IBDP Internal Assessments relating to Stalin

Was Stalin’s Death a Result of Beria’s Poisoning?

Plan of the Investigation
∙Subject of the investigation
This investigation aims to figure out if Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953 was due to Beria’s poisoning.
It will explore the sequence of events that occurred during the last days of Stalin and after his death by combining accounts from several eye-witnesses and will also elaborate on his health condition up to his death. Then in section C, two sources, one from Molotov, a Politburo member, and another from contemporary medical bulletin in Pravda stating opposite argument would be evaluated. In section D, a conclusion will be drawn upon whether Stalin died because of Beria’s poisoning.

Summary of Evidence
∙Stalin’s Condition Before 1953
Stalin was going through deterioration in his health since his minor strokes before 1953. From 1951 to 1952, however, he refused to take any medication and yet his high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and rheumatism were all developing.[1]
∙The Final Stroke that Led Stalin to His Death
On the night of February 28th, Stalin watched a film at the Kremlin, and returned to his dacha where he was joined by Beria, Khrushchev, Malenkov and Bulganin, who stayed until and left at 4:00 A.M, Khruschev and Bulganin separately, while Beria and Malenkov together in a car.[2] Then the guards received an order from Stalin through Khrustalev, which was to go off duty.[3] Up to the evening on the next day, there was a complete silence, which led to a suspicion within the guards, who were yet afraid to counter Stalin’s order and go into his suite.[4] Eventually, Pyotr Lozgachev, one of Stalin’s bodyguards, went into his suite at 22:00[5] and found the crippled Stalin lying on the floor. Next to him was his broken pocket watch showing 6:30 and there was an open bottle of mineral water on the table.[6] The guards were called in by Lozgachev and they helped him move the Boss to the sofa. The guards called Ignatiev, the Minister of State Security, who referred to Malenkov and Beria.
∙The Response of the Politburo Members
Malenkov called Beria, Bulganin and Khrushchev to inform about the guards’ report of Stalin’s physical state.[7] It was thirty minutes after Starostin called when a call came from Malenkov, saying that he could not find Beria. Another thirty minutes later, Beria rang the guards to tell them not to inform anybody about Stalin’s illness.[8]
At 3:00 A.M., Beria came into Stalin’s dacha with Malenkov[9], glanced at Stalin and swore at the guards, telling them that Stalin was asleep and therefore they should not panic or disturb him.[10] He prohibited any use of the telephone and left the place.[11] Around 8 in the morning Khrushchev came into the dacha, telling the guards that he summoned doctors, who arrived between 8:30 and 9:00 A.M.[12] with artificial ventilation which, unknown for what reason, was not used.[13]
∙The Doctors’ Examination
Stalin’s symptoms were due to brain hemorrhage caused by his hypertension and atherosclerosis[14] but the doctors also concluded that Stalin was poisoned and they tried to treat him for poisoning while at the same time did not expose this fact to other people, including the four Politburo members.[15] Stalin’s condition got worse as the time went by.[16] On March 4th, besides the symptoms involving the skin on his face, legs and arms turning blue and his liver being enlarged, his blood and urine examination results proved that he was poisoned.[17] In the morning of March 5th, Stalin vomited blood which led to a decrease in his blood pressure and several times of collapse on the same day.[18]
∙Stalin’s Death
Stalin eventually died at 9:50 P.M., after going through a severe hardship with breathing.[19]
∙After Stalin’s Death
Beria ran out to the corridor, calling Khrustalev to get his car to go to the Kremlin.[20] After a while, the other Politburo members went to the Kremlin as well, to acquire power.[21] Then the car with stretcher arrived to carry Stalin to the hospital for embalming and Khrustalev went to the hospital as well.[22]
The guards who served Stalin were to be eliminated from their jobs, so Starostin, Orlov and Tukov went to see Beria and resist but Beria’s threat of killing them made them to depart immediately.[23] Other jobs were given to the guards except Khrustalev who fell ill and died soon.[24]
Evaluation of Sources
Source 1
CHUEV: Beria himself was said to have killed him.
MOLOTOV: …‘Sometimes he seemed about to come to. At those moments Beria would stay close to Stalin. Oh! He was always ready...
One cannot exclude the possibility that he had a hand in Stalin's death... he did drop hints…"I did him in!...I saved all of you!" ’[25]
This source could be valuable in supporting the conviction of Beria as Stalin’s assassinate, referring to its origin, which is the interview of Molotov, to whom whom the suspect, Beria, talked to in person. The exact quotation from Beria, together with Molotov’s witnesses of his mysterious behavior which made Molotov believe that “he was always ready” to harm the Boss, elevates the convincing aspect of the argument. The main value of this source could be that the statement was from Molotov, the contemporary Politburo member, not a historian.
However, it should be in consideration that the book was published in 1993, which is far after Stalin’s death, and the source’s origin, to be more precise, is Chuev, who interviewed Molotov. His interview question seems to be a guiding one, as Molotov says “Oh!” indicating his realization right at that time. It arises the possibility of Chuev trying to use Molotov’s words to support his opinion and the publish date which makes this source too modern also undermines the reliability of the source because it was after when the theory of Beria’s planned murder of Stalin had been introduced. Molotov says that Beria dropped “hints” through his words but one cannot absolutely ensure if Beria really meant that he poisoned Stalin tactfully or simply contributed to Stalin’s death with some delay in summoning doctors.[26] He seems to be creating a distorted characterization of Beria with some words that would have been not as intricate or Machiavellian to support his argument.
Source 2
“Arteriosclerosis, which developed during the night of March 1-2 on the basis of hypertonia and cerebral hemorrhage in his left brain hemisphere, has resulted, apart from the right-side paralysis of limbs and loss of consciousness, in impaired stem section of the brain, accompanied by disturbances of the vital functions of breathing and blood circulation.”[27]
Unlike Source 1, this source originates in the contemporary newspaper articles from Pravda and contains medical reports with specific diagnoses of Stalin’s health conditions, not human judgment from a particular political member. The source could be appreciated for containing factual descriptions of Stalin’s health and as it involves nothing about Stalin being poisoned or symptoms related to it, it strongly denies the idea that Stalin was poisoned by Beria before his death.
On the other hand, this is not an official medical report from the doctors but an announcement from the Soviet government. Pravda, as a national paper published by the Soviet government, was famous to the public for being biased and inaccurate.[28] The possibility of the manipulation made in the Politburo members’ favor cannot be excluded. Therefore the source, in spite of medical facts, lacks accuracy and the strong negative impression that Pravda gave to the contemporary society prevents one from judging Stalin’s condition totally based on such report.
To figure out if Stalin died because Beria poisoned him, it is important to start considering the possibility firstly by exploring the events around Stalin’s death. After the four Politburo members left Stalin’s dacha at 4, it was Khrustalev, not Stalin himself who talked to the guards about going off duty.[29] Beria, among the four guests, being the closest with Khrustalev[30] suggests that he ordered Khrustalev to let the guards vacate. In addition, the fact that other guards got substitute jobs but Khrustalev, the only guard who was allowed to see Stalin being embalmed, fell ill and died raises a question if this was one of Beria’s efforts to expunge evidence that could prove him guilty.
When Lozgachev went in, he saw a bottle of water next to Stalin. Why was this bottle not sent to the Stalin Museum from the Kremlin sanitary department when it had to send medicaments and empty mineral bottles in November 1953?[31] Was it because it contained the poison that killed Stalin? The very possible scenario in Stalin’s suite on March 1st during the hours between 4 A.M. and 10 P.M. is that Khrustalev put poison in Stalin’s water bottle while all the guards were back at home by Beria’s command.
Beria had been delaying in his response to the guards and when he came to Stalin’s dacha with Malenkov at 3 o’ clock, he swore at the guards and left the place immediately but forbade their use of communication line.[32] According to Khrushchev, Malenkov called him right after the guards called and he thought the visit from all four Politburo members around 8 o’clock was the first visit from all of them but it was the second one made by Beria, which Khrushchev did not know.[33] He was trying to hide Stalin’s condition and his awareness of it from others.
After Stalin’s death, Beria went out immediately to Kremlin, where he assumed authority and this, together with all his suspicious behavior before Stalin’s death, conveys the idea that Beria, with his strong motive of gaining power, took advantage of Stalin’s health to kill him with poison and achieve what he wanted.
On the other hand, there are counter-arguments that defend Beria. As Medvedev argues, for years, Stalin denied taking medication so his death could have been nothing more than a corollary of his long-term diseases.[34] But this argument now seems to be nominal as all the symptoms due to poison written in the official medical records were exposed. The doctors knew Stalin was poisoned and that was why they did not use the artificial ventilation, which was not useful. The absence of such facts in articles from Pravda, controlled by the Soviet government, does not argue against conviction of Beria but supports it by explaining why the reports in Pravda were falsified: Beria killed Stalin and he had enough power to manipulate the facts about Stalin’s symptoms.
Yet blaming Beria with asperity for power, seen after Stalin’s death, is quite unreasonable because he did not try to appoint himself as the President but Vice-President.[35] If Beria is to be blamed for such motive, then why not other people like Vasili Stalin, who despised his father and suffered humiliation after Stalin forfeiting his authority or Khrushchev, who was the successor of Stalin after all?
Shortly, the argument stating Stalin died because Beria poisoned him gets supports from Beria’s suspicious behavior, his relation with Khrustalev, and the recently-discovered official medical reports. The opposite argument arises from that Stalin’s death was the result of neglected delayed treatment and that there are other possible suspects.
Certainly, there are a variety of supporters of the argument that convicts Beria as the assassin using poison to kill Stalin.[36] On the other hand, their argument is depreciated by the facts that Stalin’s health was already on a rapid wane and that there are other possible suspects including his family members and the Politburo members. However, with recently discovered official medical reports corroborating Stalin being poisoned and Beria’s possession of the closest contact with the guards including Khrustalev, this argument seems to have a sizeable amount of evidentiary support. To conclude, Stalin died because he was poisoned by Beria.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.
Brent, Jonathan. Naumov, Vlamidir. Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993.
Committee on Slavic Studies. The Current Digest of the Soviet Press. Cambridge: American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, 1953.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. London:Penguin, 1992.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin's Kremlin: An Eyewitness Account of Brutality, Duplicity, and Intrigue. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey's, 1998.
Deriabin, Peter. Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1984.
Eaton, Katherine. Daily Life in the Soviet Union. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.
Radzinsky, Edvard. STALIN: The First In-Depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1996.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
Medvedev, Zhores. Dahrendorf, Ellen. The Unknown Stalin. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006.
Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. New York: Norton, 2004.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.
Who Killed Stalin, DVD. Directed by Tim Robinson. UK: BBC Timewatch, 2005.
Pravda.Ru, “Secret documents reveal Stalin was poisoned.” Pravda.Ru (December 29, 2005), http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/16693_Stalin.html.

