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Joseph Stalin

By Stephanie L. McKinney, PhD, Contributing Writer

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Who Was Joseph Stalin?
Picture of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

The Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (circa 1935)

(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Dates: December 6, 1878 – March 5, 1953

Also Known As: Ioseb Djugashvili (born as), Sosa, Koba

Who Was Joseph Stalin?

Joseph Stalin was the Communist, totalitarian leader of the Soviet Union (now called Russia) from 1927 to 1953. As the creator of one of the most brutal reigns in history, Stalin was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 20 to 60 million of his own people, mostly from widespread famines and massive political purges.

During World War II, Stalin maintained an uneasy alliance with the United States and Great Britain to fight Nazi Germany, but dropped any illusions of friendship after the war. As Stalin sought to expand Communism throughout Eastern Europe and around the world, he helped spark the Cold War and the subsequent arms race.

For a photo biography about Joseph Stalin, from his childhood to his death and legacy, click "Next" below.

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