Unit 1 Edexcel Stalin's Russia 1924 - 53

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Unit 1D4: Stalin's Russia, 192453
A: The Struggle for Power
Lenin was very ill for many months before his death in January 1924. During this time the Party elite
continued running the country. There was no mechanism for replacing Lenin.
Stalin was given responsibility for supervising Lenin's treatment by the Central Committee. No one
visited Lenin as much as Stalin. However, Stalin offended Lenin by being rude to his wife.
Lenin and Stalin also disagreed about foreign trade, which Lenin wanted to keep in the hands of the
government, but Stalin wanted to relax. Lenin also disagreed with Stalin's treatment of the
independence movement in Georgia, which had been suppressed.
Lenin died January 1924. The Politburo ­ Rykov, Tomsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Trotsky and Stalin
announced their intention of ruling as a collective leadership.
Stalin put Trotsky at a disadvantage by appearing at Lenin's funeral as chief mourner and delivering the
oration. Trotsky later claimed that Stalin had given him the wrong date, so he did not attend the funeral.
This was the beginning of Stalin's successful promotion of the `cult of Lenin' and `Leninism'. Stalin
successfully associated himself with the authority and philosophy of Lenin. He portrayed himself as
Lenin's disciple.
May 1924 Thirteenth Party Congress. The content of Lenin's Political Testament was revealed secretly
to representatives of the party at a closed meeting.
The Political Testament was very critical of Stalin and recommended that he be removed form his
position as General Secretary of the Party. Stalin offered to resign but was defended by Zinoviev and
Zinoviev and Kamenev backed Stalin not because they supported him, but because they were afraid of
Trotsky Stalin was not seen as a threat in the way Trotsky was. This Triumvirate of these three leaders
came together to keep Trotsky out of power.
Why was Trotsky unpopular?
Trotsky had a power base in the Red Army many Bolsheviks were afraid that he would become a
military dictator.
Trotsky was also personally unpopular he was highly intellectual and had a reputation for arrogance.
He did not make alliances with his colleagues.
Trotsky had been a Menshevik and his late conversion to Bolshevism counted against him.
He was violently opposed to the growth of the Party bureaucracy, which Stalin headed and gave many
people comfortable jobs.
He also had ideas that appeared dangerous he believed that the USSR should try to ferment revolution
in other states because Russia could only be successful if supported by proletarian revolutions in the

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He also advocated a radical solution to economic problems, opposed NEP and believed that the
peasants should be treated more vigorously and forced to produce more.
Lenin's political Testament was `shelved' it was not made public and quietly ignored.
Why had Stalin amassed such power by 1924?
People's Commissar for Nationalities 1917. This put Stalin in control of the regions of the former
Russian Empire that contained minority national groups, half the population of the USSR.…read more

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There was a great need to promote economic growth and industrialisation ­ no one disagreed about
that. The USSR had to invest in industry and the only place this investment could come from was by a
transfer of resources from agriculture to industry.
The Left Communists were against NEP. They argued that the peasants benefited at the expense of the
proletariat. They were in favour of ending NEP immediately.…read more

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The defeat of the Right
Stalin had appeared to take the side of the Right in the struggle with the Left, but this was a tactical
manoeuvre and did not necessarily reflect his ideological position.
1927 poor harvest. January 1928 Stalin visited western Siberia. He was convinced that the kulaks
were keeping grain from the market to keep up prices. Stalin had police officials with him and he
ordered the confiscation of grain he was abandoning NEP.…read more

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Stalin's control over personnel through the Party secretariat permitted him to sack those who sided
with the opposition. Every time a leading politician lost, this would be followed by a purge of his
The central influence over local Party affairs resulted in delegates who supported Stalin's line being
elected to Party Congresses and the Central Committee. Stalin was consistently able to win votes
against his opposition at Party Congresses.
Lenin, at the 10th Party Congress (1921), had forced through the ban on factionalism.…read more

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Stalin was now dominant in the Party.
He had outmanoeuvred all potential leadership rivals. He controlled the Party apparatus, and had done
so since 1922, so many people in the Party owed their positions to him.
The economy had been recovering well under the NEP, although there had been a major crisis over
grain procurement in 19278.
The peasants were growing plenty of grain, but they were not selling it to the State at the low prices on
offer.…read more

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As well as capital from the countryside, the workers needed in the new towns and industries would
have to come from the countryside, so it was imperative to grow more food with fewer workers.
Some items needed for Industrialisation needed to be imported from the West, and could only be paid
for in the short term by food exports, again increasing the need to raise productivity in the countryside.
Of course the peasants were happy to produce more food.…read more

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B: Transforming the Soviet Union
The debate about agricultural change
Some argued that the peasants should be encouraged to grow more and sell more grain by giving them
fairer prices.
This might take longer to create capital for investment and industry would have to make the goods
peasants wanted to buy, but that way a sound economy would develop.
The peasants would gradually be won over by the benefits of Socialism and a new, fair society would
emerge.…read more

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After the harvest of 1929 there was a great campaign to collectivise. Peasants were supposed to vote
on collectivisation, but in most cases it was forced through by party officials.
What were the effects of Collectivisation?
Between November 1929 and March 1930 60% of all farms were collectivised. Opponents were
labelled Kulaks and were transported to the Gulags or arrested and shot.
At no time was a definition of who was a Kulak actually stated.…read more

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The reality was that somewhere between 3 and 4 million people starved to death, in order to fuel
The harvest of 1935 was better. Private plots were allowed, so peasants could keep one cow, some
chickens and grow some vegetables.
This was an attempt to stop peasants killing off all their livestock rather than hand it over to the
collective farm.…read more


terry krigas

Very good resource for revision or consolidation of facts.

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