AQA AS History - Stalin's rise to power revision

Revision notes on Stalin's rise to power, as part of AS History - The impact of Stalin's Leadership in the USSR, 1924 - 1941. Hope it is helpful! :)

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The Impact of Stalin's Leadership in the USSR, 1924 ­ 41
­ AQA AS History
Stalin's rise to power
Stalin's rise to power did not begin after the death of Lenin, as his positions within the party
had given already given his influence ­ perhaps the most significant position was being
General Secretary of the Party, which he was given in 1922. It is doubtful whether the
potential for influence given by this position was recognised at time of Stalin's appointment
Stalin also had another major strength ­ he was very close to Lenin during his final months
and virtually controlled access to the sick leader. He even has his office bugged in order to
gain info ­ possibly an early sign of the paranoia so evident in the 1930s
He also compiled reports on other prominent Communists, including those who were to be
his main rivals for power and influence
The massive increase in party membership begun in 1923 ­ the socalled `Lenin Enrolment'
­ was managed by Stalin. This meant that the new recruits owed loyalty to Stalin, but even
so, Stalin was shrewd enough to keep out of major controversy
After Lenin's death, Stalin built up the cult of Lenin before promoting himself as Lenin's
successor
Struggle for power
The struggle for power was partly about policy and partly about personalities ­ Stalin
won both of these battles
The policies which he introduced or became associated with were more in keeping with
soviet needs at the time than those of his rivals. Personalities ­ Stalin was more than a
match for other leading Communists (Notably Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky and
Bukharin) although they failed to realise this until it was too late
Stalin's `intellectual' rivals didn't understand why they were defeated by Stalin ­ partly
because they were vain and patronising towards him and underestimated both his
ruthlessness and his abilities
They also doubted his intellectual ability and the coarseness that came from his Georgian
background. Comments from those such as Trotsky (`grey blur', `comrade cardindex'
and `archmediocrity') betrayed their shortsightedness
These interpretations of Stalin were to influence generations of historians ­ tend to focus
on his ruthlessness seen in his early revolutionary days when he organised violent bank
raids to get money for the party
Ruthlessness was a key feature but sometimes overshadowed his other qualities

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Stalin's rise to power was a combination of political and personal ability, ambition, luck,
and the mistakes and miscalculations of others
Political and personal ability
1924 ­ Stalin was already in a powerful position. He was...
General Secretary ­ he ran the party machine. Occupied probably the most
powerful position in the USSR and could decide promotions to party positions
Politburo ­ Stalin was involved in a group of leading Communists who met regularly
to make policy. They were the decision makers of the USSR.…read more

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Ambition
Stalin gave few indications until the late 1920's that he was aiming for power
Risen to prominence under Lenin because he was counted on to `get things done',
not because he was regarded as a potential leader
Later commentators have credited him with a lust for power and with unbridled
attention
Difficult to believe he was driven from a desire of power alone ­ must have realised
he was at least the equal of his rivals, so then showed the drive to get to…read more

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Also seemed to have an even larger profile than Stalin himself
However, he was no match for Stalin and his ambitions were crushed by the mid1920s,
although he never accepted this fact until much later, if at all…read more

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