Stalin: History in an Hour
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Arguably no person in history had such a direct and negative impact on the lives of so many as Joseph Stalin. Under the Red Tsar terror knew no limits, it did not discriminate; no one was safe, no institution, no single town or village was immune. Yet, following his death in 1953, Stalin was deeply mourned. He had "received the country with a wooden plough, and left it with a nuclear missile shield." And no-one else, some claimed, could have led the Soviet Union to victory in the Second World War.
So who was Joseph Stalin, what was his role during the Russian Revolution; how did he come to power, what made him such a destructive tyrant, and how did he impose his will on the Soviet Union for so long? Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour....
The defeat of the Germans at the Battle of Stalingrad in February 1943 proved to be the turning point of the war. In the pursuit of victory, Stalin was concerned by little else, including the mass rapes committed by his men while advancing across Germany. He once asked the Yugoslavian communist, Milovan Djilas, ‘What is so awful in [the Soviet soldier] amusing himself with a woman? The important thing is that the Red Army fights Germans … the rest doesn’t matter.’ Stalin, Roosevelt and
revolution’. Certainly, Stalin, working for Lenin, organised things from behind the scenes, quietly and effectively. In later years, this auxiliary role was not enough for Stalin and he went to great lengths to rewrite the history of the Revolution, exaggerating his role to the point he was at the forefront of events, second only to Lenin throughout the years of revolutionary struggle. Yet as late as 1915, Lenin had difficulty remembering Stalin’s real name. In a letter to a Bolshevik colleague,
allowed to take place in an Orthodox church, he reputedly said, ‘this creature softened my heart of stone. She’s died and with her have died my last warm feelings for humanity.’ He ignored his son, who was brought up by the Svanidzes. In later years, Stalin ordered the arrest and execution of much of Kato’s family, including, in 1941, her brother, Alexander Svanidze, an old school friend of Stalin’s, who, thirty-five years before, had introduced him to his sister. In 1907, Stalin participated in
White Sea to the north. Working in brutal conditions with a mortality rate of almost 10 per cent, its completion in August 1933, four months ahead of schedule, was heralded as a feat of Soviet ingenuity and engineering. It was rarely mentioned that at 11-ft deep it was unusable by all but the smallest of boats. Congress of Victors The Seventeenth Party Congress, held in the Kremlin between 26 January and 10 February 1934, was hailed as the Congress of Victors, such was the Stalin’s apparent
composition of the new Central Committee. Delegates had to cross out the names of those they were voting against. Kirov attracted only three negative votes, while Stalin had at least one hundred and, according to some sources, up to 300. The voting slips were anonymous so Stalin had no idea who had voted against him but it fed his paranoia that he was surrounded by traitors. A year earlier, Kirov had successfully opposed Stalin on the issue of Martemyan Ryutin, a former Party colleague. Ryutin