[1] Zhores Medvedev and Ellen Dahrendorf. The Unknown Stalin (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006), 1.
[2] William Taubman. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (New York: Norton, 2004), 236.
[3] 'Well, guys, here's an order we've never been given before,' and he repeated the Boss's words. It was true, in all the time I worked there that was the only occasion when Stalin said 'go to bed.' Khrustalev quoted by Lozgachev, another guard who was on duty. Edvard Radzinsky. STALIN: The First In-Depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1996), 550.
[4] ‘At 19:00 the silence in Stalin's suite began to alarm us. We (Starostin and Tukov) were both afraid to go in without being called.' –quoted from testimony of Starotsin. Ibid, 550
[5] Dmitri Volkogonov, who was the first to include witnesses of Stalin’s death in a book, based on Rybin’s account, stated in Stalin:Triumph and Tragedy(Grove Weidenfeld,1991) that Starostin found Stalin lying on the floor after a stroke. However, Radzinsky, who read the unpublished memoirs of Rybin— Stalin’s bodyguard who resigned in 1935 but was informed about Stalin’s last days by the guards who worked at that time –in the Museum of the Revolution, proved Volkogonov’s statement about Starostin wrong; it was not Starotsin but Lozgachev.
[6] By Lozgachev’s account "I hurried up to him and said 'Comrade Stalin, what's wrong?' He'd, you know, wet himself while he was lying there. He made some incoherent noise, like "Dz dz". His pocketwatch and copy of
Pravda were lying on the floor. The watch showed 6.30. That's when it must have happened to him." Who Killed Stalin, DVD. Directed by Tim Robinson. UK: BBC Timewatch, 2005.
[7] Khrushchev quoted in Radzinsky, 554
[8] Ibid, 554
[9] Ibid, 555
[10] Dmitri Volkogonov. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), 572.
[11] Rosamond Richardson. Stalin’s Shadow (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 248.
[12] Lozgachev quoted in Radzinsky, page.556. But according to Richardson, it was not Khrushchev but Beria who called the doctors, from the Academy of Medical Sciences.
[13] “The unwieldy thing was just standing there idle…” Svetlana Allilueva. Twenty Letters to a Friend (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 7.
[14] “The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers announce a great misfortune which has befallen our party and our people-the grave illness of Comrade J. V. Stalin.” U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers, “GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT — On the Illness of Comrade Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union” Pravda(1953): 1. English translation in Joint Committee on Slavic Studies. The Current Digest of the Soviet Press (Cambridge: American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, 1953), 4. There were five articles published by Pravda and Izvestia from March 4th to 6th all of which repeat brain hemorrhage but none of which mentions about Stalin being poisoned.
[15] “Secret documents reveal Stalin was poisoned.” Pravda.Ru, (2005),
[16]It was on March 3 when Stalin's doctors registered that condition of the patient grew even worse and heart activity got weaker. Next day, March 4, the condition of the patient grew extremely grave because of frequent respiratory standstills.” Ibid.
[17] Poisoning results in hemoglobin’s transformation into methemoglobin displaying dark color. Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] “The death agony was terrible. He literally choked to death as we watched.” Robert Conquest, Stalin: Breaker of Nations (London: Penguin, 1992), 312.
[20] Allilueva, 7.
[21] “Beria proposed that Malenkov be President of the Council of Ministers and Malenkov proposed that Beria be named Vice-President and Minister of Internal Affairs and State Security.” Peter Deriabin. Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1984) , 27.
[22] Lozgavchev’s account quoted in Radzinsky, 559
[23]“If you don't want to be out there, you'll be down there.” And he pointed down to the ground.’—Beria quoted by Lozgachev. Ibid, 560.
[24] Ibid, 560.
[25] Feliks Chuev. Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics (Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993), 237.
[26]Stalin had lain untreated for over 24 hours; it was 10 hours since he had been found. Beria now ordered doctors to be summoned from the Academy of Medical Sciences” Richardson, 248.
[27] American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, 4.
[28] Katherine Eaton. Daily Life in the Soviet Union. (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004), 270-271.
[29] Radzinsky, page. 552
[30] Beria hired the guards (Chekists) and he particularly called Khrustalev, not just any guard, when leaving to the Kremlin immediately after Stalin’s death. Allilueva, 7.
[31] Pravda.Ru.
[32] Richardson, 248.
[33] Radzinsky, 554.
[34] Medvedev, 1.
[35] Deriabin, 27.
[36] Historians Radzinsky, (STALIN: The First In-Depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives), Brent (Stalin's Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953), Deriabin (Inside Stalin’s Kremlin: An Eyewitness Account of Brutality, Duplicity, and Intrigue
), a contemporary Politburo member Molotov (Molotov Remembers), all interviewed witnesses involving progenies of the Politburo members and Stalin’s family members (The Last Mystery of Stalin) argue that Beria killed Stalin.



