This episode of the Sofa King Podcast is a discussion of the brutal regime of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Born Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili in December of 1878, he changed his name to Koba (a sort of Russian Robin Hood) and eventually settled on the new name of Stalin which meant “Man of Steel.” He was born to ordinary parents, but had a series of health complications as a child and a strange relationship with his mother, who wanted him to become a priest. If you’ve listened to our other podcasts about cult leaders, serial killers, and madmen, this childhood is the perfect recipe!
Eventually, he went to the seminary study religion, but he ended up stopping. Some say he quit, others that he was expelled for lack of tuition, and some that he was booted for starting to join the early days of the Russian Revolution. Either way, he became an influential member of the early revolution, and he started leading guerrilla attacks and even famously robbed a bank to help fund the cause.
Once Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin headed the revolution that brought down the Russian Empire and started the Soviet Union, Stalin’s true colors started to show. He slowly consolidated a power-base of loyal people around him in government, so that when Lenin died, he was able to take power over the newly-formed nation. From here, he started his history of purges and death to his own people.
He eliminated all political resistance via firing squads, gulags, and forced deportation, and he ruled the USSR with an iron grasp. He restructured the nation to be an industrial powerhouse instead of a farming-based economy, a decision which caused the greatest man-made famine in the history of humanity (thought to have killed between 7-10 million Ukrainians, Russians, and Soviets).
How did so many Soviets starve to death while the country still made a profit selling foodstuffs to other nations? How many Soviets was Stalin responsible for killing? Was his death caused by natural causes, or was it an assassination? Was he a hero or one of the worst villains in history? Listen, laugh, learn.