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How true is it to say that Stalin effectively removed opposition to the exercise of his personal power up to 1941?

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Joseph Halligan History Coursework Part B How true is it to say that Stalin effectively removed opposition to the exercise of his personal power up to 1941? From the 1920's onwards, Stalin set the stage for gaining absolute power, through a number of campaigns of repression against groups which opposed the Communist Party and Stalin himself. The use of terror became a central part to Stalin's rule during the 1930's with the launching of The Great Purges against opposition to Stalin. It can be seen that Stalin did effectively remove opposition to the exercise of his personal power until 1941 when Germany invaded Russia. The term 'purge' in Soviet political slang was an abbreviation of the expression 'purge of the party ranks.' However, Stalin's terror changed its meaning to almost certain arrest, imprisonment or even execution. It is important to realise that purges in themselves were common throughout Soviet government. The Communists seized power without any real popular support and as a consequence, had to use fear and violence to maintain their position in power. There are many similarities between Stalin's terror and the terror before his rule. During the 1920's there was the banning of other political parties as well as the killing of hostages which pre-dated the same acts which took place during Stalin's reign. ...read more.


It is true that many of the initial victims of the terror were Old Bolsheviks with independent minds and who did not owe their position to Stalin. Purging this opposition allowed Stalin to bring in new loyal members who obeyed him and thus protected the exercise of his personal power. The purges could also have been motivated by Stalin's paranoia. Evidence suggests Stalin saw opposition everywhere and he told Khrushchev "I trust nobody, not even myself". Also Khrushchev stated that Stalin had "committed his excesses to boost and guarantee his own security, the continuation of his supremacy and the supremacy of his policies within the Soviet Union." Another possible reason for The Terror was because of a genuine fear of impending war from fascist Germany. This made the leaders think it necessary to remove any opposition that would be able to criticise Stalin's handling of any war that could occur. The event which triggered The Great Purges was the murder of Kirov in 1934. It was after the 17th Party Congress in 1934 that Kirov emerged a clear threat to Stalin's leadership. It is thought that at the Congress, some party officials had approached Kirov secretly with the proposal he should take over as General Secretary. ...read more.


What is clear is that Stalin had effectively removed all opposition to the exercise of his personal power. He did this by having all his opposition such as Kirov, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and Trotsky killed. He did this through assassinations and through arresting and trialling members of the opposition for crimes they had not committed. This was highlighted in the Moscow show trials. Stalin also made sure nothing else could overpower him by purging thee army and the secret police. The only occasions where Stalin did not effectively remove his opponents were in the failings of the early purges and when Bukharin and Rykov were acquitted of charges in 1936. However, Stalin did succeed in having the party purged effectively later on and Bukharin and Rykov were executed two years later in the third Moscow show trial. Stalin furthered his personal power by appointing new loyal men who supported their leader with enthusiasm and affection to opponents former positions. Stalin had effectively transformed the Communist Party by destroying the Revolutionary generation of Communists. Stalin destroyed any of his past enemies, any potential sources of opposition and terrified the whole Soviet population to the extent that no opposition to Stalin's rule could be organised. Therefore I think it is true to say that Stalin removed all opposition to the exercise of his personal power most effectively. Word count: 2195 ...read more.

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