The Cult of Stalin
From my antipathy to any cult of the individual, I never made public
during the existence of the International the numerous addresses from
various countries which recognized my merits and annoyed me. I did not even
reply to them, except sometimes to rebuke their authors. Engels and I first
joined the secret society of Communists on the condition that everything
making for superstitious worship of authority would be deleted from its
-Karl Marx, as quoted by Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress
Both Marx and I have always been against any public manifestation with regard
to individualism with the exception of cases when it had an important
purpose; and we most strongly opposed such manifestations which during our
lifetime concerned us personally.
-Frederick Engels, as quoted by Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress
Few leaders in the history of the world have enjoyed having unquestioned
authority as did Joseph Stalin. Stalin wielded a level of control over the
Soviet Union that would have been the envy of Napoleon and Genghis Kahn.
To a large degree this power was gained and maintained
through fear and repression. However, while ruling like a tyrant, Stalin
was able at the same time to garner a massive public following. Although
his image was engineered by a highly sophisticated propaganda machine, a
genuine love of Stalin came to exist. Following the death of Stalin, a
large scale there was a deconstruction of the cult of Stalin.
Construction of Stalin's Image
Stalin's rise to power was methodical and precise. The construction of his
image, too, was well thought out. Nearly every medium propagandized
Stalin's image. The great tradition of truthful and imaginative literature
was cast aside and became a vehicle for
promoting Stalin. The new medium of film, for which Stalin had a particular
fascination, was also directed towards creating an image of Stalin. Not only in
but in everyday life the physical image of Stalin was ever-present.
Stalin in Literature
Stalin in Film
Stalin as a Visual
Deconstruction of Stalin's Image
Just as Stalin's image had been forcibly built up, it needed to
be torn down by force following his death. This destruction of the Stalin
myth has taken place on many
different levels. From an official standpoint, de-Stalinization began in
Khrushchev's "secret" speech to the 20th Party Congress. A symbolic and
visual removal of Stalin's pedestal took place following this official
denunciation. In literature attacks on Stalin are now commonplace.
medium of film, for which Stalin had such an admiration, also has come to
be used against him and the cult built up around him.
RUSS 248A SPTP: Via the WWW to Russia. St. Lawrence University. Project 3
Text -Copyright © 1997. Jake Fey
Revised - May 9, 1997