- "There are no fortresses that Bolsheviks cannot storm."
- —Joseph Stalin
- "Death is the solution to all problems. No man... no problem."
- —Joseph Stalin
- "By the time of his state funeral in March 1953 the man the world knew affectionately as "Uncle Joe Stalin" had been dead for four days. The people of the Soviet Union wept openly for their dead leader. To the Russian people Stalin was a saviour. The great leader who had plucked them and the country from the jaws of Hitler's nazis and kept the Americans at bay. As they filed past his corpse few care to recall that Stalin had another, darker reputation as the murderer of millions of his own people. Stalin turned Soviet Russia into one of the bloodiest killing grounds the world has ever seen."
- —Introduction to a Discovery channel documentary.
- "The greatest tragedy of all was that this butcher of innocents would never be called to account for his crimes."
- —A classic Karma Houdini
Joseph Stalin (born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili; December 18th, 1878 – March 5th, 1953) was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. He was one of the biggest mass murderers to have ever existed and remains a controversial figure today, with many regarding him as a tyrant similar to his wartime enemy Adolf Hitler, others as a capable and necessary leader for the time.
Stalin’s father, Besarion, was an alcoholic, leading to business failures and violence towards Joseph and the boy’s mother. On top of this, Joseph experienced many physical calamities in his youth. He grew up constantly getting into brawls with others his age, and smallpox left his face extremely scarred. Moreover, he was struck by a horse-drawn carriage not once, but twice, leading to permanent damage of his left arm, which in turn exempted him from fighting in World War I, where he would likely have died.
While formally the office of the General Secretary was elective and wasn't initially regarded as the top position in the Soviet state, after Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin managed to consolidate more and more power in his hands, gradually putting down all opposition groups within the party. This included Leon Trotsky, the Red Army organizer, proponent of world revolution, and principal critic of Stalin among the early Soviet leaders, who was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929. Instead, Stalin's idea of socialism in one country became the primary line of the Soviet politics. There exists Stalinism, an ideology that Stalin founded and implanted in the Soviet Union.
When the Soviet Union was disestablished in 1991, records had shown that he was responsible for the deaths of 20 to 60 million people. However, unlike his wartime enemy Adolf Hitler, Stalin's reasoning for killing was different. He never went after diverse groups as Hitler did, but his mass murders were political ideologies.
Stalin suffered from Paranoid Personality Disorder which lead him to see enemies amongst his allies, in the last years of his life Stalin launched began targeting Jewish natives of the Soviet Union, despite denouncing and acting against Antisemetic behaviour in the past. This was perhaps as he delusionally assumed they were more loyal to the newly formed Israel than to his Soviet Union.
World War II
In 1939, Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler, allowing both to take over Poland. Hitler betrayed this pact in 1941 with the invasion of the USSR, forcing Stalin to turn to the western democracies for support. Stalin, along with Franklin Roosevelt of the United States and Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom were among the "Big Three" in the allied leaders of WW2. Even though the alliance was temporary and Stalin resumed his harsh rule after the war, he was a very effective allied leader and has a grudging respect today for being one of the people who lead the allies to victory. After the war, Stalin spread Communism in eastern Europe and he backed other communist regions in other countries like China, thus becoming a villain to the Western world and sparking the Cold War.
As Leader of the Soviet Union
Lenin was hesitant to the idea that Stalin would succeed him, and wrote sometime before his death "Comrade Stalin is unfit for leadership, he is too rude and undereducated." And Lenin preferred the much more moderate, less ruthless Leon Trotsky to succeed him. Stalin was much more ruthless than Lenin or Trotsky, this however made Stalin and his USSR a necessary evil as his ruthlessness lead to a much more efficient military service, Stalin was said "In the USSR Military it takes more courage to retreat than it does to advance."
Due to Stalin's extremism he enacted much more control on the country than what Lenin had did. Famously, Lenin had ordered for both homosexuality, divorce and abortion to be de-criminalised once his grip on power was absolute. Stalin however recriminalised homosexuality in 1933, as well as abortion. This was possibly due to him wanting a larger population of the Soviet Union. However, lesbian activity was still legal throughout his reign.
A large number of Stalin's allies throughout his tenure as dictator of the Soviet Union were killed under his order, this was due to his paranoid delusionals and seeing enemies whenever he was not being threatened. During his time in power, Stalin had many of his own people killed, particularly during the 'Great Purge' of late 30's. Stalin died in 1953, ending one of the most controversial political reigns in history. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, then began the liberalization of Soviet policy that continued into the 1980s and led to its collapse.
His health began slowly declining in the 1940s. In 1945, he suffered a heart attack which he put down to his lifelong heavy smoking.
He died from a stroke on March 5, 1953 at the age of 74. Many in the west were sceptical if his death was faked, which lead to his corpse being publicly displayed at his state funeral four days later.
Stalin was one of the biggest mass murderers in history, he killed a minimum of 20 million people during his reign. He conducted genocide in Ukraine and was in charge of an army that raped its way across half of Europe. Unlike his war rival Hitler, who is also known as one of the most evil people in history, he remains astonishingly popular; popular opinion within the Russian Federation is mixed.
