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Henriette Derman: LS Alumna, Crusader, and Political Prisoner: Life in Soviet Russia

Timeline of Major Events in Soviet Russian History

  • 1894 - 1917: Reign of Tsar Nicholas II
  • 1905: Revolutionary upheavals; troops fire on workers marching in St. Petersburg. Nation-wide general strike. Tsar reluctantly agrees to constitution and legislature with limited powers
  • 1914: Russia goes to war against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey
  • 1914 - 1917: Ill-equipped and incompetently led, 7.9 million Russian troops are killed, wounded, or taken prisoner in WWI.
  • 1917: Tsar abdicates and is arrested. Lenin, Trotsky, and other revolutionary leaders return from exile abroad or in Siberia. Bolsheviks seize power.
  • 1918: Tsar Nicholas II and his family are executed.
  • 1924: Lenin, ill for several years, dies
  • 1926 - 29: Winning the struggle for succession, Stalin amasses all political power, and jails or exiles his opponents
  • 1929 - 33: All peasants forced onto collective farms. Food production drops catastrophically. 7 - 10 million people starve.
  • 1932: First large transports of prisoners sent to Kolyma region.
  • 1936 - 39: The Great Purge. Unparalleled wave of arrests
  • 1935 - 41: More than 19 million Soviets arrested. Seven million of these shot; majority of the remainder die in the gulag.
  • 1941 - 45: Twenty-seven million Soviet soldiers and civilians die in WWII.
  • 1945: All Soviet prisoners of war who survive Nazi captivity are promptly send to Soviet prison camps.
  • 1947 - 53: New waves of mass arrests. Many victims are Jews.
  • 1953: Stalin dies.
  • 1954: Prisoners revolt in several major gulag areas. Slowly, the government begins "Rehabilitating" some Great Purge victims, posthumously declaring them innocent.
  • 1956: Khrushchev, now the country's leader, denounces Stalin's crimes in a secret speech to a Party congress. An estimated 7 to 8 million prisoners released from the gulag.

Excerpt from The Unquiet Ghost.