Tentative Autumn Leaves and Thesis Statements

autumn-leavesautumn-leaves-iiThe leaves have been hanging on for weeks, back in Minnesota with one good wind they would have been LONG down on the ground.  That is why I LOVE Almaty, Kazakhstan right now, I have always loved the autumn colors.  Also, I’m very proud of my students for coming up with some fairly workable thesis statements, though they are as tentative as the autumn leaves.  See what you think of the topics my students have chosen, such as education, Kazakh language and nationalities issues; famine and starvation; repression and gulags and Great Patriotic War:




1. Oppression in education before the Bolshevik revolution encouraged masses of illiterate people who did not know enough to rebel against the government and hopefully lessons will be learned with our current education to help people improve their lives with better training.


2. During the Soviet Union in Kazakhstan, all universities and schools were conducted in Russian, therefore the Kazakh people had to learn Russian to get a good education in order to get jobs in order to survive.


3. Most Kazakhstani people lived in rural areas with not enough educational facilities or had large families who couldn’t afford proper education; some had to go a long way to the nearest school or do without studying at all.


4. The Soviet Union had many unsolved problems about education, they wanted to use Marxist-Leninist propaganda to improve morals and work ethics for all Soviet citizens.


5. The intelligence and serious thinking people had lots of problems because of Soviet ideology, so they had to abandon their research and scientific work.


6. Huge masses of illiterate people led to the October Revolution of 1917 and that problem progressed during the Soviet period; now there is a need to raise the level of education especially in rural areas.


Kazakh Language and Nationalities issues

1. Being on the brink of cultural degradation, the Kazakh people had to be educated in the Russian language in order to succeed in the Soviet policy and eventually develop into its own independent country after the Soviet Union collapsed.


2. The Kazakhs could not use their own native language and traditions during the Soviet times and in order to survive to get an education, they had to learn Russian.


3. Groups of individuals who felt discriminated against had to use the power of the group in order to survive against the policies of the Soviet Union.


Famine and Starvation

1. During the years of famine in Kazakhstan, 1.5 million people died but other people solved this problem because their aim was to survive more than just to die.


2. Kazakhstan’s famine after and during WWII was a great problem for many people but my grandparents found a solution by getting products from their own garden and own cattle.


Repression and Gulags


1. Before WWII mass political repression took lots of innocent people’s lives, it was implemented as a strict policy in order to force people to obey so they could survive.


2. People were sent to the gulag when they did not accept the USSR politics or if people complained about them, so in order to NOT be sent, they had to accept Stalin’s policy or complain on their neighbor first.


3. It is hard to imagine what victims of Stalin’s policies had to endure especially when sent to the gulags as “enemies of the people,” but nothing can be done except to avoid such a horrible mistake again.


4. During the industrialization in USSR, the government needed lots of low-paid people to construct factories, roads and they decided to create gulags where they used imprisoned political enemies and zecs who helped to increase the economy of the country by their hard work.


5. The Kazakh elites were killed as enemies of the country and their relatives were sent to work at camps, nevertheless, the “wives and children of the enemies of the people” survived because of their very strong wish to live, hope and love to bring their Kazakh land to independence for the next generation.


Great Patriotic War or WWII

1. During the period of WWII, 27 million Soviet people died and sometimes those who survived didn’t have enough food but my grandparents solved this problem because they loved each other, they survived for love.


2. During the Soviet period, many people in Kazakhstan had no jobs or opportunities to earn money for food, but those who survived had their own ideas and ways to educate themselves.


3. During WWII, a lot of women with their children struggled to survive and thanks to their enduring hardships, we have our grandparents who continued our next generation.


4. During WWII, folks could not trust anyone so that is why some people became spies, they worked for the Soviets and for its enemies.


5. In years of WWII there were medical centers which had doctors who were helping injured people by treating them and there were others who loved their job and helped with pleasure.


6. A lot of innocent people suffered from the Great Patriotic War but Stalin could have diminished the amount of victims and deaths if he had believed that the Nazis would attack the Soviet Union and had been better prepared for this war.

6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Very interesting topics. Brings back all sorts of memories from my own days of studying history back in college.

    Although, I must say, history-lover that I am, even though I’m not currently enrolled in any course, I continue my own “studies”. Currently on a similar topic. The history of the Germans from Russia who lived in Ukraine at the time of Stalin.

    I’m actually doing it for a feature film I’m working on that is currently in the pre-production stage. Researching for the script, costumes, props, etc. (We need to find some old Russian rubles!)

    In addition to this being my job, I also have a personal interest in the topic. My own relatives were from the region. In fact, my great-grandfather probably ended up in the gulag (he was arrested during Stalin’s purges along with most of the men in his village)… maybe even in Kazakhstan.

  2. 2

    kazakhnomad said,

    Dear M.A. Thanks for your comments and your ambitious plan to set to film the tragedy of what happened to the Germans during Stalin’s purges in Ukraine. It has been a fascination for me ever since I had a western Ukrainian student named Bogdan who told me what happened in his own family and what is a common denominator for many other Ukrainian families. This quest of mine continues after seven years to find out what happened to Kazakh families and what is even more vexing is that many, many nationalities were dumped in this fine country of Kazakhstan.

    People in the western world do NOT know about all these tragedies because our history books are vanilla when it comes to what communism’s fear and terror accomplished among their own people. There was good reason the Cold War existed for as long as it did. If this is how the USSR treated it’s own people, what would they do to their enemies? I shudder to imagine if the Soviet Union actually thrived and succeeded, but ultimately good will prevail over evil.

    In my own effort to find out what REALLY happened to the Kazakhstan people, I am having my students tell me what they know. Since I can’t read Russian or won’t be learning Kazakh to hear their oral stories that are handed down, this is the next best thing. After that, it would be GREAT if we could have a person like you to document what I’m unearthing from my students’ grandparents stories. Interested?

  3. 3

    I’m not the actual “filmmaker” in our indie film company. I’m the production coordinator, which means, I, well, coordinate 🙂

    So, I’d have to bring it to the attention of my “bosses”.

    What kind of documentation were you thinking of? An actual documentary? Or something akin to what Spielberg did with the holocaust oral history project?

    Of course, right now, we’re completely engrossed in this feature film. But do contact me with some specifics. Are you students from Kyrgyzstan or from the U.S.? Etc.

  4. 4

    kazakhnomad said,

    M.A. I don’t have a clear idea of how these stories could be documented yet but for now I hope to have my students put together a short powerpoint with photos and quotes from their papers. Maybe I’ll have others come to our classroom to see what they put together. Once I get through this semester, I’ll sort out what would be the next step to take.

    Yes, these students are mostly from Almaty, Kazakhstan. I used to teach on a Fulbright at the university where Dr. Otto Pohl is currently teaching. I wish I knew then what I know now, I would have been more alert to what the Kyrgyz students might have as stories.

    Yes, I’m interested in oral history accounts because the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz come from an oral tradition culture. Many stories need to be documented NOW before the older generation passes on.

  5. 5

    […] out the topics my students chose for their problem/solution papers by looking at their tentative thesis statements.  I really enjoyed reading ALL of their […]

  6. 6

    Signe said,

    As I turned on the water faucet in the kitchen to get hot water I thanked God and thought of my Grandmother who as a new bride came to America with her husband who had been here already. I thought, “How did she cope with the inconveniences”? He homesteaded for five years and went back to the “Old Country” to marry her. In the five years, he broke land and dug a well and built a shack.

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