Why Did Stalin Emerge as Leader in 1928-29?

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Lenin left no clear indication of who would succeed him, and following Lenin’s death in 1924, there were five main contenders; Stalin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev and Kamenev. There were many reasons why Stalin became leader of the soviet Russia in 1928 including Stalin’s personality along with other factors such as his use of devious tactics, his ability to stay neutral amongst the party and then picking the correct side when necessary and final his position within the Communist Party all contributed to Stalin emerging as leader in 1928-29.

Stalin’s personality was a very important factor, which led to Stalin emerging as leader. Unlike his opponents, Stalin was man of moderation and was referred to as ‘the grey blur’, whereas his opponents had more extreme positions within the party. This was demonstrated through his minor role in the Russian Civil War. However, his peasant upbringing enabled Stalin to understand how normal Russian people thought and what they wanted. This meant that Stalin knew how to get the ordinary people on his side and therefore led to increase support for him and for this reason Stalin’s personality is an important reason for him emerging as leader in 1928-29. In addition to this, he had a good reputation with Lenin. However, this did not prevent him from disobeying Lenin’s order when he fell ill. Nonetheless, Stalin’s reputation was not hurt by this too much as Lenin’s instruction to have Stalin sacked was not widely known as it was written in his testament, and as a result of Lenin criticising other party members in this, his testament was kept secret. As a vast majority of the Communist Party never learned of Lenin’s decision, due to him persuading Zinoviev and Kamenev to argue for Lenin’s testament not to be published, he wasn’t sacked from the party meaning Stalin was able to use more tactics, resulting in him emerging as leader in 1928-29.

Stalin’s use of devious tactics allowed him to gain an advantage over his opponents at the moments when there was a leadership struggle. His opponents in the power struggle had an intellectual advantage over Stalin and therefore Stalin used his tactics to discredit his opponents. The contenders for power were able to show their loyalty at Lenin’s funeral in 1924, Stalin told Trotsky the wrong date for the funeral and as a result made Trotsky look like he was being disloyal to Lenin. This is an example of how Stalin’s willingness to use tactic worked to his advantage as it allowed his to discredit Trotsky who was his opponent for the position of leader. This made Trotsky emerging as leader less likely and therefore helped him become leader. He also made sure that Bukharin’s plane was delayed twice so that Bukharin would miss the meeting of the Central Committee. In doing this, Stalin was able to prevent Bukharin from extending his


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