So, there is almost nobody in whose mind the name Joseph Stalin does not ring a familiar bell. Being one of the most powerful and famous Soviet communist rulers of all time, the entire world knows about him. However, he has an extremely split image. On one hand some idealize his communism and leadership. On the other hand lots of people criticize his activities as edging toward dictatorship. However, this is not new to any historical figure. If someone is idolized just because of their historical importance, it might lead to a lot of dangerous thoughts. History should always prove and disprove.
However, in this article, we are not exactly going to analyze the political ideology of Joseph Stalin. We will rather look at him on a personal level. How was his life? What were the events of his life that nobody knows about? So, we would take a look at facts that are not so popular, that have little to do with his political persona as a leader of the Soviet Union. However, before we delve deep into that, let us take a quick look at his life in general.
Joseph Stalin biography
So, Joseph Stalin, or Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin took birth as Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili on 6th December 1878. He was a revolutionary from Georgia and had been the supreme leader of the Soviet Union for almost thirty years. So, he started ruling the Soviet in 1922 and continued his office till his death in 1953. Moreover, between 1922 to 1952, he was also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Additionally, from 1941 to 1953, he also served as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union. So, initially, he governed the country as a part of collective leadership. However, in the process, he consolidated power. Finally, by the 1930s, he had become an all-powerful dictator. Moreover, he ideologically believed in the Leninist interpretation of Marxism. Therefore, he formalized his ideas into what he called Marxism-Leninism. His own politics, however, form Stalinism.
So, it was his Stalinist principles that changed the Soviet from having a largely agricultural economy to an industrial one. This is also what made it a leading force during the second world war and defeated Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Moreover, it was his leadership and policies that enabled the Soviet Union to become a superpower. Their only efficient competitor now was the United States. However, Joseph Stalin also has a darker side to him as the leader of the Soviet Union. He undertook innumerable arrests, deportations, purges, and executions. This is what led people to call him one of the cruelest leaders in modern history.
So, this was a brief introduction to what Joseph Stalin was as a historical figure. However, now let us take a quick look at those facts about his life that the world did not know for many years.
Joseph Stalin young
Yes so, let us take a quick trip down the childhood of Joseph Stalin. So, he took birth in a very poor family in Gori in the Russian Empire which has now become Georgia. However, what we did not know of late is that he had a childhood name. When Joseph Stalin was young, his friends called him “Pocky”. However, there is some amount of history involved behind this. So, when he was still in his early childhood, Joseph Stalin, the future Soviet premier fell prey to smallpox. He survived the disease but there were scars all over his face. And we know very well how children work. They will never not make fun of it, not intentionally but simply out of innocent fun.
So, it was only natural that his friends would make something out of his scars. Hence, the name “Pocky” took birth because there were scars all over his face. It was a fun nickname initially. However, it clung to him throughout his entire childhood which he did not like. Moreover, he tried erasing the scars from his photographs later on. This clearly shows how much he was affected by it and how much he hated it. So, Joseph Stalin, the Russian premier also has his share of childhood trauma that lasted throughout his adult life.
Behind the charismatic figure of one of the most powerful leaders of the 20th century, who would know lies deep, unattended, and unhealed childhood trauma? Well, now you know.
Joseph Stalin’s priesthood options
Yes, you read that right. Joseph Stalin could have become a priest. So, you might find it very difficult to even imagine that this person who was “the Great Architect of Communism ” could be a priest in any universe. However, he was on his way to becoming one. Way before he joined the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party and got involved in its activities, Joseph Stalin attended the Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary. It was located in Tbilisi, Georgia, and became an integral part of his childhood. So, as we can imagine, he was an intelligent student who did everything pretty well. Therefore, it is nothing unnatural that he bagged the scholarship to study at the Tbilisi Theological Seminary. However, he never graduated.
So, this comes as nothing shocking. A revolutionary aiming to change the economic system can never give in to the dogmas of institutionalized religion. Moreover, it is nothing new that Christianity had reinforced horrifying class divisions and other social ills that he resolved to fight against. Therefore, he started reading books that the Seminary had particularly banned. Later on, he put in significant efforts to convert his very religious colleagues to Marxism. As a result, he got expelled. So, instead of becoming a priest, he started his journey to become a national, if not global leader.
Sometimes, the punishments, the mistakes, and the entire process set us on the right track or make us what we want to be. This is exactly what happened with Joseph Stalin.
Joseph Stalin and communism
So, there is something about his formal career in communism as well that most of us might not have known. This is the fact that Lenin wanted to remove Joseph Stalin as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Let us see more about what had happened.
Now, we all know that Joseph Stalin was an ardent follower of Vladimir Lenin and believed completely in the Leninist interpretation of Marxism. Moreover, he also based his own Stalinist policies based on such ideologies. This is again hardly surprising because all his life he had been particularly close with Lenin. After he joined the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, he started editing Pravda which was the party’s official newspaper. At the same time, he started raising funds for Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik faction. For this, he undertook robberies, kidnappings, and even protection rackets. Moreover, it was Lenin who had helped Stalin to get hold of the position of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1922.
