History GCSE Coursework

Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky were both very powerful members of the Soviet Republic after the death of Lenin, but despite being members of the same party, they both had very different characteristics and beliefs.Trotsky was an intellectual, which meant that he could take an idea and make it original. The way Trotsky did this was by voicing his ideas logically and with reasonable arguments across to the people, despite the audience that he was speaking to; hence he was famously known as a great orator. His great speaking skills could be directly linked to his intellect, as all his speeches were well planned and considered thoughtfully. With this intellect though came great vanity and ignorance, which was noticed by Lenin in his last testament when he wrote, “..

.he has displayed excessive self assurance…

“Trotsky was an organiser in every sense of the word, which can be seen by the fact that he was the main person responsible for planning the Bolshevik revolution. The revolution was over in 24 hours and no one was killed which was as successful as any revolution could be. His intellect can again be seen here by the method to which he carried out the revolution. He did not go storming anywhere, he systematically took control of all lines of communications so no backup or reinforcements could be sent. Another example of this was Trotsky’s organisation as a war leader of the Red Army. Trotsky was by no means a lazy leader and spent practically all of his time as leader travelling all over Russia carrying out punishments and motivating the troops to keep morale high.

Ruthlessness is something that Trotsky could certainly have been accused of though and he did not mind getting his hands ‘dirty’. The ‘Red Terror’ was the name given to the extreme discipline of the Red Army stating that all deserters of those found with deserters would immediately be killed. This was not just an idle threat and many people felt the wrath of Leon Trotsky. The Kronstadt uprising could have been disastrous for the Red Army and could have started off a whole chain of disobedient soldiers but Trotsky did not allow this to happen. Trotsky went in with ‘guns blazing’ to show an example to any others who wished to go against all that the Soviet Union stood for. Finally Trotsky was a diplomat and this can be clearly seen when Trotsky spun out talks with the Germans for nine weeks to let Russia re-arm, ending in the Germans pleading with the Russians for a peace treaty.Trotsky’s theory was called ‘Permanent Revolution’. Trotsky thought that communism could not survive in the USSR alone.

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He argued that the capitalist countries of the West feared Communism and would try to destroy it. For this reason, he said, it was necessary to spread Communism to the countries of Western Europe and to their overseas colonies. This would be done by giving help to the revolutionary groups and parties in Western Europe.Stalin was on the totally different side of the scale with beliefs, but they did share some points.

Stalin too was indeed ruthless and was also involved in the setting up of the ‘Red Terror’. The reason that Stalin was involved in this was because he was on the board of the Russian secret police, ‘The Checka’. Stalin played a large part in the Checka and was responsible for the discipline that went with the War Communism about lateness and absence from work, which could result in the sack or even death. Like Trotsky, Stalin was also a good war leader, successfully being in charge of Tsaritsyn. Stalin and his forces intercepted a supply train going to the town of Baku and redirected it to Tsaritsyn. By doing this Stalin condemned Baku to starvation, but he was willing to do this because of the importance of Tsaritsyn in the civil war.

This decision-making ability was why Stalin was a good war leader.Stalin, unlike Trotsky however was a very poor orator. Stalin was Georgian and so Russian was not his first language, which meant that in his speeches there were many long gaps as if he was translating the speech as he was going on from Georgian to Russian. Stalin was also infamous for his tremendous stubbornness and for taking all comments made about him completely personally. Lenin recognised this aspect of Stalin’s personality in his last testament when he wrote that Stalin was ‘too rude’. Finally Stalin was a ‘book read Communist’. He could quote all Communist material chapter and verse, but he did not have any original ideas.

This was very effective at impressing the younger members of the Communist party, but he did not make an impression on Trotsky or the more experienced members. Also Stalin could recognise the potential of having many smaller posts to give him effectively ‘unlimited power’.Stalin put forward an opposite theory to Trotsky, this theory was called ‘Socialism in One Country’. He argued that the USSR must always come first in the government’s plans. The rest of the world must take second place. The Communists should concentrate on building up the economy of the USSR, not waste money on helping revolutionary groups abroad. With a strong, modern and prosperous economy, the capitalist countries would never dare to attack the USSR.

Question 2One of the reasons that Stalin was able to come to power in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin was because of Stalin’s positions of power within the Communist power. On their own these positions may have been nothing, but together they effectively gave Stalin ‘unlimited authority’ within the Communist Party.Stalin was originally one of seven in the Soviet Politburo.

The Politburo werethe ruling body of the Communist Party which decided its policies and this position was not important while Stalin was just one of seven. The main official Party post that Stalin held was being the General Secretary of the Communist Party. This position gave Stalin the power to appoint members of the party to every post at any level of the Communist Party.

