Flashcards in Key Topic 3: The Nature Of Stalin's Dictatorship 1924 - 1939 Deck (36):
What happened to Lenin from 1922 to 1924?
Lenin had a stroke in May 1922 and a second stroke in December 1922. The second stroke meant he was unable to run the party or the country.
He dictated his Political Testament to his wife - telling her it must be read at the Congress of Soviets after his death.
He had a third stroke in March 1923 that left him completely paralysed and unable to speak. He died in 1924.
How did Stalin use Lenin's funeral to his advantage?
Stalin presented himself as Lenin's close follower. For example, he made himself chief mourner at the funeral. He also gave Trotsky the wrong date so that Trotsky would appear arrogant and disrespectful for not attending.
What did Lenin's Political Testament say?
He saw two main candidates for the leadership of the Communist Party after his death: Stalin and Trotsky.
However, he did not want any single candidate to dominate so he asked that the whole Politburo (the committee that ran the party) would take over.
Who was in the Politburo?
What were Stalin's strengths as a contender for power?
He was an excellent planner and organiser and extremely ambitious and had been planning to take over from Lenin for some time - by 1922, he was a member of the Politburo and General Secretary of the Communist Party.
He made sure his work kept him in Moscow, close to Lenin. He did all he could to seem Lenin's favourite and his job as Secretary meant he chose who got jobs (in the Party and the government) so people wanted to please him.
Stalin's policies were more popular than Trotsky's - such as 'Socialism in One Country' instead of Trotsky's idea of spreading communist revolution worldwide.
What disadvantages did Trotsky have as a contender for power after Lenin's death?
Trotsky did not work in Moscow, so the rest of the Politburo didn't know him well. Some members of the Poliburo didn't trust him because he seemed to be Lenin's favourite.
What happened to Lenin's Political Testament?
Kamenev and Zinoviev, who supported Stalin, managed to persuade the Politburo not to sack Stalin as Secretary and not to read the Testament to the Congress of Soviets.
Which contender was strongly in favour of the NEP?
How did Stalin remove Bukharin as a competitor in the struggle for power?
Stalin persuaded Bukharin to encourage the continuance of the New Economic Policy within the Politburo.
Next, he declared that it was Lenin's last wish that the NEP be discontinued because it was anti-communist. This made Bukharin look disloyal to Lenin and a traitor to the communist ideals.
How was Trotsky removed as a contender for power?
Apart from missing Lenin's funeral, Trotsky wrote a book criticising Lenin and the NEP in a book published in 1924.
Combined with this, Stalin and his supporters spread rumours that Trotsky never had Lenin's support and that he disrupted the work of the Politburo.
Trotsky also scared people by insisting on trying to spread communism across the world - people were afraid he would drag Russia into more conflicts.
Trotsky lost jobs and power gradually:
1925 - resigned as Commissar of War
1926 - Expelled from the Politburo
1927 - Expelled from the Communist Party
1928 - Exiled to Kazakhstan
1929 - Exiled from the Soviet Union
(1940 - Assassinated in Mexico)
How did Stalin establish the most effective and ruthless dictatorship of the twentieth century?
He combined a systematic programme of propaganda, culminating in the 'Cult of Stalin' with a systematic use of terror to remove any potential threats to his position. This led to the deaths of millions of people in the Soviet Union.
What were the Purges?
In the 1930s, Stalin embarked on series of purges, which led to the death and imprisonment of millions of Soviet people. No one was immune.
Stalin purged anyone who delayed, criticised or opposed his plans for collectivisation and industrialisation. Most of the accused were deported or imprisoned. Some were shot.
The Purges can be interpreted as including the Show Trials of senior Communist Party members.
How did the Purges start in 1928?
The first purge was of 55 engineers from the Shakhty mines in Donbas. They were put on trial accused of sabotaging the first 5-Year plan. Five were shot and the rest imprisoned.
What happened to Ryutin in 1932 as part of the Purges?
Ryutin, a senior Communist Party member, criticised Stalin's economic policy. Stalin was furious and had Ryutin and his supporters arrested and put on trial. Ryutin was expelled from the party and sent into exile.
When was Kirov murdered?
In 1934, after giving a speech that criticised Stalin's policy of industrialisation. The speech was warmly applauded and there was even talk of Kirov replacing Stalin as leader. It is quite likely that Stalin had him shot.
How did Stalin use the murder of Kirov in his Purges from 1934 to 1936?
Stalin used it as an excuse to arrest thousands of Communist Party members in 1934 - 40,000 members in Leningrad alone.
In 1935, thousands of Communist Party members who had supported Trotsky were expelled from the party.
In 1936, Stalin got rid of the 'old Bolsheviks' by accusing them of Kirov's murder and also of plotting to assassinate him. Zinoviev, Kamenev and other Left Opposition leaders were tortured by the NKVD and confessed in full view of the world.
How did Stalin purge the army in 1937?
The Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army, Tuchachevsky, along with seven other generals, were arrested and shot.
By 1941, 13 of the top 15 generals had been purged.
How did Stalin end the Purges?
By 1938, almost every party and state leader in every one of the Soviet republics had been purged. Things were getting out of control, with about a million dead and 7 million imprisoned.
Stalin called a halt to the Purges in his usual style: He blamed them on the secret police, and purged them as well to remove any knowledge of what had happened - this included Yezhov, who had been the head of the secret police!
