How Did Trotsky Contribute To The Success Of The Bolsheviks Up To 1922?

a) Leon Trotsky was an important figure in the construction of the soviet union, he was born in Ukraine in the city of Yanovka. He went to a German secondary school and had Jewish parents. It was clear he was destined for success in his chosen goal in life, he was a top student in secondary school in Odessa. He was friends with the leader to be of the Bolshevik party, Vladimir Lennin. He was a follower of Karl Marx and also became a populist. As an adult he spent most of his life in either foreign exile or prison due to his mad passion for publishing communist newspapers and journals. He escaped from exile in Siberia in 1902 using a fake passport with the name ‘Trotsky’, his real name being Lev Davidovich Bronstein. He then proceeded to stay with this name which he has been known as ever since and still is now. After this he went to London and met up with his old friend Lenin, then in 1903 the Russian social democratic party split and Trotsky took over as Menshevik spokesman.

In 1905, Trotsky returned to his birth land, Yanovka. At this time there was a revolution of workers involving many strikes around a lot of workplaces. By this time he was a very influential figure and part of the St Petersburg soviet, in fact he was elected as chairman of the soviet. There was then many soviets set up across Russia, these were basically the workers government or union, thus, there main goals included keeping the workers happy, getting them what they wanted and also what they believed in. This enhanced his reputation as a leading revolutionary, but he was unsuccessful in his attempts to overthrow the Tsar and was once again arrested and imprisoned again.

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He used his time in prison to develop his ideas about a permanent resolution, he had two years to do so and then managed to escape, plugging his proposed revolution straight away. His friend Lenin tried to persuade him to join the Bolshevik party due to the fact that he was a big figure in the revolution. He wanted him to join his Bolshevik party as he believed he had the perfect credentials to become a great leader and could assemble and lead an army of soldiers.

Trotsky the moved to Zurich, Switzerland where he made it publicly known just how much he was against the first world war… A lot! He objected so much that he went to France to become a member of The Social Democratic Party and wrote articles expressing his negative views, he went so far that he tried to tell workers not to enlist for their country. His public feelings and expressions got him in trouble once again, this time getting him arrested and deported to Spain. His views influenced the Bolshevik party into feeling opposition to the war, just as he did. This helped towards the success of the Bolsheviks. This also contributed towards enhancing his reputation and of the communists by being anti-war. In 1917 he moved from Spain To New York and again moved, this time to Russia where The Tsar was overthrown and became a member of the Bolshevik party.

In Russia he once again found trouble and was arrested for his involvement in the attempt to overthrow the provisional government in place. This Plot was called ‘The July Day’s’. He was imprisoned for a short period, He then became the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. This was abnormal because of the fact he had only just returned to the country but his popularity became obvious because of this. In the month of his appointment as chairman of The Petrograd Soviet he was also planning a coup on the provisional government with a Bolshevik attack. The October Revolution was organised by him and Stalin, they also worked together in overthrowing the provisional government and the power being taken by the Bolshevik party. Stalin was a big figure but without Trotsky the perfect planning and arrangement of the twenty thousand man strong army put in place to guard Petrograd couldn’t have been set up. Trotsky’s influence in the Bolsheviks successful take over of the provisional government was obvious and there for all to see.

Upon his success in the overthrow of the provisional government, he was also promoted by Lenin and as a result played a part in the Russo-German negotiations at Brest-Litovsk. The aims of these negotiations were to put an end to Russia’s part in World War 1, but the only way to put a stop to their involvement was to give up some land to Austria and Germany, thus hoping to avoid their interest in entering Russia. Unfortunately, these negotiations stalled and eventually failed and Germany and Austria advanced further through Russia. As a result he had to surrender many territories: Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Caucasus and the Baltic provinces. He then tried to stop them from entering Russian land as it was vital to him and the Bolshevik party to secure peace so they could gain control over the country. These peace keeping attempts helped the Bolsheviks immensely once again.

In the month of January 1918, a Red army of workers and peasants was constructed to battle the Whites, this happened as Lenin thought that the old Russian army would have to be moved into the new Communist Party. Lenin made Trotsky head of the new army named ‘The Reds’. The Reds were primarily formed to oppose the Whites and Trotsky enlisted the help of over 5 million people to join their cause. The main reason people joined is because, as they were mainly peasants and workers, was the guarantee of enrolee’s family’s welfare and safety offered by Trotsky. With the brute force and pure amount of numbers in the force, the Bolsheviks again won the battle and kept hold of political power. Without Trotsky, success may not have come so easy as he was such a popular figure people were happy to enrol and the fact that he was such a good leader helped the Bolsheviks to win the battle once again. Therefore without him the result of the Civil War could have been different.

