Joseph Stalin was a ruthless leader, capable of engendering near-fanatic loyalty in his followers. Nikita Khrushchev, who followed Stalin to power, characterized Stalin's leadership as creating a cult of personality. Like many leaders who abuse their power, Stalin was the most brutal, who had a huge impact on the Russian Revolution. As a dictator Stalin was very strict about his policies, especially with working. He created the centrally planned economy in the Soviet Union in order to expand its industries and become a modern industrial power, carrying out Lenin’s dreams of industrial development. What made Stalin what he is known today and throughout years is his childhood background, his sudden ride to power, his ultimate five year plans, and finally Stalin’s’ death controversies.
Joseph Stalin had a rough childhood, being the only child and living with foster parents. “Stalin was born on December 21, 1879, in Gori, a town near Tbilisi, in Georgia, a mountainous area in the southwestern part of the Russian empire” (Dudley 15). Stalin's real name was Losif Vissarionovich Djugshvil. In 1912, he was adopted by a family with the last name of Stalin, which means "man of steel". Stalin's father was a local shoe maker and his mother worked as a washday. They lived in a small shack. Their first three children had died at birth, so Stalin grew as an only child. Stalin got the case of a horrible disease called the small pox, and was scared of life after looking at himself in the mirror. Stalin's parents sent him to a little church school in Gori. He spent five years there, and became a very intelligent child. Stalin got a scholarship to go to the religious seminary in Tbilisi. Stalin entered to study for the priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church. He married soon after, but his first wife died of tuberculosis within three years. Stalin married for the second time in l919, and had a son and a daughter. It is said that his second wife killed herself or that possibly Stalin murdered her. Stalin had a very rebellious nature, was arrested many times, and was banished to Siberia at one period in his life. Some said that Stalin was a professional revolutionary. He was ruthless, committing murder, robbery and uprisings in labor disputes, especially in the Baku working centers. Life for Stalin was not so superior, but slowly he began to rise in power.
Having a dreadful life as it was, Joseph Stalin pursued his dreams of rising to power. He was determined that when Lenin dies he would succeed him as the leader of the Soviet Union. Later that year, Lenin wrote a “Testament” stating that Trotsky should become the leader after him and not the crude Stalin. In fact he also suggested that the Bolshevik leaders should figure out a way of dismissing Stalin. “However, when the will was given to Zinoviev and Kamenev after Lenin’s death in 1924, they had made an alliance with Stalin and decided not to publish it, because they did not want the unpopular Trotsky to take over” (Thompson). This would turn out to be their biggest mistake because, he got Nicholi Bhukarin and his conservative allies to kick off Zinoviev and Kamenev. Unfortunately the conservative allies were also ousted as part of Stalin’s plot to outmaneuver the party leadership. Stalin used manipulation and support throughout the country to undermine his opponents and back one against the other as well as a very devious five year plan.
When Stalin achieved complete control of the Soviet Union by the end of the 1920s, he abandoned Lenin’s NEP and he used industrialization (5 year plans) and collectivization to change and modernize agriculture and industry to create a “Command Economy”. During the 5 Year Plan of industrialization each factory was given a target they had to reach each year, for a five year period. Accountants often lied about productivity so they wouldn’t be sent to their deaths. “Although the state’s industry produced four times as much in 1937 as it had in 1928, there was no improvement in the average standard of living and people often worked to their deaths”(Five Year Plan). Like in the novel called Animal Farm, Napoleon the pig was characterized as playing the role of Stalin on the farm. He made the animals work everyday on the windmill and reduced their rations if they refused to work extra hours when needed. Also Napoleon would kill those animals that refused to work, and mentioned the remembrance of Snowball (Leon Trotsky).
Like any other human bean, there is a place and a time for death to approach. Stalin had suffered a series of minor strokes before 1953 and was generally in declining health. “On the night of February 28th he watched a film at the Kremlin, then returned to his dacha, where he met with several prominent subordinates including Beria, head of the NKVD (secret police) and Khrushchev, who would eventually succeed Stalin”(Wilde). They left Stalin early in the morning, with no suggestion that he was in poor health. Stalin then went to bed, but only after saying the guards could go off duty and that they weren’t to wake him. Stalin would usually alert his guards before noon and ask for tea, but no communication came. The guards grew worried, but were forbidden from waking Stalin and could only wait. There was no one in the Dacha who could counter Stalin’s orders. A light came on in the room late at night, but still no call. Eventually, plucking up the courage to go in and using the arrived post as an excuse, a guard entered the room and found Stalin lying on the floor in a pool of urine. “He was helpless and unable to speak, and his broken watch showed he had fallen at 18:30” (Wilde). The doctors found Stalin partially paralyzed, breathing with difficulty and in very critical conditions. They feared the worst but were unsure. The best doctors in Russia, those which had been treating Stalin, had recently been arrested as part of the forthcoming purge and were in prison. Representatives of the doctors who were free and had seen Stalin went to the prisons to ask for the old doctors’ opinions, who confirmed the initial, negative, diagnoses. Stalin struggled on for several days, eventually dying on March 5th. His daughter was later was questioned how her father died, and she described how he practically choked to death. It is unclear whether Stalin would have been saved if medical help had arrived shortly after his stroke, partly because the autopsy report has never been found (although it is believed he suffered a brain hemorrhage which spread). This missing report, and the actions of Beria during Stalin’s fatal illness, have led some to raise the possibility that Stalin was deliberately killed by those afraid he was about to purge them. There is no concrete evidence for this theory, but enough to spread the nation.
Throughout history Joseph Stalin is known of many things, and could be called numerous of names, but he was still a dictator who made it throughout history. Being a cold-blooded leader who was power hungry and treated people very inadequately, he brainwashed the people to the extent that people were scared to even dispute to what they believed. Joseph Stalin began a miserable life as a child and ended it as the cruel dictator of Soviet Union.
Dudley, William. Russia: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: David L Bender, 2001.
Five Year Plan. 7 January. 2000. .
Joseph Stalin. 10 December. 2001. .
Wilde, Robert. The Death of Stalin. 13 March. 2001. .