LESSON IDEA: Why have there been so many different theories as to why Stalin carried out the Terror?

Varied and active lesson in which students: generate a list of relevant questions; prioritise their own reasons; role-play the arguments used by 4 different named historians, and relate this to recent revised textbook versions used in Russia today. Contains lengthy excerpts from Conquest and Figes and a PowerPoint, which offer stimulus and a summary of the 7 main theories e.g Ilic and Arch Getty.

Why did Stalin carry out the Terror?

Possible lesson sequence

1. Teacher introduction about the complexity of the issue of Stalin’s motivation; highly contentious. Lots of conflicting views, added to by the opening up of the new archive. Publication of a new Russia textbook – see PowerPoint slide 2 – shows that it is still a live and hotly debated issue. The manual informs teachers that the Great Terror of the 1930s came about because Stalin ‘did not know who would deal the next blow, and for that reason he attacked every known group and movement, as well as those who were not his allies or of his mindset.’

It stresses to teachers that ‘it is important to show that Stalin acted in a concrete historical situation’ and that he acted ‘entirely rationally – as the

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