Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin
'Man of Steel' or 'Demon' with a human face
Joseph Vissarionovici Dzhugashvili, known as ‘Stalin’, was the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and a central figure of the communist world.
Joseph Vissarionovici Dzhugashvili, known as ‘Stalin’, was the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and a central figure of the communist world. He was born in the Georgian city of Gori, in the Tiflis Governorate of the Tsarist Empire. Part of the description of Stalin, an obscure Bolshevik at that time, found in the Moscow police department at the beginning of the Russian Revolution, reads: “Dzhugashvili, I.V., peasant from the land and district of Tbilisi, Didi-Lilo Village, an Orthodox, and an accountant.”

Stalin was a Bolshevik, proponent of the Communist Party, member of the Central Committee, editor of Pravda newspaper. After the October Revolution, he became People’s Commissary for Nationalities, People’s Commissary for Inspection of Labor and Peasants, member of the pan-Russian Central Executive Committee and secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee.

Stalin’s birth date is the first enigma concerning his personal life. At the beginning of his revolutionary career, he denied his official birth date and declared another date, for unknown reasons.

Stalin moved to Saint Petersburg where he became an editor at the Pravda newspaper, but he was arrested again and exiled to Siberia for life. He returned after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, resuming his position as editor at Pravda. He published an article condemning the new provisional government, calling the Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky a counter-revolutionary and urging peasants to revolt.

Introverted and reserved, he learned the virtue of silence and the ability to listen, waiting for others to express their opinions and feelings first. After gaining power and acclamations, he never trusted anybody, as he was convinced that behind cheers and flattering words were only lies, even when coming from his most loyal collaborators. He was cold, vindictive, intolerant, spiteful and merciless even towards his closest friends and relatives.

He studied at the Tbilisi Theological Seminary. During this period, he enrolled in the secret organization called Messame Dassy supporting the independence of Georgia. Here he first came into contact with Karl Marx’s ideas and tried to inculcate them into his seminary colleagues, but he was expelled.

Stalin joined the Social Democratic Labor Party and helped organize resistance against the Tsarist system. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested for organizing a strike and spent a year and a half in prison. He was later deported to Siberia. He escaped and continued to organize strikes and demonstrations in Tiflis. In the following years he was arrested 4 times, managing to escape each time.

Stalin was born into a poor family: he was the son of a shoemaker, Vissarion Ivanovici, and of a simple woman, Ekaterina Gheorghievna, known as Keke. Both parents were of peasant origin. He was the 4th child to be born; however, the first 3 children died at a young age.

Stalin’s father was a violent person, an alcoholic, a brutal father who was absent from the life of the future leader of the USSR. However, Stalin was protected by his faithful mother, who believed in her son.

Stalin’s father and grandfather were peasants. Their shoemaking craft was handed down from father to son. Stalin’s father died when he was 11 years old. His mother lived to be 76, in a modest house in Tbilisi, remaining faithful to her religion all her life. She loved her only son very much, and always wanted him to become a priest. Until the day she died, she regretted the fact that Stalin didn’t graduate from the Tbilisi Seminar.

At the only public discussion she ever attended, Stalin’s mother described him as follows: “He was always a good child, I never had to punish him. He studied hard, he was always reading and discussing something, he was always trying to understand everything. He started school at the age of 8.”

Stalin had two wives, Ekaterina Svanidze and Nadezhda Sergeevna Alliluyeva, both much younger than him. However, they both died at a young age. His first wife died of tuberculosis just a few months after the birth of their son Yakov. Nadezhda committed suicide.

Stalin suffered greatly over the death of his first wife. It is said that he once confessed to a close friend of his, Iremashvili: "This creature softened my heart of stone; when she died, my last feelings of tenderness towards people died too.” Their son Yakov was raised by his wife's family. Stalin hated him, and never considered him a son. Yakov died as a prisoner of the Germans in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, by throwing himself onto a barbed wire fence.

