Joseph Stalin - Biography

Joseph Stalin - Biography

Stalin (1879-1953), was a leader of the soviet union, whose personal history merges, for more than thirty years, with that of the USSR. By its political and military weight, it made the USSR the second world power and its action had a decisive influence on the territorial expansion of the communist model, in particular in Eastern Europe. " Iron man Fascinates today as much as it inspired fear, contempt ... and idolatry yesterday. A key figure in contemporary history, the errors and excesses of the “red tyrant” largely contributed to the subsequent discrediting of the communist model.

Joseph Stalin, of the Tiflis Seminary ...

In Gori, Georgia, officially born on December 21, 1878 some Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. A controversy however took shape around the date of birth of Stalin when was discovered a birth certificate indicating the date of December 18, 1878. Of Ossetian origin and of Orthodox religion, the parents of the young Joseph are former serfs having benefited of the abolition of serfdom in 1861. While his father sank into alcoholism, Stalin's mother, Ekaterina Gavrilovna Gueladze, decided on her own the future of her child and strongly encouraged him to become a priest.

Stalin entered the Tiflis seminary in 1894. But he was fired five years later for absenteeism, the young Georgian indeed liking to associate with activists marxists and socialists. He draws from this adolescence a fervent atheist feeling. Political baptism, the registration of Stalin in 1898 to a local branch of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party earned him a first political arrest four years later, in 1902. Sentenced to exile in Siberia for three years, he managed to escape in 1904.

Then organizing the Baku strike during the 1905 revolution, Stalin gradually gained political experience as a revolutionary marxist. He meets for the first time Lenin in December of the same year. It was finally in 1912, during the 6th conference of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia, that Stalin joins the Bolshevik Central Committee.

... To the accession to political power of the "little father of peoples"

Stalin gradually built up his network within the Bolshevik Party on the eve of the October revolutione. He was in fact elected in April 1917 to the Party's Central Committee but has also been editorial secretary for the propaganda newspaper since March. Pravda ". From its creation in March 1919, it integrated the Politburo, main decision-making body in Soviet institutions.

At the height of his ascent within the Communist Party, Stalin was finally elected general secretary at the XIth party congress in Moscow on April 3, 1922. He was first supported by Lenin who then decided against him by preferring him. Trotsky. This new responsibility, however, allows Stalin to quickly oust all his political opponents, including Trotsky who will be assassinated in 1940 in Mexico City, to become in 1929, five years after Lenin's death, the undisputed master of power in the Soviet Union.

Stalinism in action

Once in power, Stalin puts an end to the new economic policy and the premises for the country's liberation set up by Lenin. Until 1933 he imposed the forced collectivization of land. The episode of the Ukrainian famine in the winter of 1933-34 which killed nearly 25 million people and the creation of the Gulag archipelago in 1930 are all manifestations of the nature of the Stalinist regime.

Economically, Stalin supervises through the Gosplan created in 1928 the realization of five-year plans aimed at industrializing the Soviet Union by forced march. In 1935 he created the myth of the worker Stakhanov, the cult of personality adding to the regime's usual propaganda.

Internally, Stalin decides to purge the party and the army elements that could potentially compete with its power. The " moscow trial »Of 1936-38 thus see the execution of many political personalities (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Boukharine) but also of three of the five marshals of the Red Army.

Well aware of the weaknesses of his army, Stalin also decided in the mid-1930s to conduct a more open diplomacy towards the Western powers. Therefore the Soviet Union draws closer to the United States (first country to recognize the Soviet Union in 1933), France (mutual assistance pact of 1935) but especially from Germany (Soviet German pact of 1939).

Stalin, from the Great Patriotic War ...

Churchill "/> These events are the prelude to the outbreak of" Great Patriotic War As theorized by Stalin in a speech of July 1941 following German invasion of the country. At first, Stalin was completely caught off guard by the German attack of June 1941. This was foreseeable but only came two years after the non-aggression pact of 1939.

On the military level, the situation is catastrophic, the German army making a meteoric advance, seizing vast territories and taking scores of prisoners. Stalin, Very dejected, Stalin completely disappears from the political scene for a long week, much to the dismay of those around him. Having regained his lucidity, he addresses the population on the radio in a speech with very patriotic overtones and calls for resistance to the invader.

Stalin then took personal part in the conduct of certain military operations. as the counter-offensive in front of Moscow in the winter of 1941-42. Despite the massive purges of the 1930s, he can draw on a new generation of officers who are totally dedicated and determined to win the war. After the iconic battle of Stalingrad, the course of the war is reversed, until the final victory of May 1945.

Stalin profited immensely from the Soviet victory in 1945. It is then the apogee of a Stalinist regime which is admired and feared as the victor of Nazism. The cult of personality is spread to extremes, and the entire sphere of Soviet influence is covered with giant statues and portraits in praise of "little father of peoples”.

... in the cold war

The Second World War allowed Stalin to endow the Revolution with an empire. It sets up a protective glacis of puppet states in Eastern Europe aimed at protecting the USSR from a new foreign invasion. In all the countries of the Soviet sphere of occupation, communist governments are gradually being established, and must unreservedly support the line defined in Moscow.

The bipolarization of international relations manifests itself in particular during Berlin blockade west ruled by Stalin in June 1948. It must however give way after the Americans had set up an airlift to supply the city. Stalin then proposes that Germany be reunified, disarmed and remains neutral in an attempt to calm the tensions arising from the country's occupation. Having met with a refusal from the West, he encouraged the creation of the Democratic republic of germany as well as a clean currency in October 1949.

At the twilight of his life but still at the height of his power, Stalin again provokes political purges with the 1952 trials and the white coat conspiracy at the beginning of 1953. This new phase of radicalization of the regime after the war (to which is added the resumption of pogroms) ends however with the death of Stalin on March 5, 1953.

It marks the end of one of the bloodiest regimes in contemporary history. From 1956, his successor Nikita Khrouchtchev denounced the crimes committed under Stalin's regime and began a vast campaign of “de-Stalinization”. The body of the Red Dictator will be removed from Lenin's Mausoleum in 1961.


- Stalin: The court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore. 2005.

- Stalin by Jean-Jacques Marie. Biography, Fayard, 2003.

- Stalin, by Oleg Khlevniuk. History Folio, 2019.

Video: Stalin In Colour Documentary