This investigation intends to answer the question Was Stalin involved in Kirov´s murder? To do so, it will use a variety of sources ranging from Russian old book as well as new books. Historians such as Robert Service and Bruno Ullam, I will try to find an answer to find whether Stalin was or not involved in Kirov’s assassination. Since many historians have hesitated for years for an answer, I would then get evidences for a reasonable answer. This essay will have a non-concrete answer to the question to Kirov’s murder but it will have a range of sources which being analyzed would give me enough evidences to answer it based on what I have researched. TO do this I would have to look at the background of the three characters: Stalin, Kirov and Nikolaev in order to understand any discordance between them which could have leaded to the murder itself.

On the 1st of December of 1934 at 4:30 pm, Kirov was shot outside his office in the former Smolny Institute by ex-party member Leonid Vasilievich Nikolae[1]. Kirov was younger than Stalin and “Kirov was to acquire a posthumous reputation as a political moderate in the Politburo”[2]  and Stalin saw him as a threat and became aware of Kirov’s powerful opposition and influence by 1932.  At a congress in 1934, “Kirov in fact polled just under 300 votes more than Stalin received”[3] .When Stalin realized that he was being criticized by his opponents he tried to make a law against that and Kirov disagreed with him and so did the people which voted and supported Kirov. Furthermore, Kirov in 1934 wanted the people who had been imprisoned to be released and again, people supported Kirov and not Stalin. It was obvious that Kirov was getting in front of all Stalin’s plans and wills and wouldn’t let him do what he wanted and therefore Kirov was angering Stalin. After the assassination, it was Stalin who personally took charge of the investigation, which is very suspicious because he could have manipulated the information. Also the guards who were meant to be at Kirov’s door, had suddenly disappeared, which is too much a consequence. His assassination created loads of disputes and investigations because he was a very likely successor of Stalin. Kirov’s enigmatic death is still nowadays still a mystery but many agree and state the obvious, Stalin had for sure something to do.
Stalin could have been behind this murder because all the relatives from Kirov were killed or exiled after or before his death. Once Stalin had gotten rid of Kirov it is when all the trials and purges started, Stalin started attacking his opponents. This was easier for him now that Kirov was gone, because he was the one who always went against him and got the votes away from the people. This seems like Kirov was his first victim, and the murder which would give him a free pathway to the other victims and opponents.
No one, not even Trotsky who had been exiled by Stalin, said that it had been Stalin who was behind Kirov’s murder. Also Stalin saw this assassination as a conspiracy against him and thought that it had been his enemies who wanted to implicate him in the murder. Another of the evidences that defends Stalin’s innocence is that Yagoda himself stated that he had planned the assassination and Stalin had not taken part of this. Also, there are rumors that say that since Nikolaev‘s ex-wife was Kirov’s secretary, he had the idea that they had an affair and thus he killed Kirov for that.
So the possible theories for the murder of Sergei Kirov are that Nikolaev could have just done it because he wanted revenge from Kirov’s possible affair with his ex-wife. The NKVD planned this and thus used Nikolaev as the “shooter”, and Stalin had no dispute of any kind with Kirov and had nothing to do with the assassination; or Stalin organized the whole event because he wanted to gain more power and by getting rid of Kirov.

