Name: Joseph Stalin

Alive: 1878- 1953 Dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1929-1953.

Bio: Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953, effectively becoming dictator of the state. Stalin became leader after the death of his predecessor Vladimir Lenin, and thereafter, expanded the role and eliminated any opposition to his own power. Stalin is known for his concept of ‘Socialism in One Country’, his highly centralized and collectivist theories and his defeat of Hitler and fascism in the Second World War. In the post-war period, Stalin successfully led the Soviet Union to becoming one of the two major world superpowers, which culminated in the Cold War. Stalin’s success was phenomenal in transforming Russia into the Soviet Union, which dominated Eastern Europe for much of the twentieth century. Stalin’s legacy, however, is not favourable – his regime was renounced following his death and he has been labelled as a tyrant for the millions of deaths he caused.

Quotes:

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything”

“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas”

“Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem”

Popular Culture:

“Stalin” – film, 1992

“Children of the Revolution” – film, 1996

“Red Monarch” – television movie, 1983

Further Reading:

  • Oleg V. Khlevniuk, Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator (2015)
  • Robert Service, Stalin: A Biography (2010)
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2014)