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Why Stalin was able to hold onto power in the Soviet Union Assignment

Gaining power over the USSR was only part of the challenge that faced Stalin, once in power he then had to hold onto power something which he achieved through a combination of strategies and methods. Stalin knew what his goals were and achieved them in such a way that the Russian people supported him, he made sure that all his achievements were known and that his failures stayed away from the public eye winning the hearts and the minds of Russian citizens.

To explain the importance that each of the above reasons had I am going to relate and compare them to each other as often the reasons effect could not be seen in action until combined with another resulting reason. The first reason in question is the great purges and show trials; the purges were a strategy employed by Stalin to eliminate rivals and any opposition to his reign and the show trials were mainly for show to make an example of Stalin’s enemies for everyone to see and make them fearful of speaking out or opposing him.

Such were the extent of the purges that they soon became known as Stalin’s terror and many old communists and potential threats to Stalin were rounded up to stand trial mostly for crimes against Stalin and that they didn’t commit. Even Trotsky was not safe from the purges and whilst in exile in Mexico was killed by Stalin’s agents with an ice pick. By 1939 approximately 12 million people had either been executed or imprisoned often under false accusations which they were either forced or tricked into admitting.

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The purges and show trials played a key role in keeping Russia under control, the purges eliminated any opposition to Stalin and the show trials discouraged any future opposition as they made an example of what would happen to Stalin’s enemies, Stalin’s regime typically involved a lot of scare mongery with a lot of rumours circulating to suppress the people into silence.

The great purges are linked to the second reason the secret police as the secret police were the workforce behind the idea, they were a much feared organisation shrouded in terrible rumours and tales of disappearances and deaths. The secret police or NKVD had hundreds of thousands of people murdered and millions imprisoned as part of the purges and enforced the regime of fear that Stalin ordered. The show trials were also liked to the secret police as they were widely publicised and created yet more fear of the secret police amongst Russian people.

The effect of the secret police was a crucial one if Stalin were to succeed in his reign; this relatively small workforce’s capabilities were blown out of all proportions and ensured that what Stalin said, went. The secret police’s effects were really seen more through the purges and show trials but there can be no doubt that without them more opposition to Stalin would have surfaced and support dwindle. The show trials and purges and also the secret police are linked to Stalin’s propaganda and the cult of personality.

As time went by Stalin became more and more paranoid and fearful of his role and became more and more controlling of the Soviet Union. Stalin’s propaganda and the cult of personality came in many different forms and appeared in many different places, his picture was seen everywhere, in newspapers on billboards in cinemas along with claims of his greatness and tales of his wonderful achievements and friendships with Lenin and other popular figures.

Anything judged to be in opposition to Stalin was filtered out by the close censors Stalin implemented and so the public got a very one sided biased view of the man, one in which he was an all good father figure. This helped Stalin keep control because people were not able to know of any of Stalin’s weaknesses and so did see him as a good friend and a great asset to the nation, people felt close to Stalin as they saw his face everywhere.

The propaganda campaign and the cult of personality also link to Stalin’s economic policies as they both aimed at promoting himself to the people to gain their support. Stalin’s main economic policies came in the 5 year plans, industrialisation and Collectivisation; each helped him keep control in different ways. Collectivisation helped him keep control of the people of Russia, under collectivisation it was compulsory everything such as farm produce and food to be given to the state to be distributed.

This helped Stalin keep control because this method should stop any person from gathering up to much riches and gaining any position of power, it also meant that nobody should starve as everyone would have equal (just adequate) amounts of food and so hopefully not feel the need to revolt. The other main policy Industrialisation was set up because Stalin felt that the soviet was 100 years behind the rest of the world and so a scheme of rapid industrialisation would bring it up to date and also because he felt paranoid about the threat of invasion from overseas as a large part of the industrialisation was militarisation.

This policy helped Stalin hold onto power because he was actively seen by the people to be improving their country and essentially their lives as he provided both employment and facilities/materials, it also helped him maintain control as countries were less likely to invade Russia if it had a strong army. Many of Stalin’s other economic policies would have certainly gained him a lot of support as he ensured that his policies were always such that they would be well received at the time by the Russian citizens.

However I do feel that whilst each of these reasons had great significance none of them would have had such effect unless combined with the other reasons each reason led onto another reason. His ability to manipulate situations that had come about through luck, he changed his policies to fit in with the idea’s of the time and used his opponents weakness’s against them to succeed in holding power. Stalin did so many bad things in his time but was able to cover for them and hold onto power for so long because of all of the above reasons.

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