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War and the Change in Revolutionary Values

The Soviet political system was transformed by the war. Stalin' personal power and prestige was immeasurably increased and his cult now reached its height. The Party lost much of its pre-war revolutionary character, as the most committed Bolsheviks were killed in the fighting of 1941-42, and grew in size by recruiting wholesale from the military ranks, so that it became more pragmatic in its outlook and less inclined to view the world in terms of class or ideology. How one had behaved during the war became the litmus test of whether one was a good Bolshevik. In this sense the war relaunched the Russian Revolution on new grounds.

Pride in victory gave rise to a new imperial confidence in the Soviet leadership, which emerged from the war with the belief that it had saved the world from Nazism. City centres were rebuilt in a monumental 'Soviet Empire' style that trumpeted the Soviet achievement. From 1945 Stalin stressed the leading role of the Great Russians in the Soviet Union and the world. This chauvinistic nationalism increasingly replaced the revolutionary internationalism of the pre-war years. It became the regime's ideology in the years of the Cold War.

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