Stalin's Rise to Power: Power Vacuum and Power Struggle Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Stalin's Rise to Power: Power Vacuum and Power Struggle Deck (25)
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Stalin's Background

• Born in Georgia to a drunk, cobbler father and devout mother.
• He enrolled in an Orthodox Seminary but was expelled in 1899.
• By 1912 he was one of 6 members in the Central Committee.
• By 1917 he was committed to Lenin and had been arrested 8 times - despised people who escaped exile.
• Highly regarded by Stalin - "that wonderful Georgian"


Stalin: October Revolution

• He spent 1914-1917 in exile. He couldn't fight in WW1 due to his withering arm.
• He returned to Petrograd in 1917 and instructed Bolsheviks to devote themselves to the revolution.
• He opposed October deserters Kamenev and Zinoviev.


Stalin: Civil War

• Stalin was appointed Commissar for Nationalities as he was Georgian. Lenin also believed his toughness made him qualified for the position.
• He became a ruthless, Bolshevik organiser in the Caucasus region.
• He had many disputes with Trotsky - clash of personalities.


Stalin's Positions

• Commissar for Nationalities - in charge of officials in republics and regions that made up the USSR.
• Liason officer between Politburo and Orgburo - monitor Party Policy and Personnel.
• Head of the Worker's and Peasants' Inspectorate - oversee work of all Gov. Departments.
• General Secretary - record and convey Party policy. He could build personal files on all members and he knew everything.


Stalin's Strengths

• Positions - good at gaining loyalty and could outnumber and outmanoeuvre all of his opponents.
• Mastered theories of Marxism-Leninism.
• Underrated by opponents and could conceal his true intentions.
• Placed himself close to Lenin in 1922-23.
• Fear of Trotsky led to the Triumvirate.


Stalin's Weaknesses

• Seen as crude and violent by colleagues.
• Minor role in October Revolution.
• Overshadowed by people of greater prominence (Trotsky) and greater popularity (Bukharin).
• His colleagues knew Lenin had turned against him even if his testament hadn't been released.


Stalin: the Lenin Enrolment

• Between 1923-25 the party tried to increase the numbers of proletarians in its ranks.
• Membership of the CPSU rose from 340,000 in 1922 to 600,000 by 1925.
• New recruits poorly educated and politically unsophisticated - privileges depended on being loyal to those who had invited them into the Bolshevik ranks.
• The task of the Lenin enrolment fell to people working under Stalin - he gained a reliable body of voters.


Stalin: Attack on Factionalism

• Lenin condemned divisions within the Party in 1921 to stop people criticising Party policies and decisions.
• This made it hard to mount opposition in the CPSU.
• Stalin benefited from this.


Stalin: The Lenin Legacy

• Stalin became heir to the 'Lenin Legacy'.
• In the eyes of the Communist Party Lenin was a god. His actions and decisions were unchangeable.
• Lenin was the measure of correctness.
• Stalin appeared to carry on Lenin's work establishing a formidable claim to power.


Stalin: Lenin's Funeral

• Stalin gained an advantage by giving the speech at Lenin's funeral - sight as leading mourner suggested a continuity between him and Lenin.
• Trotsky had originally been asked to give the speech but declined. He didn't even attend the funeral claiming that Stalin had given him the wrong day.


Trotsky's Character

• He held power and prestige from his past achievements and as a theorist and speech maker.
• Despite his talents and intellectual brilliance he had many flaws. Sometimes he was very self assured and sometimes he suffered a lack of judgement.
• His reluctance could be because he felt inhibited by his Jewishness in a country like Russia.
• He was also very arrogant, dismissive of people with 'lesser abilities' and unwilling to do admin work.


Trotsky's Strengths

• He was a brilliant intellectual and theorist and an inspirational speech maker.
• Energetic man of of action and second in power and influence to Lenin.
• He had formidable Political skills, ruthlessness, authority and organisational ability.


Trotsky's Weaknesses

• Many feared him - thought he'd use the Red Army to seize power.
• He was originally a Menshevik making people suspicious of him.
• Colleagues disliked his arrogance.
• He made no serious attempt to build a base of support.
• He was indecisive and often fell ill at critical moments.
• He made serious errors of judgement.


Lenin's Testament

• Assessment of colleagues - it cast shadows over everyone.
• It was particularly harsh on Stalin.
• Lenin said Stalin "has concentrated enormous power in his hands" and "He doesn't know how to exercise it with sufficient caution." He also urged comrades to remove him from his position as General Secretary.
• Lenin said this as Stalin had used brute force to crush Georgian Independence and had called his wife a "whore" on the phone.


Suppression of Lenin's Testament

• If published it would damage Stalin. However it would also damage Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev.
• When the members of the Politburo were presented with the document in 1924, they agreed not to release it.



• Trotsky decided to hold his ground and fight bureaucratisation which he saw as an abandonment of discussion in the party.
• Trotsky pressed his views in the Central Committee, in the Politburo and at the party congress. His appeal against bureaucracy was matched with an appeal to return to party democracy.
• He criticised Kamenev and Zinoviev for their past disagreements with Lenin. Trotsky's Menshevik past was used against him.
• This all left Stalin unscathed.


Kamenev's Strengths

• He was an 'Old Bolshevik'.
• He was very close to Lenin. He was entrusted with some of his personal papers after his stroke.
• He had a strong power base as Chairman of the Moscow Soviet.
• He was thoughtful, intelligent and could get things done.


Kamenev's Weaknesses

• He was inconsistent - switched alliance from Stalin to Trotsky.
• Too closely linked to Zinoviev who was more popular.
• Too 'soft' and lacked the drive to be leader.
• He underestimated Stalin.


Zinoviev's Strengths

• He was an 'Old Bolshevik'.
• Lenin called him his "closest and most trusted assistant."
• He had a strong power base as party boss in Leningrad (Petrograd), second in importance only to Moscow.


Zinoviev's Weaknesses

• His opposition to Lenin in 1917 was used against him.
• He underestimated his rivals especially Stalin.
• He and Kamenev left it too late to switch their alliance to Trotsky.


Bukharin's Strengths

• He was popular within the Party, close to Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.
• He was regarded as the best theoretician in the party.
• He was an expert on economics and agriculture.


Bukharin's Weaknesses

• He tried to remain on good terms with everyone and so had no power base.
• He underestimated Stalin and due to his popularity was a target for Stalin's enmity.
• He made tactical mistakes such as leaving it to late to form an alliance with Kamenev and Zinoviev.


Rykov's Strengths

• He was an 'Old Bolshevik'.
• He had shown administration ability during War Communism and the NEP.
• He had support from the Sovnarkom and was chosed by them as Chairman in 1923 and 1924.


Tomsky's Strengths

• He was an 'Old Bolshevik' and had working-class origins making him popular.
• He was chief spokesman for the trade unions giving him a strong position.
• Natural ally of leaders such as Rykov and Bukharin.


Tomsky's Weaknesses

• Hostility to Trotsky blinded him to the danger of Stalin.
• His power base in the trade unions made him a target.
• His support for the NEP was used against him in 1927 when the grain crisis in 1927 hit the economy.