Origins and Development of Authoritarian and Single-Party by Michael Lynch

By Michael Lynch

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In a curious sense, their admission of guilt was a 40 Chapter 2: The USSR under Joseph Stalin, 1924–53 last act of loyalty to the Party. In his final speech in court, Bukharin accepted the infallibility of the Party and of Stalin, referring to him as ‘the hope of the world’. Whatever their reasons, that the leading Bolsheviks did confess made it extremely difficult for other victims to plead their own innocence. The psychological impact of the public confessions of such figures as Kamenev and Zinoviev was profound.

As had happened with collectivization, local officials and managers falsified their production figures to give the impression they had met their targets when, in fact, they had fallen short. For this reason, precise statistics for the First FYP are difficult to determine. A further complication is that three quite distinct versions of the First FYP eventually appeared. Impressed by the apparent progress of the Plan in its early stages, Stalin encouraged the formulation of an ‘optimal’ plan which reassessed targets upwards.

The competition for good jobs in the Soviet Union was invariably fierce and purges always left positions 39 to be filled. As the chief dispenser of positions, Stalin knew that the selfinterest of these new Party members would keep them loyal to him. Why was Stalin able to extend the purges on such a huge scale? ‘The Great Terror’, 1936–39 It might be expected that the purges would stop once Stalin’s complete mastery over the Party had been established, but they did not; in fact, they increased in intensity.

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