Results of a controversial poll taken in 2006 stated that over 35% of Russians would vote for Stalin if he were still alive. Fewer than a third of all Russians regarded Stalin as a "murderous tyrant"; however, a Russian court in 2009, ruling on a suit by Stalin's grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, against the newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, ruled that referring to Stalin as a "bloodthirsty cannibal" was not libel. In a July 2007 poll, 54% of the Russian youth agreed that Stalin did more good than bad while 46% (of them) disagreed that Stalin was a "cruel tyrant". Half of the respondents, aged from 16 to 19, agreed Stalin was a wise leader. In 2011, a poll by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that 45 percent of Russians had a “generally positive” view of Stalin. In his home country of Georgia, that number rises to 68 percent. Only a few years beforehand, a TV poll of 50 million Russians named Stalin the “third-greatest Russian of all time.” Western Ukraine still commissions statues of him on a mind-numbingly regular basis.
- Stalin had a very troubled childhood, his father, an alcoholic, would often beat him as a child - this perhaps contributed lead to his downward spiral.
- Joseph Stalin's mother was Keke Geladze, he had a better relationship with his mother than his father. However, his daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, claims the only person her father had any fear of was his mother. This could be attributed to his strict upbringing, his mother was a pious and raised him devout in the Russian Orthodox Church. At one point in fact, she was hoping for him to train as a priest in the church.
- When his wife, Kato Svanidze, died from typhus, Stalin apparently said at her gravesite "This warm creature could soften my feelings towards humans, now she's gone, and along with her, all my feelings for humanity."
- He would marry again to a woman called Nadezhda Alliluyeva in 1919, his relationship with her was strained however, and she committed suicide in 1932, Stalin never married again
- He is often associated with photo manipulation, after ordering the deaths of peers, he would have their image and likeness from all photos that was he was also in or had any connection to his party.
- Stalin would regularly air-brush photographs as he was paranoid about the permanent scars on his face, which were a result of small pox as a child. He reportedly had several portrait artists shot for unflattering images of him.
- Stalin, along with other future members of the party, would rob banks to donate to the Communist Party prior to the Revolution.
- Ironically, Stalin was known to be a fan of American Western Movies, in particular to John Wayne - a Conservative Republican and one of the most outspoken anti-communists in the West at that time. This lead to Stalin and Mao coming to the agreement he needed to be silenced, their henchmen missed a shot at Wayne.
- In his personal life, Stalin was known for having a strained relationship with his eldest son, Yakov, due to their heated relationship Yakov once tried in vain to commit suicide, when Stalin was informed of this he replied "He couldn't even do that right."
- When Yakov was kidnapped by Nazi forces, the Nazis were willing to trade him back in order for a Nazi officer the Soviets had imprisoned in their gulag camps, Stalin however refused and Yakov was shot in the head in 1943 aged 36. Despite this however, Yakov's son, Galina is an admirer of his Grandfather, a neo-Stalinist and currently resides in his Grandfather's homeland of Georgia.
- US President Harry Truman after meeting with Stalin referred to him as a "shrimp". Stalin was only 5 foot 4 (163 cm).
- Stalin was awarded the title “Man of Steel.” It fit perfectly with his stern image as leader of the industrial-powerhouse of the USSR. Moreover, it hid his true identity, protecting his family from the many assassination attempts and deceptions that plagued him, as well as the communist party.
- His goal of uniting the nation with him as the leader grew to frightening heights. Stalin enacted a series of purges known as “Stalin’s Terror,” whereby millions of people were sent to forced labour, assassinated, or publicly executed, out of fear that they were enemies of the state. With the state police, the NKVD, at the helm of the purges, millions were condemned for having even a single contact with questionable individuals on Stalin’s hit list. Interestingly enough, it was found out after his death that Stalin had been suffering from atherosclerosis (fatty tissue build-up in the arteries) of the brain, possibly explaining his deranged “terror.”
- One of the greatest atrocities attributable to his regime was the Holodomor famine, a manufactured famine, which saw the deaths of approximately 2.5 million Ukrainians. This was Stalin's method of obtaining power of Ukraine as they would have no other option but to turn to the Soviet Union for help.
- One of his favourite methods of interrogation was rat torture. Which involved a rat cage being placed on a prisoner's stomach, the cage would be lit with a match and the rat would use its claws to dig into the prisoner's abdomen.
- When being interviewed by HG Wells in 1934, Stalin explained his communist ideologies in detail, in the interview he also gave credit to capitalist systems by stating "There is much we Bolsheviks can learn from the capitalist".
- Social critic Christopher Hitchens compared Stalin's dictatorship similar to the regime of many of Russia's Tsars as Stalin used many of the same methods to utilize the country. One political method the two had in common were for hundreds of years Russians were told the Tsar was a supernatural power and all under the Russian Empire had to attribute their satisfactory quality to life to the Tsar, Stalin used the same methods to utilize his own people which could be considered jingoism.
Stalin's 1934 interview with HG Wells
While visiting Moscow in 1934, Stalin granted the famed journalist an interview.
Stalin's final speech
Stalin's final speech, October 14th 1952, less than five months prior to his death.