Iosif Stalin

Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin

b. 6 [18] Dec 1878, Gori, Russian Empire[1]
d. 5 Mar 1953, Moscow, USSR

Title: Председатель Совета Народных Комиссаров СССР (Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR)
Term: 6 May 1941 - 15 Mar 1946
Chronology: 6 May 1941, appointed, decree of Presidium of the 1st Supreme Soviet of the USSR [2]
15 Mar 1946,resignation of government accepted, resolution passed by the 1st session of the 2nd Supreme Council of the USSR [3]
Title: Председатель Совета Министров СССР (Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR)
Term: 19 Mar 1946 - 5 Mar 1953
Chronology: 19 Mar 1946, appointed, resolution passed by the 1st session of the 2nd Supreme Soviet of the USSR [4]
2 Mar 1953,ceased to exercise the function of Chairman of the Council of Ministers due to incapacity
5 Mar 1953, Georgy Malenkov appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers (no formal resolution on Stalin's discharge passed), resolution, joint meeting of the CPSU Central Committee, Council of Ministers of the USSR and Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet [5]
Names/titles: Given names (in Russian): Иосиф Виссарионович (Iosif Vissarionovich); original surname: Джугашвили (Dzhugashvili); known under pseudonyms Stalin (Сталин) [since c. 1913], Koba (Коба) and others; westernized form of name: Joseph Stalin

The greatest Soviet dictator for about 30 years and undisputable leader of the Communist Party from the late 1920s, Georgian revolutionary Iosif Dzhugashvili joined the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party in 1898. He went into political underground in 1901, where he was better known as Koba and later Stalin. At the 2nd party conference in 1906, Stalin met with Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) and became one of his ablest aides. Exiled for revolutionary activities, he did not participate in the Prague conference (January 1912), which confirmed the emergence of the Bolshevik party, but he was co-opted onto the Central Committee as a full member (1912-1953). After a four-year exile in Siberia, Stalin returned to Petrograd in March 1917 and resumed his seat on the Bolshevik Central Committee and in the editorial board of Pravda. On 10 [23] Oct 1917 Stalin became a member of the Political Bureau, but this body did not outlast the Bolshevik coup.

In the first Soviet government Stalin took portfolio of the people's commissar for nationalities (27 Oct [9 Nov] 1917 - 6 Jul 1923). During the Civil War in Russia, Stalin worked as a head of the food procurement commission and actively participated in the defense of Tsaritsyn (in 1925-1961 Stalingrad) in the summer of 1918. The same year he entered the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic (member: 8 Oct 1918 - 8 Jul 1919 and 18 May 1921 - 28 Aug 1923). A major reorganization of the Bolshevik party structure resulted in Stalin's appointment as a full member of the Politburo and Orgburo (membership in both bodies 25 Mar 1919 - 5 Oct 1952). He was also nominated people's commissar for state control (30 Mar 1919 - 7 Feb 1920) and then served as people's commissar for workers' and peasants' inspection (24 Feb 1920 - 25 Apr 1922). However, his accession to the top leadership began with his appointment (3 Apr 1922) to the party secretariat in the capacity of Secretary General [6]. Using the secretariat as a base for his struggle with other party leaders, Stalin gradually succeeded in expelling his rivals from the party. At the first stage, he joined with Lev Kamenev and Grigorij Zinov'ev to oust Lev Trockij, who was removed from the key state posts in 1925. But the triumvirate broke away in December 1925, when Kamenev and Zinov'ev were condemned as members of the "new opposition" at the 14th party congress.

In 1928 Stalin put an end to the New Economic Policy, which made some concessions to capitalism, and appealed for rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture. His former allies, Nikolaj Buharin and Aleksej Rykov, who favored moderate transformation of Soviet economy, were labeled the "right opposition"and purged from the party elite.By 1929 Stalin's major opponents were defeated and he launched the first in a series of five-year plans to intensify economic development. Collectivization did not produce positive economic results remotely comparable to those attained by industry. Prosperous peasants (kulaks) were exiled and sent into concentration camps en masse. By the mid-1930s Soviet Union became a world power, where Stalin's cult of personality penetrated into all spheres of public life. A small circle of his closest supporters in the Politburo directed all activities of the Soviet Union, while the rest of the party collectively approved the "party general line." However, the old Bolsheviks became the next target in a campaign against "enemies of the people." The murder of Leningrad party boss Sergey Kirov in December 1934 triggered a wave of political purges reaching apogee in 1937-1938.The reign of terror and omnipotent NKVD (secret police) formed the basis of Soviet society. In 1939 Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov concluded the non-aggression pact with the Nazi Germany. In 1939-1940 Soviet Union acquired vast territory of eastern Poland and annexed the Baltic states.

