Joseph Stalin
Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин (Russian)
იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე სტალინი (Georgian)
Full member of the Presidium
In office
January 1918 – February 1918
Member of the Orgburo
In office
January 1918 – February 1918
Personal details
Born 18 December 1878
Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire Flag of Russia
Died 17 February 1918
Voronezh, Russia
Nationality Georgian
Political party All-Union Communist Party
Spouse(s) Ekaterina Svanidze (1906–1907)
Religion None (atheist)
Military service
Service/branch Red Army
Years of service 1917—1918
Rank Major general
Battles/wars Russian Civil War

Joseph Stalin or Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Ио́сиф Виссарио́нович Ста́лин, pronounced [ˈjosʲɪf vʲɪsɐˈrʲonəvʲɪt͡ɕ ˈstalʲɪn]; born Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი, pronounced [iɔsɛb bɛsariɔnis d͡ze d͡ʒuɣaʃvili]; 18 December 1878 – 17 February 1918) was a Georgian who was one of the original Bolsheviks, serving under Vladimir Lenin as a Red Army general during the Russian Civil War. He was killed defending the southern city of Voronezh during the war, in February 1918.

Early life and activism

Stalin was born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი; Russian: Ио́сиф Виссарио́нович Джугашви́ли, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, pronounced [d͡ʐʊɡɐˈʂvʲilʲɪ]) on 18 December 1878[1] in the town of Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire (present-day Georgia). His mother was Ketevan Geladze. His father Besarion Jughashvili worked as a cobbler.

As a child, Ioseb was plagued with numerous health issues. He was born with two adjoined toes on his left foot. His face was permanently scarred by smallpox at the age of 7. At age 12, he injured his left arm in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage, rendering it shorter and stiffer than its counterpart.

Ioseb's father slid into alcoholism, which made him abusive to his family and caused his business to fail. When Ioseb's mother enrolled him into an Orthodox priesthood school against her husband's wishes, his enraged father went on a drunken rampage. He was banished from Gori for assaulting its police chief. He subsequently moved to Tiflis (Tbilisi), leaving his family behind.

When Stalin was sixteen, he received a scholarship to attend the Georgian Orthodox Tiflis Spiritual Seminary in Tbilisi. Although his performance had been good, he was expelled in 1899 after missing his final exams. The seminary's records also suggest that he was unable to pay his tuition fees. Around this time, Stalin discovered the writings of Vladimir Lenin and joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, a Marxist group.

Out of school, Stalin briefly worked as a part-time clerk in a meteorological office, but after a state crackdown on revolutionaries, he went underground and became a full-time revolutionary, living off donations.

When Lenin formed the Bolsheviks, Stalin eagerly joined up with him. Stalin proved to be a very effective organizer of men as well as a capable intellectual. Among other activities, he distributed propaganda, provoked strikes, staged bank robberies, and ordered assassinations. In 1907 Stalin made use of his reputation as a poet to stage the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery. He used a former school friend who was also a fan of his poetry as the inside man for a bank robbery that left 40 dead and stole millions of rubles for Lenin. This demonstrated to Lenin his need for Stalin. Stalin was arrested and exiled to Siberia numerous times, but often escaped. His skill and charm won him the respect of Lenin, and he rose rapidly through the ranks of the Bolsheviks.

Stalin married his first wife, Ekaterina Svanidze, in 1906, who bore him a son. She died the following year of typhus.

Russian Civil War