A little after this, Trotsky joined the Communist Party Central Committee. Living up to his reputation and previous, he once again got in trouble but this time avoided jail time. He offended many people and disregarded many of the Mensheviks policies, as a result of this he lost their support. Poverty was then a big thing in Russia but Lenin ignored this fact, introducing The New Economic Policy. Trotsky paired up with Stalin and made it known how well they got on and also publicly with Lenin and his policies but it was quite well known to the public that he disliked them due to the likeness to capitalist policies.

It was said that Trotsky should be the new leader of the Bolshevik party due to his incredible influence on their successes but due to his arrogant nature he became unpopular with comrades. This gave someone else the opportunity to challenge him, Joseph Stalin was the man who decided to do so.

Why Was Stalin And Not

Trotsky The Successor From Lenin?

b) After Lenin’s death in 1924, the USSR needed a new face to lead them and it was the Politburo’s job to find the man to do it. The Politburo was seven men set up to lead Russia after the death of Lenin, both Stalin and Trotsky were part of this group, eventually the two men would campaign against each other in order to win power of The USSR. Stalin was the victor in this battle over Trotsky and in 1924 took complete control of the Republic. The influence of 3 people in the Politburo was a major reason for this, these people were Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev. They all teamed up together when it became obvious that Lenin was about to die to ensure Trotsky did not come to power.

The Politburo was not a united group. They split into two groups: The Left Opposition and The Rightists. In the main, the group split up as a result of economic disagreements about the USSR. They both rivalled each other in that the rightists believed that they should continue the New Economic Policy, which was introduced by Lenin, for the next 20 years. However, the party including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev disagreed with them and the New Economic Policy. They thought that the country should be an agricultural one for no longer but an industrial one because they thought if they didn’t, western, communist-hating, countries would invade and evaporate the communist culture of Russian life.

Trotsky’s arrogance once again lost him popularity in his colleagues. Zinoviev and Kamenev disliked him as a person, although they did agree with his policies. This was mainly a result of his conduct and rude manner. He behaved this way in a Politburo meeting and that lost him friends amongst the group and left him as an outcast in the group with no personal friends.

Before Lenin died he wrote a letter to the Party Congress, this included that the main problem that the Politburo could face would be the split of the group. He said that the main people who would cause this split were Trotsky and Stalin. This was known as ‘The Testament’ It also stated that Stalin was ‘Too Rude’ and suggested he should be removed and replaced from the party. He said Trotsky had ‘Outstanding Ability’, clearly showing that Lenin would rather have Trotsky as his successor.

When this testament was heard, it looked as though Stalin was to be eliminated from the group but he was saved by Zinoviev who stood up for him saying Lenin’s comments about him were ‘Groundless and Unfair’ He also noted how well Stalin had worked with himself and Kamenev since Lenin’s death. As a result of this speech, The party opted to leave him in place. The committee decided not to make Lenin’s testament made public as they felt that Russian’s may have opposed him due to Lenin’s view and as a result didn’t publish it. This left Trotsky as favourite for the running of the country.

For the rest of the year the Politburo argued about the future of the Soviet Economy. Again, the primary argument was between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky thought communism could not last in Russia as opposing countries from the west would invade and crush it. Because of this belief he wanted to spread the idea of communism amongst countries throughout the west. Stalin completely disagreed with this though, he just wanted to concentrate on The USSR and it’s economy. The fact that Stalin’s views were more popular with the Bolshevik party was probably the main reason for his victory over Trotsky.

Stalin was not the only one who disagreed with Trotsky’s ideas of permanent revolution, this was mainly because revolutionising European countries had been attempted before, and failed. Huge problems arose in 1925 when their views emerged, he decided to resign from his post as Commissar Of War. Stalin wanted complete control though so he attacked individuals within the party and also joined forces with the Rightists who agreed with Stalin’s policies. Even though the Rightists were one of few parties who wanted to stick with Lenin’s New Economic Policy, he did not join forces with them for that, it was, in the main because they would help him to push Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev out of the Politburo forever, his main competition of course.

Stalin influenced his supporters to vote against Trotsky in the Part Central Committee meetings in order to put him even further down the pecking order in the Politburo. In 1927 Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev all were pushed out of the party for good.

