Joseph Stalin (18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953), born Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, was dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the U.S.S.R or the Soviet Union) from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. His subsequent reign of terror cemented him as one of the most ruthless and murderous dictators in history. His system of government was known as Stalinism.
About Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin (18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953), born
Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, was dictator of the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics (the U.S.S.R or the Soviet
Union) from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. His
subsequent reign of terror cemented him as one of the
most ruthless and murderous dictators in history. His
system of government was known as Stalinism.
Table of Contents
Rise to Power
World War II
The Red Terror
Death of a Dictator & Destalinization
Boyhood & Education
Joseph Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich
Dzhugashvili on December 18, 1879 in Gori,
Georgia, The Russian Empire.
His mother was was Ketevan Geladze, who was
born to a family of Georgian Orthodox Christian
serfs in Gambareuli, Imperial Russia (now in
Georgia), in 1858.
His father Besarion Jughashvili, who worked as a
cobbler, was born in 1850 in Gardabani, Georgia.
His father slid into alcoholism, which made him
abusive to his family and caused his business to fail.
When Ioseb was 16, He received a scholarship to
study at Tiflis Theological Seminary to become a
While at the seminary, he began secretly reading
the work of German social philosopher and
“Communist Manifesto” author Karl Marx.
He became interested in revolutionary causes
against the Russian monarch.
He renounced Christianity and became an atheist at
the age of 19.
In 1899, He was expelled from the seminary for
missing his final exams.
Boyhood & Education cont.
Jughashvili was accepted into the Russian Social
Democratic Labor (Marxist) Party.
Koba was among various false names that
Jughashvili used to carry on underground activity
in the Caucacus Mountains region.
Among his activities, he distributed propaganda,
ordered assassinations, provoked strikes, and
staged bank robberies to fund the Bolshevik cause .
In 1902, Jughashvili was arrested for his
revolutionary activities and exiled to Siberia.
In 1903, Russian Social Democratic Labor Party was
split into two major groups: the Bolsheviks and the
The Bolsheviks was headed by Vladimir Lenin.
Lenin wanted party members be limited to a small
body of devoted revolutionaries. The Mensheviks
wanted its members to represent a wider group of
In January 1904, Jughashvili returned to Tbilisi
from exile and joined the Bolsheviks.
Young Revolutionist cont.
Jughashvili married his first wife, Ekaterina
Svanidze, in 1906 while he was in exile. She bore
him a son Yakov a year later.
Jughashvili treated his son Yakov with contempt ,
calling him a weakling after an unsuccessful suicide
attempt in the late 1920s.
Ekaterina died a year later from typhus.
Jughashvili would later state that other than his
mother Ekaterina may have been the only person
he truly loved. At her funeral Jughashvili said:
"This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and
with her, died my last warm feelings for humanity."
Young Revolutionist cont.
Stalin Becomes Editor of
Jughashvili adopted the name "Stalin" from the
Russian word meaning“steel.”
Stalin served as the editor of Pravda (Russian:
“Truth”) in 1913.
Wrote his first treatise, Marxism and the National
Question in 1914.
Pravda was the organ of the Central Committee of
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between
1912 and 1991.
Pravda became the leading newspaper of the Soviet
Union after the October Revolution.
The Russian Revolution
In February 1917, the Russian Revolution began.
Finally on March 15, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated
his throne. A provisional (temporary) government,
run mostly by liberals, took over the government.
Stalin and other Bolsheviks were released from exile
Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin denounced the
provisional government and urged that the people
should rise up and take control by seizing land from
the rich and factories from the industrialists.
By October, the Bolsheviks were in full control.
The October Revolution
(commonly refered to as
the Bolshevik Revolution)
The Bolshevik revolution began with an armed
uprising in Petrograd traditionally dated to 25
October 1917 by the Julian calendar (7 November
1917 by the Gregorian calendar).
Lenin worked very closely with Leon Trotsky in the
Bolshevik Revolution. Stalin played an important but
not decisive part in the revolution.
Following the revolution, Lenin became head of the
new Bolshevik (later called Communist) government.
Russia was the first Communist state.
Stalin was named commissar of nationalities.
The Russian Civil War
The Brest-Litovsk Peace is signed between Russia
and Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the
Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
The name of the party is changed from the Russian
Social Democratic Labour Party to the Communist
Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) RCP (B).
A civil war broke out after the Bolshevik takeover of
The two largest combatant forces were the Red Army
(Bolsheviks) and the White Army (Anti-Bolshevik,
The Russian Civil War
A loose confederation of anti-Bolshevik forces
rebelled against the new Communist government .
They include monarchist, republicans, conservatives,
middle-class citizens, reactionaries, pro-
monarchists, liberals, army generals, non-Bolshevik
socialists and democratic reformists.
Foreign nations intervened against the Red Army,
notably the Allied Forces and the pro-German armies
The former Tsar Nicholas II and his family were
executed in July 1918.
In March 1919, The Communist International, the
Comintern is founded in Moscow.
