One of the most bloodthirsty tyrants of the 20th century, right next to Mao Zedong and Adolf Hitler. Together with Mao Zedong they were together directly responsible for the deaths of well over 75 million people, a figure that dwarfs any other tyrant in the history of mankind, at the hands of Marxism and their deviants.

Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvilli was born in 1879 in small town of Gori near the border of Turkey in Georgia, then part of the old Russian Empire and now an independent state. His father, a shoemaker, beat him badly, then died when Stalin was just 11. At his mother's encouragement, Stalin attended a theological seminary in the city of Tiflis as a teen, but being drawn toward Marxism and away from Christianity, was thrown out in 1899.

He joined the Marxist movement and when it split in 1903, he went with the more radical Bolsheviks. In 1904 he married but his wife died of tuberculosis after three years. He married again in 1919, but his second wife killed herself (or maybe he killed her, as some suspect), leaving him with a son and daughter. The son became an alcoholic and his daughter Svetlana defected to the United States in 1967.

During Stalin's underground career he was arrested at least six times and spent time as an exile in Siberia. He engaged in robbery, murder, and labor agitation in the industrial center of Baku, and served as editor and writer for various Bolshevik newspapers, where he first used the pen name of "Stalin," meaning "man of steel."

In 1922, after the communists had come to power, Stalin was appointed as Secretary General of Communist Party, which practically gives him power over not just the present reality, but the past, for he can alter records at will. Before he died in 1924, Lenin wrote that he wanted Leon Trotsky to succeed him. Stalin, he thought, was too vicious.

But Stalin had Lenin's note suppressed and joined with two other members of the Politburo to defeat Trotsky, who was later assasinated in Mexico. Stalin turned on the two who helped him defeat Trotsky and by 1928 had made himself dictator of the Soviet Union. With power fully in his hands, Stalin began the first of numerous "five-year plans," in this case a six-volume program on how to industrialize the country, a program that went hand-in-hand with a plan to bring all agriculture under state control.

This initial attempt to industrialize the country (as compared with later attempts) was generally successful, but collectivization was extremely unpopular and was resisted by the peasants. In response Stalin had millions of them killed, or allowed them to starve. In 1934 Stalin began a massive slaughter of party members and military leaders, and in 1939 entered into the famous "nonagression pact" with Adolf Hitler, which allowed Germany and the Soviet Union to divide Poland and gave the Soviet Union a free hand to take over Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, part of Romania and bit of Finland.

Hitler ignored the pact and attacked the Soviet Union. Though initially successful, his armies were eventually beaten back and at the end of the war the Soviet army occupied much of Eastern Europe, where Stalin installed communist governments that ruled the area until the early 1990's. In January 1953, the Soviet government arrested a group of doctors for allegedly plotting the deaths of high-ranking officials. It seemed like the beginning of another purge, but in March 1953 Stalin finally died. He was buried with honor but was almost immediately denounced by his successors. His body was removed from its site next to Lenin's and is now buried in some common grave. A fitting end.

Stalin was his assumed name, meaning Man of Steel. Beside projecting the image he wanted, it also made it much easier to pronounce than his original Georgian name (which escapes me at the moment).

Stalin originally studied theology with the intent of going to the priesthood, but changed his mind and became perhaps the most ruthless dictator in mankind's history.

Here's my favorite quote from Josef Stalin. It's a very succinct and scary representation of his personality.

"One death is a tragedy. One million deaths is a statistic."

It's a true statement of our inability to understand the power and scope of people like Stalin. You can hear about him killing 300,000 in the Great Purge, or 10 million who starved in the Ukraine, but your mind can't grasp it. This goes along quite well with my favorite quote of Eddie Izzard.

"You kill somebody, that's murder, you go to prison. You kill ten people, you go to Texas they hit you with a brick, that's what they do. Twenty people you go to a hospital, they look through a small window at you forever. Over that, we can't deal with it. Somebody's killed a hundred thousand people, we're almost going...'Well done.'"

"A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic."

Born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia (Russia - duh) 1879, Josef Stalin is best and only known as the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics USSR (SSSR) from 1928 to the day of his death March 5 1953. He was the successor to Lenin.

