– Sources Question Essay, Research Paper
1. To answer this question we have to look at all the sources and interpret what they are trying to tell us about Stalin himself. There are positive sources and also negative sources. I will now try to explain the impression each source gives of me. If we take source A it states at the bottom that it was published in the 1930’s in Paris. It illustrates three pyramids of skulls and vultures flying above them. The skulls are most likely the victims of his purges and policies. He seems to be pointing at the skulls as if he is proud of them, as some sort of achievement. The vultures flying over these pyramids seem to be there to indicate death that is what this cartoon seems to be trying to project about Stalin. It is trying to condemn the Russian leader for his ruthless and murderous policies and criticise the way in which he keeps control of his country solely by the use of fear. The source seems to be putting forward a sarcastic tourism theme. It uses the pyramids of Egypt to carry this out. The French writing in the illustration translates to, “Visit the Pyramids of Russia”. Overall this source seems to give a fairly negative impression of Stalin, but we have to recognise that it was published by an outsider, a French cartoonist such a person was not under any of Stalin’s mind control, if you would like to call it that. A non- Russian would probably see Stalin’s extreme methods as ruthless and murderous. A Russian citizen may not. We also have to recognise that it was at the time when the purges where being carried out and mass amounts of people were being killed. We can most certainly see that this source gives a very negative view of Stalin. Now if we look at source B we see Stalin once again, but this time it seems to be in a more positive atmosphere. The cartoon is an official Soviet painting and it was published in the 1930’s also. It shows Stalin standing with workers at the opening of a new Hydroelectric power station. The first thing I noticed about this cartoon is the clothes the workers are wearing and the clothes Stalin is wearing. Stalin wearing white seems to stick out in the picture possibly showing his importance. The fact that he is standing beside this new power station indicated to me that the artist maybe be trying to show how successful Stalin has been in bringing Russia up to the same level as the rest of the world. Also putting the point forward that his five year plan has worked. If we take the section of the painting that shows Stalin is standing with the workers we can see again that Stalin again is standing out, he is right in the middle of the picture showing his importance once again. We can also interpret that Russia’s great important leader is standing with ordinary, working class people showing he regards himself as an equal maybe and that he is a man of the people. He is standing joking and talking to these men indicating that the whole atmosphere of the scene is very relaxed. This is strange in a way. In Stalin’s time people had to be careful of what they said or they may have faced death. I could not imagine anyone being relaxed with a man like this especially while engaged in conversation. This indicates the bias that exists through Stalin’s control over the media and art. This source very much gives us a positive impression of the man. Finally taking source C, we can see by looking at it that it has no date nor situation attached. With these problems we have no idea when the photograph may have been taken or where. However by looking at the photograph alone we can see that it is very much positive. In it Stalin is shaking the hands of the wives of army officers, congratulating them. He is smiling and the women want to shake his hand indicating that the women do not see him as some sort of ‘evil tyrant’. This photo again arouses suspicion. We have to remember that Stalin eliminated thirteen Generals and two thirds of the Red Army during his purges. This would therefore tell us that it is most likely that it was before this or the photograph was stage managed. Under Stalin’s control of the media he held the point that only ‘correct’ photographs were to be published. All of this has to be taken into account when evaluating the authenticity of this source. We have to realise also that photographs are not a very reliable source of information. It only captures one second in time and after this a situation could completely change. Photographs can also be altered and edited completely changing the impression of it. This source is limited in its value but does give a positive impression. Overall these sources give mixed views on Stalin. ‘A’ giving a very negative impression and ‘B’ and ‘C’ giving positive impressions. However they are not one hundred per cent reliable. Stalin was very clever and knew how to manipulate the media to propagate his views to Russia. He often stage-managed photos, had complete control over artists and had media control. Through these sources we can see differences in views of him in his own country and the views of people foreign to Russia. 