247 Facts About Stalin


Stalin held power as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.

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Stalin edited the party's newspaper, Pravda, and raised funds for Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik faction via robberies, kidnappings and protection rackets.

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Stalin promoted Marxism–Leninism abroad through the Communist International and supported European anti-fascist movements during the 1930s, particularly in the Spanish Civil War.

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Stalin presided over the Soviet post-war reconstruction and its development of an atomic bomb in 1949.

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Widely considered to be one of the 20th century's most significant figures, Stalin was the subject of a pervasive personality cult within the international Marxist–Leninist movement, which revered him as a champion of the working class and socialism.

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Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Stalin has retained popularity in Russia and Georgia as a victorious wartime leader who cemented the Soviet Union's status as a leading world power.

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Stalin was born in the Georgian town of Gori, then part of the Tiflis Governorate of the Russian Empire and home to a mix of Georgian, Azerbaijanian, Armenian, Russian, and Jewish communities.

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Ekaterine and Stalin left the home by 1883 and began a wandering life, moving through nine different rented rooms over the next decade.

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In September 1888, Stalin enrolled at the Orthodox Gori Church School, a place secured by Charkviani.

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Stalin faced several severe health problems: An 1884 smallpox infection left him with facial scars; and at age 12 he was seriously injured when he was hit by a phaeton, probably the cause of a lifelong disability in his left arm.

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Stalin joined 600 trainee priests who boarded there, and he achieved high grades.

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Stalin continued writing poetry; five of his poems, on themes such as nature, land and patriotism, were published under the pseudonym of "Soselo" in Ilia Chavchavadze's newspaper Iveria.

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Stalin devoted himself to Marx's socio-political theory, Marxism, which was then on the rise in Georgia, one of various forms of socialism opposed to the empire's governing tsarist authorities.

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Stalin left the seminary in April 1899 and never returned.

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In October 1899, Stalin began work as a meteorologist at the Tiflis observatory.

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Stalin had a light workload and therefore had plenty of time for revolutionary activity.

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Stalin attracted a group of supporters through his classes in socialist theory and co-organised a secret workers' mass meeting for May Day 1900, at which he successfully encouraged many of the men to take strike action.

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Stalin continued to evade arrest by using aliases and sleeping in different apartments.

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Stalin found employment at the Rothschild refinery storehouse, where he co-organised two workers' strikes.

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Stalin organised another mass demonstration on the day of their funeral, before being arrested in April 1902.

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Stalin left Batumi in October, arriving at the small Siberian town of Novaya Uda in late November 1903.

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Stalin made two escape attempts: On the first, he made it to Balagansk before returning due to frostbite.

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Stalin called for the Georgian Marxist movement to split from its Russian counterpart, resulting in several RSDLP members accusing him of holding views contrary to the ethos of Marxist internationalism and calling for his expulsion from the party; he soon recanted his opinions.

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Stalin detested many of the Mensheviks in Georgia and aligned himself with the Bolsheviks.

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Stalin publicly lambasted the "pogroms against Jews and Armenians" as being part of Tsar Nicholas II's attempts to "buttress his despicable throne".

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Stalin formed a Bolshevik Battle Squad which he used to try to keep Baku's warring ethnic factions apart; he used the unrest as a cover for stealing printing equipment.

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Stalin's squads disarmed local police and troops, raided government arsenals, and raised funds through protection rackets on large local businesses and mines.

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Lenin and Stalin disagreed with this decision and later privately discussed how they could continue the robberies for the Bolshevik cause.

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Stalin married Kato Svanidze in an Orthodox church ceremony at Senaki in July 1906.

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Stalin attended the Fifth RSDLP Congress, held at the Brotherhood Church in London in May–June 1907.

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Stalin's gang ambushed the armed convoy in Yerevan Square with gunfire and home-made bombs.

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In Baku, Stalin secured Bolshevik domination of the local RSDLP branch and edited two Bolshevik newspapers, Bakinsky Proletary and Gudok.

