Joseph Stalin – Russiapedia Leaders Prominent Russians

Assessment of stalin’s era

Such an outstanding person could not but invoke polar opinions about his activity; and there are several schools of thought. The advocates of liberal thought view Stalin as the executioner of freedom and initiative, a creator of the totalitarian society and a criminal who committed so many crimes against humanity he could only be compared to Adolf Hitler.

The Communist Party has an ambivalent perception of Stalin. The pro-Stalinists justify his every deed and see him as the true successor to Lenin, while those in the opposition deem Stalin a traitor and betrayer of Lenin’s ideas.

The extremist wing praises Stalin as the only true salvation and the only real ruler suited for Russia. They see his “strong hand” policy as the only true way to have revived the Russian state.

Today the role of Stalin in Russian history is the subject of bitter public debate, with a number of Russian history textbooks calling him “an effective manager” and others presenting him as absolute evil.

RT’s series of documentaries provides a detailed thrilling desciption of Stalin’s purges.

Written by Ekaterina Shubnaya, RT


Stalin’s regime moved to force the so-called Collectivization of agriculture. The measure aimed at increasing agricultural output through large-scale collective farms, bringing the peasantry under direct political control and making tax collection more efficient.

Collectivization brought about social changes not seen since the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Collectivization also meant a drastic drop in living standards for many peasants, understandably provoking violent reactions and repulsion among the peasantry.

In the first years of Collectivization industrial production was expected to increase by 200% and agricultural production by 50%. These estimates were never even minimally met. Stalin blamed the unanticipated failure on the “kulaks” (rich peasants) who resisted Collectivization most fiercely.

Those officially defined as «kulaks,» «kulak helpers,» and later «ex-kulaks» were persecuted and eventually either shot or exiled, depending on the charge. Archival data indicates that 20,201 people were executed during 1930, the year of the so-called “Dekulakization”.

When the exiles and executions related to Collectivization reached their climax, Stalin issued his two famous editorials, «Dizzy with Success» and «Reply to Collective Farm Comrades,» in which he openly blamed the local authorities for excessive violence in purging the peasantry — a prime example of his capacity for tactical political withdrawal when his policies got out of hand.


Shortly before, during and immediately after World War II, Stalin conducted a series of deportations on a huge scale, which profoundly affected the ethnic map of the Soviet Union. It is estimated that between 1941 and 1949 nearly 3.3 million people were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. By some estimates up to 43% of the resettled population died of diseases and malnutrition.

Separatism, resistance to Soviet rule and collaboration with the invading Germans were cited as the official reasons for the deportations, rightly or wrongly, and the individual circumstances of those spending time in German-occupied territories were never examined.

Deportations took place in appalling conditions, often in cattle trucks, with hundreds of thousands of deportees dying en route of famine or disease. Those who survived were forced to work practically 24 hours a day without pay in the specially organized labor camps in Siberia.

Families were deliberately broken up, with all children, if any, placed into different orphanages. In February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev condemned the deportations, but it was not until 1991 that the Tatars, Meskhetians and Volga Germans were allowed to return to their homelands. The deportations had a profound effect on the peoples of the Soviet Union.

Early years

Joseph Stalin (Iosif Dzhugashvili) was born in Gori, Georgia, a town then plagued by street violence, on 21 December 1879. He was brought up in a family of a shoemaker and a peasant’s daughter. The only one to survive out of four children, he himself was very prone to illnesses – for this reason his mother was very protective of him.

Some sources, however, claim that, as a strict and religious woman, she frequently resorted to physical punishment, which she believed was an integral part of child rearing. Stalin’s relationship with his mother was strained and he didn’t even attend her funeral in 1937.

Joseph’s father, Vissarion, a shoemaker, was heavily addicted to drinking and had a drunken habit of beating up his wife and son. Stalin recalled getting so mad at his father that he once almost killed him by throwing a knife at him.

At the age of seven Joseph contacted smallpox. He survived but his face remained scarred for the rest of his life and other children cruelly called him «pocky.» At the age of 12, two horse-drawn carriage accidents left his left arm permanently damaged.

