Why did Stalin emerge as leader of the Soviet Union? A power struggle for control of the Bolshevik party began after Lenin’s death in 1924. Among the contenders for the role, two of the most powerful names in this struggle were Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. Ultimately, Stalin was able to secure power and vote out Trotsky by being politically skilful and cunning however most importantly he was lucky. There are many factors to consider in terms of why stalin emerged as leader of the soviet union.
While Stalin rejecting the NEP was significant, considerable factors led him to succeed in the power struggle such as: the disappearance of Lenin Will, being underestimated by fellow party member and playing them against each other and using his power as General Secretary to deceive and trick his way in to power. To some extent the key reason for him succeeding in the power struggle was due to the fact he was the General Secretary. This gave him control over the appointment of responsibility; he could put his supporters in key positions. He also had control over the party organisation; this meant he could influence the selection of delegate who were sent to the annual party congress where major issues where decided. He could pack the congress with his supporters.
Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin were both powerful, ambitious leaders that worked their way into positions of power. Stalin took over after Lenin died to lead the USSR after the Russian Revolution. Hitler became leader of the Nazi Party and gained the people’s support with promises of a strong leader that resisted western powers. On their rise to power, both Stalin and Hitler became leaders of political parties, eliminated opposing parties, and promised a better future for the people and country, but Stalin used the people’s support as leverage in his power struggle with Trotsky while Hitler used his passion and the economic situation in Germany to become leader of the Nazi party and gain support over the socialists. Both Hitler and Stalin started their journey towards power by joining political parties.
Hitler was more active in the party early career than Stalin. Resigning from the army and becoming a politician, Hitler played a significant role in ensuring the German Workers’ Party the greatest support in Bavaria by announcing the 25 Point Programme demanding to abolish the Peace Treaties of Versailles, combined extreme nationalism and racism becoming a leader of the party in 1921. He also organized the Beer Hall putsch, when he wanted to overthrow the government but was nor supported by the Bavarian government and went to prison. Stalin played a minor role in the February and October revolution in Russia in 1917 and he was rather an able administrator. He gained popularity and position in party rather because he agreed with Lenin in the matter of self-determination of the nations – that all nations should decide whether they want to be a part of Russia or not.
In contract, Bukharin continued to argue in favour of the NEP and lost popularity as a consequence. In 1925, Zinoviev and Kamenev had abandoned the NEP in an attempt to gain control but due to the continuing success of the NEP, this failed as a result. Stalin’s ability to understand the right time to switch from right wing to left wing meant he was able to gain popularity and prove his intelligence. The alliances Stalin made and broke played a crucial role in his struggle to become the leader of the USSR.
It could be argued, however, that he wasn’t the favourite to take control. In 1922, in Lenin's testament it is quoted as him saying that Stalin had ‘unlimited authority concentrated in his hands’ and that comrades ‘should think about a way of removing Stalin from that post.’ The post that Lenin is referring to is his role as the General Secretary of the Communist party. The favourite perhaps was Leon Trotsky. Trotsky had a far greater reputation and proved through his leadership of the Red Army that he had the potential to be a brilliant leader. Other potential rivals included Kamenev and Zinoviev as they had also been prominent figures in securing the revolution in 1917.
How far was Lenin responsible for the Bolsheviks’ growing hold on power in the years 1917-1924? To a fairly large extent, Lenin was responsible for the Bolsheviks’ growing hold on power from 1917-24. Lenin had, of course, led the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution, the reason the Bolsheviks had any power in the first place, and it was Lenin who dissolved the Constituent Assembly. He also managed to hold on to power by introducing War Communism during the Civil War. 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.
Finally, Stalin was also responsible for recruitment. In 1921, roughly one quarter of the communist Party’s members were serving in the red army and were therefore loyal to Trotsky. However, the recruitment drive known as the Lenin Enrolment in 1923-25 enabled Stalin to increase the size of the party and thereby reduce Trotsky’s influence. Bukharin had a certain control over the media and education and this was seen as a threat to Stalin, but Stalin had none of this and had used his organisational powers to appoint Bukharin’s deputies and restrict his ability of using the media effectively. Also, the 1921 ban on factions prevented minority groups within the party from challenging the leadership of the party, so Stalin used
There were attempts such as ‘the great spurt’ spearheaded by Sergi Witte to gain Russia’s financial strength and modernise the country and it worked to some degree. As for Lenin Russia’s economy was managed in a more disciplinarian way for example war communism. Although this wasn’t popular to the people of Russia (Similar to the Tsar) it was successful as it made sure that he won the war. One similarity between Tsarist rule and Communist Russia was the amount of power both governments had. During Tsarist rule Russia was an autocratic state.
According to Historian Malone, the Tsar “believed totally in the tsarist system and argued that a democracy and elections would result in political collapse.'' His reluctance to alter the system of authority and introduce representatives reinforces his lack of ability in knowing 'the business of ruling'. However, in response to pressure from the discontented Proletariat group, Nicholas II implemented an Imperial Council, Cabinet of Ministers, a Senate and the Okhrana. These parties however, were merely a tokenistic response, as Nicholas II still retained ultimate power. He ensured that he had the right to choose half the members of the council, declare