Between 1923 and 1925 thousands of new members joined the Communist party in what became known as the ‘Lenin enrolment’. Party membership swelled from 472,000 in 1924 to 1,304,500 in 1928. These recruits were all in favour of Stalin, helping him to rise to power. The Russian people at the time of the Soviet Republic were eager to become members of the Soviet Party, as it gave people better security, access to better housing, better jobs and better food. Therefore when Stalin appointed members to the Party, he did not let them forget who put them where they are and he expected them to vote in his favour because of this fact. So effectively Stalin was building up an army of ‘yes men’ who would follow his every command. Also if Stalin felt a particular member of the Party was troubling him, he could send them away to far off post where they could not cause any harm.The power to appoint was a very useful tool, but without being on the Control Commission Stalin would not have been able to expel the party ‘undesirables’.

Now Stalin could both appoint and expel members, meaning that he could expel the members who were supporters of Trotsky and other threats and appoint fresh new faces that were his supporters. By doing this before long the party was invariably overrun with Stalin supporters.One of the more subtle positions without extreme power that Stalin had, was being a member of the Orgburo. Being in the Orgburo Stalin had a say in organising public events. One of the best accomplishments of Stalin was in his planning Lenin’s funeral. Stalin send Trotsky far away and sent him a message with the wrong date of Lenin’s funeral. So when the funeral came and the public saw that Lenin’s right hand man, Trotsky was not there, they damned him for the lack of respect he showed for Lenin. Stalin took over as the chief mourner therefore showing his respect to the public of Lenin’s memory.

It seemed natural therefore to see Stalin as the natural successor of Lenin as Trotsky was now out of the running for the position in the public’s eyes.Finally Stalin was on the board of the Checka, the Russian secret police. As the old saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’ and Stalin could not have had more knowledge than he was offered with that post. The secret police had files on everyone. If Stalin wanted to blackmail somebody with ‘skeletons from their closet’, then he could find anything he wished to know through the Cheka. Also there is the obvious power of being able to make people ‘diappear’ that Stalin did not like, or felt was a threat.

So overall one of the reasons that Stalin was able to come to power in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin definitely was because of Stalin’s position of power within the Communist Party. Trotsky’s feelings that Stalin was a ‘grey blur’ lead him to be able to ‘sneak around’ unnoticed. So Stalin’s positions may have been nothing on their own, but together he had ‘unlimited authority.

Question 3Although Stalin’s position of power within the Communist Party was a very important factor in why he was able to come to power in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin, it was by no means the only reasons and had it not been for any one of the following factors Stalin possibly would not have been able to come to power.The Politburo consisted of two main groups with separate beliefs of how the Communist Party should advance, the Rightists and the Left Opposition. The Rightists believed in The differences in the Politburo allowed Stalin to join with the Rightists in order to destroy the Left and then turn against the right. Should these differences not have existed then the Politburo as a whole could have seen what Stalin was doing, instead of looking at the next way to outsmart their opponents. Stalin was able to manipulate each side of the Party by stirring up trouble from the other side. The differences between the left and the right can link strongly to most of the other factors to how Stalin was able to come to power.Trotsky’s personal unpopularity in the Politburo also played a vital part in Stalin coming to power.

Trotsky’s unpopularity drove a wedge into the Left Opposition so there were differences not just between the right and the left, but in the left as well. Trotsky showed contempt to both of his allies on occasions and both Zinoviev and Kamenev felt that they would be better leaders than Stalin. This wedge lead Stalin to be able to persuade Zinoviev and Kamenev to team up with him and turn against Trotsky.

It was with Zinoviev and Kamenev’s support that Stalin managed to survive the blow that was brought when the Central Commision heard Lenin’s Testament and the negative comments he made about Stalin. Lenin wrote, “Stalin is too rude ..

… That is why I suggest that comrades think of a way of removing Stalin ..

.” and this statement would probably have ended Stalin’s role in the Party had in not been for Zinoviev and Kamenev. They argued to the Central Committee that Stalin had worked very hard since the death of Stalin, that Stalin had showed Lenin the utmost respect by leading the mourning at Lenin’s funeral and finally that Lenin may have not been thinking straight when he wrote those things. Stalin was not expelled from the party and this is linked to the differences in the Politburo and Trotsky’s unpopularity.The unpopularity of the ‘New Economic Policy’ can again be linked to the differences in the Politburo because the two separate beliefs of the party are based on whether they believe in the NEP or not. To many strong Communists as a betrayal that everything that Socialism was.

This was because the NEP relied on the profit motive and not on helping the people. The Rightists believed that the NEP should continue for at least twenty years and the Left Opposition believed in the abolition of the NEP because the U.S.S.R.

must become an industrial country as soon as possible, called ‘Permanent Revolution. As an example of how the ‘New Economic Policy’ was a flop is when you consider the production rates after it was introduced. In 1913 before the NEP was introduced 80.1 million tonnes of grain were harvested and 9 years later just after the NEP at taken effect that figure dropped to 50.3 million tonnes. Stalin could use these figures to associate Trotsky’s ideas with failure and to try and get increased Party popularity. The unpopularity of the NEP also made it easy to turn on the Rightists after the Left Opposition were destroyed.

