Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili was an unkown man in the small town of Gori, Georgia. After years of revoulutionary activity and many times exiled to Siberia, he changed his name. A name that would threaten the Germans, ally with the Americans, and help the North Koreans. A name that came from the Russian word for steel, Joseph Stalin (Nash 2836).
Joseph Stalin was born on 21 December 1877 to Ekaterina Georgievna and Vissarion Ivanovitch Dzhugashvili (Block 790). Vissarion, Stalin’s father, was a drunkered and very cruel to his young son. Ekaterina, Stalin’s mother, was a washer women to support the family. The first three of Vissarion and Ekaterina’s kids had died shortly after their birth, so Stalin grew up as an only child. When Stalin was still a young boy he got small pox, which left his face scared forever. His first school was a litlle church school in Gori (Marrin 825).
Gori was full of socialist movements and the Czarist goverment wanted to educate priests to fight the revoulutionary ideas. Stalin’s mother, therefore, a dedicated member of the Orthodox Church, entered her son into the Seminary at Tifilis (Block 790). He entered the school in 1894 for the study of priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church (Marrin 825) and on the birthday of Czar Alexander III, Stalin sung a solo in an Orthodox Church (Block 790). Soon Marixist ideas reached him. He knew little about Marx’s theroies and the revoulution, but never the less it amazed him. He soon started to get involved (Marrin 825).
He joined the forbidden revolutionary moment when he was fifteen and three years later he was secretly leading a Marxist circle (Block 790). In May of 1899, he was expelled from the school for missing an examination (Marrin 825) but Offcial Communist literature says that he was expelled for “political balance”. He soon joined the Tiflis branch of the Russian
Social-Democratic Wrokers’ Party and it was not long before he was a professional agitator. In 1900 and 1901 he led strikes and demostrations in Tifilis and Batum (Block 791). In 1901 the Czar’s secret police searched Stalin’s room but he had gone and joined the underground movement that was springing up throughout Russia. He worked for a number of newspapers and on September of 1901 he offically became accepted into the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Marrin 825).
Stalin was arrested and exiled to Eastern Siberia, seven times between April 1902 and March 1913, for revoulutionary activity. He escaped numerous times to come back and wreak havack upon the Czarist goverment (Nash 2836). In late 1905, he traveled as a Caucasian delegate to the secret Boleshevik conference in Finland. It was there that he first met Lenin, later on he started to carry out orders for Lenin. Stalin soon became Lenins most trusted lieutenants, he also became good at raising money for the Party. He supposedly helped with the seccessful attack on the Tifilis bank convoy (Block 791). He wrote articles for newspapers such as the Zvesda (The Star) and Pravada (The Truth). Some say it was about this time when he started calling himself Joseph Stalin (Block 791).
In 1914 Germany declared war on Russia and France. World War I had erupted. Stalin was in exile were he stayed until 1917. Russia was suffering badly and many people were starving. Riots and demonstrations broke out through the cities and on March 15, 1917 Czar Nicholas III gave up his throne to a provisional goverment mostly lead by Mensheviks (Marrin 826). The provisional goverment freed all political prisoners (Block 791).
Stalin returned to Petrograd to help direct the Bolsheviks before Lenin’s return from Switzerland. When Lenin returned he opoosed the new goverment and again began to lead a revoulution with Stalin supporting him the whole way. While Lenin and other revoulutionaries were forced to live underground, Stalin stayed in Petrograd. Where he helped oraganize a coup which would take place on October 25, 1917 (Block 791). Lenin then launched a radical progam to overthrow the Provisional Goverment. Then on the month of October, on the old Russian calender, the Bolsheviks siezed power and took over the provisional goverment. This take over is often called the October Revoulution (Marrin 826).
The new goverment, headed by Lenin, expirenced some small uprisings which grew into a civil war (Marrin 826). After a small dispute with Trotsky, Stalin was given an independent command, of some troops, and drove Kenikin’s troops back to the Black Sea. He was given the Order of the Soviet Banner, which is the highest military distinction in all of Russia. He also led his troops to many other victories (Block 792).
During the civil war the Russian Social Democratic Party changed their names to the Russian Communist Party. Stalin becaome one of the five members of the newly formed Politburo (Political Bureau), the leaders of the Central Committee. In 1922, the Central Committee elected Stalin as its Secretary General (Marrin 826). At the end of May 1922, Lenin suffered a major stroke. So without Lenin in Moscow the Politburo had its hands full and didn’t pay attention to what Stalin did with his new post. He was making decisions that affected the whole Party. Stalin started to slowly move up in the ranks of the Politburo and the succession of Lenin. They placed Lenin under the control of Stalin, so that Lenin couldn’t stress himself into another stroke. Stalin reported to the Politburo on a regular bases (Beach 3-6).