Stalin appointed General
Secretary of the RCP (B)
Joseph Stalin Marries Nadezhda Alliluyeva. They had two
children together: Vasily, born in 1921, who became a fighter
pilot (C.O. of 32 GIAP) at Stalingrad, and Svetlana, their
daughter, born 1926.
Polish–Soviet War: The Galician Soviet Socialist Republic
(SSR) was established in Ternopil.
The Bolsheviks won the civil war in 1920.
In February 1921, the Red Army invades Georgia.
At the Tenth Congress of the RCP (B) under Lenin’s
leadership introduces the New Economic Policy and bans
factionalism (organized opposition) in the party.
Stalin is elected Secretary-General of the RCP (B).
The Creation of the USSR
the Union of Soviet Socialist
The Russian SFSR was established on November 7, 1917
(October Revolution) as a sovereign state. The first
Constitution was adopted in 1918. In December 1922
Russian SFSR signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR.
The Death of Lenin
In January 4th, 1923, Lenin , very ill, has added a postscript
to his earlier testament:
"Stalin is too rude, and this fault... becomes unbearable in
the office of General Secretary. Therefore, I propose to the
comrades to find a way to remove Stalin from that position
and appoint to it another man... more patient, more loyal,
more polite and more attentive to comrades, less capricious,
etc. This circumstance may seem an insignificant trifle, but I
think that from the point of view of preventing a split and
from the point of view of the relations between Stalin and
Trotsky... it is not a trifle, or it is such a trifle as may acquire
a decisive significance.“
In January 21st, 1924, Lenin dies in Gorky, near Moscow.
Stalin takes over
After Lenin’s death, Stalin suggested that Lenin’s body be
put on permanent display in a mausoleum to be erected on
At the Second All-Union Congress of Soviets Stalin presents
himself as the leading follower of Lenin.
The leading Bolsheviks learned of Lenin’s testament . The
letter speaks of the qualities of the leading Bolsheviks, and
in Lenin’s postscript, in which he speaks of Stalin’s character
defects. The letter is read to the Congress.
Trotsky and Stalin clashed over the future strategy of the
country. Stalin favoured what he called "socialism in one
country" whereas Trotsky still supported the idea of world
Stalin takes over cont.
The 14th Party Congress adopts Stalin’s view on
industrialization. The Russian Communist Party is renamed
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The 15th Party Congress confirms the expulsion of Trotsky
and Grigory Zinoviev from the party itself.
The Congress decides on the collectivisation of agriculture
and the drafting of a five-year plan for the Soviet economy.
The main victor is Stalin.
Stalin’s Second Wife Dies
After a public spat with Stalin at a
party dinner, Nadezhda Alliluyeva
was found dead in her bedroom of
an apparent suicide. A revolver was
found by her side.
Nadezhda Alliluyeva ‘s grave at
The Five-Year Plan
Leon Trotsky is exiled from the Soviet Union.
The 16th Part Congress adopts the first Five-Year Plan for the
development of the Soviet economy, signifies the end of the
New Economic Policy.
Collectivisation of agriculture begins; numerous relatively
prosperous peasants, or Kulaks, killed; millions of peasant
households eliminated and their property confiscated.
Stalin ended private farming and transferred the control of
farms, farm equipment, and livestock to the government.
the destruction of livestock and grain caused widespread
famine. Millions died of starvation.
The 17th Party Congress. Stalin states that the Soviet Union
has been transformed from an agrarian country into an
The Great Terror
Sergei Kirov is murdered by one of Stalin’s agents.
Kamenev, Zinoviev, and others are arrested, accused of
treason and complicity in Kirov’s assissination.
Kamenev gets 5 imprisonment and Zinoviev gets 10
years. Zinoviev’s supporters are exiled to Siberia.
In August 19-24, 1936 – First Moscow Show Trial (the
Trial of the 16) against the Trotsky-Zinoviev Center.
The main accused Kamenev and Zinoviev confess and
are executed. Mikhail Tomsky committed suicide on
The Great Terror
In January 1937 – Second Moscow Show Trial against
17 members of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center. 13
are sentenced to death and shot. The others received a
10 year imprisonment.
In June 1937. Mass purge of the Soviet military begins.
The arrest of leading military officers (Marshal
Tukhachevsky, Deputy People’s Commissar for
Defence, and 6 generals) is announced. In a secret trial
they are sentenced to death and executed.
The Great Terror
The Last Show Trial
In March 1938 – Third Moscow Show Trial (the Trial of
the Twenty-One) against the anti-Soviet bloc of the
right and the Trotskyist s’ involving 21 accused,
including Rykov and Bukharin. On March 13, 18 are
sentenced to death and executed on March 15.
At the 18th Party Congress of the Completion of the
Victory of Socialism, Stalin states that the goal is to
catch up and surpass the developed capitalist countries
in the West. Stalin also speaks of a construction of a
classless socialist society.
