It can be suggested that it was Stalin's personality that was responsible for the terror as it is often described that he was a deeply suspicious man with an inferiority complex.
Stalin's personality can be seen as being the predominant reason behind the great terror of the 1930s, and there is the evidence that this was the driving force behind the terror. Stalin was an incredibly suspicious man, this verged on paranoia. The suicide of his wife seemed to make him convinced that those around him would betray him. He was also particularly vindictive and vengeful, proven by his 1936 expulsion, and execution, of members of opposition groups within the party, including leading members Kamenev and Zinoviev, who had treated him in a condescending manner as mediocre and dull.
Due to his paranoid nature, he believed there were many who were against his position in the party and he wanted to rid the party of anyone that could rival him. These features of his personality may prove why his former comrades were killed, rather than exiled, which would have most likely been the case under Lenin. Stalin was crude and brutal, even for a Bolshevik. He had a fascinations for violence; when hard pushed he would resort to violence as a solution to his problems.
Stalin had limited abilities but unlimited ambitions, by ridding the party of Old Bolshevik members; he was able to get rid of those who knew his limitations, which fed his inferiority complex. He also had an idealized view of himself, believing he was the hero of the revolution who could take Russia forward through socialism. This also explains why he eliminated those who knew his limitations under Lenin. They would not accept his heroic pose and might try to thwart him.
However, there are also other contributory factors that led to the terror in 1930s.The power of the police state and how the terror snowballed during the purges are also factors. The NKVD’s role in society expanded greatly during the terror. The heads of this organisation wanted to protect and promote its power, by over fulfilling their quotas. The purges seemed to almost take on a life of their own and gathered momentum. This was perpetuated by local leaders’ need to kill people, without justification, just to meet the quotas’ demands.
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