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Quick Facts About Joseph Stalin

Larry Slawson received his master's degree at UNC Charlotte. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian history.

Famous portrait of Joseph Stalin during the mid-twentieth century

Famous portrait of Joseph Stalin during the mid-twentieth century

Biographical Facts

  • Name: Joseph Stalin (Originally Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili)
  • Birth Date: 18 December 1878
  • Death: 5 March 1953 (74 Years Old)
  • Spouse(s): Ekaterina Svanidze (1906–1907) and Nadezhda Alliluyeva (1919–1932)
  • Children: Yakov Dzhugashvili; Konstantin Kuzakov; Vasily Dzhugashvili; Svetlana Alliluyeva
  • Parents: Besarion Jughashvili and Ekaterina Geladze
  • Nickname(s): “Koba,” “Soso,” “Soselo”
  • Birth Place: Gori, Georgia
  • Military Service: 1943–1953 “Marshal of the Soviet Union”
  • Political Party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Facts About Stalin's Life

  • Joseph Stalin remains one of the deadliest dictators in world history, surpassing even Adolf Hitler in the number of individuals killed. During his reign, it is estimated that Stalin murdered over 40 million people in the Soviet Union. During the 1930s, for example, “The Great Purge” or “Great Terror” consumed nearly seventy-five percent of his own military officers in the Red Army. These individuals were either executed or sent to forced labor camps across Siberia.
  • As a young boy, Stalin was struck by a horse-drawn wagon which left him with a permanent disability in his left arm and foot. His face was also deeply scarred by smallpox.
  • Stalin was not a native-born Russian. He was born in Gori, Georgia, a country occupied by the Russian Empire during the early 1800s. In addition, Stalin’s last name was actually “Dzhugashvili.” Dzhugashvili changed his name to “Stalin” during the Russian Revolution in an attempt to cover his true identity from authorities and to have a stronger-sounding name. “Stalin” is a Russian term that means “steel.”
  • Before his death in 1953, Stalin pursued an imaginary conspiracy known as the “Doctor’s Plot,” in which he ordered Soviet police to arrest thousands of doctors and nurses across the Soviet Union (predominantly Jews). Many scholars believe that Stalin intended to use this conspiracy as an excuse to later target Jews, in general, for arrest, deportation, and execution. Stalin, however, died of a stroke before this could become a reality.
  • Before Stalin became a revolutionary, he attended school at the Tiflis Spiritual Seminary with hopes of becoming a priest. He also served as a weatherman for an observatory in the Western Russian Empire and enjoyed writing poems in his spare time. After joining ranks with the Bolsheviks, Stalin quickly turned to a life of crime and murder; robbing banks, trains, and ships to “fund the Bolshevik struggle” ( In one heist, Stalin and his gang murdered over 40 people.
  • In his relentless pursuit to industrialize the Soviet Union, Stalin created one of the worst famines in global history. Between 1932 and 1933, nearly eight million people died of starvation across Ukraine, Western Russia, and Kazakhstan as secret police and Red Army troops confiscated grain from peasants for export. Today, this tragic famine is known as the “Holodomor,” or “death by starvation.”
  • During the reign of Nicholas II, Stalin was exiled to Siberia on seven different occasions by Russian police. Despite these attempts, Stalin managed to escape from Siberia each time; donning multiple disguises and aliases to elude recapture.
  • Stalin’s son Yakov became a prisoner of war during World War Two by the Nazis and later died in a concentration camp before the end of the war.
Famous portrait of Joseph Stalin

Famous portrait of Joseph Stalin

Famous Works by Joseph Stalin

The Foundations of Leninism. Published in 1965.

Dialectical and Historical Materialism. Published in 1938.

Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.. Published in 1952.

Marxism and the National and Colonial Question. Published in 1912.

Problems of Leninism. Published in 1941.

Marxism and Problems of Linguistics. Published in 1951.

"Death is the solution to all problems. No man—no problem."

— Joseph Stalin

Famous Quotes by Stalin

  • "The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do."
  • "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We should not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas."
  • "Death is the solution to all problems. No man -- no problem."
  • "Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."
  • "I trust no one, not even myself."
  • "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
  • "It is not heroes that make history, but history that makes heroes."

Suggestions for Further Reading on Stalin

Applebaum, Anne. Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine. New York: Doubleday, 2017.

Khlevniuk, Oleg. Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.

Kotkin, Stephen. Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928. New York: Penguin Press, 2014.

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Read More From Owlcation

Kotkin, Stephen. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941. New York: Penguin Press, 2017.

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2003.

Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin: The First In-Depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents From Russia's Secret Archives. New York: Anchor Books, 1997.

Service, Robert. Stalin: A Biography. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2006.

Works Cited

"59 Interesting Facts about Joseph Stalin | FactRetriever." Interesting Facts. Accessed August 07, 2018. Staff. "Joseph Stalin." 2009. Accessed August 07, 2018.

"Joseph Stalin." History Crunch - History Resource for 21st Century Teachers and Learners! Accessed August 07, 2018.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Larry Slawson


JKilcollum on April 16, 2019:

Within the House of Commons during Chamberlain office-due to his persistence for appeasements with Hilter! Leo Avery from his own party recited “ You have sat too long for any good you have been doing!

Depart, aid say, and let us have done with you!

In the name of God Go! Go - followed by repeats of Go by other house members after, Chamberlain got it wrong, When he said, “Hilter missed the bus”

My question is why are US republicans place party first ?

As in UK when Chamberlain’s own party placed country above party during, most difficult times ?

Why can’t republicans stand up to Trump In Senate as Chamberlain represented within his own party, in the house of Commons in UK at onset WW2?

Peter Day on March 01, 2019:

By comparison with Stalin - the paranoiac of the century - Hitler was a demented boy scout.

Alistair Cook

Larry Slawson (author) from North Carolina on August 18, 2018:

@Dora Yes indeed! Stalin was, in many ways, just as bad as Adolf Hitler in his actions.

@Readmikenow Most definitely! I actually did my Master's thesis on the Holodomor. It was horrible how many died of starvation because of Stalin's policies and forced collectivization.

@Liz I'm glad you enjoyed :)

Readmikenow on August 09, 2018:

Good article. I wish you would have mentioned Holodomor. That is also a huge part of Stalin's legacy.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 09, 2018:

I think that even studying his life is a very brave act. His quotes speak volumes of the kind of mind he had.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 08, 2018:

This is a very interesting article. I have learned a lot.

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