December 5 2018
The Growing of a Monster
Because of Joseph Stalin’s negligence of his people, millions died of starvation, execution, and war. Stalin is the evilest leader in the 20th century. One of the most important events that put him on the path of destruction and terror happened when he was a child.
On December 18, 1879, in Gorgi Georgia, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Joseph Stalin) was born. His father worked as a cobbler, and his mother was a washerwoman. Stalin’s father became an alcoholic and was very abusive to his family which ended their marriage. Dzhugashvili at a young age had smallpox which left his face scarred. He was also in a carriage accident where it left his left arm deformed from blood poisoning (Joseph Stalin). Many of the other village children were cruel and mean to Dzhugashvili, giving him a robust personality(Joseph Stalin2). Many will say, this is where Dzhugashvili got his attitude towards people who crossed him. Dzhugashvili’s mother had sent Dzhugashvili to a Russian Orthodox School where she wanted him to become a priest. While still in the area, Dzhugashvili ‘s father use to pull Dzhugashvili out of school to have him work in his factory, because he wanted Dzhugashvili to become a cobbler like himself(Joseph Stalin3). In 1894, he graduated near the top of his class while also getting into trouble with the school authorities and fighting with the other kids(Joseph Stlain2). Many of the other kids disliked him, and he earned his reputation of being a “tough guy”. His mother applied for and won a scholarship to send Dzhugashvili to Tiflis Theological Seminary, where he enrolled in September 1894(Joseph Stalin). His mother was very consistent with him about becoming a priest, but little did she know, Dzhugashvili had other plans.
At school, Dzhugashvili begins to read and be interested in the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. He also started to associate himself with the illegal social democratic group named Mesame Dasi(Mesame Dasi). In 1899, Dzhugashvili was expelled from Seminary for being “politically unreliable”. Stalin later stated that he was trying to convert some students to Marxism(Joseph Stalin2). In 1901, Dzhugashvili joined the revolution full time(Joseph Stalin2). Here he helped organize strikes and demonstrations, robbed trains and dispersed illegal literature. He was arrested many times and exiled to Siberia only to reappear back in Tiflis. In 1913, Dzhugashvili took the name Stalin which meant “man of steel”(Joseph Stalin). Stalin’s hard work for the revolution did not go unnoticed. After the revolution was over, Lenin appointed Stalin to General Secretary because he valued his loyalty. This was one of Lenin’s biggest mistakes.
In 1922, Vladimir Lenin appointed Stalin to General Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. Here Stalin had access to over 26,000 files, scheduled appointments, and the NKVD or secret police reported to him(General Secretary). With many new members joining through the Lenin Enrollment, Stalin decided to act. Stalin began to recruit these new members for himself. Many were uneducated and politically naive. This helped him build up support in the party. Lenin began to see what Stalin’s plans were and started to mistrust him. After surgery, Lenin had a stroke and was told he didn’t have long to live. Stalin knew that Lenin disliked him and after he had his stroke, Stalin started to cut Lenin off from the party(General Secretary). Lenin then wrote a testament which stated where the party should end up and most importantly denounce Stalin as General Secretary which Lenin then gave to his secretary. Little did Lenin know, the secretary was one of Stalin’s agents on which Stalin received and read the testament(General Secretary). On 1924, Lenin died, and by creating a triumvirate with Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev in May 1922, he was able to repress the testament of Lenin(Joseph Stalin2). Stalin along with Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, and Mikhail Tomsky all were now the leaders of the Soviet Union known as the politburo(General Secretary).
Kamenev and Zinoviev thought they were getting a step ahead, by using Stalin to have more of an opposition on Trotsky but Stalin was also using them to hide the testament that would have crushed his career. Kamenev and Zinoviev had a plan to expel Trotsky from the Communist Party(Joseph Stalin 2). After Kamenev and Zinoviev stated that socialism can only be achieved internationally, Stalin attacked that statement and disbanded the triumvirate as he wanted to keep socialism in the country(Joseph Stalin). After they disbanded, Zinoviev and Kamenev created a new group called the New Opposition. Stalin attacked both of them, stating how they both asked his help to expel Trotsky from the Communist Party. This ended in them being very unpopular in the Communist Party. Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev all made an alliance called the United Opposition(General Secretary). In October 1926, Stalin voters voted Zinoviev and Kamenev out of the politburo. Then in 1927, they voted Trotsky out of the politburo and exiled him to central Asia(Joseph Stalin2). Then in 1929, Stalin gathered enough central vote to have Bukharin removed from the Politburo(Joseph Stalin). After ridding some members of the Politburo, Stalin set out his plan to turn Russia into a superpower. Tomsky, Rykov, and Bukharin wanted a gradual approach to industrialization while Stalin was pushing for immediate collectivization of land and rapid, state-controlled industrialization. Stalin set out a five-year plan on which set out his collective farms and state-controlled industrialization(Joseph Stalin). Many farmers refused to cooperate and were shot, exiled or sent to Gulag camps(work camps)(Joseph Stalin3). This led to millions of deaths of farmers and widespread famine. Four to five million died in Ukraine alone and two to three million in the rest of Russia(Joseph Stalin). “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of thousands is a statistic” (Joseph Stalin). Even going against the other members of the Politburo, Stalin did what he wanted, and it ended very badly. Stalin was already on his path of destruction, and it seemed that nobody could stop him at this point. In 1930, Tomsky and Rykov were forced from the Politburo(Joseph Stalin2). Stalin now had complete control of the Soviet Union.
