The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorship: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc

The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorship: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc

Balázs Apor, Jan C. Behrends, Polly Jones, E. A. Rees

Language: English

Pages: 309

ISBN: 2:00077733

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is the first book to analyze the distinct leader cults that flourished in the era of "High Stalinism" as an integral part of the system of dictatorial rule in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Fifteen studies explore the way in which these cults were established, their function and operation, their dissemination and reception, the place of the cults in art and literature, the exportation of the Stalin cult and its implantment in the communist states of Eastern Europe, and the impact which de-Stalinisation had on these cults.

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the ceremony in the Polish Theatre in Warsaw the first greeting read was that from Stalin, and then telegrams from Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Ho Chi Minh, Klement Gottwald, Wilhelm Pieck and Mátyás Rákosi were read. These messages were published in the press the next morning. The media also reported various celebrations of Bierut’s birthday throughout the Bloc, emphasising his inclusion amongst the selfproclaimed ruling group of the ‘progressive world and mankind’. After his 60th birthday, Bierut’s

opinions. He also showed more interest than his predecessors in the press, radio and television, as useful tools to create mass loyalty to the political system. This clearly indicates that, despite the crucial role the press, radio and other forms of mass communication (theatre, film, manifestations, demonstrations, etc.) played in promoting the cult of Rákosi and other communist leaders, literature always remained the privileged object of control by party officials. To prevent a disaster similar

glorification of the highly abstract, impersonal values of the communist movement. The creation of a fairly deindividualised and extremely idealised biography of the leader was primarily motivated by the need to present an exemplary behavioural pattern for the society to emulate.77 Through the dissemination and teaching of Rákosi’s life story, communist propaganda attempted to inculcate a basic set of ideal communist values in society, in accordance with the general strategy to reshape social

the excessive adulation surrounding subordinate and provincial leaders.45 Stalin was depicted as the implacable defender of the state against its enemies, both domestic and foreign. It was symbolised by the Stalin Constitution of 1936; the canonical account of the Revolution and Stalin’s role in it as presented in The Short Course History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of 1938, the publication of his official biography in 1939, and the 60th birthday celebrations in 1939. But Stalin

Until 1953, Jan C. Behrends 169 authors referred to Stalin’s telegram in countless articles and speeches; it was given the status of the GDR’s founding act. The text marked the essence of the GDR’s Stalin cult: the Soviet leader as the guardian of the German nation and the paternal friend of the GDR. Stalin was portrayed as the only leader of a great power who genuinely supported German unity. As unity (Einheit) was a central term in German nationalism, the SED’s propaganda apparatus tried to

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