Sources of Stalin's Power in Russia

Sources of Stalin's Power in Russia

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Question 3

The following are equally important reasons why Stalin was able to hold on to power in the Soviet Union:

-The purges
-The secret police
-Propaganda and the cult of personality
-Stalin?s economic policies

Explain how far you agree with this statement.


Stalin ruled Russia from the late 1920s until his death in 1953. There were a number of reasons why he was able to hold on to power. These reasons include Purges, Secret Police, Stalin?s economic policies and Propaganda and cult of the personality.

One important reason was the great purges, which lasted from 1934-38. To purge means to cleanse, to get rid of. During this period many Russians- in the Communist part, the army, the arts and sciences, and many other walks of life-were arrested and mainly shot or sent to labour camps. He used the purges to get rid of anyone who was against him in the communist party. Zinoviev and Kamenev were killed and so were many others. He believed that getting rid of them gave him a much better chance of being able to keep hold of power. Stalin once said: "Death solves all problems. No man, no problem." They were all put on trial and the whole world listened to what they called as a show trial on the radio. Lots of people were put on public show trials at which they pleaded guilty to incredible crimes they could never have done. Getting confessions were important because it showed to the world that the state and Stalin were right. Stalin believed that Russia had to be united ? with him as leader ? if it was to be strong.

The purges wouldn?t be possible without the secret police. The secret police were used to mainly scare people, so that they would never think anything bad about Stalin. If someone said one thing bad about him, then you could be guaranteed that the secret police would take you to one of the labour camps. The secret police were called the NKVD. The use of the secret police was so that everyone would be scared of saying anything bad about Stalin. That way it seemed as though everyone liked him, he would be able to keep control of the Soviet Union for much longer.

Propaganda is a joined set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviours of large numbers of people. Stalin?s propaganda was used to make people see that he was the only right person for the leader of the USSR.

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He made posters and slogans so that people would think he was going to do what they wanted. For example: he made posters saying that all women would be able to keep in socialist reconstruction and also used propaganda to encourage families to stay together. Stalin also made lots of posters which showed him thanking the Soviet Union. It made everyone think that the Russians were lucky to have Stalin to care for them in all possible ways. This made people believe
that Stalin was doing the best for everyone, this helped him hold onto power for longer.

The propaganda was so effective that it led to a cult of personality. Stalin used propaganda to make himself look like a hero. Stalin got rid of the old Communists, who knew a lot about the past.
He decided to rewrite history and change all the photographs so that all of these people disappeared from the pictures. Stalin also wanted people to believe that he had been incredibly close to Lenin. To do this he also changed documents and pictures so that he was standing near Lenin in the pictures. This made everyone believe that he was a great friend of Lenin?s.
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