Between the years 1924-1928, Joseph Stalin manipulated his way into power and hence took hold of Russia. However, it could be said that luck also played a major part in his rise to power. Various factors affected his rise to power such as the triumvirate he formed with Lev Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev. Firstly, I will state the factors which were purposefully imposed by Stalin to help him succeed, I will then state the factors which helped Stalin a lot such as luck. A major factor that played a crucial part in Stalin’s rise to power was his skill of manipulation. He used this in many instances. He used it to befriend Kamenev and Zinoviev so that they would help him get rid of Trotsky by constantly attacking him in speeches and making him look bad. This was called a triumvirate and was not allowed within the Bolshevik party, this led to Zinoviev and Kamenev being later eliminated from the party.
Stalin cleverly exposed them after he got rid of Trotsky so that he would have more power. At first, Stalin was most worried about Trotsky and saw him as a threat to his success, this is why he tried to get rid of him. He used many manipulative techniques to get rid of Leon Trotsky. Firstly, he used Vladimir Lenin’s funeral to show that he is an alley to Lenin and that Trotsky is not so should therefore not be the one to take the power of Russia. However, these were both not true because Lenin and Stalin were not alleys, behind the scenes they were very cautious of each other. Lenin was especially aware of Stalin and could tell there was something wrong with him. This led to Lenin writing the ‘Lenin Testament’ which advised his party colleagues that Stalin should not take power because he was malevolent and they should be cautious of him. However, Stalin used his manipulation to suppress this testament. However, Lenin’s funeral could also be classed as lucky for Stalin.
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This is because Trotsky was ill at that time with pneumonia and was therefore unaware of the correct date of Lenin’s funeral, Stalin took advantage of this and misled Trotsky by telling him the funeral was on another day when he asked him. Stalin then acted as a pallbearer at the funeral and carried Lenin’s coffin, this showed him to be an alley of Lenin which meant that the people of Russia would think he should take power because they loved Lenin as a leader and respected him. However, Stalin was not a true ally of Lenin and used his manipulation to try and show the contrary. Another key factor that helped Stalin rise to power was his cleverness. He did many clever things which helped him rise to power in Russia. Firstly, he formed a triumvirate with Zinoviev and Kamenev. They were also members of the left-wing Bolshevik party.
Lev Kamenev joined the Bolsheviks in 1905 and Gregory Zinoviev joined in 1903. He used the triumvirate to attack Trotsky. At the time Stalin had the most power out of the three so he was in charge. This meant he got away with forming a faction. Factions were banned in the Bolshevik party because it was thought that they would lead to splits within the party, this theory was correct. This faction led to Zinoviev and Kamenev being dismissed from the party, however, Stalin got away with it because of the power he had. The consequence of the triumvirate was that Trotsky’s reputation was damaged which increased Stalin’s chances of success in taking hold of Russia. Also, it meant that Stalin eliminated two party colleagues who could have taken control of the party, which again increased his chances of taking the power over Russia.
Another way Stalin used his intelligence and cunning ways was by suppressing ‘Lenin’s Testament’. A long time before Lenin died there was much controversy about his relationship with Stalin. Publicly they seemed like very good friends but behind the scenes, they were very cautious of each other. Lenin was especially worried about Stalin. He could tell that Stalin was someone who needed to be watched as he had many characteristics about him which made him seem abnormal. One of these was that he was ruthless, this could have been due to the death of his first wife who he loved very much. The testament also said bad stuff about Zinoviev and Kamenev. Also, Stalin used his cleverness and his tactical manipulation to again tarnish Trotsky’s reputation. He did this at Lenin’s funeral. On 21 January 1924, Vladimir Lenin died.
At this time Trotsky was ill with pneumonia so he didn’t fully know about the details of Lenin’s funeral. Stalin saw this as an opportunity to mislead Trotsky so he told him the wrong date for the funeral. Stalin then carried Lenin’s coffin, which made it look like he and Lenin were close friends. He also spoke badly of Trotsky since he never attended the funeral. This dented Trotsky’s reputation but boosted Stalin’s as the people began to admire him thinking he was a friend of their loved ex-leader and a strong ruler. This shows how Stalin used manipulation to rise to success, however, luck also played a major role in this scenario because if Trotsky was ill then it would have been unlikely that he would have missed the funeral and therefore Stalin would have been unable to speak bad stuff about him.
