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On December 1878, Joseph Stalin was born. His real name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. The last name given to him by an acquaintance, Stalin, means “man of steel” in Russian. One interesting fact about Stalin is that he was an avid fan of American cowboy movies. He would play them in his private cinema for his friends.
Joseph Stalin was born a peasant in Gori, Georgia. He was the son of Besarion Jughashvili, who was a cobbler, and Ketevan Geladze, who was a washerwoman. Stalin’s parents had three other sons, but two died as babies. As a child, he was very frail and had smallpox, which scarred his face and left his arm slightly deformed. He had two adjoined toes on his left foot. He was also involved in an accident when he was twelve. A horse-drawn carriage damaged his arm. It healed due to extensive surgery, but was left shorter than his other arm and made his joint stiff.
Joseph’s father was an alcoholic, and abused both his mother and Joseph. His father eventually abandoned him and his mother. He was treated cruelly, and felt less significant than other people. The undeserved and cruel abuse of his father is most likely what caused his vengeful spirit. The physical limitations he had from different events through his childhood were also a possible reason to make him feel inferior. We are sure kids were cruel back then as they are now. In an attempt to become level with everyone else, he became power crazed.
It is also believed that the undeserved beatings his father gave contributed to his need to control. He was a megalomaniac, which means he was obsessed with power and things he didn’t have. His mother wanted him to become a priest, so he was enrolled in church school. He studied Russian Orthodox Christianity until he was almost 20. He excelled and got a scholarship to Tiflis Theological Seminary. He was expelled from the Seminary in 1899. Joseph decided to stay in Tifilis, where he spent most of his time towards the revolutionary movement. He worked for a decade undercover. He did most of the organizing, such as calling meetings, arranging strikes, and posting advertisements.
Though Joseph was raised as a Georgian Orthodox, he became an atheist. He was led by the idea that having a set religion, it would restrict him from forming the ideal Communist community. The government promoted atheism by teaching atheistic classes, propaganda, discriminatory laws, and a terror campaign.
Throughout his life he was married twice, but both of his wives died. He also had two sons, Yakov and Vasili, and a daughter, Svetlana.
After many years he became General Secretary of the Communist party. He was a Soviet dictator who pushed for quick industrialization of the land, and a communist government. As a result, there was widespread famine and others were sent to camps. He also helped bring about the destruction of the Nazis.
“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.” This quote shows the proof of his views on power and those who possess it compared to those who are victims of it. Even though he can from a rough past, he felt no sympathy for other people in similar situations.
You can see this through the many times he used depriving people of food as a tactic in pursuing his ambitions. He also used this to break up potential regional opposition. He was so insecure that he had several artists shot for not painting him to his liking. Though he is not usually seen as a peaceful person, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Price, twice. He was also named by Times magazine as Person of the Year, also twice.
There were a series of strikes following the industrial depression. Stalin was involved with the strike of oil workers in 1904. The strike was a success. In January 1906, he wrote an article titled, “Two Clashes: Concerning January 9.” This article was about the first anniversary of the nonviolent march when a huge number of workers marched to the winter palace. This march was the most memorable event, and caused Bloody Sunday. Another notable event was when he robbed the Tiflis bank in 1907. There were 40 deaths and 341,000 rubies stolen.
In 1922, Stalin was appointed to general secretary of the Communist party. This office gave him control over all party member appointments, which allowed him to build his base. He created ridiculous appointments and pushed his power so that, within due time, nearly all the members owed their position to him. When people finally realized what he had done, it was already too late. No one could regain control from Stalin. Lenin, who was severely ill at the time, was helpless against Stalin.
In 1917 the Russian Revolution was over run by the Tsarist government. Russia was ruled by a provisional government. This took place from March until November, and they had made plans for a democratically elected assembly. However the continuing war with Germany paved the way for a Bolshevik coup in November.
The new government was controlled by Lenin. They made peace with the Germans and undertook a three-year civil war. Leon Trotsky organized the Red Army and brought the Bolsheviks to victory. After that war, the Bolsheviks were renamed the Communist Party. Stalin was quickly increasing his power, unbeknownst to Russia. Though Lenin started to doubt Stalin, no one believed him so Stalin remained in his position of General Secretary. He proceeded to destroy his rival Trotsky.
Vladimir Lenin died in 1924. Joseph Stalin took advantage of this event by planning to destroy the old party leadership and take control. First, he removed people from power. Many were exiled to Europe and the Americas. Stalin soon began a great reign of terror. He kidnapped people in the night, and put them on show trials. People who seemed to be a threat to him were executed, their conviction being, “enemy of the people.”
