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Josef Stalin, around 1942

The term Stalinism was coined before Stalin's death and includes the rule of Joseph Stalin from 1927 to 1953 in the Soviet Union , the theoretical and practical expression of Marxism-Leninism created by Stalin , the form of totalitarianism based on it and a critical term based on Marxist arguments .

Khrushchev 's criticism of Stalin in his secret speech " On the personality cult and its consequences " at the XX. CPSU party congress in 1956 promoted the process of de-Stalinization during the so-called thaw period , which was partially reversed after 1964 under Leonid Brezhnev .

Many analysts understand Stalinism as part of Marxism-Leninism . This is questioned with reference to the criticism of Stalin after 1956 in the communist and workers' parties of the socialist states, as these also committed themselves to Marxism-Leninism after Stalin turned away.

The associated adjective Stalinist can also refer to totalitarian regimes and ideologies that are reminiscent of Stalin's rule, for example in the People's Republic of China ( Maoism ) or in North Korea ( Juche ideology ).

Stalinism as a name for the rule of Joseph Stalin

Through Trotsky's criticism of the political conditions in the Soviet Union and through publications by dissident communists , such as Arthur Koestler , the term Stalinism in Western countries, in social science and in everyday language became a synonym for the ideological dogmatism and totalitarianism of the power politics of Stalin and the CPSU in the Communist International . There is controversy about whether the political system of the " real socialist states" that emerged after 1945 can be described as Stalinist. According to Trotsky, under Stalin a "new privileged class [...] arose which, greedy for power, greedy for the goods of life, is afraid of their positions, is afraid of the masses - and mortally hates any opposition".

After Stalin, with the help of Nikolai Bukharin , had got rid of the “ Left Opposition ” headed by Trotsky in 1926/27 , he then also dismissed the so-called “right-wing deviants” (“Right Opposition”) around Bukharin, Alexei Rykov and Mikhail Tomsky . With the exception of Trotsky, who succumbed to an assassination attempt by the NKVD while in emigration in 1940, all leading figures of both the left and the right opposition in the party fell victim to the Stalinist “purges”.

The Stalin "Purges" and the "Great Terror"

The assumed intensification of the class struggle became the legitimacy of the " Stalinist purges ", the victims of which were murdered or brought to the Soviet forced labor camps operated by the central administration of the corrective labor camps (GULag) . The number of victims is unknown, the estimates are in the single-digit million range up to ten million.

The murder of Sergei Mironowitsch Kirov , who was considered to be Stalin's “opponent”, provided the pretext for the policy of the notorious “purges” (Russian “Chistki”). About two thirds of those party comrades who had participated as delegates at the 1934 “ party congress of the victors ” were sentenced to death , some of them in public show trials ( Moscow trials ), including the majority of the functionaries and ministers. Stalin alone decided which ministers and functionaries or even entire cities, in his opinion, were not behind his policy and left the head of the NKVD secret police , Jezhov , to carry out his instructions.

Great terror

First page of a list from 1940 with the names of 346 people scheduled to be shot. Isaak Babel is named as number 12 . Stalin confirmed the list with a "for" and his signature.

During the time of the Great Terror , the actions usually resulted in the people concerned being at least arrested and often shot. The criminal offenses used by the secret police for anti-Soviet behavior, Trotskyist or other opposition to the CPSU as well as a variety of other conspiracy theories were all considered to be violations of Article 58 of the RSFSR Criminal Code , which formed the legal basis for the prosecutions. An estimated 1.5 million people were killed between September 1936 and December 1938.

The work on the Marx-Engels Complete Edition , the so-called MEGA 1 , which was finally canceled due to the persecution , was also affected by these events . The head of the Marx Engels Institute, Dawid Borissowitsch Ryazanow , was executed in 1938.

In research it remains controversial to what extent the persecutions - of partly loyal followers - had a rational core or whether one has to speak of pure delusions of Stalin. The result of the purges was that, after 1938, Stalin really did have absolute power in the Soviet Union.

After 1938

After the purges ended and Yezhov was replaced by Lavrenti Beria in 1938 , the arbitrary arrests were not stopped, but most of the arrested people were not executed, but instead were sentenced to prison terms in prison camps, which lasted 10 years and, due to a change in the law in 1949, 25 years .

