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Was Stalin a good leader?
A question that could not be answered at his times “no he is a bad leader” but these days noone can refer to him as a good leader after evaluating all the facts. He came to power by knowing the general secretary who informed him about everything that was going on in the party a made sure all the posts were filled with Stalin’s supporters. He menaged to put trough the command economy but the kulaks burnt their crops and killed their animals rather than handing them over. This was the first part of the 5-year plan. Factories were given a target, which was to be met every year for five years. As a result of Sergei’s Kirov murder (communist party leader) “the purges” were initiated by Stalin, which lead to 7 million people disappearing. The leading Bolsheviks were given “show trials” where they were forced to confess to ridiculous crimes, which they couldn’t have possibly committed. In 1930’s Stalin began to rewrite the history of Russia. After all a leader that gets his post by filling all the government posts with his own people and eliminating everyone that could be of smallest harm and making millions starve to death can not be referred to as a good leader.
A good leader would welcome opposition but Stalin got rid of all of his political enemies and filled all the posts with his supporters. He managed to do this by knowing the General Secretary who informed him about everything that was going on in the party. When the other leaders discovered what was going on it was too late to do anything about it. In 1922 Lenin wrote a "Political Testament". In it he said that Trotsky should become the leader of Russia after him. Lenin also suggested that the other Bolshevik leaders should find a way of getting rid of Stalin. However, when the will was given to the Bolshevik leaders after Lenin's death in 1924, they decided not to publish it, because they did not want Trotsky to take over. He was unpopular. This was probably the biggest mistake that the Bolsheviks have done throughout their reign in Russia. Between 1924 and 1929 Stalin managed to force most of the other leading Bolsheviks out of power. He sided with one group and then another, gradually isolating the other leading Bolsheviks and making sure that he was the only and the true Leader of Russia. Stalin's main target was Trotsky, who left the Soviet Union (as Russia was now called) for good in 1929. The others, like Kamenev, Bukharin and Zinoviev retired from their posts.

Stalin used his support throughout the country to undermine his opponents and backed one against the other. By 1928 he had total control. Stalin persuaded the nation to believe that major economical reforms were necessary in order for Russia to catch up after the western world but a question that arises here again is were these dramatical and in many ways brutal changes necessary and in place? Stalin believed that Russia was one hundred years behind the West and had to catch up as quickly as possible. This could only be achieved by creating a “command economy” and forcing farmers and industry to modernize. He ended the Lenin’s New Economic Policy and began to force all peasants to join Collective Farms. Peasants had to pool their machinery and livestock on large farms, which were controlled, by the state. Five million richer peasants, Kulaks, were murdered or starved to death. On the Collective farms, peasants were forced to hand over their produce to the government and were either paid wages or had to feed themselves on whatever was left over. The ensuing result was a devastating famine. Kulaks burnt their crops and killed their animals, rather than hand them over. Five million people starved to death and the agricultural production fell by 15 % between 1932 and 1934. Collectivization was part of the first five-year Plan. This was an attempt to modernize industry by the state taking over all firms and businesses. Each business or factory was given a target that it had to meet every year for five-year period. The targets were worked by the “gosplan” in Moscow. The First Five year plan was actually cut to four years to make people work harder. Punishment for failing to meet targets was severe. Managers of factories could be executed. Workers were forced to work longer hours and were not allowed to change their jobs. Being away from work became a crime. Many factories faked production figures, or disregarded the quality of goods produced. So long as the numbers were right, nothing else mattered. It was estimated that half of all tractors made in the 1930s broke down. Overall the first three Five Year Plans, which ran from 1928 to 1941, increased industrial production by about 400%, but how much of that increase was genuine is very difficult to say. Those who did not agree with Stalin’s methods ended up in labor camps called Gulags. These were very often in Siberia where the weather in winter was very cold, and were forced to work there with little food for many years. Many died here from exhaustion.

A person with Stalin’s paranoid thinking and his way of “taking care of business” is just not right to have such a power as Stalin did. He was an extreme paranoid and was scared that everyone around him was either against him or would turn out to be against him and the only way to get rid of the suspects was to kill them. Nobody felt safe around Stalin and even his own family feared him. In December 1934 Sergei Kirov, the Communist Party leader in Leningrad, was murdered. It is now widely believed that his murder was ordered by Stalin, who was frightened, because Kirov appeared to be more popular than he was. Stalin blamed Kirov's death on foreign powers, the exiled Trotsky, and the moderates and ordered the "purification" of the party. As a result of this murder Stalin initiated 'the Purges' as a means of removing any perceived opposition. In fact one of the first persons to be eliminated by the purges was Stalin’s wife which just proves how paranoid he was. From 1934 to 1938 at least 7,000,000 people disappeared. These included the Bolshevik leaders whom he had forced out from 1925 to 1927, poets, scientists, managers of industries who did not meet their targets for production and millions of ordinary Soviet citizens, who often did not know what they had done to anger Stalin. Local units of secret police were even ordered to arrest a certain percentage of the people in their districts. Most of the senior officers in the Red Army and the Red Navy were also executed. The leading Bolsheviks were given "Show Trials", where they were forced to confess to ridiculous crimes which they could not possibly have committed. In the 1930s Stalin began to rewrite the history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century - school books and encyclopaedias were destroyed or altered, and children in school had to paste over pages in their books with the new versions of what had happened. This became known as the "Revision of History". Stalin wanted to build himself up to be all-powerful and stop anyone opposing his ideas. This became known as the "Cult of Personality". Stalin made out that he was a superman who never made any mistakes. He was called the "wisest man alive", and the "genius of the age". It is an irony of time that Stalin after being the wisest man on earth and the genius of the his age is no more known as a good leader but infect is known as one of the worst and cruelest dictators of the human history.

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The great purge, http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/node86.html#SECTION001000000000000000000 (16.11.2001)
Another view of Stalin, http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/book.html (16.11.2001).
Joseph Stalin, http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/stalin.htm (20.11.2001).
How Lenin led to Stalin, http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws91/lenin33.html (20.11.2001).

http://ftp.bbc.co.uk/education/modern/stalin/stalihtm.htm#q1 - ftp.bbc.co.uk/education/modern/stalin/stalihtm.htm#q1
http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/node14.html#SECTION00500000000000000000 - www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/node14.html#SECTION00500000000000000000
http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/node86.html#SECTION001000000000000000000 - www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/node86.html#SECTION001000000000000000000
http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/book.html - www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/book.html
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/stalin.htm - www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/stalin.htm
http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws91/lenin33.html - flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws91/lenin33.html

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