Joseph Stalin

"Stalin" redirects here. For other uses, see Stalin (disambiguation).
Joseph Stalin
Иосиф Сталин ( Russian)
იოსებ სტალინი ( Georgian)
Stalin Joseph.jpg
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
3 April 1922 – 16 October 1952
Preceded by Vyacheslav Molotov
(as Responsible Secretary)
Succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev
(as First Secretary)
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
In office
6 May 1941 – 5 March 1953
First Deputies Nikolai Voznesensky
Vyacheslav Molotov
Nikolai Bulganin
Preceded by Vyacheslav Molotov
Succeeded by Georgy Malenkov
Personal details
Born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili
(1878-12-18)18 December 1878
Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 5 March 1953(1953-03-05) (aged 74)
Kuntsevo Dacha, Kuntsevo, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Resting place Lenin's Mausoleum, Moscow (9 March 1953 – 31 October 1961)
Kremlin Wall Necropolis, Moscow (from 31 October 1961)
Nationality Soviet
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Spouse(s) Ekaterina Svanidze
(1906–07)
Nadezhda Alliluyeva
(1919–32)
Children Yakov Dzhugashvili
Vasily Dzhugashvili
Svetlana Alliluyeva
Parents Besarion Jughashvili and Ketevan Geladze
Religion Atheism, formerly Georgian Orthodox
Signature
Military service
Nickname(s) Koba
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Armed Forces
Years of service 1943–53
Rank Marshal of the Soviet Union (1943–45)
Generalissimus of the Soviet Union (1945–53)
Commands All (supreme commander)
Battles/wars World War II

Leader of the Soviet Union

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin [a] ( /ˈstɑːlɪn/; [1] 18 December 1878 [2] – 5 March 1953) was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. Holding the post of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he was effectively the dictator of the state.

Stalin was one of the seven members of the first Politburo, founded in 1917 in order to manage the Bolshevik Revolution, alongside Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Sokolnikov, and Bubnov. [3] Among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who took part in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the party's Central Committee in 1922. He managed to consolidate power following the 1924 death of Vladimir Lenin by suppressing Lenin's criticisms (in the postscript of his testament) and expanding the functions of his role, all the while eliminating any opposition. He remained General Secretary until the post was abolished in 1952, concurrently serving as the Premier of the Soviet Union from 1941 onward.

Under Stalin's rule the concept of " Socialism in One Country" became a central tenet of Soviet society, contrary to Leon Trotsky's view that socialism must be spread through continuous international revolutions. He replaced the New Economic Policy introduced by Lenin in the early 1920s with a highly centralised command economy, launching a period of industrialization and collectivization that resulted in the rapid transformation of the USSR from an agrarian society into an industrial power. [4] The economic changes coincided with the imprisonment of millions of people in Gulag labour camps. [5] The initial upheaval in agriculture disrupted food production and contributed to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932–33, known in Ukraine as the Holodomor. Between 1934 and 1939 he organized and led the " Great Purge", a massive campaign of repression of the party, government, armed forces, and intelligentsia, in which millions of so-called " enemies of the working class" were imprisoned, exiled, or executed, often without due process. Major figures in the Communist Party and government, and many Red Army high commanders, were arrested and shot after being convicted of treason in show trials. [6]

In August 1939, after failed attempts to conclude anti-Hitler pacts with other major European powers, Stalin entered into a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany known as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, that divided their influence and territory within Eastern Europe, resulting in their invasion of Poland in September of that year. Stalin's invasion of Bukovina in 1940 violated the pact, as it went beyond the Soviet sphere of influence agreed with the Axis. [7] Germany ended the pact when Hitler launched a massive invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Despite heavy human and territorial losses, Soviet forces managed to halt the Nazi incursion after the decisive Battles of Moscow and Stalingrad. After defeating the Axis powers on the Eastern Front, the Red Army captured Berlin in May 1945, effectively ending the war in Europe for the Allies. [8] [9] The Soviet Union subsequently emerged as one of two recognized world superpowers, the other being the United States. [10] Communist governments loyal to the Soviet Union were established in most countries freed from German occupation by the Red Army, which later constituted the Eastern Bloc. Stalin also had close relations with Mao Zedong in China and Kim Il-sung in North Korea.

