Joseph Stalin

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Joseph Stalin
Image:Stalin1.jpg
Office General Secretary / Soviet Premier
Term of office 1924-1953
Predecessor Vyacheslav Molotov as premier, none as General Secretary
Successor Georgy Malenkov as premier, Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary
Date of birth 18 December, 1878
Place of birth Gori, Georgia, Russian Empire
Date of death 5 March, 1953
Place of death Moscow, USSR
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Template:Audio (Russian, in full: Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин [Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin]; Template:OldStyleDate<ref>Although there is much inconsistency among published sources about Stalin's year and date of birth, Iosif Dzhugashvili is listed in the records of the Uspensky church in Gori, Georgia as born on December 18 (Old Style: December 6) 1878. This birth date is maintained in his School Leaving Certificate, his extensive tzarist Russia police file, a police arrest record from 18 April 1902 which gave his age as 23 years, and all other surviving pre-revolution documents. Stalin himself listed December 18 1878 in a curriculum vitae as late as 1920, in his own handwriting. However after his coming to power in 1922 the date was changed to December 21 1879 (December 9, Old Style), and that was the day his birthday was celebrated in the Soviet Union. Russian playwriter and historian Edward Radzinski argues in his book Stalin, that he changed the year to 1879, to have a nation-wide birthday celebration of his 50th birthday. He could not do it in 1928 because his rule was not absolute enough. [1]</ref> – March 5, 1953) was the leader of the Soviet Union from mid-1920s to his death in 1953 and General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922-1953), a position which had later become that of party leader.

Born Ioseb Jughashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ჯუღაშვილი; Russian: Иосиф Виссарионович Джугашвили [Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili]), Stalin became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1922. Following the death of Vladimir Lenin, he prevailed over Leon Trotsky in a power struggle during the 1920s. In the 1930s Stalin initiated the Great Purge, a period of police terror that reached its peak in 1937.

Stalin's rule molded the features that characterized the Soviet regime from the era of his rule to its collapse in 1991 — though Maoists, anti-revisionists and some others say he was actually the last legitimate socialist leader in the Soviet Union's history. Stalin's policies were based on Marxism-Leninism but are now often considered to represent a political and economic system called Stalinism.

Stalin replaced the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the 1920s with Five-Year Plans in 1928 and collective farming at roughly the same time. The Soviet Union was transformed from a predominantly peasant society to a major world industrial power by the end of the 1930s. Confiscations of grain and other food by the Soviet authorities under his orders led to a famine between 1932 and 1934, especially in Ukraine (see Holodomor), Kazakhstan and North Caucasus resulting in up to ten million deaths. Many peasants resisted collectivization and grain confiscations, and Stalin ordered violent repression against peasants deemed "kulaks."

A hard-won victory in World War II (the Great Patriotic War, 194145) was made possible in part through the capacity for production that was the outcome of industrialization. In the post-war years, Stalin laid the groundwork for the formation of the Warsaw Pact and established the USSR as one of the two major world powers, a position it maintained for nearly four decades following his death in 1953.

Stalin's rule was characterized by a strong cult of personality, an extreme concentration of power, and little concern for the lives of people. Stalin tried to crush all opposition by establishing a ruthless security apparatus that resulted in the murder of millions of Soviet citizens. In addition to the purges and the famine, many were killed in the Gulags and in deportations. Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin's eventual successor, denounced his mass murders and cult of personality in 1956, initiating the process of "de-Stalinization"Template:Fact which later became part of the Sino-Soviet Split.

Contents

Childhood and early years

Image:Teenage Stalin.jpg Reliable sources about Stalin's youth are few; most were subject to censorship as was common during Stalin's reign. Some consider the writings of Svetlana Alliluyeva (Stalin's daughter) the most reliable sources since they were not censored.

Joseph Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia, Russian Empire to Vissarion Dzhugashvili and Ekaterina Geladze. His mother was born a serf. Their other three children died young; "Soso" (the Georgian pet name for Joseph), was effectively the only child. Vissarion was a cobbler. He opened his own shop, but quickly went bankrupt, forcing him to work in a shoe factory in Tiflis Template:Citation needed.

One of the people for whom Ekaterina did laundry and housecleaning was a Gori Jew, David Papismedov. Papismedov gave Joseph, who would help out his mother, money and books to read, and encouraged him. Decades later, Papismedov came to the Kremlin to learn what had become of little Soso. Stalin surprised his colleagues by not only receiving the elderly man, but happily chatting with him in public places.

In 1888, Stalin's father left to live in Tiflis, leaving the family without support. Rumors said he died in a drunken bar fight; however, others said they had seen him in Georgia as late as 1931. At the age of eight, Soso began his education at the Gori Church School.

When attending school in Gori, Soso was among a very diverse group of students. Stalin and most of his classmates were Georgian and spoke mostly Georgian. However, at school they were forced to use Russian.

His peers were mostly the sons of affluent priests, officials, and merchants.

During his childhood Stalin was fascinated by Georgian folklore. The stories he read told of Georgian mountaineers who valiantly fought for Georgian independence. Stalin's favorite hero of these stories was a legendary mountain ranger named Koba, which became his first alias as a revolutionary. He graduated first in his class and at age 14 he was awarded a scholarship to the Tiflis Theological Seminary, a Russian Orthodox institution which he attended from 1894 and onward.

Young Stalin’s poems have attracted attention. In 1901, the Georgian clergyman M. Kelendzheridze wrote an educational book on language arts, including one of Stalin’s poems, signed by Soselo, and described as among the best examples of Georgian classics. In 1907 the same M. Kelendzheridze published “A Georgian chrestomathy, or collection of the best examples of Georgian literature”. In Volume 1, page 43, he included a poem of Stalin’s dedicated to Rafael Eristavi.

In addition to the small stipend from the scholarship he was also paid for singing in the choir. Although his mother wanted him to be a priest (even after he had become leader of the Soviet Union), he attended seminary not because of any religious vocation, but because of the lack of a university under the Tsarist government of Russia.

Image:Stalin exile 1915.gif

Stalin's involvement with the socialist movement (or, to be more exact, the branch of it that later became the communist movement) began at the seminary. During these school years, Stalin joined a Georgian Social-Democratic organization, and began propagating Marxism.

Stalin was expelled from the seminary in 1899 for these actions. He worked for a decade with the political underground in the Caucasus, experiencing repeated arrests and exile to Siberia between 1902 and 1917.

He adhered to Vladimir Lenin's doctrine of a strong centralist party of professional revolutionaries. It was during this time, after the Revolution of 1905, that he led "fighting squads" in bank robberies to raise funds for the Bolshevik Party. His practical experience made him useful in Lenin's Bolshevik party, gaining him a place on its Central Committee in January 1912.

