Trace the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. What historical events brought about the Bolshevik Revolution? Describe the ideological and strategic differences between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. Which group was more faithful to Marx and how? Describe the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Russia was ruled by the House of Romanov for more than three centuries: from 1613 to 1917. The demise of the Romanov dynasty led to the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) by the Bolsheviks in 1922. (The Bolsheviks had defeated the Mensheviks in a power struggle for control of Russia's Social-Democratic Party.)

The Russia of the Romanovs was not ready for the challenges of the twentieth century. Although serfdom was abolished in 1861, Russia remained a backward country compared to Germany, France, and Britain. In 1905, after Russia's defeat in a war against Japan, Tsar Nicholas II consented to a constitution and a parliament (Duma).

Russia suffered even worse military setbacks in World War I (1914–1918); Russian losses were enormous. Also, a corrupt monk by the name of Gregori Rasputin had too much power. Nicholas abdicated in 1917, and the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin tried to seize power.

Lenin enjoyed initial success, but anti-Communist White forces fought a civil war (1918-22) against the Bolsheviks (Reds). Foreign powers helped the Whites, but the Reds prevailed. Nicholas and his family were executed in cold blood by the Bolsheviks.

Lenin's tenure as a peacetime leader of the USSR was brief, because he died in 1924. Then, other leaders of the USSR were in competition to replace Lenin. By 1929, Joseph Stalin established himself as dictator.

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