Born in 1878, Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1924-1953.
He was amongst the Bolsheviks appointed to power after the Revolution in Russia in 1917, and emerged successful from the power-struggle that followed Lenin’s death in 1924. He was responsible for the murder of millions of Russians, and remembered as one of the most brutal leaders in modern history.
After the revolution of 1917, Civil War broke out in Russia, and Stalin was appointed one of the five men of Lenin’s Politburo. It became apparent very early on that Stalin would not cooperate with Trotsky – another one of the five men. Lenin appointed Stalin the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1922. After Lenin’s death, Stalin managed to emerge from the pack of men vying for ultimate power. Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union. Stalin’s early years in power saw intense famine, and economic hardship – the latter of which he went to lengths to change – and the precedent was set for Stalin’s brutality towards the Russian people.
When the Second World War broke out, Russia signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. However, in 1941, Germany flouted many of the clauses of their agreement, culminating in the invasion of Leningrad – Russia’s capital city. There was intense fighting between the Germans and the Soviets in Moscow, which ended with Soviet victory – many consider this a turning point in the war. The siege of Leningrad ended in 1944, and by 1945, when Allied victory looked certain, the Soviets stood ready to inherit mass territories from the broken Germany. There were approximately 35 million Soviet military casualties over the course of the war.
After 1945, the Soviet Union took control of East Germany, and a period of further hardship struck all Soviet territories. Stalin had control of a vast amount of European land, and despite promising Churchill that this would not lead to the ‘Sovietisation’ of Europe, many of his recently acquired countries came under his Communist leadership, making them inherently Communist states. Despite the difficulties that would come as a consequence of this, many Soviet citizens regarded him as hero, having led the Soviet army to victory against the Nazis. He died in 1953, after which later Soviet leaders attempted to undo the damage he had caused to the Soviet Union.
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Link will appear as Joseph Stalin: https://worldwar2.org.uk - WorldWar2.org.uk, November 22, 2013