The Mystery of Stalin

Paul Wingrove in his article “The Mystery of Stalin”¯ gives his own vision of Stalin’s personality, Communist activity and influence on the course of the whole history. It is important to note that Wingrove’s arguments are based on statistical data, archives, opinions of famous historians and historical researchers and opinion of real witnesses. The author tries to make a deep analysis of the preconditions and possible social ground of “the nature of the ruthless tyranny”¯. It is obvious that only strong, self-determined, single-minded person with great self-control could occupy such a position in the country. Stalin’s character and his personality along with historical and political situation allowed his to become the head of such great state, to institute control over the population of the whole USSR and implement the policy of terror and dictatorship. Due to his self-restraint and strength of will he was able to cooperate with Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and became a real leader creating the Communist Block after the World War I. Wingrove illustrates an interesting fact: despite his despotic policy, numerous tortures, arrests, exiles, deportations, purge of the Red Army, executions, etc Stalin was popular among common people. His name was sacred among people and his portraits were all over the country. If the representatives of the party, especially those from the ”¯Lenin camp”¯, were afraid of Stalin and followed all his orders, common people adored him due to strong ideology, hidden facts, twisted truth about the political and international situation and stable economic position of the USSR.

The mystery of Stalin exists even nowadays, till now most part of the archives are not open; it is impossible to count the number of victims during Stalin’s terror. The numbers proposed by different scholars differ greatly. Getty, for example, has statistics of about 300,000 people in each of the years 1937 and 1938. All in all, the number of executions during Stalin’s regime vary from several million to twenty million people. It is even difficult to imagine that 20 million people were executed in the peaceful time, because the number of victims in the USSR after the World War II made 26 million people.

During Stalin’s reign we can also name such painful and shameful events as deportation of national groups, such as Ukrainians or Byelorussians to the most remote parts of the country, compulsory collectivization of the agriculture, execution of party members and later arrests of their families including their children, partly artificial famine in 1931-1933 on the territory of modern Ukraine, Byelorussia and part of Russia; the unnecessary purge of the Red Army; the use of slave labor; murder of Polish soldiers in Katyn; creation of the system of execution camps ”“ the Gulag ”“ the only example in the history during peaceful times. The strangest fact here is people’s inaction, absence of open and active protests and tolerance or the other members of the party. Wingrove explains such behavior by the term “revisionism”¯ proposed by Getty. Leading party members caring about their own position and protecting their own lives and families chose the policy of colluding with Stalin rather than protesting. Being afraid of losing their authority and political and social position, fighting for the rank, the party members created that cult of Stalin and supported it among common people.

Paul Wingrove also makes one interesting assumption which is based on Robert W. Thurston book “Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia”¯ and J. Arch Getty work “Stalinist Terror”¯. The author of the article states that Stalin’s actions were deliberate. He never had a master plan of ruling such a huge country using the tactics of terror, executions, camps, famine, arrests and prisons. Thurston even tries to prove that he was not guilty in the first wave of executions and arrests and did not plan to make a systematic policy. Stalin was always afraid of conspiracy, he suspected everybody to be a foreign spy. He had psychological problems and his fears further became a kind of paranoia. He suspected everybody in any kind of actions against county, party and him as a leader of this county. His mass actions of executions can be explained by his inner problems, groundless fears, eternal suspicions. He could trust only himself and that is why saw only enemies and spies around him. That is the reason why the leading party members and people from Stalin’s close Ā surrounding were one by one arrested, lost in the camps of the Gulag, tortured, separated from their families and later killed accused of non-existing high treason.

Wingrove in his article makes a deep analysis of Stalin’s personality and leader of the USSR. His report is based on the factual information, statistical data and evidence taken from different reasonable resources. It is interesting that he proposes different positions and views on this personality and tries to be as much objective as it can be possible taking into account that even today we do not have much information and archives.

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