Adam Bruno Ullam, in his book Stalin and his era, pronounces that it “was organized in accordance with a decision of the ‘Block of rights and Trotskyites’”[4] . This then opposes the idea that it had anything to do with Stalin, and that it had a Marxist approach. This is because if it had been the Trotskyites who did it then Stalin had nothing to do because they were opponents. Also, Ullam says that this part of this terrorist attack was organized by Yagoda, the chief of the NKVD. Stalin would have never used Yagoda for this, as he did not trust him because Yagoda protected some opponents from Stalin. So the relationship between Stalin and Yadoga was never good as they did not trust each other and so it was not very possible that Stalin would have given such a terrible and delicate mission to someone like Yagoda. This therefore does not implicate Stalin in Kirov’s murder because if it is true that Yagoda organized the crime, then it is not likely that Stalin would have gotten involved as they did not have a good relationship.
In contrast with Ullam, Robert Conquest in his book Stalin says that Stalin used the assassination of Kirov to say it was the cause of the 1937-38 terror.  As the death of Kirov happened, Stalin used it as an excuse of when the terror started, and also he began to take his opponents by his “own hands”, killed or exiled. But for some writers like Martin McCauley in his book Stalin and Stalinism, he mentions that governors like Stalin can be good politicians and good figures of the twentieth century, but that does not mean that they can be good men. This then retaliates that Stalin was very capable of doing such a horrible thing, like the murder of Kirov because it did not mean that because he was such a great leader that he could not do such things.
Akimov, a graduate of the Aviation department expressed his view about the assassination of Kirov saying: “Kirov’s murder wasn’t connected to Trotskyists; that’s all nonsense”[5]­. Like Robert Conquest, Akimov is another of the people who say that the Trotskyites were involved but does not show an opinion whether Stalin was involved or not.
The Pravda on the 5th December of 1934 said that Borisov, Kirov’s bodyguard and possibly the best witness was killed in a car accident the day when he had to be interrogated by Stalin. This is very suspicious, and suggests me that it was perhaps Stalin who “ordered” this assassination so that very valuable witnesses were vanished away. [6]
Historians like Robert conquest, Amy Knight and others, support the idea by evidences and circumstances of the day Kirov’s were murdered that Stalin had been implicated in it. Stalin right after Kirov’s assassination decided to take part in the investigation, this could have done in order for him to manipulate the documents, something which Russia had done for ages, especially with the Secret police. Also the death of the bodyguard of Kirov right before he had an interview with Stalin is also very suspicious, it suggests that Stalin also planned this murder because he didn’t want any possible very vital witnesses like Borisnov.

I chose the book Stalin by Robert Conquest because he is a very well-known American historian about mostly Russia history and agrees that Stalin was involved in Kirov’s assassination. He states that Stalin not only sanctioned Kirov's assassination, but used it as a justification for the terror that culminated in 1937 and 1938[7]. His opinion is quite relevant to my research question of whether Stalin was or not involved in Kirov’s assassination because he is a very considerable historian in Russian history. However his opinions are not the most important ones as he is not Russian and did not live in Russia during Kirov’s assassination but he did live during the time it happened. Nevertheless, as I said before, he is a very significant historian and his opinion is not vital but is to be very considered as he is a specialist on Russian history and knows quite a lot about Communism as when he was in University he joined the Communist Party. His theory that Stalin was involved in Kirov’s murder and then used it as an excuse for the Purges, makes sense because Stalin did use it as an excuse for introducing new laws which said that political crime was illegal and that conspirators against Kirov would be murdered[8]. So Robert Conquest’s book was very helpful to answer this question because it gave me the point of view which is most accepted by most historians like Amy Knight and it is also a very realistic point of view.
Ullam a polish famous writer who wrote the book Stalin: the man and his era, argues that if it was the case that Stalin wanted to get rid of Kirov, then why would he have done it this way[9]. The analysis that this writer makes through his book is a very significant as he disagrees with Robert Conquest and the theory that Stalin was involved in Kirov’s murder. His theory recognizes the obvious point that Stalin and Yagoda had a very bad relationship and thus Stalin was not very likely to have entrusted him for such a terrible mission[10], which was to take care of Kirov’s assassination. This book explains that it was too dangerous to instruct someone who you do not trust for a murder. This book makes you realize about the other point of view of this story, and so it is very valuable. Also the purpose of this book is to not only show what everyone thinks about the story and what is most obvious according to the situation by that time; it is to show the other part of the story which not many people might have known. This is that Stalin and Yagoda did not have a good relationship and that Stalin did not trust him because Yagoda did not obey Stalin’s orders sometimes. This source also argues that Stalin fired Yagoda after the assassination of Kirov happened, so Ulam suggests that it could have been that Stalin made him do this mission in order to have reasons to fire him on top of his other reasons to kill Kirov. Altogether, this book by Bruno Ulam suggests that Stalin had a genius plan to at the same time get rid of two people he disliked: Yagoda and Kirov. HE charged Yagoda for the assassination of Kirov and then blamed the assassination of Yagoda, and thus he got rid of the two.

