Essay by scojop October 2004

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Stalin did not demonstrate truly wise and honourable leadership of his country, and it was only because of the unstable nature of Europe at this time that the people of Russia trusted and put their faith in him. Stalin was the son of an alcoholic cobbler and a washerwoman, and was all too aware of the privileges of class. He came to loathe anyone wealthier than himself (he even annihilated the Kulaks, a wealthy peasant class) and was obsessed with a vision of 'liberating' his native Georgia from the rule of the Tsars. Trotsky wrote that Stalin's hatred of the oppressors was much stronger than his love of the oppressed, and even Lenin did not want Stalin to succeed him.

Stalin's has often been compared with Hitler, but while Hitler only left graves, devastation and degradation in Germany, Stalin turned a starving, destitute land into a powerful industrial state. However, this gain, and Russia's increase in territory in Eastern Europe, came at enormous cost to the Russian people.

To understand why Stalin led Russia in the way that he did after the war it is first necessary to go back and see how he operated during World War Two. When the Second World War broke out, Stalin decided to claim neutrality. His idea was that if all the countries of the world went to war with Germany by the end of the war they would all be financially and politically exhausted. Russia, having been at peace, could then rise to be the greatest power in the world and eliminate capitalism.

When Stalin decided that it was actually in Russia's interest to enter the war he intended to side with a nation(s) that opposed Nazi expansion, but due to his distrust of the west, he ended up as an ally of...