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In March 1908, Stalin was arrested and interned in Bailov Prison in Baku.

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Stalin was eventually sentenced to two years exile in the village of Solvychegodsk, Vologda Province, arriving there in February 1909.

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In June 1911, Stalin was given permission to move to Vologda, where he stayed for two months, having a relationship with Pelageya Onufrieva.

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Stalin escaped to Saint Petersburg, where he was arrested in September 1911 and sentenced to a further three-year exile in Vologda.

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In January 1912, while Stalin was in exile, the first Bolshevik Central Committee was elected at the Prague Conference.

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Still in Vologda, Stalin agreed, remaining a Central Committee member for the rest of his life.

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In February 1912, Stalin again escaped to Saint Petersburg, tasked with converting the Bolshevik weekly newspaper, Zvezda into a daily, Pravda.

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Stalin returned to Saint Petersburg, where he continued editing and writing articles for Pravda.

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In late 1912, Stalin twice crossed into the Austro-Hungarian Empire to visit Lenin in Krakow, eventually bowing to Lenin's opposition to reunification with the Mensheviks.

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In January 1913, Stalin travelled to Vienna, where he researched the 'national question' of how the Bolsheviks should deal with the Russian Empire's national and ethnic minorities.

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Lenin, who encouraged Stalin to write an article on the subject, wanted to attract those groups to the Bolshevik cause by offering them the right of secession from the Russian state, but hoped they would remain part of a future Bolshevik-governed Russia.

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Stalin retained the name for the rest of his life, possibly because it was used on the article that established his reputation among the Bolsheviks.

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Stalin was sentenced to four years exile in Turukhansk, a remote part of Siberia from which escape was particularly difficult.

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In Kureika, Stalin lived closely with the indigenous Tunguses and Ostyak, and spent much of his time fishing.

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Stalin was required to serve four more months on his exile, and he successfully requested that he serve it in nearby Achinsk.

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In Lenin's absence, Stalin continued editing Pravda and served as acting leader of the Bolsheviks, overseeing the party's Sixth Congress, which was held covertly.

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Trotsky and other later Bolshevik opponents of Stalin used this as evidence that his role in the coup had been insignificant, although later historians reject this.

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Stalin backed Lenin's decision not to form a coalition with the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionary Party, although they did form a coalition government with the Left Socialist Revolutionaries.

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Stalin became part of an informal foursome leading the government, alongside Lenin, Trotsky, and Sverdlov; of these, Sverdlov was regularly absent and died in March 1919.

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Stalin's office was based near to Lenin's in the Smolny Institute, and he and Trotsky were the only individuals allowed access to Lenin's study without an appointment.

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Stalin co-signed Lenin's decrees shutting down hostile newspapers, and along with Sverdlov, he chaired the sessions of the committee drafting a constitution for the new Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

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Stalin strongly supported Lenin's formation of the Cheka security service and the subsequent Red Terror that it initiated; noting that state violence had proved an effective tool for capitalist powers, he believed that it would prove the same for the Soviet government.

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Unlike senior Bolsheviks like Kamenev and Nikolai Bukharin, Stalin never expressed concern about the rapid growth and expansion of the Cheka and Red Terror.

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Stalin took Nadezhda Alliluyeva as his secretary and at some point married her, although the wedding date is unknown.

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Stalin's department allocated funds for establishment of presses and schools in the languages of various ethnic minorities.

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Socialist revolutionaries accused Stalin's talk of federalism and national self-determination as a front for Sovnarkom's centralising and imperialist policies.

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Stalin supported Lenin's desire to sign an armistice with the Central Powers regardless of the cost in territory.

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Stalin thought it necessary because — unlike Lenin — he was unconvinced that Europe was on the verge of proletarian revolution.

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Stalin befriended two military figures, Kliment Voroshilov and Semyon Budyonny, who would form the nucleus of his military and political support base.

