stalin: key figures in stalin's russia   

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Browse down the page to find brief bios of key figures of the Stalin era.
 
 
 
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1. Stalin: Background & rise to power
Biographies
The succession
2. The Stalinist state:
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(Extracts from N Pereira's article in History Today Vol. 42, August 1992)

 

 

for more detailed lists try:

  

 

 

 

Nikolay Ivanovich Bukharin (1888-1938)  

Bukharin was a communist leader and a member of the Politburo from 1924-9. During the struggle for control of the party,  he allied himself with Joseph Stalin against Leon Trotsky, Zinovyev and Kamenev. In 1929, having fallen out of favour with Stalin, he was stripped of all his positions. Arrested on charges of Trotskyist activities in 1937, he was convicted during one of the Stalin purge trials, and executed.

 

Lenin (1870-1924) 

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known as Lenin, was the leader of the Bolshevik Party and the founder of the Communist State in Russia. He spent much  of his life in exile, only returning to Russia following the February Revolution. He immediately set about working for the overthrow of the Provisional Government and was the motivating force behind the October Revolution when the Bolsheviks seized power. He ruled Russia until his death in 1924.

 

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)

Originally named Lev Davidovich Bronstein, Trotsky was born on November 7, 1879, in Kherson Province in Ukraine. He was exiled for his Marxist activities in 1897, but escaped abroad in 1902. Following the February Revolution he returned to Russia, and joined the Bolshevik Party in July. An outstanding orator and organiser, he was the man who prepared and carried out the October Revolution. In Sovnarkom, the new Soviet government Trotsky first became commissar of foreign affairs, negotiating a separate peace with Germany at Brest-Litovsk. Later, as a ruthlessly practical commissar of war, he is credited with creating, inspiring, and directing the Red Army that gained a great victory in the civil war and saved the Revolution. Following Lenin's death he was outmanoeuvred by Stalin, and in 1929 was exiled from Russia. He was assassinated by a Stalinist agent in 1940 in Mexico.

 

Stalin (1879-53)

Stalin is one of the dominating personalities of the twentieth century. Born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzugashvili in Georgia in 1879 to a peasant family, he attended a church school from 1888-94, winning a scholarship to Tbilisi Theological Seminary where he began training to be a priest. Here he began reading forbidden literature such as Marx's Das Capital, and left before graduating to become a full time socialist revolutionary.

Arrested and exiled many times between 1902-13, each time escaping, he was confined in Siberia from 1913-17. Following the February Revolution he returned to Petrograd in 1917 and became editor of Pravda. Though he played a part in the October Revolution, Stalin was very much a 'grey man', remaining in the background and carrying out the boring but necessary tasks of administration. following the Revolution he was appointed Chairman for Nationality Affairs in Sovnarkom, and acted as a commander on several fronts during the civil war. 1919-23 he was Commissar for State control, and in 1922 he was appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party. Stalin's organisational work in the party strengthened his political power. Following the death on Lenin in 1924 he was denounced in Lenin's Political Testament but was able to have it suppressed.

From 1925-9 he was engaged in a power struggle with Trotsky and other leading Bolsheviks from which he emerged with supreme power in 1929. Stalin introduced the policy of rapid industrialisation in the 1930s, with a large degree of success, but his policy of forced collectivisation caused millions of deaths through starvation, and his campaign of political terror and used of labour camps also killed millions of his own people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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