After reading all those books and other useful sources about Stalin’s involvement in Kirov’s assassination and the assassination itself to answer my question of whether Stalin was or not involved in Kirov’s assassination, I come to the conclusion that Stalin was involved. I come to this conclusion because of the books from Conquest and Ulam. Conquest defends the theory that it was Stalin who planned the assassination and Ulam disagrees by saying that it was too much of a risk to do so, but then suggests that Stalin could have thought of charging this to Yagoda just to get rid of both. This last theory makes sense to the whole event. Stalin did not trust Yagoda and was probably not happy with him. Furthermore, Stalin was indeed training Yezhov to be the next Commissar of the NKVD0, and so he just wanted to get a justification to fire Yagoda. So Stalin ordered him to kill Kirov and then pretending that he cared so much about his comrade Kirov fired Yagoda. It is a very well-planned strategy where it can be said that “you kill two birds in one shot”.

In off the red, Ken Marks, page 178

Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, page 37

Stalin, Robert Service, page 314

Stalin , Man and his era, Adam Bruno Ullam

Stalin as a way of life, ( document 47) page 136

Stalin and the Kirov Murder, Robert Conquest

"Repression and Terror." Ibiblio - The Public's Library and Digital Archive. Web. 13 Dec. 2011. .

[1] Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 37
[2] Stalin, Robert Service, page 314 first paragraph
[3] In off the red, Ken Marks, page 178
[4] Stalin , Man and his era, Adam Bruno Ullam
[5] Stalin as a way of life, document 47 page 136
[6] http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/k/knight-kirov.html
[7] Stalin and the Kirov Murder, Robert Conquest
[8] http://www.ibiblio.org/expo/soviet.exhibit/repress.html
[9] Ullam, Stalin: the man and his era page 385
[10] Ullam, Stalin: the man and his era page 385

 Was Lenin’s Testament Really Directed at Removing Stalin?

