Joseph Stalin

Walter Ulbricht – Germany’s After WWII Leader

Walter Ulbricht was often described as one of the blandest human beings that ever held a significant political office. While this may or may not be true, Ulbricht was certainly deprived of all personal charisma.

Born in 1893 in Leipzig, young Ulbricht didn’t show much interest in school. He barely finished eight years of elementary education and went into cabinet making. During the World War I, he served in Balkans and the Eastern Front. Towards the end of the war, he deserted the army but was captured and imprisoned in Charleroi in Belgium. In the final days of the German Empire, he was released with the rest of his fellow deserters.

In 1920, Ulbricht joined German Communist Party. He became active in politics and became a member of party’s Central Committee in 1923. Next year, Ulbricht was sent to Moscow, where he attended International Lenin School, a Comintern’s school teaching international students on how to export revolution in their own countries.

He eventually became a member of the German Reichstag, but his political career was abruptly ended with Adolph Hitler’s rise to power and his purge of communists. Ulbricht fled Germany, first to Paris and Prague and later to Spain, where he joined the Republicans. He didn’t saw any real frontline action, chasing instead German communists not loyal enough to Joseph Stalin and liquidating them. In 1937 he went to Moscow, where he stayed until April 1945.

Once back in Berlin, Ulbricht was quick to seize power and establish Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands or SED). In 1950 he became General Secretary of the party, which equated to the head of state. He kept the position until 1971 and it was during his term that notorious Berlin Wall was built.

Ulbricht was always trying to emulate Soviet leaders Lenin and Stalin. His beard was a clear copy of famous Lenin beard, and he always tried to rule with the iron fist like Stalin, never giving him a reason to doubt Ulbricht’s loyalty to Moscow and Stalin personally.

Once Stalin died in 1953, Ulbricht was forced to deal with Khrushchev, who was a different animal. Still, the German leader managed to stay in power until 1971, when his rigidness and orthodoxy became a liability in light of Moscow trying to improve the relationship with West Germany and its leader Willy Brandt. Ulbricht was forced to resign almost all of his functions, citing poor health as a reason. He remained an honorary Chairman of the SED. He died in 1973 from a stroke.


Nadezhda Alliluyeva – Wife of Joseph Stalin

Nadezhda Alliluyeva is one of the two wives that Joseph Stalin had in his life. Both of them died well before he did, with Nadezhda dying in 1932 at the age of 31.

She was just a two-year-old girl when Stalin met her the first time and saved her from drowning. Back in the day, he was visiting her family quite often and has seen Nadya on a regular basis. In 1917, he had to return to Petrograd. Nadya, who was already 16 at the time, fell for this romantic revolutionary.

In Petrograd, Stalin, together with his friend Lev Kamenev took over the office of Pravda, a Bolsheviks’ newspaper that was closed by the Tsarist government in 1914. Stalin used to work in Pravda as an editor. He was also appointed to the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, a very influential body that held sway over a large number of factories and their workers in the city.

In April 1917, elections were held for Bolshevik Party Central Committee, and Stalin came third, only behind Lenin and Zinoviev. This was a big boost to his party standings, and he was officially seen as one of the highest-ranking party officials. During this meteoric rise to power, Nadezhda Alliluyeva was working as a clerk in Lenin’s office, handling confidential coded mail. The two of them were seeing each other on a regular basis, but it was mostly for party business. It is unclear if they had a romantic relationship at this time.

In the meantime, the clashes between Bolsheviks and the Provisional Government continued, and the inevitable showdown came in October 1917. In a brief struggle, the Bolsheviks took over Petrograd and proclaimed a new government, Council of People’s Commissars, in which Stalin was to play a prominent role.

Right after the October Revolution, Nadya became Stalin’s assistant while he was working as the People’s Commissar for the Nationalities and joined him in the city of Tsaritsyn while the Russian Civil War was taking place.

They ended up married in 1919 and had two kids. A boy – Vasily, who was born in 1921, and a girl – Svetlana, five years younger.

After that, it seems that all went downhill for Nadya. She hated the life in the Kremlin, Stalin was always mistreating her, being violent, and flirtatious with his colleague’s wives.

Nadya had enough of that and studied chemistry in 1929. Her colleagues from university actually didn’t know who she was, so they told her a lot of horrifying stories about Stalin. When she decided to confront him and talk about all the things that she heard about him, he ordered for all of her friends and students to be arrested.

The couple hosted a Banquet in late 1932 to celebrate the October Revolution. Things got chippy between the two and Nadya left for bed earlier than anyone. In the morning, they found her dead as she had taken her own life with a gun. Before doing that, she wrote a note to Stalin, accusing him of many things and taking a shot at him with each sentence. That shook up Stalin badly because he knew that she did that to punish him for what he had done.

Just a couple of days before her death, Nadezhda Alliluyeva told her friend that nothing made her happy, least of all her children.

Her son Vasily, who spent his career in Soviet Air Force and ended up with the rank of Lieutenant-General, was an alcoholic and a womanizer, who was sentenced for revealing state secret while drunk and spent seven years in prison after his father died. Daughter Svetlana ended up as a defector. She died in 2011 in the United Kingdom

Yakov Dzhugashvili, the sad fate of Stalin’s son

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had three children, two boys and a girl, born by his two wives. Neither of the three had a warm relationship with their father. His only daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defected to the United States in 1967. When she was 16, Svetlana fell in love with a Jewish filmmaker Aleksei Kapler. As soon as he found out, Stalin sentenced Kapler to 10 years hard labor in infamous Siberian gulags. Her next suitor was a bit luckier, and was allowed to marry Svetlana, but was never introduced to Stalin officially.

