Was terror the main reason why Stalin kept power in the Soviet Union?
Stalin used a variety of methods while he was ruling Russia to get the people to do what he wanted and to create an effective working force - Was terror the main reason why Stalin kept power in the Soviet Union? introduction. He also used these methods as a way to keep power in the Soviet Union. Terror played a major role in his method of keeping power. This essay will show the significance of it and sort the terror from the persuasion. In 1934 outside congress Sergei Kirov a leading communist was murdered. This was the beginning of what became know as the Great Purges.
The murder, ordered by Stalin was planned because Stalin thought that many of the people in his party were getting to close to power and he did not want any one who could cause influence in the party. Of course Stalin said that Kirov was murdered by a conspiracy out of his control. The purges meant that anyone who Stalin thought could cause influence would be arrested and killed. This meant that Stalin killed politicians but he also killed musicians and singers and artists. Stalin thought that an artist, for example, could cause trouble by painting a picture.
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Therefore any one who could potentially bring together a conspiracy against Stalin was killed. An example of his paranoia is when Stalin was giving a speech to the factory workers. After the speech the workers clapped for eleven minutes because they were afraid that if they stopped they would be seen as traitors. They were right; when the first person stopped and sat down he was arrested and killed. A major event in the Purges was when Trotsky was murdered in Mexico. In 1940 Trotsky was killed by one of Stalin’s agents.
This was because Stalin did not want Trotsky spreading things in other countries and stirring up trouble. Stalin knew that if Stalin managed this war was inevitable. Trotsky had been a big influence in Russia before Stalin and many people thought that he had good ideas; it was surprising that such a big influence in Russia lost popularity so quickly. Stalin also used the Purges in a long term effect. He suppressed the people so much that they were working harder than ever because they knew if they didn’t that they too would be arrested or killed.
In the short term he was getting rid of people who he thought could defy him, in the long term he was opening the way for his power. Even if they had wanted to no one dared to speak out against Stalin, no one was allowed any independent ideas. It was almost blackmail as Stalin was telling the people through his violence if they did speak out they would be killed. Stalin also used the purges to gain popularity. For example, he killed thousands of officer and men from the Army and for a while the Russian Army was very poor, made up of poorly trained men and little weaponry.
Stalin killed these men because most of them had fought under the Tsar and knew that if troops were left on the front popularity would drop. Stalin’s idea was to replace these people with newly trained men who had a great support for the Soviet Union and would keep on fighting for the Russia even if morale was low and would always support Stalin. If left under the old Tsar’s troops if morale dropped they could undermine Stalin and kick him out of power. Another tactic that Stalin employed was getting rid of the “Kulaks” or richer peasants. Stalin did this so that collectivisation would work.
He needed to make all the peasants equal. Russia did not have the money to help the poorer peasants so the Kulaks were disbanded. Many of them were killed but a few were starved to death as they did not want to join the collective farming. Collectivisation meant that the farmers had to give everything they owned to the government who were running the farms. The Kulaks did not like this so they refused to work, instead they starved. The purges helped Stalin because it forced the people into a false sense of security. They were forced to like him or they would be killed.
He was able to keep power because no one dared to go against him and he had got rid of all the people that could stir up any trouble. The people were oppressed to do what he wanted because they had no other choice. Although many people died and it was a very harsh way of doing it was effective to keep Stalin in power because no one could go against him and if they did they would be killed by the Secret Police. Stalin also used other methods to terrorise the people. Stalin staged trials after he had arrested people and accused them of things they could not have possibly done. These were called the “Show Trials”.
Stalin could have just put the accused in prison or executed them without the trials but he did not use them to find who was guilty as he would put them in prison anyway. He used them to show other people what would happen if they stepped out of line. Stalin was able to accuse these people of things they could not have done because no on e was able to stop him doing so therefore he was able to get them out of the way. Stalin also did the show trials because if another country stepped in and said that he was not ruling the country right then he could say that he was giving them a “fair” trial which, of course, he was not.
For example, if the League of Nations stepped in Stalin could say he was giving fair trials and would not let them inspect the country. The show trials were also important because many people confessed to the supposed crimes in a hope to get a shorter sentence. From the outside this looks as though these people did do the crimes so no not could say that they were not. Stalin also used censorship as a form of terror, he did this by censoring what was able to be published and what people were allowed to read.
This had a big effect in schools in subjects such as history because some of the truth was not allowed to be told because it would mean that the children learning would question Stalin’s hold on power. It also had an effect because it was not just in books it was music and paintings. If Stalin did not have them killed then they would have to have a censor and any material that was supposedly irrelevant or was considered wrong would be taken out and the writer or artist may have been arrested if the subject matter was considered over the top.
Stalin also censored many pictures especially those that depicted old party members. This became important when teaching about History because the truth was cut out and the pupils were being taught what was wrong but they knew no better. Pictures often showed Stalin with Lenin as to offer a comparison and to say that they liked each other; if people liked Lenin they would like Stalin too. On the other hand Stalin’s method of terror may have hindered Russia because the people were in fear of being arrested they would work harder but would not put as much care in to what as being produced.
This means that the quality of the produce would go down. Terror could also hold the country back because thousands of people were being arrested and killed that even though there were still millions of people, the skilled people and the factory managers were being arrested and killed. Therefore there were not so much people working in the factories which on a large scale and in the long term means that the amount of produce would go down and Russia’s economic status would fall.
