Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/joseph-stalin-1779902. With supplies provided by the Allies, Stalin was able to turn the tide at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943 and forced the retreat of the German army. [64][65] In his most recent edition of The Great Terror (2007), Conquest stated that while exact numbers may never be known with complete certainty, at least 15 million people were killed "by the whole range of Soviet regime's terrors. Although Stalin began to receive American equipment in 1942, what he really wanted was Allied troops deployed to the Eastern Front. Kerov was assassinated in 1934 and Stalin, who most believe was responsible, used Kerov's death to extol the dangers of the anti-communist movement and tighten his grip on Soviet politics. For years Moscow had tried to reach an agreement with the West against fascism. Data from the Soviet archives list 309,521 deaths in the Special Settlements from 1941–48 and 73,454 in 1949–50. The Cold War ended only with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Davies, R. W. and Wheatcroft, Stephen G. (2004). While paintings and statues of Stalin kept him in the public eye, Stalin also promoted himself by aggrandizing his past through tales of his childhood and his role in the revolution. in Demographic Trends and Patterns in the Soviet Union Before 1991. 1993; Rosefielde, Steven (1983). However, there were signs that Stalin was not destined for the priesthood. With World War II on the horizon, this purging of the military leadership would later prove a severe detriment to the Soviet Union’s military effectiveness. The Soviet Union was the end result of the 1917 October Revolution, formally founded in 1922 as a federal union of Soviet republics. [21], John G. Heidenrich, citing materials pre-1991, estimates the number of deaths at 12 million. Andreev EM; Darsky LE; Kharkova TL, Population dynamics: consequences of regular and irregular changes. Stalin also promised that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan three months after the war with Germany ended and in return would recover what Russia had lost at the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). McKinney, Stephanie L., PhD, Contributing Writer. Like Lenin before him, Stalin’s body was embalmed and put on public display. In response to Stalin's domination of Eastern Europe, Truman issued the Truman Doctrine in 1947, in which the United States pledged to help nations at risk of being overtaken by communists. Stalin also famously changed the name of the city of Tsaritsyn to Stalingrad in 1925 to honor the city for its role in the Russian civil war. Stalin had become close with Nadya's family, many of whom were active in the revolution and would go on to hold important positions under Stalin’s government. Stalin Was Known For His Crude And Cruel Ways. They had one son, Yacov, before Ekaterine died of typhus in 1907. [52], Some historians claim that the death toll was around 20 million,[60] a figure based on Conquest's book The Great Terror (1968), with some estimates relying in part on demographic losses such as Conquest's. While he was USSR's leader, he used secret police as a way to maintain his control over the people. Here are 10 facts about him. By 1927, Stalin had effectively eliminated all of his political rivals (and exiled Trotsky) to emerge as the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. When free from prison, Stalin continued to support the revolution and helped organize peasants in the 1905 Russian Revolution against Czar Nicholas II. Three reasons why Stalin is a hero . Hoping to claim the entire capital, which was located entirely within East Germany, Stalin blockaded the city in an attempt to force the other Allies to abandon their sectors of Berlin. The fact that this never happened infuriated Stalin and increased the resentment between Stalin and his allies. Beyond being one of the greatest examples of state-sponsored murder in history, the Great Terror demonstrated Stalin's obsessive paranoia and willingness to prioritize it over national interests. What Was the USSR and Which Countries Were in It? In just two days, the Bolsheviks had taken over Petrograd, the capital of Russia, and thus became the leaders of the country. After that, Stalin held the Bolsheviks in any way he could, including committing several robberies to raise funds. Ellman claims that the famine resulted in an estimated 1 to 1.5 million lives lost in addition to secondary population losses due to reduced fertility. [67][68] In 2011, the historian Timothy D. Snyder, after assessing twenty years of historical research in Eastern European archives, asserts that Stalin deliberately killed about 6 million (rising to 9 million if foreseeable deaths arising from policies are taken into account). I feel that Joseph Stalin was not a good leader because he did not care very much about his people. McKinney, Stephanie L., PhD, Contributing Writer. In 1956, after Stalin's death, came a watershed moment: Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced the Stalin personality cult and dictatorship, in a secret speech to … This would continue to be a frequent pen name and, after the successful Russian Revolution in October 1917, his surname. ThoughtCo. To