Stalin – Man or Monster

Topics: ArtPaintings


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Last updated: November 12, 2019

Source A is a cartoon, which shows the results Stalin’s purges (such as the ‘dekulakisation’ programme that he introduced). The cartoon was published in Paris in the 1930’s. This raises questions about its reliability as the cartoonist is portraying communism from the perspective of a capitalist country. Source B is a painting, which depicts Stalin mingling with workers, insinuating that he is a man of the people.

It is an official Soviet painting, showing that it conforms to the ‘Socialist Realism’ Policy that Stalin introduced to ensure that all pictures, songs and pieces of writing corresponded with Stalin’s views and policies and did not portray them in a negative light. Source C shows a photograph of Stalin shaking hands with the wives of army officers. This is quite an ironic photograph as the wives of many army officers are congratulating Stalin and yet he purged 3/5 Marshals and 50,000 troops were sent to the gulags.Source A depicts Stalin in a negative light as the caption, when translated, reads, ‘Visit the pyramids of the U.

S. S. R. ‘. The cartoon also shows piles of skulls that have been shaped into pyramids. Perched on top of the piles of skulls are several black Ravens.

This could refer to the fact that during the purges, members of the N. K. B. D. , nicknamed ‘The Black Ravens’ because they tended to operate under the cover of darkness, arrested many victims.

The circling ravens perhaps indicate that the N. K. B. D.

ad complete control over the people. On 12th December 1938 Stalin signed the death sentence of 3182 innocent people and then went to watch a film in the evening and these pyramids are the results of these, as well as other, acts of Stalin. Stalin is gesturing towards the pyramids as if he was proud of his achievements. This source tells us that Stalin killed a great number of people and showed no remorse for doing so. This source depicts Stalin as a monster rather than a man.

Source B shows Stalin as a sociable and popular character.In the background is a dam, similar to the Dneiper dam, which meant that Russia had the largest Hydro-Electric Power station in Europe. In reality, these projects were often using forced labour, usually inmates in a gulag. In the painting, the workers are happy and are talking to Stalin. This painting has undergone the ‘Socialist Realism’ policy and so could not possibly show Stalin in a negative light, as the creator would, most likely, have been punished. This painting was created during the 1930’s when the first five-year plans were in place.

The aim of these plans was to modernise Russia from a backward peasant society into a modern industrial state, which was able to withstand the threat of any future foreign invasion. One of the targets that Stalin set was for the amount of electricity produced to increase to 22 million kilowatts. The dam is shown in the painting was regarded as essential to achieve this goal. This source shows Stalin as being a man and not a monster. Source C is a photograph showing Stalin as popular because there are many outstretched hands, which are trying to shake hands with Stalin.Everybody has a smile on their face and the general mood is a cheerful one. This photograph is unlikely to be a true reflection of public opinion as the army suffered heavily as a result of Stalin’s purges and Stalin often staged or edited photographs. An example of Stalin editing photographs is when he removed his political rivals from the history of the revolution.

In one photograph, Lenin is making a speech with Trotsky and Kamenev in the foreground, whereas in the second photograph, both Trotsky and Kamenev have been removed.In this photograph, Stalin is portrayed as a man and not as a monster. In Source A gives a different impression to sources B and C. A depicts Stalin as a monster who massacred a great deal of people and shows no remorse but demonstrates his ‘pyramids’ almost like national treasures, the things that each country is proud of, such as the Pyramids of Egypt. The people in source A are not happy because they are dead.

Sources B and C are both similar to one another but are different to source A. This is because both sources show Stalin as a kind and popular man where everyone is happy.Stalin’s ‘Socialist Realism’ Policy has censored both sources B and C whereas source A has not and so is different to them. Source A was created by an individual who was from a Capitalist country whereas sources B and C were both created by individuals from a communist country.

Source A is totally fictional because such pyramids did not exist whereas sources B and C are both based on reality (the dam in the background of B and the fact that source C is a photograph). How Useful Is Source D? This document is an anecdote, which was written by Stalin in 1945.Stalin is recalling an incident that occurred thirty years before, between 1900 and before the Bolshevik revolution, when he was exiled in Siberia. This was written at a time when the Russians were drawing to a close the Second World War and the cold war was beginning to set in. This was not a war as such but a period of hostile relations between the Capitalist Western countries and the communist Russians. This source was written to portray Stalin as a caring and compassionate man.

