• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How far do you agree that Stalin's paranoia was the main cause of the Great Terror?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐How far do you agree that Stalin's paranoia was the main cause of the Great Terror? At the end of 1934, Stalin launched the Great Terror, a time that was to be difficult and tortuous for even the highest ranking members of the Communist Party as well as the rest of the Russian population. It?s clear that throughout his dictatorship, Stalin was extremely paranoid. After all, he did hold immense power and a position that many within Russia would only dream of obtaining. However, although Stalin?s paranoia was indeed extremely significant in causing the Great Terror, there were many other factors that can be deemed just as important; the murder of Kirov perhaps being one of the most prominent, as well as economic reasons and the outcome of the ?Congress of Victors?. But were any of these causes more detrimental than the prominent paranoia of Stalin? Stalin?s paranoia seemed to originate within the Communist Party itself. Events that occured led to him believing that many of his so-called comrades could no longer be considered trustworthy. He acted against these people by removing anyone who he saw as a potential threat to himself and more importantly, his position. Despite the fact he was an unchallenged ruler of Soviet Russia, Stalin consistenly believed that he still had a great deal of enemeis, enemies that he would have no choice but to eradicate. ...read more.


Stalin only gained 927 votes, whereas Kirov managed to obtain 1,227. This result worried Stalin greatly, as it appeared that Kirov was significantly more popular than himself within the Communist Party. What further worsened the issue was that a group of old Bolsheviks confronted Kirov after the vote, attempting to persuade him into standing as General Secretary. Despite the fact Kirov declined, Stalin found out about the plan and therefore provided him with the evidence that he had no other option but to purge the Party due to its untrustworthy nature. This links back to his paranoia and indeed provided him with great incentives for the Great Terror. Economic factors were also a reason as to why Stalin introduced the Great Terror. By introducing this, he was able to divert all economic issues on political enemies. Rather than the ongoing difficulties within the Five-Year Plans looking as if they were due to the incompetence of them, the issues could be explained through the presence of ?wreckers? within the workforce. According to Stalin, these ?wreckers? were working for the likes of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev and so were deliberately sabotaging the outcome of the Russian economy; Stalin clearly wanted to ensure that no failure originated from him and his policies. With this method, Stalin could create scapegoats for any economic problems that may have arisen due to inherent problems associated with the Five-Year Plans. ...read more.


Moreover, Kirov?s murder gave Stalin the pretext for seeking out this ?secret terror group?. Finally, it allowed him to produce the claim that the murder showed that political dissidents were plotting acts of Terror, ultimately justifying the execution of Party members who opposed Stalin?s policies. It has been argued that Stalin and the NKVD were behind Kirov?s death, but regardless of the culprit, Stalin still benefited greatly from the murder. To conclude, I believe that Stalin?s paranoia was indeed the main cause of the Great Terror, however along with the murder of Kirov. His extensive paranoia of party members being untrustworthy and even enemies, provided him with the incentive of eradicating anyone who showed the slightest bit of opposition. Furthermore, to no surprise, he was too protective over his position, and so in his mind the only way he could carry on as the totalitarian dictator of Soviet Russia would be by eliminating anyone who stood in his way through the introduction of Great Terror. However Kirov?s murder was also extremely important and a prominent cause of the Terror. It provided him with the excuse that political dissidents were plotting acts of Terror, and also catalysed the execution of many opponents, including providing excuses for the imprisonment of Zinoviev and Kamenev. Although purges and economic issues and the ?Congress of Victors? were indeed great contributors, I do not believe they were as strong in terms of causing the Great Terror. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How far do you agree that Stalins paranoia was the main cause of the ...

    3 star(s)

    An example of this was the congress of victors which caused fear in Stalin because during the election, Kirov had received more votes that him and hence made Kirov seem more popular within the Communist Party. This therefore led to Kirov being told to become the General Secretary by a

  2. What caused the great terror? The seventeenth party congress of February 1934 is seen ...

    This is the first time Stalin realises he may have to kill off his opponents to retain his power. Stalin was known as a very paranoid man, he was virtually unable to trust most of his party leaders and thus had them expelled if he saw even a slight threat.

  1. To what extent were the Stalinist purges simply a way of eliminating his rivals?

    In 1933 Kirov successfully opposed Stalin's demand for the imposition of the death penalty against a Party leader, Martemyan Ryutin who had been caught spreading a 200-page document calling for the removal of Stalin. Although it may have simply been the principal that Kirov was fighting for, to Stalin it

  2. To What Extent was Stalin's Personal Paranoia the Main Reason for the Purges?

    Conquest states, in his authoritative work on the subject, that Lenin was also an extremely powerful dictator, but that his claims to leadership were practically unchallengeable, unlike Stalin. Stalin's leadership was only attained through his own political manoeuvres and this is why he had to revert to such methods, to get rid of any alternatives.

  1. Causes of show trials + purges of 1930s.

    the importance of the issue, however these articles were generally longer and were directly in the middle of the front page. Although the articles were very long, there was no real commentary on the events, only reporting. The only commentary was in a letter to the editor.

  2. How far do you agree that Stalin's paranoia was the main cause of the ...

    During the election to the party?s Central Committee, Stalin had received 927 votes however, Kirov received 1,225 votes and therefore he topped the poll. The results of the election showed that Kirov was hugely popular within the Communist Party compared to Stalin.

  1. Their use of terror was the main reason that the Nazis retained control in ...

    On the other hand, the organisation suffered from it?s over rapid expansion and the leadership was inadequate. When the war started it became difficult to run the movement effectively and consequently the increasing Nazi emphasis on military discipline was resented by many adolescents.

  2. The Great Terror was Primarily Driven by the Insecurities and Paranoia of Stalin himself. ...

    Stalin had no problem executing a 1,000 people as long as one of them was guilty. This is evidenced by comparing Stalin to the other previously potential leaders of communist Russia: although many party members were normalise to violence for the bloody revolution, many ? like Bukharin ? saw it

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work