Causation Of The Purges Essay Research Paper

Causation Of The Purges Essay Research Paper Under Stalin s leadership approximately people were murdered during the purges of to and some million people died as a result of Stalin s sending them to the Gulags otherwise know.

Causation Of The Purges Essay, Research Paper

??????????? Under

Stalin?s leadership, approximately 70 000 people were murdered during the

purges of 1928 to 1940, and some 12 million people died as a result of Stalin?s

sending them to the Gulags otherwise known as the camps, and these estimates

are described as being conservative. Many historians believe that up to 17

million people could have died as a result of Stalin?s purges.? Was this due to Stalin?s paranoia, or were

other factors involved in these huge numbers of dead? After Lenin?s death, Stalin

succeeded him as leader after a gap of about three years.? He had achieved his position through skilful

manovering and ruthlessness in his dealings with fellow party members.? Stalin had been brought up as a Georgian

peasant, but his lack of regard for his fellow human beings had been shown by

his brutal repression of Georgia in Sept 1918. Stalin was willing to use

whatever means necessary to achieve his goals.?

After Stalin took over the leadership in 1928, huge advances occurred in

the state of Russia?s economy, and Stalin succeeded in changing Russia from a

backward power, restrained for many years under the ties of repressive,

incompetent Tsars, into a world Superpower, capable of sustaining an arms race

requiring military expenditure of up to 15% per year.? This modernisation of Russia was achieved in an extremely short

period of time, as Stalin himself said: ?We are 50 or 100 years behind the western powers,

if the revolution is to survive, we must make up this gap in 10 years? ??????????? Whether the

gap with the west was made up as quickly as Stalin intended is insignificant at

this point, the fact is that the gap was made up in a very short time.? In order to achieve this, Stalin was willing

to remove opponents to his ideas. This resulted in parts of the party opposed

to Stalin?s ideas being purged.?

Although these deaths can?t be excused, there was at least a purpose in

these purges and they cannot be simply attributed to Stalin?s paranoia. ??????????? As Stalin

tried to improve Russia he also increasingly centralised the government, this

was beneficial as it allowed Stalin to make all of the decisions that he needed

to make in order to achieve his policy of catching up with the west.? However, he also set almost impossible

targets through Gosplan for his five-year plans.? When these targets were not met, the blame would naturally have

fallen on Stalin. However, Stalin?s power was based on a cult of personality,

which made Stalin a kind of human God who could not be wrong.? Therefore, in order to avoid the blame

falling on him, he had to find ?scape goats?, people who he could blame for the

targets not being met.? He blamed the

failure to achieve these targets on the sabotage of certain elements of

society, particularly the Kulak class of rich peasants, as created by Stolypin

in an attempt to preserve the Tsarist system.?

The existence of this class is debatable, certainly the numbers of

Kulaks was nothing like the number of people accused of being Kulaks and

consequently deported or shot.? For

example, when there was a grain shortage in Russia, Stalin simply would not

accept that there was a shortage; instead he blamed the Kulaks for hoarding

grain.? He sent out requisitioning

squads to claim what was being hoarded and deal with those who were hoarding

it.? It is unclear whether some grain

was in fact being hoarded, but certainly, that which was being hoarded was

nothing like the amount Stalin said was being hoarded.? The results were that the grain, kept by the

farmer as seed for next years harvest was seized, and those retaining seed were

accused of hoarding. Consequently, the next year there was mass famine due to

the lack of grain for planting.? All

this time, Stalin was exporting grain in order to boost Russia?s economy. In

this way Stalin avoided the blame for his failures by accusing others of

sabotage.? The need for someone to blame

led to arrest quotas. The secret police were required by Stalin to arrest a

certain number of ?saboteurs? so that propaganda could show that the failure to

meet targets set by Gosplan, targets that were unattainable, could be blamed on

sabotage. ??????????? Although

the purging of Stalin?s political opponents was partially due to Stalin?s

paranoia, it was also, as I have already mentioned, due to his fear of

opposition.? He needed a free hand if

his policies were to work.? However, his

fear of being ousted from power was not necessarily unfounded.? In 1934, at the 17th annual party

conference a vote of the party membership decided to replace Stalin with

Kirov.? There were only 3 votes against

Kirov, but 292 votes against Stalin.?

