Pyotr (Peter) Stolypin Peter Stolypin, a controversially well known figure throughout the History of modern Russia, was known mainly for his inhumane and cruel methods in which he dealt with opponents. His agricultural reforms and involvement with the Romanov's Party contributed to his popularity. Stolypin assumed the position of Minister of the Interior and later Prime Minister. During this time he introduced various progressive military, education and finance policies, as his beliefs made him wane from the true definition of what was good for the people and social welfare. Historians have different views on him, some referring to him as the ‘Demon of Imperial Russia’, whilst others consider him to be the ‘Driving Force of Russian History’.
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.
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. One way and the main way that Trotsky’s leadership of the red army was responsible for the survival of the Bolshevik government was the victory of the Civil war. In 1918 Russia was plunged into civil war when the White army, a group of pro tsarist and pro provisional government supporters attacked the Bolsheviks. However the reds won the war due the work of Leon Trotsky and his leadership of the red army. For example Trotsky organised and disciplined the army very well, he recruited ex tsarist army officers who were experienced in combat also due to his recruitment strategy membership rose from 7000 in March 1918 to 5 million in September 1920 and he also organised key victories such as the last battle between white and red forces between the 7th and 15th of November 1920.
How far do you agree with the view that the development of the Cold War in the years 1945-49 was mainly due to ‘Stalin’s own errors’? It is certainly true that ‘Stalin’s own errors’ helped the development of the Cold War in the years 1945-49. The interpretation that Judt gives in source 7 emphasises that Stalin’s personality and the way in which he ruled the Soviet Union meant that ‘Cold War in Europe was unavoidable’. Gaddis, in source 8, also lays some blame on Stalin, however it opens up interpretations on the role of ideology, great power rivalry and misjudgments – showing that the cold war developed due to ‘internal and external developments’ in both the US and USSR. However McCauley, source 9, stresses that US economic strength and interests created and ‘informal American empire in Europe’, therefore increasing the divide.
What in your view was the short term significance of Trotsky in the period 1917-1927? Trotsky played a key role in the Bolshevik party, encouraging revolution which saw the Bolsheviks gain power in 1917. He built up a strong Red Army during the civil war, which was used to ensure the survival of the Bolshevik government. He was seen by many as the second man to Lenin and the most likely candidate to take over as leader after Lenin’s death which portrays his significance. However, evidence suggests that after Lenin’s death he lost his power considerably, eventually being banned from the Communist party.
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.
The main reason that Stalin was able to rise to power was his ingenious defeats of both the left and right wings of the Party. The key figure Stalin had to take down from the left wing was Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was important because in effect, it was his leadership of the Red Army during the Civil War that had won the war for the Reds. If it hadn’t been for Trotsky, the Bolsheviks may not have been in the position they were by 1924. The first step Stalin took towards removing the threat of Trotsky was to lie to him about the date of Lenin’s funeral.
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 with the view that the origins of the cold war in 1945 and 1946 owed much to ideological differences and little to personalities and conflicting national interests? Source 7 shows an ‘ideological crusade’ suggesting the west looked upon the USSR as expanding communism. Despite the agreement at Yalta, allowing Stalin a sphere of influence, the west’s view ‘changed’ to seeing them ‘dominating Eastern Europe’. There are many differences which caused tensions in the cold war however it cannot be denied that personalities of the leaders running these countries were a contributing reason for the uncertainty between them. The personalities influenced the cold war, despite not being as significant as the other factors.
How are Source L and Source K different about Nicholas II? Nicholas II, last Tsar to reign over Russia, is portrayed very differently through the two sources, with Source L giving off the impression of a strong, democratic leader whereas Source K shows us his doubts towards reigning over Russia and how he felt he was unable to do so at this time. Through source L we see Nicholas II’s quotation of reinforcing the laws of autocracy and the Tsarist system is being told to the people of Russia, making him appear powerful and willing to make the same extreme decisions his father had put into place. However, due to source Ks context of it being a confidential diary entry, we are enabled to see his emotions concerning becoming Tsar and how he is not equipped to rule after his rather, Alexander III. Furthermore, the sources also have varying times they come from, whereas source K is imminent after the discovery of him being the new Tsar, source K is later on once he had experience ruling Russia for some time, although both are taken from 1895.