Stalin maintained power in the 1930s by totalitarianism methods, show trials, denunciations, Great Terror, The cult of Personality and other things.
In 1934 a member of the Politburo and leading communist was killed. His name was Kirov. This was the work of Stalin, he ordered that Kirov be killed. The reasoning behind the killing of Kirov: he had received tremendous applause at the party conference that year and, he was also the focus of communists who didn't like Stalin's brutality. This death gave Stalin the ideal excuse he said, " Kirov has been killed by a group who are out to destroy communism and the communists with in it". What starts now and reaches its peak between 1936-1938 is a purge of people. Purge on a scale rarely seen in history.
The method of Fear + Terror = Control.
They think maybe 14 million people were purged.
2 million shot
12 million in gulags
Controlling by Fear
The purges of this time were given the name The Great Terror. Firstly he purged the communist party (the arrests were made by the NKVD). Often arrests were made at night by the NKVD drove a black raven and carried maroon identification cards. Some leading communists were given show trials, in these the verdict is already decided. Example 1936 show trial of 16 RIP Zinoviev and RIP Kamenev, the charge was being a Trotskyite enemy of the people. The chief prosecutor at these trials was Vyshinsky, he always awarded the death penalty. Vyshinsky at one of his show trials said, " Traitors and spies who are selling our country to the enemy, must be shot like dirty dogs."
Stalin extended the purges to the armed forces. Starting in 1937 with the top army man Tukhachevsky. 13 of 15 of Stalin's army commanders were shot. Those that were purging were also purged. The first 2 leaders of the NKVD were shot, first was Yagoda and secondly Yezhov. Stalin also launched larger scale purges, and started purging cities Leningrad got special attention. The purges once again extended this time to the ordinary people. People were encouraged to denounce others to the NKVD.
Controlling by Ideas
Cult of Personality. Stalin elevated himself to the level of a God, his personal qualities were all powerful. Some names he used were: Smiling Uncle Joe, Man of Steel, Granite Bolshevik. He created an image that the Soviet Union couldn't live with out him. Towns were named after him eg. Stalingrad and statues of him were erected everywhere.
Censorship. All ideas that attacked Stalin were censored, the media was controlled. Writers, poets etc had to write in a certain way.
Propaganda (distorting history). Misleading information with a bias. A lot of propaganda was directed at school children and the education system in general, children were encouraged to think in a certain way. A short history of the Soviet Union was used in schools. As Stalin's role was increased, equally Trotsky's role was decreased. A lot of pictures from the past were reissued eg, Stalin appeared in pictures by Lenin, when he wasn't actually there. Propaganda sold the image of how well the country was doing.
Religion. Religion was savagely attacked and churches were closed. Stalin said, " Communism is your religion, you will be loyal to it."
Stalin sold the idea that, together they were building a new social experiment, and of course Stalin was steering this experiment.