Despite his health problems, young Stalin finished high school as one of the best students and eventually won a free scholarship to the Tiflis (now Tbilisi) Theological Seminary.

While studying at the seminary, he joined a secret political organization called Messame Dassy (The Third Group), where he first discovered the theories of Karl Marx.

In May 1899, Stalin was expelled from the Tiflis Theological Seminary. He was suspected of reading forbidden books and converting students to Marxism, while at the same time, the school records reveal, he merely didn’t show up for the exam.

For several months after leaving the seminary Stalin was unemployed. He eventually found work giving private lessons to middle class children. Later, he worked as a clerk at the Tiflis Observatory and began writing articles for a socialist Georgian newspaper.


The 1920s had a devastating effect on the country’s economy. Industrial output in 1922 was 13% of that of 1914. A recovery followed under the New Economic Policy, which did allow a degree of market flexibility but did not last long enough to fully recuperate from the years of stagnation.

Industrialization, rapid |

Soviet growth strategy was focused on fast growth through intensive industrialization. It involved the self-development of an industrial base, concentrated in capital goods or «means of production,» also dubbed «Sector A» according to Marxian jargon. It became the official strategy of the Soviet leadership as a resolution of the Soviet Industrialization debate that occupied communist thinkers and politicians during the mid-1920s. The industrialization debate considered two growth strategies. One, supported by moderates and led by Nikolai Bukharin, advocated an extension of the New Economic Policy (NEP), centered on industrialization but based on the initial development of agriculture, mostly by individual and independent farmers. A prospering agricultural sector would create demand on the part of both consumers and producers for industrial goods, as well as surplus resources in terms of savings, to finance this industrialization. While all sectors of manufacturing would be developed, surplus agricultural products would be used as exports in order to import machinery and technology from the West. Advocates of the alternative strategy, including leaders of the left such as Leon Trotsky, preferred a more rapid state-led industrialization drive, concentrated in large state-owned heavy industrial enterprises financed by forced savings, extracted from collectivized (thus supposedly more productive) agriculture and from the population. While machinery and technology would be imported, the main thrust would be to build an indigenous heavy industrial base and early self-sufficiency in all industrial goods, and more autarky. The high level of forced savings would minimize consumption and hence provide for higher rate of investment, faster growth, and a relatively smaller «Sector B» of consumer goods and light industry; in contrast with a normal path of early development of light and consumer goods industries, followed by gradual move toward the production of machinery and capital goods. The more radical variant was also more consistent with Marxian doctrine and teaching.

Josef Stalin used the industrialization debate as a leverage to gain control, first by siding with the moderates to oust Trotsky and his followers, and then by ousting the moderates and adopting an even more extreme variant of forced industrialization. Other motivations for his choice of the heavy industrialization route were the Soviet Union‘s rich endowment of natural resources (coal, iron ores, oil, and gas), and the need (facing external threats), or desire, to develop a strong military capability.

This strategy guided the industrialization drive throughout, with only some easing off toward the end of the Soviet period. The 1930s were characterized by the construction of a large number of giant industrial, power, and transportation projects that involved moving millions of people to new and old cities and regions. This was also the period when collectivized agriculture was expected to provide surplus products and resources to feed the growing industrial labor force and to export in exchange for modern technology. Students of the period differ on the extent to which this really happened, and some claim that most of the extracted surplus through food procurements had to be reinvested in machinery and other inputs needed to make the new collective and state farms work. With the increasing threat of war toward the end of the 1930s, manufacturing became more oriented toward military production. Much of the industrial effort during the war years was directed toward the production of arms, but it was also characterized by a gigantic transfer of many hundreds of enterprises from the western parts of the USSR eastward to Siberia and the Far East in order to protect them from the advancing German army. This transfer happened to be consistent with an explicit goal of the regime to develop the east and northeast, the main concentration of natural resources, an effort that was facilitated over the years through the exploitation of millions of forced labor workers.

