How Stalin Became the Supreme Leader by 1929

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Q) Describe how Stalin became supreme leader by 1929, using the source and your knowledge. (8)

- this is a short timed essay intended to be written in 20 mins. -

When Lenin died in 1924, everybody expected Trotsky to take over the leadership. However, Stalin schemed his way into power, using his position as General Secretary, and series of ruthless political moves. His moves can be categorised into two groups; Stalin’s Strengths and Trotsky’s mistakes.

The first of Stalin’s strengths was to cunningly make the Russian people believe that he had close relations with Lenin. He tried to do this because Lenin was loved and very popular with the people, up until his death in January 1924. His popularity can be seen in the source. The source shows mourners lining up outside the Mausoleum for his funeral, were thousands of people openly wept in the streets. Stalin hoped that if he won the support of Lenin’s mourners, he could come to supreme power through popularity.

One of the ways that Stalin won the support of the people was by organising Lenin’s funeral, along with the other members of the Politburo. However, the biggest way that he managed to win the popularity of the Russians was by trying to illuminate his competition. He tried to shows Trotsky in a bad light by telling him the wrong date of Lenin’s funeral, so that consequently he arrived late, thus making Stalin appear more dedicated to he memory of Lenin than Trotsky. This led to people disliking Trotsky.

Despite the bad image that Stalin was making for Trotsky, Trotsky made lots of mistakes, self destroying his image too. He appeared to be a poor politician. He was described as vain and arrogant in the views of his party members and his examples of irritable attitude, such as turning his back on this colleagues and storming out of the room whilst they spoke, led to him having no friends in the Politburo. Consequently, Stalin was able to build up his popularity by becoming friends with those...
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