On February 9, 1946, Stalin delivered a rare public speech in which he explained the fundamental incompatibility of communism and capitalism. He stressed that the latter system needed war for raw materials and markets. The Second World War was but the latest in a chain of conflicts which could be broken only when the world's economy made the transformation into communism. [11] Stalin led the Soviet Union through its post-war reconstruction phase, which saw a significant rise in tension with the Western world that would later be known as the Cold War. During this period, the USSR became the second country in the world to successfully develop a nuclear weapon, as well as launching the Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature in response to another widespread famine and the Great Construction Projects of Communism. In the years following his death, Stalin and his regime have been condemned on numerous occasions, most notably in 1956 when his successor Nikita Khrushchev denounced his legacy and initiated a process of de-Stalinization and rehabilitation to victims of his regime. Stalin remains a controversial figure today, with many regarding him as a tyrant. [12] However, popular opinion within the Russian Federation is mixed. [13] [14] [15] The exact number of deaths caused by Stalin's regime is still a subject of debate, but it is widely agreed to be in the order of millions.

Early life

Stalin aged 15 (left) and 23 (right)

Joseph Stalin was an ethnic Georgian. His birth name in Georgian was Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili ( Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი). His homeland was then part of the Russian Empire. The Russian-language version of his birth name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili ( Russian: Ио́сиф Виссарио́нович Джугашви́ли).

Ioseb was born on 18 December 1878 [2] in the town of Gori in the Tiflis Governorate of the Russian Empire (today in Georgia). His father was Besarion Jughashvili, a cobbler, while his mother was Ketevan Geladze, a housemaid. As a child, Ioseb was plagued with numerous health issues. He was born with two adjoined toes on his left foot, [16] and his face was permanently scarred by smallpox at the age of 7. At age 12, he injured his left arm in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage, rendering it shorter and stiffer than its counterpart.

Ioseb's father slid into alcoholism, which made him abusive to his family and caused his business to fail. When Ioseb's mother enrolled him into a Greek Orthodox priesthood school against her husband's wishes, Ioseb's enraged father went on a drunken rampage. He was banished from Gori after assaulting the police chief. Besarion moved to Tiflis, leaving his wife and son behind in Gori.

When Ioseb was sixteen, he received a scholarship to attend the Tiflis Spiritual Seminary, the leading Russian Orthodox seminary in Tiflis; the language of instruction was Russian. Despite being trained as a priest, he became an atheist in his first year. [17] He was a voracious reader and became a Georgian cultural nationalist. He anonymously published poetry in Georgian in the local press and engaged in student politics. [18] Although his performance had been good, he was expelled in 1899 after missing his final exams. The seminary's records also suggest that he was unable to pay his tuition fees. [19] Around this time, Ioseb discovered the writings of Vladimir Lenin and joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, a Marxist group from which the Bolsheviks would eventually emerge.

Out of school, Jughashvili briefly worked as a part-time clerk in a meteorological office, but after a state crackdown on revolutionaries, he went underground and became a full-time revolutionary, living off donations.

When Lenin formed the Bolsheviks in 1903, Jughashvili eagerly joined him. Jughashvili proved to be a very effective organizer of men as well as a capable intellectual. Among other activities, he wrote and distributed propaganda, organized strikes, and raised funds through bank robberies, kidnappings, extortion, and assassinations. Jughashvili was arrested and exiled to Siberia numerous times, but often escaped. His skill, charm, and street-smarts won him the respect of Lenin, and he rose rapidly through the ranks of the Bolsheviks.

Jughashvili married his first wife, Ekaterina Svanidze, in 1906, who bore him a son. She died the following year of typhus. In 1911, he met his future second wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, during one of his many exiles in Siberia.

Sometime between 1910 and 1912, he began using the alias "Stalin" in his writings.[ citation needed]