Using these four passages and your own knowledge, explain why the Communist’s adoption of the NEP in 1921 has caused controversy amongst historians (30 marks)
Lenin’s New Economic Policy was adopted as a result of failed war communism, and can be seen as a response to events such as the Kronstadt rebellion in order to secure the Bolsheviks political power, hoping that similar events wouldn’t occur again. By allowing the peasants to make profits and small businesses to be run by small traders, the economy picked up and people were generally happier. However, many historians have different opinions to the effectiveness of the NEP. This essay will look at historians views and disagreements about the NEP, overviewing the debate. J Nettl argues that “change has become essential”. In many cases, this is true. Not only were the Russian people resorting to cannibalism in many areas, but due to grain requisitioning deaths became as high as five million people. Although this was partially due to a drought, the situation was definitely not improved by the requisitioning programme. Even though obviously the change would benefit the Russian people, it would also benefit the communist party itself. According to Cheka sources, there were 118 separate risings throughout Russia in February 1921 alone. A change would ensure the Russian people that the Communist party was indeed behind the workers, and doing everything they could to ensure the country was running smoothly. A happier community obviously meant that uprisings would be minimal, and support for the communist party would be higher, ensuring Lenin himself a secure position. Nettl agrees with this, stating that the “maintenance of Soviet power became the main preoccupation of the Bolsheviks”. However, this implies that the Bolsheviks cared little for the people and their aims were solely to protect themselves. Historian D Volkogonov agrees with the view of Nettl, when he says “Lenin was able to display astonishing...
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