dramatically increased his team's output by reorganizing its work.

Stakhanov was made into a hero, and workers who excelled in production were known as Stakhanovites. They were rewarded with bonuses and recognition. A significant problem with this, however, was that often, to exceed the goals, the quality declined.

By the mid-1930s, Soviet steel manufacturing capacity was not far behind Germany. There were, however, many problems that existed throughout the existence of the plans. While remarkable progress was made, there were areas in which the plans did not succeed.

Reporting was not always accurate. Inaccuracy was a systemic problem but one that was exploited by managers who could not meet their quotas and so falsified their accomplishments. While the planning was supposed to be coordinated on a national scale, not everything went as intended.

Also, even though everything was theoretically controlled by the state, workers still had a degree of freedom that could make life a nightmare for managers. The workers had to be managed, often with tact and rewards, such as one might have seen in capitalist countries. In the years after World War II, opposition from workers could require sending in the army to use violence to get workers back into the factories.

Soviet Purges

Soviet Purges
Soviet Purges

Soviet purges were Joseph Stalin's systematic elimination of dissenters and potential opponents when he was general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the 1930s.

Stalin and the Politburo sought to ensure the adherence of the members of the Communist Party to the orders of the Central Committee by eliminating divergent ideologies within the party, creating a monolithic Communist ideology.

The Communist Party had regularly used repression against perceived enemies to increase a state of fear in order to establish a pretext for increased social control, yet it had not used this strategy on itself on a massive scale while it was the established governmental authority in the country. The purges resulted in Stalin's complete subjugation of the Communist Party and the Soviet regime, monolithic unity, and loss of intellectualism, leadership, and millions of lives.

After the Russian Revolution, which overthrew the monarchy, the Bolsheviks, or Communists, eventually seized control of the country during a brutal civil war and established the Soviet Union. Vladimir Lenin emerged as the leader of the new regime and began the suppression of non-Bolshevik socialist parties.

Following the elimination of rival political parties, Lenin expelled and purged opponents of his own party, using terror as state policy to establish a totalitarian state. He introduced a decree on party unity to thwart future deviations in every possible manner and forbade members to enter factions advocating policies different from those of the established leadership.

The Party Central Control Commission was established to maintain political discipline. Lenin did not favor the parliamentary system and created the Orgburo to allocate forces and the Politburo to decide policy to bypass the larger and less manageable Central Committee.

In 1917 Stalin was elected to the Central Committee, retaining the position for the rest of his life. Stalin worked to establish the myth that he and his Party Center directed the October Revolution, which resulted in the Communists' rise to power. In 1922 Stalin became general secretary, a position whose influence he increasingly expanded.

Lenin's death in 1924 created a power vacuum for control of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Stalin continued Lenin's methods of consolidating power. As general secretary, he kept in touch with Communist officials throughout the country.

Stalin removed threats to his power base from within the party. He formed a moderate coalition with Grigori E. Zinoviev (1883–1936) and Lev B. Kamenev (1883–1936), both prominent Communists, to govern the party and maneuvered against Leon Trotsky, his major rival and the leader of the left-wing Communists.

Stalin favored establishing communism in the Soviet Union first, rather than the theory of permanent revolution favored by both Lenin and Trotsky. Trotsky was soon expelled from the Communist Party and was exiled in 1929.

Stalin then established an alliance with the right-wing members of the Communist Party, led by Nikolai Bukharin (1888–1938), against Kamenev and Zinoviev, who unsuccessfully attempted to counter Stalin.

Those opposed to Stalin favored Leningrad party chief Sergei Kirov (1886–1934), one of Stalin's close associates and advocate of a moderate policy toward the peasantry. Kirov's assassination in 1934 initiated a purge of the local Leningrad party and mass deportations to hard labor camps, known as gulags, in Siberia.

Zinoviev and Kamenev, former allies of Stalin, were arrested and executed for their alleged participation in Kirov's murder. The further announcement of the discovery of an alleged plot by the exiled Trotsky to overthrow the Stalinist regime initiated a series of purges in the Soviet Union that reached their peak during 1936–38.

