Born Josef Vissarionovich Jughashvili (which he would later change to Stalin, Russian for “man of steel”) to Besarion Jughashvili, a shoemaker with a penchant for insobriety and general debauchery, and Ekaterina Georgievna, a laundress, Joseph Stalin grew up in poverty. Stalin was born in the village of Gori, in the Russian province of Georgia, then part of the Russian Empire, on December 18, 1878, or December 6, 1878, according to the Old Style Julian calendar, however, he would later invent a new birthdate for himself: December 21, 1879. Stalin was brought up in a dysfunctional and poverty stricken family; he would rise from this and become the one of the most influential and hated dictators of the 20th century.
Suffering from a traumatic childhood due to a mildly malformed arm, contraction of smallpox, and a brutish and abusive father, Stalin constantly felt unfairly treated. This developed a strong desire for power and respect. When he was nothing more than a young boy, Stalin’s father, Besarion Jughashvili, left the small town of Gori to seek employment in Tiflis. Due to this his father’s leave, his mother, Ekaterina Georgievna, had a more profound influence on Stalin — it was she who administered his education; he first attended the Gori Church School and earned a scholarship at the Tiflis Theological Seminary, where her mother hoped for young Stalin to become a clergyman. While studying at the seminary, Stalin began to covertly read Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto; Stalin eventually became indulged in the revolutionary movement against the Russian Monarchs. His mother’s hopes would be crushed as her son was expelled from the seminary in 1899 and becomes a staunch advocate for a Marxist revolution.
Subsequent to his leave from the Tiflis Theological Seminary, Stalin becomes an underground political agent provocateur and assumes the alias ‘Koba', a fictional Georgian outlaw-hero. ‘Koba’ took parts in labor demonstrations and strikes. Between 1902 and 1913, Stalin would be detained and exiled to Siberia multiple times — six times to be exact due to his involvement in many illicit ventures from small time robbery to bank heists. He would escape from exile almost every time, creating a pattern over ten years. During Tsarist Russia, Siberian exile was incredibly easy to flee. During this time, two political parties were established from the split of the Social Democrats: The Bolsheviks and The Mensheviks. Stalin acceded to the more militant and radical Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin.
In 1906, Joseph Stalin was wed to his first wife, Ekaterina ‘Kato’ Svanidze (1885-1907), a seamstress. Stalin and Svanidze’s union resulted in a son, Yakov (1907-1943). Svanidze passed when Yakov was an infant from typhus. During the chaos of World War II, Yakov was detained in a Germany and perished. Eleven years after Svanidze’s death, in 1918, Stalin married his second wife, Naedzhda ‘Nadya’ Alliluyeva (1901-1932). Naedzhda ‘Nadya’ Alliluyeva was the daughter...