We know this because Stalin shows concern for comrade who was swept away by the river to his death.This could be to show the Americans and the rest of the Capitalist World that Communism was not bad and that Stalin cared for his people, despite what other sources that people might have heard to the contrary. Stalin mentions how he was in exile in Siberia.

It may seem strange that Stalin would want to disclose a fact as it might seem to tarnish his ‘god-like’ reputation that he was once an ‘enemy’ of Russia. This is not the case because he was in exile for his communist views and so it depicts him as a person who is dedicated to communism and determined to stick to his communist views, whatever the penalty.The source portrays the people beneath Stalin as not caring about the people. We know this because the source says, ‘Why should we be concerned about men? We can always make another man’. This could be to blame them for the problems of Russia and make them scapegoats.

Stalin might also want to use this source to say to the Capitalist nations of the world that any stories that they may have heard about Russia were not his fault, but the people beneath him. This could be to portray a positive image of communism at the start if the cold war and so gain support with countries occupied by the Red Army, after pushing back the Germans to Germany.It could also be a ‘reason’ as to why he purged members of the communist party. It may be to counteract the atrocities that the Red Army performed, especially to the German population during and after the Second World War. Although this source is partly reliable as Stalin was indeed exiled to Siberia, we know that Stalin was not so compassionate to his people because he purged between eight and fourteen million Russians so there is an element of hypocrisy as Stalin portrayed one image but was in fact a very different person.This source was written over thirty years since the event occurred and is subjective as there is no evidence to confirm that this event actually took place apart from Stalin’s word.

Stalin often lied to the Russian public, such as in the show trials of Kamenev, Zinoviev and numerous other members of the communist party where he claimed that they had committed many acts against the State when in truth this is extremely unlikely.This means that Stalin may have written this source simply to make himself seem like a caring and compassionate man when he in fact ordered many Russians to their deaths, such as On 12th December 1938 Stalin signed the death sentence of 3182 innocent people and then went to watch a film in the evening. This source is useful as an example of Russian propaganda and an example of the cult of personality that Stalin built up to secured his position. He tried to make himself seem like a hero by placing statues in various urban areas and renaming many towns and cities after him.Which of the two sources is the more reliable? Source E was written about Stalin by a writer who used it in a speech to the congress of Soviets in 1935. The speech was published in the official newspaper of the communist party, Pravda (which ironically translates as truth as it was censored by the ‘socialist realism’ policy). This source was spoken just after the first five-year plan (1928-32) had been completed. The aim of the plan was to set high industrial targets to modernise Russia from a backward peasant society to a modern industrial state, able to withstand the treat of a foreign invasion.

This source tells us that Stalin was very popular and that meeting him was seen as a great honour, it also tells us that he would be regarded in history as a great man. The writer is speaking to the congress of Soviets in 1935 and so, in order to not become a victim of the purges, he would only compliment Stalin and would not say anything that Stalin might find offensive. The author’s speech would have to conform to the ‘socialist realism’ policy, which censored all music lyrics, journalistic pieces, books and paintings to ensure that nothing offensive about Stalin was written.The fact that it was published in the official paper of the communist party, ‘Pravda’ means that it is likely that the source is simply another piece of Soviet propaganda, designed to convince the Russian people that Stalin was to be looked upon as a god. The author exaggerates several times in the source, ‘Thy name is engraved on every factory, every machine, every place on earth, and in the hearts of all men’.

‘I am so well and joyful’ could be untruthful as a great many Russian lived in fear of their lives and living conditions were poor. This is a subjective source and so cannot be believed fully.In this source, there are many points, which can be backed up by facts.

