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Establishment and Development of the USSR

This unit will begin our focus on the emergence of Authoritarian states in Europe after World War I. The turmoil of World War I and its consequences challenges the existing political structures, especially of the defeated, and led some populations to seek alternative systems of government. One of the greatest shifts occurred in Russia where Tsarist Russia was violently overthrown and replaced by a Communist regime. In this unit we will touch on the actions of some popular characters like Nicholas II, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. We will examine the reigns of the final three monarchs of the Romanov dynasty, the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War. By the end of the unit, you will be able to answer the below key questions:

1. What were the economic factors, social divides, impact of war and weaknesses in the Russian political system that allowed the establishment of an authoritarian state in Russia?


2. How did the reigns of Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II contribute to the collapse of the Romanov dynasty?


3. What was the impact of World War I on weakening Nicholas II's government?


4. What were the factors that contributed to the October Revolution?

5. How did the Communist government use persuasion and coercion, leadership, ideology and propaganda to gain support for their government?


6. Why did the Red Army win the Russian Civil War?


7. What was the state of the Soviet Union at the time of Lenin's death in 1924?

Resources: The main secondary resources we will using in this unit will be Sally Waller's Imperial Russia, Revolutions and the Emergence of the Soviet State 1853-1924, David Marples' Lenin's Revolution. We will also be examining a number of additional primary and secondary sources on individual topics.



  1. Standards

    1. IB.History.AO.1A: Recall core content knowledge regarding historical events

    2. IB.History.AO.2A,2B,3A,3B: Write on demand essays that support arguments with specific evidence 

    3. IB.History.AO.2C,3C,3D: Interpret, compare, and evaluate historical sources and use them effectively as evidence

  2. Formative

    1. Class Discussions

    2. Prompts

    3. Short Answer Questions

    4. Socratic Discussions

    5. Essay Writing Skill Development

    6. Medical Evaluation of Russia in 1914

    7. Russian Civil War Propaganda Posters

    8. Interview with Lenin

  3. Summative

    1. In-Class Paper 2/3 Past Paper Question


Unit Calendar: The Calendar outlines the plan for our day to day in class activities and the homework that will be assigned. The expectation is that students complete all homework assignments for the next lesson unless otherwise indicated on the calendar. While we would like this to be set in stone, unforeseen events and intriguing tangents might change the plan so if you are ever in doubt on what is due and when, please ask!

Introduction to the I.B. History I

Introduction to Mr. Johnson


Classroom Expectations

What is the defining moment of human history?

Review Website and Syllabus

Start of the Year Survey

HW: Visit Class Website with a Parent/Guardian and bring in questions and get video permission signed

Debunking the I.B. History HL Exam

Deciphering the I.B. Exam

(Google Classroom)

Debrief in Table Groups

HW: Checkout from the Library/Download from Google Classroom

Imperial Russia, Revolutions and the Emergence of the Soviet State 1853-1924 by Sally Waller

How did Alexander II attempt to modernize Russia?

What is Russia like in the mid 19th Century? (Waller 12-18)

Reforms of Alexander II

(Use pgs. 25-30 in Waller)

(Use pgs. 34-35 in Waller)

(If TIme)


Complete chart of Consequences of Emancipation of the Serfs

How did Alexander II attempt to modernize Russia?

To what extent did Alexander II liberate the Russian people?

(Read pgs. 45-68 in Waller)

Writing Analysis in IB History

Introduction to Historiography

HW: To what extent did Alexander II liberate the Russian people?
(Thesis statement and 3 paragraphs)

How did Alexander III reverse the reforms of his father?

Alexander II/III and the growth of opposition

Use pgs. 75-86 in Waller to Complete Alexander III Column

What were the conditions that Nicholas II faced when trying to modernize Russia and to what extent was he successful?

What is the state of Russia in 1894?

Last of the Czars Clips


Waller pgs. 89-104





HW: Read pages 109-116 in Waller

What were the causes, key events and consequences of the 1905 Revolution?

Why did the citizens of Russia challenge the rule of the Tsar in 1905?


Russo-Japanese War

HW: Read pgs. 123-128 in Waller

Stolypin and the Dumas
Doctor's Report for Tsar Nicholas II in 1914


HW: Rea pgs. 129-138 in Waller

What were the causes, key events and consequences of the February 1917 Revolution

Causes of the February/March Revolution
Causes of the Russian Revolution

To what extent did the Tsar contribute to his downfall?​​



Read Marples 16-23 and the relevant historiography to make an argument blaming the Tsar for the collapse of the government (intentionalist) or blaming the situation (structualist).


Discuss in groups of 4

HW: To what extent was Tsar Nicholas II responsible for the February Revolution?

Essay Plan = Thesis statement, Topic Sentences, Evidence, Secondary Evidence/quotes of Historiography, Restate Thesis

How did the failure of the Tsar to follow through with the October Manifesto destablize his rule?

Why was there a second Revolution in October 1917?

HW: Watch the recap of the October Revolution
Alternative Documentary

How did the Bolsheviks consolidate power and win the Russian Civil War?

Consolidation of Power and Suppression of Opposition
Propaganda Posters for the Reds and the Whites

HW: Complete White/Red Propaganda Poster

How did the Bolsheviks consolidate power and win the Russian Civil War?

Share Posters
Why did the Reds win the Civil War
Sports Commentary?

Why was War Communism abandoned and replaced by the New Economic Policy (NEP)?

War Communism and its Effects
Source Analysis
Introduction of NEP

Letter to the Editor

(Submit to Google Classroom)

What was Lenin's legacy for the Soviet Union and whom did he see as the future of the party?

Lenin's Death and Legacy
Interview with Lenin from his deathbed

Strategies for success in essay writing

(Preparation and Execution)


What were the causes, key events and consequences of the Russian Revolution?

Russian Revolution On -Demand Essay
HW: Checkout from Library/Download from Google Classroom
The Interwar Years: Conflict and Cooperation 1919-1939
by Todd, Bottaro and Waller.
Italian Fascism by Alexander De Grand
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