Presenting Joseph Stalin, the 5 feet 5 inches tall giant, who was born on December 18, 1878, “ruled” the USSR for 12 long years, was lauded for his achievements, ridiculed for his foibles, and criticized for his harshness!
Joseph Stalin’s Biographical Sketch
Stalin was born in a cobbler’s family in 1878. His early life gave him scars that’d stay with him for life, permanently etching into his mind a severe inferiority complex. First, he contracted smallpox (other kids teased him by calling him “Pocky” – in Russian, of course), then he damaged his left hand in a couple of accidents. Though initially he was a good student he gradually moved away from studies ans got into politics. It was in 1903, that a 25-year-old Stalin formally became a Bolshevik.
Joseph Stalin fought the Tzar’s regime and actively participated in the October revolution of 1917. During the Civil war that followed the October revolution, Stalin first experienced the feeling of unbridled power over people when he sent the Tzar’s followers to execution.
Stalin’s Real Name
was Losif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili!
He called himself Stalin (or “made of steel”) – a good thing he did – or it would’ve been nearly impossible to remember his name.
Stalin’s Relationship with Lenin
Stalin shared a love-hate relationship with Lenin. Stalin had joined the Bolshevik forces headed by Vladimir Lenin, in 1903 when he was a young man. Over the next twenty years, as Stalin’s importance grew within the party, his differences with Lenin grew too. In 1922, Lenin suffered a stroke, and Stalin became the General Secretary in his stead, and also his personal advisory. However, their relationship worsened during this period as Lenin thought of Stalin as rude abuser of power. This of course, didn’t matter, as Lenin died two years later, and Stalin assumed complete authority.
Stalin’s Atheism and his Persecution of the Religious
During Stalin’s time, it had become dangerous for people to publicly proclaim that they were religious. Atheism was the in-thing, and priests, nuns etc. were killed in thousands. It wasn’t just the Christians who were persecuted but the followers of all other religions. Ironically, Stalin supported Islam elsewhere in the world.
But what is really ironical is something else. Believe it or not, Stalin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948 (for his work towards ending the second world war – however, the guy who nominated him forgot that Stalin had first entered a “peace pact” with Hitler and only when Hitler reneged on his promise did Stalin began supporting the allies.) Thank God he didn’t get it!
Stalin died in the October of 1953. His death was as much a subject of speculation as was his life. Some researchers believe that he was poisoned, others think that he died of an ailment caused by his being an incessant smoker. Whatever it was, his death generated a mix of extreme and opposing emotions.
Stalin’s personal life
Stalin’s regime is often described as brutal and tyrannical and the description holds true for the manner in which he treated his family.
- His son Yakov or Jacob, from his first marriage, attempted to commit suicide because he hated his father, but failed, only to be ridiculed by Stalin who said, “He can’t even shoot straight.” His son eventually committed suicide.
- His second wife is said to have either committed suicide or to have been murdered by Stalin after a quarrel.
- His son Vasili from his second marriage drank himself to death.
- A fictitious legend has it that even the mice in his many different abodes would hang themselves from his mustaches when he slept, and commit suicide.
It is said that Stalin is responsible for the industrialization of the USSR through the five-year plans. However, he achieved this by destroying free enterprise and establishing collectives. This plunged the USSR into poverty and misery and millions died of starvation.He is also thought to be the man responsible for improving the state of the Russian Intelligence.
Stalin is infamous for “purging” the Soviet Union of the enemies (people of foreign ethnicity – Germans, Poles, etc), people who had committed the flimsiest of errors that could be re-painted as an offence, and so on). Researchers tell us that 700,000 people were executed under his regime, and he himself has been said to have signed the killing orders for about 40,000 of them. This guy, note, this guy was nominated for a Nobel Prize!
Quotes – Joseph Stalin
- Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem.
- Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.
- I believe in one thing only, the power of human will.
- I trust no one, not even myself.
- The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.
- The only real power comes out of a long rifle.
Fascinating – aren’t they?
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Very interesting post. Never knew about this man except whatever I gleamed from the movie Enemy at the Gates. Thank you 🙂 Have missed quite a few posts. Will catch up soon. 🙂
Thank you Ajay. A rags to riches saga is always interesting to read. I know that you are busy these days – but do return when you have more time. It’s always a pleasure to meet you.
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Great work, great post, I love your blog =)
My history teacher told us that, when Stalin was asked why he does all these killings, he said they would have died anyway. He really is fascinating. O.O
Thank you for commenting, Karmen. It does appear to me that Stalin was the kind of a man who’d say that. Characters who are a mixture of good and evil are often more fascinating than those who are either only good or only bad 🙂