Stalin's Rise to Power

Stalin's rise to power! Very brief, look up in your own notes to elaborate :)

Background! (Overview of Stalin)

  • October 1917 - Bolshevik revolution, Lenin in power.
  • 1918 - 22 - involving the Red Army (Trotsky) and the White army - Trotskys success wins him much respect and he instantly becomes favourite to take over from Lenin.
  • 1922 - Lenin falls ill - Zinoviev, kamenev and Stalin forming a triumvirate in order to block Trotsky from gaining power over the USSR. Very foolish as this gave Stalin the support he needed to come out on top.


  • Secretary of the party - This allowed him to place people in positions of power, which in turn meant they owed him their jobs. Giving Stalin power over most people.
  • Stalin quietly and gradually gained power - He was very under estimated.
  • Stalin was also very lucky, cunning and a brilliant orator.
  • He also created a false image, making it seem as if he was very close with Lenin, eventhough in 1923/4 they argued as Stalin slated Lenin's wife. Lenin knew the real Stalin - he was never fooled.
1 of 6

Death of Lenin (1924)

The death of Lenin was essential to Stalin's success - Although it could have been potentially devistating due to 'Lenin's Testament':

  • At the time of Lenin's death, Trotsky was also suffering from a psychosomatic illness and was currently our of the country recieving treatment (disguised as a holiday) - stalin used this to his advantage.
  • Trotsky foolishly asked Stalin when lenin's funeral was - as Lenin was so respected it was essential all USSR party members were present to show their dedication to Lenin. However Stalin told Trotsky the funeral was on a different date, causing him to miss the funeral making his reputation suffer.

Following this 'Lenin's Testament' was released:

  • The testament was embarrasing. All USSR party members were not spoke of nicely, due to this it was never released.
  • In the testament, Lenin requested that Stalin would be removed from his postition, but as it was ignored this never happened. Had it happened Stalin would have never came to power. This illustrates Stalin's luck during the power struggle.
2 of 6

How Stalin used Lenin to gain respect.

This is very VERY important - In my personal opinion it is the main reason for Stalin's success.

  • Stalin was aware of the respect the USSR had for Lenin, and he abused this.
  • Stalin re-invented himself and claimed to be a 'Lenin desiple' - He always claimed that Lenin wanted the same things as he did - it was his way of gaining followers and leading them away from Trotsky.
  • Stalin wrote a book called 'Foundation of Leninism' to show his 'dedication' to Lenin. He also created dolls and so in in order to promote Leninism.
  • Trotsky disapproved of all of this - this made Trotsky look bad.
  • Stalin made out that anyone who disliked Stalin's creation of Leninism, didn't like Lenin.
3 of 6

What did they all want to do with the USSR?

  • At the time of the power struggle, the NEP was the current policy in place. It was enforced as a temporary measure by Lenin during the Civil war.
  • The NEP created Kulaks, which many people did not approve of.
  • Following Lenin's death the party was split into two oppostiions, the Left (Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev) who wanted to get rid of the NEP and the Right (Bukharin, Tomsky and Rykov) who wanted to keep the NEP.
  • Stalin stayed away from either side, he was very much on the fence. The only time he did take up any policy was in order to eliminate the opposition. He only did this when it suited him.
  • Trotsky wanted Permenant Revolution. This was something that no one else seemed to want, again making himself even more un-popular.
  • Stalin wanted Socialism in One Country. This meant he wanted Russia's main priority to be Russia. People liked this as they felt as if they were being considered. A very clever move by Stalin.
  • Stalin eventually joined the right to eliminate the left, especially Trotsky.
  • Once they were defeated he took up the Right's policies to eliminate the left's. Leaving Stalin alone to run the USSR.
4 of 6

Why did Stalin win?


  • He knew what people wanted - and how to make them think they had it. He knew what would appeal to people.
  • He exploited the mistakes and misfortunes of others.
  • Very intelligent, Cunning and Sly. His past influenced him to gain power.
  • He was also very lucky to even get his first job. If it hadn't of been for Jacob Sverdlov dying, he would have never gained his seat as secretary. Also the luck of Lenin's testament not being obeyed.
  • His powerful position of General secretary also helped him a lot.
  • He eliminated all rivals.
5 of 6

Why did Trotsky and the others fail?


  • Very Naive and he underestimated Stalin.
  • In 1926 he resigned as General Commissar of War - very bad move. he gave up a lot of power and influence that he needed.
  • He was not very good at picking up on the current issues, meaning he never really knew what the people wanted or how to please them.
  • He was very dim for an intellectual.
  • Was not a very good Orator, he rarely got his points accross correctly.


  • They all underestimated Stalin.
  • Zinoviev and Kamenev foolishly formed a triumvirate with Stalin - giving Stalin more power. had they not just though of him as 'commerade card index' they may have been able to prevent Stalin's rise to power.
  • Everyone was convinced Trotsky was the threat, when infact it wasn't.
  • They all made a error of judgement by not releasing Lenin's testament.
6 of 6


Carrieanne Hayes


Awesome :)



Good One Caz , I Printed Them Off To Look Over Tomorro. :D **

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Russia - 19th and 20th century resources »