Joseph Stalin

(c. 1878 - 1953)

Born to a cobbler and washerwoman in what is now Georgia, the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin first got into politics while planning revolutionary protests and strikes while working as a meteorology clerk. After being exiled to Siberia and returning to run the newspaper Pravda during the Russian Revolution, Stalin was appointed general secretary of the Communist Party by Vladimir Lenin, the man he would later supplant. As dictator, he helped defeat Hitler—after previously signing a nonaggression pact with Germany—and orchestrated the deaths of millions of people through his policies and actions. The New York Times obituary for his daughter Svetlana, who died in 2011, quotes her saying, “You can’t regret your fate, although I do regret my mother didn’t marry a carpenter.”

All Writing


In 1937 the Dewey Commission conducted an investigation into the charges against Leon Trotsky made during Joseph Stalin’s Moscow show trials. “Of what country are you a citizen, Mr. Trotsky?” the commission asked. “I am deprived of my citizenship in the Soviet Union. I am not a citizen of any country,” Trostky replied. “What, if anything, did you do when you were informed of the deprivation of your citizenship?” “I wrote an article about it,” he said. “I am a man armed with a pen.”

Issues Contributed