GaryB, you miss the main point – Stalin galvanised a nation! Russia (The Soviet Union) with it’s diverse cultures and ethnic groups, power struggles and godfathers and vast expanses would simply have crumbled against the German onslaught had it not been for Stalin. You need to understand – Stalin was worshiped. Sure there were those who disliked him (as with any leader), but more liked him; no, actually loved him. Yes, people ACTUALLY fought for Stalin!
Drastic times require drastic action; The USSR was fighting for it’s very existence against the Wehrmacht and there was no second place. The country needed a strong leader, a man capable of making the unpalatable decisions and to be as ruthless as necessary in order to ensure victory. They got that in Stalin.
Trying to compare atrocities committed by one leader against another ad infiniteum, is a senseless argument; rather like people on this forum trying to argue various weapons specifications against others as some indication as to predictability of an out-come [the sort of nonsense of War Games]. The reality is, all leaders commit atrocities – even now. Some are better had hiding them than others, but they all do it. Stalin did what he had to do in order to first, stay in power and secondly to win the war.
Arm-chair generals, pontificating post event, fail to understand the reality of the situation of the time and the morality of the time.
Stalin was a great leader – Stalin won the war.