A: Plan of Investigation
Was Lenin’s Testament Really Directed at Removing Stalin? In order to answer this question the circumstances of the testament, Lenin’s statements on Stalin within the testament and his views on the other leaders will be analysed. Lenin’s testament will be the main source, whilst works by Trotsky and Stalin will offer insight into the rival’s opinions on the testament. The final primary source will be Lenin’s secretary’s memoires as she offers her opinion on Lenin’s intentions, valuable as many of Lenin’s actions will have gone through her. As well as these primary sources an abundance of secondary sources will be used, largely from historians specialising in Russia writing about the relative importance of the testament on Stalin’s rise to power.
B: Summary of Evidence
Following a second stroke in November 1922 Vladimir Lenin dictated government papers to his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya, including his testament, completed in December 1922, adding an addendum in January 1923.[1] Lenin intended the testament to be read at the 12th Party Congress in April 1923, however following a third stroke he was left paralyzed and unable to speak so it was not made available to the party until the Party Congress in May 1924 following his death.
Within the testament Lenin highlighted his worries in regard to the six leading members of the committee, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Pyatakov and Stalin, drawing pen-portraits4 of each followed by appraisal. Trotsky was described as “the outstanding member of the Central Committee” but he displayed “excessive self-assurance” and showed “excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work.”3 When commenting on Zinoviev and Kamenev Lenin was criticised their unwillingness to support the October revolution saying it was no “accident”3 but said they should not be personally blamed. This criticism was reinforced by Trotsky saying “Having achieved the revolution, we seem to have concluded that we should never have to repeat it.”[5] Pyatakov and Bukharin were both praised by Lenin as the most promising members of the party at the time however, Pyatakov was criticised for undeviating allegiance to Trotsky[6] along with his commitment to the administrative side of politics. Meanwhile, Bukharin’s views were questioned as Lenin stated; “his theoretical views can be classified as fully Marxist only with the great reserve.”3
At the time Stalin was General Secretary of the party, having been chosen by Lenin[7], and he had the power remove and appoint members of the party. Lenin noted that he was not sure Stalin would be able to use his authority with enough caution, with Trotsky stating in his autobiography that Stalin “always seemed a man destined to play second and third fiddle.”[8] Following Stalin’s verbal abuse of Lenin’s wife Lenin added a postscript that called Stalin “too rude” and recommended removal as General Secretary.[9]
This heavy criticism meant that the leaders of the C.C. faced a dilemma, they did not want the testament read to Congress as it would hinder their chances of attaining leadership, however it was dangerous to go against Lenin’s will so soon after his death. Eventually a 30 to 10 vote decided the testament would be communicated confidentially to delegates.[10] Resultantly Stalin was not removed as General Secretary and continued expelling opposition supporters whilst promoting his supporters, culminating in him becoming leader of the Communist Party.
C: Evaluation of Sources
Lenin’s Testament:
This testament is a primary source and the final document written before Lenin’s death. According to Trotsky’s article in The New International the testament’s purpose was “Lenin’s last advice on how to organize the party leadership.”[11] As it was written close to Lenin’s death he had nothing left to lose, with the necessity of diplomacy no longer hanging over his head, hence revealing critical opinions on the Communist Party and its leading members, with no other document showing his true views regarding shortcomings of the other members of the Party. Perhaps its greatest value though was its presence as a cornerstone of Khrushchev’s Secret Speech in the critique of Stalin. On the other hand, being written after a stroke, it can be argued that Lenin was no longer the man that led revolutions, was instead impaired and in no position to make such warnings about the Party and its important members.[12] The postscript’s timing, in which he called for Stalin’s removal as General Secretary, must also be taken into account as it was added following a heated debate between Stalin and Krupskaya, implying the decision was not thought through and in fact a spontaneous reaction. Nevertheless, this could be seen as a strength, as Lenin finally showed the emotion often lacking due to his diplomatic tendencies. The testament though was extremely vague, offering little other than one-sided criticism; this caused the consequential power struggle and means the testaments weakness is in fact what makes it so important.
Trotsky’s My Life:
Praised by Dmitri Volkogonov as “a work of remarkable self-analysis”,[13] Trotsky’s autobiography My Life was written during his first year in Turkey in 1930 having been exiled by Stalin. The purpose of his autobiography was to tell the story of his life from youth to expulsion, and validate his own beliefs and actions. My Life offers insight into Trotsky’s beliefs and relationships, especially his longing for revolution and need to excuse his non-Bolshevik past through constant reference made to his relationship with Lenin as well as his opinion of the contents of the testament. It also allows us to see why Lenin said what he did of Trotsky, showing his ability through a wonderfully written book, but also his pride and pedantic habits. To understand the limitations of the source Trotsky must be understood, arrogant and self-obsessed, always looking to justify himself. Following Trotsky’s own fight against Stalinism and his exile his autobiography takes every opportunity to criticise his opponent, whilst constantly looking to vindicate his need for revolution. The book offers not a reliable historical writing but a justification of a man totally committed to himself, disguised as a story of revolution and adventure.
D: Analysis
Lenin’s testament was his chance to recommend a successor, be that Stalin, Trotsky or any other member of the party and emphasise the direction in which the C.C. should progress and gives us an insight into his views of the Communist Party upon his death. When the basics of Lenin’s testament is taught at iGCSE level, the message is that Lenin was looking to prevent Stalin’s rise as leader and that had it been published Stalin would inevitably have lost the leadership race.[14] However, Stalin was the first leader mentioned in Lenin’s testament, and Russia historian Ian Grey said “Stalin emerged in the best light”,[15] highlighting that Stalin had not tarnished his party record and the only question of him in the document was whether he had the acumen necessary for a post entailing such power. This was a man who had become closer and closer to Lenin, being elected to the Central Committee, Politburo and role of General Secretary through Lenin and even assisting Lenin in avoiding capture from the Provisional Government,[16] meaning Lenin had little if any reason to remove Stalin and if he did, it was not portrayed in his testament.
On the other hand, Lenin is brutally critical of other leaders; Trotsky’s “excessive self-assurance”[17], seen in Trotsky’s My Life when he says of his work with the peasantry “I shall confine myself to two or three sufficiently outstanding examples”[18], was a far worse quality than the “vulgarity”[19], which was, according to Lenin’s secretary, “supportable in relations among us Communists”.[20] Meanwhile, the reference to Kamenev and Zinoviev lack of support during the revolution was damning, as the revolution represented everything the Bolshevik cause. Pyatkov’s persistent allegiance to Trotsky meant any criticism of Trotsky was bestowed upon him, regardless of promise he had shown. It was similar for Bukharin, despite his potential, had the testament been published having his theoretical view questioned by Lenin would almost certainly have ruled him out of the leadership race. The critique of Stalin’s opposition, especially compared to his own, showed Lenin’s disapproval, and if anything conveyed Stalin was the best candidate for leadership.
Martin McCauley argues that the postscript’s intention was to remove Stalin from the party[21], and Lenin did ask for Stalin to be removed as General Secretary. However, the circumstances suggest that was not Lenin’s true motive. With the postscript being dated just days after a phone confrontation between Stalin and Lenin’s wife it was clear that it was written out of anger, not in the thought through manner that typified Lenin before his stroke. The emotional cause of this not only indicates that the removal of Stalin as General Secretary was not Lenin’s true will, especially as it was not mentioned in the original testament, but also that Lenin’s stroke affected his credibility, and hence that of the document.
Another problem with the recommendation for Stalin to leave his post was that no one was endorsed to succeed him; the lack of replacement implies that Lenin had not held the idea before Krupskaya’s confrontation as over time he would most likely have chosen a back-up. Lenin’s secretary believed Lenin was looking for someone with all Stalin’s qualities just “more tolerant, polite and attentive”.[22] This description matches none of the other leaders discussed in the document, especially not Trotsky, whose intolerance and willingness to criticise other members of the party are seen throughout My Life, especially when discussing his leadership opposition.[23] Meanwhile, had Lenin seen him as a viable replacement he would have told him, especially given how close Trotsky asserts they were.[24] Therefore it supports the notion that Lenin did not want Stalin removed but was angered by his actions and did not see any member as a more credible leader than Stalin.
Stalin said, at the Thirteenth Party Congress, in regards to the testament, that it was “unanimously decided not to publish it.”[25] This questions whether the leaders in competition really believed that the intent of the testament was Stalin’s dismissal and that Stalin would be discredited by it. Despite the criticisms of their abilities, had they truly believed that the testament would have significantly hindered Stalin’s leadership chances then the decision would not have been unanimous. Nevertheless historian Martin McCauley believes that “Trotsky missed a great opportunity to downgrade Stalin”[26] in order to show unity in a time of tension. However, Trotsky had no problem undermining the party’s unity two years later forming an opposition block with Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1926 creating factions within the party.[27] The decision for the testament not to be published is therefore indicative of the leaders’ views on the contents, they did not see the testament as judgement on Stalin but instead a scathing appraisal of the Communist Party’s state.

