Modern Russia And The Soviet Union: Stalin Essay, Research Paper
Modern Russia and The Soviet Union: Stalin?s character was the main reason for his rise to powerStalin was born as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili on December 21, 1879 in Gori, Georgia. He grew up in a mountain town of about 5,000 people. He was the third and only surviving child of Vissarion Dzhugashvili and Catherine Geladze. His father used to drink and beat him and his mother; this made Stalin very cold hearted. A friend commented on his behaviour, ?Those undeserved and fearful beatings made the boy as hard and heartless as his father?. His father died in a brawl when Stalin was only 11.
Stalin was enrolled in the village at school at the age of eight. He was an intelligent student and was top of his class. He read many books, which glorified Georgian?s past. Georgia was an independent country until the Russian Tsars conquered it. One book that had a deep affect on Stalin was a book similar to that of Robin Hood. His name was Koba and he hated the Russians and avenged their crimes against the Georgians. His acts were very ruthless and bloody. Stalin began to call himself Koba and this caught on with his friends. He was later to take on this pseudonym when he was in hiding from the tsar?s police. By 1894, Stalin had finished all of his schooling and had received a scholarship to the theological seminary in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia.
The theological seminary building was dark and depressing. The students could have no privacy and were spied on by the Russian Orthodox monks. The monks also checked their rooms to see what they were reading and carefully scheduled each day, with prayer and study. Students had only one short break in the afternoon where they would go into the city under strict supervision. At first Stalin seemed to fit in with the strict schedule. He did well in his schoolwork and received the highest marks for conduct. He found time to write poetry of which were romantic and nationalistic, these poems were published in a Georgian magazine devoted to the preservation of Georgian culture. Gradually Stalin became frustrated under the harsh regime. Years later, Stalin told an interviewer ?In protest against the outrageous?.methods prevalent in the seminary, I was ready to become, and actually did become, a revolutionary.?
In 1898 Stalin took his first step towards a revolutionary lifestyle when he joined a Marxist group in Tiflis. The group that Stalin had joined merely met to discuss Marx?s ideas. During these meetings Stalin would go into a rage if anyone disagreed with anything he said. He soon began a double life, slipping out of the seminary at night to talk to workmen about Marxism. Stalin was more interested in these passionate interactions than in his studies. When he didn?t show up for any of his exams, he was expelled. A friend of Stalin?s remarked, ?He took with him a ferocious and enduring hatred against the college administration, against the bourgeoisie, against everything in the country that embodied tsarism. He had an overwhelming hatred for authority.?
After Stalin was expelled at age 19, he earned just enough money to survive by tutoring students. At the end of the year he got a job at the Tiflis Observatory. After work he went to the railroad yards and talked with the workers about Marxism and was very successful at spreading his political ideas. The next year, Stalin joined the Russian Social Democratic Party after meeting one of its members. The Party was founded in 1898. The members were socialists dedicated to putting Marxist ideas into practice. Vladimir Lenin was one of the leaders of the party. At first Stalin had a minor role in the party, making some articles to put into an illegal Marxist magazine: Brdzola (The Struggle).
Stalin?s first major revolutionary act was when he organised a May Day celebration where the Tsar?s police began a crackdown on the organisers. Stalin escaped the police roundup and was sent to Bantum by the party for safety. Stalin was now a wanted revolutionist known as Koba. In Bantum, Stalin organised a strike, which ended in violence. Fourteen people were killed, many injured and 500 workers were arrested.
Shortly after this, Stalin was arrested. He was imprisoned for one and a half years and was exiled to Siberia for three years. During this time the Russian Social Democratic Party split into two groups, the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks had a more traditional approach to Marxism, whilst the Bolsheviks had a more revolutionary approach. In 1904, Stalin escaped from Siberia back to Tiflis and joined the Bolsheviks. Stalin acted as though the real threat was the Mensheviks and attacked them at every meeting.
In 1905, Stalin married Yekaterina Svanidze, a Georgian woman who died two years later. Upon her death Stalin said, ?She was the one creature who softened my heart of stone. She is dead, and with her have died my last warm feelings for humanity.? Pointing to his heart he said ?It is all so desolate here, so inexpressively empty?.
In 1912, Lenin promoted Stalin into the leading Bolshevik Party. Stalin had now picked up his new pseudonym (Stalin) meaning ?Man of Steel. He wrote an essay called ?Marxism and the National Question? and was arrested before it was published in 1913. Stalin was released out of exile because of the overthrow of the Russian Monarchy and became a member of the party?s Central Committee bureau. The Russian Revolution began and Stalin organised many strikes and demonstrations. He was arrested and was exiled but then escaped a year later. This cycle of arrests, exiles and escapes went on for the next several years leading up to the Russian Revolution in 1917.
After the takeover of the government, Stalin became a member of the new government?s Soviet of People?s Commissars, heading the Commissariat for Nationality Affairs. Stalin?s position was crucial as to the result of the Russian Civil War of 1918-1921 because the Bolsheviks were desperately trying to stop the terrorists from winning. The Bolsheviks triumphed so he was elected a member of the Communist Party?s highest decision-making body, the Politburo, and the Central Committees Organisational Bureau in 1919. At the height of the Civil War, as a political commissar in the Red Army, he supervised military activities against the anti-revolutionary White forces.
During the war between Russia and Poland, from 1920-1921, his decisions as Political Commissar ended in catastrophe and he had an ongoing conflict with Commissar of War, Leon Trotsky. During this time, Stalin re-married a Nadezhda Alliluyeva in 1918 and moved to Moscow because of his job in the government.
Stalin continued his post as Commissar for State Control until 1922 when we was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party, a position which gave him control over appointments and helped establish a base for his political power. But Stalin?s rude and aggressive behavior brought him into conflict with Lenin, who wrote a political statement about his misgivings. In this statement he also expressed his doubts that Stalin would use his position with enough caution and asked for Stalin to be removed from it. Stalin did not like this testament and through political maneuvering, had it concealed. Slowly but surely, Stalin eliminated all of his political opponents. In 1929, Stalin had eliminated every one and had succeeded to be the Supreme Leader of the USSR.
Stalin?s character was formed through an early environment of his father?s uncontrollable rages, and ill treatment. With the involvement of a religious and legalistic schooling, he learnt to rule with ruthlessness and insensitivity to get people in order. The death of his first wife added more coldness to his heart. Although, Stalin had a hard life I believe this also gave him the added characteristic traits of strength and determination. He had started off as a young revolutionist, aiming for a better government and a better life. Marxism would have definitely appealed to Stalin, because he was searching for equality for all. He had put up with a lot of hardships, which made him into the man he was. He was a hard man, aggressive and rude, not afraid to speak his opinion. The incredible determination and initiative he had, and the ability to seize opportunity made him rise to power. He was a very skilled propagandist and could get his point across convincingly making people want him as their leader. He was very persuasive and passionate and could convince people to support his causes. I think all of these traits contributed to his rise to power, making him one of the most powerful and cruel dictators of our time.