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In Tsaritsyn, Stalin commanded the local Cheka branch to execute suspected counter-revolutionaries, sometimes without trial and — in contravention of government orders — purged the military and food collection agencies of middle-class specialists, some of whom he executed.

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In December 1918, Stalin was sent to Perm to lead an inquiry into how Alexander Kolchak's White forces had been able to decimate Red troops based there.

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Stalin returned to Moscow between January and March 1919, before being assigned to the Western Front at Petrograd.

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Stalin was reprimanded by Lenin at the 8th Party Congress for employing tactics which resulted in far too many deaths of Red Army soldiers.

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Stalin had cautioned against this; he believed that nationalism would lead the Polish working-classes to support their government's war effort.

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Stalin believed that the Red Army was ill-prepared to conduct an offensive war and that it would give White Armies a chance to resurface in Crimea, potentially reigniting the civil war.

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Stalin lost the argument, after which he accepted Lenin's decision and supported it.

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In mid-August 1920, the Poles repulsed the Russian advance, and Stalin returned to Moscow to attend the Politburo meeting.

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Trotsky claimed that Stalin sabotaged the campaign by disobeying troop transfer orders.

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Soviet government sought to bring neighbouring states under its domination; in February 1921 it invaded the Menshevik-governed Georgia, while in April 1921, Stalin ordered the Red Army into Turkestan to reassert Russian state control.

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Stalin opposed the idea of separate Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani autonomous republics, arguing that these would likely oppress ethnic minorities within their respective territories; instead he called for a Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.

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In mid-1921, Stalin returned to the southern Caucasus, there calling on Georgian Communists to avoid the chauvinistic Georgian nationalism which marginalised the Abkhazian, Ossetian, and Adjarian minorities in Georgia.

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On this trip, Stalin met with his son Yakov, and brought him back to Moscow; Nadezhda had given birth to another of Stalin's sons, Vasily, in March 1921.

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Stalin agreed to supervise the Department of Agitation and Propaganda in the Central Committee Secretariat.

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Stalin is too crude, and this defect which is entirely acceptable in our milieu and in relationships among us as communists, becomes unacceptable in the position of General Secretary.

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Lenin twice asked Stalin to procure poison so that he could commit suicide, but Stalin never did so.

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Lenin and Stalin argued on the issue of foreign trade; Lenin believed that the Soviet state should have a monopoly on foreign trade, but Stalin supported Grigori Sokolnikov's view that doing so was impractical at that stage.

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Stalin believed this would encourage independence sentiment among non-Russians, instead arguing that ethnic minorities would be content as "autonomous republics" within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

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Stalin took charge of the funeral and was one of its pallbearers; against the wishes of Lenin's widow, the Politburo embalmed his corpse and placed it within a mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square.

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Stalin had much contact with young party functionaries, and the desire for promotion led many provincial figures to seek to impress Stalin and gain his favour.

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Stalin developed close relations with the trio at the heart of the secret police : Felix Dzerzhinsky, Genrikh Yagoda, and Vyacheslav Menzhinsky.

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Stalin saw Trotsky — whom he personally despised — as the main obstacle to his dominance within the party.

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The Left Opposition believed the NEP conceded too much to capitalism; Stalin was called a "rightist" for his support of the policy.

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Stalin built up a retinue of his supporters in the Central Committee, while the Left Opposition were gradually removed from their positions of influence.

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Stalin was supported in this by Bukharin, who, like Stalin, believed that the Left Opposition's proposals would plunge the Soviet Union into instability.

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In late 1924, Stalin moved against Kamenev and Zinoviev, removing their supporters from key positions.

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Stalin in turn accused Kamenev and Zinoviev of reintroducing factionalism — and thus instability — into the party.

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The factionalist arguments continued, with Stalin threatening to resign in October and then December 1926 and again in December 1927.

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Stalin was now the party's supreme leader, although he was not the head of government, a task he entrusted to his key ally Vyacheslav Molotov.

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Stalin had called for the Chinese Communists to ally themselves with Kuomintang nationalists, viewing a Communist-Kuomintang alliance as the best bulwark against Japanese imperial expansionism.