E: Conclusion
Having assessed the evidence available it is clear Stalin had developed a fairly close relationship with Lenin, certainly one that showed Lenin felt Stalin belonged in the party, and in the original testament Stalin’s reputation was in no way besmirched and Lenin’s statements about him were far more positive than those about the other leading members of the party. The criticism of the other leaders is also firmly in Stalin’s favour as Lenin voiced his disapproval of Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Pyatkov and Bukharin. This judgement, especially in comparison to that of Stalin, is indicative of the high regard in which Stalin was held by Lenin. The postscript, despite its request for the removal of Stalin as General Secretary, can be somewhat disregarded due to the circumstances in which it was written, with Lenin having suffered a stroke and reacting to the argument between Stalin and his wife, with the lack of a suggested replacement portraying the spontaneity of his reaction. Finally, the decision to withhold the testament revealing that the leading members did not feel it would significantly impact on Stalin’s leadership opportunities. This evidence dismisses the simplistic idea taught to so many that Lenin was intent on removing Stalin from his post or his party.
F: Bibliography
Carr, Edward Hallett, The Russian Revolution from Lenin to Stalin (1917-1929), Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004, p. 61-73.
Eastman, Max, ‘The Testament of Lenin’, Since Lenin Died, Boni and Liveright Publishers, New York, 1925, p. 30.
Fotieva, Souvenirs sur Lénine, Éditions Moscou, Moscow, n.d, p. 173-4.
Gay, Kathlyn, ‘A Country in Chaos’, The Aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, 2009, p. 65-6.
Grey, Ian, Stalin: Man of History, Doubleday and Company, New York, 1979, p. 159-76.
Lenin, Vladimir, Collected Works. Vol. 36, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, p. 594-6.
Lynch, Michael, ‘Stalin's Rise to Power 1924-9’, Bolshevik and Stalinist Russia 1918-56, Hodder Murray, London, 2005, p. 60.
McCauley, Martin, ‘Politics’, Russia Since 1914, Addison Wesley Longman, London, 1998, p. 155-9.
Montefiore, Simon Sebag, Young Stalin, Phoenix, London, 2007, p. 5-11.
Service, Robert, ‘Leninism and its Discontents’, A History of Modern Russia, Penguin Group, London, 2003, p. 152.
Stalin, Joseph, ‘The Trotskyist Opposition Before and Now’, On the Opposition, State Publishing House, Moscow, 1928, p. 865.
Trotsky, Leon, Lessons of October, Imprecorr, Moscow, 1925, p. 1.
Trotsky, Leon, My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography, Penguin, London, 1988, p. 398.
Trotsky, Leon, ‘The Testament of Lenin’, The New International, July 1934, p. 6.
Volkogonov, Dmitri Antonovich, Trotsky: the Eternal Revolutionary, Free, New York, 1996, p. 419.
Walsh, Ben, ‘Stalin or Trotsky?’, GCSE Modern World History, 2nd ed, Hodder Murray, London, 2001, p. 126.

[1] Carr, p. 61-3.
[2] Gay, p. 65-6.
[3] Lenin, p. 594-6.
[4] Service, p. 152.
[5] Trotsky, Lessons of October, p. 1.
[6] Eastman, p. 30.
[7] Grey, p. 159.
[8] Trotsky, My Life, p. 398.
[9] Lenin, p. 594-6
[10] Carr, p. 71-3.

[11] Trotsky, The New International, p. 6.
[12] Eastman, p. 30.
[13] Volkogonov, p. 419.
[14] Walsh, p. 126.
[15] Grey, p. 176.
[16] Montefiore, p. 5-11.
[17] Lenin, p. 594-6.
[18] Trotsky, My Life, p. 343.
[19] Trotsky, My Life, p. 397.
[20] Fotieva, p. 173-4.
[21] McCauley, p. 155.
[22] Lenin, p. 594-6.
[23] Trotsky, My Life, p. 395-408
[24] Trotsky, My Life, p. 363-9.
[25] Stalin, p. 865.
[26] McCauley, p. 159.
[27] Lynch, p. 60.

Was the Holmodor an intentional genocidal policy by the Soviet Union Leadership?

A: Plan of Investigation
1. Subject- Was the Holdomor an intentional genocidal policy of the Soviet Union leadership?
2. Methods- Will use two basic sets of sources, newspapers written at the time from prominent journalists such as Walter Duranty, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Gareth Jones as well as later books written by prominent historians such as Robert Conquest. The summary of evidence will consist of three basic sections the policies taken by the Soviet Union leading to the famine, their policies during the famine and a section focusing on the famine itself. For section C the one source will be two of Walter Duranty's articles in the New York Times and the other Robert Conquest's book Harvest of Sorrows: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror Famine.

B: Summary of Evidence
Stalin had introduced forced collectivization in 1928. The policy was meant to combine the smaller farms into larger ‘more efficient’ collective farms called kolkhozes. The 25 million peasant farmsteads were turned into 200,000 collective farms. This forced collectivization however, was highly unpopular among the peasants who resisted in a variety of ways including the slaughtering of their live stock as well as the burning of their crops culminating in large scale revolts braking out in mostly non-Russian areas including Ukraine. Such peasants were then bunched under the term “Kulaks” on which he declared “war”. It is estimated 5 million Soviet citizens were eventually classified as kulaks and either stripped of their land to be given the poorest land in the area, were deported to other nearby regions of the country or, in extreme cases to distant inhospitable regions without shelter or resources, or sent to gulags. The overall result was the inverse of what had been desired- rather then increasing the food output, the grain output dropped and livestock numbers fell; “famine was the natural outcome”.
The Holmodor refers specifically to such famine within Ukraine between 1932-33 which was part of a larger famine within the Soviet Union. The meaning of the word itself is debated, but is often translated as “death by hunger”. The actual number of casualties is recognized to be somewhere between 2.5 and 5 million though estimates vary. Cannibalism became widespread as the starving became more and more desperate resulting in the publishing of slogan by the Soviet authorities “Eating dead children is barbarism”. Disease, particularly typhoid, was widespread.
The Soviets pursued a number of policies during the famine 1932, introducing the law “On Safeguarding Socialist Property” which made stealing food punishable by death . The borders of the Ukraine were sealed by Red Army Units, and when aid arrived it was sent to all areas except the Ukraine. People trying to flee were rounded up and returned to famine stricken areas. The government went house to house in Ukraine removing all grain; in March 1933 220,000 starving people who left trying to find grain were returned as soon as they were caught. The quota was cut three times before the famine ended in 1934 when Stalin called a stop to the forced seizure of grain.
543 words