As the Soviet Union was making preparations for war in Europe, Stalin assumed the office of chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (6 May 1941 - 15 Mar 1946). During the war with Germany, Stalin concentrated full political and military power as supreme commander-in-chief and chairman of the State Defense Committee of the USSR (30 Jun 1941 - 4 Sep 1945). He was also made people's commissar for defense (19 Jul 1941 - 25 Feb 1946) and subsequently commissar for the armed forces (25 Feb 1946 - 15 Mar 1946). Stalin actively took part in elaboration of military operations and proved to be able negotiator in the Allied meetings. The war was won and on 27 Jun 1945, Stalin was made generalissimo of the Soviet Union. In March 1946, the Soviet political structure was slightly changed and Stalin assumed the new office of the chairman of USSR Council of Ministers (19 Mar 1946 - 5 Mar 1953) and minister of the armed forces (19 Mar 1946 - 3 Mar 1947). The short period of relaxation ended up with new show trials in early 1950s (Leningrad affair, doctors' plot). In 1952 Stalin convoked the 19th party congress and initiated changes in the party charter and structure. Apparently, he planned to launch a new purge within the party leadership, but on 2 Mar 1953, he was found in coma at his dacha in Kuntsevo. While Stalin was still alive, Malenkov and Lavrenty Berija rushed to convoke a party forum (20:00-20:40, 5 Mar 1953) to assert their leadership. Malenkov took over the chairmanship in the USSR Council of Ministers and Berija became first deputy chairman and internal affairs minister. According to official information, Stalin died at 21:50 5 Mar 1953. Biography source: [7]

[1] Birth register of the Uspensky church in Gori fixed the day of Stalin's birth on 6 [18] Dec 1878, though for unknown reasons he maintained himself that he was born on 9 [21] Dec 1879.
[2] Ведомости Верховного Совета СССР, 1941, № 20.
[3] Известия, 1946, 18 марта. According to the Constitution of the USSR of 1936, the government's term expired during the first session of a newly elected Supreme Soviet. Accordingly, Stalin and his government resigned on 15 Mar 1946, and on the same day he was asked to form a new government. He formed it on 19 Mar 1946, but in a new capacity of the chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers; the law "On transformation of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR into the Council of Ministers..." was passed by the USSR Supreme Soviet on 15 Mar 1946.
[4] Ведомости Верховного Совета СССР, 1946, № 10.
[5] Ведомости Верховного Совета СССР, 1953, № 2.
[6] Elected to the Central Committee's Secretariat and confirmed as secretary general on 3 Apr 1922, Stalin held this office until his death (5 Mar 1953). After each party congress (26 Apr 1923, 2 Jun 1924, 1 Jan 1926, 19 Dec 1927 and 13 Jul 1930), the Central Committee confirmed his nomination to the position at its constituting meetings. After the 17th congress (26 Jan 1934 - 10 Feb 1934) this practice was discontinued and Stalin was approved only as a secretary (10 Feb 1934; again on 22 Mar 1939, 18 Mar 1946, 16 Oct 1952, 5 Mar 1953). A number of his pretentious requests for resignation was emphatically declined by the Central Committee. The style генеральный секретарь (secretary general) practically came out of use in the late 1930s and 1940s, when the documents signed by Stalin bore merely секретарь ЦК (secretary of the Central Committee) next to his name. However, he continued to style himself "secretary general" on various occasions including his famous speech at the 19th party congress in 1952 when he again appealed to the Congress to accept his resignation, which was declined.
[7] Государственная власть СССР. Высшие органы власти и управления и их руководители. 1923-1991 гг. Историко-биографический справочник / Сост. В.И.Ивкин. М.: РОССПЭН, 1999,
Last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 04:28:16