We know that there were a great number of people who genuinely liked Stalin for he achieved in five years what had taken the industrialised nations in the West (i. e. the Capitalist countries) fifty to one hundred years. Although many parts of the source are exaggerated, there is an element of truth in them. For instance, ‘Thy name is engraved on every factory, every machine, every place on earth, and in the hearts of all men’ may seem to be a great exaggeration, but it does contain a great deal of truth in it.Most factories had a picture of Stalin and many inventions were also named after Stalin. The reference to, ‘and in the hearts of all men’ and ‘every place on earth’, could be showing that Stalin tried to make himself seem like a hero by placing statues in various urban areas and renaming many towns and cities after him. The hearts of all men could also include the fact that Russians were bombarded by propaganda telling them how great Stalin was and how much better off they were than they had been under the Tsar.

The reference to, ‘and in the hearts of all men’ could mean that everybody feared Stalin as he purged between eight to fourteen million Russians. He inflicted fear to motivate the Russia people; therefore, whenever they were performing a task, Stalin would be in their minds, and their hearts as members of their family might have been purged. In the first line, ‘I am so well and joyful’, implies that he was happy under Stalin’s reign. This could be true as a great many people were happy as Literacy doubled, what had taken the Western countries fifty to one hundred years took Russia only 10.

Production rose, suppressing Germany; projects such as the Moscow underground and the Dneiper Dam were constructed and new cities were built. Bukharin, who supported Stalin against Trotsy as Lenin’s successor, spoke in Paris in 1936. Source F is an extract from this speech. This source was spoken just after the first five-year plan (1928-32) had been completed. The aim of the plan was to set high industrial targets to modernise Russia from a backward peasant society to a modern industrial state, able to withstand the treat of a foreign invasion.This source tells us that Stalin was paranoid and that he tries to make himself believe that he is the greatest man who ever lived. It also claims that he is a ‘devil’ which is in stark contrast to source E. Source F was created from a speech in Paris in 1936.

At this time, Paris was a democratic country and so allowed freedom of speech. This means that the speech that Bukharin gave would not have been censored. He also refers to the assassination of Kirov as he says, ‘If anyone speaks better than he does, that man is for it!Stalin will not let him live’. Kirov was a rival of Stalin and Stalin’s N. K.

B. D. trained Nikolayev to shoot him.

Stalin organised Kirov’s murder and then covered his tracks and Kirov’s bodyguard was clubbed to death. The assassination of Kirov gave Stalin an excuse to issue a decree sanctioning the death penalty for acts of terror. Bukharin himself has had first hand experience of Stalin and Stalin’s personality and has not had to rely on secondary information.The fact that Bukharin was purged also suggests that Stalin was indeed paranoid, as he could have purged Bukharin for speaking negatively of him, proving Bukharin’s point that Stalin disapproved of anybody who did not speak highly of Stalin. In general, Bukharin is saying that Stalin’s propaganda machine convinces everyone, including Stalin himself that he is a great man who is worthy of a god-like status. Stalin’s insecurity is highlighted by historical facts; such as he purged 3/5 Marshals and 50,000 troops, even though this weakened the army as it contained inexperienced commanders who had simply won favour with Stalin.Stalin also purged eight to fourteen million people, most of whom were innocent of the ‘crimes’ that they were accused of. Although Bukharin has had first hand experience of Stalin and Stalin’s personality and has not had to rely on secondary information, this does not mean that what he is saying is accurate.

This is because the source states that Bukharin ‘fell into disgrace in 1929’ and so may bear a grudge against Stalin and want to criticise him. He is also speaking in Paris, which is the Capital city of France, a capitalist nation.Due to his surroundings, he may have been influenced to criticise Stalin, as Russia was communist and was allied with Germany, to whom France and Britain were at war with.

He has injected emotion into the source as he claims that Stalin was a ‘devil’. This means that the source is subjective and that it is his own personal opinion and there are few historical facts to endorse this and so it could be simply an enraged speaker criticising a leader of a communist country, after falling into disgrace from being a close advisor of Stalin.From this essay, I have demonstrated that both of the sources contain sections that are reliable, and sections, which are unreliable. Both sources are reliable, but not fully as they are both subjective and so cannot be relied upon completely. Although Stalin did not censor one source, it does not necessarily mean that this is more reliable than the one that has undergone censorship.

Therefore I can conclude that neither source is unreliable as they both contain inaccuracies and valuable evidence.

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