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Joseph Stalin - Director of the Ussr

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Joseph Stalin was a dictator of the U.S.S.R from 1929 until 1953. He rose from bitter poverty to become ruler of the country that covered one sixth of all the land area in the world. Stalin's character was the main reason for his rise to power.

Stalin ruled by terror for most of his years in office. He didn't allow anybody to say anything about his ideas. Stalin killed all that had helped him rise to power because he thought they would threaten his rules. Stalin was responsible for millions of deaths of Soviet peasants who discarded with his program called "Collective Agriculture" Under Stalin's commands; the Soviet Union operated a worldwide network of communist parties. By the time Stalin died, communism had spread to other countries. His style of rule became known as "Stalinism" and continued to influence many other countries.

The people of the Soviet Union began to hate Stalin, and most of the world was afraid of him. He changed the Soviet Union from once one of the most undeveloped countries to one of the most industrial nations. It became one of the military powers in the world. Included in these changes, were his uses of the "Stalin method" for the industry. (Conquest, 1) All industries in Russia were under the control of the government. He made a Five-Year Plan to limit production of consumer goods, and invest in state-owned mines, industry, railroads, and energy resources. Russia became an industrialized strength with Stalin's help, but took serious consequences with the deaths of many. In the end, the people were given less freedom than in the era of the czar.

Stalin was born as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili on December 21, 1879 in Gori, Georgia. He grew up in a mountain town of about 5,000 people. He was the third and only surviving child of Vissarion Dzhugashvili and Catherine Geladze. His father used to drink and beat him and his mother; this made Stalin very cold hearted. A friend commented on his behavior, "Those undeserved and fearful beatings made the boy as hard and heartless as his father" (Cornwell,12). His father died in a brawl when Stalin was only 11.

Stalin was enrolled in the village at school at the age of eight. He was an intelligent student and was top of his class. He read many books, which glorified Georgian's past. Georgia was an independent country until the Russian Tsars conquered it. One book that had a deep affect on Stalin was a book similar to that of Robin Hood. His name was Koba and he hated the Russians and avenged their crimes against the Georgians. His acts were very ruthless and bloody. Stalin began to call himself Koba and this caught on with his friends (Tucker,24). He was later to take on this name when he was in hiding from the tsar's police. By 1894, Stalin had finished all of his schooling and had received a scholarship to the theological seminary in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia. The theological seminary building was dark and depressing. The students could have no privacy and were spied on by the Russian Orthodox monks. The monks also checked their rooms to see what they were reading and carefully scheduled each day, with prayer and study. Students had only one short break in the afternoon. At first, Stalin seemed to fit in with the strict schedule. He did well in his schoolwork and received the highest marks for conduct. He found time to write poetry of which were romantic and nationalistic, these poems were published in a Georgian magazine devoted to the preservation of Georgian culture. Gradually Stalin became frustrated under the harsh regime.

In 1898 Stalin took his first step towards a revolutionary lifestyle when he joined a Marxist group in Tiflis. The group that Stalin had joined merely met to discuss Marx's ideas. During these meetings Stalin would go into a rage if anyone disagreed with anything he said. He soon began a double life, slipping out of the seminary at night to talk to workmen about Marxism. Stalin was more interested in these passionate interactions than in his studies. When he didn't show up for any of his exams, he was expelled. After Stalin was expelled at age 19, he earned just enough money to survive by tutoring students. At the end of the year he got a job at the Tiflis Observatory. After work he went to the railroad yards and talked with the workers about Marxism and was very successful at spreading his political ideas. The next year, Stalin joined the Russian Social Democratic Party after meeting one of its members. The Party was founded in 1898. The members were socialists dedicated to putting Marxist ideas into practice. Vladimir Lenin was one of the leaders of the party. At first Stalin had a minor role in the party, making some articles to put into an illegal Marxist magazine. Stalin's first major revolutionary act was when he organized a May Day celebration where the Tsar's police began a crackdown on the organizers. Stalin escaped the police roundup and was sent to Bantum by the party for safety. Stalin was now a wanted revolutionist known as Koba. In Bantum, Stalin organized a strike, which ended in violence. Fourteen people were killed, many injured and 500 workers were arrested.

Shortly after this, Stalin was arrested. He was imprisoned for one and a half years and was exiled to Siberia for three years. During this time the Russian Social Democratic Party split into two groups, the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks had a more traditional approach to Marxism, whilst the Bolsheviks had a more revolutionary approach (Tucker,29). In 1904, Stalin escaped from Siberia back to Tiflis and joined the Bolsheviks. Stalin acted as though the real threat was the Mensheviks and attacked them at every meeting. In 1905, Stalin married Yekaterina Svanidze, a Georgian woman who died two years later. Upon her death Stalin said, "She was the one creature who softened my heart of stone. She is dead, and with her have died my last warm feelings for humanity." Pointing to his heart he said "It is all so desolate here, so inexpressively empty". (Tucker, 35).

In 1912,

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