Joseph Stalin 🇷🇺🇬🇪

BIRTH / EARLY LIFE

Born: December 18, 1878

P.O.B: Gori, Georgia

Died: March 5, 1953

P.O.D: Kuntsevo Dacha

BEFORE POLITICS

Stalin grew up poor and an only child. His father was a shoemaker and alcoholic who would often beat his son. His mother was a laundress.

During his teenage years, he earned a scholarship to attend a private college in the nearby city of Tblisi and study for the priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church. While there, he began to read the work of Karl Marx, who is often hailed as the founder of communism, sparking Stalin’s interest in the revolutionary movement against the Russian monarchy.

In 1899, Stalin was expelled from the college due to missing exams, despite his claim that it was for spreading communist propaganda, which he made to imply his lifelong cause of spreading communism.

After leaving school, Stalin became a political protest leader, participating in labor-related demonstrations and strikes.

Stalin also became involved in various criminal activities, including bank heists, which funded the Bolshevik Party.

This resulted in multiple arrests between 1902 and 1913, and imprisonment and exile in Siberia.

ENTERING POLITICS

In 1912, Lenin, who had been exiled to Switzerland, appointed Stalin to serve on the first Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party.

Three years later, in November 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia began the Revolution, which lasted until 1922, when the USSR was established, with Lenin as its first leader. During the Russian Revolution, Stalin had continued to move up the party ladder, and in 1922 he became Secretary-General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a role that enabled him to appoint his allies to government jobs and grow a base of political support.

After Lenin died in 1924, Stalin seized control of the Communist Party, allowing him to become dictator of the Soviet Union.

DICTATORIAL RULE / KEY POLICIES

  • Stalin’s plans to develop Russia focused on the government controlling all elements of the economy, including collectivising Soviet agriculture. However, millions of farmers refused to cooperate with the new plans and as punishment, they were shot or exiled. The forced collectivisation also led to widespread famine as the farms were not managed effectively, resulting in the deaths of millions.

  • He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraging citizens to spy on one another and millions of people were killed or sent to the Gulag system (a group of forced labor camps).

  • During the second half of the 1930s, Stalin instituted the Great Purge to remove opposition to his rule.

  • Cities were renamed after him.

  • Soviet history books were rewritten to give him a more prominent role in the revolution and make him appear more powerful.

HISTORIAN'S QUOTE

“He ordered someone's murder and in doing so, showed the others what happens if they didn't submit to him. Minister today, dead tomorrow – that was the gruesome unpredictability of the system”

~~~ Jörg Baberowski

REFLECTION

Listen to this episode of my podcast for my reflection on the quote and future opposition to Stalin.