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Stalins Great Purges
Stalin’s great purges had a distressing significance during the 1930’s. The purges, in effect, started on December 1, 1934 with the murder of Sergei Kirov, a Leningrad party leader. This act, in fact, helped shut ‘Russia’s window to the West.’ These great purges brought on ugly results and severely menaced the Soviet Unions power and future. The purges were designed to expunge any threats of political resistance. ‘An important aspect of all Soviet Purges has been elimination of those minor figures whose fate was sealed by the defeat of their prosecutors.’
‘Long before the assasination of Kirov in December 1934 Stalin managed by various political maneuvers and violent means to free himself from the control of the party masses.’
Stalin was born on December 21, 1879, in the village of Gori, Georgia. He was born to Vissarion and Yekaterina Dzhugashvili. His father Vissarion, was an unsuccessful cobbler who drank heavily and beat him. When Stalin was seven, he caught smallpox, which marked him for life, and then he caught septicemia, which left his left arm slightly crippled. Stalin was one of four chilren to survive infancy.
He lived a ‘normal life’ in the 1920’s, surrounded by many relatives who freely expressed their thoughts and had good personal friends among the leaders in Russia. However, in 1932, his life took a change for the worse, arguably, after the suicide of his second wife, Nadezhda Allililuyeva who left a letter incriminating him personally and politically.
Stalin's rise to power was a combination of his ability to manipulate situations and the failure of others to prevent him from taking power, especially Leon Trotsky. Trotsky did not take advantage of several opportunities in which would have helped him to eliminate Stalin politically. When he failed to take advantage of these opportunities, Stalin schemed himself into a stronger position within the party by allying with Zinoviev and Kamnev. He manipulated them into shattering Trotsky, thus eliminating the strongest opponent in his path to power. Stalin deftly avoided potential political ruin when Lenin formulated his Testament in December 1922. This Testament illustrated what his thoughts of the future of the Party leaders and the party itself; Especially Trotsky and Stalin. Lenin foreshadowed a division in which Stalin and Trotsky would be the main details. When describing Stalin, Lenin felt that he had an unlimited authority in his hands and whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. The makeup of Lenin's Testament became more damaging to Trotsky than to Stalin. Stalin manipulated the content of the Testament to enhance his position. By mentioning Stalin as one of the prominent members of the Party, Lenin raised Stalin's greatness to that of Trotsky. The equivalent stature of apparatus
The purges were set off on December 1, 1934 with the murder of Sergei Kirov. He was a member of the Politburo, leader of the Leningrad party and had substantial influence in the ruling elite. His concern for the workers in Leningrad earned him popularity. Stalin used his murder as a pretext for launching a broad purge that would claim hundreds of thousands of victims.
No part of society was left out of danger by the purges. Anyone who caused the remotest suspicion was expunged and numerous legislatures were enacted to help enforce them. For example, a law that was passed in 1935 lowered the age for responsible criminal behavior. That meant the death penalty could be utilized on children as young as twelve.
By 1933 Stalin and supporters were not satisfied with Russia’s progress and the purge trials. ‘They indicted a whole group of industrailists who were alleged to have hindered technological advance.’ The terror is commonly thought to be the mode by which Stalin cinched his own personal power. Stalin did improve Russia’s industrial system, however, obviously had a negative effect on Russian society. Stalin used the Five Year Plans to make great strides in industrializing Russia. When he tried to equal that success with agricultural growth he met some resistance and ended up liquidating a class and causing famine. Socially, he gave some important social benefits to workers and gave women equal rights. But, he also tried to purge the country and eliminated a lot of the Party, most of the army, and a good part of the workers and peasants. Stalin made several industrial developments for his country but that does not even begin to negate the death and destruction that he caused.
One achievement that Stalin made for the Soviet Union was the Five Year Plan. Russia was lagging behind the rest of the world in that they had not had a formal Industrial Revolution. Stalin estimated that Russia was 50-100 years behind more advanced countries. The First Five Year Plan was embraced in 1929. The purpose of this plan was to increase the country’s industrial production. The plan was a major success. It was reported that the industrial product increased 250 percent, steel production increased 300 percent, production of machinery and electrical equipment 157 percent, heavy metal increased 67 percent, coal output increased 89 percent, and consumer goods increased about 73 percent
After the success of the First Five Year Plan, the Seventeenth Party Congress embraced the Second Five Year Plan in 1934. Goals of the second plan were an expansion of machine tool production, overcome the absent steel and iron, the development and production of non-ferrous metals, and the improvement and railroad lines.
By the end of the Second Five Year Plan, the Soviet Union was arising as a strong industrial country. It increased production of iron, steel, coal, and electric power. It had a whole new area o
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