Control of the People - Stalin

Mass Media

  • Stalin censored media even further. He made sure to undermine his rivals, ignore his failures and promote his successes.
  • In 1938 he edited and published two history books, rewriting history and his role in the revolution.
  • The writings of his rivals were purged from libraries in the mid-1920s. This included the work of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev.
  • No bad news could be published. News of natural disasters, industrial accidents and bad weather was all omitted.
  • Writings of Lenin were edited in order to remove any compliments about Stalin's rivals and make the relationship between them appear even closer.
  • From 1928, Glavlit controlled media access to economic data, so the media couldn't see the true effects of Stalin's economic policies.
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  • Stalin used the cult of personality far more extensively than Lenin.
  • 'The Myth of the Two Leaders' was a fundamental part of the cult. This made it appear as if Lenin and Stalin had jointly planned the October Revolution and the Russian Civil War. Photographs were altered and Stalin's books were published to back it up.
  • During the Second World War, Stalin was portrayed as a fearless military leader. He was often referred to as Generalissimo.
  • He was also called the Vozhd, which is Russian for leader. Although this wasn't an official role, it made Stalin's power appear even more extensive.
  • The idea that Stalin was Lenin's natural successor was also emphasised. The painting "Leader, Teacher, Friend" shows Stalin standing in front of a bust of Lenin.
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  • Stalin was pragmatic in his approach to religion. If it interferred with his policies, only then did he act against it.
  • He closed many Russian Orthodox churches during Collectivisation, as they were helping peasants to hoard grain.
  • During World War Two, Stalin realised that religion had the power to inspire to a greater extent than communism. He reopened 414 churches and promised to end the censorship of religious publications.
  • Religious minorities often challenged Stalin's authority. He set targets for the number of each minority that he wanted purged. Jadid and Sufi Muslims were attacked. By 1936, Sufi groups had been virtually eliminated in Turkestan.
  • Stalins influence led to the priesthood expanding from 9254 in 1946 to 11827 in 1948.
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  • Stalin used terror more extensively than Lenin.
  • He set up a new secret police force in 1934 called the NKVD. The head of it was Yagoda, who arrested Zinoviev and Kamenev, but he wasn't brutal enough, so was replaced by Yezhov in 1938.
  • Stalin and Yezhov planned the Great Terror (1934-40) together. 
  • Between 1937 and 1938, around 1.5 million people (10% of the adult male population) were arrested. 680,000 were executed and the rest were deported to Siberia, where many died anyway.
  • Numerous groups were targeted, including those who had worked under Stalin's rivals, senior military leaders, leaders of industry, anyone who opposed his policies and normal people who showed signs of disloyalty.
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  • Stalin was suspicious of any foreign culture, especially the Western influence on fashion and music. He said that it encouraged people to be sexually promiscuous, and used the NKVD to close down jazz parties.
  • He encouraged the style of Socialist Realism. This was supposed to gain support for socialism, by giving a socialist take on depictions of everyday life.
  • Avant-garde art lost its influence under Stalin as it was thought that the workers didnt understand it.
  • Stalin used art to promote his policies. For example, the painting "In the Storm of the Third Year of the Five Year Plan."
  • There was some limited dissent from artists. They mainly did this by making art that praised Lenin, not Stalin. For example, Vezov created a film trilogy in 1934 called "Three Songs About Lenin" which barely mentioned Stalin.
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