Last Updated 25 Mar 2020

Stalin: man or monster?

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Essay type Research
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Source A is very different to sources B and C. Stalin is shown standing by pyramids 'visit Russia's pyramids'. The picture is symbolising the results of Stalin's policies in which many people died. Stalin is showing no emotion.

Sources B and C are very similar in that they are both showing Stalin as a popular, liked man.

In source B it shows him with some of the workers on a hydro-electric power station. Stalin looks very relaxed and casual standing with his hand in one pocket and holding his pipe.

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However, the painting is an official soviet painting so it was probably manipulated to make Stain look good with happy workers.

Source C was taken by a soviet photographer so the picture was probably planned on purpose to show Stalin's popularity and to make it look like all the people adore him.

Sources B and C give very similar impressions of Stalin, showing him as a loved man. Whereas source A gives the impression that he is a monster.

Source D is a speech written by a writer to the congress of soviets in 1935. The speech was published in Pravda, the paper of the communist party. The fact that it was published in Russia in 1935 already tells us that this source has probably been manipulated in some way to make Stalin look better. The only reason people would lie about him is because they were terrified of him so they had no choice but to suck up to him or face execution.

This article does show us how Stalin had many people terrified and you can see this in the source because of how fake and obsessed the writer is. However because of the purges most of the stuff written about him was propaganda. Therefore meaning the information is of little use as it is purely either opinion or fake.

I believe that the fact Bukharin's speech is written after becoming a victim of the purges and the fact it's written in Paris, where he is out of Stalin's control makes his assessment more reliable.

The writer expresses his anger and hatred towards Stalin. Yet I think the reason Bukharin's assessment is reliable is the fact that he was very close to Stalin in helping him against Trotsky. Nonetheless he then fell into disagreement with him and he became a victim of the purges, but managed to escape to Paris, in exile out of Stalin's reach, meaning he can not be caught and punished.

Khrushchev's speech is talking about how distrustful and truthfully scared Stalin was. This assessment does match others in saying how terrorising and malicious Stalin could be. For instance, the purges were an example of how Stalin would block any threats and oppositions by destroying them. Furthermore the fact that the speech was delivered in 1956 after Stalin's reign also makes the speech more likely to be accurate and trustworthy.

Source G is showing Stalin as the judge prosecuting 4 defendants. They are all sarcastically admitting what they have done as they know even if they plea 'not guilty' they will still be sentenced. The fact they will be sentence no matter what is shown in the background of the picture where you can see the gallows.

Source H shows Stalin in the court, but in every position or role. This illustrates how Stalin manipulated everyone in the soviet party.

Stalin was in effect, the Judge, the Jury, the Witness, the Clerk and the prosecutor.

They were called 'show trials' for a reason, that they were for show. The defendant was already a 'dead man' before he had entered the court. The trial was purely so Stalin could say, 'I gave them a chance'.

Both sources are very similar in that they both give the same message, that Stalin was always in charge and that there would always be the same outcome in the verdict.

Source I is from a biography of Stalin published in 1947 in Russia. This shows that what was written was probably fake or inaccurate as it was during the purges, meaning that the author had the fear of execution.

Source J on the other hand was written in 1974 in Britain long after Stalin's rule. This means what is said about him is more likely to be true as there would be no fear of being prosecuted.

Also the cold war was going on in 1974 so Britain was fighting against Russia. Yet I believe this could mean that the assessment is exaggerated because of Britain's dislike towards Russia at the time.

Although we know they both disagree about Stalin we deduce this because of when and where they were written and our knowledge of what would happen to people who spoke out about Stalin.

Most of the evidence shown in the sources points to Stalin as being a monster. After studying and analysing sources, A, D, E, F, G, H, and J, they all show or explain how evil, malicious and cruel Stalin was.

It is only sources, B, C, D and I, which are either praising or supporting him and this is only because the artists or writers are either terrified or their assessments have been manipulated in some way from fear of execution.

Different sources of information I have read indicate that Stalin was a monster

For instance, to start with Stalin stated his 5 year plans. They consisted of different aims: to provide machinery and other equipment to farmers, to catch up with the western world so they were less dependant on industrial goods from other countries and finally to produce more armaments so that Russia could defend itself from attack.

Although these aims sounded good they never actually happened.

Stalin then introduced the purges. This was simply to a way to get rid of any opposition or threats. Stalin would find someone that had been opposing him in someway (even if it was that they spoke better than he did). He would then have them put on trial (know as show trails) and they would be found guilty and executed, hence out of Stalin's way. The Purges claimed over 10 million people's lives.

Collectivisation was introduced for people in each village to join their farms together to make one large collective farm (Kolkhoz). Every one as a whole would then be able to afford the machinery and be more efficient. Because no-one listened there was a famine so Stalin made collectivisation compulsory. Peasants hated the idea so killed all their livestock and burned all their crops. Those who had done what Stalin said proved that collectivisation had worked and that numbers in cows and grain had gone up approximately 10 million in 25 years, but it is debateable whether this was a huge success, to the extent that many lives were ruined and many livestock and crops destroyed.

Stalin had many people employed to work on building dams and bridges. However, many of the workers were slaves and kulaks. Strikers were shot, and wreckers could be executed or imprisoned. Thousands died from accidents, starvation or weather. Housing and wages were terrible; they would have to do a certain amount of work in their shift or they would go without food. Stalin's 5 year plans also came into this, he would often set an aim to complete a dam in 1 year, then when it was finished he would congratulate the workers and say 'as you did so well, you have two more dams to do in the same amount of time'. This would then continue on and on.

On the other hand, it could be argued that there were things that Stalin did during his reign that did benefit Russia.

During the war Stalin helped by co-ordinating the arms production and making sure everyone was fully equipped. He was also very good at bringing everyone together and motivating people to fight for their country.

Although collectivisation was not a huge success it did increase some of the numbers of livestock and grain farmers were producing, which arguably means that the idea did work.

He did also have some other achievements, such as: Turkestan-Siberian railroad, the Dneiper dam and the Belomor canal.

Some of the sources do support Stalin and show him as an adored man. Even though we have been looking at how most of the assessments are likely to of been manipulated, Stalin would have had some followers that were with him and supported him when some of the pictures were taken.

Throughout Stalin's reign there were many things that he did that were horrific and malicious that did make him a real monster and from the research that I have collected I believe him to be just that, yet there were some things that he did for Russia that were in his favour, the main one being that he did, at a heavy cost, bring Russia foreword along way, and that did make his seem like a real man.

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