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Consider this judgement on the consequences of Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union 1928 - 1953

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Introduction

'The Soviet People paid to high a price for the achievements of Josef Stalin' Consider this judgement on the consequences of Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union 1928 - 1953 Stalin began his rise to power after the death of Lenin in 1924. At this time, Russia was in social, political and economic turmoil and suffering from ailing international relations following the revolution of 1917 and growth of a one party communist sate. The 'uprising of the proletariat' had occurred in a country without a recognisable working class. In order for Russian industry to develop, the political system needed stabilising and capital invested in the major companies. Stalin implemented hard-line tactics to obtain this in the shortest possible time - the consequences of this method of developing the country are to be discussed in this essay. The politicians of the period had to contend Stalin's ruthless quest to become the omnipotent and unopposed ruler of Russia. The communist system was a relatively new radical political system within Russia. Stalin felt that the less extremist governments preceding him (Provisional Government) had failed drastically, and that the only way to rule such a large country, further hindered by its retarded industrial revolution and multitude of minority nations was through force. He considered purging any suspect opposition as a way to establish the legitimacy of his control. In February 1929, he emerged as the undisputed leader through the manipulation of official posts and forcing opposition out of the Party. For instance, Zinoviev and Kamenev (who had made up the Troika with Stalin after Lenin's death) were imprisoned until 1936 when they were executed after the 'show trails' for 'crimes against the Party. These public 'confessions' tortured out of the victim would become a frequent occurrence during 'high terror' of the late 1930's. Stalin was ruthless in his intolerance of criticism and dissent. It was for the personal achievement of obtaining total control by Stalin that the Russian population would pay with their dignity and for well over 20million by the time of his death in 1953, their lives. ...read more.

Middle

Stalin turned on his armed forces in 1937, fearing a military coup against him. The commander in chief of the Red Army- Marshal Tukhachevsky was shot, along with 7 other influential generals. By 1939, all admirals and 1/2 of officers were shot or imprisoned. This was a controversial move for Stalin as pre-war tensions were rising. In 1938, Yezhov was executed as a way of transferring his authority to Beria. He had become, like so many other influential figures of the time, literally a victim of his own success and Stalin's intense paranoia. The purges were an integral part of Stalinism. By 1937, purging had developed such a momentum that the NKVD had quotas of their own to fulfil, driving them to arrest and interrogate at will. 'Nobody was guilty therefore no one was safe'. Stalin had his own colleagues and associates killed as well as members of his own family - his sister-in-law was arrested in 1949. Without the 'mass terror' they caused, the economic transformation could never have occurred so quickly - although this could never absolve the communist leaders from guilt, nor offer a valid explanation for the suffering they caused. The 2nd 5-year Plan was to concentrate on consumer goods and better housing for the urban population. The expansion of industry occurring in tandem with the annihilation of the agriculture system led to an influx of people into the towns. The contrast in living standards was so stark that a passport system had to be introduced to prevent all peasants flocking to the newly industrialised areas. It was impossible to provide sufficient accommodation for the new workers flooding onto cities. Many people were living in overcrowded rundown buildings. The agricultural problems also led to shortage of food - rationing was introduced on 1930. The abundance of willing workers and abolishment of trade unions created a high turnover rate, allowing low wages (down 50% 1928-1933) ...read more.

Conclusion

Stalin was a very successful 'ruthless moderniser' organising a vast, backward country into a well oiled super power. The experience of the Provincial Government showed that, at this time, Russia could not be ruled democratically and required 'rule with a whip' - although no country or its people deserved the extent to which Stalin abused this 'whip' with his disregard for human life. Although he managed to implement the communist regime, he perverted it, introducing a marked hierarchy. Despite being a Communist state the Russian people were always given lowest priority under Stalin. Lenin had started the revolution 'for the people's and Stalin soon became, to utilise his own phrase and quote from Khrushchev's secret speech, an 'enemy of the people'. Russia became 'over-centralised' with every decision hanging upon Stalin. Russian industry was based on quantity, not quality which although at the time gave the impression of success for Stalin, left the people an economically weak nation. Stalin made a great achievement in industrialising Russia in such a short time. However, the heinous crimes against humanity in addition to the destruction of Russian agriculture through the failure of collectivisation detracted so greatly from this success, it is hardly recognisable. It is highly unlikely that any form of major economic and political revolution can occur in a country without bloodshed. Total stability of the political system is required but annihilation of any opposition, both in the government itself and from the public is unacceptable and unnecessary. It is estimated that at least 30million died at the hands of Stalin - 25million from purges and repression, and about 7 million through the easily avoidable food crisis caused by collectivisation. Stalin feared capitalist take-over if the Soviets did not industrialise quickly. The Soviet Union was a fully operational developed country just 20 years after Stalin began his program. However the simple retort to this statement is that if 30million had to die to allow for this, then it occurred too quickly and an alternate strategy should have been used. Heather Dodds L62A Mr Davies History Essay May 2000 1 ...read more.

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