12 years after the death of his first wife, Stalin fell in love with Nadezhda, who was 23 years younger than him. They married, but their relationship was tense, charged with mutual jealousy and reproach. She was the daughter of Sergei Alliluyev, a revolutionary, in whose house Stalin had taken refuge many times in the period before the revolution. Nadezhda adored her husband; she had been venerating him as a demigod since childhood. They had two children together: Vasily and Svetlana. Nadezhda was a member of the Bolshevik Party.

Nadezhda committed suicide out of jealousy and because Stalin, who had become a cold person, did not understand her. Officially, her death was attributed to an attack of appendicitis. Their two children remained in the care of governors and supervisors of the house. Vasily became arrogant and turned to alcohol. Svetlana had a good relationship with Stalin, enjoying his gentle side. However, their relationship cooled when he did not agree with her choices in love. Both Stalin’s children renounced him after his death.

As a child, Stalin was given the loving nickname ‘Soso’ by his closest relatives and his classmates at school. Stalin’s childhood was marked by poverty and lack.

He was short: only 1,62m as an adult. He had a fragile constitution and it seems he suffered from tuberculosis.

He was born with certain malformations: two of the toes on his right foot were adjoined, and his left arm was shorter than the right. He was a sickly child. At the age of 7 he had smallpox, which left him with permanent scars on his face.

Stalin twice repeated a year of schooling, which meant he finished his elementary education at 16 instead of 14. After passing the entry exam, he enrolled in the Higher Seminary of Orthodox Theology in Tbilisi.

He spent his childhood with his family, amongst the Georgian and Tatar peasants in Gori. Stalin then enrolled in the Theological Seminary.

Stalin enrolled in the Higher Seminary of Orthodox Theology in Tbilisi at his mother’s insistence. The seminary was run with strict discipline and a dogmatic spirit. For Stalin, this place was his first real formative experience. For three years, he studied and read extensively, becoming the best in his class. The seminary was the place where the young of that generation were formed and gained intellectual training.

Stalin became inclined towards solitude, being naturally quiet anyway. He ended up shutting himself away for hours on end, studying books approved by the church authorities. He wrote poems in the Georgian language, on romantic and conventional themes. The isolated environment of the seminary was far away from the revolutionary ideas then spreading in Tsarist Russia.

Stalin decided not to attend the seminary exams and was expelled. His mother, offended that his higher education had been cut short, maintained until her death that Stalin withdrew from the seminary “for health reasons”. In the Seminary files, it is noted that Stalin was “expelled for absence from courses - unknown reasons.”

Stalin’s mother denied her son’s expulsion from the Tbilisi Seminary, saying: “He wasn’t expelled. I took him out of school because of his health. When he entered the seminar, he was 15 years old and one of the strongest boys of his age. But excessive work, up until he was 19, made him depressed, and doctors told me he might catch tuberculosis. So I took him out of school. He didn’t want to leave. I took him out. He was my only child.”

The seminary left a strong mark on the future leader, typical of those trained in theology: the feeling of belonging to a privileged caste. He didn’t enjoy debates, preferring basic truth without embellishment.

Internal discipline and control of his feelings and reactions were to become the principle through which he succeeded in eliminating all his political adversaries. Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, who loved him deeply, wrote after his death: “Father was the exact opposite… he was neither fiery, nor open, neither emotional nor sentimental.”

Stalin showed no signs of rebellion against authority in his first years at seminary. Later, together with other seminary students, he rented a room in Tbilisi, to be able to meet and talk freely. So, a kind of clandestine club was formed, although it was without revolutionary inclinations. This was the moment when Stalin first had the chance to make himself known and express himself freely.

At the student meetings, Stalin held a few conferences. He enjoyed being appreciated, admired and listened to. He did not tolerate criticism and was hostile towards those who questioned his ideas.

During his studies at Tbilisi, Stalin discovered a historical adventure novel. The hero of this book, Koba, was a kind of outlaw who, together with the imam Shamil, a nationalist leader and religious Chechen, fought in the battle against the Russian occupiers. Koba was the first pseudonym Stalin used after becoming a revolutionary.

