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Source 1: Propaganda Poster
Ludlow, Gordon “Propoganda” (2004)
<http://www.gordonludlow.com/munist/propaganda.html> (Last updated Thursday, 29 July 2004)
"Translation: "The Spirit of Great Lenin and His Victorious Banner inspires us during this Great Patriotic War"
The primary source above is the result of a propaganda poster, which was produced by the Stalinist government. It was in response to the war between Russia and Germany (Stalin and Hitler). It was meant to be seen by all, and through that inspire and activate support during war. It was produced in response to the Great Patriotic War, which was a war between Axis and its European Allies. As with all wars in history, the first step is to raise its awareness, create support and allow nationalistic movement. There are many devices used to create this support of war and spark a patriotic view towards war. Firstly, Lenin, seen as the father of Russia’s freedom from capitalists (hence father of Russia’s communism) and a spirit stands behind Stalin, in a way backing up Russia and the days of war to come. Both Stalin and Lenin have rigid and strong facial expressions, once again strengthening their view on war, and then how Russia will succeed (indicated by the hand movement and general flow of images). Most importantly, the victorious banner is used to reinforce Russia’s assurance especially when the great Lenin and the hence greater Stalin lead the country. This source demonstrates the keenness towards war and Stalin’s methods to capture the nation for wide support. It is useful in a fact that it acts as some proof of the importance of military under Stalin’s totalitarian rule along with the strength of propaganda. However, it obviously supports the government’s viewpoint to this war, and does not seem reliable for that aspect. Nonetheless, it still useful and reliable for studying propaganda, the ways it was used and the importance of war and victory in Stalin’s Russia. Conclusively, this source displays reliability (through the production from the government) and usefulness in the area of study. This is done through effective visual
techniques and even though it contains bias, it still proves useful for other purposes such as the study of propaganda and how it was used as one of the most important tool in the Stalin era. Source 2: Lenin’s Testament
Lenin’s Testament, 4 January 1923 (found in Russia 1914-1941 by John Laver).
Above is a primary source, from the writings of Lenin during the years of 1922 and 1923. It was partially suppressed by Stalin and his supporters yet still was read out on a party meeting. It was supposed to be seen by the party leaders, and provide them with ideas to rule the party effectively and show who was capable of further taking charge (as Lenin [the active party leader] was dying). The testament was a dying wish from Lenin, as he knew the complications and the necessary steps that need to be taken. It was when the party had just been established firmly after the civil war, and a large step lay ahead to mould the first communist country along with producing a universal force that would create a world revolution. The testament contained visions of upcoming events, and at the same time a profiling on all the major party personalities. Its recurring motive in this document was to basically warn of dangers, ensure proper control and keep views of Marx and Lenin solid. This excerpt from the testament specifically shows the worry of his succession. Lenin warns about Stalin, about his inability to handle power correctly opposed to the praising remarks about ‘comrade’ Trotsky. A warning of a party split is shown, as two opposing ideas are demonstrated between Stalin and Trotsky. There is no definite answer to who should rule the party, but a strong lean on Trotsky is taken. Due to the favouring of Trotsky, Stalin tried to suppress this document so that his flaws would not be read aloud to the whole party. Nonetheless, it proceeded and Stalin further limited its spread and before it was publicised, he had already established himself as Lenin’s successor with love leaned towards him and hatred toward Trotsky.
