“Stalin was able to strengthen his dictatorship in the 1930s was mainly through a cult of personality.” Do you agree? Explain your answer.
Although Stalin was able to eliminate opposition within and outside the party through the purges, he needed to be able to make the people loyal to him. He was successfully able to do this through his effective use of propaganda, which created a cult of personality, and made the people believe that he was a dictator of the people. In addition to this, the success of industrialisation and collectivisation along with the manipulation of production figures by the state and the workers made the people believe that they were benefiting under his rule.
The cult of personality had a huge impact on the thoughts of the Russian public on Stalin and the way propaganda was used in order to achieve this is vital. Stalin was extremely aware of the importance of his image and the impression that he made on the people as it would allow him to maintain his dictatorship. He needed to be able to strictly monitor and regulate all aspects of the media and promote his qualities which would help him win the respect of the Soviet citizens. In order to help him achieve this, he used propaganda which indoctrinated the Russian people. There were many propaganda posters that glorified him as a god like being, and under him any kind of religious worship was banned as he did not want the people to have loyalty to anyone else but him. In order to achieve the cult of personality that he was aiming at not only posters were used but Stalin also ensured that all arts, films and books were carefully controlled by the state. Under his rule, artists were forced to adapt their works so that they glorified the state and positive portrayal of the policies. Writers were also kept under strict control and were forced to promote the state and Stalin’s policies. The cult of personality also included his statues everywhere and cites were named after him such as Tsaritsyn became Stalingrad. He did not only control the arts but also the media to project a positive image of him. The media was censored and the newspapers only contained news of his achievements. In addition to adult population, Stalin need to be able to make the youth loyal to him and they way he achieve that was through the education system. The education system was not geared to make independent thinkers but to produce loyal youth to Stain. The main focus in schools was around history. The 1930s were rewritten in a way that suited Stalin. The pictures of old Communists were removed from the history books; Trotsky was also removed from textbooks to make people forget about his vital role in the Revolution. Stalin had a new book written called “A Short History of the USSR” which gave him a more important role in the Revolution which aimed towards glorifying his past. The cult of personality was important as Stalin was able to indoctrinate the Russian public to make him a glorified figure in their eyes and the control of education allowed him to produce a loyal youth to him. It can also be said that through the use of terror, Stalin was able to remove potential rivals and opposition within and outside the party.