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A Comparison of the Characters and Beliefs of Lenin and Stalin

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A Comparison of the Characters and Beliefs of Lenin and Stalin


There are both similarities and differences in the characters of Lenin
and Stalin. Both Lenin and Stalin were quite clever and ambitious
politicians. Lenin came to power in 1917 as the head of the Bolshevik
party after many years of planning, and he was leader of Russia until
his death in 1924. Stalin won the struggle with Trotsky to become
leader of the Communist party in 1929 and remained the leader until
his death in 1953. Both Lenin and Stalin were extremely patriotic;
they loved their land and country and they tried to improve it as best
as they could. Lenin and Stalin were both ruthless leaders. Lenin used
his secret police (the Cheka) to crush any opposition, and people were
not allowed to talk freely. Stalin used his secret police (the NKVD)
to crush his opponents as well.

There are also differences in the characters of Lenin and Stalin.
Lenin was much more careful in his use of the Cheka and his way of
acting agains the opponents. Stalin felt more secure to use his secret
police to crush any opposition. He even held 'Show Trials' in public
to eliminate members of the party. Lenin was maybe more popular with
the people, probably because of the Revolution. Stalin was less
popular than Lenin, perhaps because of his cruel way of eliminating
opponents. Especially Stalin's period of leadership between 1928 and
1936 (also called the Purges) made him very unpopular with the people.

There are quite a few clear similarities in the beliefs of Lenin and
Stalin. For example, they both believed in State Control of
Agriculture and Industry. Lenin introduced a period of 'War Communism'
to improve Russia after the war, and Stalin introduced the 'Five-Year
Plans' and after that his policy of 'Collectivisation' to succeed the
major changes the Five-Year Plans had brought about. Lenin and Stalin
also believed in a One Party State and a Dictatorship and, however in
another way, they both believed in the use of the Secret Police to
crush any opposition, as said before. Another similarity is that they
both believed in the ideas of Karl Marx, so they believed that history
was dominated by class struggle and revolution. In the end there would
be no need for any government.

There are also differences in the beliefs of Lenin and Stalin. Lenin
was prepared to compromise and to change his policies if necessary.
For example, he introduced the 'New Economic Policy' in March 1921 to
enable Russia to recover from 'War Communism'. Lenin knew that
sometimes sacrifices had to be made in order to succeed, but Stalin
didn't. Stalin was stubborn and unwilling to change his policies or to
compromise. Lenin believed in World Revolution and hoped Communism
would spread through the world. When Stalin came to power in 1929 he
changed Lenin's ideas of 'World Revolution' into his own plans, which
became known as 'Socialism in One Country'.


Assignment A

Question 2) Assess the impact that Lenin had on Russia and the Russion
people.

To know why Lenin had such a big impact on Russia and its people, we
first have to go back in history even further. We'll then find out why
Lenin was successful in fulfilling his aims and ideas.

Already in 1914, Russia is having trouble at home, which keeps it out
of the First World War. Keeping the soldiers supplied meant that
civilians went hungry, and although the Tsar Nicholas II took personal
command of the army, that didn't change the fact the people turned
against him. Many soldiers were supporters of the revolutionary
Bolshevik party, because the Tsar was unable to keep them satisfied
either. Finally, in March 1917 Russia collapsed into revolution. The
Tsar was overthrown and a new Provisional Government ruled Russia.
This government promised to carry on the war, but soon found out that
neither the will or the resources were there. In November 1917 the
Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, took power and pulled out of the war. This
was very easy, because there were no massive demonstrations demanding
the return of Kerensky (the Justice Minister in the Provisional
Government) and the Provisional Government was very unpopular. Lenin's
policy is known as the 'April Theses', which can be summed up in the
words 'Peace, Bread and Land'. He introduces the New Soviet State with
a one party rule. Other political parties such as the Mensheviks, the
Socialist Revolutionaries and the Kadets were weakened by the arrest
of their leaders and the closing down of their newspapers. This is the
first major impact Lenin had on Russia: it is now run by a
totalitarian dictatorship.

The first thing Lenin did was to demand a peace treaty with Germany,
who were very near the capture of Petrograd. In the treaty of
Brest-Litovsk Russia lost very much territory, but it also caused the
Civil War in 1918. The Reds (as the Bolsheviks called themselves) won
from the Whites (as the opposition called themselves, in contrast with
the Reds), but this was at the cost of loads of human lives. During
the war Lenin had introduced 'War Communism', which was the state
control of industry and agriculture. War Communism resulted in
strikes, demonstatrations and eventually famine in Russia. The first
hatred agains communism occurred, especially because of the great
hunger in the towns. Lenin ordered soldiers to requisition food and
seize it without payment. These were known as Requisition Squads. This
resulted in even more hunger and distress, and even more opposition
agains the government. In the short term War Communism helped Lenin
win the civil war but in the long term (the Civil War ended in 1921)
it devastated the country.

Lenin recognised that changes were necessary and in March 1921 he
introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP). He made agreements with the
peasants to allow them to keep or sell any food they had left after
the government had taken a specific amount. Smaller factories were
given back to their previous owners, and Russian economy began to
recover. However, Lenin didn't live long enough to see this, and he
died in January 1924, due to several strokes.

Lenin's impact on Russia and the Russian people was huge. Russia had
been governed by the Tsar and his family for three hundred years. When
Lenin gained power he brought about a lot of reforms he modernised
Russia to some extent. As said before, he was the one who put the
ideas of Karl Marx into practise, and he was the one who realised the
ideas of a One Party State and Communism. He led Russia through Civil
War and when NEP began to be abandoned, the ordinary Russian was
probably better off than at any time in 1914. According to the
historian A.J.P. Taylor: 'Lenin did more than any other political
figure to change the face of the twentieth century world'. However, to
do this, Lenin and his Red Guards had killed thousands of opponents,
which is an impact on the Russian people as well. It is clear that
Russian history would've been very different without him, and I doubt
if it would be better.

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