Power of propaganda

By Anna Sokolova

watching tvPropaganda is a very powerful tool and could be very strong instrument in deceiving and misleading. I want to persuade you today to always think for yourselves, do your own research and try rely on the facts. I am going to give you example of one instance that happened not in such distant past, which clearly illustrates such amazing power of propaganda.

Here is the quote that believed to belong to Josef Stalin “Death of one is a tragedy; one million is statistic”. Stalin was Russian dictator who ruled from 1929 until 1953. Growing up I heard that people were crying and grieving when Stalin died. My own family was silent on this subject. When I became older and learned about Stalin’s repressions, I was shocked. Major questions that I had were:” How so many people made it possible for the one to kill millions? Why nobody stopped him? Why did people cried in grief when he died?” And most important question of all, what made it possible for him to succeed?

“Stalin came from poor family. His father was an unsuccessful shoemaker and remembered to be a drunkard who was mean to Stalin” (Stalin 825). His mother decided to send him to a church school. Just as he was about to graduate, he gave up his religious education to devote his time to the revolutionary movement against the Russian monarchy. He transformed from a religious scholar into a rebel against his country. He later on met revolution leader Lenin and together they took over Russia in 1917. Stalin became secretary for the Communist Party and gradually gained more and more power. A man, who once was against monarchy, became what he sought to destroy.

During his ruling the Soviet secret police arrested and executed party members by thousands because Stalin worried about potential conspiracies against him. He also believed that the military might eventually overthrow him and many skilled high-ranking officers got executed or sent to prison. This weakened the Russian army. It also greatly helped Germany when they invaded Russia. Stalin created slave labor camps where ordinary people were sent for such things like saying something suspicious, believing in God or sometimes because a neighbor accused them of something.

Historians working after collapse of the Soviet Union's have estimated that Stalin victim totals ranging from approximately 4 million to 10 million. One of the estimates is: 1.5 million got executed; 5 million sent to the slave labor camps; 1.7 million got deported; other -1 million. This totals to about 9 million victims of repression.

What about his own children? Stalin's son Yakov shot himself, because of Stalin's harshness toward him, but survived. After this, Stalin said of his son "He can't even shoot straight". Yakov is committed suicide later on while been captured by German’s during World War 2 and his father refused to exchange him for a German officers. His second son Vasiliy died of alcoholism in 1962. Stalin’s only daughter Svetlana immigrated to the United States in 1967.

While it all was happening, Stalin worked hard on creating his positive image in the country that he terrorized. Stalin created around himself a so called “cult of personality” in the Soviet Union. Numerous towns, villages and cities were renamed after him. He accepted titles such as "Father of Nations", "Brilliant Genius of Humanity," "Gardener of Human Happiness" and helped rewrite Soviet history to provide him with a more significant role. Listen to this, at the same time he insisted to be remembered for his "the extraordinary modesty characteristics."

In the Soviet Union Stalin became the focus of literature, poetry, music, paintings and film which portrayed Stalin with almost god-like qualities, and suggesting he single-handedly won the Second World War. Science, art, and literature were under strict ideological control by Stalin and his government.

Stalin died in 1953, at the age of 74. About 10 million victims and yet there were many people crying and grieving Stalin’s death. Why? Many people simply did not know the truth. To them he was that “Father of his people” the way that he portrayed himself. Even some of his victims believed that what happened to them was not Stalin’s fault; they thought it was mistake made by his associates. Is it sad? Unfortunate? Pathetic?

What I really learned from it and hope you will to: is that propaganda is a very powerful thing and could be very strong instrument in deceiving and misleading; is that people should learn, analyze and think for themselves. Propaganda does not always take such extreme form as in Stalin’s case, but still can be very effective. You should always do your own research, consider all opinions, and always try to rely on facts.

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