Josef Stalin was a very active member of the Bolshevik party (commonly known as the Communist party nowadays), and played a big role apparently, in the revolution of 1917. As he progressed in the communist ranks, he was in 1922 made General Secretary of the Soviet Central Commitee.

He was educated a priest in Tblisi (He was the best pupil in the school and earned a full scholarship to the Tbilisi Theological Seminary), later he led the Red Army. Clearly he was a man of great contrast. In any case, he was named a revolutionary by great communists -- this after (while still an organizer in the Bolshevik party) being called "unimportant, but good at what de does - organizing" by the same people. Some of these were executed in public.

"Ideas are more dangerous than guns.
We wouldn't let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?"

In all this, in essence, he is best known for leading the war on the allied soviet side against the Nazi Regime of Adolf Hitler and company, and last but certainly not least -- for killing an enourmous number of his own people. Hitler's statistics are said to pale in comparison, but I am not to be the judge of that. It's estimated to be anywhere from 20 million to 50 million russians.

His Death.
Some speculate that a KGB chief named Lavrenti Beria could have been responsible for killing Josef Stalin. Although this has never been confirmed, his funeral, for the man who killed so many soviets, was attended by so many people that many were trampled to death in the utter chaos.

The Steel Man's body was embalmed and placed next to Lenin's in the great tomb at the Red Square. In 1961 however, the body of Stalin was transferred to a graveyard and buried. There are tanks named after him, and he was made man of the year 1939 (that is not always a good thing) in 2000 by Time Magazine.

Stalin during the war

The Second World War is easily the most brutal and massive war the world has ever seen. The war on the Eastern Front was won by the Allies thanks largely to the Soviets, who paid the price for their victory with well over 20 million lives. The massive Soviet war machine did not just enter the war and continually push until they met the American forces on a river Germany. The Nazi forces were virtually knocking on the door of the Kremlin before the tides of the war changed.

During the time the Soviets were on the defensive, Petrograd was very nearly run over. The city itself was blockaded by the Germans, who tried to starve the city into submission. With the war going so poorly, Russian morale sunk. The fact that Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, for once told the truth rather than assure everyone that the valient Soviet Soldiers were fighting back the Nazis didn't help.

The most interesting fact about this time is that Stalin very near suffered a complete mental breakdown. He was scared out of his mind that he was about to lose his nation at the hands of the Germans. What he was most scared of was the Russian people and the Party losing their faith in him. He shut himself up in his room and stared blankly out of the window waiting to be arrested by the other members of the central committee and the Presidium. When other members came to visit him and offer their support, he immediately assumed they were there to arrest him. But the arrest never came.

When the tide of the war finally changed, Stalin finally regained his composure and his strong persona. When the Nazis were finally pushed back (due largely to the large Soviet army and very largely due to luck), Stalin was able to assure his nation's victory from the invaders. After the war was won, Stalin soared to unheard of levels of popularity. He was more popular than even Lenin at the time. The party made it a special point to campaign very hard (despite knowing he was obviously winning) the election to the Premiership yet again. Stalin held power until his death in 1953.

It was not until after his death that the flaws of his ways were surfaced. It was Kruschev's shocking speech to the presidium that finally brought out some of the darker aspects of Stalinism. Nonetheless, Stalin was, and remains one of the most fierce and noteworthy personalities of the 20th century.

Stalin created what may be the world's best example of an utterly represive and totalitarian police state: emulated today only by North Korea. Stalin created a cult of personality around himself and influenced life in the Soviet Union to a remarkable degree. Eventually, his policies, which included collectivization of land and five year plans designed to boost industry and which led to untold suffering, were condemned by Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of Soviet Communists in 1956 - probably the high point of his career. The legacy of Stalin's brutality was addressed in one way or another in Januar 2003 when the Russian Parliament passed a bill granting Stalin's victims and their children compensation. The bill granted each victim 92 roubles (About US$2.90) a month, one free train ride per year, half price medicine, and free false teeth - hardly ample recompense for having been sent to a gulag, but better than nothing, I suppose.

Source: May 26, 2003

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