‘While Lenin traditionally receives all the praise, Trotsky was actually the primary reason why there was a Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and thus deserves the most credit.’ Leon Trotsky, along with Vladimir Lenin played a fundamental role in the 1917 Russian Revolution. There have been many attempts to distort and even to deny the role of Trotsky, especially on the part of the official tyranny historians. Right wing historians such as Richard Pipes see Trotsky as just another demanding leader much the same as Lenin and Stalin. However, the left wing view of Trotsky consists of those who still accept the Stalinist version of events. Isaac Deutscher is one historian who has the contrasting views of the right wing historian, Pipes.
On the other hand, it can be argued that Trotsky’s leadership of the Red Army during the Civil War was just as, or even more important in the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power, as was the image of the Bolsheviks as being patriotic heroes fighting against Tsarist leaders and foreign invaders. Obviously, it was the October Revolution which brought the Bolshevik Party into power, giving them control of Russia. It can therefore be said that, had this not occurred, then it is incredibly unlikely that the Bolsheviks would ever have come into power. The Revolution was, of course, Lenin’s major goal (though in the end it was organised by Trotsky) for his party, and it was through his leadership and staunch dedication to the fall of the Provisional Government that the Bolsheviks eventually seized power in October 1917. Had it not been for Lenin, the Bolsheviks would never have taken power in the first place, as free elections were to be held in November 1917, with the Social Revolutionaries (SRs) being the most popular at the time.
There were many factors in the survival of Tsarist rule from 1881 – 1905. The divisions among it's opponents played a part, as it meant that Tsarist opposition had no common goals, and couldn't work together to achieve it. The October Manifesto is another factor, it split up Nicholas' opposition even further by dividing the Liberals into two groups. Pobedonostsev & his repressive policies played a large part in the Survival of Tsarist autocracy, as he was able to keep the people down, not giving them enough ground to start a successful revolution. Lastly, Russia's backward society is one of the main reasons Nicholas II survived after 1905.
Historians, such as Elknar, argue that the use of “Red Terror” was more important to Bolshevik success in the civil war. For instance the use of the Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter- Revolution and Sabotage (Normally referred to as the Cheka), is sometimes highlighted to be of great importance to the Bolshevik success in the Civil war. Elkner believes that “the Cheka was the main instrument used to implement this policy” of “Red Terror” and is shown further by how Elknar comments on the “rapid expansion of the Cheka’s powers with Lenin’s strong support”. This is emphasised by historical records which state 13000 were executed, but is actually believed to be around 300000. A strong example of the importance of “Red Terror” was perhaps the execution of the Tsar and his family in public, showing the Cheka‘s uses.
In many ways, Stalin transformed himself to replicate Lenin by adopting his ideas and goals, although the way in which he met these goals are highly controversial by historians. Stalin was quickly acknowledged as a murderous dictator while he used a tactic of systematic killing of political opponents and innocent civilians on a massive scale. The objectives that Stalin was able to accomplish during his political career were truly outstanding and beneficial, however; the way in which he met these goals was truly unethical. Joseph Stalin was an
How important was Stalin's role in the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany during the Second World War? Stalin's role in the Soviet victory, and indeed the overall Allied victory over Nazi Germany, was certainly significant; he was, after all, both the General Secretary of the Soviet Union and its Supreme War Commander. If one were to take this at face value, then his importance would be without question. However, it can be argued that, especially at the beginning of the war, he played a role just as significant in almost losing the war, mainly due to his tactical mistakes as Supreme Commander and his own Stalinist system and purges leaving his appointed generals with a lack of knowledge of modern warfare and, indeed, a lack of initiative. Even when he grew into his self-appointed role of Supreme Commander and learned from his earlier mistakes, it can be argued that his greatest victories, such as the battles at Kursk and Stalingrad, were less down to him, but rather down to the expertise of his generals, such as Zhukov.
How significant were the personalities of the contenders to succeed Lenin in accounting for Stalin’s defeat of his opponents in the years 1924-29? The personalities of the contenders to succeed Lenin in accounting for Stalin’s defeat of his opponents in the years 1924-49 was the most significant factor as the personalities dictated what they did and how they reacted to certain events. However there are other factors to consider such as power bases; mistakes made by others and actual party policies. Finitely, personalities were the most significant in accounting for Stalin’s defeat of his opponents. Due to the fact that the personalities of the contenders dictated what they did in terms of attempting to be the strongest candidate in succeeding Lenin, and showed how they reacted to key events; it is evident that this is the most significant factor in the power struggle.
How far do you agree that Trotsky’s leadership of the red army was responsible for the survival of the Bolshevik government? In October 1917 the Bolshevik’s took control of Russia after staging a revolution. However they faced many dangers/threats while in power from the years 1917-1924 such as a civil war and the economic crisis it caused. The leadership of the red army by Trotsky is a very important reason that the Bolsheviks got into power as his red army implanted the revolution but also to the survival of the Bolsheviks as the red army overcame the Bolsheviks biggest threat of the civil war. However there are other reason which just as or more important than Trotsky’s leadership such as the ideas and sacrifices made by Lenin during the year’s 1917-1924 such as signing the harsh treaty of Brest-Litovsk and enforcing the New Economic Policy or NEP, to create economic sacrifices rather than political ones which allowed the Bolsheviks to remain in power.
However, whether it was the most significant event must be evaluated against others, for example the 1905 Revolution, the February Revolution of 1917, and Lenin’s death. The October 1917 Revolution was a very significant event in changing the course of Russian history from 1855 to 1964 but I would not argue it as being the most significant event. The revolution was quite important due to the fact that it brought the Tsarist rule to an end and therefore led to the Provisional Government losing control and power to the Bolsheviks. Due to the Bolsheviks coming to power, they were able to attempt to solve their three main policies of peace; Russian people wanted to end the war, bread; there were many food shortages throughout Russia, and Land; they wanted to offer peasants land. The October revolution of 1917 in effect, led to the Russian Civil war which was the exact opposite of what the Bolsheviks wanted and this predominantly moved on to Lenin’s death and the power struggle.
Gareth Parker How important was the Bolshevik threat to Tsardom in the reign of Nicholas II? The threat to Tsardom is complex and needs to be understood from different viewpoints. Initial examination of the Bolsheviks is vital from formation to the growing strength of revolutionaries such as Lenin and Trotsky and their influence on the downfall of Tsarism. Nicholas II was key to his own demise, not only his poor leadership but also his alienation from his own people and the average Russians way of life. There can be no ignoring the effect that World War I had on Russia, with the crippling affects of a major war and the resulting breakdown of infrastructure within the Russian Empire.