Joseph Stalin is one of the most infamous historical figures of all time. He is known infamously as one of the most brutal Russian political figures of the past few centuries – but do you know much about the dictator beyond his role in World War II? If not, here are some interesting facts about Joseph Stalin that may just surprise you.
1. He was born into poverty.
Although Joseph Stalin is known for having been a very powerful man, he was actually born into poverty. He was born in 1879, and both his parents were of working class. His mother was known to be a washerwoman, and his father was a cobbler and a known alcoholic.
2. He had scars.
During his childhood, Stalin reportedly contracted smallpox. The disease left him with scars that he had for the rest of his life and supposedly led to him being bullied at school.
3. He loved the cinema.
Joseph Stalin was apparently a bit of a movie fanatic! He particularly enjoyed western movies; however, he also had his limits. In fact, he banned all films in his nation from showing any kissing scenes or nudity – a policy that was repealed years later.
4. Hitler wasn’t the only wartime dictator.
While many of us tend to focus on Adolf Hitler as the main dictator of the Second World War, Joseph Stalin was indeed a brutal ruler in his own right. He led the Soviet Union at the time and was – eventually – an enemy of Hitler, too. This was, as you may imagine, a very dangerous rivalry.
5. Stalin wanted to breed soldiers to bend to his will.
Stalin believed that since human soldiers felt pain and needed sustenance, he wanted soldiers that needed little maintenance, would follow orders blindly and would triumph in every battle they set foot in. It is even believed that certain inhumane experiments took place trying to accomplish this.
6. A different kind of forecast…
While he eventually became a dictator, Joseph Stalin was once a weatherman! He was a recording assistant in a laboratory, specifically. There was little chance of seeing him presenting the breakfast weather!
7. Stalin wasn’t his birth name.
Joseph Stalin’s original name was Ioseb Besarionis dze Jugdhashvili. He changed his name to Stalin, as it meant “Man of The Steel Hand”.
8. Stalin wasn’t welcome in his own country for a time.
Before becoming the leader of the USSR, Stalin was actually exiled multiple times! For example, he was exiled to Siberia early in the 20th century. This was in response to his leading of a labor strike at the time. Times soon changed, however, as Stalin would eventually become the brutal figurehead at the top of the Soviet Union by the time war was declared on Hitler and Nazi Germany.
9. Best buddies? Probably not…
Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler actually had a very complicated relationship. While they did eventually become enemies, there was originally a nonaggression pact between the two nations. By 1941, they were officially at odds.
10. He was shorter than many might imagine.
Although you may have only seen very imposing and impressive pictures of Joseph Stalin, they were very cleverly shot! Stalin was actually only 5 ft 4, which he did not feel comfortable about. That’s why he insisted that he only be shot from certain angles, to hide his true height.
FAQs about Joseph Stalin
What role did Joseph Stalin play in World War II?
Joseph Stalin was the dictatorial leader of the USSR in World War 2. This meant that he controlled the Soviet battlefronts, military, and war economy. He was a brutalist dictator who divided opinion broadly across his country people. To some, he was seen as a legendary war hero, and was mourned.
Who took over after Joseph Stalin died?
Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Joseph Stalin in 1953. He was the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Georgy Malenkov was the Premier of the Soviet Union.
Do you know any interesting facts about Joseph Stalin? Share them in the comments below!