Why did Stalin emerge as leader of USSR in 1929?
In 1924 the USSR’s leader Vladimir Lenin died after continuous strokes. His death triggered the leadership struggle, and Russia urgently needed a successor to continue in guiding the country and proposing policies to run the country. Candidates such as Trotsky and Bukharin were highly regarded and party members believed they were to take over Lenin’s position; Joseph Stalin on the other hand, was perceived as a mediocre and uninteresting party member, he was not thought as a suitable candidate to replace Lenin’s former status. Yet Stalin succeeded in taking power and control over the Soviet party and emerged as the leader of ...view middle of the document...
His ruthlessness allowed him to secure his power base and gain support from party members. Furthermore, he was able to outmanoeuvre his opponents, for example he tricked Trotsky into not attending Lenin’s funeral by giving him the wrong date, which helped Stalin as Trotsky was seen to be disloyal to Lenin. Historian Robert Conquest once mentioned “...if we look back at Stalin, we see not only terror and ruthlessness, but - even more - deception.” in his article, which suggests that Stalin was also politically cunning and clever. He intentionally stayed in the background, deceiving most party members by posturing as a moderate and tedious peacemaker. No one saw him as a threat, nor did they foresee his methods, which became a huge advantage for his emergence as leader. Stalin’s proletarian background additionally helped Stalin as he was able to suggest more practical ideas,
and the party believed that his proletarian roots would not cause splits in the party (which they hugely feared), therefore support for Stalin increased significantly. Overall I believe his personal skills and background were the secondary reasons why he emerged as the leader of USSR. As a consequence Stalin’s personal characteristics enabled his opponents to underestimate him because he portrayed himself as a mediocre party member, which enhanced his opponents weaknesses.
Stalin’s opponents’ underestimation became one of their many weaknesses, which gave advantage for Stalin’s emergence. Trotsky, one of Stalin’s greatest opponent, did not perceive Stalin as a potential leader and underestimated him. This was perhaps the worst mistake Trotsky has ever made, because Trotsky could have appealed to supporters in and outside of the party and develop his power base which would have crushed Stalin. Kamenev and Zinoviev were two other opponents that underrated Stalin’s potential. After Lenin’s death in 1924, Lenin’s widow Krupskaya gave Lenin’s secret testament to the Central Committee, if Kamenev and Zinoviev had not stop the party from reading the testament, Stalin’s reputation would have been destroyed and he would have been removed from the Party Secretary. However Kamenev and Zinoviev urged that the testament should not be announced because it would not only be disadvantageous for them, and also because it will be in Trotsky’s favour, but moreover they did not see Stalin as a threat. Overall the weaknesses of Stalin’s opponents grew as they underestimated his skills. As a consequence, Stalin was perceived to be greater than other candidates, therefore he was appointed to different positions in the party, which gave him maximum control and power over the Soviet party.
Stalin had control and power over the Soviet party as he was a member of the Politburo, he was in charge of the Orgburo and was a Party Secretary. Stalin’s political statuses meant that he was able to eliminate and expel opponents as he desired, for example, in November 1927, Stalin...