Some historians have suggested that, during this period, Stalin was actually a Tsarist spy, who was working to infiltrate the Bolshevik party, but there are no reliable documents to substantiate this. In 1913 he adopted the name Stalin, which is derived from the Russian word for "steel".

His only significant contribution to the development of the Marxist theory at this time was a treatise, written while he was briefly in exile in Vienna, Marxism and the national question. It presents an orthodox Marxist position on this important debate. This treatise may have contributed to his appointment as People's Commissar for Nationalities Affairs after the revolution (see Lenin's article On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination for comparison).

Marriages and family

Image:Stalin'schildren.JPG

Stalin's first wife Ekaterina Svanidze died in 1907, only three years after their marriage. At her funeral, Stalin said that any warm feelings he had had for people died with her, for only she could mend his heart. They had a son together, Yakov Dzhugashvili, with whom Stalin did not get along in later years.

His son finally shot himself because of Stalin's incredible harshness toward him, but survived. After this, Stalin said "He can't even shoot straight". Yakov served in the Red Army and was captured by the Germans. They offered to exchange him for a German General, but Stalin turned the offer down, allegedly saying "A lieutenant is not worth a General"; others credit him with allegedly saying "I have no son," to this offer, and Yakov is said to have died running into an electric fence in the camp where he was being held.

This, however, is the "official report," and to this day his cause of death is unknown. Nonetheless, there are many who believe his death was a suicide. Since many families of the Soviet Union had sons in German camps, Stalin could not have exchanged his son without losing public support. He may have sacrificed his son as a demonstration that he was one with the people.

Image:Iosif Nadejda.JPG

His second wife was Nadezhda Alliluyeva, who died in 1932; she may have committed suicide by shooting herself after a quarrel with Stalin, leaving a suicide note which according to their daughter was "partly personal, partly political".<ref>Koba the Dread, p. 133, ISBN 0786868767; Stalin: The Man and His Era, p. 354, ISBN 0807070017, in a footnote he quotes the press announcement as speaking of her "sudden death"; he also cites pp. 103–105 of his daughter's book, Twenty Letters to a Friend, the Russian edition, New York, 1967.</ref>

Officially, she died of an illness, but some rumors claimed that Stalin killed her. With her, he had two children: a son, Vassili, and a daughter, Svetlana.

Vassili rose through the ranks of the Soviet Air Force, but died an alcoholic death in 1962. He distinguished himself in World War II as a capable airman. Svetlana emigrated to the United States in 1967.

Stalin's mother died in 1937; he did not attend the funeral but instead sent a wreath.

In March 2001, Russian Independent Television NTV discovered a previously unknown grandson living in Novokuznetsk. Yuri Davydov told NTV that his father had told him of his lineage, but, because the campaign against Stalin's cult of personality was in full swing at the time, he was told to keep quiet.

Soviet dissident writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, had mentioned a son being born to Stalin and his common law wife, Lida, in 1918 during Stalin's exile in northern Siberia.

Rise to power

Image:Stalin.jpg

In 1912 Stalin was co-opted to the Bolshevik Central Committee at the Prague Party Conference. In 1917 Stalin was editor of Pravda, the official Communist newspaper, while Lenin and much of the Bolshevik leadership were in exile.

Following the February Revolution, Stalin and the editorial board took a position in favor of supporting Kerensky's provisional government and, it is alleged, went to the extent of declining to publish Lenin's articles arguing for the provisional government to be overthrown. When Lenin returned from exile, he wrote the April Theses which put forward his position.

In April 1917, Stalin was elected to the Central Committee with the third highest vote total in the party and was subsequently elected to the Politburo of the Central Committee (May 1917); he held this position for the remainder of his life.

According to many accounts, Stalin only played a role in the revolution of November 7. Other writers such as Adam Ulam stressed that each man in the Central Committee had a job he was assigned to do.

The following summary of Trotsky's Role in 1917 was given by Stalin in Pravda, November 6th 1918:

All practical work in connection with the organisation of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organised.

Note: Although this passage was quoted in Stalin's book The October Revolution issued in 1934, it was expunged in Stalin's Works released in 1949.

Later, in 1924, Stalin himself created a myth around a so-called "Party Centre" which "directed" all practical work pertaining to the uprising, consisting of himself, Sverdlov, Dzherzhinsky, Uritsky, and Bubnov. However, no evidence was ever shown for the activity of this "centre", which was anyway, subordinate to the Military Revolutionary Council, headed by Trotsky.

During the Russian Civil War and Polish-Soviet War, Stalin was a political commissar in the Red Army at various fronts. Stalin's first government position was as People's Commissar of Nationalities Affairs (1917–1923).

Also, he was People's Commissar of the Workers and Peasants Inspection (1919–1922), a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the republic (1920–23) and a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets (from 1917).

See also: Stalin in the Russian Civil War

Campaign against the Left and Right Opposition

On April 3, 1922, Stalin was made general secretary of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), a post (he attempted to decline, although this was refused) that he subsequently built up into the most powerful in the country.

This position was an unwanted one within the party (Stalin was sometimes referred to as "Comrade Card-Index" by fellow party members) but actually had potential as a power base. The position had great influence on those who joined the party. This allowed him to fill the party with his allies.

Stalin's accumulation of personal power increasingly alarmed the dying Lenin, and in his last writings he famously called for the removal of the "rude" Stalin, also stating that Stalin's views were too extreme and violent.

However, this document was suppressed by members of the Central Committee, many of whom were also criticised by the Bolshevik leader in the testament.

After Lenin's death in January 1924, Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev together governed the party, placing themselves ideologically between Trotsky (on the left wing of the party) and Bukharin (on the right).

During this period, Stalin abandoned the traditional Bolshevik emphasis on international revolution in favor of a policy of building "Socialism in One Country", in contrast to Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution.

In the struggle for leadership one thing was certain, whoever ended up ruling the party had to be considered very loyal to Lenin. Stalin fostered a cult of personality around Lenin, and emphasized his own close relationship with the dead leader. Stalin organized Lenin's funeral and made a speech professing undying loyalty to Lenin, in almost religious terms.[2]

He undermined Trotsky, who was sick at the time, by misleading him about the date of the funeral. Therefore despite the fact that Trotsky was Lenin’s associate throughout the early days of the Soviet regime, he lost ground to Stalin. Stalin made great play of the fact that Trotsky had joined the Bolsheviks just before the revolution, and publicized Trotsky's pre-revolutionary disagreements with Lenin.

Stalin also undermined Zinoviev and Kamenev by emphasising their vote against the insurrection in 1917. Stalin had another advantage in that was that he was considered to be a man of the people because he came from a poor background.

Another event that helped Stalin's rise was the fact that Trotsky came out against publication of Lenin's Testament in which he pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of Stalin and Trotsky and the other main players, and suggested that he be succeeded by a small group of people.

