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Lenin and Stalin. Some people may think that, just because they led
Russia, they were both Russian. Lenin was a middle-class Russian who
was well educated; he also wrote many influential books and thesis.
However, Stalin was a vulgar, Georgian peasant. He was expelled from
his college in 1899 after failing to take his exams. One thing that
these men shared was their concern with the ideas of Karl Marx. In the
early 1900’s they were both exiled to Siberia until 1917, after the
March revolution. These men are closely linked in the area of what
they did, but in most cases they used it on different scales for
different purposes. Labour camps were used by both of these powerful
leaders, but for different reasons and there is also a huge difference
on the scale on some of them. Lenin used labour camps for political
prisoners. This was on a reasonably small scale in comparison with
Stalin. Unlike Lenin, Stalin used his labour camps excessively.
Opponents of the regime, political opposition and basically everyone
who didn’t agree with or abide by the laws set by Stalin were put in
Both men used state terror. Again Lenin used it to ensure the
revolution survived, where as Stalin used it for everyone who opposed
him, Stalin used state terror to gain power, in a way the opposite of
Lenin was driven by the want to ensure the survival of the revolution,
where as Stalin was driven by the desire for power, some historians
even go as far as calling him a megalomaniac. Lenin was a strong
willed leader who was confident in his decision making and his ideas
were based on the writings of Karl Marx, as was Stalin, but Lenin
wanted to make Russia a fair and more just and equal society. Stalin
was an insecure man who shows this through the purges, where millions
and millions of Russian people died. During the purges Stalin got rid
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would rise in the future and be strong opposition. Many of those
purged were loyal communists who had years of service to the party.
So overall the characters of these two men were quite similar, where
as the differences came into play when you talk about the scale of
state terror, labour camps and execution.
2. Asses the impact that Lenin had on Russia and the Russian people.
During his life Lenin did many things to Russia, some for better, some
for worse. In this question I will try to explain the impact of Lenin
on the Russia and the Russian people. In the early years of his life
Lenin was exiled to Siberia from 1900 and returned to Russia in April
of 1917, after the Bolshevik revolution. During the civil war Lenin
introduced a policy of war communism. This policy meant that the
government took control of the economy. The red army needed to be
supplied with weapons and enough food to see them through the civil
was against the ‘whites’. War communism was successful in keeping the
army supplied with food, but this led to widespread starvation among
the Russian workers and peasants.
War communism was a short term impact on Russia, as it happened when
he was still alive. When the civil war was over, and the whites were
defeated, Lenin saw that many thousands of Russian citizens were
dieing of famine and starvation, this was because Lenin had taken all
their food and given it to his army. So, Lenin introduced the New
Economic Policy (NEP). Due to war communism Lenin was becoming more
and more unpopular with the Russian citizens. If Lenin wanted
communism to survive, he would have to adopt a less harsh policy. The
NEP was not a true reflection of communism and many criticized Lenin
saying that he was “retreating back to the evil of capitalism,” but
Lenin assured the Russian people that, like the treaty of
Brest-Litovsk, the NEP was a sacrifice that had to be made if the
communists wanted to retain power. The NEP brought around the richer
peasants or kulaks. This was due to allowing private trade for the
peasants. The government let the peasants sell any extra crops for a
profit, but they had to pay a tax of 10% of any profit made to the
government which had to be paid in crops. The effect of the NEP was a
great success, the amount of grain collected between 1922 and 1926
rose from 50.3 tons to 76.8 tons. Not only that but the amount of iron
produced grew incredibly from 0.2 tons to 2.4 tons. The NEP was only a
temporary measure, and it would be scrapped when the economy was more
Lenin had not only solved the problem in the economy, he had also
created a new class, the kulaks. Who would oppose any agricultural
reform in the near future, as Stalin was to find out in 1929.
So, in conclusion Lenin had a big impact on Russia and the Russian
people. The NEP was a huge success, but it did have some bad side
effects. One of the main long term effects of Lenin was the creation
of the kulaks and Nepmen [private traders] which Stalin would have to
tackle in order to gain full power. The other was his position in the
revolution. It was Lenin who was the leader of the first communist
state in Russia which has lasted until today. The short term effect
was famine and starvation of ordinary Russian workers and peasants due
to war communism.
3. Asses the impact that Stalin had on Russia and the Russian people.
Stalin had a massive impact on Russia and the Russian people.
Stalin made Russia into an industrial superpower in less than 30
years, a process that took nearly 100 years for other countries.
Stalin got rid of the N.E.P as it wasn’t producing enough. So why did
Stalin collectivise Russia? There were 6 main reasons. The first
reason was because soviet agriculture was seen to be ‘backwards.’ The
second reason was the need for the peasants needing to move to the
towns so they could all work together. The third reason was because
the NEP was failing the Russian people, and so Stalin needed to
improve crop outcome in order to gain the respect of the peasants and
the workers. Fourth was the food needed for the 5 year plans and the
town workers who were to modernise the soviet agriculture. Fifth, was
exporting crops so they could buy bigger machines to help them with
their work. This then generated a lot of profit, and the Kulaks were
wiped out as nearly all of the peasants were getting richer. Finally
the sixth reason was to get rid of the kulaks. The Kulaks opposed
communism as they were making their own profit and didn’t want to
share it with other people who were not doing anything to deserve
So overall Stalin’s desire to modernise agriculture led him to
collectivise the farms and putting them totally under state control.
