iosif vissarionovich dzhugashvili

4

March 5th 1953: Joseph Stalin dies

On this day in 1953, the leader of the Soviet Union - Joseph Stalin - died aged 74. The future dictator was born in Georgia in 1878, and his birth name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. In his youth Stalin read works by Marx and became active in the revolutionary movement against the Russian Tsar. After the successful 1917 revolution led by the Bolshevik Party, Stalin quickly rose through the party ranks, becoming general secretary of the Communist Party in 1922. After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Stalin established himself as dictator of the Soviet Union. Under his rule, millions died due to his forced collectivisation policies and his purges of political rivals which claimed thousands of lives and sentenced many more to grueling work in the gulags. During World War Two Stalin worked alongside Churchill of the United Kingdom and Roosevelt of the United States as the ‘Big Three’ powers who formed the Allies in their battle against Nazi Germany and her fellow Axis nations. One of Hitler’s greatest mistakes during the war was invading Stalin’s Russia during winter, where the Soviet forces successfully held back the Germans; Russians were also eventually the first to reach Berlin. After the war, Stalin oversaw Soviet attempts to develop a nuclear weapon to rival that used by the United States on Japan - this arms buildup contributed to the escalation of Cold War tensions in the post-war world. In 1953, Stalin died of a stroke, leaving the future of the Soviet Union unclear. He was succeeded as general secretary by Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin’s repressive policies and 'cult of personality’, beginning a process of 'de-Stalinisation’ to move away from the Stalin era.