Stalin: Man or Monster 1. Source A shows Stalin as a man intent on destroying the prosperity of Russia and destroying its people. In contrast, source B is showing the opposite. Source A shows Stalin proudly presenting ‘the USSR’s pyramids’ made of the skulls of the people. He has a big grin on his face. Meanwhile, source B shows Stalin talking with the workers at a new power station. He is presented as wanting to connect with this people and caring by how he is taking with what is regarded as the lower-class when he is regarded as the most important person in Russia.
Source C presents Stalin as the spirit of Russia and the symbol of power of Russia by how he is very large in comparison to everything around him which emphasises his power and strength as does the huge army around him. In comparison, source A shows Stalin as the symbol of the destruction of Russia because of the large quantities of human skulls with Stalin presenting them with a smile show how he is planning to destroy Russia which is the exact antithesis of source C. Source B and source C both show Stalin as pro the development of Russia.
Source B shows Stalin in front of a brand new power station which shows that he is industrious and looking out for the people of Russia by improving their lives. Source C also shows Stalin leading the Russians to victory in the war and he is the subject of the poster which directly links him to all Russian success and power. Both of these sources put Stalin in a positive light. 2. Source D presents Stalin as a caring and brave man who is the only man in a position of power who cares for others because he talks about how he saved a man from drowning when others did not care.
Although Stalin wrote it and therefore it is probably not factual but just propaganda, it still is useful as it says a lot about him. If this was made public then it can be argued that Source D was used as propaganda in order to win the hearts of the people after the war. It was written in 1945 so just after the war and the last sentence indicates that it was possibly used to get people on his side. Stalin says that ‘it seemed to me that the lack of concern our leaders show towards the people is the same as I met in far-off Asia’.
The fact that he uses the word ‘our’ in relation to the leaders indicates that he was distancing the himself from the mistakes made and trying to say that he is just like anyone else. Also the reference to ‘Asia’ indicates he is trying be one of the soldiers as he had fought for Russia and that he is trying to sympathise with them after many millions of Russians died. However this last sentence could also be Stalin apologising for his mistakes with The Great Purges when 18 million people were sent to labour camps called Gulags of which 10 million died.
This seriously weakened the USSR as many able people were taken away. Also he is trying to claim that he is very caring by using the story about a comrade being left behind in the floods. He says that ‘when asked where he was, they (other comrades) replied with no interest that he remained at the river’. This shows Stalin attempting to present himself as the only caring person in a position of power. This gives further evidence that Stalin believed he was a very caring person and good leader which can be argued as very arrogant as he never really showed this to his people when he was in power.
In conclusion, Source D, although it is unlikely that it is true, says a lot of useful things about Stalin and what he was believed. It shows him as very arrogant as he may be trying to distance himself from the mistakes of his regime and also because he thinks he is caring when from historical evidence he was not. Also, if it was published which seems almost certain, it shows that he was a determined man as he tried to make sure his position was safe by using a propaganda story which is probably not true. 3. Both Source E and Source F are written by people with very different views of Stalin.
In Source E’s information it says it was published in ‘Pravda, the newspaper of the Communist Party’ whilst in Source F it says it was written by a man called Bukharin who ‘was a victim of Stalin’s purges’. This means that both are likely to subjective as the writer of Source F is anti-Stalin whilst Source E is pro-Stalin therefore not very reliable . Having said this, Bukharin’s view of Stalin is more likely to be correct as he was taken advantage of when Stalin was a candidate for Lenin’s position. Stalin took Bukharin’s side in the debate on the NEP in order to get rid of his main threat-Trotsky.
Once he achieved this he used Trotsky’s argument to oppose Bukharin. This there for means that Bukharin has seen, firsthand, what Stalin’s actual character is. Source E presents Stalin as a very caring leader and an ‘inspired leader’. However, Source F presents him as the antithesis of this and a ‘devil’. Again based on historical fact, Source F is more likely to be accurate as history shows that Stalin was an evil man. For example the purges when 10 million people died. Source F is also very accurate in its description of Stalin’s feelings to others who are better than him. It says that ‘if someone speaks better than he does…
Stalin will not let him live’. This is very accurate as Kirov, who got more applause than Stalin at the Seventeenth Party Congress, was murdered. There was a lot of talk of removing Stalin as leader, and Kirov seemed to be emerging as a popular alternative. Stalin is believed to have him murdered and also he sent many other leading communists to labour camps because he felt they were a threat. However Source F does have its limitations because it does not cover all aspects of Stalin’s personality because he was actually a very successful leader. And this is where source E has reliable information even if it is slightly exaggerated.
Stalin got the Russian industry at its peak and his Five-year Plans, although they had disadvantages, were very successful. Pig iron production in 1927 was 3. 3 million tons but after the second Five-Year Plan in 1937 in was 14. 5 million tons. In the same time coal production went from 35. 4 million tons to 128 million tons. This shows that Stalin was actually very successful and this is reflected in some people’s opinion he was regarded as the greatest Russian leader to date. Source E agrees with this opinion as it says ‘generations to come will regard us as the happiest of people because we lived in the same century as Stalin’.
