Joseph Stalin

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JOSEPH STALIN Born on December 21 1879 in Gori, a mountainous area of southwestern Russia, his real name is Iosif, better known as Joseph. It was only in 1913 that he adopted the name Stalin from a Russian word that means man of steel.

Coming from a very poor background, he was sent to a little church school in 1888 where this very bright student spent 5 years. In 1894 at the age of 14 he received a scholarship at the religious seminary in Tbilisi where he attended & became known by his classmates for reading, debating & good schoolwork.

He was later remembered by some of his classmates as someone who held grudges & seldom forgave people.

He studied for the priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church & was repeatedly punished at the seminary for reading forbidden books. He also became interested in the ideas of Karl Marx, a German social philosopher & in 1898 joined a secret Marxist revolutionary group.

The Tbilisi seminary, like many Russian schools was a centre for the circulation of forbidden revolutionary ideas. In May 1899, Stalin was expelled for not appearing for an examination. His interest in Marxism probably played a part in his dismissal.

The Bolshevik revolution saw the rise to power of Stalin contrary to what he promoted by having history rewritten recognising him as Lenin's right hand man. It was Leon Trotsky who worked very closely with Lenin. During the Russian civil war Stalin took credit for a victory in Stalinggrad, which was known as Tsaritsyn at the time. Stalin thereafter became one of the first members of the 5 member Politburo. The Bolsheviks won the civil war in 1920 and began to rebuild the war-torn country.

Stalin began his plotting and by the end of 1922 his power grew.