Stalin and the Soviet Union

By Stephen J. Lee | Go to book overview

1

STALIN'S RISE AND RULE

BACKGROUND NARRATIVE

At the time of Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin was forty-five. He had become a member of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party in 1912 and arrived in Petrograd in February 1917 after a period of enforced exile in Siberia. He played only a minor role in the October Revolution and a relatively inconspicuous part in the Civil War. He did, however, spend the period between 1917 and 1924 building up his position within government and the Party. By the time of Lenin's death he had accumulated the posts of People's Commissar for Nationalities in 1917, liaison official between the Politburo and the Orgburo in 1919 and General Secretary of the Party in 1922. These roles gave him a greater overview than was possessed by anyone else: the implications are examined in Analysis (1).

This did not mean that Stalin would automatically become Lenin's successor. Indeed, his ambitions incurred Lenin's distrust to the extent that, in his Political Testament, Lenin warned against Stalin and, in a codicil added in January 1923, recommended his removal from the post of General Secretary. However, Lenin died before any further action could be taken and Stalin was soon able to put himself forward as one of the contenders for the succession.

At first Stalin was seen by other Bolsheviks as less of a threat than Trotsky who, it was thought, might use his influence with the army to introduce a military dictatorship. Hence Kamenev and Zinoviev joined with Stalin in a power-sharing triumvirate. This was committed to pursuing a policy of 'Socialism in One Country',

STALIN'S RISE AND RULE

-1-

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Stalin and the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • 1 - Stalin's Rise and Rule 1
  • 2 - Stalinist Politics and Terror 16
  • 3 - Stalin's Economic Policies 35
  • 4 - Society and Culture 54
  • 5 - Stalin's Foreign Policy, 1929-41 65
  • 6 - The Soviet Union at War, 1941-5 79
  • 7 - Stalin's Post-War Regime, 1945-53 96
  • 8 - An Overall Summary 110
  • Notes 113
  • Bibliography 118
  • Index 121
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