An important feature of Stalin’s rise to power is the way that he manipulated his opponents and played them off against each other. Stalin formed a "troika" of himself, Zinoviev, and Kamenev against Trotsky. When Trotsky had been eliminated Stalin then joined Bukharin and Rykov against Zinoviev and Kamenev. Zinoviev and Kamenev then turned to Lenin's widow, Krupskaya; they formed the United Opposition in July 1926.

In 1927 during the 15th Party Congress Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the party and Kamenev lost his seat on the Central Committee. Stalin soon turned against the "Right Opposition", represented by his erstwhile allies, Bukharin and Rykov.

A key role in Stalin's success was in the power that his position as Secretary General gave him of being able to place people he trusted in key positions.

Another aspect that helped Stalin come to power was the fact that the people were tired from the world war and the civil war and that Stalin's policy of concentrating in building "Socialism in One Country" was seen as a respite from war.

Stalin took great advantage of the ban on factionalism which meant that no group could openly go against the policies of the leader of the party because that meant creation of an opposition.

Stalin's rise to power was helped by the fact that his adversaries, particularly Trotsky, underestimated Stalin's political skills, and his ability to form key strategic alliances.

By 1928 (the first year of the Five-Year Plans) Stalin was supreme among the leadership, and the following year Trotsky was exiled because of his opposition. Having also outmaneuvered Bukharin's Right Opposition and now advocating collectivization and industrialization, Stalin can be said to have exercised control over the party and the country.

However, as the popularity of other leaders such as Sergei Kirov and the so-called Ryutin Affair were to demonstrate, Stalin did not achieve absolute power until the Great Purge of 1936–38.

Stalin and changes in Soviet society

Industrialization

Main article: Industrialization of the USSR

The Russian Civil War and wartime communism had a devastating effect on the country's economy. Industrial output in 1922 was 13% of that in 1914. A recovery followed under the New Economic Policy, which allowed a degree of market flexibility within the context of socialism.

Under Stalin's direction, this was replaced by a system of centrally ordained "Five-Year Plans" in the late 1920s. These called for a highly ambitious program of state-guided crash industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture.

With no seed capital, little international trade, and virtually no modern infrastructure, Stalin's government financed industrialization by both restraining consumption on the part of ordinary Soviet citizens, to ensure that capital went for re-investment into industry, and by ruthless extraction of wealth from the peasantry.

In 1933, worker's real earnings sank to about one-tenth of the 1926 level. There was also use of the unpaid labor of both common and political prisoners in labor camps and the frequent "mobilization" of communists and Komsomol members for various construction projects. The Soviet Union also made use of foreign experts, e.g. British engineer Stephen Adams, to instruct their workers and improve their manufacturing processes.

In spite of early breakdowns and failures, the first two Five-Year Plans achieved rapid industrialization from a very low economic base. While there is general agreement among historians that the Soviet Union achieved significant levels of economic growth under Stalin, the precise rate of this growth is disputed.

Official Soviet estimates placed it at 13.9%, Russian and Western estimates gave lower figures of 5.8% and even 2.9%. Indeed, one estimate is that Soviet growth temporarily was much higher after Stalin's death.[3] [4]

Collectivization

Main article: Collectivization in the USSR

Image:Stalin 02.jpg

Stalin's regime moved to force collectivization of agriculture. This was in order to increase agricultural output from large-scale mechanized farms, to bring the peasantry under more direct political control, and to make tax collection more efficient.

Collectivization meant drastic social changes, on a scale not seen since the abolition of serfdom in 1861, and alienation from control of the land and its produce. Collectivization also meant a drastic drop in living standards for many peasants, and it faced violent reaction among the peasantry.

In the first years of collectivization, it was estimated that industrial and agricultural production would rise by 200% and 50%,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> respectively; however, agricultural production actually dropped.

Stalin blamed this unexpected drop on kulaks (rich peasants), who resisted collectivization. Therefore those defined as "kulaks," "kulak helpers," and later "ex-kulaks" were to be shot, placed into Gulag labor camps, or deported to remote areas of the country, depending on the charge.

The two-stage progress of collectivization — interrupted for a year by Stalin's famous editorial, "Dizzy with success" (Pravda, March 2, 1930), and "Reply to Collective Farm Comrades" (Pravda, April 3, 1930) — is a prime example of his capacity for tactical retreats.

Many historians agree that the disruption caused by collectivization was largely responsible for major faminesTemplate:Fact (Chairman Mao Zedong of China would trigger a similar famine in 1959 to 1961 with his Great Leap Forward).

During the Holodomor in Ukraine and the Kuban region not only "kulaks" were killed. The controversial Black Book of Communism and other sources document that all grains were taken from areas that did not meet targets, including the next year's seed grain.

It also claims that peasants were forced to remain in the starving areas, sales of train tickets were stopped, and the State Political Directorate set up barriers to prevent people from leaving the starving areas.

The Soviet Union exported grain while millions of Soviet citizens were starving to death. In Ukraine today the 1932–1933 famine is often described as "the Holodomor" (Ukrainian: Голодомор), or the "Ukrainian Genocide".

However, famine also affected various other parts of the USSR. The death toll of the famine is estimated between five and ten million people. The worst crop failure of late tsarist Russia, in 1892, caused 375,000 to 400,000 deaths.[5]

Soviet authorities and other historians argued that tough measures and the rapid collectivization of agriculture were necessary in order to achieve an equally rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union and ultimately win World War II.

This is disputed by other historians such as Alec Nove, who claim that the Soviet Union industrialized in spite of, rather than thanks to, its collectivized agriculture.

Science

Main article: Research in the Soviet Union

Science in the Soviet Union was under strict ideological control, along with art and literature. On the positive side, there was significant progress in "ideologically safe" domains, owing to the free Soviet education system and state-financed research.

However, in several cases the consequences of ideological pressure were dramatic — the most notable examples being the "bourgeois pseudosciences" genetics and cybernetics.

In the late 1940s there were also attempts to suppress special and general relativity, as well as quantum mechanics, on grounds of "idealism."

However, the chief Soviet physicists made it clear that without using these theories, they would be unable to create a nuclear bomb.

Linguistics was the only area of Soviet academic thought to which Stalin personally and directly contributed. At the beginning of Stalin's rule, the dominant figure in Soviet linguistics was Nikolai Yakovlevich Marr, who argued that language is a class construction and that language structure is determined by the economic structure of society.

Stalin, who had previously written about language policy as People's Commissar for Nationalities, felt he grasped enough of the underlying issues to coherently oppose this simplistic Marxist formalism, ending Marr's ideological dominance over Soviet linguistics. Stalin's principal work discussing linguistics is a small essay, "Marxism and Linguistic Questions."<ref>Joseph V. Stalin (1950-06-20). "Concerning Marxism in Linguistics", Pravda. Available online as Marxism and Problems of Linguistics including other articles and letters published (also in Pravda) soon after February 8 and July 4, 1950.</ref>

Although no great theoretical contributions or insights came from it, neither were there any apparent errors in Stalin's understanding of linguistics; his influence arguably relieved Soviet linguistics from the sort of ideologically driven theory that dominated genetics.