After the establishment of this modest ‘club’, Stalin began to have a defiant attitude, preparing his way for his final break from the seminary environment, where he could no longer tolerate the strict discipline. A year later, aged 19 and a half, he expressed interest in certain intellectual circles with marxist inclinations.

In fact, Stalin’s expulsion from the theological seminary was due to his involvement in the Georgian resistance movement against the Tsarist regime. His anti-government activities led him towards the Social-Democratic Labor Party. After his expulsion and up until the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin upheld Lenin’s ideas.

Stalin began his career as a revolutionary by distributing propaganda. He was a galvanising spirit to several groups of laborers, even delivering a public speech to protesters gathered in the square at Tbilisi.

Stalin took part in a lot of activities typical of revolutionaries: participating in laborers’ groups, supporting Marxist circles, public speaking at laborers’ protests. These led to him being wanted by the police, who found him very quickly by searching the room he lived in.

Thus began Stalin’s clandestine life, under the revolutionary pseudonym, Koba. He had no fixed address, sleeping and eating with friends, teaching private lessons, living from one day to the next by working as an itinerant agent, first of the social-democratic group at Tbilisi, then later of the Bolshevik faction.

He left the town of Tbilisi, and went to Batumi, a port on the Black Sea. He took part in a laborers’ revolt. He was arrested for the first time and condemned to 3 years of exile in the Irkutsk region, in eastern Siberia. In future years he was arrested many times. He was condemned to exile 7 times, escaping 6 times.

As a revolutionary, Stalin spent most of his time hiding or in exile. He took part in raising money for the Bolsheviks, which involved a series of robberies from banks or trains. To the authorities, Stalin was a Georgian bandit.

In the period around the first World War, Stalin came onto the political scene by chance. He was in the company of a large group of political exiles carrying out medical enrollment tests in Krasnoyarsk, when the Tsarist regime was in its final phase, during the February 1917 Revolution. He immediately set out for Saint Petersburg.

He never arrived in the village where he was supposed to serve his first sentence, since he escaped from the transport taking him from one prison to another. He settled in Tbilisi, where he was introduced to the local Bolshevik leaders’ group by Kamenev, a future opponent.

Stalin held several political roles, which he later used to take over complete power. His political roles were gained due to his reputation as a sensible, hardworking man. He began as the leader of the social democrats in the Caucasus and then joined the Bolshevik party. He became a member of the Central Committee after taking political power from the Bolsheviks. Stalin was director of Pravda, the communist publication, although Lenin controlled it.

After taking over power from the Bolsheviks, Stalin held the title of Commissar of the Nationalities. This meant he was the official delegate to the various regions and republics constituting the USSR. He held the title of Commissar of the Nationalities in the Bolshevik government for 5 years.

As a liaison officer, Stalin was officially responsible for collaboration between the institutions of the Politburo and the Orgburo: the first, the Internal Cabinet of the Central Committee, and the second, The Organizational Office of the Party. Stalin was able to coordinate both party politics and party staff.

Stalin was also director of the Communist-Bolshevik Labor Inspectorate. In this political role, Stalin supervised the activities of all governmental agencies.

Stalin was voted General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party at the party’s 11th Congress. Thus he became a vital connection, since he had access to the personal files of all the members of the party. Stalin was responsible for recording and transmitting party policy. This role was to become vital in his power take-over, since it gave him complete control over the organization of the party and over the party staff.

As the General Secretary of the Central Committee, he used his position to quickly build himself a foundation for the fight for power, which broke out in the last year of Lenin’s life. Stalin was in a central position between those considered the principal protagonists: Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev. Gradually, his position became safe, as he was careful to get rid of all possible opposition, both at party level and from the general population.

Stalin became an indispensable link in the chain made up of the Communist Party and the rule of the Soviet government, due to the roles he held. These roles gave Stalin the ability to appoint officials in the party and in the government. He used his authority to place his loyal supporters in important positions.

Lenin rewarded him for supporting the October Revolution by appointing him as Commissar of Nationalities. Since he supported Lenin’s economic policies, Lenin appointed him as General Secretary of the Communist Party. After Lenin was paralyzed, Stalin eliminated from the party those who supported Trotsky, his main rival to party leadership. Lenin died before he could act against Stalin, who became the leader of the Communist Party in the USSR.

