October 31st, 2017
By the time of his death, Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin was responsible for the deaths of at least three million Soviet citizens. According to the BBC article “Stalin- Purges and Praises” these deaths could more accurately be described as executions. Stalin’s murderous spree began after the death of the leader of the Leningrad Communist Party, Kirov (many believe that Stalin himself ordered his murder). Taking advantage of the new lack of leadership, Stalin imposed upon himself the ability to execute anyone considered to be ‘disloyal’. Those unlucky enough to find themselves in this situation were either “murdered, sent to prison, or put on public show trials at which they plead guilty to incredible crimes they never could have done”. Even Soviet and military leaders were not safe from Stalin’s reign as “93 of 139 Central Committee members were put to death and 81 of 103 generals and admirals were executed”. And just in case these measures were not enough to threaten the general public, the NKVD or Secret Police was constantly ready to take action against those who had been complained about in regards to loyalty. Ultimately, these extreme measures were implemented by Stalin in order to gain the complete and undivided obedience of the Soviet Union. Under his reign of terror newspapers and poets praised him and citizens dare not speak out against anything he did for fear of severe repercussions.
However despite the sheer quantity and brutality of these deaths, foreign perspectives failed to realize the damage Stalin was doing to his own country. According to the article, this was because Stalin would perform acts of revisionist history to combat evidence arguing his guilt. On his order “photographs and history books were changed to eliminate even the memory of people who had been arrested. And perhaps most famously, the edit or retake of a photo originally featuring Stalin’s colleague that later removed this person from the photo entirely. These techniques were able to, for the time being, hide and erase from the world the mass murders occurring within the Soviet Union throughout the 1930s and 40s. This article was most useful in revealing how revisionism is misused to simply deny the existence of events or people, and the consequences this presents when trying to establish an unbiased narrative of events.
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“GCSE Bitesize – Stalin – purges and praises.” BBC. Accessed October 31, 2017. http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/russia/stalinpurgesandpraisesrev1.shtml.