If you look at Joseph Stalin just by his picture, you can see a smiling grandfather looking right back at you, but don’t be deceived! Stalin killed millions of innocent people to claim his authority and to prove his power. Due to his mass executions and his brutal programs, many historians debate over who was worse, Stalin or Hitler.
Joseph Stalin Facts
1. The Name Stalin Means “Man of Steel.”
Nowadays, the title “Man of Steel” refers to Superman, but back then, Stalin’s name was derived from the Russian word Stal, which means steel. Truly living up to his name, Joseph Stalin ruled Russia with an iron fist, and he didn’t back down when faced with difficulties. Also, Joseph Stalin was originally named Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, but he later changed his name to Stalin in his mid-thirties, an interesting fact about Joseph Stalin.
2. Joseph Stalin Changed His Birth Date.
When Stalin rose to power, he created a cult to promote himself. Yes, it sounds a little bit crazy, but dictators have a tendency of making awful choices when in absolute power. Due to his personalized cult, Stalin wanted to make himself younger. Since he can’t make himself immortal, Joseph Stalin chose to make his age smaller by changing his birth date. Although he was originally born on December 18, 1878, Stalin changed his birth date to December 21, 1879.
3. Stalin Refused to Save His Son’s Life.
Even though it was a short marriage, Stalin had a son named Yakov. When Stalin came into power, Yakov was enrolled in USSR Artillery Academy. After his graduation, Yakov was immediately sent into the front lines to fight the Germans. Even though he was Stalin’s son, an interesting fact about Joseph Stalin is that he made sure that his son would stay in the front lines to fight for his mother country. After a brief skirmish, Yakov was captured and was later interrogated by the Germans.
Knowing his identity, Germans offered to exchange Yakov for a captured German officer. However, Stalin refused to save his son since Yakov did not commit suicide before he was captured. Not just once, Germans offered to exchange Yakov for the second time, but again, Stalin refused. Due to his refusals, Germans put Yakov in a concentration camp, which eventually led to Yakov’s death.
4. Stalin’s Great Purge Killed Nearly 1 Million Russians.
After Lenin’s death, there was a struggle for power among the Communist party. The main contestants were Stalin and two Russian politicians. After a brief struggle for power, Stalin remained in the lead, and he personally fired his rivals to a long, long exile. To clear his remaining threats, Stalin initiated the Great Purge, which wiped out politicians, generals, and even soldiers of his own army. Historians count the numbers to be nearly one million while others say that Stalin murdered even more of his people, a crazy fact about Joseph Stalin.
5. Stalin’s Collectivization Killed Even More Ukrainians.
Also known as collectivization, Stalin forced many small farms into a big state plantation. However, his plans went downhill quickly since the farmers weren’t given any incentives to work. Most of the food from their farms were shipped to Russia, and the small part that they were given was getting smaller and smaller. Due to this program, many Ukrainian farmers starved to death, and even more, farmers that resisted were immediately shot by USSR Secret Police.
Just by this program alone, Stalin killed nearly 4 million Ukrainians, and he even enlarged the problem by putting the skilled farmers into concentration camps and prisons.
6. Joseph Stalin Received Early Warnings of Hitler’s Invasion.
Before conquering Western and Southern Europe, Hitler made a treaty with USSR to prevent Stalin from invading Germany. After conquering several European countries, Hitler began to turn his eyes toward the wide plains of Russia. When Hitler began to amass his troops along the Russian border, Stalin began to receive many warnings about Hitler’s movements. Even though Stalin received warnings from the British, French, and even his own Secret Police, he dismissed the warnings as false rumors.
Due to the unpreparedness of Russia, Germany was able to inflict heavy conflicts on the Red Army. As the war waged on, many Russian civilians and innocent bystanders were also killed by German gunfire.
7. During WWII, Stalin Deployed Women Combat Units.
Before Hitler’s invasion of Russia, the Red Army did not accept women as eligible military combatants. However, as the Germans began their advance, Stalin was in need of more Russian soldiers. From that moment on, women were allowed to enlist, and Stalin immediately sent the newly-formed combat units to the front lines. Even though many women were enlisted for medical purposes, there were many women combat bomber units as well, an interesting Joseph Stalin fact. Due to their ferocity, many women snipers were famed among the Soviet Red Army, and women bomber units such as the “Night Witches” earned titles due to their bravery in battle.
8. Stalin Rewrote History by Altering Documented Photos.
Since Joseph Stalin had absolute control over the government, he also had the power to rewrite textbooks and various documents in his favor. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, Stalin also chose to alter pictures to portray himself in a positive light. Remember the Great Purge? Stalin eliminated any general or politician that posed a threat to his power, and many of them were portrayed in the pictures of Russian textbooks.
After eliminating his enemies, Stalin also erased them from history by deleting their pictures from Russian textbooks. Under Stalin’s scrutiny, even the chief investigator of Stalin’s Secret Police was eliminated and erased from Russia’s history.
Is Dictatorship Worth It?
For the dictator, yes! However, for the rest of the people, the answer is absolute no. Absolute power in the hand of one person is a dangerous thing since man cannot be trusted with complete control. Time and time again, dictatorship is proven deceitful as dictators continue to abuse their power for their own selfish interests. Through these interesting facts of Joseph Stalin, I hoped you learned a lesson that dictatorship is not worth it!
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