This is actually very reliable as many people did believe he was a great leader and in terms of statistics he successfully industrialised Russia. Source E also talks about his ‘strength’ as a leader. This is also very accurate information as his army were the ones who drove the Germans back into Berlin and finished off the war. In conclusion, based on reliability Source F is the more reliable as it shows the negative side of Stalin which is contextually correct as he shows it in his actions towards Kirov and other leading communists who some had said should be leader instead of him.
Having said this, Source F portrays Stalin as only pure evil when he did do some positive things. This is where Source E has some reliable information as it talks about Stalin’s strengths even if the source is a bit melodramatic about it. 4. A leader of a country can be a strong and great leader and a monstrous tyrant. Stalin was a man who people had different views on and many felt feel into this category. Although he modernised Russian agriculture and successfully industrialised Russia he was also responsible for the death of millions of innocent Russians. Source B presents all that was good about Stalin in his rule.
Its shows Stalin in front of a new power station talking with his happy workers. It presents him as industrious and caring for his workers. This is supported by historical evidence. He had many new flats buildings built for the working-class and from 1927-1937 electricity production went from 5. 05 thousand million kilowatt hours to 36. 2 thousand million kilowatt hours. This shows how he improved life in Russia. Having said this, historian SJ Lee said ‘there is evidence that he [Stalin] exaggerated Russia’s industrial deficiency in 1929’ and that the foundation of industrialisation were already there making his job easy.
This could be factually correct as the Tsar had started industrialising Russia way back in 1905. Despite this Source B still presents Stalin as a very good leader and a caring man. Source C presents Stalin as the most important man in Russia and the leader of the Russian army as in the picture he is bigger than the whole army. This presents in a positive manner a not a monstrous tyrant but more of a militaristic leader. This is backed by the fact that when he was in power Russian won World War 2 for the allies with the final push into Berlin.
The writing in the source is translated as ‘using the spirit of Stalin our army and country are faithful and strong’. This is very true as in the time of Stalin Russia were the biggest threat to the USA as the biggest power in the world. He also did become regarded as the symbol of Russian might by everyone. In 1925 the city of Volgograd was renamed Stalingrad to recognise Stalin’s role in its defence from the Whites in 1918-20. This source shows Stalin as a very powerful leader and the spirit of Russia and not a monstrous tyrant at all.
Source E emphatically praises Stalin as ‘inspired’ and tells everyone that they were ‘the happiest of people because we lived in the same century as Stalin’. And this is not entirely rubbish. Although at points in his rule the Russian people were miserably as 18 million of them were in Gulags, for a lot of his rule only good things happened to Russia. Industry improved rapidly and Russia won a war in his time. Many regarded him as the greatest leader in Russia’s history. However it was written by a writer in the congress of soviets and therefore was closely linked to Stalin.
This makes it likely that he wrote this speech in order to appease Stalin and get in his good books. This source portrays Stalin as a great man and leader who was the best leader Russia had had. It shows him as the antithesis of a monstrous tyrant. Source H talks only about the side of Stalin which was actually true: that he was a good leader and had an ‘iron will’. Of this there is no doubt as he did what he wanted. He was indeed a good leader and was always clear with his decisions as the source. However this source is certainly going to be pro-Stalin as it was written in Russia in his rule and was his biography.
This shows that it therefore would not talk about the other side of his personality which was arguably a monstrous tyrant. However despite this, what source H is saying is not just lies and is based on truth. This source indicates that he is not a monstrous tyrant but a respected leader which is not wrong. Source D dissociates Stalin from the mistakes of the leaders in the war and also dissociates him from the great purges when millions of Russians died. It is also presenting him as one of the people by how it says ‘our leaders’.
The use of the possessive adjective ‘our’ shows him not only distancing himself from the past mistakes in his rule but trying to connect with the people. Source D also shows him as a caring man as he looked out for his one missing comrade in the story. This source is not however really backed by historical evidence as he was not one for caring for individuals and in fact he was the one who on his own started the Great Purges and sent many to gulags. Also the fact that it was written by Stalin himself indicates that the story is almost certainly made up and only propaganda.
However, taking the source for what it is, it shows that Stalin was a very caring man who was one the people. In actual fact he was quite the opposite. Source I is probably the fairest judgement of Stalin and his time in power. It separates Stalin’s great ability as a leader from his evil personality. The fact that it was published in Britain and in 1983 means that it is unlikely to have any reason to be pro or anti-Stalin. This source describes him as a ‘very skilled, indeed gifted politician’. This is a true statement as he very cleverly manipulated people and Trotsky’s underestimation of him to become leader over Trotsky.
