How did the purges enable Stalin to consolidate his rule?

Essay by KeirHigh School, 12th grade October 2006

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By the middle of 1932 opposition to Stalin's policies had grown significantly. Some party members were even publicly criticizing Stalin and called for the re-admission of Leon Trotsky to the party. When this issue was discussed in the Politburo, Stalin demanded that all those who opposed him should be immediately removed from the party, arrested and executed. However Sergey Kirov (Stalin's best friend) was against this and for the idea of rehabilitation. When a vote was taken in the Politburo most voted against him. In 1934 during the 17th party congress, Kirov had gained just as much support as Stalin. For instance the congress gave him just as warm of a reception as Stalin. By the December 1st 1934 Kirov was assassinated. Stalin blamed his murder on a Trotskyite conspiracy to murder high ranking officials including himself. Only a matter of hours after the death of Kirov did Stalin create a new law that stated that anyone accused of terrorism would immediately be arrested, trialed and murdered straight away after.

It was through this new law that Stalin was able to rid all of his political opponents, ranging from ex-politburo members, top government officials, and military officials.

The Moscow Trials were the first major public trials of the purges. There were many very prominent members of the Politburo (many who had been in the party since its birth in 1917), who had been expelled earlier, and later put on trial. Between 1936 and 1938 three Moscow trials of senior communist party leaders were held. The defendants were mainly accused of conspiring with Trotsky and other Western powers to assassinate Stalin and other leaders. The first trial (held in august of 1936), nicknamed "The Trial of The 16", whose chief defendants included Grigory Zinoviev and Leon Kamenev. They were trialed on...