The rise and fall of communism in Russia between the years of 1900 and 1940 was one of the most remarkable parts of modern political history.
It was a period of inflation and reform, of famine and progress, and of abject despair and revolutionary hope.
During these forty years, communism developed from a loose, revolutionary concept to an entrenched part of the Russian national identity.
The birth of Russian communism began in the early 1900s, as radical intellectuals tried to inspire the Russian people to reject the injustices of the Tsarist autocracy.
Under the influence of prominent Russian dissidents, such as Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, their ideas gradually gained momentum among the lower classes and peasants.
The October Revolution of 1917, a spontaneous uprising of the masses, resulted in the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of a Communist government led by Lenin.
This of course brought its own set of problems. Lenin’s authoritarian leadership and refusal to adopt a more democratic style, coupled with the economic reality of a war-ravaged nation, led to a series of disastrous famines and other hardships.
It necessitated Lenin’s introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921, which allowed the people a greater degree of economic freedom by instituting a mixed system of private and public ownership.
As the Soviet Union entered the 1930s, Stalin had assumed the mantle of leadership and implemented a series of sweeping reforms and economic shifts.
However, his brutal purges of the Communist Party and the general population of its enemies and supposed enemies alike, reduced the Nation to a somewhat institutionalized system of terror and docility.
In addition to the political and economic upheaval brought about by the Moscow government, the Russian intelligentsia of the period was faced with the consequences of censorship and a stifling of intellectual life.
Nevertheless, Russian literature, art, and science experienced a remarkable period of exploration and innovation during this time, much of it bringing the country international missions.
By 1940, the Russian people had come to be defined within the framework of a totalitarian one-party state.
Communism had become an irrefutable part of Russian identity and the country had become a military and ideological power on the global stage.
Though by no means perfect, it was a period of tremendous change and legacy, an era that nearly seventy-five years later, remains fascinating to study.