Scientific research was hindered by the fact that many scientists were sent to labor camps (including Lev Landau, later a Nobel Prize winner, who spent a year in prison in 1938–1939) or executed (e.g. Lev Shubnikov, shot in 1937). They were persecuted for their dissident views, not for their research.

Nevertheless, much progress was made under Stalin in some areas of science and technology. It laid the ground for the famous achievements of Soviet science in the 1950s, such as the development of the BESM-1 computer in 1953 and the launching of Sputnik in 1957.

Indeed, many politicians in the United States began to fear, after the "Sputnik crisis," that their country had been eclipsed by the Soviet Union in science and in public education.

Social services

Stalin's government placed heavy emphasis on the provision of free medical services. Campaigns were carried out against typhus, cholera, and malaria; the number of doctors was increased as rapidly as facilities and training would permit; and death and infant mortality rates steadily declined.

Education in primary schools continued to be free and was expanded, with many more Soviet citizens learning to read and write, and higher education also expanded. Stalin was the only ruler in the history of Russia and Soviet Union who established fees for secondary education in public schools.

With the industrialization and heavy human losses due to the World War II and repressions the generation that survived under Stalin saw a major expansion in job opportunities, especially for women.

Culture and religion

It was during Stalin's reign that the official and long-lived style of Socialist Realism was established for painting, sculpture, music, drama and literature.

Previously fashionable "revolutionary" expressionism, abstract art, and avant-garde experimentation were discouraged or denounced as "formalism".

Careers were made and broken, some more than once. Famous figures were not only repressed, but often persecuted, tortured and executed, both "revolutionaries" (among them Isaac Babel, Vsevolod Meyerhold) and "non-conformists" (for example, Osip Mandelstam).

A minority, both representing the "Soviet man" (Arkady Gaidar) and remnants of the older pre-revolutionary Russia (Konstantin Stanislavski), thrived. A number of former emigrés returned to the Soviet Union, among them Alexei Tolstoi in 1925, Alexander Kuprin in 1936, and Alexander Vertinsky in 1943.

It is of note that Anna Akhmatova was subjected to several cycles of suppression and rehabilitation, but was never herself arrested, although her first husband, poet Nikolai Gumilev, had been shot in 1921, and her son, historian Lev Gumilev, spent two decades in a gulag.

The degree of Stalin's personal involvement in general and specific developments has been assessed variously. His name, however, was constantly invoked during his reign in discussions of culture as in just about everything else; and in several famous cases, his opinion was final.

Stalin's occasional beneficence showed itself in strange ways. For example, Mikhail Bulgakov was driven to poverty and despair; yet, after a personal appeal to Stalin, he was allowed to continue working.

His play, The Days of the Turbines, with its sympathetic treatment of an anti-Bolshevik family caught up in the Civil War, was finally staged, apparently also on Stalin's intervention, and began a decades-long uninterrupted run at the Moscow Arts Theater.

Bulgakov was relatively fortunate — in the vast majority of cases, appeals had little effect and the slightest displeasure caused to others or guilt by any association was tantamount to a harsh sentence, if not death.

Some insights into Stalin's political and esthetic thinking might perhaps be gleaned by reading his favorite novel, Pharaoh, by the Polish writer Bolesław Prus, a historical novel on mechanisms of political power.

Similarities have been pointed out between this novel and Sergei Eisenstein's film, Ivan the Terrible, produced under Stalin's tutelage.

In architecture, a Stalinist Empire Style (basically, updated neoclassicism on a very large scale, exemplified by the seven skyscrapers of Moscow) replaced the constructivism of the 1920s.

An amusing anecdote has it that the Moskva Hotel in Moscow was built with mismatched side wings because Stalin had mistakenly signed off on both of the two proposals submitted, and the architects had been too afraid to clarify the matter. In actuality the hotel had been built by two independent teams of architects that had differing visions of how the hotel should look.

Stalin's role in the fortunes of the Russian Orthodox Church is complex. Continuous persecution in the 1930s resulted in its near-extinction: by 1939, active parishes numbered in the low hundreds (down from 54,000 in 1917), many churches had been levelled, and tens of thousands of priests, monks and nuns were persecuted. During World War II, however, the Church was allowed a revival, as a patriotic organization: thousands of parishes were reactivated, until a further round of suppression in Khrushchev's time.

The Russian Orthodox Church Synod's recognition of the Soviet government and of Stalin personally led to a schism with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia that remains not fully healed to the present day.

Just days before Stalin's death, certain religious sects were outlawed and persecuted.

Stalin's rule had a largely disruptive effect on the numerous indigenous cultures that made up the Soviet Union. The politics of the Korenization and forced development of "Cultures National by Form, Socialist by their substance" was arguably beneficial to later generations of indigenous cultures in allowing them to integrate more easily into Russian society.

However, the unification of the cultures evident from the second half of the Stalin citation, was very harmful. The political repressions and purges had even more devastating repercussions on the indigenous cultures than on the urban ones, since the cultural elite of the indigenous culture was often not very numerous.

The traditional lives of many peoples in the Siberian, Central Asian and Caucasian provinces was upset and large populations were displaced and scattered in order to prevent nationalist uprisings.

Many religions popular in the ethnic regions of the Soviet Union including the Roman Catholic Church, Uniats, Baptists, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. underwent the same or worse ordeals as the Orthodox churches in other parts: thousands of monks were persecuted, and hundreds of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, sacred monuments, monasteries and so on were razed.

Purges and deportations

The purges

Main article: Great Purge
Image:Execute 346 Berias letter to Politburo.jpg Image:Execute 346 Stalins resolution.jpg Image:Execute 346 Politburo passes.jpg
Left: Beria's January 1940 letter to Stalin, asking permission to execute 346 "enemies of the CPSU and of the Soviet authorities" who conducted "counter-revolutionary, right-Trotskyite plotting and spying activities."
Middle: Stalin's handwriting: "за" (affirmative).
Right: The Politburo's decision is signed by Secretary Stalin.

Stalin, as head of the Politburo, consolidated near-absolute power in the 1930s that started with a Great Purge of the party, in an attempt to expel opportunists and counter-revolutionary infiltrators. Those targeted by the purge were often expelled from the party, however more severe measures ranged from banishment to the Gulag labor camps to execution after trials held by NKVD troikas.

The Purges commenced after the assassination of Sergei M. Kirov. This led the communist party to begin tightening security. With the knowledge that an invasion by Germany was likely, it was believed by many in the party that it was necessary to remove from power the counter-revolutionaries that had joined its ranks with opportunistic motives.

