Stalin - Man or Monster?
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Stalin's Russia Source Coursework Depth Study B: Russia 1905 - 1941 Assignment B: Objective 3 Stalin: Man or Monster? 1) Study Sources A, B and C. Do these sources give similar or different impressions of Stalin? Explain your answer. (6) These sources give different impressions of Stalin, however there are some similarities. Source A is a cartoon published in Paris in the 1930´s. It shows Stalin and the results of his policies according to the artist. The cartoon features Stalin showing three pyramids of skulls as if he was a tour guide. The caption under reads, "Visitez L´URSS ses pyramides!" This translates to, "Visit the pyramids of the USSR!" This source is very famous and was drawn by an exiled Russian, therefore the artist could be bitter and biased against Stalin and his policies. Source B is an official Soviet painting of Stalin with workers at a hydroelectric power station in the 1930´s. It is trying to show the results of industrialization. It shows Stalin talking to the workers, they seem very proud to be meeting Stalin. Because it is an official Soviet painting it is very likely to be biased and a source of propaganda as it would be Stalin or the government who commissioned it. Source C is a photograph of Stalin congratulating wives of army officers. The women are reaching for Stalin in a fanatical manner; they seem desperate to touch him. The source is a photograph, which gives the impression that it is a reliable source. However this isn´t true, Stalin could have had the photograph doctored or had people pose and claimed it was showing something it wasn´t. The sources give very different impressions of Stalin. Source A shows Stalin to be a monster responsible for the death of millions of people. Stalin´s policies were responsible for the death of millions of people. Collectivization caused the death of thousands of Kulaks and left many homeless and starving.
Here he got rid of anyone who was a threat. The source is almost a prophecy of his own fate. "If someone speaks better than he does, that man is for it! Stalin will not let him live," Bukharin knew that he was a good politician and was an opponent for Stalin. Bukharin speaks openly against Stalin knowing this could be dangerous, "He is a narrow-minded, malicious man - no not a man, but a devil." In conclusion both the sources are unreliable because they are both very opinionated. However source F is slightly more reliable because it wasn´t published under the influence of the government. 4) Study Sources I and J. How far do these sources agree about Stalin´s show trials? Explain your answer. (7) Source I is an American cartoon about Stalin´s show trials. Americans generally oppose Communism. Source J is also a cartoon but was published in France in the late 1930´s. The purges began in 1934 when the leader of the Leningrad, Kirov, was murdered. Stalin used the murder as a reason to "purge" the opponents in the party. It is believed that Stalin had arranged Kirov´s murder to use it as an excuse. Many leading figures were purged by confessing to being traitors and were executed. The purges were aimed at Party members to begin with, 500,000 were arrested and executed or sent to labour camps. After the trails the purges were extended. By 1937 estimations show that 18 million people from all backgrounds, had been sent to labour camps. Source I shows the courtroom at Stalin´s show trails. It shows Stalin as the judge and the defendant´s appear to be Yagoda, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin. These people were all executed during the purges of the 1930´s. Yagoda was in the NKVD and was accused of spying for Japan and Germany and plotting to murder Lenin. Zinoviev and Kamenev helped with Stalin´s rise to power but also were used by Stalin to do this.
Soviet history shows that Stalin´s polices changed the USSR beyond all recognition, this was a positive thing as before Stalin came to power the USSR was very backward. However Stalin is believed, by some to be a very poor politician who used terror and fear to cover up his lack of ability. "Stalin is unhappy at not being able to convince everyone, himself included, that he is greater than everyone else. If someone speaks better than he does, that man if for it!" Source F. "Everywhere he saw "enemies" "double dealers" and spies." Source H a speech by Khrushchev. Stalin was very paranoid about his ability as leader, he got rid of any opposition during the "purges" where he carried out executions of his opponents. Stalin was very popular at the time, although he now appears like a monster the Soviet public thought very highly of him. "Everybody is familiar with the clarity of mind, his iron will, his devotion to the party, his ardent faith in the people and love for the people." Source K. The disagreement about Stalin is whether or not he was a good politician and whether he was a monster. It is difficult to know the whole truth about Stalin, the use of censoring and propaganda in the USSR at the time he was in power means the reliability of the sources that came out of the USSR at the time is questionable. Sources that came out of places such as France are also questionable as they are generally written by exiled Russians who will be bitter and produce biased accounts. In conclusion the sources suggest that the disagreement about Stalin is because of the differing accounts of Stalin´s time in power, some portray him as a monster where some show him as the hero of the USSR. Stalin was a very complex character. He did many evil things but also did many very good things for the USSR. He was a good politician and changed the USSR, but was also very paranoid and felt the need to kill anyone who posed a threat to him.
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