The Great Purge

Essay by hucklbeary84University, Bachelor'sA-, May 2004

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The period during the 1930s, often called the Great Purge, is an extremely controversial, complex subject. The events that occurred between during this time period resulted in the total destruction of the Leninist Party. Ultimately, Joseph Stalin executed millions of Russians in order to pursue his ideal government: "A military camp where unanimity and subservience to the Leader reigned". However, while his actions and his demands were without a doubt merciless and horrific, it is necessary to understand the underlying causes behind the brutal purges that Stalin is so well-known for today. While numerous factors played a role in what led to a mass repression in the Soviet Union, there were several key factors in particular that stand above the rest.

An extremely important factor in the assessment of the causes of the purges is political ideology. Going all the way back to Karl Marx's scientific socialism theory, it is evident that his theory gave Russian social democrats the much-needed self-confidence in their battle against the czarist regime and rival revolutionary groups.

However, self-confidence leads to intolerance, which Vladimir Lenin quickly adopted. Lenin stressed the importance of ideological purity and the 'correct line'; "the debris of bitter quarrels and the wreckage of expelled factions litter early Bolshevism's history." It was important to the Bolshevik's that in order for Marx's communist society to work, there had to be absolutely no tolerance for counter-revolutionary groups or rival revolutionary groups. Since Stalin rose into the party as an organizer and administrator but not an ideologist, he learned political ideologies through the teachings of Marx and Lenin. Once in power, he quickly began to alter and distort the doctrines of Marx and Lenin. However, the key factor that both Marx and especially Lenin emphasized was the importance of absolute intolerance of opposition. Stalin...