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Stalin's government feared attack from Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Romania.

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At this point, Stalin turned against the NEP, which put him on a course to the "left" even of Trotsky or Zinoviev.

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In early 1928 Stalin travelled to Novosibirsk, where he alleged that kulaks were hoarding their grain and ordered that the kulaks be arrested and their grain confiscated, with Stalin bringing much of the area's grain back to Moscow with him in February.

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Stalin announced that both kulaks and the "middle peasants" must be coerced into releasing their harvest.

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Stalin responded to the uprisings with an article insisting that collectivisation was voluntary and blaming any violence and other excesses on local officials.

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The last elements of workers' control over industry were removed, with factory managers increasing their authority and receiving privileges and perks; Stalin defended wage disparity by pointing to Marx's argument that it was necessary during the lower stages of socialism.

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Stalin's message was that socialism was being established in the USSR while capitalism was crumbling amid the Wall Street crash.

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In 1928, Stalin declared that class war between the proletariat and their enemies would intensify as socialism developed.

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Stalin warned of a "danger from the right", including in the Communist Party itself.

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Stalin desired a "cultural revolution", entailing both creation of a culture for the "masses" and wider dissemination of previously elite culture.

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Stalin oversaw proliferation of schools, newspapers, and libraries, as well as advancement of literacy and numeracy.

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Socialist realism was promoted throughout arts, while Stalin personally wooed prominent writers, namely Maxim Gorky, Mikhail Sholokhov, and Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy.

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Stalin expressed patronage for scientists whose research fitted within his preconceived interpretation of Marxism; for instance, he endorsed research of an agrobiologist Trofim Lysenko despite the fact that it was rejected by the majority of Lysenko's scientific peers as pseudo-scientific.

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Stalin personally met with a range of Western visitors, including George Bernard Shaw and H G Wells, both of whom were impressed with him.

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At its 6th Congress in July 1928, Stalin informed delegates that the main threat to socialism came not from the right but from non-Marxist socialists and social democrats, whom he called "social fascists"; Stalin recognised that in many countries, the social democrats were the Marxist-Leninists' main rivals for working-class support.

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Publicly, the cause of death was given as appendicitis; Stalin concealed the real cause of death from his children.

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Stalin's friends noted that he underwent a significant change following her suicide, becoming emotionally harder.

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Historians have long debated whether Stalin's government had intended the famine to occur or not; there are no known documents in which Stalin or his government explicitly called for starvation to be used against the population.

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Stalin declared that "socialism, which is the first phase of communism, has basically been achieved in this country".

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Stalin initiated confidential communications with Hitler in October 1933, shortly after the latter came to power in Germany.

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Stalin admired Hitler, particularly his manoeuvres to remove rivals within the Nazi Party in the Night of the Long Knives.

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Stalin nevertheless recognised the threat posed by fascism and sought to establish better links with the liberal democracies of Western Europe; in May 1935, the Soviets signed a treaty of mutual assistance with France and Czechoslovakia.

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Stalin took a strong personal involvement in the Spanish situation.

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Stalin aided the Chinese as the KMT and the Communists had suspended their civil war and formed the desired United Front.

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State repression intensified after Kirov's death; Stalin instigated this, reflecting his prioritisation of security above other considerations.

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Stalin issued a decree establishing NKVD troikas which could mete out rulings without involving the courts.

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Stalin orchestrated the arrest of many former opponents in the Communist Party as well as sitting members of the Central Committee: denounced as Western-backed mercenaries, many were imprisoned or exiled internally.

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Stalin initiated "national operations", the ethnic cleansing of non-Soviet ethnic groups—among them Poles, Germans, Latvians, Finns, Greeks, Koreans, and Chinese—through internal or external exile.

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Stalin initiated all key decisions during the Terror, personally directing many of its operations and taking an interest in their implementation.

