"I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how;
but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how."
- Joseph Stalin
Born: 21 December 1878; Gori, Georgia, Russian Empire
Died: 4 March 1953; Kuntsevo Dacha, near Moscow, Soviet Russia
Alliance: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Objective: The Soviet Union, led by Stalin, was essentially “embarked on a program of world conquest” (Warth, 126) with all of the eastern states of Europe falling to the ‘Red Empire’, and proxy armies such as Communist China threatening all surrounding capitalist democratic nation-states with their campaign.
Position: Chairman of the Council of Ministers
In Office: 3 April 1922 – 16 October 1952
Mao Tsu-tung Chinese Communists
The meeting in Yalta determined the positions and relations between the victorious WWII allies - corroborated with the original footage of the event.
Joseph Stalin is acknowledged to be ‘one of the most powerful and murderous dictators in history’ (BBC 2011), notorious for his merciless exploits and teleological approach to reinstate the broken nation-state of Russia to the great superpower of the Soviet Union. Stalin was an ardent advocate for communism, which influenced the entire events of the Cold War in his iron determination to control as many nation-states as the imperial Soviet Union could reach. This established the hostility between the USSR and chiefly the USA, as there was a suppressed conflict in ideologies – communist dictatorship against capitalist democracy. Stalin’s deep suspicion of the Western Allies originated back in WWII and caused the consequential events (namely in Germany) to be received as conspiracies to undermine the Soviet Union’s authority. These tensions were thrown into relief when the American ambassador, General Walter Bedell Smith, asked Stalin whilst visiting in the Kremlin, "Is it possible that you really believe that the United States and Great Britain are united in an alliance to thwart Russia?" Stalin responded with a curt "Yes." (Warth, 1969)
Stalin is ultimately considered one of the central figures to have provoked and carried the Cold War as leader of the communist expansion; this belief is explicitly expressed in Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech. Russian historians record the beginning of the Cold War from the date of Churchill’s speech, which becomes a point of great significance.
For Joseph Stalin’s full biography click here
TASK: Read and consider the excerpt from Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech, and then consider Stalin’s response.
CHURCHILL'S 'Iron Curtain' Speech (1946)
"....It would nevertheless, ladies and gentlemen, be wrong and imprudent to entrust the secret knowledge or experience of the atomic bomb, which the United States, great Britain, and Canada now share, to the world organization, while still in its infancy. It would be criminal madness to cast it adrift in this still agitated and un-united world. No one country has slept less well in their beds because this knowledge and the method and the raw materials to apply it, are present largely retained in American hands. I do not believe we should all have slept so soundly had the positions been reversed and some Communist or neo-Facist State monopolized for the time being these dread agencies. The fear of them alone might easily have been used to enforce totalitarian systems upon the free democratic world, with consequences appalling to human imagination. God has willed that this shall not be and we have at least a breathing space to set our world house in order before this peril has to be encountered: and even then, if no effort is spared, we should still possess so formidable a superiority as to impose effective deterrents upon its employment, or threat of employment, by others. Ultimately, when the essential brotherhood of man is truly embodied and expressed in a world organization with all the necessary practical safeguards to make it effective, these powers would naturally be confided to that world organizations.
...From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone -- Greece with its immortal glories -- is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy."
STALIN'S RESPONSE (1946)
"Mr. Churchill now stands in the position of a firebrand of war. And Mr. Churchill is not alone here. He has friends not only in England but also in the United States of America.
In this respect, one is reminded remarkably of Hitler and his friends. Hitler began to set war loose by announcing his racial theory, declaring that only people speaking the German language represent a fully valuable nation. Mr. Churchill begins to set war loose, also by a racial theory, maintaining that only nations speaking the English language are fully valuable nations, called upon to decide the destinies of the entire world.
The German racial theory brought Hitler and his friends to the conclusion that the Germans, as the only fully valuable nation, must rule over other nations. The English racial theory brings Mr. Churchill and his friends to the conclusion that nations speaking the English language, being the only fully valuable nations, should rule over the remaining nations of the world....
As a result of the German invasion, the Soviet Union has irrevocably lost in battles with the Germans, and also during the German occupation and through the expulsion of Soviet citizens to German slave labor camps, about 7,000,000 people. In other words, the Soviet Union has lost in men several times more than Britain and the United States together.
But the Soviet Union cannot forget them. One can ask therefore, what can be surprising in the fact that the Soviet Union, in a desire to ensure its security for the future, tries to achieve that these countries should have governments whose relations to the Soviet Union are loyal? How can one, without having lost one's reason, qualify these peaceful aspirations of the Soviet Union as "expansionist tendencies" of our Government?. . .
Mr. Churchill wanders around the truth when he speaks of the growth of the influence of the Communist parties in Eastern Europe.... The growth of the influence of communism cannot be considered accidental. It is a normal function. The influence of the Communists grew because during the hard years of the mastery of fascism in Europe, Communists slowed themselves to be reliable, daring and self-sacrificing fighters against fascist regimes for the liberty of peoples.
Mr. Churchill sometimes recalls in his speeches the common people from small houses, patting them on the shoulder in a lordly manner and pretending to be their friend. But these people are not so simpleminded as it might appear at first sight. Common people, too, have their opinions and their own politics. And they know how to stand up for themselves."
Analyse the language and implications of these speeches. List what aspects of Churchill’s speech were inflammatory and would have specifically provoked the Soviet Union that which it described? Why would the Soviet Union take offence?
Equally, list the imflammatory language and ideas that pervade Stalin's speech. What key aspects of this speech illustrate bias?
INVOLVEMENT IN THE COLD WAR
To read more about the Berlin Blockade click here
Stalin's association with the Mao Tse-tung Communists in China was an uncertain one; despite the fact that the success of a Chinese Communists revolution would undoubtedly become invaluable as pawns on Stalin's global chessboard, Stalin was repeatedly known to advise Mao to 'abandon their futile civil war'. This inevitably created a sense of contempt and disdain for Stalin's counsel on Mao's part, and their consequential victory was unexpected by both the USA and the USSR. However, naturally the mutual ideology created an alliance as Stalin recognised their worth in his global campaign, plus a mutual enemy - the USA had openly supported the opposing Chiang Kai-Shek Government in this civil war.
This alliance was more than anything just a conquest to show against the USA's captilist-democratic satellite nation-states, with the only notable show of loyalty to China witnessed in the Soviet boycott of the January 1950 U.N. Security Council.
Mao Tsu-tung and Joseph Stalin, Moscow, 1949
Stalin was known to be an ally to any party who was affiliated with Communist revolutionary ambition, as this ultimately aided and altered the balance of power favourably in the Soviet Union's favour on a world scale. Thus it was no surprise that Russia should be a supporter of North Korea's Kim Il Sung governance. As was thought of all communist parties affiliated with the USSR, the Kim Il Sung governance was considered Stalin's puppet regime
"Korean Ox, Chinese Servant, Russian Master!" - Leaflet 1242
The above Korean political cartoon illustrates the three supposedly 'aligned' and 'allied' communist leaders -
(from left to right) Mao, Stalin and Kim Il Sung.
TASK: Analyse this image and determine what message it is seeking to give.
What does it say about the power and influence of each leader?
Does it create an impression of an equal alliance?
To go back to the main leaders page, click here
TASK: Consider the points that this video raises - despite the apparent devestation and iron oppression often associated with Stalin's governance, why would he still be revered in Russia?
List down your key points and thoughts.