Student Number: 27048382 Modern History Essay ‘With reference to the quote and your own knowledge, assess the impact of the Terror on Soviet society in the late 1930’s. In the late 1930’s, the purges and show trials which comprised the Terror, had a significant impact on Soviet society. The Communist party was coerced in powerlessness, the working class suffered considerably, both physically and psychologically, and copious members of the intelligentsia were exiled or killed as a direct result of the Terror. Furthermore the military was damaged, as many of the leaders of the Party’s formerly powerful Red Army were purged. The purges and show trials aimed to terrorise Soviet society into compliance with Stalin’s regime, and ‘remove potential enemies,’ to allow Stalin to found an almost entirely ‘new’ Communist party, which comprised of ‘more dependable’ members.
Stalin had many powerful positions within the communist party, including head of the Central Committee and head of the Secretariat. As head of the central committee he had the power to investigate and discipline members of the party. He abused this power by expelling members of the party that were suspected of disagreeing with his ideology. The party members obeyed Stalin because if they didn’t they would lose their jobs and knew that supporting Stalin would gain them promotions. Being head of Secretariat was considered an unimportant role by senior members of the communist party, but this made Stalin responsible for various branches of the Party bureaucracy, this included interpreting and implementing the politburo decisions.
Stalin was engulfed by a sort-of paranoia, which didn’t always work against him but it did generally mean he was constantly worried by the thought of being thrown out of power, especially by those within his party. This lead to him using purges as a way to enforce his power and secure his position. His constant worry over the potential loss of power is clearly illustrated by the fact his purges initially began internally and also, if we’re to run with the idea that he was responsible for the murder of Kirov, the kirov case of 1934. Purges wasn’t a new method of eliminating those who did not follow the ideology put forward, Lenin in fact was infamous for using this technique. What was new was the purges being utilized as a weapon to eliminate those within the party.
His ideological dispute with Trotsky, another major contender to lead Russia was a key factor in his uprising as Trotsky was the leader of the ‘left-wing opposition’. Trotsky was the leader of the red-army and had excellent leadership but was very arrogant and had a lack of judgement. Stalin made sure that he exploited these characteristics of Trotsky and made it aware to the other Bolshevik members. Stalin took advantage of this and started to manoeuvre devious tactics such as giving
This increased year upon year allowing Stalin to have increasing control over the important discussions. Party members failed to recognise the extent of his control until it was too late. Even though Trotsky had the position of the Head of the Red Army, this position held little power because many of the members of the army were not members of the party and therefore could not attend Party Congress to support Trotsky. This position, also, made party members feel threatened. Bukharin’s position in the media allowed him to shape opinions and Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s positions gave them support from the largest sections of the communist party.
‘How far do you agree with the view that the most important cause of the Great Terror was the murder of Kirov in 1934?’ Sergey Kirov’s murder in 1934 was undoubtedly a decisive factor in the outbreak of the Great Terror in 1936. Stalin’s claim that Kirov’s murder was part of a widespread conspiracy against the government gave him a convenient excuse to begin arresting and executing several enemies within the Communist Party whom he deemed ‘suspicious’, despite several people believing Stalin himself was responsible due to the threat that Kirov posed to his leadership. There are however other factors, such as Stalin’s paranoia, Stalin’s personal ambitions, and the ever-increasing likelihood of war between the USSR and Nazi Germany, that can also be considered potential decisive factors in Stalin’s decision to implement the Purges. This essay shall explore the aforementioned factors and attempt to evaluate their significance. It shall eventually be concluded that Kirov’s murder was a significant, but not a solely responsible, cause of the Great Terror.
In 1924 Lenin dies leaving the role as leader of the communist open. Lenin did not want Stalin, but Trotsky to take over his position. But as Lenin’s strokes got worse, he lost the ability to participate in the CC (Central Committee). Lenin had information about Stalin that could have been very damaging if it was released in public. Stalin had many calculated methods to achieve the power of Russia.
The US intervened because of this as there was a great fear of communism around at the time. McCarthyism had just become a major issue, with many government officials being accused of being communist and as Truman had lost China, Eisenhower knew that if he ‘lost’ Vietnam, then his popularity would suffer greatly as the US public would think he was soft on communism. As a result, he would not be re-elected. The domino theory was significant because if Indochina fell to communism then there was a risk of the US losing Japan, after the effort the US put into restoring Japan after WW2 and all the trade that came from Japan, the US couldn’t afford for Japan to be threatened. Another significant reason why the US intervened in South East Asia was the power vacuum after Dien Bien Phu.
1953 saw the death of Soviet Russia’s greatest leader, in a never-ending atmosphere of anxiety, betrayal and paranoia. Stalin had become the state, not through the path of diplomacy, but through tumultuous bloodshed and trickery. He held absolute power and anyone foolish enough to protest against him and his path to the ultimate communist Utopia would find them selves dead or in a forced labor camp. The roots of this ultimate power lie in the years 1929-39, where Stalin employed the ‘Great Terror’, with the purges to secure political and economic control over the Soviet state. This essay will deduce how effective the ‘terror’ was employed to secure these corner stones.
In 1924, Lenin had died due to his increasingly worse condition after he was shot in 1918. This meant that the Bolshevik party had no leader who would continue Lenin’s work on communism. However, there were many contenders that wanted this leadership as it meant they would become the next ruler of Russia, effectively, these people were: Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin and Stalin. Although many were stuck in a power vacuum for the leadership, only one could be the true successor to Lenin and eventually, through cunning and skill, Stalin claimed that he was this very person. One reason why Stalin won the power struggle was through his positioning within the party.