Died: 5 March 1953 Kuntsevo Dacha near Moscow, Russia
Best known for: Fighting the Germans in WW2 and starting the Cold War
Joseph Stalin became leader of the Soviet Union after the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, died in 1924. Stalin ruled up until his own death in 1953. He was known as a brutal leader who was responsible for the deaths of over 20 million people.
Where did Stalin grow up?
He was born in Gori, Georgia (a country just south of Russia) on 8 December 1878. His birth name was Losif Jughashvili. Stalin's parents were poor and he had a rough childhood. At the age of 7 he got the disease smallpox. He survived, but his skin was covered in scars. He later went to seminary to become a priest, however, he was expelled for being a radical.
After leaving the seminary, Stalin joined up with the Bolshevik revolutionaries. This was an underground group of people that followed the communist writings of Karl Marx and were led by Vladimir Lenin. Stalin became a leader within the Bolsheviks. He led riots and strikes and even raised money by robbing banks and other crimes. Soon Stalin became one of Lenin's top leaders.
In 1917, the Russian Revolution took place. This was when the government led by the Tsars was overthrown and Lenin and the Bolsheviks came into power. Russia was now called the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin was a major leader in the government.
Stalin as a young man from the book "Josef Wissarionowitsch Stalin- Kurze Lebensbeschreibung"
In 1924 Vladimir Lenin died. Stalin had been General Secretary of the Communist Party since 1922. He had been growing in power and control. After Lenin's death, Stalin took over as sole leader of the Soviet Union.
In order to strengthen the Soviet Union, Stalin decided that the country should move away from agriculture and become industrialized. He had factories built through the country. These factories would help the Soviet Union to fight the Germans in World War II.
Purges and Murder
Stalin was one of the most brutal leaders in world history. He had anyone that didn't agree with him killed. He also caused famines in areas of the country so people he wanted dead would starve. Throughout his rule he would order purges where millions of people he thought were against him would be killed or put into slave labor camps. Historians aren't sure how many people he had killed, but they estimate between 20 to 40 million.
World War II
At the start of World War II, Stalin formed an alliance with Adolf Hitler and Germany. However, Hitler hated Stalin and the Germans made a surprise attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. In order to fight off the Germans, Stalin joined the Allies of Britain and the United States. After a terrible war, where many on both sides died, the Germans were defeated.
After World War II, Stalin set up puppet governments in the Eastern European countries that the Soviet Union had "freed" from Germany. These governments were ran by the Soviet Union. This started the Cold War between the two world superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States.
He got the name Stalin while he was a revolutionary. It comes from the Russian word for "steel" combined with "Lenin".
Before Lenin died he wrote a Testament where he recommended that Stalin be removed from power. Lenin referred to Stalin as a "course, brutish bully".
Stalin created the Gulag slave labor camp. Criminals and political prisoners were sent to these camps to work as slaves.
Before he had the name Stalin, he used the name "Koba". Koba was a hero from Russian literature.