Thursday, October 07, 2010

Synopsis on Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin is viewed by some as the Russian savior, but he is also viewed as the definition of cruelty. An ironic turn of events happened as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Russians were tired of Czar Nicholas’s absolute rule and a revolution was led against him. But, Joseph Stalin ruled as an absolute ruler for almost 30 years. Joseph Stalin is a name associated with totalitarian rule, for he was the absolute ruler. Anything and anyone in his way was immediately destroyed.

Despite his status as a leader, he came from humble beginnings. He was born to peasants in the province of Georgia. His father worked as a shoe maker, and his mother as a maid. He was not an exceptional student, for he was not an intellectual. But one thing for certain, he was a man of action. He adopted Stalin, “man of steel”, in 1912.

Stalin did not take part in the Bolshevik Revolution, but joined Lenin’s cause in 1919. Later, he rewrote history and said that he did take part in the Bolshevik Revolution. He did have a role in the Russian Civil War between 1918 and 1920. He was later appointed as Commissar of Nationalities. He remarried at the age of 30 after his first wife died.

In 1920 the Bolsheviks were victorious, but soon food became scarce. Some began to wonder about the food that Lenin promised. Bolsheviks eliminated religion in order to increase their control over the Russians. In 1922, Stalin was appointed the Party Secretariat. He soon began to appoint people that were loyal to him in order to maintain control. Lenin suffered a stroke and wrote in his will that he did not want Stalin to rule, Trotsky was the most favorable. Stalin acted quickly by forming an anti-Trotsky alliance, and an alliance with the conservatives. He became leader after Lenin’s death and Trotsky was driven into exile in 1927.

As leader, Stalin began his 5 year plans, and imposed collective farming. Kulaks, people against this idea, were punished or driven into exile. Food grew scarce in the collective farms, and as a result of the famine many turned to cannibalism. Stalin denied the famine.

Stalin used terror and propaganda to maintain power. He enforced gulags, or labor camps, in which people worked to death. He once said, ‘Death solves all problems. No man will result in no problems.’ When questioned about how long he will continue to kill people that were in his way he said, “As long as necessary”. He began to purge intellectuals. In 1936-1938 he began his “show trials”, in which he sent many Bolsheviks to trials. It was the ultimate psychological mind game, the Bolsheviks would confess to crimes they didn’t commit after long periods of torture. In 1940, Stalin sent one of his men to kill Trotsky in Mexico; Trotsky was killed with an ice pick. Stalin blamed his terror on an overzealous police force. Stalinist Russia was filled with propaganda posters, edited pictures, and basic control of sources of information. The Russians were indoctrinated by Stalinist policies.

Stalin’s wife knew of Stalin’s ruthless ways, and it is believed that she committed suicide. Some believe that Stalin killed her after an argument. Stalin had an alliance with Hitler during the beginning of WW1, but after the surprise German invasion of Russia, Stalin had no choice but to forge an alliance with the allies.
Samar Al-Ansari
Grade 11.5  

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