As well as using manipulation and his intelligence Stalin was also very lucky, luck played a major role in his rise to power in Russia. Firstly, even though what Stalin did at Lenin’s funeral was very clever it wouldn’t have happened if Trotsky was not ill because he would have then been able to attend the funeral and hence Stalin would have then been unable to say that Trotsky is a bad man because he never attended. There were many other factors that helped Stalin in his rise to power. The death of his wife did not directly help Stalin but it helped his campaign. This is because he was very sad at the death of his much-loved wife. This turned him into a ruthless and unsympathetic man, this was not lucky but it also played a big part in his rise to power because he would kill whoever got in his way and not regret it.
Another instance where Stalin was assisted with luck was when Trotsky produced ‘The Lessons of October’. This like the tragic death of his wife did not directly help Stalin but helped his campaign in the long run. This is due to the fact that ‘The lessons of October’ was used by Leon Trotsky to attack Kamenev and Zinoviev, this then led to them attacking him even more. As a result, Trotsky had to step down as commissar of the army and therefore lost a lot of his political influence. Seeing as Trotsky was one of Stalin’s main political opponents this also helped Stalin in his rise to power. Also, luck played a part in the fact that there were many weaknesses in Stalin’s political opponents. For instance, Trotsky was an arrogant man, strangely this helped Stalin. Of all the times Stalin manipulated Trotsky, like the incident at Lenin’s funeral, not once did Trotsky speak out and state what Stalin had been doing.
This meant that nobody really knew what Stalin was like behind the scenes. Surely if Trotsky spoke out and exposed Stalin then people would not have admired Stalin so much but on the contrary, would have reviled him. Therefore Stalin may not have risen to power so easily if Trotsky did speak out. Another instance of the political powers showing weaknesses is the sucking in of Kamenev and Zinoviev by Stalin. They were both very naive. They were misled by Stalin and lied to for his own success. Also one of the main factors which show that the politicians were weak was the fact that many of the other politicians were very straightforward and stuck to their principles. This meant that they never really took a different approach even though Stalin did. Therefore Stalin constantly had the upper hand in political affairs. Also, many of the politicians underestimated Stalin due to the fact that he was very quiet and never participated that much, this led to him being described as a ‘grey blur’ by his political colleagues.
As a consequence, he was able to do many things, such as form a triumvirate with Kamenev and Zinoviev, and not get noticed. Another factor that led to the rise of Stalin which could also be classed under luck was Russia’s state after Lenin’s death. The Russian people’s morale was severely damaged after the death of their admired leader Lenin. This was lucky for Stalin because he was able to present himself as the strong confident leader that Russia needed. Also, when people saw him carry Lenin’s coffin at his funeral they believed that they were close friends, however, this was wrong. However, even though Stalin had some luck because people began to see him as a strong leader, he also manipulated the situation by taking full advantage of the vulnerability the Russian people felt. He exploited the fact they were morally weak and desperate for a strong leader to replace Lenin. Thus, Stalin was lucky but also used his manipulative skills to help him.
To conclude, I believe that the two main factors in Stalin’s rise to power in Russia between the years of 1924 – 28 were his ability to manipulate and a lot of luck. His capability to manipulate his political opponents and certain situations was decisive in his rise to power. This can be shown by the combination of manipulation and luck which resulted in the damage of Trotsky’s reputation as a result of what happened at Lenin’s funeral where Stalin manipulated Trotsky by misleading him about the date of the funeral and then attacking him in a speech. Also, an incident of manipulation and luck can also be shown by when Stalin used his manipulation to eliminate Kamenev, Zinoviev and Trotsky from his political party. He did this by using Kamenev and Zinoviev to eliminate Trotsky then eliminating Trotsky himself. Therefore, I believe that Stalin rose to success by using his ability to manipulate, however, I also believe that luck also played a major role in his rise to power.