How was Stalin able to rise to power as the leader of the Soviet Union?
Stalin was able to rise to power as the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union through a combination of skillful political maneuvering and ruthlessness. He emerged from an early squabble with Leon Trotsky to earn Lenin's confidence, and appointment to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party (not initially a major position of leadership as it would later be) in 1922. Stalin increased the power of the position by appointing loyal friends to subordinate positions. When Lenin died in 1924, Stalin and a few powerful allies were able to marginalize Leon Trotsky, and Stalin solidified his power. He used propaganda to create a dictatorial cult of personality around himself, and used his loyal followers (some of whom he later turned against) on the Politburo and elsewhere in Soviet government to secure support for radical new collectivization measures. His power would not be truly consolidated until the vicious purges of the early 1930s, but he was firmly in power, having outmaneuvered Trotsky, by 1929.