Stalin found weaknesses in all his enemies and exploited them and this was the Rightists weakness again linking to the different beliefs in the Politburo.Stalin also had an ability to portray himself as a true follower of Lenin. The main way he did this was when he made himself the chief mourner at Lenin’s funeral.

The public were naturally expecting Trotsky to do this job, but Stalin sent him to a distant post and did not inform him of the correct date. Therefore when the funeral came around, the public were disgusted to see that Trotsky had not even bothered to turn up for it. Stalin lead the mourning and the public began to associate Stalin as a true follower of Lenin and therefore for him to take Lenin’s place. Also Stalin renamed Petrograd, Leningrad showing to the public that he had a huge amount of respect for Lenin and the public therefore had a great appreciation for all that Stalin did for the memory of Lenin.Finally Stalin’s position of power within the Communist Party was enabled him to come to power in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. The last point links in very much with this fact, because it was Stalin’s position in the Orgburo that allowed Stalin to send Trotsky away and pioneer the whole event so that he came off very beneficially in the public eye. As General Secretary of the Communist Party Stalin could appoint members of the party at any level so this meant that he could appoint members who would be very grateful to him for where they were and would support him in any votes that may come up. Being in the Central Commission also gave Stalin the power to expel members, so now he could get rid of the party ‘undesirables’, or the people who were supporters of Trotsky or any likely threats.

Finally being on the board of the Cheka Stalin had information on everyone in Russia and could use that to his advantage in enabling him to come to power. Stalin could also use this position to secretly dispose of certain people who may have been considered threats.Overall I do not think that any of these reasons was more important than the others because like Stalin’s positions on their own he could not have come to power, but altogether he was the only choice to succeed Lenin. Stalin exploited any weakness he had and even turned his own weakness to his advantage in Lenin’s Testament.Question 4Stalin certainly had a dramatic impact on Russia, but this impact consisted of both positive and negative aspects.While Stalin was in power in the Soviet Party he made a lot of advances, mainly out of war.

Stalin made the Russian educational system significantly better, by making the system much more strict. Report cards and test marks which had been abolished in the 1920’s were re-introduced, school uniforms were compulsory and a lot of emphasis was put on the learning of Russian history. This new system benefited the people because illiteracy was almost completely wiped out. By 1939, of people aged 9 to 49, 94 percent in towns and 86 percent in the country could both read and write. Stalin also constructed more buildings for public entertainment, like cinemas and theatres. This benefited the people as it kept the public morale high as they could relax outside of the long Communist working hours.

Also to help morale, Stalin introduces a benefit system for Russian workers so that they get holidays with pay and generally have more security at work.In war Stalin also made decisions that had an effect on the Russian people. Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact which guaranteed peace between Russia and Germany. Because of the Western fear of Communism, there was always a fear that Germany or another major power would invade. This treaty put the public’s mind at rest from the biggest threat, the Germans. Stalin set up the ‘Treaty of Moscow’ which gave more land to Russia and the people in turn benefited from the housing and farming that could be achieved on that land. Stalin’s policy of ‘scorched earth’ was successful in it’s objectives, as with lack of supplies to the Germans, they soon had to retreat out of Russia.

Most importantly Stalin won Russia the war, resulting in the Russian people being saved from death.One of Stalin’s biggest achievements was the industrialisation of Russia. In the 10 years when the main part of this process was taking place steel production in Russia rose by an impressive 400% and coal by 350%. Stalin also looked even more impressive at that time because of the problems that were occurring all over the world for other countries. The ‘Wall Street Crash’ meant that unemployment was soaring in places like Britain, where at one point 30% of the country were unemployed. As Russia had a closed economy this did not affect it and unemployment was almost non-existent. This made people associate ‘Communism’ with prosperity rather than the poorer apparently more advanced countries of the West.

All these things were very beneficial to the Russian people as unemployment was low and the economy was at it’s pinicle.This rapid industrialisation however meant that there were people who did not acquire the working conditions that they would have required. People were often taken off the street for commiting no offence and used to build major public works like the Belamor Canal.

The ‘slave’ workers were treated like animals, working extremely long hours, in confined spaces completely covered in dirt. After all of the work the canal did not even prove to be a success as it was too shallow and froze over in winter.Another of Stalin’s proposals which did not benefit the Russian people was ‘Collectivisation’. Collectivisation meant that no matter how hard, or how lazy you were you received the same amount of pay at the end of the working day.


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