Stalin desperately needed to catch up with the rest of Europe. Stalin felt he could only do this using force. Linking back to the idea of Stalin getting rid of all the officers from the army he did not do this just by force but also by propaganda. He created an image of the ideal Communist Worker and fighter, who was heroic and would always fight for Russia. This was Stalin’s method of persuasion. Stalin used propaganda everywhere, in the factories, in the Army and in the country where he needed to boost the idea of collectivisation.
This inspired many Russian workers, me and women to work harder because Stalin had created the image of a new industrialised Soviet Union. At the start of the First Five Year Plan propaganda was basically what made the workers work. This was because they realised that if they work they would be better off. But this was only put into their minds by the posters not by speeches. Stalin also used other methods of persuasion, such as in the schools. Stalin created a policy that meant the schools had to teach about the new way in which the Soviet Union was to be built and to educate them into Communism.
This was a subtle approach because Stalin was educating them in communism even though they did not know. Another thing is they could not do anything about it because they were forced to go to school and if they did not they would probably be arrested by the Secret Police. Stalin also got rid of religion. The Russian Orthodox Church had been a strong supporter of the Tsar and Stalin did not want the wrong ideas being spread. The Communist Party started to take over the land the church owned and the properties too which became great assets for the party.
He did not terrorise the people not to go to church but simply persuaded them not to and backed it up with the fact that if they did try to they would be arrested on the charges of conspiracy. But he did terrorise the priests and clergy, they were either murdered or exiled. In 1939 churches were banned from all activity apart from leading worship. If Stalin had not done these things then people’s lives would be taken up with other things and over a long period of time Russia’s industrial side would have gone down.
It is also possible that people would get the wrong ideas about Stalin and would try and would try to revolt but this was unlikely because the Secret police would put any conspiracies down before then, such things only existed in Stalin’s paranoia. These things helped Stalin because he was able to make the people do what he wanted without using force. The more force he put on them the more could be forced back in rebellion, I was good that he was able to control the people without such force. The persuasion also links in with the terror.
An example of this is when in 1936 a picture was produced showing Stalin holding a little girl called Gelya Markizova. Stalin had her parents both killed yet this did not stop him using her for propaganda. The picture shows Stalin holding the girl with flowers. It is supposed to show Stalin as a Father like figure who is encouraging the country and is not terrorising it. Another method of persuasion was the displays and parades that Stalin put on. This persuasion was more than anything because Stalin produced massive displays of his military power to make people think that the USSR was great.
Every year on the first of May a huge display would be organised. It would make people happy because it would push them to think that they had achieved a lot by collectivisation and the economic boost that the USSR had achieved. It also had an effect on other countries. Anyone who heard about these parades and shows from another country or were visiting would realise that Russia had achieved a lot since the Tsar had left. It was also a subtle message to the other countries and in effect saying, “we may be poorer than you but don’t mess with us”. Stalin also used the media to great effect.
This ties in with the propaganda because some of the pictures were censored. But Stalin also used radio to great effect; he did this by giving speeches. This was also another major effect that let him keep power because without it Stalin would not have been able to broadcast all through Russia. That way he would not be able to keep popularity in different places, especially in the country where many Peasants were angry with the way that the farms were being run. There are many ways in which Stalin was able to control the country and to keep power.
Terror was one of the main reasons why Stalin was able to keep power in the USSR. Stalin used terror to get the message across to the people that he was boss and also because he realised they needed to work hard to achieve the new Soviet Union that everyone was hoping for which by the end they almost achieved. Another reason why Stalin used terror is that even though he had the Radio he did not have the power of inspiration and a way with words compared to someone like Hitler who was able to give inspiring speeches to his people and trick them into a false sense of security.
Stalin used the purges because, as many people would say, he was paranoid that if he did not employ a policy of terror on the people they would conspire and plot against him. I think that the most important reason why Stalin was able to keep power was terror because if Stalin employed a policy of terror no on could intervene. This is because if any one tried to do anything to get rid of Stalin such as cause trouble and start riots then he would just have them put down using the secret police. The people were suppressed so much that they could not do anything.
Many people saw what had happened to others and were frightened of it happening to them so they just put up with it. Persuasion was only used by Stalin to make it seem as though he was being kind to the people. If another European Country challenged Stalin he could just say that he was encouraging the people. It would not have mattered if Stalin had not used persuasion because he was using so little of it and he was using so much terror that not many people cared or noticed that Stalin was using other methods to control the country apart from terror.
But persuasion does have some significance because it played a major part in education and learning. Without it Stain would have to employ terror on social life and the schools and not just at work. This would not help the country because many people would think that something had to be done about the terror and the purges. Terrorism is the most important reason and the main reason why Stalin was able to keep power because it suppressed the people and so they did not dare to speak out against him. If they did then Stalin would have him killed.
It was an efficient tactic for Stalin because it meant that there was no way in which the people, even if they united would throw Stalin out of power, especially since Stalin had the Army in his side. If Stalin had just used persuasion then the people would not have worked hard enough and the idea of the new USSR would not have been created. Someone would have thought that Stalin was not pushing the country hard enough so they would have conspired against Stalin and he would not have been able to do anything about it since he would not have had the support of the Army or the NKVD (secret police).
Another reason why Stalin used power is that the Army would not have been effective meaning that when war broke out in 1941. Even though Russia’s army was not prepared for the German attack they were more organised than they would be if Stalin had not purged them because many of the old troops may not have fought for Stalin. It was only by applying terror that Russia was able to hold together and push the germans back out of the country. This is why terror was the most important reason why Stalin kept power and because after the Second World War Stalin was still in power.