2. There are a number of points about Stalin in this piece. This was one of his memoirs about his time in exile in Siberia. It was written by Stalin himself. The date given for its writing was 1945 a point at which Stalin was the all powerful leader of Russia. The basic story of the passage is told around his job at a lumber yard. He tells us that one day they were pulling timber out of the river which had been carried away. When they returned he noticed that there was one comrade missing. He asked where he was and they replied he remained there. Stalin then asked worryingly, “How do you mean, remained there?” They then told him that the man had drowned and hurried saying they had to water the mare. Stalin then tells us quite ironically that he told then off for having more respect for an animal for than human life. He states at the end of the passage that to him the lack of concern the leaders show towards the people is the same as the attitude he met in Siberia. I believe the type of message Stalin is trying to put across in this passage is that he cares about the people even after the millions he has murdered during his purges. He is, as he knows himself accusing himself of the lack of concern for the people and is trying to pass the blame on to other people. He does not want the people to know he is responsible for the millions of deaths and is trying to put foward the point that he a caring person who to remorse over one drowned man could not possibly carry genocide on his own people. We have to realise that Stalin wrote this after the second world war and was trying to win over Eastern Europe. He was trying to put forward the image of a caring, yet extremely successful politician. I have emphasised the word comrade because in indicates the language of a communist, at that stage this one word could tell the political views of Stalin even before he came into power in Russia. It shows he had strong communist views when he was younger and that the situation in which he is describing was in a communist environment. We have to be very careful when examining this passage however. We have to remember that this was written by Stalin. It may give us some evidence on him but politicians would tend to portray their stories in a favourable light especially when it is known to them to become public knowledge. Stalin had a habit of telling lies and using the media for his propaganda. He often as we have heard stage-managed photos and kept his control over the media to always make himself look like the great all powerful leader of Russia who cared for his people. This passage does give us some evidence on Stalin, but it has to read with caution and doubt. The story of which he is speaking may be true, but I would personally believe that it is one of Stalin’s propaganda schemes. It just seems a bit false since Stalin seems to be the only person who really cares about a man’s life in his story. It may be true but it does show us that Stalin was a very clever man with great political and propaganda skills. If the story described is true then it tells us that he was maybe a caring man and that he thought his purges were the only way to succeeding Russia to a major world power, but we will never know. Stalin never told anyone anything and put very little trust in any man. 3. When we look at both the sources we can see that they have both been given dates and tell us about where the extracts came from. This is a good source of reliability for both sources. To answer this question we are going to have to look at the raw content to establish which of the two is more reliable. Firstly if we look at source E we can see that it is from a speech written to Congress of Soviets in 1935 and that it was published in Pravda, a Communist Party newspaper. Looking at the content of the passage itself it would appear to be a man’s opinion of the great leader of Russia as he recognises. It is a passage thanking Stalin and praising him for what he has done for Russia. He evens goes as far to say that the first word his child will say will be, Stalin It is strange but the passage almost seems like a prayer to the man. It is recited with such honour and respect as if he is referring to a god not a politician. This is an Russian’s view and therefore it would appear to be biased. It is also published in a communist paper showing more bias. It was good propaganda for Stalin, that one of his people wrote this about him showing that the public do recognise what he is trying to do for Russia. It was written by a man Stalin had obvious influence over, a Russian citizen most likely living in fear and was forced to believe that what Stalin was doing was right. We cannot totally rely on this passage for an accurate view of Stalin and what the people thought of him. If we look at the second source we can see it was written by a man called Bukharin, a former supporter of Stalin as Lenin’s successor. This man fell into disgrace in 1929 and became a victim of Stalin’s purges in 1938. My past knowledge of Stalin shows me that he allied with Bukharin and Ryko during his power struggle against Karmanez and Zinoviev. After this he turned on the two to become the supreme leader of the country. This source is Bukharin’s view on Stalin. It is a speech made by himself in Paris in 1936. The passage tells a completely different story compared with the source E. He seems to be telling us of Stalin’s bad points. He tells us that Stalin has to always be best and if someone becomes better then that someone must die. It tries to put across the point that Stalin is a ruthless man and that he is narrow-minded. He states at the end of his speech that, ‘he is not a man, but a devil’. This appears to be the view of someone who has seen a different side to Stalin, a side that the writer has experienced by working with the man. He has worked with Stalin and knows what he is like. I believe that Bukharin is telling us the true character of Stalin. What he has told us about him matches his actions while in power. For example Bukharin tells us in this speech that Stalin cannot stand to be second best. This would explain his