This shows a very good political mind and intelligence to outwit even the best politicians. Source I then concludes that Stalin was a not a good man and that ‘he had a dark and evil side to his nature’. This is also very true as he had many sent to Gulags in order that he would look powerful. Of the 18 million people sent to Gulags 10 million died. And he never officially conceded that he made a mistake and never said he regretted it. This shows a very sinister side to him which Source I correctly points out. Also he was evil in the way that he got rid of many artists and virtually destroyed the right to express freewill in Russia.
This can only be the work of someone who is soulless and evil. In conclusion, although this source looks at Stalin’s positives, it still portrays him as a monstrous tyrant. Source A dwells on the negatives of Stalin’s rule. The ‘pyramids’ of skulls is a reference to the Great Purges when 18 million Russians were sent to Gulags of which 10 million died. This source also seems to show that Stalin does not care and in fact is very proud of his work. This is actually not complete rubbish as Stalin never did publicly apologise or even say he regretted it.
However, the fact it was published in Paris indicates that it may be a bit anti-communism as France was a country which did not embrace communism at all. Although we do not know when in the 1930s it was published- before, after or during the Purges- it is a very accurate source as many died due to Stalin’s policies. This source indicates that Stalin was a monstrous Tyrant. Source J literally describes Stalin as a ‘monstrous tyrant’. However, as oppose to saying he was a good politician but also a malevolent human being, it suggests that was corrupted by ‘absolute power’ which ‘turned a ruthless politician into a monstrous tyrant’.
This gives another idea about Stalin’s personality. There was no doubt that he was a ruthless politician. For example, after using Bukharin’s argument to defeat Trotsky, he then turned it round on Bukharin and used that argument to disgrace him. However after Stalin’s decisions do not really show politics in them but more him being paranoid about his position and therefore doing acts of hostility. For instance, his decision to start ‘purging’ Russia of all people he thought were a threat to the state ( or a threat to his position… ) did not show clever politics but more panic leading to monstrous acts.
This source present Stalin as a man who may of been great politician in the past but then this ability of his turned into shear malicious tyranny. Source F concentrates on the dark side of Stalin’s personality. It says that ‘if someone speaks better than he does… Stalin will not let him live’. This is debatably a very accurate description of Stalin as he was rumoured to have had Kirov, a communist who became very popular and some people thought should replace Stalin at the time, was murdered and many believe that Stalin was behind the murder.
Stalin also sent many loyal Bolsheviks to Gulags in the infamous ‘show trials’ for being traitors of the state. Although these people confessed, Stalin most probably forced them to confess by threatening them with death and the death of their families. He did this because he was scared they would take away his power. Having said this, this source is likely to be subjective as Bukharin, the writer of the source, was disgraced by Stalin in 1929. Also it is a very one-sided source as it says that Stalin was pure evil when he did do good things for Russia.
To conclude, although it is slightly opinionated, Source F gives a fairly accurate account of what was wrong with Stalin and displaces him as malicious and as the devil. Source G points the finger at Stalin by accusing him of using ‘terror’ to defend communism. However, this source is almost certainly prejudiced against Stalin as Khrushchev, who said source G and became leader after Stalin, would have been trying to distance himself from the worst parts of Stalin’s rule by condemning him. Although, Source G does have some correct ideas as it says that Stalin was a ‘distrustful man’.
This is an accurate description of Stalin as he had many sent to Gulags because he thought they were plotting against him. He also acted very suspiciously at the Potsdam Conference in August 1945 when in February that year at the Yalta conference he had been very united with the other allies. At Potsdam Conference he disagreed with the other allies about what to do with Germany, about reparations and over soviet policy in Eastern Europe, where Russian troops dominated. Truman, the USA president at the time, became suspicious of Stalin and his intentions, as did Stalin.
This distrusted lead to the Iron curtain and the cold war. To conclude, Although Khrushchev was not likely to have praised Stalin in this situation, Source G is a very accurate description of Stalin and portrays him as untrustworthy character and malicious tyrant. In conclusion, the sources do not give a conclusive idea to whether he is a monstrous tyrant or not because five of them are anti-Stalin and 5 pro-Stalin. However, based on the fact that many of the Pro-Stalin Sources are either written by Stalin or as propaganda, the ources show that he more of monstrous tyrant. Also the sources which focus on his industrious nature and his successes in improving industry do not take into account how many people died in this process and that Russia’s industry had been improving a lot for the twenty years before Stalin came to power. In essence his job on that was made easy and some historians argue that this process would have happened just as successfully with any leader. A leader can be great at being a politician and be industrious yet still be a monstrous.
My personal opinion is just that, that he was a great leader and politician however a very evil man and therefore a monstrous tyrant. Source I sums up Stalin as a person. It says Stalin is ‘very skilled, indeed gifted politician and one of the greatest political figures of the twentieth century’ however it also says ‘he had a dark and evil side to his nature’. This summarises perfectly Stalin’s life: he was a great leader of a country however he was still a very evil man and a monstrous tyrant.