1950 to 1951 there were again "purges". Clergy, members of non-Russian peoples and numerous supposed and real political opponents, such as “ rootless cosmopolitans ” (i.e. Jews ) and “ Westerners ”, have also been imprisoned and sometimes subjected to torture , with many innocent people being accused of espionage or “ counter-revolutionary activity” saw.

The interrogations during the Stalin era - and in some cases even afterwards - were marked by humiliating searches, sleep deprivation , beatings, hunger, thirst and intimidation.

Forced collectivization in agriculture

Stalin relentlessly pushed ahead with the forced collectivization of agriculture from 1928 onwards. In doing so, he ruthlessly broke the resistance of the peasants, whom he defamed as " kulaks ".

From 1929 to 1933 there were repression measures for so-called deculakization through arrests, expropriations, executions and deportations. The result, but also a very desirable aid to collectivization, was a huge famine on the Volga , in Ukraine and throughout the country. It killed several million people, but the exact number of victims is not known. Some estimates put up to 15 million deaths. The famine in Ukraine at that time has become known as the Holodomor .

Personality cult

Walter Ulbricht when the name Stalinstadt was given to the residential town of the Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost , 1953

The personality cult around Stalin took on ever greater proportions during this period. In addition to works of praise and devotion in literature and the fine arts, there was an omnipresent public presence, so in almost all Soviet republics and Eastern Bloc states some cities were renamed Stalingrad or Stalinstadt , as well as public buildings, streets, factories, sports facilities and more. The Stalin cult was, however, only added as an "artificial, if certainly important, appendix to the already existing Leninist system".

According to the sociologist Erhard Stölting, Stalin had a cultic charisma that was mentally more firmly anchored in Soviet society of the Stalin era due to the steadily increasing personality cult, including terror (because it was more tolerable to actually believe in conspiracies than to believe in crimes in the political leadership to be assumed).

Important and devoted employees of Stalin were a. Lazar Kaganowitsch , the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs and NKVD chief Lavrenti Beria , Trofim Lysenko and Mikhail Kalinin .

World War II and post-war period

Memorial to the Victims of Stalinism , Berlin-Charlottenburg, Steinplatz (2000)

In 1939, Stalin concluded a non-aggression pact with Hitler , the Hitler-Stalin Pact , which also contained a secret agreement between the two states to divide Poland and Eastern Europe. After the German invasion of Poland , on September 17, 1939, the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland and, in June 1940, other states that had been assigned to the Soviet Union in the Hitler-Stalin Pact : the Baltic States and Bessarabia ( Romania ) to the Danube . This resulted in war crimes, such as the murder of 20,000 captured Polish officers in the Katyn massacre (see also war crimes of the Red Army in World War II ). The Red Army won the winter war against Finland (November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940).

During the German-Soviet War , which Hitler started under the pretext of a preemptive strike, Stalin was also the army commander in chief. He managed to mobilize large sections of the population through appeals to patriotism and general anger against German aggression. The slogan “More fear from behind than from the front” ( Red Army soldiers who backed away were often liquidated) also contributed to this.

Under Stalin's leadership, the industrialization of the Soviet Union ( electrification and construction of heavy industry ) of the formerly agrarian USSR was advanced - a prerequisite for the victory of the Soviet Union in the German-Soviet War .

Million people, whole nations and ethnic groups (such as the Crimean Tatars , the Russian Germans or the Chechens ) were at that time as potential collaborators for forced labor in the harsh permafrost to Siberia deported , where many were killed. The Armenians were also affected by these forced relocations . The Baltic states lost around ten percent of their inhabitants. See also Labor Army .

Stalin set up a system of prison labor camps that came to be known as the Gulag . It comprised internment and labor camps, or "reformatory institutions" for political prisoners. Paragraph 58 of the Criminal Code made it possible to expand the concept of the political prisoner very widely: for example, stealing apples from a collective farm was "counter-revolutionary sabotage". The number of prisoners and fatalities in the camp system has been the subject of historical research since the Russian archives were opened and the CPSU party archives were taken over by the Russian Federation. Estimates of the number of prisoners range from 3.7 to 28.7 million. While the access for researchers to the archives under the government of Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin led to numerous publications on the Stalin era , it has since been handled more restrictively by the authorities.

Stalinism as a theory

Originally, the term Stalinism in the 1920s in the Soviet Union referred to the views of the majority in the CPSU ( Bolsheviks ) led by Josef Stalin in the struggle for the political and theoretical successor to Lenin - mainly in the dispute with Trotskyism . At that time, Stalin ironized the concept that 'Stalinism' was a particularly energetic defense of Leninism . It should also be noted that the term Marxism-Leninism can be traced back to Stalin and his ideological influence.

