Joseph Stalin

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Joseph Stalin.

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი, (December 18, 1878March 5, 1953), was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. Although Stalin's formal position originally had little significant influence, his office being nominally but one of several Central Committee Secretariats, Stalin's increasing control of the Party from 1928 onwards led to his becoming the de facto party leader and the dictator of the Soviet Union, in full control of the Soviet Union and its people.

His political repressions (such as the Great Purge), use of forced labor (the Gulag system), mass deportations, ethnic cleansings, agricultural collectivization associated with mass starvation (the Holodomor), and deaths due to atrocities during World War II (such as due to claimed mass killings of Germans by the WWII Allies and a scorched earth policy contributing to mass starvation of Soviet citizens) cost the lives of many millions people, leading many to regard him as one of the world's worst mass murderer. How many died is disputed.

Aside from the violence in the Soviet Union and Soviet occupied countries, Stalin was also responsible for covertly or overtly inciting, supporting, and controlling large scale communist infiltration, terrorism, and/or revolutionary attempts/preparations in many other countries. Examples include large scale support for Communists and Communist Red Terror during the Spanish Civil War and the extensive Communist infiltration in the United States which caused "McCarthyism".[1]


Background and early life

Stalin was born on 18 December 1878, in Gori, Georgia. At the time the city was part of the Russian Empire. The city mostly consisted of ethnic Georgians, with a sizeable Ossetian minority. His father, a cobbler, was partly Ossetian, while his mother, a housemaid, was a Georgian, and noted for being piously Georgian Orthodox.

Because of his later involvement with Marxian communism; some have speculated on Stalin having Jewish ancestry. In the 1930s, some in the Ukrainian diaspora[2] claimed that Jughashvili was Georgian for "son of a Jew". However, the name means roughly "son of steel", which makes sense that he chose Stalin (Russian for "steel") as a nickname. The Georgian word for Jew is not Jugha but Ebraeli or Uriya.[2] The claim that Stalin was Jewish is therefore false.

At seven, he contracted smallpox, which permanently scarred his face. At ten, he began attending church school where the Georgian children were forced to speak Russian. By age twelve, two horse-drawn carriage accidents left his left arm permanently damaged. At sixteen, he received a scholarship to a Georgian Orthodox seminary, where he rebelled against the religious order. Though he performed well, he was expelled in 1899 after missing his final exams. The seminary's records suggest he was unable to pay his tuition fees.

After more than 50 years, a letter containing private information about Stalin's personal life is said to show that Stalin had an affair with a Jewish woman and also took care of her child until she died. According to some evidence, Stalin may have even married the woman although officially he was only married twice.[3]

Shortly after leaving the seminary, Stalin discovered the writings of Vladimir Lenin and decided to become a Marxist revolutionary, eventually joining Lenin's Bolsheviks in 1903. After being marked by the Okhranka (the Tsar's secret police) for his activities, he became a full-time subversive and violent criminal. He became one of the Bolsheviks' chief operatives in the Caucasus, organizing paramilitaries, inciting strikes, spreading propaganda and raising money through bank robberies, ransom kidnappings and extortion. In the summer of 1906, Stalin married Ekaterina Svanidze, who later gave birth to Stalin's first child, Yakov. Stalin temporarily resigned from the party over its ban on bank robberies, conducted a large raid on a bank shipment resulting in the death of 40 people and then fled to Baku, where Ekaterina died of typhus. In Baku, Stalin organized Muslim Azeris and Persians in partisan activities, including the murders of many "Black Hundreds" supporters of the Tsar, and conducted protection rackets, ransom kidnappings, counterfeiting operations and robberies.

Stalin was captured and sent to Siberia seven times, but escaped all but the last of these exiles. After release from one such capture, in April 1912 in Saint Petersburg, Stalin created the newspaper Pravda from an existing party newspaper. He eventually adopted the name "Stalin", from the Russian word for steel, which he used as an alias and in his published works.

During his last exile, Stalin was conscripted by the Russian army to fight in World War I, but was deemed unfit for service due to his damaged left arm.

After the February Revolution, Stalin initially took a position in favor of supporting Alexander Kerensky's provisional government. However, after Lenin prevailed at the April 1917 Communist Party conference, Stalin and Pravda shifted to opposing the provisional government. At this conference, Stalin was elected to the Bolshevik Central Committee.