Lenin was slowly getting better and he was allowed to have a few visotors. One day Kamenev let slip that Stalin and Nadezhda Krupskaya (Lenin’s wife) had an argument. Lenin was furious and had his secretary write a letter to Stalin demanding an apology. Stalin apologized but Lenin had another stroke before he could receive it (Beach 6-9). In late 1922, Zinoviev proposed that Stalin be made secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and was re-elected until he died (Block 792).
In early May of 1923 Stalin claimed his first victim, Sultan-Galiyev. Stalin had sent Sultan-Gaiyev to the Tatar Republic of the Crimea as an observer. He started to attract a following, one that was so big he imagned himself as the leader of the Tatar Republic free from Soviet Rule. Stalin had his secret police forge documents that proved that Sultan-Galiyev had connections to various resistance groups, even to the leader of Turkey. After the arrest even more false evidence was found. Stalin wanted him shot but the Politburo would not allow it, he had to settle with him from being expelled from the party (Beach 16-17).
After years of re-organizing the party to his favor and destroying the Old Bolsheviks, Stalin became a dictator. Trotsky had been expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929 and the other members of the Politburo had been executed. Nobody had enough power to stop Stalin now. He started what he called the five year plan (Nash 2837). Stalin eliminated private buissness, the production of machinery and farm equipment became more important. He put farming under goverment control. The farmers resisted by destroying their stock and produce. He exiled millions of families and many others died of starvation (Marrin 826). When his plan did not work he staged trials of factory managers and buearucrats, who were made to read false confessions. The great purges were beginning (Nash 2837).
Stalin set up a police force that was worst than the czars. Millions of people were executed or sent to labor camps. The secret police forced the slaves to work in goverment owned industries. Neighbors were ordered to spy on each other, families were torn apart, and children were ordered to tell on parents. People were forced to read confessions moments before they were shot. Stalin ordered the death of anyone who threatned his power including Party members and army officers (Marrin 826-827).
War looked unevitable for the world and Stalin was not prepared. He tried to forge a treaty with the western alliance in August 1939, the plan failed (Nash 2837). So Stalin was forced to sign an non-aggression pact and a trade treaty with Nazi Germany (Block 793). On September 1, 1939 Germany marched into western Poland and Russia marched into eastern Poland. The signed a treaty which divided Poland in half. Soon Hitler made a sneak attack on Russia, which Stalin and his army were not prepared for. The German army marched on Moscow with in months, but the Russians finally started to push the German army back. It was at this time that Stalin reached the hieght of his popularity. The allies and Russia then worked together until Germany was defeated (Marrin 827).
After the defeat of Germany in 1945, Stalin slowly cut communication with the western world. He converted goverments in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania over to communism. These countries later became known as the iron curtain, a group of countries that served as barriers from the west. Many non-communist nations joined against Stalin and The Soviet Union, to halt the spread of communism. The tension filled the air as the Cold War began (Marrin 827).
Stalin’s policies lead the western nations to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to protect each other or any nation being threatned by communism. This lead to the Korean war, for Stalin supported North Korea and the USA supported South Korea. The US felt that the communist nation of North Korea was threatning South Korea. So to stop the spread of communism America placed troops in South Korea. Later on Russia and the USA withdrew their troops from the two countries. The North Korean troops later on attacked South Korea to join the country by force. The war ended soon after Stalin’s death (Marrin 827-828).
Early in 1953, Stalin was planning another great purge. Then on March 4, 1953 the Central Committee announced that Stalin had suffered a brain hemorrhage on March 1. On March 5, 1953 Stalin died in Moscow (Marrin 828).
Joseph Stalin lived through the hard times and some good times. He did some bad things for his country and some good things. He industrialized Russia and made them a world power. He went through one World War and led his country into another. The number of people that died in his purges is unkown but some estimate around 70 million (Nash 2837). Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili was truly a man of steel.
Beach, John B.; Stalin:The Rise of the Beast;
Block, Mazine; Current Biography 1942; The H.W. Wilson Company; 1987
Marrin, Albert; The World Book Encyclopedia; Field Interprises, Inc. 1995; ed 18
Nash, Jay Robert; Encyclopedia of World Crime; Crime Books Inc.; 1990