Around Stalin's 55th birthday in 1934, a Pravda article by Karl Radek elevated the ideas and policies of Stalin to an independent achievement, and the formula of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism prevailed. One expression of this was that selected speeches and writings of Stalin were first published together with some of Lenin's works in "Lenin-Stalin" - Selected Works in one volume . In 1938 he published his training work History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) - Short Course , published by the Central Committee of the CPSU , and in it his work On Dialectical and Historical Materialism , which should represent a further development of Leninism. In 1946 a 16-volume complete edition of Stalin's works was even published by the Marx - Engels- Lenin Institute at the Central Committee of the CPSU (B).

The cornerstones of Stalinist theory were the development of socialism in a country and the intensification of the class struggle the further the development towards socialism in the Soviet state progressed. The resistance of the class enemies and “ enemies of the people ” against it would therefore become increasingly bitter. The intensification of the class struggle became the legitimation of repression and Stalinist purges . His ideology , which could not be questioned in the slightest, is now regarded as a mechanical reception of the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin. It only served to justify political persecution of so-called renegades , i.e. H. "Traitors" of the pure teaching.

After the Stalin criticism on the XX. At the congress of the CPSU and the subsequent de-Stalinization in the socialist countries and the communist parties , Stalin's theoretical contribution to Marxism-Leninism was also reassessed. Stalin was no longer mentioned in the same breath as Marx, Engels and Lenin, and the propagandistic portrait of four that was common at the time was also reduced to Marx, Engels and Lenin. The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, continued to invoke Stalin, with Mao Zedong postulating that 70% of Stalin's ideas and practice - especially during World War II - were "good", but 30% were harmful. In contrast to the “ revisionist ” USSR, posters appeared, on which Mao Zedong's portrait was spread as a fifth portrait.

After Stalin's death, Stalinism found very few supporters among Western intellectuals, while large sections of the left did not distance themselves from Stalinism during Stalin's lifetime. After the 1968 student movement, so-called K groups were formed in Western Europe - short-lived splinter groups, some of which also referred to Stalin.

In Germany, the Marxist-Leninist Party is almost the only political group to defend Stalin's political activities to this day.

Marxist analyzes of Stalinism

Leo Kofler (1907-1995, an undogmatic Marxist philosopher) turned against Stalinism. In 1951, shortly after he had left the GDR, his pamphlet appeared on the “falsification of Marxist doctrine by the Stalinist bureaucracy”. In 1970 he published a major study on Stalinism and Bureaucracy. He interpreted Stalinism as a "cadre bureaucracy" that ruled on the basis of an original accumulation made up for. He dealt with Georg Lukács and his condemnation by the Stalin supporters.

From a Marxist point of view, the sociologist and economist Werner Hofmann distinguished himself from Stalinism; His work Stalinism and Anti-Communism . On the Sociology of Delusion was published in 1967.

Jean Elleinstein's book Histoire du phénomène stalinien appeared in 1975; shortly afterwards the French Communist Party excluded him. The book explains Stalinism in terms of Russian and Soviet history .

Georg Lukács , the left-wing Hungarian philosopher and literary scholar, took an ambivalent attitude towards Stalin. Lukács wrote in 1968 (three years before his death): "The imperfectly understood Leninism has become Stalinism ..." What was special and new in the works of Stalin was, among other things, the priority of tactics over strategy and especially over the general development tendencies of mankind ( P. 93). Lukács saw in Stalin the shrewd, calculating, superior tactician. This also means that he knew how to present this victory (over Leon Trotsky and other so-called deviants) as that of the “correct teaching of Lenin” over their distortions. Part of the essence of his personality, therefore, was that after the victory he no longer wanted to act publicly as a loyal interpreter and student of Lenin, but gradually - often tactically very clever - brought about situations in which he was already the real successor of the all-round superior "leader personality" “His great predecessor entered the public consciousness [...] He was no more than a very clever person and an extremely clever tactician. (P. 85)

