Cover Osteuropa 4/2012

In Osteuropa 4/2012

Approximating an Unfathomable Man
Stalin and His Biographers

Andreas Oberender

Deutsche Fassung


Stalin engages each generation of historians anew. The classic picture of Stalin as sketched by Robert Tucker and Adam Ulam can be differentiated due to new sources. Today’s biographers, such as Robert Service, Hiroaki Kuromiya, and Kevin McDermott, embed Stalin’s actions in greater context and structure and emphasise the relative weakness of the Bolshevik regime. But it is doubtful whether this suffices to explain Stalin’s actions. Without ignoring the pitfalls of psychohistory, the biographical literature on Stalin should devote more attention to the Soviet dictator’s mental state. The source material allows it.

(Osteuropa 4/2012, pp. 37–52)