About the Author - Joseph Stalin

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; 18 December [O.S. 6 December] 1878 – 5 March 1953) was a Soviet politician and revolutionary who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power as General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922 to 1952 and Chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1941 until his death. Initially governing as part of a collective leadership, Stalin consolidated power to become dictator by the 1930s; the totalitarian po...

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; 18 December [O.S. 6 December] 1878 – 5 March 1953) was a Soviet politician and revolutionary who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power as General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922 to 1952 and Chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1941 until his death. Initially governing as part of a collective leadership, Stalin consolidated power to become dictator by the 1930s; the totalitarian political system which he established is known as Stalinism. Born into a poor Georgian family in Gori in the Russian Empire, Stalin attended the Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary before joining the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He edited 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 to Siberia. After the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution and created a one-party state under the new 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 ideology. As a result of his Five-Year Plans, the country underwent agricultural collectivisation and rapid industrialisation, creating a centralised command economy. Severe disruptions to food production contributed to the famine of 1930–33. To eradicate those deemed "enemies of the working class", Stalin instituted the Great Purge using the Gulag system of forced labour camps. 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, enabling the Soviet invasion of Poland. Germany ended the pact by invading the Soviet Union in 1941, after which Stalin joined the Allies as one of the "Big Three". Despite huge losses, the Soviet Red Army repelled the German invasion and captured Berlin in 1945, ending World War II in Europe. The Soviet Union, which had annexed the Baltic states and territories from Finland and Romania amid the war, established Soviet-aligned governments in Central and Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as global superpowers and entered a period of tension known as the Cold War. Stalin presided over the country's post-war reconstruction and its first test of an atomic bomb in 1949. During these years, the country experienced another major famine and a state-sponsored antisemitic campaign which culminated in the "doctors' plot". After Stalin's death in 1953, he was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced his rule and initiated the "de-Stalinisation" of Soviet society. Widely considered one of the 20th century's most significant figures, Stalin was the subject of a pervasive personality cult within the international Marxist–Leninist movement, for whom Stalin was a champion of socialism and the working class. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Stalin has retained popularity in Russia and Georgia as a victorious wartime leader who established the Soviet Union as a major world power. Conversely, his totalitarian government has been widely condemned for overseeing mass repressions, ethnic cleansing, executions, and famines which caused the deaths of millions.

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