Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), known for his a cruel dictatorship, was supreme leader of the Soviet Union from 1929 until 1953. He became famous for overseeing a reign of terror that resulted in the deaths of millions of real and perceived opponents of his policies.
Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), known for his a cruel dictatorship, was supreme leader of the Soviet Union from 1929 until 1953. He became famous for overseeing a reign of terror that resulted in the deaths of millions of real and perceived opponents of his policies. He contributed to the Establishment of the USSR as a modern economic and military power that repelled Hitler’s armies in the Second World War and rivaled the United States during the Cold War period.
Stalin’s Political Career
In 1899, Stalin quit religious studies to join the revolutionary movement against the Russian monarchy. In 1903, he joined Vladimir Lenin’s militant Bolshevik faction after the split of the Social Democratic Labor Party (the Bolsheviks were later called Communists). In 1913, he exiled to Siberia for revolutionary activities, including the publication of Marxism and the National Question. In 1922, he was chosen general secretary of the Communist Party, a modest post that Stalin had developed into the USSR’s most powerful office by 1930. In 1924, he consolidated the power base within the Communist Party after Lenin’s death. From 1928 to 1929, he initiated a policy of violently taking the lands of farmers, liquidating agricultural wealth to support industrialization. From 1934 to 1939, he purged political opponents, initially within Communist Party leadership, and later throughout the USSR, leading to arrests and executions estimated in the millions. In June 1941, he assumed control of the military after Germany invade the USSR during Second World War. In 1945, he participated in the Potsdam Conference after Germany surrendered.
As a rebellious youth, Joseph Dzhugashvili was nicknamed Koba, the name of a notorious Georgian bandit and rebel, before he took the name Stalin. The Russian word stalin means “steel man.” The Russian city of Volgograd, renamed Stalingrad during Stalin’s reign, was changed back to the former in 1961. Stalin will be remembered as one of the most nefarious leaders in Russian history because he murdered many of his own people. Stalin left behind a legacy of death, repression and fear, as well as industrial and military power.
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The Cold War; Robert T. Mann; 2002.
World War I; Alan Axelrod, Ph.D.; 2000.
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