After Lenin’s death, the Politburo, formed of Rykov, Tomsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Trotsky and Stalin, appeared as if it would continue in group leadership; however, underneath the surface, the fight had already begun for individual power. The Politburo considered Trotsky the greatest danger, since he was a fiery character, dangerously ambitious. Stalin was dull, methodical but trustworthy.

Failing in his propaganda war, Trotsky didn’t gain the support of the Politburo or the Central Committee. Zinoviev and Kamenev undermined Trotsky’s position, since they were Stalin’s principal agents.

Trotsky was demoted from his role of war commissar after a vote organized against him at the party Congress. Zinoviev and Kamenev, general secretaries of the Soviets of Moscow and Leningrad, influenced the local party organization to call a congress against Trotsky and in support of Stalin.

Stalin overcame Trotsky because he didn’t have a strong foundation for power. Trotsky couldn’t use his advantages of being a speaker and writer, nor his intellectual capacities, because Stalin had a strong hold over the party.

After taking over power, Stalin launched his idea of five-year plans. Those who sabotaged these plans were shot or sent to forced labor, constructing railroads in Siberia or digging the canal in the Baltic Sea. Sergei Kirov opposed Stalin’s economic policies. He argued for the release of those arrested for opposing agricultural cooperatives and forced industrialization. Sergei Kirov was assassinated.

All opposition and all political leaders who were against Stalin were arrested by the NKVD (the secret police) and executed. Executions even took place inside the ranks of the Red Army. Mikhail Tukhachevsky and 7 other leading men of the army were executed. After Stalin finished using the NKVD, he began purging this organization too.

The crimes carried out by Stalin’s command are known as “The Great Purge” or “The Great Terror”. Influential people in the Communist Party were accused of sabotage, terrorism or betrayal and then assassinated. The terror spread to the military and other areas of the Soviet civil society. Those condemned were sent to forced labor camps, ‘Gulags’, while the less important ones were exiled. In the following years, millions of people belonging to ethnic minorities were deported.

During the years of the ‘Great Terror’, Stalin acted in three ways: Gulags, mass deportation of approximately 6 million people, and summary executions. Fear and terror were the instruments used by Stalin for political repression, both of real or imaginary enemies of the regime, and also of the population. Many people were arrested and taken from their families in the middle of the night, and most of them were unjustly condemned.

Through a decree of the Council of Commissars of the People of the USSR, the resolution imposed by Stalin ‘About using the labor of prisoners’ was approved. Due to this, the political police had to develop a project for creating forced labor camps for prisoners. In a few months, about 100 labor camps were created, in the farthest-flung and least populated areas of the Soviet Union. Natural resources were exploited in these camps, in order to create industrial centers and communications networks in the populated areas of the USSR.

The Gulag or The Central Direction of the Fields of Correctional Labor was a system of forced labor camps, in which state terror was applied. The Soviet Gulag was comprised of around 500 ‘camps for reeducation through labor’.

In order to stop the resistance of the peasants to the collectivization process, Stalin decreed the ‘liquidation of the kulaks as a class’. This meant the deportation to Siberia or Kazakhstan of millions of peasants with their families, in the so-called ‘colonies of reeducation through labor’.

Stalin forced the peasants to give up their small properties and work in kolkhozes and in sovkhozes. These were collective agricultural farms, organized by the state on large properties confiscated from the land owners, where the laborers received a salary. The kolkhozes were created by merging small individual farms, with the laborers receiving a percentage of the harvest in exchange for their labor.

Stalin’s forced industrialization meant moving people to far-flung and unwelcoming areas rich in prime materials needed for developing the great industrial centers of the USSR. These people had to leave their homes and native lands.

During Stalin’s rule, millions of people were deported to Siberia and the Republics of Central Asia. Many died of disease and malnutrition. Among those deported definitively from the USSR were: Ukrainians, Polish, Koreans, Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingush, Meskhetian Turks, Finnish, Crimean Bulgarians, Greeks, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Jews and other ethnic groups.