Several trials known as the Moscow Trials were held, but the procedures were replicated throughout the country. There were four key trials during this period: the Trial of the Sixteen (August 1936); Trial of the Seventeen (January 1937); the trial of Red Army generals, including Marshal Tukhachevsky (June 1937); and finally the Trial of the Twenty One (including Bukharin) in March 1938.

Most notably in the case of alleged Nazi collaborator Tukhachevsky, many military leaders were convicted of treason. The shakeup in command may have cost the Soviet Union dearly during the German invasion of 22 June, 1941, and its aftermath. On the other hand, it is possible that a coup was avoided.

Trotsky's August 1940 assassination in Mexico, where he had lived in exile since 1936, eliminated the last of Stalin's opponents among the former Party leadership. Only three members of the "Old Bolsheviks" (Lenin's Politburo) now remained — Stalin himself, "the all-Union Chieftain" (всесоюзный староста) Mikhail Kalinin, and Chairman of Sovnarkom Vyacheslav Molotov.

The repression of so many formerly high-ranking revolutionaries and party members led Leon Trotsky to claim that a "river of blood" separated Stalin's regime from that of Lenin. Solzhenitsyn alleges that Stalin drew inspiration from Lenin's regime with the presence of labor camps and the executions of political opponents that occurred during the Russian Civil War.

Image:The Commissar Vanishes 1.jpg
Image:The Commissar Vanishes 2.jpg
Nikolai Yezhov, the young man strolling with Stalin to his left, was shot in 1940. He was edited out from a photo by Soviet censors. Such retouching was a common occurrence during Stalin's reign.

No segment of society was left untouched during the purges. Article 58 of the legal code, listing prohibited "anti-Soviet activities", was applied in the broadest manner. Initially, the execution lists for the enemies of the people were confirmed by the Politburo.

Over time the procedure was greatly simplified and delegated down the line of command. People would inform on others arbitrarily, to attempt to redeem themselves, or to gain small retributions. The flimsiest pretexts were often enough to brand someone an "Enemy of the People," starting the cycle of public persecution and abuse, often proceeding to interrogation, torture and deportation, if not death.

Nadezhda Mandelstam, the widow of the poet Osip Mandelstam and one of the key memoirists of the Purges, recalls being shouted at by Akhmatova, also a famous Russian poet: "Don't you understand? They are arresting people for nothing now?" The Russian word troika gained a new meaning: a quick, simplified trial by a committee of three subordinated to NKVD.

Towards the end of the purge, the Politburo relieved NKVD head Nikolai Yezhov, from his position for overzealousness. He was subsequently executed. Some historians such as Amy Knight and Robert Conquest postulate that Stalin had Yezhov and his predecessor, Genrikh Yagoda, removed in order to deflect blame from himself.

In parallel with the purges, efforts were done to rewrite the history in Soviet textbooks and other propaganda materials. Notable people killed by NKVD were removed from the texts and photographs as if they never existed. Gradually, the history of revolution was transformed to a story about just two key characters: Lenin and Stalin.

Deportations

Main article: Population transfer in the Soviet Union

Shortly before, during and immediately after World War II, Stalin conducted a series of deportations on a huge scale which profoundly affected the ethnic map of the Soviet Union.

Over 1.5 million people were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. Separatism, resistance to Soviet rule and collaboration with the invading Germans were cited as the official reasons for the deportations.

The following ethnic groups were deported completely or partially: Ukrainians, Poles, Koreans, Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, Meskhetian Turks, Finns, Bulgarians, Greeks, Armenians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Jews. Large numbers of Kulaks, regardless of their nationality, were resettled to Siberia and Central Asia.

In February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev condemned the deportations as a violation of Leninist principles, and reversed most of them, although it was not until as late as 1991 that the Tatars, Meskhs and Volga Germans were allowed to return en masse to their homelands. The deportations had a profound effect on the peoples of the Soviet Union. The memory of the deportations played a major part in the separatist movements in the Baltic States, Tatarstan and Chechnya, even today.

Anti-Semitism

Image:Krokodil-doc-plot-01-1953.jpg

Even though Communism theoretically rejects every form of national discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and many Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya to achieve this goal. By the end of the 1940s the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, including Yevsektsiya. Stalin was reportedly wary of Jewish activities and especially after World War II, many anti-Semitic campagns and purges were organsied. The subject has been widely covered in Edvard Radzinksi's biography of Stalin.

In a December 1, 1952 Politburo session, Stalin announced: "Every Jew is a nationalist and potential agent of the American intelligence." (Recorded by Vice-Chair of the Sovmin Vyacheslav Malyshev). The anti-Semitic campaign of 1948-1953 against so-called "rootless cosmopolitans," destruction of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the fabrication of the "Doctors' plot," the rise of "Zionology" were officially carried out under the banner of "anti-Zionism," but the use of this term could not obscure the anti-Semitic content of these campaigns, and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West and domestically.

The night of August 13, 1952, on the orders of Joseph Stalin, 13 of the most prominent Yiddish writers of the Soviet Union were executed. Among the victims were Peretz Markish, David Bergelson and Itzik Fefer (this was called Ночь казненных поэтов, or Night of Murdered Poets).

Similar purges were organised in Eastern Bloc countries (see Prague Trials).

See also History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union--Stalin years

Death toll

It is generally agreed by conventional historians that if war, famines, prison and labor camp mortality, and state terrorism (deportations and political purges) are taken into account, the number of deaths that occurred under Stalin is in the millions.

How many millions died under Stalin is greatly disputed. The 1926 census shows the population of the Soviet Union at 147 million and in 1937 another census found a population of between 162 and 163 million. This was 14 million less than the projected population value and was suppressed as a "wrecker's census" with the census takers severely punished. A census was taken again in 1939, but its published figure of 170 million has been generally attributed directly to the decision of Stalin.<ref>Hugo S. Cunningham (1998 & 2001). Revisionists vs. Anti Soviets. URL accessed on 2006-04-03.</ref> Even still, the 1939 census displayed a 3.2 million to 5.5 million excess deaths which leaves the reports of a 1937 census subject to skepticism. Note that the figure of 14 million does not have to imply 14 million additional deaths, since as many as 3 million may be births that never took place due to reduced fertility and choice. Note also that these figures ignore the death toll from the early and late years of Stalin's regime.

Since "the margin of error" with regard to the number of Stalin's victims is virtually impossible to narrow down to a universally accepted figure, various historians have come up with extremely varying ([6]) estimates of the number of victims, from under a million to, unrealistically, over 50 million deaths.

