Important Joseph Stalin Fact
Important Joseph Stalin Fact

59 Terrifying Facts about Joseph Stalin

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 31, 2017
  • Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1929-1953. He murdered tens of millions of people as he forced an underdeveloped Soviet Union to become an atomic superpower.[4]
  • Farmers under Stalin’s rule harvested enough grain to feed the Russian people during widespread famine that killed millions, but Stalin insisted on exporting it to pay for his new factories.[4]
  • Stalin was not actually a native Russian. He was from Georgia, a region that had been claimed by Russia in 1801. He may also be Ossetian (an Iranian ethnic group) on his paternal side.[6]
  • Historians still debate how far the Allied cause was compromised by using one dictator (Stalin) to stop another (Hitler) during WW II and then handing over tens of millions of Europeans to Soviet servitude after the war.[3]
  • Between 1936-1938, Stalin instigated “The Great Purge” or “The Great Terror” to purge the Communist Party and to consolidate his own power. Millions of people were sent to forced labor, kidnapped or executed. He purged more than ¾ of his own generals, field commanders, and naval admirals in the Red Army.[4]
  • While approving lists of people to be assassinated, Stalin reportedly muttered, “Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years time? No one. Who remembers the names of the boyars Ivan the Terrible got rid of? No one.”[4]
  • History of Stalin Fact
    Stalin murdered more people than Hitler
  • Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Mao Tse Tung are statistically the most effective mass murderers of the 20th century. Numbers vary, but it is estimated that Stalin killed 40 million people, Mao Tse Tung killed 60 million, and Hitler killed 30 million.[2]
  • French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) shockingly excused the purges of both Stalin and later Mao. On the horrors of the gulags, Sartre thought silence was the best approach: “It was not our duty to write about the Soviet labor camps.”[1]
  • Stalin (allegedly) appointed chief scientist Ilya Ivanov (1870-1932) to create hybrid ape-man of “immense strength, but with an underdeveloped brain.” When Ivanov was unable to deliver, he was arrested and exiled to Kazakhstan.[9]
  • Stalin was hit by a horse-drawn carriage twice as a child, which led to permanent damage of his left arm. This injury exempted him from fighting in WW I where he would have likely died.[6]
  • Stalin loved movies, especially westerns. He considered himself a movie producer/director, screenwriter, and a supreme censor. When Lenin said, “Cinema is the most important of the arts,” Stalin agreed. He also inherited Goebbels’s movie library after the war.[9]
  • Stalin’s main rival in the communist party, Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), nicknamed Stalin “Comrade Index Card.” However, Stalin would have the last laugh as Stalin later became the head of the country, and Trotsky would later be killed with an ice pick while on the run in Mexico by one of Stalin’s henchmen.[9]
  • Joseph Stalin was born Josef Vissarionovich Djhugashvili on December 18, 1878 (or December 6, 1878 according to the Old Style Julian calendar) in the town of Gori in Georgia. Stalin would later purposely change his birthdate to December 21, 1879, most likely to throw off the tsar’s secret police.[6]
  • Gulag survivor Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) described Stalin’s prison camps his book The Gulag Archipelago (1973). He said that a prisoner at any time might be thrown into a “bedbug infested box” where hoards of hungry parasites would swarm a victim. At first, a prisoner would resist the parasites, but after a few hours, he would weaken, and let the parasites “drink his blood without a murmur.”[8]
  • Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.

    - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

  • In 1910, Josef Djhugashvili changed his name to Stalin, which means “man of steel.”[9]
  • It is estimated that the death toll directly attributed to Stalin’s rule is over 20 million lives—on top of the estimated 20 million Soviet troops and civilians who died during WW II—for a total of 40 million lives. Some scholars put the number as high as 60 million.[4]
  • Stalin had an utter disregard for human life, as reflected in this quote: “Death is the solution to all problems. No man—no problem.”[4]
  • During WW II, Stalin ordered Red Army officers to execute deserters and troops who ran from battle. Between 1941 and 1942 alone, more than 150,000 soldiers were shot.[4]
  • In 1952, Stalin created an imaginary conspiracy called the Doctor’s Plot in which he arrested hundreds of doctors and medical workers, mostly Jews. Ironically, all the best doctors were in jail when Stalin suffered a stroke and subsequently died.[3]
  • Some historians believe that Stalin was actually poisoned with wayfarin (a colorless blood thinner used as rat killer) during a final dinner with members of his Politburo. Scholars suggest he was assassinated to prevent a looming war with the United States.[11]
  • Stalin had two older siblings who died young. He was the only child in his family to survive to adulthood.[6]
  • As a teenager, Joseph Stalin was a bully, notorious for acts of violence and vandalism.[6]
  • Random John Wayne Fact
    Wayne alledgely told the FBI to let the men show up and he would deal with them
  • Stalin thought the actor John Wayne (1907-1979) was a threat to Communism and should be assassinated. Assassins were supposedly sent to LA, but they failed to kill Wayne before Stalin’s death. When Stalin’s successor Khrushchev met “the Duke” later, he told Wayne that he had rescinded the order.[5]
  • Stalin’s father, Besarion (Beso), was an alcoholic who often beat his wife and young son. After his business failed, Beso left his wife and Stalin, visiting them only occasionally to continue the beatings and drinking.[6]
  • Stalin’s mother, Ekaterina (Keke) has been characterized in vastly different ways. By some accounts, she was an illiterate but devout housemaid who wanted Stalin to become a priest. Other reports claim she was promiscuous and even a prostitute who slept with several prominent men in the community, including the local police chief and the local tavern owner.[6]
  • Stalin had several physical deformities, including a face scarred by small pox, a webbed foot, and a withered arm. He would remain incredibly self-conscious of his appearance throughout his life.[6]
  • In the course of his secret life, Stalin was known by several names, including Soso, “Soselo” or “Koba.” The latter was the name of the romantic hero in Alexander Kazbegi’s 1882 novel The Patricide.[6]
  • Stalin was only 5’4.” President Truman’s nickname for Stalin was “the little squirt.”[9]
  • Stalin often put to death even his closest allies and compatriots. He once said “I trust no one, not even myself.”[9]
  • Before Stalin became dictator and killed an upwards of 20 million people, he entered the Tiflis Spiritual Seminary—the highest rung of the educational ladder in the Caucasus--to become a priest. While he later said he was forced out for stating Marxist ideals, he actually left on his own accord.[6]
  • Before becoming a ruthless dictator and supreme ruler of the U.S.S.R., Stalin’s one and only legitimate job was that of a weatherman for an observatory. He had to leave suddenly to escape the Tsar’s secret police.[6]
  • Stalin’s forced industrialization of Russia created the worst man-made famine in history between 1932 and 1933. Today, Ukrainians, remember the famine as the Holodomor, or “murder by starvation.” An estimated 6-8 million people died, of whom 4-5 million were Ukrainians.[4]
  • Soviet Famine Fact
    Historians argue whether Stalin purposely caused the famine to destroy the Ukraine

  • Before committing mass murders and forced displacements of millions, Stalin was an aspiring poet. Under the name Soselo, he authored and published several poems, including odes to violets[6]
  • Stalin was exiled to Siberia not once, not twice—but seven times. He managed to escape most of those times, showing a penchant for dramatic getaways and adopting a wide range of alias and disguises.[6]
  • After Stalin’s son Yakov (1907-1943) was taken prisoner by the Nazis, Stalin refused to pay ransom for his return, even though his son faced the potential of terrible torture. Yakov died in a Nazi concentration camp.[4]
  • So feared was Stalin among his own troops, that when he arrived on the front during Russia’s civil war (1917-1923), an entire regiment defected to the White Army. He punished the rebellion by publicly executing anyone he could catch.[7]
  • Before he was dictator, Joseph Stalin and his gang, known as “The Outfits” robbed banks, trains, and mail ships to fund the Bolshevik struggle. In one murderous robbery in 1907, Stalin’s gangsters killed 40 people, robbed two horse drawn carriages, and stole a quarter of million dollars. He never answered for his crimes.[7]
  • Under Stalin, religion was violently suppressed with mass arrests and the closure of churches.[3]
  • During WW II, Stalin initially tried to ally with Hitler. However, when Hitler declared war on the Soviet Union, Stalin then sided with the Allies.[3]
  • Stalin often turned on the very people he relied on to carry out his executions. For example, in 1939, he had the commissar of the NKVD Nikolai Yezhov (a.k.a “the blood thirsty dwarf”) executed. Yezhov was stripped, beaten, dragged sobbing from his cell, and shot. Officials even retouched photos to erase him.[7]
  • Interesting KGB Fact
    After Yezhov was executed, Stalin removed all traces of his presence

