Joseph Stalin

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin[lower-alpha 6] (18 December [O.S. 6 December] 1878[1] – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet political leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He served as both 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). Despite initially governing the country as part of a collective leadership, he ultimately consolidated power to become the Soviet Union's dictator by the 1930s. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin formalised these ideas as Marxism–Leninism while his own policies are known as Stalinism.

Joseph Stalin
Иосиф Сталин (Russian)
იოსებ სტალინი (Georgian)
1937 portrait used for state publicity purposes
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 byGeorgy Malenkov (de facto)[lower-alpha 2]
Chairman of the Council of
People's Commissars of the Soviet Union
In office
6 May 1941  15 March 1946
Preceded byVyacheslav Molotov
Succeeded byHimself (as Chairman of the Council of Ministers)
Chairman of the Council of
Ministers of the Soviet Union
In office
15 March 1946  5 March 1953
First Deputies
Preceded byHimself (as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars)
Succeeded byGeorgy Malenkov
Member of the Russian Constituent Assembly
In office
25 November 1917  20 January 1918[lower-alpha 3]
Served alongsideNikolai Kutler, Pavel Milyukov, Rodichev, Maxim Vinaver, Cherepanov, Evdokimov, Mikhail Kalinin, Józef Unszlicht, Grigory Zinoviev, Boris Kamkov, Shreider
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
ConstituencyPetrograd Metropolis
Minister of Defence
In office
15 March 1946  3 March 1947
Preceded byhimself as People's Commissar of Defense of the Soviet Union
Succeeded byNikolai Bulganin
People's Commissar for Nationalities of the RSFSR
In office
8 November 1917  7 July 1923
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
People's Commissar of Defense of the Soviet Union
In office
19 July 1941  25 February 1946
Preceded bySemyon Timoshenko
Succeeded byhimself as People's Commissar of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union
Personal details
Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili[lower-alpha 4]

18 December [O.S. 6] 1878
Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire (now Georgia)
Died5 March 1953(1953-03-05) (aged 74)
Kuntsevo Dacha, Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia)
Cause of deathCerebral hemorrhage
Resting place
Political partyRSDLP (1898–1903)
RSDLP (Bolsheviks) (1903–1918)
RCP (Bolsheviks) (1918-1925)
AUCP (Bolsheviks) (1925-1952)
CPSU (1952–1953)
    (m. 1906; d. 1907)
      (m. 1919; d. 1932)
      EducationTbilisi Spiritual Seminary
      CabinetStalin III
      ReligionNone (Atheism)
      Formerly Georgian Orthodox Christian
      Military service
      AllegianceSoviet Union
      Branch/serviceSoviet Armed Forces
      Years of service
      • 1918–1920
      • 1941–1953
      AwardsSee here
      Central institution membership
      • 1917–1953: Full member, 6th19th Presidium
      • 1922–1943: 11th19th Secretariat
      • 1920–1952: 9th18th Orgburo
      • 1912–1953: Full member, 5th19th Central Committee

      Other offices held

      Born to a poor family in Gori in the Russian Empire (now Georgia), Stalin attended the Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary before eventually joining the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He went on to edit 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. After the Bolsheviks seized power during the October Revolution and created a one-party state under the newly formed 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 dogma. As a result of the Five-Year Plans implemented under his leadership, the country underwent agricultural collectivisation and rapid industrialisation, creating a centralised command economy. This led to severe disruptions of food production that contributed to the famine of 1932–33. To eradicate accused "enemies of the working class", Stalin instituted the Great Purge, in which over a million were imprisoned 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 setbacks, the Soviet Red Army repelled the German invasion and captured Berlin in 1945, thereby ending World War II in Europe. Amid the war, the Soviets annexed the Baltic states and then established Soviet-aligned governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe, China, and North Korea. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as global superpowers and entered a period of tensions, 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.

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