The result was that 289 votes were burned so only there were only 3

votes against each candidate.? However,

Stalin could not tolerate this popularity and rivalry.? He needed absolute power.? The result was that Nickolyev, the husband

of Kirov?s secretary, murdered Kirov in December of 1934 under orders from the

secret police.? Kirov was given a state

funeral, but Stalin set about consolidating his power by forcibly removing all

those who voted against him.? In this

way Stalin was paranoid, he was neither willing to share nor delegate power,

this was the motivation behind the centralisation of power, he wanted his power

to be undiluted and absolute.? Stalin?s

greatest fear was being ousted from his position of power before his

death.? The result was that he held

Russia in an ?iron grip?.? Another

example of his fear of losing power was the purging of the army.? In early 1937, the Germans forged a letter

from Tukhachevsky, the chief of staff in the Soviet army, to friends in

Germany, telling of plans to overthrow Stalin?s regime.? These documents were well planted by the

Germans and found by Stalin.? Stalin

then became extremely fearful for his own personal safety and his loosing

power.? The result was the purging of

the entire Russian army including the 11 Commissars for defence and 75 of the

80 members of the Supreme Military Council were executed, along with all 8

admirals and half of all the officer corps.?

The result was a severely weakened Russian army just before the

commencement of the Second World War. ?The difficulty is whether or not Stalin?s fear of loosing power

can be described as a form of paranoia.?

It is clear that in so many of the actions which historians have attributed

to Stalin?s paranoia, Stalin was at least partially justified in reacting in

the way he did.? For example, Stalin?s

obsessive fear of Trotsky was at least in part justified by the legitimacy of

Trotsky?s claim to the Russian leadership.?

The eventual murder of Trotsky by means of an ice pick through the head,

though considered by many to be brutal and unnecessary as Trotsky was no longer

a threat to the regime in South America, did prevent Trotsky informing the

world of what was really going on in Russia and consequently, may have

prevented outside intervention. Stalin was clearly paranoid about

his power within Russia being compromised or removed from him by others in the

way that he had removed power from Bucharin, Zinoviev and Kamenev along with

the other old Bolsheviks. In this way after the Kirov threat was removed it

seems that he became determined not to let any other party member come close to

gaining a similar influence and gaining a position from where it was

conceivably possible to oust him from power.?

In this way it can be said that events contributed to the repeated

purging of those who posed a potential threat to his leadership either by means

of past claims (the old Bolsheviks) or those whom appeared to oppose him and

his policies.? However, Stalin became so

paranoid about those around him attempting to remove him from power that any

hint of opposition led in many cases to over cautious purging.? Repeatedly he purged the secret police

force, and the mass purges of the army in 1937 showed how paranoid Stalin

really was about losing power to a military or political threat from within the

party.? He was not willing to allow any

other party to compromise his supreme power in anyway for fear of losing his

power. In conclusion, it seems that

Stalin?s complex character makes it difficult to highlight any single factor to

which one could contribute the great purges.?

Certainly, his paranoia played some part as many of the purges were

unnecessary to achieve the goal of removing the threat to his power.? However, in many cases, although Stalin can

be described as over-zealous in his purging, the actions taken were necessary

in order to maintain power.? The purges

of many ordinary people can also be attributed to the search for a scapegoat to

avoid the blame falling on Stalin.? Stalin?s purges did achieve his

aim by enabling Russia to become a world Superpower, however, there was a high

cost.? Many of the purges were extremely

widespread and in my opinion, many of these deaths could be described as

unnecessary and could be attributed to Stalin?s paranoia.? However, in most cases, the purges had a

motive, this was either maintenance of supreme power or else finding somebody

to blame for the failure to realise his targets. In this way, Stalin?s paranoia

was only partially to blame for the purges.?

His desire to maintain power and achieve near impossible targets to a

greater degree led to the purges of the Russian people under Stalin.