Stalin had a paranoid personality, afraid that someone would try to kill or take advantage of him, so he set forth, The Great Purge. He boosted the idea to rid the Soviet Union of any “traitors”(Joseph Stalin3). He expanded the secret police and encouraged citizens to spy on each other. In 1934, Sergey Kirov was assassinated(Joseph Stalin). Stalin, even though he was thought to be behind the murder, blamed thousands for it. They were either imprisoned, exiled or shot. Kamenev, Zinovyev, Bukharin, Tomsky, and Rykov were all convicted for treason. In 1937, Stalin executed seven leading Army Generals, and in 1938-1939 he killed all the admirals, and he either imprisoned or executed about half of the Army officers(Joseph Stalin). The head of the secret police was also relieved of his position and then executed. He was replaced by a more brutal man name Nikolai Yezhov, who was also relieved of his position later and executed(Joseph Stalin3). Religious leaders were also imprisoned, and all churches were closed. Anyone with any higher education was suspected of being counterrevolution, and anyone who opposed Stalin was immediately killed(Joseph Stalin). Stalin stated “Death is the solution to all problems. No man — no problem” (Stalin). Also, during this time, 20 million Russian civilians were forced to gulag camps where half of them were worked to death(Joseph Stalin3).”Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas” (Stalin). And because of this philosophy in 1940, Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico by an agent in the NKVD by an ice pick, because Stalin was worried that he could continue to write and oppose Stalin(Joseph Stalin). Overall about one million people were murdered during the Great Purge(How many).
Stalin then began to implement himself into all his cities. He renamed cities in his name, Stalingrad now known as Volgograd(Joseph Stalin). Soviet history books were rewritten to tell how he had a more prominent role in the revolution, and certain aspects were lied about in his life(Joseph Stalin). He had the national anthem rewritten to put his name in it. Soviet government was also controlling the media at the time. Stalin also closed his borders during the Great Depression and told lies that their country was prosperous. On the west side of Russia, they put happy villagers who lived well and did well for themselves to make anyone who saw, think that they were prosperous and healthy, but millions were dying from being executed and famine(Joseph Stalin3).
In 1939, Stalin and Hitler made a nonaggression pact that stated that they would not take any military action for the next ten years. Even though the United States and Great Britain warned Stalin that Hitler was going to break the treaty, he never listened, and on June 22, 1941, Hitler invaded Russia that did astronomical damage(Battle of Stalingrad). Stalin was wholly unprepared, and Hitler gained ground quickly with his Blitzkrieg technique. They also gained ground quickly because Stalin depleted his army generals during the Great Purge. Stalin was so distraught about Hitler’s attack that he hid in his room for a couple of days(Joseph Stalin2). As the Germans were quickly gaining ground in Russia, Stalin put in place, order 227, other known as “Not one step backwards”(Joseph Stalin3). It stated that no Russian Soldier was allowed to retreat and if anyone were to be caught retreating, were to be shot immediately. This order helped them win the Battle at Stalingrad, but it left millions dead. Stalin also refused evacuation of the civilians, stating that it would make the Russian Soldiers fight harder knowing that they had to defend the citizens of Stalingrad(Battle of Stalingrad). The battle lasted a long six months that ended in a big victory for the Soviet Union. It was the turning point in the fight with Germany. Stalingrad left over one million Soviet troops dead, missing, and captured and about 40,000 other civilians dead. After the battle of Stalingrad, Soviet troops then began to push Germany back and out of Russia (Stalingrad). As the Soviet Union began to gain territory back, they also gained a reputation, rape. Soviet soldiers after liberating an area would rape not only German women but Russian women as well (We Can Finally). There is one story where Russian soldiers pulled a German husband out of his home and shot him in front of his family and then raped the wife and the daughters (We Can Finally). They raped from the ages of nine and up. Soviets even raped women from liberated concentration camps, and because of Stalin, there was no end in sight for most of the women who were raped multiple times a day. Stalin said, “Can’t he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle” (Stalin). They estimate about two million women were raped while gaining territory of Germany (We Can Finally). After reaching Berlin, it only got worse. It is estimated that 100,000 women were raped in Berlin (We Can Finally). Abortion was illegal in Germany, so many illegal, unsafe abortions took place. It is said that some women were raped up to 70 to 80 times (We Can Finally). How does a man of such power allow his own people to be raped? Stalin knew perfectly what was happening and did nothing.
When WW2 ended, Stalin created a new purge. Stalin put in place order 270. It stated that any Russian officers or soldiers that were captured by the Germans were listed as traitors and were sent to gulag camps or shot (Joseph Stalin3). Also, many returning soldiers and refugees were either shot or sent to gulag camps. Other nationalities that were deported during the war were also not allowed to go back to their homes. These were all orders from Stalin, because of paranoia. Stalin was so paranoid that he had strict rules about entering his room. No one was allowed to enter his room unless he said so. There is one story where Stalin screamed in agony as if he was in severe pain. One of his most loyal guards came in, and Stalin executed him for not following his rules(Joseph Stalin). Ironically, this is how he died. He had a stroke and laid on his floor for hours because everyone was afraid to enter his room. He died one week later. Because of Stalin, 20 million died from execution, war, famine, and gulag camps(How many).
Even with the statistics and leadership he that is shown, some still view him as a smart and great leader. Stalin took on a dysfunctional country and turned into a superpower in the world. He outsmarted his opposition and created a self-sustaining government. He was able to advance them in the industrial business. He won the war with Germany and was continually competing with the United States and the other superpowers. He was able to advance his country in technology and war by creating the atomic bomb, but with all this came a significant cost, millions of lives.
Therefore, Stalin is the evilest leader in the 20th century because he killed millions from war, famine, execution and labor camps. Maybe if he became a priest as his mother wanted to him too, he would not have been looked as a scary person who through his actions created a famine, encouraged rape, and killed anyone opposed him.
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