The 1950's
Cold Warriors, Part 1 - USSR

Cold Warriors, Part 1 - USSR
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.92

     challenging words:    brooked, collectivization, cult, imperialism, lackey, luftwaffe, peasant-ignorant, ruling, stalinism, stooge, output, tirade, thwart, largely, ally, czar
     content words:    Eastern Europe, Iron Curtain, Joseph Stalin, Communist Party, Under Stalin, Many Communist Party, As WWII, Eastern Bloc, Cold War, North Korea

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Cold Warriors, Part 1 - USSR
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     By 1950, the world had settled behind some pretty firm boundaries. Much of Eastern Europe had become the U.S.S.R. The Iron Curtain, a cold, hard barrier between Communist nations and the West, had clanged shut. The closing of the Curtain was largely the work of one man, Joseph Stalin, the leader of the U.S.S.R., now called Russia.
2     The boy who would become Stalin came from a poor, troubled family. As young man, he took part in the bloody revolt that wrenched control of Russia from the czar (ZAHR). It was about this time he changed his last name to Stalin. He intended to make a statement with his new name. "Stalin" means "man of steel" in Russian. Stalin became head of Russia's ruling Communist Party in 1922.
3     Stalin used harsh methods to drag his backward nation into the 20th century. Under Stalin, the state managed all resources, including its people, with a heavy hand. Overnight, Russia's farmers became laborers on huge state farms. This measure was known as collectivization. Those who protested were shot or put in prison. Soviet farm output dropped drastically. Many people starved to death. Some sources estimate that more than 14 million people were starved or murdered.
4     A few years later, Stalin unleashed a three-year reign of terror called the "Great Purge." (Purge means cleansing or flushing out.) Many Communist Party members were arrested. They were charged with treason. Most ranking members of the military were suddenly executed. The purge spread to Russian citizens in general. Millions of people were seized and tortured. It is estimated that 20 million people died. They were shot outright or died in the harsh prison/slave labor system known as the Gulag. As WWII loomed, Russia was a nation in crisis.
5     Stalin signed agreements with Hitler that were supposed to keep Russia out of the Nazis' march of destruction. In 1941, Nazi boots tramped across Russian soil. Luftwaffe planes bombed Russian cities. Stalin sent his depleted forces to meet the invaders. The Nazis were defeated as much by the bitter Russian winter as by Soviet forces. After a long, bloody struggle, Hitler withdrew his troops. Thirty to forty million people, civilians and soldiers, were dead.

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