Sunday, December 25, 2011

Stalin's Purges

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Stalin utilised deceitful and often brutal techniques to overthrow and eliminate his potential political and economic opposition

The twentieth century has not yet seen the light of such brutality and repression on a scale Joseph Stalin enforced upon Russia during his reign of terror. Throughout the 10’s, Stalin unleashed brutal purges against all his opposing political entities. This was achieved through false alliances formed within his own party, building up his power as he went along. Stalin eliminated his opponents, once he was in a considerable position of power, with arrests, show trials, assassinations and executions, including members of his own party. However, Stalin’s purges were in no way restricted to his political opposition.

Five year economic plans were introduced and the forced collectivisation of privately owned farms and agricultural industries resulting in widespread famine and great humanitarian loss throughout the Soviet Union. In the years of these purges, Stalin advanced steadily towards his objective; to secure total and absolute personal domination of party and state.

Joseph Stalin infiltrated state and party with absolute dominance and superiority initiated by a series of brutal purges against all the opposed him politically, including those within his own party. The purges were aimed at destroying the vestiges of all who politically challenged his power. Stalin’s rise to power began when the main state party, the Leningrad party splint into two opposing parties, the Mensheviks and the more prominent, communist Bolsheviks, of which Lenin was the leader. When this split occurred, Stalin supported the Bolsheviks and Lenin’s ideologies. Taking a liking to Stalin Almost right away, Lenin allocated him minor roles within the party’s operations, one such being the official paper boy. Stalin was, in time, appointed by Lenin, General Secretary of the Bolsheviks, an opportunity which he later utilized to his full advantage.

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Before Lenin’s death in 14, he constructed a “political testament”, (a will) suggesting that the power of the party be handed over to Trotsky, not Stalin. Trotsky was unpopular amongst the Bolshevik leaders so Lenin’s testament was never officially published, (http//

. The testament, in fact, suggested Stalin’s dismissal from the Bolshevik. Using the post of General Secretary, Stalin set about the task of ensuring that a majority, if not all, of the official Bolshevik posts were filled with his supporters. The utilization of false alliances to force fellow Bolshevik leaders out of power worked as an efficient tactic for Stalin as he slowly rose into power. “He sided with one group then another, gradually isolating the other leading Bolsheviks”, (http// By 1, this deceitful tactic proved successful for Stalin with his top party opposition, namely, Kamenev, Burkhairn and Zinevev resigning from the party, including his prime political opponent Leon Trotsky, who left Russia entirely, and was later assassinated by Stalin in Mexico.

The assassination of the communist party leader in Leningrad, Sergei Kirov, on December 1, 14, was used by Stalin as a pretext for the initiation of widespread political purges. In his years before assassination Kirov built up considerable popularity amongst a majority of the Leningrad party members, mainly due to his support and consideration for the welfare of workers within the party. Stalin saw Kirov’s popularity throughout Leningrad, making him doubt the loyalty of some of the members (http//

. This in mind, Kirov’s murder was Stalin’s immediate answer. The assassination was carried out by the young Leonid Nikolaev, and although it has never been technically proven, Stalin , together with the NKVD, has been thought to have masterminded the murder. Kirov’s death gave Stalin the opportunity to launch vast purges against his political opponents. Over a period of around four years, millions of party members, their wives and families were murdered on the basis of suspicion of being involved in the assassination of Sergei Kirov. Stalin even succeeded in destroying his ideological opponents, namely, Kamenev, Zinovev and Burkhairn, whom were brutally tortured in order to get forced confessions about their involvement in the plot against Kirov. Show trials were held, and sentences were carried out with a bullet to the back of the head. “Purges and trials would continue in Kirov’s name… consuming even those not even remotely connected with Kirov, but only posed a perceived threat against the Great Dictator, Satlin”


By 18, Stalin had gained, through political purges against all (and not always threatening) opposition, total control of the Soviet Union. Stalin set about creating an industrial revolution in Russia, aiming to modernise the Soviet Union and to get ahead of rival nations in the way of industrial growth and inflation. In 18, Stalin put an end to Lenin’s previous NEP (New Economic Policy), and introduced a series of five year plans aiming to boost the economy. The policies and plans insisted on by Stalin would prove to have a massive effect on the Soviet Union and its people. One of Stalin’s first objectives for the new plans was the forced collectivisation of all rural farms, consequently, taking the land from the peasants, and transferring its ownerships to the Soviet Union. Business owners and factory managers were given a yearly production target to meet for each of the five years. As Stalin once stated to all industrial managers in 1, “ We are 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good of the lag in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us!” (http// If production levels requirements were not achieved, executions of factory managers was not out of the normal. This kind of severe treatment of the production requirements resulted in the fabrication of yearly production figures by the industries, so exact figures can never really be known. Although it has been described as the fastest economic growth ever achieved, it came at horrendous humanitarian cost. During 1, Stalin introduced another stage to his plans. A plan to totally wipe out the Kulaks as a class. The Kulaks were wealthier land owners, whom Stalin forced the removal of as to benefit from their land. The process was known as “Dekulakization”. Over 600,000 farming families were collectivised and a further 5,000 were forced to abandon their lands. 80,000 people, by 0th January 10, we arrested, 1,000 of those were executed. all collectivised farms were forced to hand over produce to the Soviet Union, families given what was left over to feed themselves. Rather than hand their produce and land over to the government, the Kulaks killed their animals and destroyed their crops, as a last desperate protest against the government. This in turn caused huge logistical failures and resulted in widespread feminine amongst the people of the Soviet Union. Millions died as a result.

“From 18 to 17 Russian national income rose from 4.4 to 6. billion Rubles, coal output increased from 5.4 to 18 million tonnes, steel production from 4 to 17.7 million tonnes, electricity output rose by 700%”.(http//

Although these sorts of figures pored from the Soviet Union, the huge cost of life that the nation’s people felt completely out ways any of Stalin’s economic achievements.

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