5 March 1953: Joseph Stalin dies.
Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union since 1924, dies in Moscow.
Like his right-wing counterpart, Hitler, who was born in Austria, Joseph Stalin was not a native of the country he ruled with an iron fist. Isoeb Dzhugashvili was born in 1889 in Georgia, then part of the old Russian empire. The son of a drunk who beat him mercilessly and a pious washerwoman mother, Stalin learned Russian, which he spoke with a heavy accent all his life, in an Orthodox Church-run school. While studying to be a priest at Tiflis Theological Seminary, he began secretly reading Karl Marx and other left-wing revolutionary thinkers. The “official” communist story is that he was expelled from the seminary for this intellectual rebellion; in reality, it may have been because of poor health.
In 1900, Stalin became active in revolutionary political activism, taking part in labor demonstrations and strikes. Stalin joined the more militant wing of the Marxist Social Democratic movement, the Bolsheviks, and became a student of its leader, Vladimir Ilich Lenin. Stalin was arrested seven times between 1902 and 1913, and subjected to prison and exile.
Stalin’s first big break came in 1912, when Lenin, in exile in Switzerland, named him to serve on the first Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, now a separate entity from the Social Democrats. The following year, Stalin (finally dropping Dzugashvili and taking the new name Stalin, from the Russian word for “steel”) published a signal article on the role of Marxism in the destiny of Russia. In 1917, escaping from an exile in Siberia, he linked up with Lenin and his coup against the middle-class democratic government that had supplanted the czar’s rule. Stalin continued to move up the party ladder, from commissar for nationalities to secretary general of the Central Committee, a role that would provide the center of his dictatorial takeover and control of the party and the new USSR.
In fact, upon Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin began the consolidation of his power base, conducting show trials to purge enemies and rivals, even having Leon Trotsky assassinated during his exile in Mexico. Stalin also abandoned Lenin’s New Economic Policy, which would have meant some decentralization of industry. Stalin demanded, and got, absolute state control of the economy, as well as greater swaths of Soviet life, until his totalitarian grip on the new Russian empire was absolute.
The outbreak of World War II saw Stalin attempt an alliance with Adolf Hitler for purely self-interested reasons, and despite the political fallout of a communist signing an alliance with a fascist, they signed a nonaggression pact that allowed each dictator free reign in their respective spheres of influence. Stalin then proceeded to annex parts of Poland, Romania, and Finland, and occupy Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In May 1941, he made himself chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars; he was now the official head of the government and no longer merely head of the party. One month later, Germany invaded the USSR, making significant early inroads. As German troops approached, Stalin remained in the capital, directing a scorched-earth defensive policy and exercising personal control over the strategies of the Red Army.
As the war progressed, Stalin sat in on the major Allied conferences, including those in Tehran (1943) and Yalta (1945). His iron will and deft political skills enabled him to play the loyal ally while never abandoning his vision of an expanded postwar Soviet Empire. In fact, after Germany’s surrender in April 1945, Stalin oversaw the continued occupation and domination of much of Eastern Europe, despite “promises” of free elections in those countries.
Stalin did not mellow with age; he prosecuted a reign of terror, purges, executions, exiles to the Gulag Archipelago (a system of forced-labor camps in the frozen north), and persecution in the postwar USSR, suppressing all dissent and anything that smacked of foreign, especially Western European, influence. To the great relief of many, he died of a massive heart attack on March 5, 1953. He is remembered to this day as the man who helped save his nation from Nazi domination, and as the mass murderer of the century, having overseen the deaths of between 8 million and 10 million of his own people.
Reading Soviet periodicals for my thesis, come across this:
One would like to interpret such generosity as evidence that Soviet policy gives priority to universal human interests over national interests. But are we really helping those most in need? The geographical breakdown of our aid shows that we are not. According to Western estimates (from this point on we must rely chiefly on Western estimates in view of the absence of official Soviet data)
I had heard about this before, but for the Soviets themselves to admit it, in their media, shows just how profound Gorbachev’s changes were. The shift in tone as I read articles from Brezhnev’s to Gorbachev’s tenure is extremely noticeable
“Rear-front” Memorial, Magnitogorsk, Russia This memorial complex is the first composition of the world famous tripartite Soviet memorial group which includes “The Motherland Calls!” in Volgograd and “Soldier-Liberator” in Treptower park/Berlin. The central memorial consists of two large statues (15 meters) of a Soviet soldier and a worker. The soldier carries a large sword, which symbolise the war industry of the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War. There are 14,000 names of former residents of Magnitogorsk who fell in the Great Patriotic War engraved at the memorial site.
Today in History: Jan 21, 1924, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin dies
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as the leader of the Russian SFSR from 1917, and then concurrently as Premier of the Soviet Union from 1922, until 1924.
Influenced early on by Karl Marx’s seminal text Das Kapital, Lenin was radicalized further by the execution of his older brother, Alexander, for conspiring to kill Czar Alexander III in 1887. The brooding, fiercely intellectual Lenin married the principles of Marxist thought to his own theory of organization and the reality of Russian demographics, envisioning a group of elite professional revolutionaries, or a “vanguard of the proletariat,” who would first lead the agrarian masses of Russia to victory over the tyrannical czarist regime and eventually incite a worldwide revolution.
After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Lenin urged his Bolshevik supporters in Russia to turn the “imperialist” conflict into a civil war that would liberate the working classes from the yoke of the bourgeoisie and monarchy. With the success of the February Revolution and the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in March 1917, Lenin managed, with German help, to travel back to Russia, where he worked with his deputy, Leon Trotsky, to orchestrate the Bolshevik seizure of power from the unsteady provisional government that November.
In his six years in power, Lenin struggled with the difficulty of implementing his utopian vision within the borders of the Soviet state. Together, with the help of his advisers, the Communist Party worked to ruthlessly and systematically destroy all opposition to Communist policies within the new USSR. Instruments in this repression included a newly created secret police, the Cheka, and the first of the gulags, or concentration camps, that Stalin would later put to even more deadly use. Lenin remains a controversial and highly divisive world figure. Detractors have labelled him a dictator whose administration oversaw multiple human rights abuses, but supporters have countered this criticism citing the limitations on his power and have promoted him as a champion of the working class.
Lenin suffered a stroke in May 1922; a second one, more debilitating, came in March of the following year, leaving him mute and effectively ending his political career. By January 1924 Lenin suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died.
I’ve been waiting for someone to post something that wasn’t glorifying him
Today in History: Jan 13, 1953, The Soviet “Doctors’ Plot”
On Jan 13, 1953 an article published in Pravda accused some of the most prestigious physicians in the Soviet Union, mostly Jews, of taking part in a vast plot to poison members of the top Soviet political and military leadership. The article stated that nine of the Kremlin’s most prestigious doctors had, several years earlier, murdered two of Stalin’s closest aides. The men were arrested and, at Stalin’s personal instruction, tortured in order to obtain confessions. “Beat, beat, and again beat,” Stalin commanded the interrogators.
The Doctors’ plot was the most dramatic anti-Jewish episode in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s regime. This was accompanied by trials and anti-Semitic publications in the media. Scores of Soviet Jews were promptly dismissed from their jobs, arrested, sent to the Gulag, or executed. The doctor’s plot was to be the catalyst of Stalin’s campaigns against Soviet Jews, but was ultimately stopped short by Stalin’s sudden death in March 1953.
After the death of Joseph Stalin, the new Soviet leadership stated a lack of evidence and the case was dropped. In 1956, the Soviet leadership declared that the case was fabricated.
Red Square during the Great Patriotic War and Now.
these posts are always cool as hell