Week 25

The great historian and biographer Alan Bullock sums up the differences in the leadership and oratorical styles of Stalin and Hitler as follows: "There is a striking contrast in temperament and style between the two men: the flamboyant Hitler, displaying a lack of restraint and extravagance of speech which for long made it difficult for many to take him seriously, in contrast to the reserved Stalin, who owed his rise to power to his success, not in exploiting, but in concealing his personality, and was underestimated for the opposite reason—because many failed to recognize his ambition and ruthlessness."

Stalin had emerged from the civil war with little glory and much power; Trotsky finished with much glory and little power. Stalin, half-gangster, half-bureaucrat, would use power to trump glory: he offered the Bolsheviks non-charismatic leadership, although he continually invoked the sacred authority of the safely mummified Lenin in its support.

"Unlike Hitler, whose unique position as Führer was openly accepted by all the members of the Nazi Party as the linchpin which held them together, Stalin had to conceal his ambition and at the same time find means of defeating any rivals in an unremitting but covert struggle for power, from which, until his fiftieth birthday in December 1929, he could never be sure he would emerge the victor. The role he adopted was that of the plain man who spoke the same practical language as the party workers from the provinces and was accessible to them. Instead of disguising his exercise of power, he personalized it, leaving no doubt as to whose door to knock on. In the same role he represented the voice of common sense and moderation, opposing the exaggeration of the extremists on either side, stressing the need for unity" (Bullock).


Oleg Khlevniuk,

Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator,

Nora Seligman Favorov,

Yale University Press,

ISBN 0300219784

Simon Montefiore,

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar,


ISBN 1400076781

Institute Library Call Number: 947.084 Mon STA

Martin Malia,

The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991,

Free Press,

ISBN 0684823136