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Stalin was particularly concerned at the success that right-wing forces had in overthrowing the leftist Spanish government, fearing a domestic fifth column in the event of future war with Japan and Germany.

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Stalin sought to maintain Soviet neutrality, hoping that a German war against France and Britain would lead to Soviet dominance in Europe.

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Stalin initiated a military build-up, with the Red Army more than doubling between January 1939 and June 1941, although in its haste to expand many of its officers were poorly trained.

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On 3 May 1939, Stalin replaced his western-oriented foreign minister Maxim Litvinov with Vyacheslav Molotov.

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Stalin saw this as an opportunity both for territorial expansion and temporary peace with Germany.

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Stalin increasingly focused on appeasement with the Germans to delay any conflict with them.

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Plans were made for the Soviet government to evacuate to Kuibyshev, although Stalin decided to remain in Moscow, believing his flight would damage troop morale.

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Stalin purged the military command; several high-ranking figures were demoted or reassigned and others were arrested and executed.

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Stalin issued Order No 227 in July 1942, which directed that those retreating unauthorised would be placed in "penal battalions" used as cannon fodder on the front lines.

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Stalin exploited Nazi anti-Semitism, and in April 1942 he sponsored the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to garner Jewish and foreign support for the Soviet war effort.

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Stalin permitted a wider range of cultural expression, notably permitting formerly suppressed writers and artists like Anna Akhmatova and Dmitri Shostakovich to disperse their work more widely.

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Comintern was dissolved in 1943, and Stalin encouraged foreign Marxist–Leninist parties to emphasise nationalism over internationalism to broaden their domestic appeal.

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Soviet military industrial output had increased substantially from late 1941 to early 1943 after Stalin had moved factories well to the east of the front, safe from German invasion and aerial assault.

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When Stalin learned that people in Western countries affectionately called him "Uncle Joe" he was initially offended, regarding it as undignified.

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Stalin scarcely left Moscow throughout the war, with Roosevelt and Churchill frustrated with his reluctance to travel to meet them.

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In November 1943, Stalin met with Churchill and Roosevelt in Tehran, a location of Stalin's choosing.

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Stalin was impatient for the UK and US to open up a Western Front to take the pressure off of the East; they eventually did so in mid-1944.

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Stalin insisted that, after the war, the Soviet Union should incorporate the portions of Poland it occupied pursuant to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Germany, which Churchill opposed.

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Privately, Stalin sought to ensure that Poland would come fully under Soviet influence.

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The Red Army withheld assistance to Polish resistance fighters battling the Germans in the Warsaw Uprising, with Stalin believing that any victorious Polish militants could interfere with his aspirations to dominate Poland through a future Marxist government.

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Stalin was pressed by his allies to enter the war and wanted to cement the Soviet Union's strategic position in Asia.

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Stalin attended the Potsdam Conference in July–August 1945, alongside his new British and US counterparts, Prime Minister Clement Attlee and President Harry Truman.

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At the conference, Stalin repeated previous promises to Churchill that he would refrain from a "Sovietization" of Eastern Europe.

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Stalin pushed for reparations from Germany without regard to the base minimum supply for German citizens' survival, which worried Truman and Churchill who thought that Germany would become a financial burden for Western powers.

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Stalin pushed for "war booty", which would permit the Soviet Union to directly seize property from conquered nations without quantitative or qualitative limitation, and a clause was added permitting this to occur with some limitations.

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Stalin's armies controlled Central and Eastern Europe up to the River Elbe.

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In June 1945, Stalin adopted the title of Generalissimus, and stood atop Lenin's Mausoleum to watch a celebratory parade led by Zhukov through Red Square.

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Stalin was quoted in Pravda on a daily basis and pictures of him remained pervasive on the walls of workplaces and homes.

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Stalin was concerned about his returning armies, who had been exposed to a wide range of consumer goods in Germany, much of which they had looted and brought back with them.

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Stalin ensured that returning Soviet prisoners of war went through "filtration" camps as they arrived in the Soviet Union, in which 2,775,700 were interrogated to determine if they were traitors.

