Joseph Stalin - Powerful Communist Leader of the Soviet Union
Joseph Stalin was born in 1878 in Georgia, which was a Russian province at that time. He had a very troubled childhood. His father often got drunk and beat him up. After school he joined a Marxist organization where he took part in strikes and violent attacks. During this period Stalin was arrested and had to go to prison many times. He was sent to Siberia after he had created the party newspaper Pravda.
Lenin, who was leader of the Communists during the Russian Revolution, admired Stalin for the hard work he did for the party. He helped Stalin reach a high position in the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
When Lenin died in 1924 Joseph Stalin fought for the leadership of the party. By 1928 he had removed all of his enemies and became the sole leader of the Soviet Union. During the 1930s he started five year development plans and focused on improving the country’s industry.
One of the Communist leader’s greatest tasks was to collectivize farming. The government took away land from rich farmers and created state-owned farms. However, they did not produce enough food for the people and many starved.
While he was leader Joseph Stalin he steadily increased his power. He got rid of those who threatened him or were against his reforms. Many of his enemies were shot or sent to Siberia. Stalin also created a secret police and a big intelligence agency. A network of spies collected information from all over the world.
Joseph Stalin and World War II
Shortly before the Second World War began Stalin signed a pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. It divided Eastern Europe among the two powers. Both leaders promised not to attack each other.
In 1941 Hitler broke the agreement and invaded the Soviet Union. In the winter of 1941/1942 German forces were defeated and driven back. It was the turning point of the war and from then on the Red Army started marching towards the west. Although the Soviet Union and the Allies defeated Germany millions of Russian civilians and soldiers died.
After World War II Communist influence started to spread to Eastern Europe. Under Stalin’s rule many Eastern European countries became satellite states of the Soviet Union. In the Cold War that followed there was always the danger of war between the two superpowers.
Although Stalin was a ruthless leader he also did things that helped the Russians. He gave women education and jobs. Transportation throughout the country was improved, new railway lines were built.
In his private life Joseph Stalin married twice. His first wife Ekaterina died four years after they had married .Their son Yakov was never really close to his father. When the Germans captured Yakov they wanted to trade him for a German officer but Stalin refused and said that he had millions of sons. The Germans must free all or none of them.
Joseph Stalin died of a stroke in 1953. Rumors say he might have been poisoned.
- Russian Revolution
- The Soviet Union
- Mao Zedong - China's Communist Leader
- The Cold War
- Key Figures of World War II
- admire = like; think vey highly of
- agreement = treaty, pact
- although = while
- arrest = if the police put you into prison
- attack = violence against someone
- beat up =hit
- capture = to catch a person and keep them as prisoner
- Central Committee = the highest organ of the Communist party
- close = here: to like a person and have a good relationship with them
- collectivize = to take away private things or land from a person and give it to the state to control
- create = form, make
- defeat = to win against
- development =growth
- focus = concentrate on
- forces = soldiers
- get rid of = to do away with
- however = but
- improve = to make better
- increase = to become more
- influence = power
- intelligence agency = an organization that collects information from other countries
- invade = to enter a country with soldiers and take power there
- join = to become a member of
- labor camp = place where you have to work and get very little to eat
- leadership = control
- Marxist = Communist; when government is controlled by workers
- officer = a high person in the army
- pact = treaty , deal
- poison = to put something in a person’s food or drink so that it might kill him
- promise = to give your word
- reach = get
- Red Army = the Communist army of Russia
- refuse = to say no
- remove = to get rid of
- rule = government
- rumor = information that one person passes on to the next and which may or may not be true
- Russian Revolution = the events of 1917 when Russia got rid of their tsar and the Communists took over the country
- ruthless = cruel, coldblooded
- satellite state = a country or area that is controlled by another larger one
- secret police = police that do not work in public but collect information secretly
- sign = to put your name on a document
- sole = only
- Soviet Union = a very big country in Europe and Asia that existed between 1917 and 1991. In the 1990s it broke up into Russia and many other smaller countries
- spread = extend to
- spy = a person who lives and works in another country and tries to get information about the government there
- starve = to die of hunger
- state-owned = belonging to the state
- steadily =slowly
- task = job
- trade = exchange for
- troubled = not very good
- turning point = here: the time when Germany started to lose and the Russians started to win battles
- violent = brutal , aggressive