Joseph StalinPolitical Leader / World War II Figure
Died: 5 March 1953
Birthplace: Gori, Georgia (now Republic of Georgia)
Best known as:
The dictatorial leader of the U.S.S.R. from 1928 to 1953
Name at birth: Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili
Ruthless and ambitious, Joseph Stalin grabbed control of the Soviet Union after the death of V.I. Lenin in 1924. As a member of the Bolshevik party, Stalin (his adopted name meaning "Man of Steel") had an active role in Russia's October Revolution in 1917. He maneuvered his way up the communist party hierarchy, and in 1922 was named General Secretary of the Central Committee. By the end of the 1920s, Joseph Stalin had expelled his rival Leon Trotsky, consolidated power, and was the de facto dictator of the Soviet Union. In the 1930s Stalin summarily executed his political enemies and started aggressive industrial and agricultural programs that left untold thousands of peasants dead. During World War II, Joseph Stalin was the commander of the Soviet military, and attended the postwar conferences at Yalta, Teheran and Potsdam that determined the shape of the postwar world. After Stalin's death he was denounced by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, and "Stalinism" was officially condemned.
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