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Joseph Stalin

Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, July 1945.
Personal data
Date of birth18 December 1878
Place of birthGori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire
Date of death5 March 1953(age 74) (stroke)
Place of deathKuntsevo Dacha near Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Birth nameIoseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili ( )
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union
SpouseEkaterina Svanidze (1906 � 1907)
Nadezhda Alliluyeva (1919 � 1932)
ChildrenYakov Dzhugashvili, Vasily Dzhugashvili, Svetlana Alliluyeva, Konstantin Kuzakov (disputed)
Military service
AllegianceSoviet Union
Years of service1943 � 1953
RankMarshal of the Soviet Union (1943 � 1945)
Generalissimus of the Soviet Union (1943 � 1953)
CommandsAll (supreme commander)
Battles/warsWorld War II
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
In office6 May 1941 - 5 March 1953
First DeputiesNikolai Voznesensky
Vyacheslav Molotov
Succeeded byGeorgy Malenkov
Preceded byVyacheslav Molotov
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office3 April 1922 - 16 October 1952
Succeeded byNikita Khrushchev
(office reestablished)
Preceded byVyacheslav Molotov
(as Responsible Secretary)
People's Commissar for the Defense of the Soviet Union
In office19 July 1941 - 25 February 1946
Succeeded byNikolai Bulganin
after vacancy
Preceded bySemyon Timoshenko

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Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (18 December 1878 � 5 March 1953) was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. While formally the office of the General Secretary was elective and was not initially regarded as the top position in the Soviet state, after Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin managed to consolidate more and more power in his hands, gradually putting down all opposition groups within the party. This included Leon Trotsky, the Red Army organizer, proponent of world revolution, and principal critic of Stalin among the early Soviet leaders, who was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929. Instead, Stalin's idea of socialism in one country became the primary line of the Soviet politics.

In 1928, Stalin replaced the New Economic Policy of the 1920s with a highly centralised command economy and Five-Year Plans, launching a period of rapid industrialization and economic collectivization in the countryside. As a result, the USSR was transformed from a largely agrarian society into a great industrial power, and the basis was provided for its emergence as the world's second largest economy after World War II. However, during this period of rapid economic and social changes, millions of people were sent to penal labor camps, including many political convicts, and millions were deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union. The initial upheaval in the changing agricultural sector disrupted food production in the early 1930s, contributing to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932 � 1933, one of the last major famines in Russia. In 1937 � 38, a campaign against former members of the communist opposition, potential rivals in the party, and other alleged enemies of the regime culminated in the Great Purge, a period of mass repression in which hundreds of thousands of people were executed, including Red Army leaders convicted in coup d'état plots.

In August 1939, after the failure to establish an Anglo-Franco-Soviet Alliance, Stalin's USSR entered into a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, dividing their spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. This pact allowed the Soviet Union to regain some of the former territories of the Russian Empire in Poland, Finland, the Baltics, Bessarabia and northern Bukovina during the early period of World War II. After Germany violated the pact by invading the Soviet Union in 1941 and thus opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history, the Soviet Union joined the Allies. Despite heavy human and territorial losses in the initial period of war, the Soviet Union managed to stop the Axis advance in the battles of Moscow and Stalingrad. Eventually, the Red Army drove through Eastern Europe in 1944 � 45 and captured Berlin in May 1945. Having played the decisive role in the Allied victory, the USSR emerged a recognized superpower after the war.

Stalin headed the Soviet delegations at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, which defined the map of post-war Europe. Communist-dominated leftist governments loyal to the Soviet Union were installed in the Eastern Bloc satellite states as the USSR entered a struggle for global dominance, known as the Cold War, with the United States and NATO. In Asia, Stalin established good relations with Mao Zedong and Kim Il-sung, and the Stalin-era Soviet Union in various ways served as a model for the newly formed People's Republic of China and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

In power until his death in 1953, Stalin led the USSR during the period of post-war reconstruction, marked by the dominance of Stalinist architecture (most famously represented by the Stalin skyscrapers). The successful development of the Soviet nuclear program enabled the country to become the world's second nuclear weapons power; the Soviet space program was started as spin-off of the nuclear project. In his last years, Stalin also launched the so-called Great Construction Projects of Communism and the Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature.

Following his death, Stalin and his regime have both been questioned on numerous occasions, the most significant of these being the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, when Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced his legacy and drove the process of de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union. Modern views of Stalin in the Russian Federation remain mixed, with some viewing him as a tyrant while others consider him a capable leader.

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