Look around you. Do you see the beauty of the world? Do you feel the warmth of your freedom? From the day you were born, life has been be shaping you, turning you into the person you will become.
We all heard of the name Joseph Stalin. He, the man with an iron fist, the monster that slaughtered millions of people, yet also the man that is being idolized by many in his homeland as the best ruler the Soviet Union ever knew. The real question is not who he really was, but what shaped the man the West loves to hate.
Joseph Stalin was born under the name of Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia in 1879. His parents were of simple descent, his father worked as a bootmaker and his mother did laundry for a living.
Stalin was the fourth child in his family, but all his siblings died at a young age. During his childhood he was very weak, often sick to an extend that his survival was questionable. This contributed to a very protective behavior from his mother towards Stalin. From a young age he experienced severe poverty that most of the peasants had to endure in the Russian Empire at the end of 19th century. When Stalin was seven years old he got infected with the smallpox virus. Although he survived the infection, his face was damaged. It remained scarred for the rest of his life. His scarred face was the reason he was cruelly bullied by other children throughout his childhood.
Stalin’s mother was very religious. She managed to get him a place at a local church school, where, despite having serious health problems, Stalin made good progress. He even won a free scholarship to the Tiflis Theological Seminary. There Stalin joined a secret organization, many members of which were strong supporters of Georgian independence from the Russian Empire and some were socialists, inspired by the ideas of Karl Marx. Within that organization Stalin was introduced into the socialistic ideology. In 1899 Stalin got expelled from the seminary. Reason for this was disrespect for the people of authority, but also for reading of forbidden books. Later he spent months being unemployed and so was even more degraded.
Finally in 1901 Stalin joined the Social Democratic Labour Party. In contrast to its leaders, Stalin stayed in the Russian Empire, where he participated in organizing industrial resistance to Imperial rule of Nicholas II. In 1902 Stalin was arrested, put in prison and eventually sent to a prison camp in Siberia. He escaped two years later. For the next ten years he was arrested multiple times, but every time he managed to escape, until the last time where he again was sent to Siberia. When in 1917 the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II was forced to abdicate, all the political prisoners including Stalin were allowed to return from Siberia. Being an active member of non-Russian descent, Stalin was proclaimed Commissar of Nationalities, and so his first big step towards power was set.
Throughout his early life Stalin experienced many hardships, the hardships that shaped him into the man he became. It is the reason why he adopted the name Stalin, from the Russian “stal” meaning “steel”. The difficulties of his life turned him into a man of steel.