many who were not directly impacted, the Five Year Plans appeared to exemplify Stalin's proactive leadership. The people live in constant fear of his state apparatus, which routinely arrests them in the middle of the night. Stalin again challenged the Allies in 1948 when he attempted to seize control of Berlin, a city that had been divided among the victors of World War II. "Biography of Joseph Stalin, Dictator of the Soviet Union." According to a 1993 study of recently declassified archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag (not including labor colonies) from 1934 to 1953 (there was no archival data for the period 1919–1934). It is rich in both natural and human resources and has decent technology. These Cold Warriors overestimated fertility rates and underrated the impact of assimilation, through which many Ukrainians were "redesignated" as Russians in the 1939 census, confusing population deficits, which included unborn children, with excess deaths. [62] In 2003, Simon Sebag Montefiore suggested that Stalin was ultimately responsible for the deaths of at least 20 million people. Nominally a federation, it was highly centralized in practice, dominated by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, so much that the Soviet Union was frequently referred to as Soviet Russia or just Russia. This competition between the Soviet Union and the United States escalated during the Cold War to the point where nuclear war seemed imminent. According to Soviet own archives, the heaviest mortality rate was documented in people from the Northern Caucasus (the Chechens, Ingush) with 144,704 deaths, or 24.7% of the entire deported population, as well as 44,125 deaths from Crimea, or a 19.3% mortality rate. Feeling that the country was ready for another revolution, Lenin and the Bolsheviks began a nearly bloodless coup on October 25, 1917. Stalin's commitment to the party intensified when he met Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, head of the Bolsheviks in 1905. Stalin would be arrested and exiled seven times and escape six times between 1902 and 1913. Biography of Nikita Khrushchev, Cold War Era Soviet Leader. Lenin and Stalin, however, wanted to topple the provisional government and install a communist one controlled by the Bolsheviks. Biography of Joseph Stalin, Dictator of the Soviet Union. Stalin’s parents had a turbulent marriage, with Beso often beating his wife and son. In the name of Communism, Stalin seized assets, including farms and factories, and reorganized the economy. That same year, Stalin was appointed to the Bolshevik's Central Committee, cementing his role as a key figure in the Communist movement. [45], Large numbers of kulaks regardless of their nationality were resettled to Siberia and Central Asia. Joseph Stalin with a child who was later sent to a labor camp. Not the Last Word", "Soviet Repression Statistics: Some Comments", "Victims of the Soviet penal system in the pre-war years: a first approach on the basis of archival evidence", "GOLFO ALEXOPOULOS. Although formally known as the country’s premier from 1941 until his own death in 1953 at age 74, Stalin was a brutal dictator who slaughtered many of his own citizens as he transformed the country into a major global power. [40][41][42][43], According to official figures there were 777,975 judicial executions for political charges from 1929–53, including 681,692 in 1937–38, the years of the Great Purge[8] Unofficial estimates estimate a total number of Stalinism repression deaths in 1937–38 at 950,000–1,200,000. [50], The massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, dated 5 March 1940, approved by the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The Soviet Union (officially “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” or “USSR”) is a major country and the leader of the Comintern faction. According to Ellman, the G8 "are guilty of mass manslaughter or mass deaths from criminal negligence because of their not taking obvious measures to reduce mass deaths" and Stalin's "behaviour was no worse than that of many rulers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries". [14] Ellman compared the behaviour of the Stalinist regime vis-à-vis the Holodomor to that of the British government (towards Ireland and India) and the G8 in contemporary times. Khrushchev broke the secrecy regarding Stalin’s atrocities and led the Soviet Union in a period of "de-Stalinization," which included beginning to account for the catastrophic deaths under Stalin and acknowledging the flaws in his policies. While the efforts were unmitigated disasters, Stalin’s policy forbidding any negative publicity led to the full consequences of these upheavals remaining hidden for decades. After having joined the revolutionary underground, Stalin went into hiding using the alias “Koba.” Nevertheless, the police captured Stalin in 1902 and exiled him to Siberia for the first time in 1903. It was the harsh Soviet winter that really slowed down the advancing Germany army, leading to some of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Stalin’s body was buried nearby, surrounded by concrete so that it could not be moved again. [19] This estimate is disputed by other scholars, with critics such as J. Hardy stating that the evidence Alexopoulos used is indirect and misinterpreted. doi:10.1080/09668138308411488. Notorious for his cruelty and use of unfair tactics, Stalin’s gang dominated the rough streets of Gori. Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag", "The Role of Leadership Perceptions and of Intent in the Soviet Famine of 1931–1934", "Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933: A Reply to Ellman", "A Tale of "Two Totalitarianisms": The Crisis of Capitalism and the Historical Memory of Communism", "Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931–1933", The 1947 Soviet Famine and the Entitlement Approach to Famines, "Punished Peoples" of the Soviet Union: The Continuing Legacy of Stalin's Deportations", "Decision to commence investigation into Katyn Massacre", "Russian parliament condemns Stalin for Katyn massacre", "Towards a Decentred History: The Study of the Holodomor and Ukrainian Historiography", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Excess_mortality_in_the_Soviet_Union_under_Joseph_Stalin&oldid=1003147536, CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown, Wikipedia extended-confirmed-protected pages, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 January 2021, at 16:45. It was a union of 14 Soviet socialist republics and one Soviet federative socialist republic (Russia). However, determined to not give in to Stalin, the U.S. organized a nearly year-long airlift that flew massive amounts of supplies into West Berlin. The Russian Civil War lasted until 1921. This election made Stalin keenly aware of his critics and he soon began to eliminate anyone he perceived as opposition, including his most substantial political rival Sergi Kerov. ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/joseph-stalin-1779902. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. With the tide turned, the Soviet army continued to push the Germans all the way back to Berlin, ending World War II in Europe in May 1945. [46] The reported number of kulaks and their relatives who had died in labour colonies from 1932 to 1940 was 389,521. With the czar deposed, the provisional government was in charge. The first Five Year Plan (1928–1932) was declared completed a year early and the second Five Year Plan (1933–1937) was launched with equally disastrous results. Prior to entering the seminary, Stalin was not only a choirboy, but also the ruthless leader of a street gang. After this incident, Beso refused to support either Keke or his son, effectively ending the marriage. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Stalin joined the Allied powers, which included Great Britain (led by Sir Winston Churchill) and later the United States (led by Franklin D. Roosevelt). Stalin promotes an image of himself as a great benevolent leader and hero of the Soviet Union. [46] Those ethnic minorities considered a threat to Soviet security in 1939–52 were forcibly deported to Special Settlements run by the NKVD. Ellman argues that mass deaths from famines are not a "uniquely Stalinist evil", noting that throughout Russian history, famines and droughts have been a common occurrence, including the Russian famine of 1921–22 (which occurred before Stalin came to power). Stalin's body, which had lain next to Lenin’s for nearly eight years, was removed from the mausoleum in October 1961. The mistrust between the Soviet Union and the United States was obvious when the U.S. refused to share the technology with the Soviet Union, causing Stalin to launch his own nuclear weapons program. Successor to the Russian Empire of the tsars, the Soviet Union was governed by the Communist Party and was the first country in the world to be based on Marxist-Leninist socialism. Stalin's willingness to use brutality to achieve political aims was well established by the time he took power; nevertheless, the Soviet Union (as it was known after 1922) was unprepared for the extreme violence and oppression that Stalin unleashed in 1928. Farcical show trials publicly confirmed the guilt of the accused and ensured that family members of those accused would remain socially ostracized—if they managed to evade arrest. [49] According to Polian these people were not allowed to return to their home regions until after the death of Stalin, the exception being Soviet Germans who were not allowed to return to the Volga region of the USSR. Not only did Stalin readily arrest anyone remotely suspected of having a different view, but he also closed religious institutions and confiscated church lands during his reorganization of the Soviet Union. In 1919, Stalin married Nadezhda (Nadya) Alliluyeva, his secretary and fellow Bolshevik. Instead, they offer a probable range of 3.2 to 5.5 million "excess deaths" for the entire Soviet Union from 1926 to 1939, a period that covers collectivization, the civil war in the countryside, the purges of the late 1930s and major epidemics of typhus and malaria. 