How far do you agree with the view that the development of the Cold War in the years 1945-49 was mainly due to ‘Stalin’s own errors’? It is certainly true that ‘Stalin’s own errors’ helped the development of the Cold War in the years 1945-49. The interpretation that Judt gives in source 7 emphasises that Stalin’s personality and the way in which he ruled the Soviet Union meant that ‘Cold War in Europe was unavoidable’. Gaddis, in source 8, also lays some blame on Stalin, however it opens up interpretations on the role of ideology, great power rivalry and misjudgments – showing that the cold war developed due to ‘internal and external developments’ in both the US and USSR. However McCauley, source 9, stresses that US economic strength and interests created and ‘informal American empire in Europe’, therefore increasing the divide.
According to Lenin’s will, Trotsky appeared to the natural successor while Stalin was described as power hungry and should not be put into power. Yet Stalin was the General Secretary of the Bolshevik Part y which allowed him to undermine Trotsky’s support and gain more support for himself. He expelled the younger, wilder and more radical elements more likely to support Trotsky while he placed his supporter of powerful position which would allow him to win more votes in the Congress. Trotsky, on the other hand, was the leader of the Red Army and therefore had their support and of the younger party members, but the older communists did not support him and were worried about him becoming the leader as they were concerned that he would become a dictator especially with the support of the Red Army. They doubted his loyalty to the party as he did not join until November 1917.
Ideology was crucial to the alliances that formed following Lenin’s death. Stalin on the other hand didn’t take any extreme position which made him more flexible and his ideas were welcomed on both sides. As Trotsky was the most likely to take power after Lenin, Stalin formed an alliance with Kameniv and Zenovev against Trotsky. Stalin made sure Trotsky missed Lenin’s funeral and most of the important meetings and thereby he had a little say of what was going on in the party. They also criticized Trotsky’s book and questioned his respect and love to Lenin.
Lenin, like the Tsars, was incredibly effective at appeasing the people politically while giving them very little or any political influence or representation. The Tsars used the Duma, Nicholas 2nd, and the Zemstva, Alexander 2nd, to ‘give’ the people the people what they desired politically. However these organisations were in reality still controlled by the Tsar and were very restricted in their abilities to create any change. Lenin used an election, the façade of Soviet power and a pyramidal structure of Government to, like the Tsars, give an illusion of democracy. Lenin like the Tsars had absolute power in Russia to the extent that he could ignore advice from his party and single handily dictate changes.
In order to prevent the NEP tearing his Bolshevik party apart, however, Lenin introduced a “ban on factionalism”, and this stifled criticism of the NEP. I do not believe that the divisions over the NEP were the most important factor for the outcome of Stalin emerging victorious from the power struggle, as I believe that Stalin’s power base within the party, due to his power of patronage, was the most important factor in the outcome of the power struggle. I also believe that the ban on factionalism was a very important factor in the power struggle, along with Stalin’s character and introduction of the Five Year Plan (FYP). There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the divisions created within the CPSU over the issue of the NEP are the most important factor in the outcome of the power struggle between 1924-29 which eventually saw Stalin emerge as Lenin’s successor, as the policy allowed Stalin to weaken the reputation of his opponents, due to the fact that any attack from the left upon the NEP was seen as an attack upon Lenin. After Lenin’s death, it could be said that he was seen as a “God” within the CPSU, therefore, any attack upon the policy was seen as a “betrayal” to the party.
Furthermore, Stalin’s use of devious tactics also played a large role in securing his position in the party, as they allowed him to undermine his opponents and strengthen his position by reducing support for them. Overall, although the main reason that Stalin was able to succeed in the leadership struggle was his ability to manipulate the party machine, Stalin’s devious tactics and his alliances were also vital in securing his position as leader. Stalin’s ability to manipulate the party machine was extremely vital in securing him success in the leadership struggle, as it allowed him to eliminate Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev from the struggle. As General Secretary, Stalin was able to control who sat in Party Congress. By placing his supporters in Party congress, Stalin was able to ensure that his opponents could not gain any power or support, therefore ensuring that these opponents could be ruled out of the struggle.
Due to this, we can see that the source may be of good reliability but may also contain errors (Guedalla may have over-exaggerated Churchill’s views to make his book more popular.) The source’s content predominantly focuses on Churchill’s strong, opposing views against Bolshevism in Russia. The writer explains, ‘Churchill’s waking vision is haunted by constant fantasies of sinister little communist figures.’ This suggests that Churchill has strong opinions on the Bolshevik’s in Russia, and it depicts that his thoughts consisted of Bolshevism in Russia alone, which suggests he almost has an obsession with dealing with the problem of Communist Russia as quickly as possible, as he is shown in source A as having nightmares about Communist Russia. Source E, Churchill’s sequel to his history of the First World War and events which led to it which consists of his views of Communist Russia, reinforces the quote ‘Churchill’s waking vision is haunted by constant fantasies of sinister little communist figures’ written in Source A. This is applicable when Source E, written by Churchill himself says, ‘the Revolution in Russia
What the other members of the soviet party such as Trotsky did not realize however; was that Stalin would use the position to gain a mass of followers for his socialist ideals and would use it as a stepping stone to achieve greater political influence and manipulate his way even further in the ranks. He had gained so much power and influence that in 1922 Lenin had asked for his removal from the party as he had “gained too much power”, he would advise his party this in a document that is now called “Lenin’s Last testament” a document that has a numerous amount of varying theories into its actual creation, either way the testament was for the most part underplayed and Stalin manipulated the party rules and the people in the party to for the most part ignore the document; much to Trotsky’s disappointment. After Lenin’s death in 1924 Stalin would not hesitate to preach his socialist ideals, which would be successful as the government did not choose to open up it’s meetings to the public in order to appear “healthy and stable”. By wanting to appear stable the party made it relatively simple for Stalin to use threats and targeted attacks to crush
Even as a leader he was determined to make Russia good enough to compete industrially with Capitalist nations. Stalin took a more active approach to things rather than intellectual. He could be described as ruthless and cold hearted. Unlike Hitler who mostly used his words to rouse the people, Stalin used fear by murdering innocent citizens, forced production of goods, and formed an effective secret police. Chairman Mao Zedong was probably the most intellectual of them all.
One of the main reasons why Stalin emerged as sole leader was because of how he used pragmatism to manipulate Lenin’s opinion of him to suggest that he was the most favorable leader to carry on Marxism throughout Russia. This key event that secured Stalin’s public support was around the time of Lenin’s funeral. His role as general secretary gave him the ‘grey blur’ title because of his reputation of being invisible, focusing his time on important paperwork. When Lenin released his testament, Stalin used his reputation to change it, which had previously had influential and opinionated views on Stalin, and if seen by the public, would inevitably have changed the success of Stalin’s emergence to a failure at becoming leader. Lenin’s real opinion of Stalin was highly negative.