After Lenin's death, Stalin became the winner of a leadership power struggle and became the de facto dictator of the Soviet Union

Alternative views and theories on Stalin

There are various alternative views on Stalin. Groups such as some Communists and some Russian nationalists have sometimes viewed Stalin more positively. An argued achievement is having created a (military) superpower. Critics of this argue that this was only achieved at the price of massive suffering for the population, ranging from the massive use of slave labor to concentrating on "heavy" industry with military applications while giving low priority to "light" industry producing goods useful for the civilian population. Technology was usually lagging (even military technolog) and often stolen from the West (such as nuclear weapons technology). The Soviet Union was endowed with massive natural resources, including massive oil reserves, without which history would likely have been quite different. The environmental damages caused during the Communist era are enormous. Russia was already on a path towards rapid industrialization before the Communists and would likely have achieved more with less suffering and damages without the Communists.

Negative actions by Stalin are sometimes viewed as being necessary and justified in order to create a strong Soviet Union, in order to be able to eventually defeat "Nazi Germany", which is viewed as having planned to attack and genocide the Slavs. This ignores that Stalin committed numerous atrocities before Hitler gained power. Another problem with this view is that Stalin personally had a large responsibility for the early enormous Soviet military defeats, such as by ignoring several warnings of an imminent German attack. Such an view is also dependent on the politically correct views on Lebensraum and subhumans, which have been criticized. See the articles on these topics.

A more negative view of Stalin has been argued by Viktor Suvorov and others who have argued that Stalin from the start was planning not defensively but offensively and was always planing to start a new World War of conquest for Communism. This may be associated with views such as Stalin in the beginning secretly supporting the National Socialists (even helping them come to power), with the intention of inciting a devastating war similar to World War I between Germany and other capitalist countries. This would cause the capitalist countries to be greatly weakened, ripe with internal unrest, and then easily conquered by later Communist invasions and internal Communist uprisings. See Soviet offensive plans controversy.

Stalin's relationship to Jews has often been discussed. He has been seen as anti-Semitic for reasons such as his alliance with Hitler, his campaigns against the Jewish Trotsky and claimed "Trotskyists" (many of whom were Jews), the Great Purge which also reduced the Jewish influence (and increased long repressed Russian influence), and argued increasing suspicions of Jewish loyalty and anti-Semitic campaigns in association with the creation of Israel. On the other hand, he had a son and daughter who married Jews, he had important Jewish associates and allies (including against Trotsky), he was himself from a non-Russian ethnic minority and thus likely not a covert Russian nationalist, and his argued anti-Semitic actions have been seen as due to general paranoia rather than due to a particular dislike of Jews. Supporters of the view that Stalin was always planning for a future World War of conquest have argued that the reduction of Jewish influence (and increase of Russian influence) was done in order to achieve a temporary alliance with Hitler and in order to increase Russian support for the regime during the planned future war.

Stalin is often viewed as having been much worse than Lenin and Trotsky, despite many of the same problems existing when Lenin and Trotsky were in power (famine and mass starvation, mass executions, labor camps in Siberia, red terror, secret police, and so on). This may be related his argued anti-Semitism and Stalin, unlike Lenin, on a large scale persecuting fellow Communists. Stalin also instituted some policies which may have been unpopular among leftist historians, such as outlawing abortion and homosexuality, reducing the persecutions of the Russian Orthodox Church during WWII (including outlawing the League of the Militant Godless), and favoring socialist realism in the arts.

Stalin has often been argued to have been assassinated in 1953. Speculations have included that this was stop a planned anti-Semitic purge and deportation of Jews. Thus, it has been stated that in 1953 "the Kremlin ordered the construction of four giant prison camps in Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Arctic north, apparently in preparation for a second great terror -- this time directed at the millions of Soviet citizens of Jewish descent."[4][5]

Some Holocaust revisionists have argued that Stalin already before this was responsible for more limited deportations and mass deaths of Jews. See Soviet deportation of some of the Jews allegedly killed during the Holocaust theory.

See also

External links


  1. The Black Book of Communism, "Part II Word Revolution, Civil War, and Terror"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Semitic Controversies (5 June 2011). "In Brief: An Early Origin for Dzhugashvili equating ‘Son of a Jew’". 
  4. New York Times (1 August 2013). "New Study Supports Idea Stalin Was Poisoned". 
  5. Peter Myers (1 August 2013). "The Death of Stalin: a Coup d'Etat". 
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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