Stalin and the Historians Will the real Stalin stand up please?
Notes borrowed from • Peter Oxley • Stalinist Russia by Michael Lynch • Stalin by Stephen J Lee
Problems of evidence: How do we know? • Evidence itself is neutral • It’s the historians who give it meaning • Evidence itself can be interpreted in different ways base on ones experience
What did the ruling elite think of Stalin? • Read the comment in Source 4 on page 225 • Do you agree with this view? • Why do you think he wrote it?
Sources of information about Stalin • Official media • Economic statistics published by the regime • News from foreign visitors such a Walter Durranty • Reports from exiles; those who had fled Stalin’s regime Read Source 6 page 226 • Smolensk Archive captured in 1941 by the Germans • Since 1991 the opening up of the Russian archives
Which of the above sources is the most reliable? • Identify the most reliable source • Why do you feel it is the most reliable? • What arguments would you put forward to defend your view?
Historiography • Writers in the 1930’s less critical about Stalin • Why? • Political stance of the historian explains his stance • How did these historians view Stalin? • Issac Deutscher and Medvedev • Dimitri Volkogonov • Trotsky
Post World War 2 views • Read Grey’s view source 8 page 228 • Have his views been affected by his position during the war? • How did American historians view Stalin? • Post Cold War view?
Marxist Historians’ dilemma • Should Marxist accept Stalin • If you accept Stalin then what happens to Trotsky? • Read source 10 page 229. How have Trotsky’s views been affected by the events of the 1920’s • Can you accept Khruschev’s ‘secret speech’?
Four Schools of thought • Stalinist historians • Totalitarian historians Isaac Deutscher • Trotskyite historians • Revisionist historians such as Pipes, Robert Service
The debate…………. • Why and how did Stalin become the most important figure in Europe? • What were the reasons for the Purges? • How successful were the economic policies of the 1930’s? • How far did Stalin build on Lenin’s legacy?
Rise to power • Trotsky: Stalin’s ambition • Robert Conquest: The conditions within the Party favoured the rise of a leader • Marxists are divided. Was Stalin the logical successor? • Pipes: Closeness to Lenin is the key. His rise is not surprising
Stalin’s role in the Terror • Stalinists say it was necessary because the were real threats to the USSR in the 1930’s • Totalitarian historians say it was to eliminate opposition • Trotskyite supporter Isaac Deutscher is of the opinion that the Purges were motivated by the need to unite Russia in the face of an imminent German attack • Revisionist on the other hand feel that Stalin’s role was over estimated. • Read KS Davies’ view Page 233 • Do you agree with his assessment?
Stalin’s Economic Policies • Highly debatable topic • Would Russia be able to achieve that level of industrialisation w/o Stalin’s policies? • Marxist historians accept Stalin’s views and see it as a kind of social engineering. Was it? • Was it utopian? • Or was it as George Orwell saw it..some are more equal than others? • Revisionsists now agree that the system did work in a strange way
Was Stalin Lenin’s heir? • Stalinist historians believe it was so • They use the comments of Rosa Luxemburg ( Source 17, page 234) • They also look at Stalin’s attacks on the Kulaks • Totalitarian historian believe otherwise • Schapiro believes that Stalin took the ideas of Lenin much further to create a truly totalitarian state • This had been done by Lenin too
Revisionist view • They seem to believe that there was a divergence of views and often Stalin had to formulate his own policies to meet the demands of the situation • Lewin also points out that Lenin’s own view are ambiguous, contradictory and were often modified • Probably there can be no consensus on the issue • Revisionist historian Robert Service sums up the debate effectively in Source 19 Page 235
Closing comment • Source 20, Page 235 • How valid is this interpretation? • Deranged or not, Stalin remains a towering figure in world History. He had galvanised the forces that built a new form of society, presided over an ultimately triumphant war and by careful diplomacy had made Russia the second greatest power on earth. He has destroyed the country ways, thrown down old gods, decimated Muzhiks ( opposite of Kulaks) and mullahs, priests and intellectuals, engineers and writers. He died as he had lived, a remote, cruel deity, but for many a deity all the same. Kochan and Abraham, The Making of Modern Russia, 1983