“Dekulakisation in the USSR V 3” by Unknown. Thanks to Lewis H. Siegelbaum and Andrej K. Sokolov – Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov (Eds. )Stalinism as a way of life. A narrative in documents. Documents comp. by Ludmila Kosheleva …, Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Conn. [etc.] 2000. ISBN 0-300-08480-3. Licenced under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons. In late 1929, Stalin said that the Kulaks, or wealthy peasants, must disappear as a class. More than anything, this meant an attack on the most prominent peasants in the Ukraine. Soon the target was not just the Kulaks, but the peasants in general, as Stalin looked to push them off their own property onto government owned collective farms. If one refused to go, one starved to death. This attack on the Ukraine came to be called the Holodomor, or extermination by starvation.
The rise to power of Josef Stalin and the emergence of the Stalinist dictatorship in the Soviet Union following the death of Lenin in 1924 are events that have been explained in a variety of ways by historians. Some insist upon the personality and political astuteness of Stalin, which enabled him to prevail in the internecine struggles between the various factions within the party’s leadership. Others have followed Trotsky in seeing Stalin’s emergence as the product of the bureaucratization of the Communist Party. Stalin, the “grey blur” at the heart of the party organizations (he was the only individual to sit simultaneously on the party’s politburo, orgburo and secretariat) personified the tendency for a repressive, bureaucratic regime, much like that of the tsarist autocracy, to emerge. Still others have pointed to the importance of economic factors. The economic programs of his rivals – the “left” and “right” oppositions – both had limitations. Stalin sought to steer a pragmatic course, choosing a particular tack according to circumstances. In the process, he associated himself with the program of the right to destroy the left opposition and then appropriated the latter’s program to destroy the right; economic expediency and political opportunism went hand in hand. Finally, there are historians who point to social and cultural factors in explaining Stalin’s rise. The experience of civil war had encouraged authoritarian tendencies within the Communist Party. Rival political parties were suppressed early in the civil war and in its aftermath, with the decree against factionalism at the 1921 party congress, dissent within the party was also condemned. Dictatorship was the inevitable result.
The Stalinist dictatorship, however, was a regime with peculiar features which, collectively, have been defined as “Stalinism.” Stalinism defines a regime marked by: personal dictatorship, maintained on the basis of state terror; a directed economy, with high priority given to industrialization and low priority to consumer demand; high levels of social mobility; and cultural conservatism in social and cultural policy. Most notably, Stalinism is associated with the policy of collectivization, which replaced private farms with state farms, beginning in the late 1920s, and which was accomplished only by coercion on a massive scale and at immense human cost. Perhaps five million people died in the man-made famine that resulted in the Ukraine in 1932-33. It is also associated with the crash program of industrialization which began with the first five-year plan (1927-32). This program required new coercive measures and new sacrifices by the Soviet people. One interpretation of Stalinism explains it in terms of “totalitarianism,” emphasizing the “revolution from above,” and the elaboration of a rational system, based on centralized state control and reinforced by police-exercised terror. More recent interpretations, such as that offered by Moshe Lewin, see Stalinism as the product of an unpremeditated chain of events, involving a complex interaction between state and society. From this perspective Stalin emerges as a sorcerer’s apprentice, unleashing forces which he cannot control.
On 30 January 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor by president Paul von Hindenburg. This appointment did not give Hitler and the NSDAP exclusive control over government, let alone society. Indeed, Hitler’s first cabinet included only two members of the Nazi Party besides the Führer. The other ministers were members of the right-wing DNVP or the officer corps. Thus, the appointment to the chancellorship was merely the first step toward Nazi control over society. However, the process occurred more quickly than in Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy. Within eighteen months of becoming chancellor, Hitler and his followers had largely completed what is known as Gleichschaltung. The term, borrowed from the vocabulary of electrical engineering, and referring specifically to all switches being brought onto the same circuit so that it could then be controlled by the master switch, describes the Nazi effort to “co-ordinate” or “bring into line” with Nazi ideology all aspects of German life. Besides legislative measures limiting civil liberties, efforts were made to eliminate the influence of political parties, trade unions, professional associations and cultural agencies. The most difficult institutions to control were the officer corps and the Catholic Church, yet eventually they too succumbed to Nazi pressure. The main purpose of this exercise is to gain an understanding of Gleichschaltung.
Topical Essay— Establishing Dictatorship Stalin & Hitler ?
* 800 words Maximum
* Microsoft words.
* Chicago Style Reference.
* Include in-text citation as well.
*Read the Passage at the Top and Richard Overy’s Chapter “Stalin and Hitler: Path to Dictatorship” in The Dictators (London: Allen Lane, 2004 ), pp. 1-53 (See Topics and Tasks page for link), then answer the following question:
* Pick 5 more references from the top.
Compare the processes and events whereby Hitler and Stalin gained power within their parties and how they then secured control over their societies.
*****Pay attention to the question of how quickly each leader achieved ascendancy within his own party.
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