Stalin decided to sign a pact of non-aggression with Nazi Germany. The Soviet invasion of Poland, Finland, the Baltic States, Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina followed. After Germany broke the non-aggression pact, the Soviet Union joined the Atlantic Alliance, playing an important role in defeating the Axis powers. The invasion of the USSR by Hitler’s Germany in the Barbarossa campaign caught Stalin unprepared from a military standpoint.

After France surrendered to Hitler’s army, Stalin sent Molotov to negotiate with Berlin. The negotiations failed. Hitler ordered his army to prepare for Operation Barbarossa, planning to invade the Soviet Union. Due to the the Yugoslav resistance, the attack was delayed, but in 6 days the Germans occupied the town of Minsk. The resistance put up by Kiev delayed the attack on Moscow.

At the Tehran Conference, the first meeting of ‘The Big Three’, Stalin brought his war diplomacy to bear. It’s considered the most important conference of the war. Stalin didn’t want to give up the territories won through the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact: a good part of the Polish territory, Finland and the Baltic States.

Stalin evacuated Stalingrad and managed to force the German troops to retreat. He brought in one million soldiers, using tanks, planes and rockets constructed in the Five Year Plans. The German army was defeated. From that moment on, the war took a different turn. Germany began to retreat.

At the Potsdam Conference, Stalin was accompanied by high-ranking officials. He travelled in a bulletproof train, controlled by the Red Army and monitored by the NKVD, with guards every 100 meters. The Soviet delegation occupied 56 villas in the German town. Seven regiments of the NKVD and 1500 people from his special troops provided protection for the delegation. Beria, the foreign minister, took care of obtaining veal, tinned food, vegetables, and installing two bakeries producing bread nonstop.

The announcement made at the Potsdam Conference, that the United States had an atomic bomb, shook Stalin. Although he had been informed by his spies in the USA about research being done in the nuclear field, Stalin was taken by surprise. He understood the gravity of the fact that his scientists had fallen behind. The atmosphere became oppressive.

The victory of Stalingrad marked a decisive moment in the course of the war. The defeat of the Nazi army had a major impact on the battle fought by the United Nations against the Axis. The image of Stalin as a great strategist was strengthened. This battle led to the retreat of the German army from the Caucasus. The end of the war ruined Russia’s European territories, whereas the USSR was in a disastrous state. Stalin estimated the number of war victims as seven and a half million.

The Yalta Conference was a diplomatic victory for Stalin. In that moment, nobody could doubt the USSR military victories against the German army. Because of this, the Russians were viewed with lenience. The Yalta Declaration, which Stalin signed, would guarantee free elections in the states which had been freed from the Nazis. It was however only a theoretical commitment.

At Yalta, the USA and the UK tried to persuade Stalin to join them in war against Japan. After the end of the Second World War, Stalin installed communist regimes in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. He also imposed the presence of Soviet armies in the Eastern European countries. These withdrew after stable pro-Soviet governments were established.

At the conferences organized after the Second World War, the Soviet leader was unshakeable in his resolve about the occupied territories. He took a firm position saying: “We will keep what we have”. Eastern Europe was to pay the price for maintaining Soviet security.

Stalin intended establishing the rigid system which already ruled in the USSR and Poland, in part of Germany and in Eastern Europe. The Polish situation was discussed at Yalta. As a result of the war, the USSR had occupied Poland and established a provisional pro-Soviet government with the promise of democratic elections in the future. The UK and the USA did not trust Stalin and feared that Poland would become a Soviet puppet state.

Stalin ordered the economic blockade of Berlin, hoping to control the whole of Germany. Then he encouraged the communist leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, to invade South Korea. The Korean War led American politicians to state that the Soviet Union was trying to control the world. Hostility between the Soviet Union and the United States continued to grow as the world split between the two power blocks.

‘The Allied Declaration of Liberated Europe’ forced Stalin to respect democratic policies in the zones he occupied, at least on a formal level. Stalin’s interpretation of democracy was different to that of the other allies. Stalin created a large protective zone against future German aggression. He also had in mind the western opposition to communism.

