Joseph Stalin was a political revolutionary and ruled the Soviet Union from the 1920s until his death in 1953. Stalin transformed Russia from an agricultural peasant society to an industrial superpower. He used violence and terror to achieve his goals which resulted in the deaths of over 20 million Russians.
Joseph Stalin was born on December 18, 1879 in Gorgi, Georgia. Throughout his life, he would rise from a poor peasant to the leader of an industrialized global superpower.
As a child, it was rumored that Stalin was often mistreated and bullied by fellow classmates and peers. Historians argue that this constant belittling and undermining of Stalin would lead to his deep level of mistrust and paranoia of the public. These early incidents in life would have deep repercussions once Stalin was in power.
As a student, he began to display his political ideology as he spoke out against the leadership of Russian Czar Nicholas II. In 1901, Joseph Stalin joined the Social Democratic Labor party and within a year, was arrested for sparking a revolutionary labor strike. Throughout the early 1900s, Stalin’s mistrust and opposition to the Czar-led Russian government grew.
In February of 1917, the Russian Revolution began, resulting in the overthrow of the Czar and implementation of the new Soviet regime. In 1922, Stalin was appointed as general secretary of the Communist Party. As the General Secretary, Stalin had a major role in appointing party members. This position allowed Stalin to develop his own political base, while removing those who opposed him. Following the death of Soviet Leader Vladimir Lenin, Stalin was able to rise as Soviet Leader.
Stalin’s rule has been defined as a “reign of terror”; his sweeping wave of executions for political opponents left him with little to no resistance. Stalin implemented a wave of “Five Year Plans” that forced economic leaders to rapidly industrialize Russia. Over this course of time prior to World War II, Stalin was able to quickly industrialize and modernize Russia’s military. Stalin’s decision to collectivize agricultural land led to the starvation of millions of Russians.
At the beginning of World War II, Stalin signed the infamous non-aggression pact with German leader Adolph Hitler. This non-aggression pact, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop, did not last long, as Hitler invaded Russia in June of 1941. With Hitler’s betrayal, Stalin was able to secure alliance with the Allied Powers throughout the rest of the war. During the war, Stalin conducted a series of purges which led to the execution of thousands of military leaders. Stalin’s increased paranoia became a deadly threat for anyone who worked closely with the Soviet government.
Joseph Stalin died in 1953 and at the time of his death, Russia was a global superpower. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, attempted to “De-Stalinize” Russia and denounced many of his violent and brutal actions as a leader. Stalin remains one of the most brutal dictators in world history and his legacy includes death of millions of the Russian people.