Please forward this error screen to 85. Joseph Stalin Joseph Stalin’s forced industrialization of the Soviet Union caused italian name this Soviet child worst man-made famine in history.
Find out more about his life and rise to power in this video. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. However, he ruled by terror, and millions of his own citizens died during his brutal reign. In 1925, the Russian city of Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad. In 1961, as part of the de-Stalinization process, the city, located along Europe’s longest river, the Volga, became known as Volgograd. Today, it is one of Russia’s largest cities and a key industrial center. Stalin grew up poor and an only child.
His father was a shoemaker and alcoholic who beat his son, and his mother was a laundress. As a boy, Stalin contracted smallpox, which left him with lifelong facial scars. As a teen, he earned a scholarship to attend a seminary in the nearby city of Tblisi and study for the priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church. After leaving school, Stalin became an underground political agitator, taking part in labor demonstrations and strikes. He adopted the name Koba, after a fictional Georgian outlaw-hero, and joined the more militant wing of the Marxist Social Democratic movement, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin.
Ekaterina perished from typhus when her son was an infant. They had two children, a boy and a girl. Three years later, in November 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. After Lenin died in 1924, Stalin eventually outmaneuvered his rivals and won the power struggle for control of the Communist Party. By the late 1920s, he had become dictator of the Soviet Union.
Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps. During the second half of the 1930s, Stalin instituted the Great Purge, a series of campaigns designed to rid the Communist Party, the military and other parts of Soviet society from those he considered a threat. Additionally, Stalin built a cult of personality around himself in the Soviet Union. Cities were renamed in his honor.
Soviet history books were rewritten to give him a more prominent role in the revolution and mythologize other aspects of his life. He was the subject of flattering artwork, literature and music, and his name became part of the Soviet national anthem. His government also controlled the Soviet media. His iron will and deft political skills enabled him to play the loyal ally while never abandoning his vision of an expanded postwar Soviet empire. Stalin, who grew increasingly paranoid in his later years, died on March 5, 1953, at age 74, after suffering a stroke.
By some estimates, he was responsible for the deaths of 20 million people during his brutal rule. Access hundreds of hours of historical video, commercial free, with HISTORY Vault. We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us! Sign up now for our newsletter. Learn the history behind today’s headlines with the History Made Every Day newsletter. You can opt out at any time.