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[O] History(Elect) Smart Guides

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  1. Unit 1: The World in Crisis

    1. Impact of World War I in Europe
    14 Topics
  2. 2. Stalin's Soviet Union
    12 Topics
  3. 3. Hitler's Germany
    27 Topics
  4. 4. Outbreak WWII in Europe
    13 Topics
  5. 5. Germany's Defeat in World War II
    21 Topics
  6. 6. Outbreak War in Asia Pacific
    6 Topics
  7. 7. Japan's Defeat
    10 Topics
  8. Unit 2: Bi-Polarity and the Cold War
    8. Reasons for the Cold War in Europe
    21 Topics
  9. 9. The Korean War
    19 Topics
  10. 10. Cuban Missile Crisis
    25 Topics
  11. 11. The End of Cold War
    19 Topics
Chapter 2, Topic 5
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Rise of Stalin (Stalin’s Manipulations)

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Key Reasons for the Rise of Stalin

Stalin’s Manipulations

  • Apart from Trotsky’s inability to build up his own support base and allies from within the Party, Stalin also showed skill and strategic planning abilities in his manipulations of fellow Party members.
  • Stalin achieved these by a) pretending to have been close to Lenin, b) using his power of Party organisation and c) exploiting the ideological divisions within the Party.

A. Pretended to have been close to Lenin

 Two actors perform Lenin and Stalin characters respectively at the Red Square circa 2018 in Moscow, Russia
  • Stalin cleverly made it seem like he had been very close to Lenin. Despite Lenin’s expressed wish for an ordinary burial, Stalin arranged for his body to be embalmed and put on public display in a special mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow.
  • Stalin also gave the funeral speech and established himself as the chief mourner, He hoped that he would give everyone the impression that he was the successor of Lenin as the ruler of Russia.
  • Stalin also kept Trotsky from attending Lenin’s funeral by giving him the wrong date.
  • Stalin arranged for the city of Petrograd to be renamed `Leningrad’ in Lenin’s honour.
  • To the Russian people, it looked like Stalin was the natural successor to Lenin and hence made it easy for him to gain recognition and support to be the next leader of Soviet Union.

B. Used his power of Party organisation

  • Stalin’s power base lay in the Communist Party apparatus. Stalin was made Secretary-General of the Party in 1922. It gave Stalin great influence over who was to be admitted or expelled from the Party, and who held influential positions.
  • He was thus able to replace allies of his opponents, especially Trotsky, with his own allies.
  • These people owed their positions to him and thus voted for him at party meetings and made sure that Trotsky’s proposals were always rejected.
  • Stalin promoted mostly younger, inexperienced members of the Party who owed their advancement and allegiance to him alone. In this way, he could be assured of the loyalty of the army, so that the commanders and officers would not rise up against him.
  • Stalin also gained control of Cheka, later renamed the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs (NKVD).
  • As a result, Trotsky’s support base shrank considerably. With his reputation destroyed and his ideas discredited, Trotsky was forced to resign as the head of the Red Army in 1925. Stalin had Trotsky
  • expelled from the Party in 1927.
  • After his expulsion, Trotsky continued to criticise Stalin’s policies and his supporters through his writings and thus Stalin had him assassinated in 1940.
  • Therefore, by removing his political rivals and building up his power base through control of key organs such as the army and the secret police, obstacles to Stalin’s rise were removed.

C. Exploited Ideological Divisions

  • Members of the Communist Party were divided between the moderates & the radicals. Moderates were those who followed Lenin’s leadership & ideology closely, while the radicals challenged the system.
  • Both sides underestimated Stalin and ignored Lenin’s advice, seeing him as nothing more than a competent administrator.
  • Trotsky, however, was outspoken in his criticisms of Lenin & the Party, thus the resentment against him.
  • To eliminate his competitors, Stalin took advantage of the ideological divisions within the Party, allying himself with both sides at different times.
  • He prompted Trotsky to be expelled from the Party by allying himself with moderate Politburo members, who saw Trotsky as a radical because Trotsky criticised and challenged Party organisation and policies.
  • For eg., he persuaded Kamenev and Zinoviev (the respective heads of the Party in Leningrad and Moscow) to join with him in an attack on Trotsky.
  • After Trotsky was removed from his position as Head of the Red Army, he broke the alliance with Kamenev & Zinoviev and convinced moderates that both were plotting with Trotsky to overthrow the government.
  • He then caused the moderates, led by Bukharin and Rykov, to be removed by switching over to win the support of the radicals as the moderates opposed Stalin’s measures for rapid industrialisation and central control of the economy. All these rivals left the Politburo by January 1929.
  • Forced closure of the democratic Constituent Assembly allowed Stalin to build his power base towards gaining Soviet leadership.
  • Favourable circumstances also helped Stalin to gain power. For eg., he took advantage of Trotsky’s silence regarding Lenin’s Testament to build up his support base and isolate Trotsky.
  • By 1929, Stalin had established himself as its supreme leader. He had crushed his opponents through carefully calculated decisions, actions and manipulation.
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