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Stalin allowed the Russian Orthodox Church to retain the churches it had opened during the war.

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Stalin's health was deteriorating, and heart problems forced a two-month vacation in the latter part of 1945.

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Stalin grew increasingly concerned that senior political and military figures might try to oust him; he prevented any of them from becoming powerful enough to rival him and had their apartments bugged with listening devices.

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Stalin demoted Molotov, and increasingly favoured Beria and Malenkov for key positions.

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Stalin initiated a new military build-up; the Soviet army was expanded from 2.

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Stalin initially refused, leading to an international crisis in 1946, but one year later Stalin finally relented and moved the Soviet troops out.

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Stalin tried to maximise Soviet influence on the world stage, unsuccessfully pushing for Libya—recently liberated from Italian occupation—to become a Soviet protectorate.

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Stalin sent Molotov as his representative to San Francisco to take part in negotiations to form the United Nations, insisting that the Soviets have a place on the Security Council.

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In 1948, Stalin edited and rewrote sections of Falsifiers of History, published as a series of Pravda articles in February 1948 and then in book form.

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Stalin erroneously claimed that the initial German advance in the early part of the war was not a result of Soviet military weakness, but rather a deliberate Soviet strategic retreat.

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Cautiously regarding the responses from the Western Allies, Stalin avoided immediately installing Communist Party governments across Eastern Europe, instead initially ensuring that Marxist-Leninists were placed in coalition ministries.

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Stalin was faced with the problem that there were few Marxists left in Eastern Europe, with most having been killed by the Nazis.

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Stalin demanded that war reparations be paid by Germany and its Axis allies Hungary, Romania, and the Slovak Republic.

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Aware that these countries had been pushed toward socialism through invasion rather than by proletarian revolution, Stalin referred to them not as "dictatorships of the proletariat" but as "people's democracies", suggesting that in these countries there was a pro-socialist alliance combining the proletariat, peasantry, and lower middle-class.

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Stalin had a particularly strained relationship with Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito due to the latter's continued calls for Balkan federation and for Soviet aid for the communist forces in the ongoing Greek Civil War.

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In March 1948, Stalin launched an anti-Tito campaign, accusing the Yugoslav communists of adventurism and deviating from Marxist–Leninist doctrine.

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Stalin ordered several assassination attempts on Tito's life and contemplated invading Yugoslavia.

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Stalin suggested that a unified, but demilitarised, German state be established, hoping that it would either come under Soviet influence or remain neutral.

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Stalin gambled that the others would not risk war, but they airlifted supplies into West Berlin until May 1949, when Stalin relented and ended the blockade.

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Privately, Stalin revealed that he had underestimated the Chinese Communists and their ability to win the civil war, instead encouraging them to make another peace with the KMT.

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Stalin was concerned that Mao might follow Tito's example by pursuing a course independent of Soviet influence, and made it known that if displeased he would withdraw assistance from China; the Chinese desperately needed said assistance after decades of civil war.

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Stalin wanted to avoid direct Soviet conflict with the US, convincing the Chinese to aid the North.

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Stalin was further angered by Israel's growing alliance with the US After Stalin fell out with Israel, he launched an anti-Jewish campaign within the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.

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Stalin took increasingly long holidays; in 1950 and again in 1951 he spent almost five months vacationing at his Abkhazian dacha.

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Stalin nevertheless mistrusted his doctors; in January 1952 he had one imprisoned after they suggested that he should retire to improve his health.

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Stalin instructed the arrested doctors to be tortured to ensure confession.

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From 1946 until his death, Stalin only gave three public speeches, two of which lasted only a few minutes.

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In 1950, Stalin issued the article "Marxism and Problems of Linguistics", which reflected his interest in questions of Russian nationhood.

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In October 1952, Stalin gave an hour and a half speech at the Central Committee plenum.

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On 1 March 1953, Stalin's staff found him semi-conscious on the bedroom floor of his Kuntsevo Dacha.

