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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Stalin's Terror: Causes, Crimes, Consequences
This course explores the period of Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union from 1928 until 1953 and focuses on what the Russians called "the repressions." This includes, the war against the kulaks, the Ukrainian famine (Holodomor), the operations against the nationalities, the Great Terror, the deportation of the "punished peoples," the expansion of the Gulag (prison camp system), the Leningrad Affair, and the Doctors' Plot. The origins of these events are still controversial, as are their impact on the development of the Soviet Union. Scholars also continue to argue about the numbers of deaths involved. Students will discuss the arguments about Stalin's crimes using newly available documents, memoirs, literary sources, and other materials. We will visit the Hoover Archives, view the poster and film collection there, and discuss the period with archivists. Viewing films and documentaries, we will also reconstruct the lives of the people faced with the daily threat of denuciations and arrest. "Life has become better comrades; living has become happier..." was an often repeated slogan during the period of Stalin's terror. We will examine how that slogan translated into reality.