Iosef Vissarionovich Djugashvili was born on 18 December 1878, in the poor town of Gori, Georgia, then an appendage of the Russian Empire. Josef Stalin, as he later named himself, was the son of Besarion Jughashvili and Ketevan Geladze, a working-class family, and was frequently beaten by his alcoholic father. Josef was stricken with smallpox at the age of seven, most likely caused by his frailty and small size. As a result of his vulnerability and his development of smallpox, he was left with a face that was scarred and a left arm that was deformed for the remainder of his life; this was a cause for the cruel treatment he suffered from the other village children. Consequently, Stalin developed a sense of narcissistic greatness to combat his feelings of inferiority as a child, which earned him the reputation as an insecure but intimidating man.
As Josef aged into an adolescent he was convinced by his mother, a devout Orthodox Christian, to study for priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church. At his school he preformed so proficiently that Stalin was given a scholarship to the Tiflis Theological Seminary in 1894. One year later, Josef became involved in revolutionary activities; he was introduced to the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, and in 1898 joined an organization supporting Georgian independence from Russia. However, Stalin left five years later in 1899, most likely due to his extreme political and revolutionary beliefs.
With his academic studies abandoned, Stalin only furthered his already active involvement in Marxism and in political agitation. It was at this time that he adopted the name “Koba” as an alias. At the peak of his political activism, Josef Stalin joined the Social Democratic Labor Party, or ...
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... after Stalin encouraged the communist ruler of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, to invade South Korea.
In postwar Soviet Russia, Josef Stalin continued his campaigns of terror that involved numerous purges, executions, and the frequent exiles to gulags. As Stalin became increasingly paranoid and obsessive, he tightened his grip on Soviet culture; he became known for suppressing modern art, western music, dissenting literature, and widespread censorship of general media. As the 1950s’ approached Stalin’s health dramatically deteriorated, and he died from a stroke on 5 March 1953, at age 74.
After Josef Stalin’s death and burial, Nikita Khrushchev became his successor and initiated the process of “de-Stalinization.” Josef Stalin was responsible for the deaths of over twenty to thirty-million, a number stunningly greater than that of his political opponent, Adolf Hitler.
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