Stalin destroyed the upper echelon of the original committed Communists, replacing them with loyal appointees. Stalin had an effective secret police force, known as the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD). Through intense surveillance provided by a network of informers, the NKVD claimed to uncover numerous anti-Soviet conspiracies.

All allegedly dissident persons were accused of crimes, usually fabricated, and were forced to sign confessions that led to sentences of death or to long terms of hard labor. Many of the arrests and sentences were carried out in secret, although some of those charged with crimes received public "show trials," which were trials meant to provide an illusion of justice but in fact had predetermined outcomes.

In 1937, the Politburo issued an order allowing physical coercion, which was used to justify torture and extrajudicial executions by the NKVD. Although the NKVD chief was Genrikh Yagoda (1891–1938) when the purges began, Nikolai Yezhov (1895–1940), nicknamed the "Bloody Dwarf," was chief of the NKVD during the height of the purges; consequently, this period is sometimes called the Yezhovshchina, or Yezhov Era. Toward the end of the purges, Yezhov, arrested on charges of espionage and treason, was executed and soon replaced by Lavrenty Beria (1899–1953), who became a longtime associate of Stalin.

During the height of the purges, three trials of former senior Communist Party leaders were held; they were accused of participating in conspiracies to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders and of attempting to dismantle the Soviet regime. The first trial in 1936 involved 16 defendants, chief among them Zinoviev and Kamenev. All of the accused were convicted and executed.

Zinoviev and Kamenev granted confessions under the condition that their lives and the lives of their family members would be spared. Although Stalin relayed assurances to both men that the conditions would be granted, not only were Zinoviev and Kamenev executed, but most of their family members were arrested and executed as well.

The second trial, held in 1937, involved 17 defendants, including Karl Radek (1885–1939) and Grigori Sokolnikov (1888– 1939); 13 of the defendants were executed, and four received sentences of hard labor.

The third trial, in 1938, included 21 defendants, including Bukharin, former head of the Communist International, former prime minister Alexei Rykov (1881–1938), Christian Rakovsky (1873–1941), Nikolai Krestinsky (1883– 1938), and Yagoda. Bukharin agreed to confess under the condition that his wife would be spared; after his execution, she was sentenced to hard labor.

The purges conducted of the military resulted in the execution or incarceration of more than half of all officers. A group of military generals, including Mikhail N. Tukhachevsky (1893–1937), were tried in secret in 1937. The military was left weak, leaving the Soviet Union vulnerable to attack, as demonstrated in the German invasion during World War II (1939–45).

The purges spread to the general population, and the NKVD charged countless commoners with alleged crimes. Amid the Great Terror, Stalin introduced a new Soviet constitution in 1936. Promoted as an instrument of democracy, the constitution stipulated free, secret elections based on universal suffrage. It also guaranteed all citizens a range of civil and economic rights. However, other provisions within the constitution nullified these new rights.

Purges in the non-Russian republics were particularly brutal. The NKVD carried out a series of national operations during 1937–40, targeting specific minority groups and members accused of attempting to destabilize the country. NKVD local officials were assigned quotas for arrests and executions.

In 1938, legislation was passed to halt NKVD operations of systematic repression and executions. However, such actions did not completely end Stalin's use of mass arrest and exile, for he sporadically continued such practices until his death in 1953. Trotsky, the last of Stalin's enemies, was murdered with an ice pick in Mexico in 1940, presumably by the NKVD.

By 1939, all power rested with Stalin and his inner circle. Millions of people had died in the purges. Several hundred thousand had been executed, and millions had been exiled, tortured, and sent to hard labor camps, where they died from starvation, disease, and overwork.

Stalin's exact reasoning for initiating the purges is unclear. Although the purges succeeded in consolidating Stalin's control over the Communist Party and the Soviet regime, they severely weakened the country's military, cultural and intellectual accomplishments, and leadership ability.