Stalin’s influence over Eastern Europe remained until the end of his life. Yugoslavia was the only state to free itself from Soviet control. The other countries became satellite states. In the following years, Stalin strengthened his authority over them, encouraging purges, the method he knew so well.

Stalin was one of the most powerful leaders of the twentieth century in Europe. He managed to attract support but also hate from well-known historical figures. Boris Souvarine, member of the Communist International, wrote in an article: “Stalin wishes to remain the only survivor of Lenin’s comrades in arms, and to have no one around him but mediocre people, incapable of looking ‘the sun’ in the face. Since Stalin claims to be similar to the sun, this is a case for psychiatrists.”

Hitler, in a meeting with Marshall Antonescu, said about Stalin that “he never asks, but just demands or protests. When he is given something, it is because it was owed to him. When he is the one who gives something back, he doesn’t say that he does it because he must, but because he is generous. In this way, he managed to persuade the English and especially the Americans, that it’s not they who help the Soviets to defend themselves, but that Stalin entered the war only to get the westerners out of a difficult situation. The Russian who would have been, without American help, forced to surrend

Marshall Antonescu, the leader of Romania, said: “Stalin was not a man to accept risk. Poland’s example is typical of this: he didn’t order his units to advance, in spite of the German invitation, until the moment when involvement in the Polish affair was no longer a danger … Even when he has a revolver, and his enemy only has a knife, he will wait until his enemy falls asleep: he is a Goliath who is afraid of David. He has the brutality of a wild animal and the cowardice of a man.”

Albert Speer, the minister of armaments and war production in Nazi Germany, remembered that Hitler spoke about Stalin “with great respect, evidencing analogies between his own resistance and Stalin’s. He often said, as a joke, that the best thing to do, if he managed to defeat Russia, would be to make Stalin the leader of the country, of course under German rule, because in dealing with the Russians, he was the best boss you could imagine. In a certain way, he considered Stalin to be a colleague.”

His daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, wrote: “In 1937, my father didn’t hesitate to exterminate members of his own family: the three Svanidze, Redens, Enukidze (my mother’s godmother) … The same thing happened in 1948 with my aunts. He considered them dangerous because ‘they knew too much’ and they were ‘too talkative’. He didn’t hesitate to arrest the two widows, old women who had already suffered enough. Of course, he couldn’t forget that they knew everything that went on in our family; they knew the details of my mother’s suicide, and the letter she left.”

Roosevelt told William Bullitt, his person friend and the ambassador to Moscow, and later to Paris: “If I give him all I can give, without asking for anything in exchange, noblesse oblige, he won’t think of annexing, and he’ll accept in working together with me for building a world of democracy and peace.”

Returned from Potsdam, Truman, president of the USA, declared to the public: “I got to know Joe Stalin well, and I love this old Joe, he’s a good guy. But Joe is the prisoner of the Politburo. He can’t do what he wants. He makes commitments, and if he could, he’d keep them, but the members of the government say very clearly that he can’t keep them.”

Bullitt remembers that president Roosevelt decided to ‘tame’ Stalin by meeting his wishes, without asking for reciprocity. He said that the president of the USA, old and sick, was clueless, going to Tehran and Yalta: “to meet Stalin personally and persuade him to accept Christian procedures and democratic principles”.

Amongst the communist parties of the Communist International, Stalin was the object of an extraordinary cult, and constituted the absolute standard for loyalty to communism. No one criticised him. Any small dispute or insult brought against the great leader was considered defection to the enemy camp. For all communists in the whole world, Stalin was ‘the great leader and ‘father of the people’.

In the first hagiography published in France, Henri Barbusse described Stalin, General Secretary of the Bolshevik Communist Party of the USSR, as “the man with an intellectual head, a working-man’s face, and the clothes of a simple soldier”. Genius, mentor, teacher, friend, loyal - this is how Stalin was described.