purges and his attempts to keep power. I would believe this source to be a reliable character evaluation of Stalin. Overall I would have to say that source F seems to be the most reliable of the two. Source E appears to be a Russian citizen’s view of the man who probably only seen the good sides of Stalin and what he had done for the country. He did not put any bad points into his speech maybe through fear and genuine ignorance of what his great leader was doing to people of Russia possibly thinking that it was required to establish the country as a world power. Source F on the other hand seems to give a much more expected view of Stalin to an outsider. He oppresses Stalin and tells us what he makes of his character. I would find this passage much more reliable as Bukharin worked closely with Stalin during his struggle to power. I would believe this man to the speech writer in the first paragraph who claims to have only met Stalin once. I have clearly outlined which source I find more reliable and explained as best I can above 4. Firstly to answer this question we have to look at both of these sources in detail. By looking at both of them we see that they were written by Khrushchev in 1956 after the death of Stalin. Source G has been written as a speech to the communist party from Khruschev, Stalins successor to Russian rule. While Source H has very little information to what it was about, where it was written and who it was written to. After reading the two passages we immediately see that they are very different. Source G seems to be actually justifying what Stalin accomplished over the past years. It puts forward the point that what Stalin had done was necessary for the defence of socialism and communism. Khrushev states that what Stalin had done were not the deeds of a madman I feel that Khrushchev in this speech is attempting to defend Stalin. We have to remember that he worked with the man and also recognise that he is communist. I would have to say that what he said is his speech was for Stalin’s former party, of which he was now in charge. I would think that he would not have wanted to disrespect Stalin in anyway as he acknowledged that the Soviet communist party held him highly even though he is gone. Krushchev maybe did not want to lose his party’s support. Khrushchev may have had the same ideals as Stalin but I would gather that he possible didn’t agree with the way he pushed them forward. For example, the purges, the slaughter of many innocent people. Sticking with the point that he did not agree with the way Stalin put forward his views we are taken to source H. In source H, Krushchev tells us of a very different point of view he had of Stalin. He is described as a distrustful man, maybe a person with a severe case of paranoia towards the act that he seen everyone as a possible spy or enemy, even people he had known for years. We now ask the question to Khrushchev, why didn’t he do anything about Stalin if he knew him so well. Maybe because of fear of death. We don’t know. Krushchev, at the time when Stalin was still in power probably seen what he was doing as correct but I am sure that he knew in the back of his mind that what his leader was doing was wrong. These two sources are strange. They were written in the same year yet are completely different. If I had to say if they were reliable assessments of Stalin I would have to say yes. Firstly because Khrushchev worked closely with Stalin through his time in power. He is a firsthand witness to Stalin’s acts, thoughts and possibly was asked by him to give advice on decisions. Secondly through my own knowledge of Stalin I can say that I would agree fully with source H and partly with source G. I would say that Stalin was distrustful and paranoid yet I would have to say myself that I do not believe he could have kept control of his country and have brought it up to super-power status without the use of terror. However, I do not agree with his purges. Overall I would see the two sources as being reliable and I could relate them to the character of Stalin that I know of. I can see these as very different but accurate assessments of him. 5. We can see that source I has been published in America with the theme of Stalin’s show trials. Source J has been published in France in the late 1930’s with the same theme. If we take source I we can see that there is a number of people on trial for their lives namely the Old Bolsheviks. In the cartoon the accused are stating things like, “Sure I tried to betray my country” and “Of course I am a traitor”. They appear to be admitting to these crimes quite readily, smiling as though they were pleased to do it. This maybe indicates torture to admit to crimes. Stalin is acting as the judge also. Another possible reason to admitting their crimes is that they see themselves as already been judged and sentenced. Possibly in the state of mind, “We’ve been judged already, what’s the point in trying to defend ourselves”. Many were prosecuted in this way. In the background we can see a gallow which backs up my last point that they’ve been judged and will be executed within twenty four hours fairly or unfairly. Source J gives us fairly the same impression that the last source did. It shows Stalin as the judge, the jury and the prosecution in a courtroom showing the influence that he had in Russia’s judicial system especially in these show trials. I feel that the cartoon is trying to put across the point that anyone posing a threat or opposition to Stalin will fail to receive a fair trial. The illustration would give us the impression that Stalin actually wants to find the people guilty of their crimes whether they are or not. Posing Stalin as all three sections of the court tries to show us that he is in total control and the jury will do as he wishes. I would say that these two sources agree with each other. They put across the same points as each other mainly that there will be no justice in Russia while Stalin still has power and influence over the system. Both of these sources are against Stalin because of their originating outside the USSR. They tell us that a status of guilty would almost inevitably be placed on almost any accused person especially if threatening Stalin. Overall I can say that they agree fully. Both indicating injustice in the country and political influence over the judicial system. They are both external views and have the same ideas on the country’s penal system. 