Joseph Stalin is the second leader of the Soviet Union. He held the leading position of the communist superpower right after the death of its founder, Vladimir Lenin. Stalin is known as one of the most vicious people in humanity, as he was responsible for killing more than 20 million people during his rule of the Soviet Union, which lasted for 30 long years.
Joseph Stalin’s childhood
Joseph Stalin was born in December 1878 into a poor family, who named the newborn “Losif Jughashvili”. He lived a hard childhood in the country of Georgia, where he got smallpox when he was 7. The tough young boy survived the disease that killed many others, but it left him with a face covered with marks and scars.
Losif’s mother was a devoted Russian Orthodox Christian. She wanted her son to become a priest. When the boy turned 10, his mother sent him to the church school in Gori, the city where he was born. He was sent to continue his education in a seminary in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia, in 1894.
A criminal from the beginning
At this time, Stalin started reading both Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin’s writings on communism. He joined a Georgian secret communist group that wanted Georgia to become an independent country. Together with this underground party, Stalin became a part of the Bolshevik revolution. He soon became one of the leaders of the party and led many strikes and protests opposing the Tsar of Russia. While protests and uprisings are common activities in a revolution, Stalin took a different approach when it came to raising money for the Bolsheviks. He helped raise money by committing crimes and robbing banks!
The rise to power
In 1917, the revolution in Russia overthrew the Tsar and his government. Lenin became the leader of the country and renamed it to the Soviet Union. As one of Lenin’s major leaders, Stalin became a very important and powerful man in the new communist government.
Less than 10 years later, in 1924, Lenin died. Joseph Stalin, as powerful as he had become at the time in the communist party, took over the leadership of the government of the Soviet Union. He became the one and only leader of the country.
The Soviet Union under Stalin’s control
The addition of Stalin’s mind as the sole ruler of the country, from 1924 to 1953, made things even worse.
At first, he made a few changes that worked well at the beginning, like changing the Soviet Union’s main source of income from agriculture to industrial production. Building factories all over the country helped the Soviet Union be an important factor in defeating Germany in World War II.
Stalin’s criminal mindset continued over his period as the leader of the Soviet Union. He would kill people just because they disagreed with his decisions. He starved entire areas of the Soviet Union to death simply because they did not go along with his policies. He purged people by the millions if he thought they were against him, even if they were not. He would either kill them or send them to labor camps to work as slaves. No one knows exactly how many people Stalin had murdered and enslaved throughout his rule of the Soviet Union, but the estimates are between 20 and 40 million people.
Cooperation with Nazi Germany
Knowing that such a criminal mind would be part of the Allies during World War II might be puzzling at first, but the Soviet Union was not a member of the Allies when the war began. At the beginning, Stalin was actually partnered with the Nazis in the Axis powers until Germany attacked the Soviet Union during the war in 1941. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the Soviets switched sides to fight with the Allies. After World War II ended and Germany was defeated, the rest of the Allied countries started to establish governments and build new ruling systems in the countries they freed from the Nazis. During this time, Stalin occupied the Eastern European countries that fell under the Soviet Union control and started to spread communism through them. In turn, this started the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.
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