How Important Was Stalin's Personality in the Great Purges?

1144 Words5 Pages
Following the consolidation of his power, Stalin engaged in orchestrating a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution within the Communist Party, Red Army and peasantry that later became known notoriously as the “Great Purges”. Some historians would attribute the purges to the personality of Stalin and how his sole ambition instigated the whole affair; others would disagree and argue that other factors hold more significance such as deliverance within socioeconomic policy and the actions of the NKVD. In this essay I am going to outline the fundamental argument to as how the Great Purges can be explained. The personality of Stalin presents a strong argument towards explaining the Great Purge with historians noting ‘[the purges] would have not taken place but for Stalin’s personality’ . Examining this, historians would note accounts of him being highly suspicious aswell as deeply paranoid; ultimately Stalin felt that he could trust nobody and his wife’s suicide worsened this considerably. These particular predicates would lead to explanations for why his former comrades were killed, compared to the considerably less violent means (exile) used by Lenin. His nature as brutal was also regarded as a significant feature of his personality, known to be vengeful and cruel; his fascination for violence (with the purges being an explicit display of such) still remains today a popular association with Stalin. Keen to assert himself as something other than the “grey blur”, Stalin idolized himself as a genius who transformed Russia into a communist utopia and at the forefront of revolution; denunciating Marx, Engels and Lenin in the process. Stalin was keen to destroy intellectuals and members of the old Bolshevik party, those who could see through his deceit and understood his limited abilities that strove for incredulous ambitions. The poignancy of Stalin’s
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