Setting The Stage
With the decline of Vladmir Lenin, the Soviet Union entered a truly frightening period of history wherein Joseph Stalin was able to seize power under the title of General Secretary of the Communist Party. This granted Stalin the power to discharge party members and appoint others in their place. His misuse of this power allowed him to displace valuable members who he saw as threats to either the party or more often himself. The flagrant misuse of this office foreshadowed Stalin's building of a totalitarian state.
Stalin's Rise to Power
By 1922, Vladimir Lenin was suffering from numerous health problems which he feared could impair his judgment in regards to the Communist Party. Because of this, he decided that a General Secretary should be created to ease his burden and he announced this decision at the Party Conference in April, 1922. The person Lenin charged with this was Joseph Stalin, a man who always supported his policies (Spartacus). This very quickly became Stalin's advantage when a blood vessel burst in Lenin's brain that left him paralyzed on his right side.
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With this new power Stalin was able to remove unacceptable party members or, more accurately, his opponents, and place others whom he favored at their posts. This increased Stalin's confidence, and he openly disagreed with Lenin's foreign trade decisions in October. Lenin was startled by Stalin's perversion of power, and formed an alliance with Leon Trotsky in the hopes of removing Stalin and finding a suitable replacement, thus sparking Stalin's hatred of Trotsky. Unluckily Lenin died before he was able to see this plan through and Stalin was able to form an alliance with Lev Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev against Trotsky.
Trotsky's Inevitable Decline
In response to the ambush against himself, Trotsky accused Stalin of being tyrannical and demanded democracy. In all too similar suit the triumvirate denounced Trotsky for his late admission into the party, and claimed that he undermined the system. and was secretly trying to split it. Then in May of 1924 any hope that Trotsky had of regaining power was dashed as Stalin's supporters repressed the late Lenin's will which could have redistributed power away from him. In 1925, Stalin orchestrated Trotsky's formal removal from his position as Commissioner of War, and in1926 from the Politburo.
Business as Unusual
Merely removing Trotsky from the political consciousness was not enough for Stalin and he also had to belittle and remove Trotsky's ideas, especially those on world revolution which directly refuted his own. This caused a rift within the triumvirate. Kamenev and Zinoviev supported Trotsky in his opinion that if communism did not spread to other countries it would be overthrown and replaced capitalism (Spartacus). This along with the obtrusive removal of Trotsky was enough to convince Kamenev and Zinoviev that Stalin could not be trusted, as he could turn on them as easily as he had turned on Trotsky. Thus in the summer of 1926, Kamenev and Zinoviev and joined with Trotsky and broke their unholy pact with Stalin.
Kamenev and Zinoviev Fall From Grace
The final blow came to Stalin when Kamenev and Zinoviev openly attacked his ideals and refused to stand behind them. This was too much for Stalin and he began to attack them as feverishly as he had Trotsky. The difference though, was that this time Stalin had planted the idea that the party could split and the only way to stop it was to release Kamenev and Zinoviev from its service.
The Central Committee did reach an agreement with Kamenev and Zivoviev which allowed them to still take part in the movement so long as they signed an agreement promising to not create frictions. The same offer was made to Trotsky, who declined it, resulting in his banishment to Kazhakstan. This forced moving around and banishments would not be a strange occurrance for Trotsky as he was moved to four different countries in the next ten years. While under this exile, he did reach some acclaim by publishing four novels, the last of which was on his rival Stalin. Stalin finally succeeded in removing Trotsky on August 20, 1940 when he ordered him assassinated by Ramon Mercader in Mexico City.
The demise of Kamenev and Zinoviev came under the order of the Soviet Union. Both men were arrested under the charges of involvement in an assassination of Sergy Kirov. Kamenev and Zinoviev were, of course, found guilty of these charges and were condemned to jail for a period of ten years. Soon afterward though, they were charged with plotting against Stalin, were found guilty, and put to death on August 25, 1936.
Bachkaton, Mina, and Wilson, Andrew. Russia and the Commonwealth A-Z. Great Britain: Harper Perennial, 1992.
Devlin, Robert, and Jackson, George, eds. Dictionary of the Russian Revolution. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989, pp 296-299, 548-555, 577-583, 645-647.
Simkin, John. <[email protected]>. Lev Kamenov" In "Spartacus Educational" <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSkamenev.htm>. Feb. 2004.
Simkin, John. <[email protected]>. "Joseph Stalin" In "Spartacus Educational" <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSstalin.htm>. Feb. 2004.
Simkin, John. <[email protected]>. "Leon Trotsky" In "Spartacus Educational" <. Feb. 2004.
Simkin, John. <[email protected]>. "Gregory Zinoviev" In "Spartacus Educational" <>. Feb. 2004.