How did Joseph Stalin use propaganda to manipulate people?
As a young man, Joseph Stalin had been a student at an Orthodox Seminary. Although he quickly disavowed Orthodox teaching as well as any form of religion in favor of atheism, he skillfully relied on the religious nature of the Russian (and other Soviet) people to create an image of himself closely akin to an Orthodox Saint. He did this by having images of himself displayed in many public places, often as statues. He created a false image of his childhood to make himself appear as a Christlike figure, born to lead his people. Operas and movies were made to show him in a heroic atmosphere. (One such creation, Ivan the Terrible by Sergei Eisenstein created a problem as the image was a little to close to Ivan's barbarity for Stalin's comfort.) Additionally, his name was kept constantly in the presence of the Soviet people. Said one writer:
You only have to listen to the radio programme about our achievements, and every fifth or tenth word will be the name of Comrade Stalin.
Stalin further created falsified historical accounts by portraying himself as Lenin's favorite and chosen successor, when in fact Lenin did not trust him. He sponsored literature which glorified his presumed humble origins, so much so that the small bungalow in which he was born was encased in glass and surrounded by marble columns.
Stalin was quick to paint those who challenged or even disagreed with him as "enemies of the revolution." Witnesses were paid to offer false testimony, after which the witnesses themselves were quieted. With zero dissent and his image constantly before the Soviet People, Stalin was able to work his will with deftness and efficiency.
Stalin's propaganda was characterized by what is sometimes called a Personality Cult, or Cult of Personality. Although Stalin insisted that he was modest, and valued modesty, his method was to bombard the people with his name, titles, pictures, and images of himself appearing in literature, poetry, film, music and dance. The Stalin Peace Prize and the proclamation that he was the Father of Nations (one of the titles bestowed on him) were part of Stalin's propaganda machine, as well as many geographical locations, which were renamed for him. He had Soviet history rewritten to depict himself as having played a bigger role in the revolution of 1917 than he actually did, and the Soviet national anthem was rewritten to include his name. The Stalin cult reached an all time high during World War II, as one might expect.