And yet the late Soviet dictator is the source of intense disagreements in modern day Russia. The pro-Stalin camp regularly wins television debates with liberals warning of the dangers of Stalin nostalgia. Sixty years after his death, on March 5, , the "man of steel" still inspires fascination among many Russians.
The Cult of Ivan the Terrible in Stalin's Russia
Lenin issued some of the earliest warnings against what Stalin was capable of. As he wrote in a letter to the party convention on December 24, "Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated an enormous power in his hands; and I am not sure that he always knows how to use that power with sufficient caution. Back then, Stalin had not yet achieved unfettered power over the five-year-old Soviet state.
World War I and the Russian Civil War had shaken the land, and the all-powerful Communists were split into rival factions. One man from a well-to-do Jewish family made a name for himself as a brilliant orator: Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, who called himself Leon Trotsky. Lenin, apparently a connoisseur of human nature, warned against him, too.
Trotsky had a "too far-reaching self-confidence and a disposition to be too much attracted by the purely administrative side of affairs. It was this judgment that made Stalin's rise to power possible.
Almost no one, not even Lenin, had imagined that Stalin would have Trotsky expelled from the party and sent into exile. After Lenin's death in , Stalin could no longer be stopped. He quickly isolated Trotsky supporters, the "Trotskyites," repeatedly warning of their dictatorial ideas, like the widely hated concept of the "militarization of labor.
In Moscow in the s, Stalin distinguished himself with vows to establish democracy. His consolidated his power through the party apparatus, in which he promoted mostly young Russians. The party that Lenin had left behind was chaotic, ruled by political adventure-seekers who had virtually no connection to the lives of average Russians. In contrast, the class of state administrators and regional rulers were greedy and corrupt.
Neither group was capable of building a state, and Stalin seized the opportunity. In the latter half of the s, he used the Moscow show trials to sentence hundreds of thousands to death and millions to imprisonment camps, where countless died. What could have driven Stalin to do this was made clear in a film that, upon first glance, appears to have nothing to do with Stalin. The film takes place in the 16th century, showing the life of Ivan IV, the Tsar of All Russians, whose sadistic inclination earned him the epithetic "the Terrible" in the West.
Similar to Stalin, Ivan IV faced a hurdle in his path to absolute power: the corrupt boyars, aristocrats whom he could not trust. Stalin was fascinated by the historical parallels.
Viewers experienced a tsar as a highly gifted people's leader, besieged by malicious princes and traitors. In the Russian trailer, the film is described as dealing with "a man who for the first time united our country and created a powerful state. Stalin, too, had subjugated the power apparatus with terror and waves of bloody purges.
Where resistance was not demonstrated, he had it fabricated. Confessions were forced out of people with torture. Show trials against leading men from the party and the state signaled to the country from on that opposition to Stalin's politics, whether open or concealed, would not be tolerated.
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On one day alone, December 12, , Stalin's trials sentenced 3, people to death. Even the Soviet secret police, responsible for so much of the terror, was not spared from the purges -- just like the Oprichniki, the personal police of Ivan the Terrible.
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The sword of the dictator circled around the army leadership as well. In a few years, more than 10, officers were executed, and three out of five marshals and 15 army commanders were imprisoned. In , Trotsky, who was expelled from the Soviet Union in and was then living in Mexico, took an ice axe to the head by a Soviet assassin.
The Cult of Ivan the Terrible in Stalin's Russia - M. Perrie - Google книги
What at first looked like the full-blown insanity of a paranoid maniac actually had a purpose. Like Ivan the Terrible, Stalin attempted to create for himself a loyal service gentry. But Stalin's rule was not a tsarist revival so much as a dictatorship of modernization. In a speech to engineers, project directors and officials in Moscow in February , Stalin voiced the essence of his policy.
His audience of mostly young and middle-aged men, many of whom had traveled in trains across the enormous snowy landscape of the country, listened intently to the plans they were meant to realize. The "old Russia," Stalin said, was "continually battered by its backwardness," and by "Mongolian Khans, Swedish feudal lords and English-French capitalists.
We have stayed 50 to years behind the advanced countries. We have to make up this distance in 10 years. Either we bring this about or we will be crushed. Ten years later, the most advanced military machinery in the world, Hitler's Wehrmacht, attacked the Soviet Union. German panzers crushed cornfields and dive bombers attacked industrial factories in Russian cities.
Yet the Soviet Union prevailed. It seems that you're in Germany.
We have a dedicated site for Germany. Ivan IV, the sixteenth-century Russian tsar notorious for his reign of terror, became an unlikely national hero in the Soviet Union during the s. This book traces the development of Ivan's positive image, placing it in the context of Stalin's campaign for patriotism. In addition to historians' images of Ivan, the author examines literary and artistic representations, including Sergei Eisenstein's famous film, banned for its depiction of the tsar which was interpreted as an allegorical criticism of Stalin.