Joseph Stalin

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The leader of the Soviet Union who defeated the Nazi German dictatorship.

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the paramount leader of the U.S.S.R. from Lenin’s death in 1924 until he died in 1953. He successfully industrialized the Soviet Union, developed nuclear technology, created functioning healthcare and education systems, and defeated the German invasion of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War. Despite attempts by Western capitalists to smear Stalin as a tyrant, he is regarded in Russia to this day as a national hero.

During Stalin’s tenure, the GDP of the USSR increased from 231,886 million 1990 USD to 569,260 million 1990 USD[1]. This was despite the fact that it was not until 1949 that Soviet economy recovered the power it had from World War II.

Stalin also had a role in the creation of socialist governments in Eastern Europe.

Early life

Stalin was born as Iosif Vissarionovich dze Jughashvili in Gori, Georgia, an area of the Russian Empire particularly oppressed by the Tsarist government, owing to the nationalism of many Georgians. He was educated from the time he reached the age of 10. At 16 he enrolled in a seminary, but in 1898 Stalin joined the Social Democrats, the organization which included both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Soon thereafter, he was expelled from the seminary, after being disciplined several times for possessing forbidden literature[1].

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Stalin after one of his arrests at the hands of the Okhrana (circa 1902-1910).

Stalin soon became a very active revolutionary, and in 1901 the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, attempted to arrest the Social Democratic leaders in Tbilisi, including Stalin (now operating under the revolutionary pseudonym Koba[2]). Stalin narrowly managed to escape arrest[3], but he was not so lucky during the following year. Stalin was organizing strikes at an oil refinery in Batumi, and, when some of the workers involved were arrested, a large demonstration which was fired on by the Cossacks[1]. For this, Koba was sentenced to internal exile (in Siberia). He arrived in Siberia on Dec. 9th, 1903, and escaped on January 17th, 1904. It was during this time that Koba joined the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democrats. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, Koba was very active. He not only organized demonstrations, but he also obtained weapons and organized a Bolshevik guerrilla force. These activities were so successful that Stalin was involved in the January 1906 Bolshevik conference, and the April 1906 Fourth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party. In 1908 the Okhrana again arrested Stalin, who had been very active in robbing the nobility in order to gain funds for the Party[2]. He escaped after seven months, the delay being due to a case of typhus[3], but was arrested again in 1910. After yet again escaping, he was made a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee in 1912[4]. Soon after he was arrested, but Koba escaped very quickly[5].Stalin, however, was arrested in 1913, and this time sentenced to internal exile in Turukhansk, north of the Arctic Circle, the climate extremes of which prevented escape[6]. He did not leave Turukhansk until the February Revolution of 1917. ----


[1] Montefiore, 2007, p.95-96 [2] Radzinsky, 1997, p.57 [3] Radzinsky, 1997, p.65-66 [4] Montefiore, 2007, p.243 [5] Montefiore, 2007, p.261 [6] Radzinsky, p.77 ---- [1] Radzinsky, 1997, p.40-41 [2] Montefiore, 2007, p.62-63 [3] Radzinsky, 1997, p.43 ---- [1] Maddison, 2003, p.98-99

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