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Stalin

The Lord of Terror. A Biography

by Altrichter, Helmut

Stalin was the master of terror, a cynic of power who sent millions to their deaths. These ghosts still haunt his legacy. In this new biography, Helmut Altrichter, one of the leading German experts on the history of the Soviet Union, tells the story of one of the greatest criminals in world history.

Stalin was never going to be a great “theoretician” (like Lenin) or a rousing “tribune of the people” (like Trotsky); he was more of a second or third-rate leader. His rise began during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution when “practitioners” were needed who knew how to assert power through violence and terror. As organizer of the party, he understood how to portray himself as Lenin’s closest collaborator and to assert himself against his competitors after Lenin’s death. Everything happened in the name of “socialism,” but Stalin was not a “humble believer.” He was always more concerned with power. His forced industrialization, compulsory collectivization, and brutal cleansing waves cost millions of lives and plunged the country into bloody chaos. Hundreds of thousands were arrested, shot, and sent to the Gulag. Despite this, the Soviet Union managed to survive the Second World War and Stalin somehow managed to establish himself in the Soviet collective memory as a “Generalissimo and world leader.”

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