In 1928, Stalin protested more against the New Economic Policy, the rightists tried to oppose this protest but as Stalin had more followers their argument was always going to be a failure. In 1929 Trotsky was deported to Alma Ata in Asia and was exiled from the USSR all together leaving Stalin In complete control of Russia without major opposition to worry about. Even after this he was not satisfied, in 1940 he arranged for Trotsky to be murdered, he got impaled with an ice axe and died the following day.

Stalin won the battle of power between him and Trotsky mainly due to his complete determination ambition and will-power. It could have gone in favour of either party but it eventually went to Stalin through pure heart.

c) The following were equally important reasons why Stalin was able to hold onto power in the soviet union:

* The Purges and Show Trials

* The Secret Police

* Propaganda and the cult of personality

* Stalin’s Economic Policies

Each of these proved to be equally important reasons towards his success. But in my opinion, the most important of them all was his Economic Policies.

During his battle for power with Trotsky, Stalin was against the idea of an industrial state, he was in favour of the already agricultural one but during his time in power, he decided to make the industrial state a true one. He blamed two things for this change in heart: ‘a War Scare’ this came from China and Britain, and ‘Counter Revolution Capitalists’ who were supposedly trying to destroy Russia’s coal mines to weaken their economy, leaving them vulnerable to attack, therefore Stalin made the necessary changes to keep the economy strong.

Stalin introduced the idea of a ‘Five Year Plan’, in the year of 1928, being enforced from October onwards. It included the almost impossible task for big industries such as oil, steel and iron had to triple their output and similarly weaker industries such as clothing, furniture and shoe would have to double theirs. Therefore, needless to say, workers would have to work harder, Stalin picked up on this and said any worker not pulling their weight would be punished with treason. This helped Stalin stay in power because people knew they had to comply with and obey him.

Stalin was always ambitious and as he saw the growth of the industry happen so rapidly, he decided to cut the plan a year short, giving industries only 4 years to complete. Some workers complained and protested about this but Stalin assured people that it was the right thing to do claiming the USSR was 50 to 100 years behind some countries. He said ‘Either we do it or they will crush us’ This helped him stay in power as workers wanted to deliver because they feared foreign aggression.

At the end of the plan, the figures of those years and the year before it had been set up had gone up dramatically. It was a success, Stalin’s plan worked and he like the idea so much that he drew up another almost immediately. This success also helped him stay in power.

The Purges that occurred during Stalin’s rule on The USSR were when a member of the Party was expelled from the group, usually because of bad behaviour or unreliability, the Purges and show trials were very important to his success. Stalin was hell bent on making sure none of his party were what he called either ‘Trotskyites’ or ‘Zinovievites’ or ‘counter-revolutionaries’ so much so that regular checks were done to check the reliability of members and make sure they were not followers of Trotsky or Zinoviev. When a member was found to be guilty of one of these charges they would be purged from the party and losing their job would follow. In some cases the Secret Police would arrest the victim so he was no threat to Stalin or his rule over the USSR.

Show trials happened after the member was purged from the group. It was a trial which occurred with maximum publicity, attended by the press to make sure the public either saw or heard about them ensuring Stalin’s rule further more as it emphasised his callas power shield and scared people into keeping him in power. It also made sure every person in the stand was publicly humiliated and couldn’t pose a threat to Stalin in the future as they would be commonly unpopular.

The ‘NKVD’ was set up by Stalin in order to enforce his rules and orders. The were also referred to as ‘The Secret Police’ Stalin usually made sure what they did stayed out of the public eye as he often instructed them to carry out assassinations, one of the most famous being Leon Trotsky with an ice axe. The NKVD helped him eliminate his closest threats and enemies therefore was a sure-fire way of keeping control of The USSR.

‘Propaganda and the Cult OF Personality’ is the last factor that was equally important to Stalin’s success, the propaganda was always in Stalin’s favour, promoting his image. He also ensured all the newspapers were on his side creating a positive light for him, this was because newspapers were the only source for the public to hear about him and his exploits. Maintaining his successful and long rule over the USSR.

It is in fairness, true to an extent that all 4 reasons stated at the beginning of Question C were important to his successes: ‘The Purges and show trials’ ensured public humiliation for party members who were ill behaved or who cheated Stalin. ‘The Secret Police’ or The ‘NKVD’ Helped him eliminate his enemies and also scare opponents off. ‘The propaganda and Cult Of Personality’ made sure he maintained his good public image and popularity but I believe his Economic Policies contributed the most towards him keeping power for so long, they helped him revolutionise the Soviet unions Economy and power, catching up with other foreign countries who were beginning to become a threat to the USSR helping him also and mainly keep control of the USSR.


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