Stalin, a force and leader to be feared since the start of his rule, had not yet shown the true colors of his brutality by the early 1930s. This would all change with the start of the Great Terror in 1936, jumped started by a major event two years prior; the assassination of Sergei’ Kirov.
Kirov was one of the most important members of the Soviet elite and Communist Party.. First Secretary of the Leningrad party and of the Politburo, by the mid-1930s Kirov had popularity to rival that of Stalin himself. In 1994 on the first of December, Kirov was shot in his office by a party member upset with Kirov, Leonid Nikolaev. Stalin immediately placed the blame on former party leaders who had been ousted soon after the ascension of Stalin. With the rising popularity of Kirov at the time of his death, it left many outsiders speculating some amount of involvement by Stalin himself; little evident exists to support such notions. A video of Kirov’s funeral through the streets of Leningrad depicts a limited amount of shots of what the city looks like, a brief clip of Russian’s seemingly marching in honor and remembrance, and provide evidence of the type of reception the Russian citizens were expected to give to deceased leaders. Here is the link for the funeral procession video.
Socially, the death of such a figure deteriorated Russian’s trust in their government and Stalin. Citizens began to make it clear they were more concerned with being well fed than they were with grand industrial and political changes. The circumstances surrounding the stage trials that later took place, in addition to the executions and deportation of citizens of the state who were deemed a danger to society and government. All of these events would force Stalin to clamp down politically and cracked down even more in order to maintain his grip on the country. Whether or not the assassination of Kirov was ordered by Stalin or not, it struck the core of the nation and led to public displays of Stalin’s brutality as a dictator. Although elements of the Soviet Union’s economy had recovered from pre-Bolshlevik times, the people were still very unsatisfied with the status quo during the 1930s.