The Marxist historian Jürgen Kuczynski often used the term Stalin Era as a synonym for Stalinism . He understood it to mean the totality of the spiritual and real events during Stalin's rule, specifically both the positive and the negative effects. He rejected the condemnation of Stalin and the subsequent negation of Stalin as a "continuation of Stalinism". It is unacceptable not to mention Stalin again after he has fallen from grace. Kuczynski saw two great achievements of Stalin: He realized industrialization by building up heavy industry in rural Russia. This was one of the prerequisites for victory over the Nazi state . He also had the confidence of the Soviet people. The veneration of his person and his speeches would have given the people and the soldiers moral and fighting strength, postulated Kuczynski. He was critical of the fact that Stalin had abused this trust by brutally enforcing his dictatorship. According to Kuczynski , Stalin used his propaganda skills, which he undoubtedly had , to establish dogmas and to kill real "scientific" disputes of opinion.

Kuczynski was personally involved in Stalin's "purges" when he not only had to convey the news of the arrest of his son Wolfgang (1909–1942) to Hermann Duncker , but also, according to his own statement, had to "convince" him that the "Soviet justice system too." make no mistakes here ”. According to his account, he suffered from underlining the flawlessness of Stalin's policy against his better judgment. This apologetic stance was adopted by numerous Communists of the time and some left-wing intellectuals during Stalin's lifetime.

In the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc states associated with it, under the leadership of the respective communist parties, criticism of Stalinism after the XX. The party congress of the CPSU in 1956 was long understood as a rejection of the personality cult around Stalin . After Stalin's partial rehabilitation under Brezhnev, only the cult of personality was critically propagated in order to divert attention from the totalist character of Stalinism.

It was not until the 1970s and after 1989 that the Euro - and post - communist parties condemned Stalinism as a system. Today, Stalin and Stalinism are most resolutely defended by Maoist groups.


See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Stalinism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Stalinist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Stalinist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. dtv lexicon in 24 volumes. Volume 21 , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich. Approved special edition October 2006, ISBN 978-3-423-59098-3 , p. 38 f.
  2. Cf. Duden online: Stalinist , there the indication of the meaning "wearing his features"
  3. See: Stalinism and the end of the first Marx-Engels complete edition (1931–1941). Documents about the political purge of the Marx-Engels-Institute in 1931 and the implementation of the Stalin line at the united Marx-Engels-Lenin-Institute at the Central Committee of the CPSU from the Russian State Archive for Social and Political History, Moscow. Argument, Hamburg 2001 (including short biographies p. 398–434), ISBN 3-88619-684-4 ( contributions to Marx-Engels research. New series. Special volume 3 ).
  4. Quoted from Detlef Schmiechen-Ackermann : Dictatorships in comparison , p. 91.
  5. "To ward off the impending danger from the east, the German Wehrmacht pushed into the midst of the massive deployment of enemy forces on June 22nd at three o'clock in the morning." - Special radio report from the Wehrmacht High Command a week later, on Sunday, June 29th , initiated with the so-called Russia Fanfare .
  6. ^ Alter Litvin, John Keep: Stalinism: Russian and Western Views at the Turn of the Millennium. Routledge, Abingdon 2005, ISBN 0-415-35108-1 , p. 3.
  7. J. Stalin Werke, Volume 1 , Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1950, Foreword to the German edition, p. V.
  8. ^ Andreas Kühn: Stalin's grandsons, Mao's sons. The living environment of the K groups in the Federal Republic of the 1970s. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2005, ISBN 3-593-37865-5 .
  9. ^ Leo Kofler: Marxist or Stalinist Marxism? A reflection on the falsification of Marxist teaching by the Stalinist bureaucracy. Publishing house for journalism, Cologne 1951; ders .: The Lukács case. Georg Lukács and Stalinism , 1952. Stalinism and bureaucracy . Neuwied: Luchterhand 1970.
  10. German translation: VSA Berlin 1977, further editions a. a. 1985 ISBN 978-3-87975-102-0 .
  11. a b Georg Lukács: Democratization today and tomorrow. (1968), Budapest 1985.
  12. Jürgen Kuczynski: Dialogue with my great-grandson. Nineteen letters and a diary. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin / Weimar 1983, 8th edition 1987, pp. 77-81, ISBN 3-351-00182-7 .
  13. ^ Uwe Backes : Political extremism in democratic constitutional states. Elements of a normative framework theory. Springer, Wiesbaden 2013, pp. 141 f .; as an example see Ludo Martens : Stalin viewed differently. EPO vzw, Berchem 1998 ( online ).