In this famous image, Nikolai
Yezhov is shown with Voroshilov,
Molotov, and Stalin inspecting the
White Sea Canal
In this second image, Yezhov, having
been purged, has been replaced by a
stretch of the canal bank and canal
The Great Terror
Molotov and von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, sign in
Moscow the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact – agreeing not
to go to war against each other.
By the late 1930s, German dictator Adolf Hitler was
ready to conquer Europe.
The Soviet Union & Nazi Germany divided Poland by a
treaty signed in September 1939.
After Germany invaded Poland, the United Kingdom
and France declared war on Germany. World War II
Germany quickly conquered western Poland. The
Soviet Union conquered the eastern part.
The Soviet-Finnish (or
Finland refused to allow Soviet bases on their soil.
Moscow breaks off diplomatic relations on November
The Soviet Union invaded Finland on November 30,
After months of bitter struggle, the Soviet Union took a
large portion of Finland.
The Baltic States
The Soviet Union demands that the Baltic States
(Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) permit Soviet bases on
their soil and to elect governments as loyal puppets of
On July 21-22, 1940, the Baltic States were transformed
into Soviet republics and as part of the Soviet Union
Germany invades the
Field Marshal von Brauchitsch, Commander in Chief of the
Nazi German army, is ordered by Adolf Hitler to begin for
invasion of the Soviet Union.
Leon Trotsky, one of Vladimir Lenin’s closest allies, is
assassinated in Mexico by Stalin’s agents.
Hitler signs instruction no. 21, Operation Barbarossa.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US
President Franklin Roosevelt warned Stalin of a possible
German invasion. Stalin ignored the warnings.
In May 1941, Stalin named himself premier of the Soviet
Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union the next month.
Germany invades the
After German units attack the Soviet Union without a
declaration of war, Prime Minister Churchill and US
President Roosevelt offer Stalin assistance.
In a radio broadcast, Stalin proclaims the Great Patriotic
The 900-day horrific Siege of Leningrad
(September 1941 – January 1944)
665,000 Red Army prisoners in the battle of Kiev.
Battle for Moscow; Hitler calls it Operation Typhon.
Japanese navy attacks Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United
States declares war on Japan.
In March 1943, Stalin took the military title Marshal of the
In May 18 1944 Stalin deports the Crimean Tatars from
Crimea, with almost half dying from hunger, thirst and
The “Big Three” (Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt) met at
Tehran, Iran and agree to work together until Germany
was defeated. The leaders met again early in 1945 at Yalta
in the Crimea to discuss the military occupation of
Germany after the war.
On April 12, 1945, US President Roosevelt dies and Vice-
President Harry Truman becomes President.
The "Big Three" at the Tehran
Conference Left to right: Joseph Stalin,
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met
together for the last time at Yalta
On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler commits suicide.
On May 2nd, Berlin capitulates to the Red Army.
The United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain
agree on the political and economic goals of their
occupation policy in Germany at the Potsdam Conference.
On August 6, The US drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima,
On August 9, The US drops another atomic bomb on
The Soviet Union invades the Japanese puppet
state of Manchukuo. Japan surrenders on August 15.
The Cold War –
The Iron Curtain
Following the end the Second World War, Stalin gradually
cut off almost all contact between the Soviet Union and the
The Soviet Union, Belorussia, and the Ukraine joins the UN
as founding members.
Stalin’s Red Army is renamed the Soviet Army.
Stalin sets up puppet Communist governments in
Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland,
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill says that these
countries lay behind the Iron Curtain, referring to the
Soviet barriers against the West.
The Cold War –
The Truman Doctrine
US President Harry Truman proclaims the Truman
Doctrine which promises US help to countries threatened
Stalin rejects the Marshall Plan, an American initiative to
provide aid to Europe which was devastated in WWII.
The Berlin Blockade: Stalin tries to drive the Allies out of
West Berlin by blockading the city. Land, waterways, food
and supplies to West Berlin and East are blocked.
On May 1949, Stalin ended the blockade of Berlin.
Stalin expels the Communist Party of Yugoslavia from
Cominform ( The Communist Information Bureau)
The Cold War – China
On October 1, 1949, Chinese Communist leader
Mao Zedong proclaims the People's Republic of China.
In December Mao visits the Kremlin and meets with Stalin.
The Soviet Union and China conclude a treaty of
friendship and mutual assistance for 30 years.
The Cold War –
The Korean War 1950-1953
Stalin gives permission to Communist leader Kim Il Sung
of North Korea to invade South Korea.
The Korean war begins on June 25, 1950.
June 27, 1950 – US President Truman commits US Naval
and Air support to South Korea.
The Death of Stalin
January 1953 – announcement of Jewish Doctors’ Plot
against St.alin. Nine Kremlin doctors are arrested and
held responsible for the deaths of leading Soviet
Stalin dies from a heart attack on March 5th.
At the 20th Party Congress, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
denounces Stalin as a criminal and exposes the cruelty of his
dictatorship. Khrushchev discussed the cult of personality
that Stalin had fostered and the crimes he had perpetrated,
including the execution, torture and imprisonment of loyal
party members on false charges.