Party congresses met with increasing infrequency, and state power increased. A cult of personality developed around Stalin. During his lifetime, the adoration and reverence among the common people toward Stalin eclipsed that shown toward Lenin.

Social and Cultural Developments in Soviet Society

Social and Cultural Developments in Soviet Society
Social and Cultural Developments in Soviet Society

Traditionally interpreted in "Western" and "Eastern" (i.e., Soviet and post-Soviet) historiography, the process of social and cultural development of Soviet society reflects the main phases of Soviet societal evolution and all its lacks and advantages.

Strong ideology and total control by Communist Party authorities usually are identified as the main trends in the social and cultural history of Soviet society, and recent years have brought new insight connected with unofficial (underground, or dissident and samizdat) cultural phenomena studies.

The first decade after the October Revolution was a time of transformation of cultural stereotypes connected with the introduction of Marxist-Leninist ideology that demanded revision of mental reference points and human behavior.

Milestones of cultural and social revolution of that time were introduced by Vladimir Lenin, among them liquidation of cultural backwardness and illiteracy in the majority of the Soviet Russian population, creation of socialist intelligence, and promotion of Communist ideology.

These ideas were realized step by step through the introduction of a new education system based on new genres of higher and secondary education institutions, through activation of wide publication activity, and in the course of the establishment of tight and sometimes friendly connections with old Russian intelligence.

New tendencies in art and literature appeared at that time, the most striking and well-known of them represented by Kazimir Malevich in painting; Sergei Eisenstein in cinematography; Maxim Gorky, Mikhail Bulgakov, Isaac Babel, and Mikhail Zoschenko in prose; and Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Sergei Yesenin in poetry. These works concentrated mainly on the process of adaptation to the new life among different population groups.

It is worth mentioning that many representatives of the Russian intelligentsia could not adapt to their postrevolution motherland; more than 2 million voluntarily emigrated from the Soviet Union, including composers Sergei Rachmaninoff and Igor Stravinsky; ballerina Anna Pavlova; painters Marc Chagall and Konstantin Korovin; writers Ivan Bunin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alexander Kuprin; and others whose works have become part of world cultural heritage.

A problem of special importance at that time was relationships with the Orthodox Church, which greatly influenced the mentality of a major part of the population. In February 1918, a law separated the church from the state and schools from the church, which caused fundamental religious opposition led by the patriarch Tikhon. Bolsheviks and church opposition resulted in the plunder of church property and utensils, destruction of churches, repression of church leaders and friars, and broad atheist propaganda.

Soviet antireligious propaganda
Soviet antireligious propaganda

At the period of the New Economic Policy (1921– 27), the politics of korenization implied increasing attention to national minorities, whose language and traditional culture were introduced in Soviet republics.

Reflecting the general liberalization of internal policy inherent to that time, korenization was dismantled with the improvement of the totalitarian system and was replaced by a general tendency toward Russification and repression of minority cultures.

During the period of active promotion of socialism in all spheres of human life, significant results were achieved in the area of social and cultural developments. By 1937 overall elementary education had been introduced in the country, the average level of literacy was already as high as 81 percent, and the task of overall secondary education (in villages, shortened up to seven years) had been put forward as had the necessity of medical service in the country.

The new so-called Stalin Constitution, adopted in 1936, guaranteed Soviet citizens democratic civil rights and freedoms. Nevertheless, its statements in practice were totally ignored by Joseph Stalin, who successfully created a totalitarian system based on the physical destruction of his opponents and competitors.

This tendency was displayed also in the cultural sphere, where artistic works of different genres were evaluated mainly subjectively, and many artists and representatives of science and education were repressed or lost the chance to be published because Stalin did not like their works.

Soviet culture gradually gained a strong ideology based on a new artistic method and style introduced by Nikolay Bukharin and later called socialist realism. Its main idea was that an artist must provide a precise and true picture of real life in its historical development; this picture should be used as an instrument to encourage socialist ideas among working people.