35 (3): 385–409. He was the third son of four children born to Ekaterina Georgievna Geadze (Keke) and Vissarion (Beso) Djugashvili, but he was the only one to survive past infancy. These efforts rendered the blockade ineffective and Stalin finally ended the blockade on May 12, 1949. Tensions between Stalin and Trotsky increased when Lenin's health began to fail in 1922 with the first of several strokes, raising the difficult question of who would be Lenin’s successor. While at the seminary, Stalin discovered the works of Karl Marx. Keke supported Stalin by working as a laundress, though she later secured a job at a women's clothing shop. [1] In addition to failures regarding comprehensive recordings, as one additional example, Canadian historian Robert Gellately and British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore argue that the many suspects beaten and tortured to death while in "investigative custody" were likely not to have been counted amongst the executed. Nevertheless, Stalin was reelected in 1934. In Russia, nostalgia for Soviet Union and positive feelings about Stalin By David Masci A man holds a portrait of late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as others place candles at a church in Stalin’s native town of Gori, Georgia, on March 5, 2017, the 64th anniversary of his death. On the other hand, Beso, who was a cobbler, felt that working-class life was good enough for his son. Few leaders have culled their ranks as dramatically as Stalin did during the Great Terror of the 1930s. The non-aggression pact signed between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The cult-like loyalty he inspired remained, although it would dissipate in time. [44], The last major famine to hit the Sovet Union began in July 1946, reached its peak in February–August 1947 and then quickly diminished in intensity, although there were still some famine deaths in 1948. [20] Dan Healey argues that the estimate has obvious methodological difficulties. Although Stalin and Trotsky were rivals, Lenin appreciated their distinct abilities and promoted both. This entailed burning all farms fields and villages in the path of the advancing Germany army to prevent German soldiers from living off the land. After Stalin berated her particularly harshly at a dinner party, Nadya committed suicide on November 9, 1932. Unfortunately, this scorched earth policy also meant the destruction of the homes and livelihoods of Russian people, creating massive numbers of homeless refugees. (Stalin would continue to use aliases throughout the rest of his life, though the world would know him as Joseph Stalin.). By 1928 he had removed all of his enemies and became the sole leader of the Soviet Union. According to Anderson and Silver, historians such as Robert Conquest made the most primitive of errors. With help from friends and teachers, Keke got Stalin back and once again got him on the path to attend seminary. While the Allies were unwilling to launch a full-scale war against Stalin, U.S. President Harry Truman recognized that Stalin could not go unchecked. Nadya often protested his deadly policies and found herself at the receiving end of Stalin's verbal and physical abuse. During the Great Terror, widespread paranoia reigned among citizens, who were encouraged to turn each other in. Stalin’s commitment to censorship and photo doctoring was so strong that, at the height of the Soviet Union’s international power, he rewrote history using photo alteration. The secrecy regarding those “purged” has left millions of Soviet citizens wondering the exact fate of their loved ones. Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images. People who worked in the industry had to do a lot of work for little pay. While the United States and the United Kingdom sought stability, Stalin had no desire to cede the territory he had conquered during the war. With these new-found truths about Stalin’s reign, it was time to stop revering the man who had murdered millions. Although many warned Stalin that Hitler intended to break the pact (as he had with other European powers), Stalin was surprised when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, a full-scale invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The young revolutionary captivated Nadya and together they would have two children: a son Vasily in 1921 and a daughter Svetlana in 1926. The massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, dated 5 March 1940, approved by the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. Instead, the West had come to an agreement with fascism at Munich and behind the back of the Soviet Union. As Stalin sought to expand communism throughout Eastern Europe and around the world, he helped spark the Cold War and the subsequent arms race. Henry Guttmann Collection / Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Stalin and Hitler Sign a Non-Aggression Pact. "[66] Conversely, J. Arch Getty, Stephen G. Wheatcroft and others insist that the opening of the Soviet archives has vindicated the lower estimates put forth by the "revisionists". Actually, a good case could be made for the Soviet Union's non-aggression pact with Germany. By 1939, Adolf Hitler was a powerful threat to Europe and Stalin could not help but be concerned. [23], According to estimates based on data from Soviet archives post-1991, there were around 1.6 million deaths during the whole period from 1929 to 1953. It took several years for the Communist party to replace Stalin; in 1956, Nikita Khrushchev took over. [24] The tentative historical consensus is that, of the 18 million people who passed through the gulag system from 1930 to 1953, between 1.5 and 1.7 million died as a result of their incarceration. 