Newspapers were filled with thousands of messages, letters and telegrams from all corners of Russia, praising the leader. The State Publishing House distributed millions of copies of collections in which the accolades, speeches of tribute to the great leader, took up over 250 pages.

Communists loyal to their leader adored him, and those who were not members of the party admired him. Many streets, squares and even towns in the communist world bore Stalin’s name. His name was given to factories, electricity plants, agricultural collectives, military garrisons, schools, etc. A statue of Stalin’s bust was mass-produced and distributed under official orders.

On Stalin’s 50th birthday, the entire Soviet press wrote headlines, tributes and long articles dedicated to the great leader. Many accolades were brought to Stalin. He was credited with having every human quality and many superhuman virtues. Modesty, courage, commitment to his cause, vision and knowledge, were Stalin’s traits most praised in his personality cult.

Stalin was described as being the organizer of the Bolshevik Party, the leader of the October Revolution, the commander of the Red Army and the victor of the Civil War and wars with foreign enemies. Stalin’s name appeared in the lyrics of the USSR’s national hymn during the Second World War.

Stalin, the man of iron, the soldier of steel, was given numerous hyperbolic titles, in excessive expression of admiration and submission. All communist states strictly followed orders from Moscow about the way the Great Stalin should be referred to.

The 70th anniversary of the victor of Stalingrad was the occasion of the most extraordinary outbursts of adoration that a human could express in the 20th century. It was the birthday of the ‘Great Genius’. The whole communist world marked this event by organizing ceremonies, editing special editions of newspapers, printing stamps and other materials emblazoned with the image of Stalin and messages dedicated to him. In Romania, matchboxes were even produced, with the following text printed on them: “Long live the 21st of December, the 70th birthday of the Liberator and friend of the Romanian people, Comrade Stalin!”

Joseph Vissarionovici Stalin, the hero of communist nations and Lenin’s successor, went into a coma, with the right side of his body completely paralyzed. A few days later, his heart stopped beating. The whole communist world mourned his passing.

Stalin’s personal doctor was involved in an assassination plot against Stalin and was arrested and tortured. Stalin died in Kuntsevo Dacha. After a night-long dinner party, together with the minister of internal affairs Lavrentiy Beria and the future prime ministers Georgy Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin had a stroke. He died four days later, aged 73.

The official report said that Stalin died of a cerebral hemorrhage, caused by high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, illnesses brought on by stress during the war. This report was confirmed by all of those who last saw Stalin alive: Lavrentiy Beria, Nikolai Bulganin, Georgy Malenkov, Nikita Khrushchev.

After dinner, Stalin went to sleep, but the next day was found lying on the ground. The possibility of poison was not officially considered. According to Stalin’s bodyguards, it seems that the Soviet leader was probably poisoned immediately after he drank the mineral water which was on his desk.

The classified reports of the doctors who saw Stalin in his last days of life show that they treated him for intoxication from a cocktail of poisons.

A group of Russian and American researchers formulated the hypothesis that Stalin could have ingested a strong form of rat poison. This causes thinning of the blood, hemorrhages and strokes. Since this type of poison is tasteless, this theory is plausible. We will only know for sure the reasons for Stalin’s death if an autopsy is carried out on his body.

Stalin’s body was embalmed and preserved in Lenin’s Mausoleum. It was given funeral rites, similar to Lenin, the founding father of the USSR. After the de-Stalinization process began in the Soviet Union, the body of the Soviet leader was buried beside the wall of the Kremlin.

Stalin, laid to rest next to Lenin, undermined Lenin’s personality cult, placing him in second place, which the party did not like.

Nikita Khrushchev managed to taint the memory of Stalin and to move his body into a more earthly place. It was all done in greatest secrecy. A group of soldiers evacuated the Red Square, entered the mausoleum where Stalin’s body lay, next to Lenin, and took him out. Stalin’s personality cult was over.

One hour and 10 minutes before the official declaration of Stalin’s death, Lavrentiy Beria, Nikolai Bulganin, Georgy Malenkov and Nikita Khrushchev had already decided how to divide power. The document certifying this was the secret protocol of the meeting between the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Council of USSR Ministers, and the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the USSR.