The rise of Stalin's personality cult in Soviet Belarus

Aliaksandr Huzhalouski from the Belarusian State University analyses the cult of Stalin in Belarus. He discusses its peculiar tools such as everyday political education and various political campaigns, the cult in literature and art, as well as its strengthening through place names. He points out that Stalin’s cult of personality formed within the confines of a much broader Soviet society-building project which was based on paternalistic, illiberal and authoritarian values. However, Soviet Belarusian society was not monolithic in exhibiting its fawning devotion to the dictator and the author analyses the resistance to the establishment of Stalin’s cult of personality. This article assesses Stalin-era propagandists’ early attempts (from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s) to construct legitimacy through the development of a cult of personality in Soviet Belarus. It explores authoritarian legitimation techniques through the use of the Communist Party’s propaganda media, works of literature and art, as well as toponyms. These sought to demonstrate a direct link between Stalin and the common people. Newspapers often published collective letters from collective farmers or industrial workers praising the leader, portraying him as a caring yet strong father figure, with the Soviet populace as his ‘children’. Another prominent part of Stalin’s image in the media was his close association with Lenin. It will be argued that Soviet-Belarusian society was not monolithic in exhibiting its fawning devotion to the dictator. The marginalised minority openly expressed their oppositional viewpoints towards the rising dictatorship.