GMIH-003 Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin


Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin had a great mustache but was one of the worst and cruelest leaders in history.

Joseph Stalin took over as leader of the Soviet Union after Vladimir Lenin, died in 1924. Stalin ruled up until his own death in 1953. Joseph Stalin was a mean leader who was responsible for the deaths of over 20 million people.

Early Life of Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin as a young man. This photograph was taken sometime around 1902.

Joseph Staling was born in Gori, Georgia just south of Russia. He was born in December of 1878. His birth name was Losif Jughashvili.

When Joseph Stalin was just seven years old he had smallpox (a terrible disease).

He later went to seminary to become a priest but was kicked out for being too radical.

Overall, Joseph Stalin had a very rough childhood.

The Revolution

Boris Kustodiev's 1920 painting "Bolshevik"

Boris Kustodiev’s 1920 painting “Bolshevik”

After leaving the seminary, Stalin joined up with the Bolshevik revolution. This was a secret organization. They followed the communist teachings of Karl Marx. The Bolsheviks were led by Vladimir Lenin.

Stalin became a leader within the Bolsheviks. He led riots and strikes and even raised money by robbing banks and committing crimes.

Soon Stalin became one of Lenin’s top leaders.

Lenin’s Death

Painting of Vladimir Lenin's funeral by I.Brodsky

Painting of Vladimir Lenin’s funeral by I.Brodsky

Vladimir Lenin died in 1924. Stalin had been General Secretary of the Communist Party since 1922.

Joseph Stalin had been growing in power and control. After Lenin’s death, Joseph Stalin took over as sole leader of the Soviet Union.


Joseph Stalin moved the Soviet Union away from agriculture and toward industry. He wanted to strengthen the Soviet Union. He had factories built through the country. These factories focused on producing tanks, guns, and cars. This move from agriculture toward industrialization would be a part of why the Soviet Union was successful against the the Germans in World War II.

Purges and Murder

Joseph Stalin was one of the meanest leaders in world history. If people disagreed with Stalin he had them killed. Whole areas were starved if Joseph Stalin suspected them of disloyalty.

Throughout his rule he would have many people killed or put into slave labor camps. Joseph Stalin would order millions of people he thought were against him to be killed or put into slave labor camps. These were called purges. Historians aren’t sure how many people he had killed, but they estimate between 20 to 40 million.

World War II

Yalta Conference in February 1945. From left to right, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

Yalta Conference in February 1945. From left to right, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

At the start of World War II, Joseph Stalin formed an alliance with Adolf Hitler and Germany. However, Hitler and Stalin did not trust each other nor did they like each other. Germany made a surprise attack when Hitler tried to invade the Soviet Union in 1941.

To try to beat Hitler and the Germans, Joseph Stalin joined the United States and Great Britain. The United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union were called the Allies.

After a terrible war, where many on both sides died, the Germans were defeated.


After World War II, Stalin set up puppet governments in the Eastern European. These governments were really run by the Soviet Union. It was so bad that Winston Churchill said an “Iron Curtain” had descended over Europe.

This started the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States who were the two world super-powers.

Interesting Facts

  • He got the name Stalin while he was a revolutionary. It comes from combining the Russian world for “steel” with “Lenin”.
  • Before Lenin died he wrote in his will that Stalin be removed from power. Lenin wrote that Stalin was a “course, brutish bully”.
  • Stalin created the Gulag prison camps. Criminals and political prisoners were sent to these camps to work as slaves.
  • Before he had the name Stalin, he used the name Koba. Koba was a hero from Russian literature.


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