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> Saved the Donets coal-mining region from General Anton Denikin's forces.
> Was responsible for early Russian successes in the Polish War of 1920.
> Saved Tsaritsin (now called Stalingrad) from capture in 1918.
At Tsaritsin there began one of the bitterest political enmities of modern timesthe Stalin-Trotsky feud. Trotsky claimed that Stalin, a political commissar at that time, was insubordinate. He demanded and got from Lenin an order recalling him. Thereafter, Comrade Stalin patiently and calculatingly nursed his grudge against Comrade Trotsky.
In 1922 Trotsky was offered the post of Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, but turned it down. All except Stalin thought it was a mere routine job. Stalin eagerly grabbed it. Stalin saw in it the chance to become something resembling a Soviet Boss Tweed. The Communist Party was growing by leaps & bounds. Comrade Stalin appointed the new secretaries of the expanding organization. Comrade Stalin could not directly punish a recalcitrant secretary, but one who showed too much independence could easily be shifted, without explanation, from a nice post in, say, the Crimea, to a cold outpost in Archangel. By the time of Lenin's death in 1924 Stalinist bureaucracy was already in the saddle.
Probably the most debated point in postwar Soviet history was the "last testament" supposedly left by Lenin. Most salient point in the alleged document was a proposal to get rid of Stalin "because he is too crude." Stalinists have long denied its genuineness; best Trotskyist argument is that Stalin once quoted it and that Stalin once admitted: "Yes, I am rough, rough on those who roughly and faithlessly try to destroy the 'Communist Party."
At any rate, Lenin's proposal could scarcely be carried out against Stalin's strong organization. During this and the subsequent crucial period the chief members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, the Party's ruling body, were Stalin, Trotsky, Grigori Zinoviev, Leo Kamenev, Alexei Rykov, Nikolai Bukharin, Mikhail Tomskyseven little bottles hanging on the wall. In 1928 Trotsky was exiled from the U.S.S.R., in 1936 Zinoviev and Kamenev were tried for treason, found guilty, shot. Tomsky attended the trial, committed suicide. In 1938 Rykov and Bukharin went before the firing squad.
In twelve years of Stalin absolutism the world has had many conflicting reports of how Socialism in Russia got along. There were accounts of big dams built, large factories going up, widespread industrialization, big collective-farming projects. Five-Year plans were announced. Free schools and hospitals were erected everywhere. Illiteracy was on the way to being wiped out. There was no persecution of minorities as such. A universal eight-hour and then a seven-hour day prevailed. There were free hospitalization, free workers' summer colonies, etc.
To be sure, the collectivization program in the Ukraine resulted in a famine which cost not less than 3,000,000 lives in 1932. It was a Stalin-made famine. The number of wrecks and industrial accidents became prodigious. Soviet officials laid it to sabotage. More likely they were due more to too rapid industrialization. Millions in penal colonies were forced into slave labor.