How was Josef Stalin manipulative? What are some examples of his manipulation?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You would be hard pressed to find a negative adjective that does not describe Josef Stalin and his reign of terror in the Soviet Union. For this reason, the obvious answer is yes, Josef Stalin was manipulative. In his defense, most despotic leaders tend to use manipulation to achieve their ends, so he has plenty of company in the manipulation hall of fame if such a place exists.

Ten years into his reign as the leader of the Soviet Union, Stalin's manipulation was evident in German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact which was signed with Adolf Hitler in 1939. His actions were manipulative on a number of levels. First, he greatly disliked Hitler and fascism, (the feeling was mutual) and realized that he was going to be at war with Hitler as some point in time. Stalin also knew that an agreement with Hitler would give his people time to build up arms to defeat Germany when the time came. The manipulation was really brought to light when it was discovered that Stalin had secretly negotiated territories in Eastern Europe that he would receive after the war ended. Despite these arrangements, Stalin negotiated trade agreements with the Allied Powers of Britain and France, two countries trying to bring the Soviets into the fold. He conveniently forgot to tell these Western Powers of his future plans for Eastern Europe.

Another more concrete example of the manipulative nature of Josef Stalin was his skillful use of propaganda. What was he possibly promoting? Himself, of course. This was not difficult when his government controlled the media. Stalin built a cult of personality around himself in the Soviet Union in a bold attempt to make himself more powerful. He renamed cities in his honor and had the history books rewritten to make himself grander than he really was. He made every aspect of his life mythical in nature. He even had his name inserted into the national anthem. In a country that was stripped of its God by the Bolsheviks, Josef Stalin attempted to fill that void.

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