Totalitarianism in the Soviet Union

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During his rule as General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Stalin was able to create a highly totalitarian regime. This was achieved by the dictator’s notorious use of terror, by controlling information and mass media and Stalin’s prominent cult of personality. However, the extent of the totalitarian rule didn’t achieve similar levels throughout the whole state. Stalin’s use of terror as a method of eliminating opposition was a key factor in the establishment of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union. In the early 1930’s Stalin felt threatened by his growing opposition and was determined to bring the party under his total control. At the 17th Party Congress in 1934, Sergei Kirov received the vast majority of votes which led to his assassination due to the threat that he posed to Stalin’s leadership. Many argued that this was a turning point in Russian history. It unleased a terror that killed millions in the next four years. Stalin was able to eliminate all effective opposition through a series of purges. The Show Trials, which began in 1936, were designed to create an atmosphere of intimidation and paranoia. As the purges swept through the party, many highly prominent Bolsheviks were put on trial and accused of being part of a Trotsky counter-revolutionary bloc. During the first Show Trial, of 1936, Stalin eliminated Kamenev and Zinoviev, who forcibly confessed to being part of Trotsky’s conspiracy and were consequently executed. In 1937 Stalin began the purge of the military, accusing them of spying for Nazi Germany. In the eve of the war, 65% of the upper command was eliminated. In July 1937, the Politburo passed a resolution condemning ‘Anti-Soviet Elements’ which included scientists, artists, writers and musicians. In essence, anyone could be arrested, as the resolution was based on a quota system. Finally, in 1938, Bukharin and Rykov were executed after being
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