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To what extent was Stalin's rise to power due to his opponents' mistakes?

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Cathleen Mair History SL, Ms Simpson November 19, 2008 ISF To what extent was Stalin's rise to power due to the mistakes of his opponents? From 1917 to 1921, Russia had been in a Civil War from which it emerged as a Communist nation with Vladmir Lenin as its leader. Lenin, also known as the "Father of the Revolution", had led the Bolsheviks to victory and was therefore revered by the Russian population. After his death in 1924, it was unclear who would succeed him as he hadn't left any clear instructions. Eventually, in 1928, Joseph Stalin became the new leader of the country. He had managed to defeat both his opposition on the Left, which consisted of Leon Trotsky, Grigori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, and the opposition on the Right, made up of Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov and Michail Tomsky. Stalin's rise to power, despite not being the best or favourite candidate, is possibly due in large part to his opponent's mistakes and weaknesses such as their failure to publish Lenin's political testament. However, there are also other significant factors including his political skills and just sheer luck. This essay will discuss how Stalin rose to power from 1924 to 1928 and explore how fundamental his opponent's mistakes were in causing this rise. ...read more.


His first major post was that of the People's Commissar for Nationalities which he obtained in 1917 (Lee 1). By the time of Lenin's death he was also liaison official between the Politburo, main Party organ, and the Orgburo and General Secretary, which was ultimately his most important post (Lee 1). The rest of the Party didn't deem these positions as important but as General Secretary he controlled a lot of the Party's organisation and had the power to promote its members (Lee 4). He was therefore able to place his supporters in higher positions and hereby consolidate his power within the party (Lee 4). As Trotsky said, "he is organising around himself the sneaks of the party" (MacDonald 65). Trotsky, his most threatening rival for power, did not have this support within the Party as his power lay more within the military. Stalin had therefore managed to outmanoeuvre his opponents within the Party (Lee 4). But not only did he place his supporters strategically within the Party, he also gained a lot of public support. He did this mainly through the previously discussed "cult of personality" he created around Lenin. This was probably how he gained most of hispublic support. He also used the Russian Secret Police very tactically. ...read more.


The majority of the Party agreed that their policies needed a radical rethink and again Stalin had managed to use the convenient circumstances to his advantage (Lee 5). Luck and convenient circumstances were therefore the final contribution to his rise to power. In 1928, as a result of the above discussed factors, Stalin finally emerged as single leader of the USSR. He remained in power until his death in 1953, therefore having been in control for 25 years. Which factor played the most important role in his rise to power is debatable. It is obvious that a combination of all three was needed in order to actually allow him to rise to power as they complement and feed off each other. His political skills allowed him to profit from his opponents weaknesses while the convenient circumstances provided him with the perfect opportunity to promote his ideas. It seems however that the biggest role was played by his opponents, or rather their mistakes. The one thing that could really have eliminated any chances of him rising to power would have been the publication of Lenin's testament. This would have been the end of all Stalin's possibilities. However, the Party failed to do this and from there Stalin managed to rise to the position of leader of the USSR. ...read more.

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