Supporters of various numbers have claimed support for their numbers using official records in Moscow which were opened after the breakup of the USSR in 1991. For example, the Black Book of Communism gives 20 million. Other studies give lower numbers. <ref name="dt1">Stephen Wheatcroft and R.W Davies "Years of Hunger" (2004)</ref> <ref name="dt2">J.Arch Getty "Slavic Review" (1993)</ref>

The Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council has stated that according to cautious estimations (exact data is not available) the number of people killed by the communist regime in the USSR can be 20 million victims.[7]

The official records in Moscow which were opened after the breakup of the USSR in 1991, puts it at around 4 million. <ref name="dt1" /> <ref name="dt2" />

See also: Demographics of the Soviet Union

World War II

Image:Stalin-Molotov.jpg

After failure of Soviet and Franco-British talks on mutual defense pact in Moscow, Stalin began to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Hitler's Germany. In his speech on August 19, 1939, Stalin prepared his comrades for the great turn in Soviet policy, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany. According to a controversial Russian author living in the UK, Viktor Suvorov, Stalin expressed in the speech an expectation that the war would be the best opportunity to weaken both the Western nations and Nazi Germany, and make Germany suitable for "Sovietization". Whether this speech was ever delivered to public and what its content was is still debated. (see Stalin's speech on August 19, 1939).

Officially a non-aggression treaty only, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had a "secret" annex according to which Central Europe was divided into the two powers' respective spheres of influence. The exact motivations behind this pact are disputed, but it appears that neither side expected it to last very long.

On September 1, 1939, the German invasion of Poland started World War II. According to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (popularly known as the Hitler–Stalin Pact), Eastern Poland where the majority of inhabitants were Ukrainian and Belarussian, was in the Soviet sphere of influence.

Hence, Stalin decided to intervene, and on September 17 the Red Army entered eastern Poland. Subsequently, western Ukraine and Belarus were unified with the Ukraine and Belarus SSRs.

According to the secret annex of the pact, the USSR was promised an eastern part of Poland, primarily populated with Ukrainians and Belorussians in case of its dissolution, as long as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland were recognized as parts of Soviet sphere of influence.

In November 1939, Stalin sent troops over the Finnish border provoking war. The Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland proved to be more difficult than Stalin and the Red Army were prepared for, and the Soviets sustained high casualties. The Soviets prevailed in March, 1940, but the problems of the Soviet army had been revealed to the rest of the world, including Germany.

On March 5, 1940, Beriya signed an order of execution for more than 25,700 Polish "nationalist, educators and counterrevolutionary" activists in the parts of the Ukraine and Belarus republics that had been annexed from Poland. This event has become known as the Katyn Massacre; over 20,000 were Polish officers.

In June 1941, Hitler broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. Although expecting war with Germany, Stalin may not have expected an invasion to come so soon — and the Soviet Union was largely still unprepared for this invasion. An alternative theory suggested by Viktor Suvorov claims that Stalin had made aggressive preparations from the late 1930s on and was about to invade Germany in summer 1941. Thus, he believes Hitler only managed to forestall Stalin and the German invasion was in essence a pre-emptive strike. This theory was supported by Mikhail Meltyukhov (see Stalin's Missed Chance) and Edvard Radzinsky (see Stalin: The First In-Depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives). Most Western historians reject this thesis, though.

Until the last moment, Stalin had sought to avoid any obvious defensive preparation which might provoke German attack, in the hope of buying time to modernize and strengthen his military forces. Even after the attack commenced, Stalin appeared unwilling to accept the fact and, according to some historians, was too stunned to react appropriately for a number of days Template:Fact.

In the diary of General Fedor von Boch, it is also mentioned that the Abwehr fully expected a Soviet attack against German forces in Poland no later than 1942. Such speculations are difficult to substantiate, however, as information on the Soviet Army from 1939 to 1941 remains classified, but it is known that the Soviets had received some warnings of the German invasion through their foreign intelligence agents, such as Richard Sorge.

The Germans initially made huge advances, capturing and killing millions of Soviet troops. Hitler's experts had expected eight weeks of war, and early indications evidenced their prescience.

In response on November 6, 1941, Stalin addressed the whole nation of the Soviet Union for the second time (the first time was earlier that year on July 2).

The Soviet Red Army put up fierce resistance during the war's early stages, but was often ineffective against the better-equipped, well-trained and experienced German forces and also due to an ineffective defense doctrine. The invaders were eventually driven back in December 1941 near Moscow. Stalin then worked with independent-minded Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov to orchestrate the decisive German defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Image:Big 3.jpg

Stalin met in several conferences with Churchill and/or Roosevelt in Moscow, Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam to plan military strategy (Truman taking the place of the deceased Roosevelt).

In these conferences, his first appearances on the world stage, Stalin proved to be a formidable negotiator. Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary noted:

"Marshal Stalin as a negotiator was the toughest proposition of all. Indeed, after something like thirty years' experience of international conferences of one kind and another, if I had to pick a team for going into a conference room, Stalin would be my first choice. Of course the man was ruthless and of course he knew his purpose. He never wasted a word. He never stormed, he was seldom even irritated."<ref>Anthony Eden (1965). Memoirs: The Reckoning.</ref>

His shortcomings as strategist are frequently noted regarding massive Soviet loss of life and early Soviet defeats. An example of it is the summer offensive of 1942, which led to even more losses by the Red Army and recapture of initiative by the Germans. Stalin eventually recognized his lack of know-how and relied on his professional generals to conduct the war.

Yet Stalin did rapidly move Soviet industrial production east of the Volga River, far from Luftwaffe-reach, to sustain the Red Army's war machine with astonishing success. Additionally, Stalin was well aware that other European armies had utterly disintegrated when faced with Nazi military efficacy and responded effectively by subjecting his army to galvanizing terror and unrevolutionary, nationalist appeals to patriotism. He even appealed to the Russian Orthodox church and images of national Russian heroes for that matter.

According to Stalin's Order No. 227 of July 27, 1942, any commander or commissar of a regiment, battalion or army, who allowed retreat without permission from above was subject to military tribunal.

Image:Stalintime2.jpeg

Other act by Supreme Council stated that the families of those who surrendered were subject to administrative penalty. The surrendered Soviet soldiers were declared traitors, however most of those who survived the brutality of German captivity were mobilized again as they were freed. Between 5% and 10% of them were sent to gulags.

In the war's opening stages, the retreating Red Army also sought to deny resources to the enemy through a scorched earth policy of destroying the infrastructure and food supplies of areas before the Germans could seize them. Unfortunately, this, along with abuse by German troops, caused inconceivable starvation and suffering among the civilian population that were left behind.

The Soviet Union bore the brunt of civilian and military losses in World War II. At least 8,668,400 Red Army personnel and 20 million civilians died. The Nazis considered Slavs to be "sub-human", and many people believe the Nazis killed Slavs as an ethnically targeted genocide.

This concept of Slavic inferiority was also the reason why Hitler did not accept into his army many Soviet citizens who wanted to fight the regime until 1944, when the war was lost for Germany.

