Timeline Description: Joseph Stalin was a Russian dictator in the 20th century. He was responsible for leading the Soviet Union through World War II and into the Cold War with the United States. He was also responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians through purges and decisions that led to mass starvation.
|December 21, 1879||Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, later known as Joseph Stalin, is born in the village of Gori in Georgia.
Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili is born in the village of Gori in Georgia, which is part of the Russian empire. The boy who will later become known as Joseph Stalin is the third child born to a poor shoemaker and his wife.
|Fall 1888||Stalin enrolls in Gori Church School.
Stalin begins basic studies at the Gori Church School. Even though he speaks Georgian at home, he is permitted to speak only Russian at school due to the rules of Tsar Alexander III.
|Fall 1894||Stalin begins studies at Tiflis Theological Seminary in Georgia.
Stalin receives a scholarship to Tiflis Theological Seminary in Georgia but gets involved in revolutionary activities instead of studying. He learns about the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and is expelled from the school when his revolutionary ideas are discovered.
|April 18, 1902||Stalin is arrested for the first time.
Stalin is arrested for organizing strikes against an oil refinery. This begins a 15-year period of his life when Stalin is routinely arrested, exiled, and arrested again after he escapes from exile.
|December 1903||Stalin joins the Bolsheviks.
While in Siberia, Stalin learns that Vladimir Lenin has formed the Bolsheviks, a political group that believes in the ideas of Karl Marx. Stalin already admires Lenin and joins his group. The Bolsheviks will go on to become the Communist Party.
|July 28, 1906||Stalin marries Ekaterina Svanidze.
Stalin and Ekaterina Svanidze marry at St. David's church in Tiflis. They have one son together, Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili, before Ekaterina dies of tuberculosis in 1907.
|November 1917||Lenin appoints Stalin Commissar of Nationalities.
As a reward for his part in the October Revolution, Lenin names Stalin Commissar of Nationalities. This makes Stalin responsible for millions of non-Russians living under the Tsar and gives him a tremendous amount of power.
|March 24, 1919||Stalin marries Nadezhda Alliluyeva.
Stalin and 18 year-old Nadezhda Alliluyeva marry. Nadezhda commits suicide in November 1932. Their daughter, Svetlana, defects from the Soviet Union and moves to the U.S. in 1967.
|1922||Stalin is named the General Secretary of the Communist Party.
As Russia becomes the Soviet Union, Stalin becomes General Secretary of the Communist Party and is responsible for placing others in specific jobs. He understands that controlling people and what they do is key to gaining power and eventually has many key people in his debt for the jobs they have.
|1928||The first of Stalin's Five-Year Plans begins.
In a brutal and ill-fated attempt to bring the Soviet economy in to the industrial age, Stalin seizes farms and factories that were crucial to the nation's agriculture. Hundreds of thousands of people die for protesting or simply due to starvation as Stalin continues to ship food out of the country to try and cover up the failure of his plan.
|1942||The Soviet Union allies with Great Britain and the United States in World War II.
After the Soviet Union is invaded by Germany, Stalin decides that the Soviet Red Army will join forces with the United States and Great Britain in World War II. Eventually, the Red Army defeats the Nazis and is responsible for liberating the concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1945.
|June 1947||Stalin rejects aid from the Marshall Plan.
When the Marshall Plan is enacted to provide aid to Europe after being devastated in World War II, Stalin rejects it. He does not like the plan because it will also help Germany and he thinks the U.S. is becoming too dominant. His attempts to block food from arriving in West Berlin fail when the U.S. airlifts supplies into the city.
|1950||Stalin grants North Korea permission to invade South Korea.
Stalin gives permission to Kim Ill Sung of Communist North Korea to invade non-Communist South Korea, leading to the Korean War. The U.S. is a supporter of South Korea due to its foreign policy of preventing the spread of communism, so the U.S. gets involved in the Korean War.
|August 12, 1952||Thirteen Soviet Jews are murdered on the Night of the Murdered Poets.
Stalin orders the execution of 13 Soviet Jews, including five Yiddish poets, who are accused of treason and of being spies. This was the beginning of Stalin's plans to purge the Soviet Union of Jews.
|March 5, 1953||Stalin dies of a stroke.
Already in poor health, Stalin dies four days after suffering a stroke at his home. Rumors persist long after his death that he was poisoned.