Son of a poverty-stricken shoemaker, raised in a backward province, Joseph Stalin had only a minimum of education. However, he had a burning faith in the destiny of social revolution and an iron determination to play a prominent role in it. His rise to power was bloody and bold, yet under his leadership, in an unexplainable twenty-nine years, Russia because a highly industrialized nation. Stalin was a despotic ruler who more than any other individual molded the features that characterized the Soviet regime and shaped the direction of Europe after World War II ended in 1945. From a young revolutionist to an absolute master of Soviet Russia, Joseph Stalin cast his shadow over the entire globe through his provocative affair in Domestic and Foreign policy. Stalin was “born in Gori, Georgia” as the third and only surviving child of a “cobbler and ex-serf” (Compton’s 403).
His true name was Ios if Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. “In 1912 he took the alias of ‘Stalin’, from the Russian word stal, meaning ‘steel”, hence his nickname “Man of Steel” (Compton’s 402).
Stalin began his studies at the seminary as a devout believer in Orthodox Christianity, where he was soon exposed to the radical ideas of fellow students. In 1899, just about the time of graduation, he gave up his religious education and to devote his time to the revolutionary movement against the Russian monarchy.
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In 1902 Stalin was hunted down and arrested by the imperial police for organizing a large worker’s demonstration. A year later he was sentenced to “exile in the Russian region of Siberia, but soon managed to escape and was back in Georgia by early 1904” (Archer 58).
When the Russian Social Democratic Party split into Menshevik and Bolshevik factions, Stalin sided with the Bolsheviks, who just happened to be led by Vladimir Lenin. Stalin immediately became a staunch follower of Lenin, studying his every move. He did marry in 1905 but his beloved bride died of tuberculosis two years later. Their son, Yasha, died later in a Nazi Prison camp during World War II.
After the Bolshevik’s Civil War victory, Stalin became highly organized and was elected secretary of the Communist Party. “After Lenin’s death, Stalin gradually isolated and shunned his political rivals, especially Leon Trotsky, and by the end of 1929 Joseph Stalin had succeeded in eliminating his opponents and became the supreme leader of the USSR” (Compton’s 404).
In the late 1920’s, living in Lenin’s shadow, Stalin decided that the New Economic Policy would introduce the Five-Year Plan. While writing about Stalin, it is good to keep in mind that he saw “nothing immoral about using force” in order to gain power (Archer 72).
“The Plan, which was financed by exploiting resources in the countryside, resulted in the near collapse of Soviet agriculture and the deaths of millions of peasants” from the greatest manmade famine ever created (Compton’s 403).
Although the working conditions were amiss, those in labor camps were basically sentenced to death due to insufficient housing and harsh working conditions.
Estimates of those arrested and executed for defying Stalin from 1936 to 1938 in the Great Purge range between 1. 5 million and 7 million. In some ways Stalin’s domestic power over the people of the USSR was not too “dissimilar from the enormous power Hitler exerted over his country at the height of his dictatorship” (Ul am 258-259).
... In 1922 Stalin became Lenins trusted aide, but even Lenin, like everyone else, thought Stalin was too violent. After Lenins death Stalin took over ... out for revolutionary activity. After being expelled he joined the Russian Social Democrat Party. Stalin then organized ... of fourteen Stalin's father died and Stalin was sent to a seminary to join the priesthood. He was later kicked ...
On the same note, Stalin’s Foreign Policies were about as inhumane and unrealistic as the Domestic Policies. During World War II, Stalin gave up the idea of collective security with the West and decided upon an alliance with Nazi Germany instead. The German’s promised nonaggression against Soviet territory in exchange for the invasion of Poland.
But Hitler, being the man he was, broke that promise and ordered a three pronged attack against the USSR. The Soviets suffered many loses, but then rallied behind Stalin, who assumed direct leadership of the war effort. The allied governments soon recognized the Soviet’s realm of influence and Stalin established a “puppet Communist regimes and drew the so-called Iron-Curtain between Eastern and Western Europe” (Compton’s 404).
With that said and done, Stalin’s next goal was to catch up with the industrialized United States and develop his own atomic bomb. He strictly ordered that no resources be spared toward the goal, which was achieved in August of 1953, shortly before his eternal rest. All in all, Stalin’s dictatorship ended in a stroke, which he died from in March of 1953.
“Stalin’s historical legacy is overwhelmingly negative” (Compton’s 404).
Although many of his actions and tactics transformed the USSR from an agrarian-based society into an industrialized nation with a powerful military arsenal, he also cost millions their lives. Stalin tried to accomplish domestic and foreign power through cruel and inhumane tactics. His purges of society through terror and violence left a permanent scar on the memory of the people under his rule. Although admired by many Russians, most people would agree that Stalin was one of the cruelest dictators in history and even more detestable than Hitler himself.