Facts about Stalin

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Joseph Stalin, a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR’s dictator was named Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili at birth. He was born on 18th December, 1878 in Gori, a small town in Georgia.

2.Early Childhood

Stalin was an only child and grew up poor. His alcoholic father beat him and worked as a shoemaker while his mother worked as a laundress.  Early in his life, he contracted smallpox leaving him with facial scars that lasted throughout his lifetime. He got a scholarship in his teen years to study priesthood in seminary in Tblisi city Georgian Orthodox Church.

3.Revolutionary Ideas

During his stay at the seminary, he started to read secretly works of the German social philosopher, Karl Marx who authored the “Communist Manifesto”. This aroused his interest in the revolutionary movement against the monarchy in Russia. Stalin got expelled in 1899 from seminary for skipping exams but he claimed his reason for expulsion was the Marxist propaganda.

4.Political Agitation

After his expulsion from seminary, Stalin became part of the Marxist Social Democratic movement militant wing, the Bolsheviks whose leader was Vladimir Lenin. He also engaged in criminal activities such as bank heists whose proceeds went to finance the Bolshevik party. He took up the name Stalin which means man of steel in Russian in his 30s. Between 1902 and 1913, Stalin was arrested several times, imprisoned and exiled to Siberia.


Stalin got married to Elaterina Svanidze, a seamstress in 1906. They got one son named Yakov who later died in Germany as a prisoner during the Second World War. Ekaterina died of typhus in 1907 when their son was just an infant. Stalin married a second wife, a Russian revolutionary daughter named Nadezhda Alliluyeva in 1919. She bore him two kids before committing suicide. Stalin was father to a number of other kids out of wedlock.

6.Rising to Power

Vladimir Lenin went to exile in 1912 and left Stalin in the initial Bolshevik Party’s Central Committee. The party seized power in Russia in 1917 and the Soviet Union formed in 1922 where Lenin was leader. Stalin moved up party ladder to become the Central Committee of Communist Party’s secretary general. He appointed allies into government and grew his political base. After the death of Lenin in 1924, Stalin outmaneuvered his party rival to lead the Communist Party and became the dictator of Soviet Union in late 1920s.

7.Stalin’s Dictatorship

Stalin launched plans to change the Soviet Union an industrial powerhouse from a peasant society. The plans were centered on control of economy by government and used forced collectivization of agriculture that saw government take over farms. Millions of uncooperative farmers were shot or exiled. Millions of people died as a result of famine too. Stalin reigned by terror and eliminated or sent millions of citizens who opposed him to the Gulag system forced labor camps. He was the most feared man in Russia.

8.The Great Purge

In 1930s, Stalin ran campaigns to rid military, Communist Party and other sections of Soviet society of persons seen as threats. He created a personality cult around himself and had cities renamed to honor him, books written, music, artwork and literature done about him to give him prominence.

9.World War II

Stalin entered into a non-aggression pact with Germany on the eve of World War II.  Germany bleached the agreement and attacked Russia leading to the Battle of Stalingrad where the Red Army conquered the Germans and drove them out of Russia.

10.Korean War

Stalin setup communist governments across Eastern Europe and led Soviets into nuclear age. In 1950, he allowed Kim II Sun, North Korea’s leader permission to invade South Korea. The invasion caused the Korean War. Stalin killed over 20 million people during his rule. He died in 1953. His successor launched a de-Stalinization campaign in Russia.


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