Lenin’s recommendation for removal
However, right after he had appointed Stalin as the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Stalin’s expanding and dominating power concerned Lenin a lot. He was apprehensive that Stalin would turn himself into a personal cult forgetting the ethics of communism which he ultimately did. So, in his “Testament” to all the senior members of the Party, Lenin recommended the removal of Joseph Stalin from the position of the General Secretary of the Party. Moreover, he asked them to appoint someone who was hugely different from Stalin and way way more loyal, polite, and considerate of his fellow comrades in the Party. This should be a collective effort and task. However, when Lenin’s Testament finally came before the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Stalin had become way too powerful for it to produce any kind of effect.
So, Stalin had turned against his own model of communism on his quest for more and more power. It is almost how Brutus wanted to remove Ceasar despite being his best friend because Caesar abused power at the cost of democracy.
Joseph Stalin’s family
Here we are not going to take a detailed look at the family tree of Joseph Stalin which the world already knows. However, we are going to take a close look at Joseph Stalin’s son, Yakov here. Many believe that Stalin refused to join a deal with the Germans to save his son Yakov from them. Let us see what had happened.
So, in 1941, the second world war was in full swing. In the meantime, the Germans captured Yakov somewhere near Smolensk. Moreover, they took him to a concentration camp where they tortured the war criminals along with the Jews. However, Yakov was the son of the most prominent figure of the 20th century. So naturally, many believe that the German offered a deal to Joseph Stalin. As per this, they would release his son if he gave Field-Marshal Freidrich Paulus whom the Allied forces had conquered away to them. However, Stalin allegedly refused this offer.
Moreover, he had said that he would never exchange a soldier for a field marshal. So, he saw his own son as nothing more than a meager soldier. For him, personal relations or family did not matter as much as his ideas, politics, or power meant. He could see his power growing at the cost of his son’s life. It is difficult to say whether the story is at all true. However, it is true that in 1943, at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in northeast Germany, Yakov died.
Joseph Stalin’s hobbies
You might not believe but this nearly autocratic communist leader of the 20th century was a huge movie buff. Hitler too endorsed films to move forward with his Nazi propaganda. This only makes sense because you can never quite separate art from politics and vice-versa. Political leaders throughout the ages have used different forms of media to push their ideas. However, with the case of Joseph Stalin here, it is a little different.
So, not only was he a huge lover of cinema but also had a private cinema in the Kremlin. It was here where he watched the films. It is interesting how he loved watching foreign movies. So, this included Western movies too which might go against his political beliefs. However, he hated John Wayne, who was one of the greatest Western movie stars because of his anti-communist beliefs. Moreover, many believe that he even issued an order for his assassination.
On the other hand, Stalin was a great admirer of all Charlie Chaplin movies, like the entire world, for that matter. He also loved Tarzan. However, his favorite movie was Grigory Aleksandrov’s 1938 film Volga Volga. Reportedly, he used to watch the film again and again.
Joseph Stalin FAQs
What are some interesting facts about Joseph Stalin?
Ans. So, the entire article deals in detail with some of the interesting facts about Joseph Stalin. However, here are a few more of them-
- So, he got the name Stalin when he was a revolutionary.
- He created the Gulag Slave Labor Camp.
- Stalin’s right-hand man was Vyacheslav Molotov.
What was unique about Joseph Stalin?
Ans. The most crucial part that Joseph Stalin did in his tenure as the supreme leader of the Soviet Union was to transform the largely agricultural economy of the Soviet into an industrial and military one. This allowed them to be the giant that they became in the second world war.
What was Stalin’s favorite food?
Ans. Owing to his origin, Stalin was extremely fond of traditional Georgian cuisine. Characteristic features of this kind of food included walnuts, garlic, plums, pomegranates, and wines.
What was Stalin’s favorite music?
Ans. So, we have already understood that Joseph Stalin was a lover of art. As per The Ladder of the Beatitudes by Jim Forest, the pianist Maria Yudina was Stalin’s favorite musician. Moreover, he liked her so much that he insisted on having a recording of her playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. He had her play this live on the radio and had instantly loved it.
Was Joseph Stalin married?
Ans. Yes, Stalin was married two times. So, his first wife was Kato Svanidze to whom he was married between 1906 and 1907. His next wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva. So, he married her in 1919 and remained married to her till 1932.
Was Joseph Stalin rich?
Ans. So, as per many economists, Joseph Stalin was one of the richest men of all time. This is because he alone could control a nation with 9.6% of the total global GDP.
Did Stalin watch American movies?
Ans. So, as we already know, Stalin indeed had a deep love for Westerns and spy films. However, he at all did not like seeing characters kissing on screen for a long while. He also liked cowboy films to a certain extent.