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Stalin was moved onto a couch and remained there for three days.

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Stalin was hand-fed using a spoon, given various medicines and injections, and leeches were applied to him.

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Stalin left no anointed successor nor a framework within which a transfer of power could take place.

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Stalin referred to himself as a praktik, meaning that he was more of a practical revolutionary than a theoretician.

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Stalin believed that the working classes would prove successful in this struggle and would establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, regarding the Soviet Union as an example of such a state.

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Stalin believed that this proletarian state would need to introduce repressive measures against foreign and domestic "enemies" to ensure the full crushing of the propertied classes, and thus the class war would intensify with the advance of socialism.

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Stalin claimed to be a loyal Leninist, although was—according to Service—"not a blindly obedient Leninist".

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Stalin respected Lenin, but not uncritically, and spoke out when he believed that Lenin was wrong.

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Whereas Lenin believed that all countries across Europe and Asia would readily unite as a single state following proletariat revolution, Stalin argued that national pride would prevent this, and that different socialist states would have to be formed; in his view, a country like Germany would not readily submit to being part of a Russian-dominated federal state.

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Stalin adopted the Leninist view on the need for a revolutionary vanguard who could lead the proletariat rather than being led by them.

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Stalin read about, and admired, two Tsars in particular: Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great.

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Stalin's doctrine held that socialism could be completed in Russia but that its final victory there could not be guaranteed because of the threat from capitalist intervention.

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Stalin viewed nations as contingent entities which were formed by capitalism and could merge into others.

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Stalin was of the view that if they became fully autonomous, then they would end up being controlled by the most reactionary elements of their community; as an example he cited the largely illiterate Tatars, whom he claimed would end up dominated by their mullahs.

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Stalin argued that the Jews possessed a "national character" but were not a "nation" and were thus unassimilable.

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Stalin argued that Jewish nationalism, particularly Zionism, was hostile to socialism.

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Service argued that Stalin's Marxism was imbued with a great deal of Russian nationalism.

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Stalin's push for Soviet westward expansion into eastern Europe resulted in accusations of Russian imperialism.

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Ethnically Georgian, Stalin grew up speaking the Georgian language, and did not begin learning Russian until the age of eight or nine.

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Stalin remained proud of his Georgian identity, and throughout his life retained a heavy Georgian accent when speaking Russian.

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Some of Stalin's colleagues described him as "Asiatic", and he supposedly once told a Japanese journalist that "I am not a European man, but an Asian, a Russified Georgian".

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Stalin had a soft voice, and when speaking Russian did so slowly, carefully choosing his phrasing.

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Stalin rarely spoke before large audiences, and preferred to express himself in written form.

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Stalin's writing style was similar, being characterised by its simplicity, clarity, and conciseness.

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Stalin was born with a webbed left foot, and his left arm had been permanently injured in childhood which left it shorter than his right and lacking in flexibility, which was probably the result of being hit, at the age of 12, by a horse-drawn carriage.

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Stalin was a lifelong smoker, who smoked both a pipe and cigarettes.

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Stalin had few material demands and lived plainly, with simple and inexpensive clothing and furniture; his interest was in power rather than wealth.

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Stalin often dined with other Politburo members and their families.

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Trotsky and several other Soviet figures promoted the idea that Stalin was a mediocrity.

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Stalin had a complex mind, great self-control, and an excellent memory.

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Stalin was a hard worker, and displayed a keen desire to learn; when in power, he scrutinised many details of Soviet life, from film scripts to architectural plans and military hardware.

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Stalin was a good organiser, with a strategic mind, and judged others according to their inner strength, practicality, and cleverness.

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Stalin acknowledged that he could be rude and insulting, but he rarely raised his voice in anger; as his health deteriorated in later life he became increasingly unpredictable and bad tempered.

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Stalin was ruthless, temperamentally cruel, and had a propensity for violence high even among the Bolsheviks.