In the long term this led to more efficient farming and increased
production, but in the short term it involved a war with the kulaks
and a dramatic fall in output, which led to widespread famine.
Stalin decided that rapid industrialisation was the way to go about
it. This is where the 5 year plans came into play. The first 5 year
plan concentrated on heavy industry (coal, iron, steel, oil and
electricity.) The targets that were set were often unrealistic; even
so, enormous increases in production were quickly achieved. The second
of these plans focused on improving the transport and the production
of machinery. The third and final 5 year plan was launched in 1938.
This plan concentrated on the production of household goods such as
radios bicycles and other such luxuries. Due to the 5 year plans,
Russia became the second largest industrial power in just 10 years,
second to the United States of America. Stalin had successfully
industrialised the soviet union, but at a huge cost of human life.
Another major event in the life of Stalin was the purges and show
trials. The purges started after the assassination of Sergei Kirov in
December 1934. This was grounds for Stalin to say that Zinoviev and
Kamenev were plotting against him, and that they were both part of the
assassination. They were arrested and given long prison sentences.
Then in 1936 Zinoviev and Kamenev, along with fourteen others, were
charged with conspiring to take over Stalin, along with Trotsky. They
all confessed to the crime they were on trial for, even though they
In the long term Stalin gave the citizens free education, and workers
were given holidays with pay, insurance and pensions when they
retired. The main effect of Stalin’s reign was the 5 year plans. If
they didn’t occur then the Second World War may have been won by
Germany as the Russians were holding them off on the eastern front.
So in conclusion, Stalin’s impact on the Russian people and the land
of Russia was colossal. He withstood the might of the Nazis and he
industrialised Russia in 20 years, but he did this at the cost of
millions of Russian lives.
4. Who do you think was the more important figure in Russian history,
Lenin or Stalin. Explain your answer.
In my view, Stalin was a more influential figure in Russian history,
even though he was responsible for the death or millions of Russian
The reason I have not chosen Lenin is due to many things. The level of
Lenin’s impact was not the same as Stalin’s, due to Stalin’s mass
industrialisation. Stalin changed Russia a lot more than Lenin ever
could. Lenin was in control of Russia for about 7 years, and not much
was done in those years, Where as Stalin was in control from 1928 to
1953.During his time in power Stalin introduced 2 main policies that
were to change Russia. The first of these two policies was
collectivisation. This was to get Russia out of ‘backward agriculture’
and also to try to get rid of the kulaks. Lenin had ‘created’ the
kulaks when he introduced the NEP which said that peasants were able
to sell their extra crops and keep the profit. Those with bigger farms
were able to produce more grain and therefore were able to get more
profit, thus creating the kulaks. Collectivisation involved a number
of peasants setting up farms together and put their money together to
buy bigger and better machinery, the kulaks opposed this, and then
Stalin resorted to state terror to try and get them on his side, but
they wouldn’t. So Stalin killed thousands of them. Collectivisation
was successful, and it was only the beginning of Stalin’s revolution
plans. Next was the 5 year plans. There were three in total. Each one
was to achieve certain things. The first plan was concentrated on
heavy industry, the second on transport and mining and the third had
more emphasis on housing and consumer goods, but it was aborted when
there became a growing threat from Nazi Germany.
Lenin was constantly driven by the revolution and keeping it alive,
but would the revolution have happened without Lenin? Some say that it
would have happened as it was pushing towards a revolution anyway.
Lenin won the civil war, but at the cost of millions of lives as
Lenin’s policy of war communism was introduced. However, Stalin may
have industrialised Russia in less than 30 years, but the cost in
lives was on an unimaginable scale, a lot more than under Lenin. Under
the rule of Stalin, Russia became an international superpower. The
rapid industrialisation of Russia meant that Stalin could hold the
Germans on the eastern front. Stalin could be compared to Hitler as
both of these men killed people who got in their way and those who
opposed them just because they could. Even though Lenin was the more,
intellectual one of the two, Stalin used his authority to get his own
way. An example of this is the purges. This was where Stalin became
concerned that people were plotting against him. The great show trials
of 1936-37 saw many leading communists confessing to crimes that they
had never even committed. In the short term, Stalin thought he was
ding good when he got rid of the leading communists, a portion of the
army and his secret police. He was wrong as in the long term; a few
million people lost their lives.
So overall Stalin was the more, influential and leading figure of
Russia. Even though millions more suffered for the future generations.
What Stalin did to Russia was truly remarkable in the time he did it,
But the fact of the amount of dead always comes into play when you
talk about one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century.