The rate of industrial growth in the Soviet Union was higher than that of agriculture and services, and the share of industry in total output and in the labor force increased over time as in any developing country. Except that in the Soviet Union these trends were stronger: The gaps in favor of industry were wider, also due to the deliberate constraint on the development of the service sector, considered nonproductive according to Marxian doctrine. Thus the share of industrial output in GNP climbed to more than 40 percent in the 1980s, significantly above the share in other countries of similar levels of economic development. The share of industrial labor was not exceptionally high due to the concentration of capital and of labor-saving technology. This over-industrialization, including noncompetitive industries, even some creating negative value, was recognized in the 1990s as a drag on the ability of former Communist states to adjust to a normal market structure and an open economy during the transition. The autarkic policy of industrialization pursued over most of the Soviet period contributed to a technological noncompatibility with the West, which further hurt the competitiveness of Soviet industry.

The bias of Soviet industrialization toward Sector A of investment and capital, as well as military goods, is apparent in the internal structure of industry. The share of Sector A industry grew fast to almost half of total industry and stayed at approximately that level throughout the entire period. It was also estimated that during the 1970s and 1980s military-related production occupied a substantial share of the output of the machine-building and metalworking sector as well as more than half the entire activities of research and development. The development of consumer and light industry («Sector B,» under Marxian parlance) was not only limited in volume; it also suffered from a low priority in the planning process and thus from low quality and technological level. «Sector A» industries, including the major military sector, enjoyed preferential treatment in the allocation of capital and technology, of high-quality labor resources and materials, and of more orderly and timely supplies. Hence some of the technological achievements in the spheres of defense and space. Hence also the very high costs of these achievements to the economy at large and to Sector B consumer industries in particular, which were characterized by low-quality and lagging technology, limited assortment, and perennial shortages. This policy of priorities also explains the very limited construction resources allocated to housing and to urban development, causing housing shortages, as well as the very low production of private cars and (to a lesser extent) household appliances. The biased structure of industry became also a serious barrier for restructuring under the transition.

See also: collectivization of agriculture; economic growth, soviet; industrialization

Bergson, Abram. (1961). The Real National Income of Soviet Russia since 1928. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

De Melo, Martha; Denizer, Cevdet; Gelb, Alan; and Tenev, Stoyan. (1997). «Circumstance and Choice: the Role of Initial Conditions and Policies in Transition Economies.» World Bank, Policy Research Working Paper no. 1866.

Domar, Evsey. (1953). «A Soviet Model of Growth.» In his Essays in the Theory of Economic Growth.New York: Oxford University Press.

Easterly, William, and Fischer, Stanley. (1995). «The Soviet Economic Decline: Historical and Republican Data.» World Bank Economic Review, 9(3):341371.

Erlich, Alexander. (1960). The Soviet Industrialization Debate, 19241928. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Millar, James R. (1990) The Soviet Economic Experience. Urbana, University of Illinois Press.

Ofer, Gur. (1987). «Soviet Economic Growth, 19281985.» Journal of Economic Literature 25(4):17671833.

Gur Ofer

Iosif stalin — rapid industrialization by pathtoenlighten on deviantart

Well… It was not SO bad, but it is pretty usual set of consequences for any actual «social revolution» (like France, and not like Ukraine). Yesterday’s «loosers» wanted «payback for their sufferings», and it took several years to pacify this fever. (Actually, after any victorious revolution most active revolutioneers MUST be destroyed).

About half of those actually educated and intelligent people survived pretty well — for example, father of space exploration, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, and many others. Legendary Georgy Zhukov started his career as an imperial officer.

So… It’s not so straight and  simple as it looks.

Personal life

In 1904 Stalin married Ekaterina Svanidze, the girl his mother was said to have picked out for him. After three years, however, she died of typhus. Stalin bereaved her deeply.

Their only son, Jacob, was captured by the Nazis, but as the legend has it, when the Germans offered Stalin to trade his son for the German General Paulus, Stalin replied, “I don’t trade a general for a soldier.” In 1943, Jacob was killed in the Sachsenhausen German concentration camp when he ran into an electric fence. Jacob was married three times and had a son, Evgeny, who actively participated in Russia’s political life in the 1990s.