Why did Stalin introduce the Purges?
1. Threats to his position:
Stalin was concerned about anybody who might plot to overthrow him - especially the 'old Bolsheviks'.
2. Stalin was not 100% responsible:
Some historians believe that once they were started - they had a snowball effect. Stalin lost control at a local level.
3. They were needed to create the mass forced labour needed for Stalin's industrialisation policy.
4. Stalin was paranoid and had a 'persecution complex' - he believed everyone was out to get him. The murder of Kirov was an example.
What happened to people who were 'purged'?
They were either sent to a gulag (labour camp), executed (usually shot) or exiled abroad.
What are the years 1936-1938 known as?
The Great Terror. Millions of people were purged in these years by the OGPU (secret police).
How many people were sent to the gulags?
In 1928, there were about 30,000 people in the gulags. By 1938, there were about 7 million.
What were the different secret police organisations through this period?
Before the revolution - the Okhrana
1917-1922 - the Chekha
1922-23 - the GPU, part of the NKVD (which included the ordinary police and the prisons)
1923-34 - the OGPU
1934-45 - the GUGB, part of the NKVD
What were the Show Trials?
The Moscow Trials were a series of three show trials held in the Soviet Union at the instigation of Joseph Stalin between 1936 and 1938. They included the Trial of the Sixteen, the Trial of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center, and the Trial of the Twenty-One. The defendants included most of the surviving Old Bolsheviks, as well as the former leadership of the Soviet secret police. Most defendants were charged under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code with conspiring with the western powers to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union, and restore capitalism. The Moscow Trials led to the execution of many of the defendants, including most of the surviving Old Bolsheviks, and the trials are generally seen as part of Stalin's Great Purge
What were the effects of the use of terror by Stalin on the USSR?
1. It created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion - this enforced obedience, but also resentment.
2. The Purges killed about a million people and sent about 7 million to the gulags.
3. The state lost useful people at most levels: 1 million out of the 3 million members of the Communist Party, 93 out of 139 Central Committee members and 13 of the 15 top generals in the Red Army.
4. Removed skilled workers from industry, so factory production reduced.
Do we have 100% accurate statistics about the Purges?
No - secret police records have not all been released, so we only have rough estimates. For example, historians disagree about the percentage of Red Army officers purged - estimates range from 10% to 50%.
What is propaganda?
Propaganda is giving information, true or false, to make people think or act in a certain way.
What did Stalin use propaganda for?
1. To turn people against his enemies;
2. To get people to accept his decisions (such as collectivisation and industrialisation);
3. To get people to put up with hardships;
4. To get people to work harder;
5. To build up a 'Cult of Stalin'.
What was the 'Cult of Stalin'?
Also known as the 'Cult of Personality' - this became a prominent part of Soviet culture in December 1929, after a lavish celebration for Stalin's 50th birthday. For the rest of Stalin's rule, the Soviet press presented Stalin as an all-powerful, all-knowing leader, and Stalin's name and image became omnipresent. From 1936 the Soviet journalism started to refer to Joseph Stalin as the Father of Nations.
What types of propaganda did Stalin use?
1. Radio, newspapers, songs, poems and books were all tightly controlled and censored to make sure they were not anti-Stalin.
2. Officials were sent all over the country to promote propaganda films and give talks. They distributed banners and posters to spread different propaganda campaigns. Each new idea, such as the Five-Year Plans, had a specific propaganda campaign. Stalin was often photographed with children or workers from different ethnic minorities to show how widely popular he was.
3. Foreign visitors had to travel under state supervision. They were escorted to factories, collective farms and homes that were made to look better than most people's real lives.
What did Stalin do to education?
1. Education was used as a form of propaganda - children were taught that Stalin was the 'Great Leader'and History books were re-written. Communist ideology was compulsory.
2. Education changed to focus on the technical and scientific skills Stalin needed to fulfill the Five-Year Plans - more engineers, teachers, doctors and scientists were produced.
3. Numeracy and literacy increased - Stalin used strict discipline and examinations were brought back, by 1939, 94% of city-dwellers and 86% of the rural population could read and write.
How did life for children change outside of school?
Stalin wanted control over the young even outside of school. Children joined political youth groups, which trained them in communism. They did activities such as sports and camping and there were different groups for different ages:
8 to 10-year-olds joined the Octobrists
10 to 16-year-olds joined the Young Pioneers
16 to 28-year-olds joined the Komsomol
What was the 1936 Constitution?
This was another form of propaganda. On paper, it made the Soviet Union look like 'the most democratic system in the world'. It guaranteed all citizens rights, such as freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and freedom from arbitrary arrest.
It also re-organised the government - the old Congress of the Soviets was reformed into the Supreme Soviet.
Finally, it guaranteed all people the right to vote in free elections.
What was the reality behind the 1936 Constitution?
In reality, all of the 'rights' it guaranteed citizens of the Soviet Union could be suspended at any time '...in the interest of national security'.
Also, only Communist Party members could stand for election, so there was no real freedom (and results of elections were even announced before any voting had taken place!).
Why did Stalin introduce the 1936 Constitution?
It was another form of propaganda to make the USSR look democratic. Also, it sent a signal to America and Britain that, if needed, Russia could be an ally against the Germans in the event of war breaking out.