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Abstract

This thesis examines Sergo Ordzhonikidze’s suicide within the context of Stalin’s authoritarian regime. Specifically, it focuses on the intersection of politics and personal relationships between high-ranking Party members. The Soviet Union of the late 1930s was notably different from the Soviet Russia of 1917. Whereas a degree of disagreement within private discussions had been previously allowed, by the end of the 1930s Stalin demanded near absolute loyalty and unity within the Party. Despite the changing political dynamic within the Party, Ordzhonikidze repeatedly challenged Stalin when he believed that his policies were not in line with Lenin’s conception of Communism. In turn, he became a threat to Stalin’s Soviet Union. The first section analyzes Ordzhonikidze’s opposition to some of Stalin’s policies that he believed contradicted Lenin’s conception of Communism. It focuses on the differences of how Ordzhonikidze and Stalin believed the role that violence played in terms of establishing and maintaining control. The second section examines the aftermath of Ordzhonikidze’s death and highlights Stalin’s attempt to control the situation to maintain the appearance of Party unity. It demonstrates that Ordzhonikidze’s death signified a shift within the Party toward favoring loyalty. Within the broader context of Soviet history, Ordzhonikidze’s death is emblematic of a transition to a more authoritarian Soviet state where disagreement within the Party was largely forbidden.

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