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Stalin - Man or Monster? - Sources Questions

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Introduction

Study Sources A, B and C. Do these sources give similar or different impressions of Stalin? Source A is a cartoon, which shows the results Stalin's purges (such as the 'dekulakisation' programme that he introduced). The cartoon was published in Paris in the 1930's. This raises questions about its reliability as the cartoonist is portraying communism from the perspective of a capitalist country. Source B is a painting, which depicts Stalin mingling with workers, insinuating that he is a man of the people. It is an official Soviet painting, showing that it conforms to the 'Socialist Realism' Policy that Stalin introduced to ensure that all pictures, songs and pieces of writing corresponded with Stalin's views and policies and did not portray them in a negative light. Source C shows a photograph of Stalin shaking hands with the wives of army officers. This is quite an ironic photograph as the wives of many army officers are congratulating Stalin and yet he purged 3/5 Marshals and 50,000 troops were sent to the gulags. Source A depicts Stalin in a negative light as the caption, when translated, reads, 'Visit the pyramids of the U.S.S.R.'. The cartoon also shows piles of skulls that have been shaped into pyramids. Perched on top of the piles of skulls are several black Ravens. This could refer to the fact that during the purges, members of the N.K.B.D., nicknamed 'The Black Ravens' because they tended to operate under the cover of darkness, arrested many victims. The circling ravens perhaps indicate that the N.K.B.D. had complete control over the people. On 12th December 1938 Stalin signed the death sentence of 3182 innocent people and then went to watch a film in the evening and these pyramids are the results of these, as well as other, acts of Stalin. Stalin is gesturing towards the pyramids as if he was proud of his achievements. ...read more.

Middle

'I am so well and joyful' could be untruthful as a great many Russian lived in fear of their lives and living conditions were poor. This is a subjective source and so cannot be believed fully. In this source, there are many points, which can be backed up by facts. We know that there were a great number of people who genuinely liked Stalin for he achieved in five years what had taken the industrialised nations in the West (i.e. the Capitalist countries) fifty to one hundred years. Although many parts of the source are exaggerated, there is an element of truth in them. For instance, 'Thy name is engraved on every factory, every machine, every place on earth, and in the hearts of all men' may seem to be a great exaggeration, but it does contain a great deal of truth in it. Most factories had a picture of Stalin and many inventions were also named after Stalin. The reference to, 'and in the hearts of all men' and 'every place on earth', could be showing that Stalin tried to make himself seem like a hero by placing statues in various urban areas and renaming many towns and cities after him. The hearts of all men could also include the fact that Russians were bombarded by propaganda telling them how great Stalin was and how much better off they were than they had been under the Tsar. The reference to, 'and in the hearts of all men' could mean that everybody feared Stalin as he purged between eight to fourteen million Russians. He inflicted fear to motivate the Russia people; therefore, whenever they were performing a task, Stalin would be in their minds, and their hearts as members of their family might have been purged. In the first line, 'I am so well and joyful', implies that he was happy under Stalin's reign. ...read more.

Conclusion

On 1st December 1934 Nikolayev, who bore a grudge against Kirov entered Kirov's building and shot Kirov. Nikolayev had been trained by the N.K.B.D., which was lead by Yagoda. Kirov was awarded a full state funeral but Stalin's response was to issue a decree sanctioning the death penalty against acts of terror. Stalin organised Kirov's murder and then covered his tracks. Nikolayev was shot and Kirov's bodyguard was clubbed to death. Khrushchev also says that 'everywhere he saw enemies, 'double dealers' and spies'. This is probably a reference to the show trials of the high ranking party members - in 1934, there were one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-six delegates at the party congress, by 1936 only eight hundred and fifty eight remained. Stalin believed that Trotsky had too much power and so had him deported and then killed him in 1940. This source agrees with the fact that Stalin was deeply distrustful of foreigners because he thought that they were capitalist spies. This is true because the 'commitern' that Trotsky set up to export communism worldwide was disbanded because Stalin did not trust foreigners. The words of Khrushchev state that Stalin was 'a very distrustful man, very suspicious'. This was true because to have somebody sent to the gulags, all that one had to do was to denounce the person as a traitor or claim that they were an enemy of Stalin. This source is quite reliable as it is an objective source as it uses words spoken by Stalin. Although this source is in stark contract to source F, this is probably because in the source F, Khrushchev thought that, although Russia needed 'destalinising' and that it was better to do it gradually so as to 'test the water' and ensure that no supporters of Stalin disposed of Khrushchev. I think that both of the sources are accurate but source F contains several points that could be classed as unreliable. Despite this, my conclusion is that the sources can be trusted. ?? ?? ?? ?? Phil Cox Question 1 - Stalin Man Or Monster? - 1 - ...read more.

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