To make control over Soviet artists easier, they were united in hierarchical professional organizations totally controlled by party bureaucracy. Nevertheless, even in this hard situation of ideological control, Soviet writers and poets, composers, and cinematographers enriched world cultural heritage by their works.

The struggle against fascists had caused a revision of the ideological implications of the sociocultural internal policy of the Communist Party. The necessity to maintain a unified Soviet society had resulted in slogans of patriotism, unity, and friendship among all Soviet peoples, and the mass media had actively and effectively contributed to the dissemination of these ideas. Theater, literature, and visual art (also in the form of political placards) were used as potent instruments to maintain the Red Army warriors' inspiration and motivation.

In this situation Stalin even met with the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, and this fact reflects a general amelioration of party-church relations. Scientific research was concentrated on the improvement of already-existing arms and the creation of the nuclear bomb.

The obvious success of many artists was caused also by the fact that their ideas fit well with the inspirations of the Soviet people. In spite of measures undertaken by the Soviet government to move its most valuable art objects to remote territories or to mask nonportable objects in their places, the cultural heritage in the Soviet Union was seriously damaged during World War II, and many objects were lost for eternity.

Victory over fascism and the general aspirations of the Soviet people had made the World War II the main subject of art in the first postwar decade. At the same time, the destroyed national economy demanded urgent restoration, and this need could be satisfied only by highly educated specialists. Education and science became the subject of special attention in economic development.

At the same time, Stalin started a new phase of totalitarian system improvement that resulted in a new series of repressions and meant the end of the liberalization of ideology. Soon, typical Stalinist forms of culture and society control were restored.

The 20th Congress of the Communist Party and the following dismantling of the personality cult of Stalin following his death caused democratization of social and cultural processes in the Soviet Union and revision of basic ideas, highlighted by literature and art.

Responsibility for past mistakes and comprehension of the lessons of the past have become an important subject of discussion, tightly connected with the general problem of fathers and children. For many recognized representatives of Stalinist culture this process was disastrous, and a series of suicides stressed Soviet intelligence.

Phenomena that were principally new in Soviet culture sprang up, including samizdat (i.e., nonofficially printed literature) produced by Soviet dissidents. Artistic comprehension of repression and Stalinist terror became a striking subject of discussion, and rehabilitation of the works of many repressed writers, artists, and scientists took place during these years.

Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Communist Party and initiator of the dismantling of Stalin's personality cult, actively influenced the cultural process, trying to outline what he saw as appropriate frontiers of mental freedom.

Soviet mechanics
Soviet mechanics

One of the greatest reformers in the history of Soviet culture, he had inspired the abolition of avant-gardist and abstractionist visual art, including the works of Soviet poet, Jew, and Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky and Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago.

General liberalization of life displayed itself mainly in big cities (in the "center"), where the majority of the well-educated population was concentrated. Inhabitants of the countryside, in spite of the political rights and social freedoms proclaimed in the Soviet constitution, could hardly explore them in full measure.

In most cases they could not even move from their villages because they had no official identification documents at their disposal. Even to apply for study at the university in the regional center, they had to ask special permission to get their passports from local Soviet and party authorities.

Spanish Civil War

Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War

The Spanish civil war raged from July 17, 1936, until April 1, 1939, when the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco (1892–1975), overcame the ruling Republican, or Loyalist, government to take control of Spain's future.

The origins of the war can be found in Spanish political instability, which characterized the early decades of the 20th century, beginning during the rule of Alfonso XIII (1886–1941), who became monarch in 1902.

A military coup led by Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923 saw the constitution suspended. Further attempts at economic and social change failed to reverse longterm negative trends. After the army withdrew its support, Rivera resigned, and Alfonso XIII was forced to accept free elections in 1931. As a result, Alfonso relinquished the crown and went into exile, and a republic was declared.

In the June 1931 elections the Socialist Party (PSOE) and assorted left-wing parties won a major victory that made Alcala Zamora (1877–1949) prime minister, but he was soon replaced by the more radical Manuel Azana (1880–1940).

