Question by : How did the death of Lenin affect the rise of Stalin’s power?
How did the death of Lenin affect the rise of Stalin’s power? Did the death help Stalin to finally come to power? Any information about how he rose to power after Lenin’s death? Thanks
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Answer by Spellbound
Stalin had been gradually accumulating power even when Lenin was alive, the post of General Secretary allowed him to ensure that his supporters were assigned to key posts in the Central Committee.
Lenin’s death meant that ALL the rivals for power tried to claim that they were the true upholders of Lenin’s legacy, and that everyone else was not.
After Lenin’s death he waited, allowing other Politburo members to state their preferred policies – he then ganged up on groups of them, using his alliances and his party contacts to destroy the opposition. His did this twice in the 1920s, destroying Trotsky and his supporters and Zinoviev and Kamenev and their supporters. This left him as the undisputed ruler by about 1928.
Once he was the undisputed leader – the Vozhd (meaning Boss) he continued to use the position of General Secretary of the Communist Part to promote loyal supporters and demote, or expel from the party those who he could not be sure about. From the mid 1930s began to use show trials – public events where the accused had to follow a script, nearly always ending in a guilty verdict, and purges – expelling great numbers from the party and arresting people arbitrarily. Fear became one of the main weapons Stalin used against the Soviet people. No-one was safe – loyal Molotov was forced to divorce his wife when she was arrested, her crime? She was Jewish! Stalin also bugged the offices of the other members of the Politburo and collected information on them.
On his way to power he was cautious and did not cause the deaths of anyone – he waited until he could destroy people without any political opposition.
The Great Purge which happened after he gained total power consumed about 2.5 million people.
In the purge he had Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Radek, Rykov and Tomsky (all leading old Bolsheviks) all arrested, tried and executed. He had Trotsky assassinated in Mexico in 1940, this was the last of the important old Bolsheviks he had killed.
In a nutshell, he came to power by manipulating those around him, by exploiting the posts he held for maximum political effect, and by being utterly ruthless in his pursuit of power.
The Road to Terror by J Arch Getty & Oleg Naumov
Stalin, A Biography – Robert Service
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