Josef Stalin was Soviet head of state who presided over a closed, Communist state from 1922 until his death in 1953. His government was characterized by strict social controls and dictatorship and preferred to rule with an iron fist. Born in Georgia, Josef Stalin embraced Russian nationalism and extensively promoted culture of Russia among the society in terms of language, Russian history, and national heroes of the country, particularly during his reign in the first half of the twentieth century. As the leader, Stalin insisted that all citizens, including writers, should work toward the common goal, which meant that writers should write works that would promote the five-year plan (Schultze 2000). In 1928, when Stalin had outmaneuvered his rivals, he signaled through a central committee decree that the time of relative freedom for writers had come to an end. Stalin had resolved that the Soviet state needed socialist literature and socialist art. This forms of control spelled the end of the burst of avent-garde creativity in Russia, especially because it was accompanied by the threat of force.
The next decade of Stalin rule was a nightmare in Russia. As Stalin tightened the levers of control on all aspects of society, he squelched creativity and brought real fear in to the lives of every Russian. Even his comrades were no longer safe, for his suspicious and paranoid nature led him to turn on former colleagues, as well as on anyone one he perceived as opposed to his plans for the country. More than a half a century after his death, the figure of Stalin still casts a long shadow over Russian society and culture and arouses heated passion in both Russia and the west (Erik van, 2002).
Stalin's cultural legacy of Stalin and Stalinism has been depicted immensely in Russian literature, drama and film, both during his lifetime and after his death. During his reign, Stalin influenced the establishment of the Socialist Realism in literature, music, architecture, painting, drama and sculpture. The previously official and long-lived and fashionable "revolutionary" expressionism, avant-garde experimentation and abstract art, were discouraged and eventually denounced as a form of "formalism". Especially in fine arts, an all-out war was declared on "formalism," a collective term used with deadening regularity to condemn anything deemed remotely avante-garde. Leading painters such as Konstantin Malevich, and Natan Altman fell victims to official disapproval and were soon banned from displaying their work.
In art and in literature, Stalin became the arbiter of the socialist realist standards and an overnight expert of the subject. The introduction of socialist realism as the official art and literature dogma was part of stalin's overall policy to declare the Soviet Union a socialist state. In a report to the sixteenth party congress in 1930, Stalin had declared that the culture build by dictatorship of the proletariat would be 'socialist in content and national in form '
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Russia suffered terribly during the Second World War, which occurred during Stalin's reign. Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler, with the idea that each could expand without threat from each other. However, in June 1941, Hitler invaded Russia anyway. Russian military and civilians fought with determination for their motherland despite the distaste they many felt for the communist regime. The communist government helped foster the patriotism by relaxing the controls on religion and on literature during the war and by promising better times after the war.
The long term effects on popular culture impacted national culture, including the arts and architecture. In architecture, the constructivism of the 1920s was replaced by the Stalinist Empire Style. Joseph Stalin built an entire city in 1929 for mining steel and it was named Magnitogorsk. The city was set up to the East of Ural Mountains. The mountain is purely iron ore. It was built as a mining center for Russia to meet its steel consumptions. It took five years to construct the Magnitogorsk City. The city is able to accommodate a population of about 450,000, mainly steel miners. The production of steel began in early 1930s, but the iron ore ran out shortly after World War two. This eventually led to the collapse of Magnitogorsk city's economy.
Joseph Stalin also constructed the Baltic - White Sea Canal. This canal was intended to connect the White Sea's port of Archangelsk to the Baltic Sea. The idea to connect to the key port of Leningrad was to provide the Soviet Army with the flexibility to move back and forth between these two seas. This was very important incase a war broke out. The construction of the canal was completely in 1933. However, its size was too shallow to admit larger barge.
In 1920 Vladimir Tatlin, was assigned to design the Monument meant to house the new Soviet government. It was a huge spiraling funnel shaped iron structure. The third structure had unique and wonderful carvings that enclosed three rotating smaller assembly. This structure was so huge that it required more steel. Such a high demand was not possible to meet and therefore, the project was canceled.
Joseph Stalin also ordered that Orthodox Christian cathedral be brought because it had been built on the "Palace of the Soviets." The church was to be relocated to somewhere else. The Palace of the Soviets was never constructed as the required resources were diverted to fight Germans in the world war two.
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