Stalins great purges had a distressing significance during the 1930s. 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 Russias 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 1920s, 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 Russias 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 Russias 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 countrys 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 of new industries, including aviation, tractor, locomotive, chemical, aluminum, nickel, and tin. The Soviet Union now had a well-established industrial base capable of further expansion and growth.
Although swift industrialization helped improve Russia, it maltreated the workers. Industrialization moved so fast and was often so poorly planned that disasters frequently resulted. The workers had to put in a lot of time, excessive to what they were used to. Under Stalin the workers had to work longer and harder. Normal work-weeks were estimated between 48-60 hours, including Sunday work. In the case of the struggle for power. The problem is more complex and the distinction not so clear. For the purge is both a consequence of the struggle for power and a part of it.
In 1936, Stalin began to attack his political opponents in a series of purges to expunge anything that stood politically opposite to him. Much Stalin and Trotsky made Trotsky seem to be less important in relation to Lenin and thus to the Party like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin was one of the most uncompassionate and cruel people in the history of the world. Stalin was also a murderer. Stalin abused his people when he starved them to death, and coldly murdered them. Stalin also abused his country by restraining Russia’s progress and economic growth. 1929 was the first of many years in which Stalin stunted Russia’s growth and progress as a country. In that year the Engineer Trials were held. During these trials the Russian elite were instated by Stalin on the act of treason. Confessions by the elite which included doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, and clergy were expunged by many different means, one which included torture. After these trials were through thousands of the Russian elite were murdered, with their blood on Stalin’s hands. These trails had a horrible effect on the progress of Russia, since there was no foreseeable Russian leader for the future, In 1932, Stalin had put his plan into action that was later called the Terror Famine. In this, Stalin started to order grain requisitions from the lower class in the Ukraine. Stalin used his army to claim the grain from the people. However, Stalins orders left the lower class in famine. He took excessive amounts of the grain. By doing this Stalin ended up breaking the back of the Georgians and the Ukrainians. Stalin was killing off so many Russians, the same Russians who the economy was so rested on. This act, by far, is arguably the hardest hit group among Stalins victims.
The arrests, trials, and executions of the late 1930s in Russia still evoke horror that such inhumanity can exist. Deserted camps in Siberia pay silent witness to the hundreds of thousands of human beings whose lot was undeserved slave labour in freezing conditions, in thin clothing, and on minimal food rations. This is one example that illustrates what kind of a man Stalin was during this time. He treated far too many people poorly. The reasons, to this day will never become completely evident.
From around 1936 through 1938 Stalin unveiled his Great Terror. The Great Terror consisted of many events including the Purge Trials and the Katyn Massacre. During the purge trials, Stalin once again halted Russian progress. The Purge Trials terminated many military officers and engineers. Approximately between 250,000 to 500,000 Russians died because of Stalin’s orders. These trials caused anxiety among the elite’s, afraid, for if they opposed they would at length end up dead. Stalin not only hurt the growth of his own country, but he impaired the growth of neighboring counties, such as Poland.
In Poland during the Great Terror, Stalin ordered the Katyn Massacre to occur. The top 15,000 officers in the Polish army were rounded up and killed in the forests of Belarus. This was tremendous act, being that Polands political future was in the loom. This outcome came because Stalin killed most of their military elite. Stalin was also systematically extinguished most, if not all, of his political opponents, or anyone that posed even the smallest threat to his political ideas. Stalin showed no mercy though incarcerating and killing innocent Russians and in turn, severely damaging any imaginable progress for Russia. Stalin was breaking the Russian nation.
The beginning of the great purge in 1936 was also marked by nationwide discussions of the Stalin Constitution-hailed as a landmark in Soviet Democracy. Soviet totalitarianism could now look back at the accomplishments of the first great purge. Stalins purges had a bittersweet effect on Russia. Stalins purges were good for some aspects of Russia, or were they not?
Many that suffered from the purges were sent to labor camps or were simply executed by the secret police. Units of this secret police were ordered to arrest a certain percentage of the people in their districts. Graves were discovered in 1934 holding over 9,000 bodies of people killed around 1938 in the Ukraine. Since then mass burial sights have been discovered outside major cities.
They were shot by NKVD, or the secret police. The people were shot from close range in the back and then pushed into a pit with many others. When one group was completely executed they were covered with sand. Some victims were not even dead when they were pushed into these pits.
The purges during the 1930s initiated by Joseph Stalin brought enormous consequences in all sectors of the society and greatly endangered Soviet Union’s sovereignty. The best estimate is that between ten and eleven million people perished under Soviet regime between 1926 and 1939, most of them from the Ukranian famine. Stalins purges created many wicked consequences, some that are still prevalent today.
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