A series of reforms that challenged the land-owning agricultural elites and the dominating position of the Catholic Church followed. The 1933 elections saw the right-wing parties, led by the Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas, CEDA), regain control of parliament (the Cortes); they abolished the earlier reforms.

A general strike followed in 1934, and armed rebellion occurred in Asturias. To overcome these divides and in a hope of establishing legitimacy, Manuel Azaña established a broad coalition of the left, which included the communists (PCE, known as the Popular Front).

Generalissimo Francisco Franco reviewing his Falangist troops after taking Madrid in 1939
Generalissimo Francisco Franco reviewing his Falangist troops after taking Madrid in 1939

In opposition to this movement, the right-wing parties formed the National Front, which included CEDA and the Carlists (monarchists) as well as the Falange Española, a nationalist party with fascist sympathies. The February 1936 general election saw a narrow Popular Front victory. The Popular Front won 34.3 percent of the votes, and the National Front gained 33.3 percent.

With control of 263 seats out of 473 in parliament, the Popular Front attempted a reform program in agriculture. They also freed political prisoners, banned the Falange, and sent several prominent military officers, such as Francisco Franco, to overseas outposts.

Political Maneuvering

Important sections of the military leadership, led by General Emilio Mola, began to discuss what could be done about this government. The issue became more serious when in May 1936 the conservative Niceto Alcalá Zamora was removed as president and the more leftwing Manuel Azana replaced him.

Azaña made Diego Martínez Barrio prime minister on July 18, 1936. Barrio failed to reach a compromise with the opposition, and he was replaced by the more radical José Giral, who armed left-wing groups for possible resistance.

Nationalist army
Nationalist army

General Mola declared the army in revolt on July 19, 1936, and gained initial but somewhat blundering success in the Canary Islands, Morocco, Navarre, Seville, and Aragon. Francisco Franco, commander of the Army of Africa, joined the revolt and began his conquest of southern Spain. General Mola concentrated his forces in the northwest and took the important naval base at Ferrol. Mola would be killed in a plane crash in June 1937.

Franco commanded the superior Army of Africa, which contained the Spanish foreign legion and over 34,000 men. He moved his forces with the help of the German Luftwaffe to control practically all of southwestern Spain. Most of the Civil Guard and the Assault Guard joined with the Nationalists.

The Popular Front's army was larger than that of the Nationalists and had gained the support of a variety of overseas left-wing recruits, primarily led by communists, who were organized into International Brigades. This also included U.S. volunteers, who served under the Abraham Lincoln Brigade banner. This mix of various national groups and ideologies produced friction among left-wing factions.

The Nationalist side also attracted international support in the form of Lieutenant Colonel Walther Warlimont (1894–1976), a member of the German General Staff. Warlimont became an adviser to General Franco and arranged for the creation of the Condor Legion of volunteers, numbering 19,000 men by war's end, to fight for the Nationalist cause. The Luftwaffe put in the field squadrons of bombers, fighters, and other aircraft to support ground operations.

In August 1936 the border area with Portugal fell to the Nationalists after General Juan Yagüe overran Badajoz city, gaining in the process the epithet "Butcher of Badajoz." President António Salazar of Portugal gave his support to the Nationalists and closed the border to the Republicans.

In September 1936 Francisco Largo Caballero (1869–1946), a left-wing socialist, became Republican prime minister. It was during this time that General Franco assumed total control of the army, becoming generalissimo as well as head of the Nationalist state, a position strengthened with the fall of Toledo to Nationalists armies.

Condor Legion, a unit composed of German Air Force and German Army
Condor Legion, a unit composed of German Air Force and German Army

By November 1936 Nationalist troops under General José Varela, supported by the Condor Legion, began their siege of Madrid, which lasted for nearly three years and ultimately forced Caballero's government to leave the capital.

Benito Mussolini came to the aid of the Nationalists with men and supplies. The Italian Blue Shirt Militia, numbering 30,000, joined 20,000 Italian army soldiers as part of the Nationalist Front. There were also pro-Catholic Irish Blue Shirts who joined the Nationalist side.