6. Firstly to compare the two sources, their date and situation, the situation in which they were published has to be taken into account. Source L was published in 1983 in Britain while source M was published in 1974 but also in Britain. We have to remember that they were published after Stalin’s death in 1953 and the fear was no longer there of being subjected to Stalin’s disciplinary action. More information was being released from Russian sources due to this. One of these sources being Khrushchev. We can see that these sources are different in a way, but also similar. Taking source L, we are told some of Stalin’s positive points. It tells us that he was a gifted politician, we know this through his ability to survive Lenin’s Testament. It even goes on to say he was one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century, a point that many would disagree with. The source turns and says that he did have an evil side to his nature, a point with which I would fully agree with. This source tells us very little about Stalin’s darker character. Source M however goes into more detail about Stalin’s more evil qualities. We are told that he was a person corrupted by absolute power, an element which can force a person to go to the farthest extremes. He is described as becoming a monstrous tyrant from a ruthless politician through his desire to have control of his country and maintain his power. It tells us that the terror he arose was necessary in order to do this. At the end of the source the writer makes a very good point saying that without terror who would have noticed the clear absurdity of Stalin’s rule? Both of these passages emphasise that Stalin was evil and that he was not as great as some people thought. He was recognised as a great political leader in the first source yet not a positive point is written about him in the second showing us that maybe the two writers had different points of view on the man. However, even with these different views they still recognise him as an evil man. The second source does not recognise him as any sort of great political leader. Overall I could say that the sources are different. They both put Stalin down, source M going into more detail about this. There is a difference between the two and as I have mentioned previously, source L almost defends Stalin in it’s first few lines and tells us how good he was. However, both sources mention his bad sides as any external observer would. 7. I have a range of diverse views on the man known as Josef Stalin. In my answer I will show in what ways I agreed with his extremely ruthless dictatorship and ways that I do not. To begin with I see Stalin as an extremely intelligent human being. He possessed excellent political skills and was gifted with great leadership qualities. He appears to me to be a man who loved his country and would do anything for it. He was determined to get into power to have influence over it and so he began his political life in the lower ranks of the Soviet Communist party. He quickly made his way up, doing jobs no one else wanted to do until he made general secretary appointing people jobs on decisions made by the Politburo. People owed their jobs to him and he gained major support until he was the most powerful man in the communist party. He seems more like a determined politician than a monster. He eventually made his way into power where he soon developed a darker side to his nature. He began his purges in which he slaughtered millions of his own citizens because he saw them as a threat. The extent of his ‘elimination of enemies’ is illustrated in source A showing mountains of skulls to which he is being held responsible. He now seems to be more unpleasant. More towards the image of an evil tyrant. In source C he is shown as shaking the hands of the wives of army officers indicating one of two things. He stage managed the photograph as many army officers had been eliminated in the purges or two, this was taken before he killed some of their spouses. If we take the former we can see the deceit surrounding Stalin and the way he could manipulate the media, telling us he was a master of propaganda. Source D however shows us a human side to his nature. It shows us that Stalin actually cared about people. However if this was just written for the reason of propaganda, we do not know. Source E seems to be written much like a prayer, as if Stalin is to the Russian people what God is to a Christian. This shows us the value he was to his people and what they thought of him. They do not see him as any kind of monster. He seems to be a person the Russian people look up to, not a person they hate for what he has done. Many of his own ‘comrades’ saw him as being a great leader while supporting him in power but once he