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Stalin was capable of self-righteous indignation, and was resentful, and vindictive, holding on to grudges for many years.

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Stalin never attended torture sessions or executions, although Service thought Stalin "derived deep satisfaction" from degrading and humiliating people and enjoyed keeping even close associates in a state of "unrelieved fear".

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Montefiore thought Stalin's brutality marked him out as a "natural extremist"; Service suggested he had tendencies toward a paranoid and sociopathic personality disorder.

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Stalin protected several Soviet writers from arrest and prosecution, such as Mikhail Bulgakov, even when their work was labelled harmful to his regime.

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Stalin enjoyed listening to classical music, owning around 2,700 records, and frequently attending the Bolshoi Theatre during the 1930s and 1940s.

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Stalin favoured classical forms in the visual arts, disliking avant-garde styles like cubism and futurism.

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Stalin was a voracious reader and kept a personal library of over 20,000 books.

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Stalin favoured historical studies, keeping up with debates in the study of Russian, Mesopotamian, ancient Roman, and Byzantine history.

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Stalin was very interested in the reigns of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.

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Stalin enjoyed watching films late at night at cinemas installed in the Kremlin and his dachas.

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Stalin liked the Western genre, although his favourite films were Volga Volga and Circus.

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Stalin was a keen and accomplished billiards player, and collected watches.

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Stalin enjoyed practical jokes; for instance, he would place a tomato on the seat of Politburo members and wait for them to sit on it.

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Stalin publicly condemned anti-Semitism, although he was repeatedly accused of it.

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Kotkin observed that Stalin "generally gravitated to people like himself: parvenu intelligentsia of humble background".

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Stalin gave nicknames to his favourites, for instance referring to Yezhov as "my blackberry".

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Stalin was captured by the German Army and then committed suicide.

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Stalin regarded Vasily as spoiled and often chastised his behaviour; as Stalin's son, Vasily nevertheless was swiftly promoted through the ranks of the Red Army and allowed a lavish lifestyle.

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Conversely, Stalin had an affectionate relationship with Svetlana during her childhood, and was very fond of Artyom.

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Montefiore claimed that Stalin had at least two illegitimate children, although he never recognised them as being his.

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Historian Robert Conquest stated that Stalin perhaps "determined the course of the twentieth century" more than any other individual.

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In under three decades, Stalin transformed the Soviet Union into a major industrial world power, one which could "claim impressive achievements" in terms of urbanisation, military strength, education and Soviet pride.

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Montefiore argued that while Stalin initially ruled as part of a Communist Party oligarchy, the Soviet government transformed from this oligarchy into a personal dictatorship in 1934, with Stalin only becoming "absolute dictator" between March and June 1937, when senior military and NKVD figures were eliminated.

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Khlevniuk noted that at various points, particularly when Stalin was old and frail, there were "periodic manifestations" in which the party oligarchy threatened his autocratic control.

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Stalin denied to foreign visitors that he was a dictator, stating that those who labelled him such did not understand the Soviet governance structure.

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Stalin ensured that these works gave very little attention to his early life, particularly because he did not wish to emphasise his Georgian origins in a state numerically dominated by Russians.

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Under Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet administration various previously classified files on Stalin's life were made available to historians, at which point Stalin became "one of the most urgent and vital issues on the public agenda" in the Soviet Union.

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Stalin has been accused of genocide in the cases of forced population transfer of ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union and the famine in Ukraine.

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Stalin repeated these denunciations at the 22nd Party Congress in October 1962.

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In October 1961, Stalin's body was removed from the mausoleum and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, the location marked by a bust.

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Amid the social and economic turmoil of the post-Soviet period, many Russians viewed Stalin as having overseen an era of order, predictability, and pride.

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Stalin remains a revered figure among many Russian nationalists, who feel nostalgic about the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, and he is regularly invoked approvingly within both Russia's far-left and far-right.

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Only part of the former Soviet Union where admiration for Stalin has remained consistently widespread is Georgia, although Georgian attitude has been very divided.

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