This Italian force included air force squadrons that joined with the Germans in bombing missions for the Nationalists. In March 1937 the Italian contingents were amalgamated as the Italian Corps.

The intensity of the fighting increased at and near Madrid in 1937 in an effort to take the city and cut off Republican supplies. Battles in the Jarama Valley and at Guadalajara were costly for all sides but left the Republicans hanging on.

In April 1937 Franco brought all the Nationalist groups together under Falange Española control with himself as a supreme leader, or caudillo, an imitation of the titles Duce and Führer used by Mussolini and Hitler. On April 26 the Germans bombed the Basque city of Guernica, made famous by Picasso's painting that became a tribute to the city's losses.

The city was captured by the Nationalists two days later, and the regional capital, Bilbao, fell in June. Santander and Aragon were taken in August, and by October Asturias, including Gijón, had surrendered, giving the Nationalists control of the north.

Tensions mounted in the Republican camp because of Communist Party demands, which Caballero refused to meet. With the coalition threatened, President Azaña removed Caballero and replaced him with Juan Negrín (1892–1956), who allowed the Communists greater influence in the cabinet.

This internal strife became outright conflict in Barcelona when in May 1937 the Communists challenged other left-wing elements, such as the anarchists and Trotskyites, for control of local institutions. Death squads killed an estimated 400 people until troops from Valencia arrived.

This event lost the National Front credibility, and Negrín's pro-Communist sympathies gave more and more influence and control to Stalin and his agents. With its intensive bombing campaigns and its more unified military command, the Nationalists in April 1938 broke out of their pocket, advancing to the sea toward Valencia, and appeared ready to encircle Madrid.

Negrín launched the Ebro offensive in July in order to reverse these advances, but the losses were very heavy, particularly in International Brigade ranks. The International Brigade elements were eventually totally withdrawn from Spain in September 1938.

The Ebro battles also cost the Nationalists dearly; 6,000 were killed and 30,000 wounded. Yet the Republican inability to reverse the tide of war meant that they were now essentially a spent military force without hope of victory.

Negrín's efforts at reform and reorganization also proved futile. When the Nationalist army took Barcelona on January 26, 1939, the Republican government withdrew to the French border. In February 1939 the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, recognized General Franco and the Nationalists as the legitimate Spanish government. President Azaña now had no option other than to resign and flee to France.

Splits also occurred on the Madrid front when Republican forces led by Segismundo Casado (1893– 1968) formed an anti-Negrín junta. These internal divides saw Communists fight anarchists in the heart of Madrid. Casado realized the situation was hopeless and attempted negotiation with the Nationalists.

However, Franco refused anything less than total surrender. The Nationalist Army entered Madrid on March 27 without significant opposition, and on April 1, 1939, Franco declared the civil war over.

The civil war proved costly for Spain in economic, military, and social terms. Although estimates of deaths vary considerably, a general view is that approximately 500,000 were killed, tens of thousands on both sides were murdered for their political associations, and an estimated 10,000 civilians were killed through German and Italian bombing. The end of the war also saw the Nationalists extract a sizable revenge, executing 100,000 Republican prisoners; thousands more died from the conditions of their imprisonment.

The civil war left in its wake a legacy of bitterness. Spanish democracy did not return until the restoration of the monarchy under King Juan Carlos following the death of Franco in 1975. Franco remained the longest-serving fascist dictator of the era.

He eventually normalized relations with his neighbors and joined the NATO alliance in the postwar period. Even his sending troops to fight with the Nazis on the Russian front during World War II was forgotten, for he never officially joined the Axis powers.

For many, the Spanish civil war was a precursor to the World War II struggle against fascism. The conflict also revealed the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations in stopping such actions, which were made worse by the neutrality and nonintervention policies of the democratic states. The civil war in military terms became a testing ground for equipment and tactics that would be used in World War II, such as the carpet bombing of cities and the idea of total war.