Joseph Stalin Childhood and Early Years

Joseph Stalin, probably the man with the highest record of mass murders in history, with about 20 million deaths1, posed himself as the man who would take Russia from its bad government and wars to restore it and make it an advanced country. His desire of greatness and possession made him commit terrible crimes in order to reach his wanted power. Joseph Stalin was probably the man that brought Russia back to power but it was also the worst mistake that could ever happen in the history of the Soviet Union.

On December 21st, 1879, Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, was born in Gori, Georgia2. Joseph Vissarionvich, also known as Joseph Stalin, was born in a poor family. His father, Vissarion Dzhugashvili was a modest shoemaker who had his own shop. Ekaterina Georgievna, Stalin’s mother, was born serf, so she didn’t have much capital. His parents were very protective, since their first three children died and Joseph was born with a poor health. In several occasions his mother feared that he would also die. Unfortunately, after some years, his father became an alcoholic. This made his business fail and he became violent and abusive with his wife and kid. Also, he grew up in a violent place, where gang warfare, wrestling tournaments and street fighting was seen every day.

When he was seven years old, he contracted smallpox. Even though he survived, he had scars in his face. Some children were mean to him and they called him “Pocky.” Later, when he came to power, he had his photos retouched to make marks less apparent. Later, in 1888, when Joseph was nine years old, his mom took him to the Gori church school3. Thanks to his intelligence and commitment, he did very good and was accepted. In Gori church school, his classmates were mostly sons of priests, officials and merchants. But being in a lower class wasn’t a barrier and he was always known as the best student. He wrote poetry and sang in the choir.

Furthermore, his father wanted him to be a shoemaker. When he found out he was studying, he made a big scandal in Gori. He smashed the windows in the tavern and attacked a town police men. This was a huge crime, so he was banished from Gori and ended up in Tblisi, leaving his family in Gori. When he was twelve, he was struck by a horse-drawn carriage twice, so he was taken to a hospital in Tblisi. His father kidnapped him and enrolled him as an apprentice shoemaker. His mother took him back to Gori and his father cut their financial aid.

Finally, he graduated in the Gori Church School in 1894, when he was only 154. After he turned 16, he got free scholarship to the Tiflis Theological Seminary, in Tblisi. He was drawn to Georgian Patriotism and he knew more about Russian culture. It was in high school that Joseph learned, in a forbidden book from the public library, about the ideas of Karl Marx. In Marx’s writings, religion was just a tool used to oppress workers and soon all workers would rebel against factory and private businesses owners. Joseph took this personally since he was sent by his mother to the seminary to become a priest. He then felt he had to take vengeance of all people who made him feel inferior. While he was at the seminary, he read forbidden books like Victor Hugo novels. He insisted his classmates to call him “Koba” after a protagonist of the novel The Patricide. He then joined a secret organization called Messame Dassy. Members were supporters of Georgian independence from Russia. In May 1899, Stalin was expelled from the TiflisTheological Seminary5. He disrespected the authority, read forbidden books and tried to convert his classmates to Marxism. For some months, after his expulsion, Stalin was unemployed. After some time, he found work by giving private lessons to middle class students. Then, he worked as a clerk at the Tiflis Observatory and sometimes wrote articles in a socialist newspaper.

During his early twenties, Joseph became a political agitator. He convinced workers to strike and was always chased by authority. At the age of 22, in 1901, Stalin joined the Social Democratic Labor Party, so he stayed in Russia where he organized industrial resistance to Tsarism6. On April 18, 1902, he was arrested because he planned a strike at a large plant in Batum7. He spent one year and 6 months in prison, and later he was deported to Siberia. At the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Labor Party, in 1903, two party leaders had an argument; Lenin and Julius Martov, Martov won8. Martov’s followers where known as Mensheviks. Lenin’s followers were known as Bolsheviks. In 1904, Stalin escaped from Siberia to plan strikes in Tiflis9.