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The Five Marches of an Empire called the Soviet Union

Updated on September 28, 2012
Soviet flag
Soviet flag

In 1917, this Empire was founded by an evil man whose name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov and who called himself Lenin. After his death in 1924 another man took over who was even more evil. His name was Josef Wissarionowitsch Dschugaschwili, better known as Stalin. Under his dictatorship the empire was cleaned from so-called enemies of the empire. Millions of these enemies were arrested, executed or sent to labor camps where they starved to death. When this process was almost finished, the era of the marches began in order to expand the empire and its influence. The first march took place in 1944, followed by other marches which took place every twelve years.

The first march 1944

In 1944, toward the end of WWII, the Soviet army re-occupied the three Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (The first occupation took place in 1940/41). These countries became part of the Soviet Union, the occupation ended only in 1991. During the first years of occupation many people were executed. Hundreds of thousands of the population were deported to Siberia in the following years - only a handful of them came back - , others left the countries. Armed resistance against the occupation continued till the mid-1950s. Following the occupation of these three states the Soviet Union occupied the countries of Eastern and Central Europe as a result of WWII. In these countries puppet regimes were established, they became satellites of the Soviet Union.

The second march 1956

Whenever one of these countries tried to break free and to go its own way, the Soviet Union intervened. The first victim was Hungary. During the 1956 revolution Hungary temporarily withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, and a multi-party system was restored. Soviets and Hungarian political police shot at peaceful demonstrators, many demonstrators died throughout the country. Spontaneous revolutionary militias arose and heavy street fights started against the Soviet Army and the fearful communist secret police in the capital Budapest. In the narrow streets of the city a roughly 3,000-strong Hungarian resistance fought Soviet tanks using Molotov cocktails and machine-pistols. The immense Soviet preponderance suffered heavy losses, by 30 October most Soviet troops had withdrawn from Budapest to garrisons in the Hungarian countryside. The Soviet Union sent new armies to Hungary. On 4 November 1956, the Soviets retaliated massively with military force, sending in over 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks. During the Hungarian Uprising an estimated 20,000 people were killed, nearly all during the Soviet intervention. Nearly a quarter of a million people left the country.

Czechoslovakia 1968

The third march 1968

The next victim was Czechoslovakia. In response to a brief period of liberalisation, better known as the Prague Spring, five Eastern Bloc countries invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968. On August 21, the Soviet Army, supported by their Warsaw Pact allies, rolled tanks into the streets of the capital Prague. Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev viewed this intervention as vital to the preservation of the Soviet, socialist system and vowed to intervene in any state that sought to replace socialism with capitalism. In 1969, Czechoslovakia was turned into a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic. Many people left the country.

The fourth march 1979/80

On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan in order to strengthen its influence in the region. Over 100,000 Soviet troops took part in the invasion backed by another one hundred thousand. A puppet regime, backed by the invaders, was established. But this time the Soviets met armed resistance. Backed by the U.S. administration, mujahideen fighters had taken up arms against the Soviet occupiers. It was the beginning of the end of the empire.The occupation resulted in the killings of between 600,000 and two million Afghan civilians, an estimated 15,000 Soviet troops were killed. Over 5 million Afghans fled to other countries. Faced with mounting international pressure and great number of casualties on both sides, the occupiers withdrew in 1989.

The last march 1991

After the collapse of communism in the Central and Eastern European satellite states in 1989 and the restoration of independence of the three Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1991, the Soviet empire went on to its last march - into the history books ... , ... like all the other overstretched empires before.


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    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      My memory is telling me the comment about the proletariat not being able to govern itself came in Conquest's book The Great Terror. I also recall reading that on his deathbed he warned the party to beware of Stalin. Also what a politician/revolutionary says before gaining power is not always what they say after gaining power.