1. Stalin, who was determined to stop the German army’s invasion at any cost, employed a "scorched earth" policy. He joined the local socialist party and soon his interest in overthrowing Czar Nicholas II and the monarchical system outstripped any desire he might have had to be a priest. https://www.thoughtco.com/joseph-stalin-1779902 (accessed February 11, 2021). The argument came to a head when Stalin was 12 years old. "[73][3] British historian Michael Ellman has written that "the very category 'victims of Stalinism' is a matter of political judgement". Between getting arrested, Stalin married Ekaterine Svanidze, a sister of a classmate from seminary, in 1904. Those captured often pointed fingers at neighbors or co-workers in hopes of saving their own lives. Stalin had already seized East Germany and severed it from the West as part of his post-war conquest. Thus, Stalin made it a policy that showing anything less than complete devotion was punishable by exile or death. Yacov was raised by his mother's parents until he was reunited with Stalin in 1921 in Moscow, though the two were never close. This was the last time Beso would assert his vision for Stalin's future. Ultimately, Trotsky was no match for Stalin because Stalin had spent his years in the party building loyalty and support. Stalin is also known for building an unprecedented cult of personality. He appears to have relied on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's political and literary work, The Gulag Archipelago, which Stephen G. Wheatcroft notes was not intended as a historical fact, but a challenge to Soviet authorities after their years of secrecy. Between September 1939 and June 1941, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Stalin was an objective ally of Hitler. Not everyone was happy with the Bolsheviks ruling the country, however. Another rift in the relationship between Stalin and the Allies came when the United States secretly developed the nuclear bomb. From his sickbed, Lenin had advocated for shared power and maintained this vision until his death on January 21, 1924. Stalin hoped that, without the ability to pillage, the German army’s supply line would run so thin that the invasion would be forced to stop. Those seized by his secret police would be tortured, imprisoned, or killed (or a combination of these experiences). Yacov would be among the millions of Russian casualties of World War II. Yet he is increasingly paranoid and purges the Communist party and Army of anyone who might oppose him. Going beyond that, Stalin eradicated any form of dissent or competition. Keke was right to note Stalin's intellect, which soon became apparent to his teachers. During World War II he maintained an uneasy alliance with the United States and Great Britain to fight Nazi Germany, but he dropped any illusions of friendship after the war. Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dzе Jughashvili, 18 December [O.S. [21], The deaths of 5.7[25] to perhaps 7.0 million people[26][27] in the Soviet famine of 1932–1933 and Soviet collectivization of agriculture are included among the victims of repression during the period of Stalin by some historians. A record percentage of Russian respondents say Stalin, the late leader of the former Soviet Union, played a positive role for Russia, according … While he was writing his "Collected Works" in an attempt to define his legacy as an innovative leader, evidence suggests that Stalin was also working on his next purge, an attempt to eliminate the Jewish population that remained in Soviet territory. It was the first country to declare itself socialist and build towards a communist society. Upon his release in March 1917, Stalin resumed his role as a Bolshevik leader. Routledge. During the 1930s he started five year development plans and focused on improving the country’s industry.. One of the Communist leader’s greatest tasks was to collectivize farming. "Excess Mortality in the Soviet Union: A Reconsideration of the Demographic Consequences of Forced Industrialization, 1929–1949". His ideas and policies turned the Soviet Union into a powerful, relatively modern country, as the largest on Earth. However, to force a German retreat, Stalin needed greater assistance. A persuasive orator, Trotsky maintained a visible presence in foreign affairs and was perceived by many as the heir apparent. In his final years, Stalin tried to reshape his image to that of a man of peace. Kużniar-Plota, Małgorzata (30 November 2004). The document described the future leader of the Soviet Union as ‘rude’, ‘intolerable’, and ‘capricious’. Russia was thrust immediately into civil war as the Red Army (the Bolshevik forces) battled the White Army (made up of various anti-Bolshevik factions). Stalin maintained his cult of personality even after his death. By the time he was reunited with Lenin, who also returned to Russia a few weeks after Stalin, Czar Nicholas II had already abdicated as part of the February Russian Revolution. JSTOR 151363. During World War II he maintained an uneasy alliance with the United States and Great Britain to fight Nazi Germany, but he dropped any illusions of …