In the Soviet Union, World War II left a huge deficit of men of the wartime fighting-age generation. To this day the war is remembered very vividly in Russia, Belarus, and other parts of the former Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War, and May 9, "Victory Day", is one of Russia's biggest national holidays.

After the war millions of German and other prisoners of war died in the Gulags. Returning Soviet soldiers who had surrendered were viewed with suspicion and some were killed.[8]

Post-war era

Image:ZhukovStalinMaus.jpg

Domestically, Stalin was presented as a great wartime leader who had led the Soviets to victory against the Nazis. By the end of the 1940s, Russian nationalism increased. For instance, some inventions and scientific discoveries were reclaimed by ethnic Russian researchers.

Examples include the boiler, reclaimed by father and son Cherepanovs; the electric bulb, by Yablochkov and Lodygin; the radio, by Popov; and the airplane, by Mozhaysky. Stalin's internal repressive policies continued (including in newly acquired territories), but never reached the extremes of the 1930s.

Internationally, Stalin viewed Soviet consolidation of power as a necessary step to protect the USSR by surrounding it with countries with friendly governments, to act as a cordon sanitaire (buffer) against possible invaders (while the West sought a similar buffer against communism).

He had hoped that American withdrawal and demobilization would lead to increased communist influence, especially in Europe. Each side might view the other's defensive actions as destabilizing provocations and these security dilemmas frayed relations between the Soviet Union and its former World War II western allies and led to a prolonged period of tension and distrust between East and West known as the Cold War (see also Iron curtain).

The Red Army ended World War II occupying much of the territory that had been formerly held by the Axis countries:

In Asia, the Red Army had overrun Manchuria in the last month of the war and then also occupied Korea above the 38th Parallel, with either the West's invitation or agreement. Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party, though receptive to minimal Soviet support, defeated the pro-Western and heavily American-assisted Chinese Nationalist Party in the Chinese Civil War.

The Communists controlled mainland China while the Nationalists held a rump state on the island of Formosa (a.k.a. Taiwan). The Soviet Union soon after recognized Mao's communist People's Republic of China, which it regarded as a new ally.

Diplomatic relations reached a high point with the signing of the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. Both communist states provided military support to a new communist state in North Korea, which invaded U.S.-allied South Korea in 1950 to start the Korean War.

Image:Ac.maostalin.jpg

In Europe, there were Soviet occupation zones in Germany and Austria. Hungary and Poland were under practical military occupation. From 1946-1948 communist governments were imposed in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and home-grown communist dictatorships rose to power in Yugoslavia and Albania.

These nations became known as the "Communist Bloc." Britain and the United States supported the anti-communists in the Greek Civil War and suspected the Soviets of supporting the Greek communists although Stalin ended his support while Yugoslavia's Josip Broz Tito (Tito) continued his support of the Greek communists. Albania remained an ally of the Soviet Union, but Yugoslavia broke with the USSR in 1948. Greece, Italy and France were under the strong influence of local communist parties, which were at the very least friendly towards Moscow.

Both Superpowers viewed Germany as key. In retaliation to the Western formation of Trizonia, the Soviets blockaded West Berlin, which was under British, French, and U.S. occupation, to force these powers into surrendering their occupation zones in the city.

However, the Berlin Blockade failed due to the massive aerial resupply campaign carried out by the Western powers known as the Berlin Airlift. In 1949, Stalin conceded defeat and ended the blockade. After West Germany was formed by the union of the three Western occupation zones, the Soviets declared East Germany a separate country in 1949, ruled by the communists.

In Stalin's last year of life, one of his last major foreign policy initiatives was the 1952 Stalin Note for German reunification and Superpower disengagement from Central Europe, but Britain, France, and the United States controversially rejected the offer.

Stalin as theorist

Stalin made few contributions to Communist (or, more specifically, Marxist-Leninist) theory, but the contributions he did make were accepted and upheld by all Soviet political scientists during his rule.

Among Stalin's contributions were his "Marxism and the National Question", a work praised by Lenin; his "Trotskyism or Leninism", which was a factor in the "liquidation of Trotskyism as an ideological trend" within the CPSU(B).

Stalin's Collected Works (in 13 volumes) was released in 1949. A subsequent 16 volume American Edition appeared, in which one volume consisted of the book "History of the CPSU(B) Short Course", although when released in 1938 this book was credited to a commission of the Central Committee.

In 1936, Stalin announced that the society of the Soviet Union consisted of two non-antagonistic classes: workers and kolkhoz peasantry. These corresponded to the two different forms of property over the means of production that existed in the Soviet Union: state property (for the workers) and collective property (for the peasantry). In addition to these, Stalin distinguished the stratum of intelligentsia. The concept of "non-antagonistic classes" was entirely new to Leninist theory.

Stalin and his supporters, in his own time and since, have highlighted the notion that socialism can be built and consolidated in just one country, even one as underdeveloped as Russia was during the 1920s, and indeed that this might be the only means in which it could be built in a hostile environment. <ref>Joseph V.Stalin. "Voprosy leninizma", 2nd ed., Moscow, p. 589; (1951) "Istoricheskij materializm", ed. by F. B. Konstantinov, Moscow, p. 402; P. Calvert (1982). "The Concept of Class", New York, pp. 144–145.</ref>

Death

Image:Stalin'sbody.jpg

On March 1, 1953, after an all-night dinner with interior minister Lavrenty Beria and future premiers Georgi Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin collapsed in his room, having probably suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.

Although his guards thought it odd that he did not rise at his usual time the next day they were under orders not to disturb him and he was not discovered until that evening. He died four days later, on March 5, 1953, at the age of 74, and was buried on March 9. Officially, the cause of death was listed as a cerebral hemorrhage. His body was preserved in Lenin's Mausoleum until October 31, 1961.

As part of the process of de-Stalinization, his body was removed from the Mausoleum and buried next to the Kremlin walls.

It has been suggested that Stalin was assassinated. The ex-Communist exile Avtorkhanov argued this point as early as 1975. The political memoirs of Vyacheslav Molotov, published in 1993, claimed strong evidence that Beria had boasted to Molotov that he poisoned Stalin: "I took him out."

Khrushchev recorded in his memoirs that Beria had, immediately after the stroke, gone about "spewing hatred against [Stalin] and mocking him", and then, when Stalin showed signs of consciousness, dropped to his knees and kissed his hand. When Stalin fell unconscious again, Beria immediately stood and spat.

In 2003, a joint group of Russian and American historians announced their view that Stalin ingested warfarin, a powerful rat poison that inhibits coagulation of the blood and so predisposes to hemorrhagic stroke (cerebral hemorrhage). Since it is flavorless, warfarin is a plausible weapon of murder. The facts of Stalin's death, however, will probably never be known with certainty.

