What are the key aspects of Stalin's personality evident in the Katyn massacre?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One element of Stalin's personality that is evident in the Katyn Massacre is his pure disregard for human life.  From the earliest of stages in his political activism, Stalin "viewed people largely as instruments for serving the needs of the state."  This is evident in the Katyn Massacre, where Stalin understood that the discovery of the Polish prisoners of war by the West might help to unhinge his own government.  At the same time, it also brought to light how the Soviet leader wanted no questions about his own government, something that he was able to avoid when he allied his nation with the West in defeating Hitler.  The fact that so many were killed with single bullets to the base of the skull reflects Stalin's penchant for political violence.  Like Hitler and other mass murderers of the 20th Century, Stalin was able to combine a sense of the personal cruel with the political brutal.  The Katyn Massacre reflects this, as there is a savage element along with a sense of political expediency, a reflection of Stalin's political personality.  Stalin had no problem in using violence towards a political end, and this is seen in the Katyn Massacre.  Stalin's own "paranoia" and "thirst for power" is evident in the manner through which men, women, and children were violated and silenced in Katyn.

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