Taking you through AQA A2 History of the Soviet Union in as little time and as little pain as possible... see you on results day!


16 June 2010, AM

7 June 2010

Essay Plan: Economic Overview

This is an example of an overview question (45 marks) for which I have created an essay plan.

I always plan in exams, but not in this much detail; it's a good revision technique! In exams, I use bullet points first, briefly - say, one per paragraph - and then write the introduction, as this is where I lay out my argument, so I can make sure that I don't divert from the plan and that I know what it is that I'm arguing.

As this is an overview question, I've planned it per leader.

How far was the failure to achieve effective economic reform between 1941 and 1991 responsible for the break-up of the USSR?

Most historians agree that economic problems throughout the history of the USSR have been a significant cause of discontent both within the party and without, leading to stagnation during the Brezhnev era and beyond and ultimately having a large part to play in the discontent of the early 1990s. The failure of all leaders to significantly reform the system can thus be seen not only to have caused rifts in the party but to have resulted in the break up of the USSR by 1991.


- caused the rigidity of the economy which meant no one after could reform
- historians agree that it was strong and that it was what was necessary during the war and in its immediate aftermath, but that is became too rigid
- HARRISON: "If WW2 was a test then the Soviet Economy passed it"
- Legacy of superpower status: OVERY: "The Soviet state was transformed by this process, and communism, close to collapse in the Autumn of 1941, came to be the dominant political force across Eurasia from East Germany to North Korea"

- attempts at reform fail, but boost economy - maintaining it for the mean time
- tries to remove bureaucracy; causes it to grow by 1/3 making it harder to change later on and proving the fact that it was impossible to reform
- FILTZER: "Khrushchev never attempted to remove the basic levers of Stalinism within the USSR; those of central planning"

- NOVE: "Economically speaking, the Brezhnev period has to be seen as a disaster"
- no attempts at reform made, save for in agriculture, where they weakened the system further by causing unnecessary change and directing investment away from industry with no tangible successes resulting
- one reason for the rise of dissidence?
- black market undermining the system just left to grow

- dies before black market reforms have a chance to work

- lights nationalist fire; general strikes etc
- causes party rifts

- political corruption
- Gorbachev's personal failings

- Yes, in the long-term, it was a significant reason for the collapse of the USSR

Hoping this help!

- HistGrrl x

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