      I agree that things went downhill after Lenin died. That does not mean they were OK after the Bolsheviks took power. Recall the world of the Who song "Won't get fooled again"

    • Shushanik profile image

      Shushanik 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      One of famous Lenin's quotes is "every cook can govern the state", so he believed the Proletariat WAS capable of governing (which proved to be wrong, but anyway he believed in it and fought for it). That was the whole idea of the revolution he led.

      And by the way, thanks to Lenin all the women in the country had equal right with men long before European or American women could dream about it, including voting rights and possibility to participate in the political life of the country, so... not that evil... He just blindly believed in the Utopia of Marxism philosophy.

      Lenin had nothing to do with Stalinism. Quote from Wikipedia, "Stalin held the position of General Secretary of the party's Central Committee from 1922 until his death. While the office was initially not highly regarded, Stalin used it to consolidate more power after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, gradually putting down all opposition." The key phrase is "AFTER THE DEATH of Vladimir Lenin". Before that he wasn't a dictator and didn't have much power.

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Shushanik: Lenin instituted the reign of terror in Russia. He decided the Proletariat were incapable of governing themselves and he would have to govern for them. He failed to get rid of Stalin before Stalin became a dictator: and he knew what Stalin was.

    • Shushanik profile image

      Shushanik 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Lenin was evil? :) He just fought for what he believed was better life for the people. Okay, he was wrong, but why evil?

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 6 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, congratulations on your writing! The topic you chose is controversial, but at least you were brave enough to publish it. From far away, I know something about the marches, Chile received a large number of Hungarians after 1956, and a large number of Chilean youths went for Soviet training in Afghanistan during the Allende government here. I have met and spoken to people who had the actual experience. I am glad the cold war stopped, at least for the moment. Humans being humans, something else is sure to come up, somewhere! Voted up and interesting

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I like this. I know a little about the Stalin era from Robert Conquest's work and it seems to have been a terrible place to be. Only the ubiquitous corruption seems to have made it less than total hell.

    • profile image

      Skaven 6 years ago

      Lol... Lenin was en evil man... the whole writing is totaly subjective...

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 6 years ago from Singapore

      Bear in mind that all empires collapse, only the time period differs. The British empire lasted 200 years, which was perhaps the longest reign. The Soviet empire also collapsed after 60 years and now the American hegemony over the world is also ending. To classify Stalin and Lenin as evil is not correct. By that measure the men who dropped the atomic bombs over a defeated Japan also need to be classified as Evil.

    • parduc profile image

      parduc 7 years ago from Kos island, Greece

      Great hub, as always! Thanks!

    • profile image

      ralwus 7 years ago

      yes. lest we forget! Curious same as Misha, there was more, so much more, but this was about certain marches I reckon.

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 8 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      That's the big question, Petra.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 8 years ago from Los Angeles

      It seems that Empires get away with murder until they try to occupay Afghanistan. Who is next?

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 8 years ago from DC Area

      Sorry Jupiter, I have no interest in writing such a hub. Just was curious why you omitted the first occupation of Baltic countries by Soviet Union in 1940 and started only with 1944, that's it. :)

    • wolfpack5 profile image

      wolfpack5 8 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Ya nextstopjupiter, I would like to read that hub too... :)

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 8 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      Hi Misha, I would like to ask you to write a hub in which you explain why 1944 was NOT in the 1940s. I am always ready to learn new things!

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 8 years ago from DC Area

      Umm, and why did you omit the 1940? I guess you have some more learning to do...

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Excellent history lesson, my friend. I love history and I thoroughly enjoyed your writing here.

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 8 years ago from Canada

      So much life lost to maintain power. Very sad and not sure a history I would be proud about. Great article! :)

    • The Old Hack profile image

      The Old Hack 8 years ago

      Very interesting, well done.

    • flurish profile image

      flurish 8 years ago

      great work..

    • wolfpack5 profile image

      wolfpack5 8 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi my friend, that is a great hub. I am a history buff and enjoy reading hubs like these

      Keep up the work :)


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