In 1879 two Georgian peasants conceived what would be USSR’s most cruel, power-hungry and diabolical ruler for 25 years, Josif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. During his childhood he had to endure an abusive father, a bout with smallpox and a freak accident that resulted in an arm deformity. ‘Soso’ as he was referred to by his mother and classmates, trained to become a priest at Tbilisi Theological Seminary but was expelled for taking part in revolutionary activities and having organized a Marxist group . In 1903 he was drawn into the revolutionary circles of Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, the state’s first communist party. Lenin saw in Dzhugashvili, a man of action, a man who can get things done, unlike the brilliant orator known as Leon Trotsky and the many other intellectuals already in the movement. He distributed illegal literature, organized workers and even robbed a bank to support his cause. In 1912 he adopted the name Stalin, which fittingly means “man of steel”, and in 1917 he became the editor for the Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda (Truth).
Meanwhile, in 1917, the Soviet Empire was in chaos after Tsar Nicholas II, apart of the Romanov rule for the past 300 years, sent assistance to the Allies against Germany in WWI that resulted in four million casualties. The remaining peasant soldiers resented dying for someone else’s cause and so began the revolution when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated. On Nov.7th, the Bolshevik faction seized government in what is known as a Coup D’?tat, a sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in positions of authority . After overthrowing the provisional government, Lenin began to take charge and enforce a Marxist atheistic idea that states “religion is the opiate of the masses”. They eradicated religion from the Soviet Union by destroying churches and murdering priests.
Stalin made his mark in the bloody Civil War when he and the Bolshevik Reds went up against the counter-revolutionary Whites. He was given the title of Commissariat of Nationalities where he enforced the party lines on the field and in the sea and was leader of the warfare personalities. On one occasion, Trotsky sent Stalin army specialists to aid him but he refused to accept professionals and subsequently shot them and sunk their boat. His callous reasoning was “death solves all problems, no man no problem”. The Whites were defeated and the few thousand Bolsheviks now controlled millions .
Lenin valued Stalin’s loyalty and appointed him General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1922 to enforce the New Economic Policy, which permitted certain types of private economic activity, so the country could recover from the Civil War. He utilized his new position to gain power by controlling all appointments and filling the party staff with only his supporters. Eventually everyone who counted for anything owed their position to him. His ideology was that “if you can control the personnel, you can control the organization.”
He was determined that when Lenin dies he would succeed him as the leader of the Soviet Union. Later that year, Lenin wrote a “Testament” stating that Trotsky should become the leader after him and not the crude Stalin. In fact he also suggested that the Bolshevik leaders should figure out a way of dismissing Stalin. However, when the will was given to Zinoviev and Kamenev after Lenin’s death in 1924, they had made an alliance with Stalin and decided not to publish it, because they did not want the unpopular Trotsky to take over. This would turn out to be their biggest mistake because in 1926, he got Nicholi Bhukarin and his conservative allies to kick off Zinoviev and Kamenev. Unfortunately the conservative allies were also ousted as part of Stalin’s plot to outmaneuver the party leadership6. Stalin used manipulation and support throughout the country to undermine his opponents and back one against the other.
When Stalin achieved complete control of the Soviet Union by the end of the 1920s, he abandoned Lenin’s NEP and he used industrialization (5 year plans) and collectivization to change and modernize agriculture and industry to create a “Command Economy”. During the 5 Year Plan of industrialization each factory was given a target they had to reach each year, for a five year period. Accountants often lied about productivity so they wouldn’t be sent to their deaths. Although the state’s industry produced four times as much in 1937 as it had in 1928, there was no improvement in the average standard of living and people often worked to their deaths .
Collectivization was a cornerstone of Marxism that issued every peasant to pool their machinery and livestock on large farms that were to be controlled by the State. The rich peasants known as Kulaks opposed these collective farms and thus they were kicked off the land and sent to Siberia where 5 million of them died. Some furious farmers slaughtered half their livestock just so the government wouldn’t touch them. Stalin was never satisfied so he went about cleaning the collective farms of food, taking every scrap of grain he could. This resulted in a widespread famine during the 1920s where 5 million starved to death and agricultural production fell by 15%6.
Those who objected Stalin’s methods or disobeyed his orders ended up in slave labour camps called “Gulags”. Anyone who was 10 minutes late for work or stole an ear of corn ended up in these death camps for 5-10 years. Random people were shot each day for no apparent reason. The camps became microcosms for the world outside and it parallels the concentration camps that Hitler would soon use to exterminate the Jews6.
In the 1930’s, Joseph Stalin began waging acts of political terrorism. Sergei Kirov, the Communist Party leader in Leningrad, was mysteriously murdered in 1934, primarily because he was getting too popular for Stalin’s liking. He commenced his infamous purges on the educated class, which included: scientists, poets, artists and most of the Intelligentsia. He also managed to remove power from the military by eliminating a large part of the military elite & 1000s of lower ranking officers. Even Trotsky, who was exiled to Mexico in 1929, was the only one who could speak up but even he was killed, stabbed to death with an ice pick thanks to Stalin and his secret agent2. From 1934 to 1938 at least 7 million people disappeared and he was determined to purge society of any and all people not loyal to him and his policies.
From 1936-1938 he even destroyed the reputations of the Bolshevik heroes of the Revolution by putting them on “Show Trials”. He forced Lenin’s closest friends and followers to confess to ludicrous crimes of not being real communists and not being real patriots, rather being spies and assassins. At theses ridiculous “Show Trials”, he approved the death sentences of many Bolsheviks including his old allied friend Nicholi Bhukarin, even though the confessions were forced by torture4. Lady Aster once asked him, “How long are you going to go on killing people?” he candidly replied, “As long as necessary.” He would find it necessary for the rest of his life2.
