On This Day…
On the 30th December 1922 the USSR was created
During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent three-year Russian Civil War, the Bolshevik Party under Vladimir Lenin dominated the soviet forces, a coalition of workers’ and soldiers’ committees that called for the establishment of a socialist state in the former Russian Empire. In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation. Also known as the Soviet Union, these new Communist states would be the successor to the Russian Empire under the Romanov dynasty and the first in the world to be based on Marxist socialism.
In December 1922, delegates from all four countries assembled in Moscow for a joint session of the Congress of Soviets. The purpose of this gathering was the declaration of the creation of a new state. There, they unanimously adopted the Declaration of the Creation of the USSR. Afterwards, on January 1, 1923, the major Russian newspaper Izvestiia which provided official coverage of the session came out with a headline that read ‘Creation of the Soviet Union is a New Year’s Gift to the World Proletariat.’
Growth of the USSR
In the decades after it was established, the Russian-dominated Soviet Union grew into one of the world’s most powerful and influential states and eventually encompassed 15 republics–Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In the USSR, all levels of government were controlled by the Communist Party, and the party’s politburo, with its increasingly powerful general secretary, effectively ruling the country. Soviet industry was owned and managed by the state, and agricultural land was divided into state-run collective farms.
The rise of Stalin
Georgian-born revolutionary Joseph Stalin rose to power upon Lenin’s death in 1924. This dictator ruled by terror with a series of brutal policies, which left millions of his own citizens dead. During his reign—which lasted until his death in 1953—Stalin transformed the Soviet Union from an agrarian society to an industrial and military superpower. Following the surrender of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, the uncomfortable wartime alliance between the Soviet Union and the United States and Great Britain began to crumble. The Soviet Union by 1948 had installed communist-leaning governments in Eastern European countries that the USSR had liberated from Nazi control during the war. The Americans and British feared the spread of communism into Western Europe and worldwide.
In 1949 the US, Canada and its European allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. The alliance between countries of the Western bloc was a political show of force against the USSR and its allies. In response to NATO, the Soviet Union in 1955 consolidated power among Eastern bloc countries under a rival alliance called the Warsaw Pact, setting off the Cold War. The Cold War power struggle—waged on political, economic and propaganda fronts between the Eastern and Western blocs—would persist in various forms until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.