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Joseph Stalin

(1879—1953) Soviet statesman, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR 1922–53


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(born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili) (1879–1953) Soviet statesman, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR (1922–53). Born in Georgia, he joined the Bolsheviks under Lenin in 1903 and co-founded the party's newspaper Pravda in 1912, adopting the name ‘Stalin’ (Russian, ‘man of steel’) by 1913; in the same year he was exiled to Siberia until just after the Russian Revolution. Following Lenin's death he became chairman of the Politburo and secured enough support within the party to eliminate Trotsky as a contender for the leadership. By 1927 he was the uncontested leader of the party, and in the following year he launched a succession of five-year plans for the industrialization and collectivization of agriculture; as a result some 10 million peasants are thought to have died, either of famine or by execution. His purges of the intelligentsia in the 1930s along similarly punitive lines removed all opposition, while his direction of the armed forces led to victory over Hitler (1941–45). After 1945 he played a large part in the restructuring of postwar Europe and attempted to maintain a firm grip on other Communist states; he was later denounced by Khrushchev and the Eastern bloc countries.

Subjects: social sciences — Second World War.


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