Joseph Stalin – Soviet leader
Joseph Stalin led the Soviet Union for about 25 years. He made it into a world power, but he was known for his harsh rule. He defended the achievements of the Bolshevik Revolution, successfully waged war against NAZI Germany, and contributed to the division of Eastern from Western Europe in the 1940s.
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was born on December 21, 1879, in Gori, Georgia. His father was a cobbler and his mother a domestic servant. He studied at a local church school and the Tiflis (Tbilisi in Georgian) Orthodox seminary, from which he was expelled in 1899.
His Georgian name was Ioseb Dzhugashvili. Later he used the name of Stalin, which is based on the Russian word for “steel.”
As a young man Stalin became interested in Communism. Communists believe that all citizens should get an equal share of their country’s wealth.
In 1903 he married his first wife, Yekaterina Svanidze, his son Yakov was born in 1904, and his wife died of tuberculosis in 1907.
In 1903 the Communists of Russia split into two groups, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Stalin joined the Bolsheviks. Their leader was Vladimir Lenin.
In 1912 he was elected in his absence onto the party Central Committee and became an editor of the party newspaper, Pravda. In 1913 he wrote his most important early work, Marxism and the National Question. His revolutionary work was interrupted by arrest in 1902, 1909, 1912, and 1913. Stalin was imprisoned because he tried to get people to revolt against the Russian tsar.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought down the Russian emperor. By 1921 the Bolsheviks, now known as the Communist Party, had all the power.
After the Lenin’s death in 1924 Stalin became the leader.
In November 1932 Stalin’s second wife, Nadezhda Allilueva whom he had married in 1919, died. At the time it was announced that she had died of a heart attack, but it was widely believed that she had shot herself. There have also been rumors that Stalin himself killed her, but the truth is still not known.
Both of Stalin’s wives died at an early age, and he seems to have had difficult relations with his children. From his second marriage he had a son, Vasily (born in 1921) and a daughter Svetlana (born in 1926).
Joseph married Nadezhda Alliluyeva in 1919. But he lived with his future wife for two years before the marriage – he was 39 years old and Nadezhda was only 14. There were rumors that in Siberian exile in Kureyka he has a lover – 14-year-old orphan girl Lydia Pereprygina who gave birth to their son.
Starting in 1934, Stalin ordered his secret police to arrest and shoot many party members and army officers. He wanted to get rid of all possible threats to his power.
Stalin died on March 5, 1953, probably of natural causes; some have argued that some of his leadership colleagues may have poisoned him, but there has been no evidence to sustain this accusation.
Stalin was notorious among his comrades for his mental strengths, for his seemingly tireless ability to work long hours and for his amoral appetites.
Stalin had never been a particularly healthy man. Since childhood he had had to fight to stay alive. At the age of seven, he contracted smallpox. Yet he survived (his three brothers all died from childhood diseases). The disease left his face scarred, but he was alive. As he got older, he knew he was an unprepossessing sight, with his short stature and pocked face (he is also reported to have had a withered left arm, for reasons that are in dispute, and an imperfect left foot, on which two toes were joined). At the age of 27, he was pronounced physically unfit for military service during a general mobilization.
Stalin’s heavy pipe-smoking and drinking, combined with his ever-worsening paranoia and destructive habits, destroyed his health. Besides arterial sclerosis and high blood pressure, he suffered from terrible headaches and increasingly numerous attacks of dizziness. As his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva wrote, “He knew and understood that he was hated, and he knew why.”
In 1949, Stalin had a stroke which brought on a partial loss of speech.
In 1953, Stalin transferred his fear of doctors to the nation as whole, with the infamous ‘Doctor’s Plot,’ when he had his (mainly Jewish) Kremlin doctors arrested on the contrived charges of having murdered a number of Soviet officials on Zionist orders.
Father of Nations built his fantastic ideal world on a plan known only to him. Stalin entered world history as one of the three greatest dictators and tyrants of the XX century, along with Hitler and Mussolini.
The most expensive gifts to Stalin
On November 29, 1943 in Tehran Winston Churchill presented Joseph Stalin with a Sword of Stalingrad decorated with precious metals and stones.
There is an inscription on the blade: “To the citizens of Stalingrad • strong as steel • From King George VI • As a sign of British people’s deep admiration”.
The sketch of the sword was made by Oxford professor R. M. J. Gleadow and approved by King George VI. The sword was made by Wilkinson Sword.
The sword is considered one of the masterpieces of the blacksmith’s craft of the modern era.
On the 70th anniversary Stalin was presented with three cars from the Czechoslovak workers – Minor, Skoda 1101 and Tatraplan.
Telephone in the form of the globe was given to Stalin in 1949. It was created by workers from Lodz (Poland).
In 1944, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Uzbek SSR, Stalin was presented with a sword from the Uzbek people. It was made by master Ali Khoja Kanaev.
In 1945, Josef Stalin was presented with tobacco casket and tobacco pipe by the Assembly of the People’s Front of Macedonia.
My first Britannica
Britannica Student Encyclopedia
Encyclopedia of Russian History