  • Despite killing millions of people, Stalin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, once in 1945 and again in 1948, for his involvement in bringing WW II to an end. He was also named Time magazine Man of the Year twice, in 1939 and 1942.[3]
  • Stalin’s first wife died of typhus 7 months after the birth of their first son. Stalin said all tenderness died with her. His second wife, with whom he had two children, committed suicide. Stalin also fathered several children out of wedlock.[6]
  • Stalin died in March 5, 1953 after he suffered a stroke. He was embalmed and preserved in Lenin’s mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square until 1961 when it was removed and buried near the Kremlin as part of the de-Stalinization process.[4]
  • In the 1950s, Stalin gave North Korea’s communist leader Kim II Sung (1912-1994) permission to invade United States supported South Korea, an event that triggered the Korean War.[4]
  • Stalin was a prodigious reader and was noted for his intelligence. He gave one of his many mistresses, who was nicknamed “Glamourpuss,” a copy of A Study of Western Literature.[6]
  • A recent Carnegie endowment for International Peace survey revealed that while 65% of Russians agreed that Stalin was responsible for millions of deaths, 45% of Russians held a generally positive view of him.[10]
  • In 2003, about 750,000 Russians voted for a party that said it was continuing Stalin’s attempt to battle the ancient Egyptian priesthood of Ra, which supposedly runs the world from its base in Switzerland.[10]
  • During his rule, Stalin sent millions of people to labor camps or “gulags.” At least one million people died there.[3]
  • Before Lenin died, he wrote what is known as “Lenin’s Testament,” which stated that Stalin should be replaced with someone less brutal. Despite Lenin’s denouncement, Stalin managed to kill or exile all of his rivals and gain ultimate power.[7]
  • Lenin and Stalin Fact
    Lenin would ultimately criticize Stalin's rude manners, ambition and cruelty

  • Stalin created a state-run media propaganda system that portrayed Stalin as a wise and caring leader. Newspapers claimed he was responsible for the Soviet Union’s “beautiful present and future.”[4]
  • During the Great Terror (1936-1938), children of Stalin’s victims were given new names so they couldn’t track down their parents.[3]
  • Stalin’s personal doctors suggested that major atherosclerosis in the brain could have contributed to his paranoia and ruthlessness of his rule over the Soviet Union.[3]
  • Stalin most likely exercised greater political power than any other figure in history. Specifically--through sheer force--he industrialized the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, collectivized agriculture, created a system of police terror, helped defeat Germany in WW II, and extended Soviet control to include a belt of Eastern European states.[3]
  • In 1942, one of Stalin’s advisors told Stalin that the best way to get concessions from Churchill was to get him drunk. Stalin later laughed that the tactic worked and that “It’s good when you know the weakness of your enemy in advance.”[3]
  • Later in life, Stalin became a hypochondriac and was obsessed about being poisoned. He insisted on having his food lab-tested on a retinue of rats and mice that went everywhere with him.[3]
  • Interesting NKVD Fact
    The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, or the NKVD, was the leading Soviet secret police organization from 1934 to 1946
  • Stalin created one of the most comprehensive and fearsome apparatus of state terror in all of history, the NKVD (an ancestor KGB). It was a system of terror that conducted mass executions, kidnappings, created the horrific Gulag camps, and was responsible for mass deportations of entire nationalities.[7]
  • On the night of August 12, 1952, Stalin ordered the execution of 13 Yiddish poets, writers, and cultural and political figures in the USSR as part of his paranoid anti-Semitic campaign following WW II.[3]
  • Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva, later known as Lana Peters was the youngest child and only daughter of Joseph Stalin. In 1967, she defected from Soviet Union and sought asylum in the United States.[3]
  • Among the many mass executions during Stalin’s “Great Terror” was the Vinnytsia massacre, during which Soviet secret police murdered at least 9,432 people. A monument was erected to the “Victims of Stalinist Terror.” Later the Soviets rededicated it as the “Victims of Nazi Terror.”[3]
References

1Holt, Jim. “Exit, Pursued by a Lobster.” Slate. September 22, 2003. Accessed: February 19, 2016.

2Jones, Nigel. “From Stalin to Hitler, the Most Murderous Regimes in the World.” Mail Online. October 7, 2014. Accessed: February 18, 2016.

3Kotkin, Stephen. Stalin: Paradox of Power, Vol 1.New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2014.

4McCollum, Sean. Stalin: A Wicked History. New York, NY: Franklin Watts, 2010.

5Montefiore, Simon Sebag. “Why Stalin Loved Tarzan and Wanted John Wayne Shot.” Telegraph. June 4, 2004. Accessed: February 2, 2016.

6Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Young Stalin. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

7Rayfield, Donald. Stalin and his Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him. New York, NY: Random House, 2004.

8Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag of Archipelago. London, UK: The Harvill Press, 2003.

9Stalin Facts: 10 Little Known Facts.” Military History. November 18, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2016.

10Wagstaff, Keith. “Why So Many Russians Still Love Stalin.” The Week. March 5, 2013. Accessed: February 18, 2016.

11Wines, Michael. “New Study Supports Idea Stalin was Poisoned.The New York Times. March 5, 2003. Accessed; February 19, 2016.

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