In 1919 Stalin married for the second time. His new wife, Nadezhda Allilueva, was the daughter of one of Stalin’s colleagues and was 22 years his junior when he met her. This fact, however, did not prevent him from marrying the girl a year later. With Allilueva, Stalin had a son, Vasily, and a daughter, Svetlana.

On 9 November 1932, Nadezhda committed suicide, which was officially represented as a tragic death. In reality, she may have committed suicide by shooting herself after a quarrel with Stalin, leaving a suicide note, that, according to their daughter was «partly personal, partly political.

» There is also a belief that Stalin himself murdered his wife after the quarrel, which apparently took place at a dinner in which Stalin tauntingly flicked cigarettes across the table at her. Historians also claim her death ultimately «severed his link from reality.»

Vasily served in the air force and fought in World War II. After the war, he became the head of the Moscow anti-aircraft defenses. He died in 1962, allegedly of alcoholism. Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana sought political refuge at the US embassy in Delhi in 1967 and relocated to the United States permanently.

Witnesses recall Stalin to have been very ruthless with his children. Jacob, who Stalin addressed as nothing but “my fool,” had to spend nights on the landing outside the apartment or was sheltered by friends of the family, including Trotsky. Khrushchev recalled that Stalin once even beat Vasily with his boots.

Trotsky was the one to suggest that Stalin was simply replicating the atmosphere in his current family from the one he grew up with in Gori. Stalin’s attitude drove his son Jacob to a suicide attempt, which Stalin mocked, taunting him, “Ha-ha, bummer!”

The crowd of people who came to say good-bye to Stalin on 9 March 1953, was so numerous that it turned into a stampede. The exact death toll is still unknown, but the number of unidentified victims alone was estimated as high as 1422.

Stalin’s embalmed body was placed on public display in Lenin’s Mausoleum, which from 1953-1961 was called Lenin’s and Stalin’s Mausoleum. After 1961, however, the 22nd Congress proclaimed that since Stalin had violated Lenin’s heritage he was to be removed from the mausoleum. Stalin was also the first and only Soviet leader to have a burial service conducted by the Orthodox Church.

Rapid industrialization- stalin flashcards | quizlet

Inflation due to propaganda purposes
Regional managers inflated data to avoid punishment from GOSPLAN
Western historians agree that there were massive Soviet industry increases
35million tons of coal in 1927 to 145 million tons in 1939
GDP tripled during 28-40 during worldwide depression
Projects such as dneiper dam and moscow metro
USSR transformed into an industrial society with huge increases in urban population
Literacy rate was Increased from 51% to 81%

Production quality was a huge problem
«Workers recruited were recently peasants»

Suffered the effects of ‘gigantomonia’

Little increase in production of consumer goods
Expansion focused on heavy industry
Technological gap increased

The last years

Now in his seventies, Stalin’s health significantly deteriorated. Increasingly paranoid and physically weak, Stalin apparently was about to start another purge. In January 1953 he ordered the arrest of many Moscow doctors, mostly Jews, charging them with medical assassinations.

Moreover, Stalin ordered Lavrenty Beria, the head of the NKVD, to instigate a new purge of the Communist Party. Members of the Politburo began to panic as they saw the possibility that, like previous candidates for Stalin’s position as the head of the Soviet Union, they would be executed.

The so-called Doctors’ Plot and the new wave of purges within the Party seemed to herald a return to the 1930s, but Stalin’s sudden death on 5 March 1953 in Moscow forestalled another bloodbath.

By the end of February 1953 he fell into a coma. After four days, Stalin briefly regained consciousness and all the leading members of the Party were called for. While they watched him struggling for his life, he raised his left arm. His nurse, who was feeding him with a spoon at the time, took the view that he was pointing at a picture showing a small girl feeding a lamb.

His daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, who was also at his bedside, later claimed that he appeared to be «bringing a curse on them all.» Stalin then stopped breathing and although attempts were made to revive him, his doctors eventually accepted he was dead.

Three years after his death, Nikita Khrushchev, the new leader of the Soviet Union, made a speech at the Twentieth Party Congress, in which he attacked the policies of Stalin. Khrushchev revealed how Stalin had been responsible for the execution of thousands of loyal communists during the purges.

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