"Explain why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin as ruler of the USSR"

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The Succession of Lenin – Stalin or Trotsky                         24th January 2004

“Explain why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin as ruler of the USSR”

After Lenin’s death in 1924, there was a struggle between the leading Bolsheviks to succeed Lenin as leader of the USSR. In the end, it emerged as a contest between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. There were several reasons why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin, and it is these I shall be exploring in this essay.

        Trotsky seemed like the obvious successor, and consequently he became inactive. He was over-confident, arrogant, and failed to take any threat seriously, least of all the quiet Stalin and so did nothing to try to discredit Stalin or reverse the damage Stalin did to him. In late 1923, when Trotsky needed to be at his most active, he became ill with a malaria-like disease. He also failed to use his popularity in the Red Army to his advantage or to stop his removal from the Politburo or office of Commissar for War. Trotsky’s inactiveness resulted in people thinking Stalin was better than him.

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        Trotsky was unpopular in the party because of his inactiveness in increasing his popularity within the party. He couldn’t rely on the vote from other party members as he regularly offended leading Bolsheviks like Zinoviev and Kamenev. A series of arguments with them heightened by Trotsky’s ‘The Lessons of October’ resulted in the two triumvirate members allying Stalin and the rightists against Trotsky and having him removed from the post of War Commissar.

        Trotsky maintaining his beliefs led to his unpopularity in the party. It also prevented him from using harsh measures in the party – he failed to use ...

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