Stalin's Rise To Power

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Essay - Stalin

A.C. 2.1, 3.1, 5.1


Critically evaluate Stalin’s rise to power.

Josef Stalin was a much feared and reviled dictator who was responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens. It has been noted that “he is the man who turned the Soviet Union from a backward country into a world superpower at unimaginable human cost.” ( [30 Jan 2010]. Born 1879 in Georgia to a poor, dysfunctional family, Stalin was regularly beaten by his violent father and developed a bad relationship with his religious mother, who sent him to a religious school to study to become a priest. Stalin did not complete his studies but instead was drawn towards the cities active revolutionary scene. It has been suggested that the violence he suffered at the hands of his father played a major role in developing his strength and determination ( [30 Jan 2010].  However, there are many other contributory factors that should be taken into consideration when evaluating Stalin’s rise to power, including the various posts he held, his willingness to maintain Lenin’s legacy and the weakness of his main rival, Leon Trotsky. Historical interpretation is an effective way for historians to translate the past into a meaningful sequence of events; however, the interpretation will vary depending on which historical schools viewpoint is being portrayed. The following paragraph will evaluate two aspects from a historiography from The Liberal School and the Party History point of view.


The Liberal School focus on the personality of Stalin and compare his strengths directly to others weaknesses. They believe that Stalin’s personal qualities were the main contributory factors in his rise to power, which is opposed by the Party History approach. This approach argues that it was not Stalin’s personal traits that helped him to succeed but instead was linked to the structure and growth of the Bolshevik Party. This approach relates Stalin’s rise to power back to the structures that Lenin had put in place and believes that Stalin was merely a continuity of that framework. The Liberal School have an intentional approach, meaning they think that Stalin intended to take power. Stalin has been accused of being brutal and cruel by the Liberal School and for manipulating events preceding Lenin’s death to his advantage; whereas, this is undermined by the Party History’s opinion that Stalin only used an already existing structure and that this along with Stalin’s post of as General Secretary was what assisted the rise of Stalin (Phillips 2000).

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Although these approaches are useful sources of information when looking at different historical periods, it is important to keep in mind that they will depend on what factors the historian focuses on and what key points they use. The historian can choose to believe parts or all of various ideas about history, in this case Stalin’s rise to power; therefore, these opinions and beliefs should be examined critically before being adopted as factual. The validity of the information can be influenced by a variety of things, for example, the Liberal School gives the Western point of view, which is ...

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