Even due to the vigorous attempt to block the document, the real document had come to public as there were many reported copies. Overall, this source produces real view on two prominent figures of the Lenin/Stalin era. Its usefulness is very significant, as it outlines Lenin’s doubts, and the betrayal of the revolution. It shows political reality and this to Historians is valuable in determining the events and their effects of it. This shares some negativity to the topic and shows measures taken by Stalin and his fellow ‘comrades’ to avoid being seen as they really were. Reliability is never full of certainty, as in this case the omissions or some editing along the way is unknown (due to Stalin’s censor nature). However, it still shows what is necessary from the initial leader of the party, who had predicted what was to be done and to come. Source 3: Textbook
The immediate Background of Soviet Collectivisation (1965) by M. Lewin
The secondary source provided above is from an article, outlining the reason and background on the method of Soviet collectivisation. It was intended for audience who was interested in the subject of soviet progression and the key method of peasant collectivisation. This source is from a secondary nature, being researched, cross checked and told through a later time than the event’s presence. It is through this the findings of collectivisation are discussed. It is seen as Stalin’s instant decision that the peasants will have to ‘tribute’ in order to successfully phase the nation to an industrial giant. The source offers a factual side to the decision and events that led to it. The motive therefore is to inform the audience. The motive gives some understanding of the purpose in the text and hence gives further ideas to interlock ideas and causes. The source is quite factual, offering minimal or no emotional language and getting to the point of the turn from the NEP to a more effective way to bring Russia up-to-date. The main problems described were the divisions between the socialist and the private sectors, where power of Stalin could be slowly undermined. Due to this, Stalin aided
this situation with the introduction of collectivisation, in which the peasants would (yet again) power the country but the motivation would be far larger and stronger (the revolution and better conditions). The prospect of omissions does not seem likely for this article, apart from any research errors. Largely, this source displays information about Stalin’s decisions and their main influence. However, it does not prove to be entirely useful in the subject of Stalin and his Totalitarianism. This is mainly due to the fact that it only shows one aspect of this story and secondly is the uncertainty of some events described. However, the one aspect useful to historians is the different aspect provided to the event and more detail to how it was influenced. Along this track, the reliability can also come to question, as the authors view can be influenced by many variables, such as personal opinion (bias) and/or the view created from sources researched. However, the source’s apparent usefulness and some sense of further understanding of Stalin’s personality and actions lead to the source being somewhat useful but keeping reliability in question. Perhaps sources for the reasoning and observations would seem helpful and settle the final question of reliability. Source 4 : Data of Collectivisation
Statistical Yearbook of the USSR, various years, State Statistical Committee of the USSR, Moscow.
‘Statistics on Collectivisation’ is an organised table of data to show figures of units relevant to agriculture and food. It is derived from records in the Stalinist era. The exact author is unknown but it is certain they must be a government official. This source was recorded to follow the trend of grains and other units and to be used to figure out the next curve in decisions. Collectivisation was a process that inflicted some damage to the grain amount as the data shows. It was in a way destructive to the peasants and not very effective in terms of quantity. The data shows that across a span of seven years, the amount of livestock and grain mainly decreased and by the end of 1935 was less efficient that the farming of 1928. Even due to Stalin’s pushing nature or enthusiasm, it was rushed and forced, which is demonstrated exactly in this source. There are real possibilities for omissions in this type of source, as Stalin, being the data manipulator he is, could have modified data to suit his needs. However, in this source, it clearly shows decline in numbers of grain and livestock which would have been undesirable to start with. A source of data gives rigid insight into the more precise happenings in the time period and an extensive background to what actually was going on. In this case, this provides data and the real situation of farming and the inability to properly maintain it.
Due to the derivation from an official source, and the nature of the data, this source can be reliable in the form of original data and once again the real situation. Source 5 : Photo
Ruling Russia – From Nicholas II to Stalin by Helen Proctor
The photo is from the event of the Bolshevik uprising after the 1917 revolution. The photograph was possibly taken by a party member or simply someone from the audience. The photo was definitely taken for everyone to see, especially the support for the Bolsheviks and their depth in the country. During the Russian revolution of 1917, the long Tsarist rule was abolished and the opening of a new government was demanded. The Bolsheviks came out as the winners due to their organisation and their strong involvement. Lenin always used to speak in the audience and capture them, gathering enormous crowds. The motive was basically to capture this moment of excitement and gathering. The photo is taken in which the image of Lenin and his strong symbolic figure. The audience is shown as the plenty and with this, his powers of speech is demonstrated. However, during the era of Stalin, there had been mass censorship, in the hiding of prominent figures such as Trotsky and manipulating data to make it seem like something otherwise. This was exactly the case in this photograph. Stalin had removed Trotsky and ‘airbrushed’ to make it seem Trotsky was absent during this revolutionary time. This is why this source must be seen with two views – one with the original intent and another with the new intent, created through the editing. This source is only useful (and reliable) when it is seen through the second perspective of the manipulation. Through that view, it allows historians to see the extent of censoring and what Stalin performed in order to cancel out all competition and rise to power. Along these threads, the reliability comes into the same question and context, as it is only reliable when it is seen through the second perspective. Through that we see Stalin’s approach to the issue of power and the bias and modification certainly helps in that aspect with effectiveness.
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