Once he was satisfied with his amount of power, he began to modernize Russia with a five-year plan. Which included establishing government control of the economy. He also thought it was a good idea to take over the land of the wealthiest peasants. Because of this, almost ten million people died due to famine. His frustration led to a period of time when all his rivals and anyone suspected of opposing him were either killed or sent to Siberian prisons. It was known as the “Great Terror”.
As all of this was taking place in Germany, Hitler began his rise to power. Stalin wished to avoid war with Germany, so he signed an agreement that neither the Nazis nor the Soviets were to attack the other. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviets, defying their pact. Russia fought back against the betrayal, starting the war. As they got closer to winning Stalin was determined to control all of Europe. Even as the war with Germany ended, Stalin began to press his allies with impossible demands. The Cold War began as a result of this.
By 1928, which was the first year of his five-year plans, Stalin’s rise to power was almost complete. His final act was the assassination of Trotsky in Mexico. He was exiled from the Soviet Union and lived in Mexico since 1936. After the murder of Trotsky, There were only two members of the “Old Bolsheviks:” Stalin and the foreign minister Vyacheslav Motolotov.
Stalin seized land originally given to the peasants, and created collective farms. Peasants were soon reverted back to serfs. Stalin thought that these collective farms would lead to an increase in food production, but this angered the peasants. They didn’t want to give up their land and work for the state. Over a million lost their lives from forced labor, or famine. Stalin also created rapid industrialization. The industrialization was a success at the cost of millions of dollars, and the sacrifices of millions of lives. The punishment for resistance was quick, and deadly. Millions were forced into the labor camps, or executed. This forced will goes back to, “If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.” He saw that even if he weren’t given his way, he would force his way.
During World War II, Stalin signed a nonaggression contract with Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin thought that Hitler had an honorable amount of integrity, even though his military commanders warned him that Germany wasn’t to be trusted. When Germany attacked the Soviet army in 1941, they were completely unprepared.
By the time that Stalin had recovered from the attack from Germany, Germany had already taken over Ukraine and Belarus, and surrounded Leningrad. To make matters worse, the purge of the 1930’s rendered the Soviet citizens and the Soviet Army. Germans retreated at Stalingrad in 1943. Then he demanded that the Allies open up a second front against Germany. British and Americans both argued that in doing so, many people would be killed. This raised Stalin’s suspicion of the west further.
The war was now in the Allies favor. There was a meeting between President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. In this meeting, they discussed postwar affair. Stalin demanded that they open up a second front against Germany, which they agreed to in 1944. In February of 1945, they met again. Stalin, realizing his strong bargaining position, negotiated a free hand in building the government back up. He agreed to assist in the war with Japan upon the defeat of the Germans.
He became suspicious of the Allies, causing him to set up a buffer zone between Western Europe and Russia. Europe took this as a sign that Stalin planed to place Western Europe under communist control. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was forced to counter Stalin’s actions. Stalin hoped to gain control of Berlin, so he set up an economic blockade. When the Allies discovered this, they forced Stalin to back down by organizing a massive airlift and supplying the city.
Stalin suffered another foreign policy defeat due to Kim IL Jung. Stalin had ordered the Soviet representative to boycott the United Nations’ Security Council’s decision to refuse the newly formed Communist People’s Republic of China. When the United Kingdom held a vote to either support South Korea or not, the Russians were unable to veto it.
Joseph Stalin died at the age of 73 on March 5, 1953. The cause of his death was a heart attack. They washed his body, and transported it to the autopsy room. There, they prepared his body for the three days it would lay in state where it would be put on display in the Hall of Columns. The people were dying to get a glimpse at his body, literally. About 500 people lost their lives from being trampled, choked, or rammed against traffic lights. After his funeral, he was finally laid to rest on the Red square in Moscow. However, his body was moved to the Kremlin Wall in 1961. Throughout Russia, whistles, bells, guns, and sirens were set off in honor of Joseph Stalin.
The number of victims of Joseph Stalin was ranged from 3 million to 60 million. After the fall of the Soviet Union, they found official records of 799,455 people who were executed. The dates of their deaths were 1921-53. Six to eight million died from the famine.
Another victim of Stalin was his second wife, who shot herself after Stalin humiliated her in public. When his son was taken by Germans, he refused to trade the German General for his son. He committed suicide. It’s not certain if the events of his early life made him into the man he was or if he was born with some of it. That seems to correlate with the theory of whether nature or nurture affects someone more. I think it was inevitable that his harsh past affected him, but his actions were still his choice.
Though there are varied accounts on whether he changed people’s lives for better or for worse, it is certain that he changed them. In my opinion, mostly for bad even if he did help stop the Nazis. He helped Russia to become a powerful nation, but his path to achieve this was through the cruelty toward others.
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