C: Evaluation of Sources

Harvest of Sorrows: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror Famine
Written by well respected Robert Conquest, viewed by many as one of the foremost Soviet historians, the book has been described as “(t)he first major scholarly book on the horrors of collectivization” and hailed as “the most comprehensive history of the soviet agricultural crisis,” especially as Conquest himself states his focus on the Holmodor. However, having been published before the opening of the Soviet Archives, the book omits numerous sources that have come to light which indicate that many of the numbers and facts used in the book exceed the actual numbers. Furthermore, Conquest has since rescinded his claim in the book that the Holomodor was an intentional policy, instead saying that had Soviet policy of collectivization and dekulakization been dropped when the famine became eminent many lives could have been saved. Many of the book’s detractors claim that that the book is merely propaganda with “more than half of the references are come from extreme-right-wing Ukrainian émigrés”; As one of the advisors of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Conquest's true motives for the book have become suspect.
The second source consists of two articles by Walter Duranty- the now infamous “Russians Hungry But Not Starving” published on March 31st 1933 and the second less known piece “Soviet Industry Shows Big Gains” published the following week on April 6. At the time they were written the two pieces were valuable both as a “first hand account” and the fact Walter Duranty was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for his work on the Soviet Union. Also the pieces were published in the New York Times one of the most respected newspapers. However it has since been proven that famine occurred, which Duranty had flatly denied in both pieces. In fact efforts have been made to rescind Duranty's Pulitzer Prize and he was referred to by fellow journalist Malcolm Muggeridge as “the greatest liar I have met in journalism”.
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D: Analysis
The famine is considered one of the greatest national calamities of modern Ukrainian history, an unprecedented peacetime catastrophe. The famine is such a flash point that the Ukrainian Communist Party refused to even acknowledge that it occurred until 1990, over 55 years after it happened. The current Ukrainian president has announced his attention to make denial of the Holodomor illegal. To date over 19 countries other then Ukraine have recognized it as an act of genocide and the European Parliament adopted a resolution on October 23, 2008 recognizing the famine calling it “an appalling crime against the Ukrainian people, and against humanity” and calling “on the countries which emerged following the break-up of the Soviet Union to open up their archives on the Holodomor”. The document also “strongly condemns these acts, directed against the Ukrainian peasantry, and marked by mass annihilation and violations of human rights and freedoms”.
But was the famine actually the result of a genocidal policy by Stalin? Duranty, possibly the most prominent journalist in the Soviet Union, completely denied the famine, claiming that “conditions are bad, but there is no famine”. His sources were “Soviet commissariats and in foreign embassies with their network of consuls, [...] Britons working as specialists and from my personal connections, Russian and foreign”, sources he fails to ascribe a name to, are “more trustworthy information than I could get by a brief trip through any one area”. He instead inserts any deaths are the result of “diseases due to malnutrition.” A number of prominent Westerners in 1934 agreed with him. However there can be question now of the falsity of their reports especially with the Soviet admitting its occurrence in the 80s and the Ukrainian Communist Party adopting a resolution in 1990 also acknowledging the disaster took place. In fact Duranty's work has become so discredited an attempt to revoke his Pulitzer Prize was put forward and even encouraged by the New York Times.
Robert Conquest on the other hand refers to the catastrophe as a “terror famine” and “inflicted for its own sake” is supported to differing extents by large number of historians. His assertion that the famine was the result of “the setting of grain quotas far above the possible, removing of handful of foods and preventing of help from outside” is collaborated by historian Jasper Becker, “Stalin allowed relief to all other areas”, “Party deliberately and consciously took all grain it could from the peasants” and Robert Service, “starving majority […] had to fulfill state's requirements”. Peter Wiles says “Conquest's research has established beyond a doubt that the famine was deliberately inflicted there for the ethnic reasons to undermine the Ukrainian nation”. However not all historians agree with Conquest and Becker, both Martens and Tottle are critical of Conquest's arguments asserting that the famine was actually caused not by Stalin but by four factors, a civil war perpetrated by the Kulaks and Czarist elements, the drought, the typhoid epidemic and some by the disorder resulting from the economic and social changes and pointing to the drought rather then Soviet policy. Both Marten's and Tottle's arguments are vastly weakened by the Russian's Federation co-sponsorship of a 2003 resolution holding the Soviet Union responsible for the famine which appears to be an admission of guilt. The official documents in the archives likewise “convincingly demonstrates that the blame for the suffering and deaths of millions of people lies squarely with the Stalinist leadership”. However Robert Service notes using the definition of genocide as killing an entire ethnic group or nationality then the Holdomor doesn't really apply. Other nationalities in the Ukraine were in conditions just as poor as the Ukrainians and the grain quotas were cut multiple times 3 times at the report of famines.
Words: 797
E: Conclusion

While clearly Duranty and Conquest don't agree on whether or not the Soviets are to blame for the Holomodor its clear they agree on the answer to whether or not it was genocide. Both believe that the famine was not the result of a genocidal policy when genocide is defined as “the killing of an entire national or ethnic group”. This is a position also supported by historians Service, Tottle, and Martens among others. But Service and Conquest do accuse Stalin of failing to act adequately to prevent or stop the continuation of the famine which means while he was not guilty of genocide the Soviet leader were guilty of a kind of extreme case of criminal malfeasance.
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F: List of Sources

Becker, Jasper. Hungry Ghosts Henry Holt and Company: New York, 1996
Conquest, Robert. Harvest of Sorrows: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror Famine Oxford University Press US, 1987
Duranty, Walter. “Russians Hungry, But Not Starving”. New York Times New York, March 31st, 1933
Martens, Ludo. “The Resolution on Dekulakization”. Another View of Stalin 1995
Meurs, Mielke. Many Shades of Red Rowman and Littlefield, 1999
“Resolution on the Commemoration of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian artificial famine(1932-1933)”. European Parliament Oct. 23, 2008. June 9, 2009
Service, Robert. A History of modern Russia from Nicholas II to Vladamir Putin Harvard University Press: New Haven, 2005
Sysyn, Frank. “The Ukrainian Famine of 1932-3: The Role of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Research and Public Discussion”. Studies in Comparative Genocide Ed: Levon Chorbajian and George Shirinian, Palgrave Macmillan 1999. pg. 182
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard Progress Books: Toronto Canada, 1987
Tucker, Robert C. “Stalinism as Revolution from Above”. Stalinism Ed: Robert C. Tucker Transaction Publishers, 1999