Michael Mulholland, Hunter Mikson, Avery Fields
AICE International History Period 7
16 December 2014
Josef Stalin: A Totalitarian Tyrant
Joseph Vissarionovitch Stalin, notoriously known as one of the most ruthless and inhumane tyrants, startlingly was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize because of his efforts to end Second World War. Yet Stalin was not flaccid in his rise to power from an irrelevant position to the dictator of the Soviet Union from 1941-1953. Joseph Stalin is ubiquitously considered a totalitarian due to his economic, social, a political policies of government.
Joseph Stalin’s youth began in December 18, 1879, when he was born as the son of Besarion Jughashivili in Georgia. His youth was plagued by his contraction of smallpox, which left his face scarred and his left arm marginally deformed (PBS). These deformities elicited the village children that neighbored Stalin to treat him callously, causing a sense of inferiority within the young boy of seven years. Due to this cruelty, Stalin began his quest to acquire greatness and respect, consequentially developing a cruel streak for anyone who crossed him (PBS). In respect to his education, his mother, a devout Orthodox Christian, enrolled him in a denominational school in Gori in the hope that he would become a priest. Joseph’s efforts in school earned him a scholarship to Tiflis Theological Seminary in 1894, where within a year he came across Messame Dassy, a secret organization that supported Georgian independence from Russia (PBS). A majority of the members of this organization were socialists, responsible for introducing Stalin to the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Despite his success in seminary schooling, Joseph left his schooling and joined the group in 1898, devoting some of his time to studying the revolutionary ideas that would influence his totalitarian reign of the USSR. In 1901 Stalin joined the Social Democratic Labor Party and quit his job as a tutor and clerk of the Tiflis Observatory in order to fully concentrate on a revolutionary movement soon to spate Russia in 1917 (PBS). In 1902, Stalin was arrested for coordinating a labor strike and exiled to Siberia, which was the first of a litany of arrests and exiles in the years preceding the Russian Revolution.
When Lenin suffered from a stroke and eventually died in 1924, he had mostly accomplished the revolutionary “dirty work” in creating a communist Russia (Todd). Lenin ultimately understood that his death would mean that another person would have to take power, in which Lenin supposed Leon Trotsky as his successor. However, Lenin did not successfully implement plans in order to ensure that Trotsky would assume power, which Stalin took advantage of. Trotsky considered Stalin a “mediocrity,” while Stalin considered himself a pragmatist, suspicious of Jewish intellectuals such as Trotsky (Todd). Being a master at social trickery, Stalin notified Trotsky of the wrong date for Lenin’s funeral (Todd). Ultimately, Trotsky was dismissed, exiled, and later killed in 1941 (Todd). Stalin demonstrated forceful independence while remaining loyal to the communists; showing a capacity for organization. In April 1922, the central committee named Stalin to the important recently created posts of general secretary, which allowed him to appoint allies to various important posts and to repress dissent within the party. This laid the foundation for Stalin to surround himself with people who he could control and could work with to gain more power. After using the Politburo to kill off or get rid of Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kinoviev, Stalin was left undisputed ruler by 1928.
Stalin’s domestic aims up to 1941 were centralized around turning the Soviet Union into a modern world power giving it the international status that a country with its vast land area, large population and huge resource base warranted. Stalin began pursuing this objective by first abandoning the New...
Cited: Hoyt, Edwin Palmer. Stalin’s War: Tragedy and Triumph. San Francisco: Cooper Square Press, 2006. Print.
Radzinsky,Edvard. Stalin: The First in-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents. New York: Anchor Books, 2011. Print.
Todd, Allan. The European Dictatorships: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2002. Print.
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