had deserted them they told of a completely different character. Bukharin being a prime example of this as shown in source I. Khrushchev told of Stalin’s reasons for doing what he did during his rule, justifying mass murder at times saying it was for the defence of socialism and communism. He continued to do this even after Stalin’s death in 1953. However, he made a speech in 1956 as told to us in source H describing the man in a bad light. Khrushchev worked with Stalin and was most likely friendly with him. If this is what he thinks of him then it would push us into a different view of Stalin. Was he really the monster he was made out to be? Stalin was known to be unjust, a man who, if he wanted rid of someone then he could make it happen, even by taking it to courts and carrying it out legally. He gave the impression that he had the final say in all legal proceedings related to the country. As we are shown in source I and J this was world-wide opinion of him when it came to the laws of the country. Seen by many to be an unjust man and an unfair character. Taking source K however, he is described as being a brilliant leader, even a guide to for the USSR. We can see from this the different views of him. In the source, he is described as possessing a love for the people. This is from the biography of Stalin written by a Russian. This person probably living in fear of Stalin does not see him as a danger or evil. Taking all the points I have described, I still could not reach a decision on whether or not he was a man or a monster. I believe he was a great leader, excellent politician and I could even go on to say that despite his evil nature, he is just the type of man Russian politics needed. A man who would recognise the problems of the country and act on them. We have to remember Russia was far behind the rest of the world when it came to industry and technology. It was a massive country left behind during the industrial revolution. Stalin took this and made it into one of the world powers within his rule and lifetime. An absolutely great achievement for any politician. However, I cannot leave out the ways in which he did this. Turing peasants into slaves to dig up gold is an example. Using labour camps, not a far cry from the Nazi concentration camps was another way of bringing the country up to scratch. He used countless different methods in order to achieve what he wanted. He used the policy of socialism (putting the country before the people) in order to justify what he was doing. His methods of maintaining power were also ruthless. If anyone got in his way, he eliminated them. It was extreme, but as he thought necessary. Millions were murdered and Stalin had now committed genocide. This shows me his ruthless evil nature. Overall, I see Stalin as a skilled politician with the ability to do almost anything he wanted in a political sense, but he was an evil man with evil characteristics. He achieved great things for Russia, but was bad at heart. I could not say that what he did was human but I will not deny I see the greatness in him and I see similarities with another answer. 8. There has been some disagreement about Stalin mainly because of the way that he took control of Russia, the way in which he ran the country, his character and his extreme methods of controlling the people. Many people have asked the question did Stalin actually feel it necessary to do what he did. Stalin did use very extreme methods of control and whether he used them because he say them as necessary of whether he was a man over-run by power we do not know. Source M tells us the personal opinion of a man about what he thought of Stalin’s way of ruling Russia. He agrees with my second point that he was corrupted by absolute power. After a person has experienced extreme power they do not want to lose it and will go to all costs to retain it. However, in source G, Khrushchev tries to justify Stalin’s methods explaining them as necessary. He explains that Stalin’s deeds were hardly that of a ‘mad monster’. Views on Stalin’s character were emphasised in sources H and F. They are both negative views. Source F tells us of Stalin’s desire to always be the best. It describes him as being a narrow-minded, malicious man. Source H tells us that Stalin was a distrustful and paranoid man. While, if we look at source K we are given a very positive and different view of his character. Source D written by Stalin himself gives us a sense that he possessed a caring side for other people. These are all different views of the man. We cannot forget the sources of these passages however. Nearly all of the positive writings have been composed by Russians or Stalin himself. Therefore this leaves a trait of bias in these sources. This leads people to disagree about his real character. Stalin never wrote any personal memoirs and so we will never really know what he was actually like. If we look at the purges there has been arguments to whether or not they were necessary. Many people argue that Stalin committed mass murder through the elimination of millions of innocent people for no other reason than to maintain his grip over the country. His state of mind was that if someone posed a threat, remove them. However some people may think that without the purges Russia may not have become as successful as she did. Taking everything into account I could say that people disagreed mostly about why Stalin did what he did. Did he see all of it necessary to accomplish his goal! We will never know. If Stalin were alive today I would say that he would fin it very difficult to justify his extreme measures.