Joseph Stalin

Leader of the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin[lower-alpha 8] ( Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili;[lower-alpha 4], (Russian: Иосиф Сталин, 18 December [O.S. 6 December] 1878[3] – 5 March 1953)) was a Soviet revolutionary and political leader who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union (1941–1953). Initially governing the country as part of a collective leadership, he consolidated power to become a dictator by the 1930s. Ideologically adhering to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, he formalised these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies are called Stalinism.

Quick facts: Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Commu...
Joseph Stalin
  • Иосиф Сталин
  • იოსებ სტალინი
Official portrait, 1950
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
3 April 1922  16 October 1952[lower-alpha 1]
Preceded byVyacheslav Molotov (as Responsible Secretary)
Succeeded byNikita Khrushchev (as First Secretary)
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union[lower-alpha 2]
In office
6 May 1941  5 March 1953
Preceded byVyacheslav Molotov
Succeeded byGeorgy Malenkov
Minister of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union[lower-alpha 3]
In office
19 July 1941  3 March 1947
Preceded bySemyon Timoshenko
Succeeded byNikolai Bulganin
People's Commissar for Nationalities of the Russian SFSR
In office
8 November 1917  7 July 1923
PremierVladimir Lenin
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili[lower-alpha 4]

18 December [O.S. 6 December] 1878[lower-alpha 5]
Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire
Died5 March 1953(1953-03-05) (aged 74)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Resting place
Political party
CPSU[lower-alpha 6] (from 1912)
Other political
(m. 1906; died 1907)
(m. 1919; died 1932)
EducationTbilisi Spiritual Seminary
AwardsFull list
  • Koba
  • Soso
Military service
Years of service
  • 1918–1920
  • 1941–1953
RankGeneralissimus (from 1945)
CommandsSoviet Armed Forces (from 1941)
Central institution membership
  • 1917–1953: Full member, 6th18th Politburo and 19th Presidium of CPSU
  • 1922–1953: Full member, 11th19th Secretariat of CPSU
  • 1920–1952: Full member, 9th18th Orgburo of CPSU
  • 1912–1953: Full member, 5th19th Central Committee of CPSU
  • 1918–1919: Full member, 2nd Central Committee of CP(b)U

Other offices held
Leader of the Soviet Union

Born to a poor family in Gori in the Russian Empire (now Georgia), Stalin attended the Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary before joining the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He edited the party's newspaper, Pravda, and raised funds for Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik faction via robberies, kidnappings and protection rackets. Repeatedly arrested, he underwent several internal exiles to Siberia. After the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution and created a one-party state under the new Communist Party in 1917, Stalin joined its governing Politburo. Serving in the Russian Civil War before overseeing the Soviet Union's establishment in 1922, Stalin assumed leadership over the country following Lenin's death in 1924. Under Stalin, socialism in one country became a central tenet of the party's ideology. As a result of his Five-Year Plans, the country underwent agricultural collectivisation and rapid industrialisation, creating a centralised command economy. Severe disruptions to food production contributed to the famine of 1930–33 that killed millions. To eradicate accused "enemies of the working class", Stalin instituted the Great Purge, in which over a million were imprisoned, largely in the Gulag system of forced labour camps, and at least 700,000 executed between 1934 and 1939. By 1937, he had absolute control over the party and government.

Stalin promoted Marxism–Leninism abroad through the Communist International and supported European anti-fascist movements during the 1930s, particularly in the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, his regime signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, resulting in the Soviet invasion of Poland. Germany ended the pact by invading the Soviet Union in 1941. Despite initial catastrophes, the Soviet Red Army repelled the German invasion and captured Berlin in 1945, ending World War II in Europe. Amid the war, the Soviets annexed the Baltic states and Bessarabia and North Bukovina, subsequently establishing Soviet-aligned governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe and in parts of East Asia. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as global superpowers and entered a period of tension, the Cold War. Stalin presided over the Soviet post-war reconstruction and its development of an atomic bomb in 1949. During these years, the country experienced another major famine and an antisemitic campaign that culminated in the doctors' plot. After Stalin's death in 1953, he was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who subsequently denounced his rule and initiated the de-Stalinisation of Soviet society.

Widely considered to be one of the 20th century's most significant figures, Stalin was the subject of a pervasive personality cult within the international Marxist–Leninist movement, which revered him as a champion of the working class and socialism. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Stalin has retained popularity in Russia and Georgia as a victorious wartime leader who cemented the Soviet Union's status as a leading world power. Conversely, his regime has been described as totalitarian, and has been widely condemned for overseeing mass repression, ethnic cleansing, wide-scale deportation, hundreds of thousands of executions, and famines that killed millions.