His demise arrived at a convenient time for Beria and others, who feared to be swept away in still another purge. It is believed that Stalin felt Beria's power was too great and threatened his own. Whether or not Beria or another usurper was directly responsible for his death, it is true that the politburo did not summon medical attention for him for more than a day after he was found.

Cult of personality

Image:Roses for Stalin.jpg

Stalin created a cult of personality in the Soviet Union around both himself and Lenin. The embalming of the Soviet founder in Lenin's Mausoleum was performed over the objection of Lenin's widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya. Stalin became the focus of massive adoration and even worship.

Numerous towns, villages and cities were renamed after the Soviet leader (see List of places named after Stalin) and the Stalin Prize and Stalin Peace Prize were named in his honor. He accepted grandiloquent titles (e.g. "Coryphaeus of Science," "Father of Nations," "Brilliant Genius of Humanity," "Great Architect of Communism," "Gardener of Human Happiness," and others), and helped rewrite Soviet history to provide himself a more significant role in the revolution, meanwhile (according to Khrushchev), insisting that he be remembered for "the extraordinary modesty characteristic of truly great people."

Trotsky criticised the cult of personality built around Stalin as being against the values of socialism and Bolshevism by exalting the individual above the party and class and making criticism of Stalin unacceptable. The personality cult reached new levels during the Great Patriotic War with Stalin's name even being included in the new Soviet national anthem.

Image:StalinGerman.jpg

Stalin became the focus of a body of literature including poetry as well as music, paintings and film. Artists and writers vied with each other in egregious sycophancy, crediting Stalin with almost god-like qualities, and suggesting he single-handedly won the Second World War.

It is debatable as to how much Stalin relished the cult surrounding him. The Finnish communist Tuominen records a sarcastic toast proposed by Stalin at a New Year Party in 1935:

Comrades! I want to propose a toast to our patriarch, life and sun, liberator of nations, architect of socialism (he rattled off all the appellations applied to him in those days), Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, and I hope this is the first and last speech made to that genius this evening.<ref>Arvo Tuominen. The Bells of the Kremlin, p. 162.</ref>


In recent years, Stalin's cult has resurged. Millions of Russians, exasperated with the downfall of the economy and instability after the breakup of the Soviet Union, want Stalin back. A recent poll revealed that over thirty-five percent of Russians would vote for Stalin if he were still alive.[9]

An example of re-establishing the Stalin cult is the recent inauguration of a 400 m2 Stalin memorial in Krasnoyarsk, with a statue exactly the size of the so-called Vozhd Naroda in the middle. The memorial had been closed from 1961 up to this day. (Postimees, April 20, 2006)

Policies and accomplishments

Image:Grutas Stalin.jpg

Supporters argue that under Stalin's rule the Soviet Union was transformed from an agricultural nation to a global superpower. The USSR's industrialisation was successful in that the country was able to defend against and eventually defeat the Axis invasion in World War II, though at an enormous cost of human lives.

However, historian Robert Conquest and other Westerners claim that the USSR was bound for industrialisation which was not necessarily enhanced by Bolshevik influence. It has also been argued that Stalin was partially responsible for the initial military disasters and enormous human causalities during WWII, because Stalin eliminated many of the military officers during the purges, especially the most senior ones, and rejected the massive information warning of the German attack.[10]

While Stalin's social and economic policies laid the foundations for the USSR's emergence as a superpower, the harshness with which he conducted Soviet affairs was subsequently repudiated by his successors in the Communist Party leadership, notably the denunciation of Stalinism by Nikita Khrushchev in February 1956. In his "Secret Speech", On the Personality Cult and its Consequences, delivered to a closed session of the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev denounced Stalin for his cult of personality and his regime for "violation of Leninist norms of legality".

However, his immediate successors continued to follow the basic principles of Stalin's rule — the political monopoly of the Communist Party presiding over a command economy and a security service able to suppress dissent. The large-scale purges were never repeated, but the political repression continued.

Informants

During the early 1930s Stalin conceived the idea of having informants. An informant was anyone who reported others to the KGB. Informants were everywhere. Their main task was to report suspected anti-government activities.

Other names

His first name is also transliterated as Josif. His original surname, ჯუღაშვილი (Jughashvili), is also transliterated as Jugashvili. The Russian transliteration is Джугашвили, which is in turn transliterated into English as Dzhugashvili and Djugashvili; – შვილი – shvili is a Georgian suffix meaning "child" or "son".

There are several etymologies of the ჯუღა (jugha) root. In one version, it is the Ossetian for "rubbish"; the name Jugayev is common among Ossetians, and before the revolution the names in South Ossetia were traditionally written with the Georgian suffix, especially among Christianized Ossetians. In a second version, the name derives from the village of Jugaani in Kakhetia, eastern Georgia.

An article in the newspaper Pravda in 1988 claimed that the word derives from the Old Georgian for "steel" which might be the reason for his adoption of the name Stalin. Сталин (Stalin) is derived from combining the Russian сталь (stal), "steel", with the possessive suffix –ин (–in), a formula used by many other Bolsheviks, including Lenin and Bukharin.

It has also been said that, originally, "Stalin" was a conspiratorial nickname which stuck with him.

Like other Bolsheviks, he became commonly known by one of his revolutionary noms de guerre, of which Stalin was only the most prominent. He was also known as Koba (after a Georgian folk hero, a Robin Hood-like brigand); and he is reported to have used at least a dozen other names for the purpose of secret communications. Most of them remain unknown.

Directly following World War II, as the Soviets were negotiating with the Allies, Stalin often sent directions to Molotov as Druzhkov. Among his other nicknames and aliases were Ivanovich, Soso or Sosso (mainly his boyhood name), David, Nizharadze or Nijeradze, and Chizhikov.

Stalin was nicknamed "Uncle Joe" by the Western media. When told of this nickname by Franklin D. Roosevelt, he almost walked out of the Yalta Conference.

Stalin in the arts

  • Robert Steadman: Symphony No. 2: The Death of Stalin tells of the astonishing events surrounding the death and funeral of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The piece was commissioned by Nottingham Youth Orchestra and was premiered by them, conducted by Derek Williams, at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, in March 2003 — the 50th anniversary of his death.
  • Stalin — A 1992 Hollywood movie.
  • The Inner Circle — A 1991 Hollywood movie.

Notes

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Further reading

See also

References

External links

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{{Persondata |NAME=Stalin, Jossif Wissarionowitsch |ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Josef Stalin, Иосиф Сталин (Russian), Jossif Wissarionowitsch Dschugaschwili, იოსებ ჯუღაშვილი (Georgian birthname) |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Dictator of the Soviet Union (1927-1953) |DATE OF BIRTH=18 December, 1878 |PLACE OF BIRTH=Gori, Georgia |DATE OF DEATH=5 March 1953 |PLACE OF DEATH=Moscow, Russia }}Template:Link FA Template:Link FA Template:Link FA

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