Episode 1 Stalin and Mind Control – Stalin anticipates Germany’s Joseph Goebbels in his marshalling of Soviet media to manipulate the minds of his population. All organs of communication are taken under Stalin’s control, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theater, cinema and architecture even opera and ballet.
Episode 2 Stalin’s Secret Police – Stalin’s rise to power is attributed largely to his control of the vast secret police complex, known first as the Cheka and eventually as the KGB. At Stalin’s direction the secret police becomes the bludgeon with which Stalin enforces his political and personal will, liquidating party rivals, purging the Red Army, and creating in his gulags the largest slave labor force since the Pharaohs.
Episode 3 Stalin and the War – Prior to the start of WWII, Stalin signs a nonaggression pact with Hitler, hoping to buy time and build up his armed forces. His plan backfires when Hitler launches surprise attack Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, and his panzers sweep to within 10 kilometers of Moscow. When Stalin issues disastrous orders, the Soviet people, with enormous effort and sacrifice, beat back the German Wehrmacht, and in spite of Stalin’s blundering win a great victory.
Episode 4 The Private Life of Joseph Stalin – Stalin is born of doubtful parenthood and grows up a Marxist and a revolutionary, organizing riots and robbing banks to fund party activities. While Stalin is twice married, both wives die suspicious deaths, the first of typhoid after being kicked in the stomach while pregnant, and the second of appendicitis after committing suicide. Stalin then systematically murders or imprisons his many in-laws. Witnesses of these events furnish the horrid details. Stalin was born Joseph Dzhugashvili in the Georgian town of Gori in 1879. He was an early activist in the Bolshevik movement, where he first assumed the pseudonym Stalin (which means man of steel). He was named General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1922, a post Stalin used to fortify his power base. When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, a struggle for control broke out hat pitted Stalin against his nemesis, Leon Trotsky, and a host of lesser party figures. Stalin’s victory was slow and hard-fought, but by 1927 he had succeeded in having Trotsky expelled from the party. By 1928, Stalin was entrenched as supreme Soviet leader, and he wasted little time in launching a series of national campaigns (the so called Five Year Plans) aimed at collectivizing the peasantry and turning the USSR into a powerful industrial state. Both campaigns featured murder on a massive scale. The millions of deaths in Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago (the network of labour camps [gulags] scattered across the length and breath of Russia) were a consequence of Stalin’s drive for total control, and his pressing need for convict labour to fuel rapid industrialization. For Stalin, dissident viewpoints represented an unacceptable threat. This was the origin of the cult of personality that permeated Soviet politics and culture, depicting Stalin as infallible, almost deity like. Beginning in 1935, the series of immense internal purges sent millions of party members and ordinary individuals to their deaths, either through summary executions or in the atrocious conditions of the Gulag Archipelago. Soviet institutions and sectors like the Communist Party, the Army, the NKVD, and scientists and engineers were decimated by these purges. The “Old Bolshevik” elite was targeted in three key “show trials” between 1936 and 1938in which leaders such as Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin, and Grigori Zinoviev were accused of conspiring with Trotskyite elements to undermine communism in the USSR. When the “Old Bolsheviks” had been consigned to oblivion their successors and replacements quickly followed them. The destruction of the officer corps, about 35,000 military officers shot or imprisoned, and, in particular the execution of the brilliant chief-of-staff Marshal Tukhachevsky, is considered one of the major reasons for the spectacular Nazi successes in the early months of the German invasion in WWII. The impetus to “cleanse” the social body rapidly spilled beyond these elite boundaries and the greatest impact of the Purge was felt in the wider society. Relatives of those accused and arrested, including wives and children down to the age of twelve, were themselves often condemned under the “counter-terrorism” legislation.
Episode 5 Stalin’s Enslavement of Rural Russia – Russia’s 40 million farmers resist Stalin’s attempt to seize their lands and to collectivize Soviet farming. The result is a virtual war that lasts for years and results in the deaths of 20 million farmers and their families through execution deliberate starvation and death in the labor camps.
Episode 6 and The Last Empire-Stalin is largely responsible for subverting the idealism of the Bolshevik Revolution, which preached a peoples’ democracy to a power hungry system of elitism which ignores the peoples’ needs and rewards only the party aristocracy. “Stalinism” does not die with him in 1953 but remains a political legacy that is finally toppled by a determined Soviet people in August 1991. With the fall of communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991Soviet scholars like Edvard Radzinsky and Dmitri Volkogonov have published prominent exposes of Stalinist rule, based on newly opened archives. And the estimates of the death toll arrived at by Robert Conquest and others, long denounced as craven exaggerations, have been shown instead to be, if anything, understated.