Stalin had so many enemies, everywhere, for so long, he could no longer recognize a real one if it was right in front of him… a demagogue known as Hitler. In 1939 the U.S.S.R. promised Germany they wouldn’t have a war on two fronts and they would divide Poland amongst each other, an agreement that came to be known as the Non-Aggression Pact. Stalin misjudged Hitler because less than 2 years later in 1941 Hitler and the German forces betrayed him. Because Stalin didn’t believe that the ‘Fuhrer’ would go back on his word, he refused to evacuate Kiev, where a ? million were killed or taken prisoner, the largest single loss of WWII. This loss was largely in part of Stalin’s purges on the military which immensely weakened their army2.
In October, near Moscow, Nazi Troops were approaching but Stalin insisted on staying put because he believed that “The state was the most important thing in his life”. The Soviets were valiant in cutting off German supplies and freezing fuel lines & as a result the Nazis retreated. By the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942, Stalin teamed up with the Allies and took part in one of the bloodiest battles of WWII where over one million Soviet soldiers were killed. Thanks to General Winter, the Soviet Union was once again able to come out successful and this proved to be the turning point of the war. However, the U.S.S.R. had suffered the greatest loss in WWII with 25 million casualties.
Stalin vowed that his nation would never be this vulnerable again. When the Allies met at the Yalta Declaration, he wanted a guaranteed security zone in Eastern Europe because after all, he did play a significant role in defeating the Germans. Later on however, at Podstam, Truman and Churchill were unhappy with ‘Uncle Joe’s’ behavior in Eastern Europe and soon enough the Cold War was initiated5. Back home, Stalin was even more popular than before because people thought that the victory in WWII would sweep clean the miseries of the past. Unfortunately for his people, the war might have distracted him but it didn’t change him. In no time he was back to his old ways sending 1000s of returning soldiers to labour camps in fear they might revolt about life at home after witnessing the splendors of Europe. His newest and final public enemies were the Jews where he tried and executed Jewish intellectuals and doctors because he was afraid of being poisoned by them.
On March 5th, 1953, Joseph Stalin suffocated to death, after collapsing four days earlier at his country house outside Moscow. The cause of death was declared to be a stroke or cerebral hemorrhage, although some speculations surrounds the actual circumstances and it is rumoured that he was poisoned to stop him from starting a nuclear war with the US4. Although he transformed the U.S.S.R. into an industrial and military superpower, the 20 million deaths he was responsible for is an unfathomable toll that outweigh any of his accomplishments. Yet in this chaotic world, Stalinism was a time of clarity and strength for his followers. Stalin’s maniacal, blood thirsty legacy and dark sinister look will never fade from the hearts of his people because some still believe, the lives lost were for the greater good of the nation, Stalin’s nation.
Although it was professed that the Nazis & communists opposed each other, both their leaders, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin, are quite comparable from many personal life, political, and unethical standpoints. They both had relationship and medical trouble in the midst of their lifetimes. Propaganda was widely used among both candidates (to gain power and recognition). The way they both ruthlessly pursued their goals without remorse or any concern for others well-being was quite identical. Their desire for success stems from their belief in making their respected empires better and stronger by any means necessary.
Along with poor health issues, relationships with family members were peculiar for Stalin and Hitler and often resulted in death. Stalin had to endure a bout with smallpox as well as a partially deformed arm7. Hitler continually had to battle with lung infections as a child9. At very young ages, Stalin being 11 and Hitler being 13, their abusive fathers died. During their reigns as dictator, they both had many ladies in their lives with who they felt were inferior beings and subsequently paid little attention to them. However, they both ended up having wives who they cared dearly for but yet both Eva Braun9 and Nadezhda Alleluyeva2 mysteriously commit suicide.
Stalin and Hitler were able to manipulate their people with their effective use of propaganda to glorify their names and promote nationalism. Hitler used propaganda in his words and charismatic speeches. He was even able to sway the court system during the trial for treason, to sympathize with him and reduce the sentence to just 5 years in what should have been a lot longer9. As his propaganda, Stalin would use indoctrination of young children and “Revision of History” in history text books to change everything to pro-Stalin. “It was Stalin who saved you from corruption of the west! It was Stalin who was responsible for the revolution!” are just some of examples of the propagandist slurs7. They both would use photographs and self-portraits as propaganda to depict themselves as heroes who were caring and loving but were truly devils in disguise.
These two tyrants would not let anyone stand in their way while they tried to further their cause and anyone that sought to oppose them, would be dealt with severely. When Lenin died, it left Stalin the ability to wreak vengeance on all his Bolshevik counterparts while one by one betraying alliances until he was at the top. Stalin worked his people to death in gulags, ridiculously purged many sectors of his nation (from Intelligentsia to military) and ultimately caused the deaths of over 20 million of his citizens. Hitler’s first act of aggression was on what could have been the breeding grounds for communism, the German Trade Union, in which he looted offices and seized property8. For the duration of WWII, the unregretful Hitler gassed, shot and slaughtered 17 million people, including 6 million Jews and anyone else he didn’t feel comfortable with and thought it would upset his supremacy9.
As one could see Hitler and Stalin each identified the same way, his own importance in terms of succeeding anything they set out to accomplish. They were similar in their family association, relationships and poor health problems, they were exceptional at the art of propaganda, and they would both go about having the right to deal with situations their own way , so be it immorally, by any means necessary. These cowardly men couldn’t do it all alone, they had the help from scapegoats, be it Jews or returning soldiers, who took the blame when Hitler and Stalin saw fit. They were each ruthless but yet triumphant in their raise to power and most of their success is attributed to their ideas and politics.
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