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Stalin Question 3

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The following are equally important reasons why Stalin was able to hold onto power in the Soviet Union: The purges and show trials The secret police Propaganda and the cult of personality Stalin's economic policies. To what extent do you agree with this statement? By 1928 Josef Stalin had emerged from a vicious power struggle as leader of the Soviet Union. Despite his victory he still had many enemies, from both without and within Russia. He feared the rich, capitalist nations of the west, who hated communism, might intervene. He also feared members of his own party, such as Kamanev and Zinoviev, who had been powerful when Lenin was alive. During his time as leader, Stalin took many steps to hold onto his power. To combat the external threats (rich, powerful capitalist nations opposed to communism, such as the USA) he wanted to modernise Russia and make it one of the great industrial nations. He felt that this was the only way to stop communism in Russia being wiped out by capitalist nations. A famous quote of Stalin's is "We are 50 or 100 years behind the advanced countries. ...read more.


In the third trial there were 21 defendants, the main one being Bukharin, another runner for the leadership after Lenin's death. All of the main defendants were executed. The trials were broadcast to the Russian people, and even internationally. The confessions served to give credence to the executions and imprisonments that were occurring. They also, by 'discovering' attempts at revolution by the accused, made the people of Russia fearful, and made them trust more in the ability of Stalin to keep them safe. The show trials not only gave legitimacy to the purges but also gave the public people to hate, allowing Stalin to direct any anger at those on trial instead of at him. The NKVD, Stalin's 'secret police', where his main enforcers. It was they who conducted the purges and show trials, and it was them who quickly stamped out any traces of rebellion where they were found. They also ran the gulags, forced labour camps used mostly for political prisoners. The NKVD created a climate of fear in the USSR. The arrests were so numerous and unexplained that the people believed that they, or anyone they knew, could be taken at anytime. ...read more.


This meant that for years agricultural production was actually far lower than it had been previously. Both the five-year plans and the policy of collectivisation faced opposition and even sabotage. The main enemies of collectivisation were the kulaks- these were all executed, sent to labour camps or exiled to unpopulated areas. Those who tried to sabotage the five-year plans were usually executed, or sent to labour camps. Stalin's economic policies helped to strengthen Russia, which kept it safe from external enemies. They also made it prosperous, which kept the people happy, although only to a certain extent, since their living conditions were still way behind those of the West. In conclusion, I believe that all of the reasons were important, since they all fit together to make Stalin a total dictator. His economic policies strengthened Russia and prevented a successful foreign invasion. The NKVD and purges allowed him to keep control of the populace. The show trials directed any anger the populace had at the accused, and the 'cult of personality' made Stalin look like a good leader. The most important reasons however were the purges and show trials, because they allowed Stalin to get rid of his enemies and to direct any anger of the populace at someone else. ...read more.

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