While she was a student, she was instructed to study history and political thought by her father, although literature was her passion. Stalin regarded that childish and strictly forbade her being taught in that field. Svetlana died in Wisconsin, at the age of 85.

Svetlana’s brother, Vasily Dzhugashvili, was a great disappointment to his father. An average student, he managed to enroll in a pilot school, where he proceeded to become a drunk and a womanizer. Still, he kept getting promoted and ended his military career with the rank of a major general. After his father died in 1953, Vasily was considered a dangerous person by Stalin’s heirs, Nikita Khrushchev and Georgy Malenkov, and was treated as such. He was sentenced to eight years and was released in 1960. His drinking finally caught up with him, and he died few days short of his 41st birthday.

Perhaps the most tragic fate of all Stalin’s children befell Yakov Dzhugashvili, Stalin’s oldest. His mother was Ekaterina Svanidze, who died of typhus when Yakov was just nine months old. It was said that the whatever humanity Stalin possessed died with her. He later stated ‘This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.’ Her death was so devastating for him that his comrades took his revolver away, in fear that he will use it to commit suicide.

Stalin never transferred those feelings to the son he had with Svanidze. Yakov once tried to commit suicide after a failed love affair, but only managed to wound himself. His father’s only comment was: “He can’t even shoot straight.”

Yakov Dzhugashvili married Yulia Meltzer, a famous dancer from Odessa who also happened to be Jewish. His father was a staunch anti-Semite and felt that this was a deliberate action against him on Yakov’s part. Still, he grew to like Yulia and was eventually pleased with his son’s choice.

When the Operation Barbarossa started, Yakov Dzhugashvili was commissioned as an artillery lieutenant. His father simply told him “Go and fight.” Yakov obeyed but was captured on July 16th, 1942, less than a month after the war started. Stalin view prisoners of war as traitors and the capture of his son didn’t change his mind. Families of POWs were routinely exposed to imprisonment and torture, and Yulia was no exception. Stalin sent her to a gulag, where she stayed for two years. Her children were taken away from her.

One of the reasons for such harsh treatment could be because allegedly, Yakov wasn’t captured, but in fact, actively sought to surrender to Wehrmacht. Der Spiegel magazine recently uncovered several documents from the Soviet archives that suggest this. The first evidence is a letter written by Alexei Rumyanzev, who was a political commissar in Yakov’s brigade. In a report to the Political Directorate, he praised Yakov as fearless and impeccable in his duties as a battery commander. But then he goes on to describe how, after an especially heavy German barrage on his positions, Yakov and one of his soldiers, Popuride, deserted.

“They buried their papers and put on civilian clothing,” the letter states. “When they reached the lakeside, Comrade Dzhugashvili told Popuride to keep going, but said that he wanted to stay and rest.”

This was interpreted as clear intent on Yakov’s part to surrender to Germans. Der Spiegel also cites a German report, detailing Yakov’s interrogation. The report says that he was very critical of the Red Army, claiming its actions were “stupid and idiotic” and its leaders “unwise.” He also made several anti-Semitic remarks, which came as a surprise to Germans, considering Yakov’s wife was Jewish. Apparently, Yakov said: “For them, making business deals is the most important thing. The Jew doesn’t want to work because he can’t.”

Later, his half-sister Svetlana wrote in her memoirs that Stalin believed Yakov was put up to surrender by his wife and that is why he treated her so cruelly.

Germans tried to use Yakov’s capture as a propaganda tool, dropping leaflets over Soviet positions, claiming that he is well and encouraging them also to surrender. ‘Follow the example of Stalin’s son,’ the leaflets said, ‘stick your bayonets in the earth.’

In 1943, Soviets captured entire German 6th Army at Stalingrad, together with newly-promoted Field Marshal Fredrich von Paulus. Together with Paulus, Soviet captured Leo Raubal Jr., Hitler’s nephew. Hitler tried to get Stalin to exchange either of them for Yakov Dzhugashvili, but Stalin refused, saying that “war is war” and that he won’t trade a field marshal for a mere lieutenant.

Just a few months later, Yakov died in prison. The official version says that he was killed during the escape attempt. However, there are some records that claim Yakov committed a suicide. During his time in war prisoners camp, he befriended a number of Polish officers who were there with him. About that time the Katyn massacre, where Stalin ordered some 15,000 Polish soldiers executed, was discovered. Taunted by the prison guards and feeling ashamed in front of his Polish friends, Yakov Dzhugashvili threw himself at the electric fence surrounding the camp. He died on April 14th, 1943, at the age of 36.


Yakov and Vasily Stalin – Biography of Stalin’s Sons

Joseph Stalin had one daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva who died in Wisconsin on November 22, 2011, at the age of 85. However, the Soviet leader had two sons from his two wives. Stalin’s first wife was Ekaterina Svanidze who gave birth to Joseph’s first son who was born in 1907 and who died in a German concentration camp in 1943. Ekaterina was Stalin’s great love, and they married in 1906. Unfortunately, she passed away from typhus when she was only 22 and when her son was barely nine months old. This affected Stalin greatly, and if Ekaterina had lived, Stalin the dictator wouldn’t have been born. At her funeral, he told one of his friends: ‘This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.’

Yakov Dzhugashvili Stalin

Although he loved his wife greatly, he wasn’t nourishing the same feelings for his son Yakov. Yakov or Yasha as his father called him had a difficult life, and at one point he tried to shoot himself, but he missed. As he was bleeding Stalin just said: ‘He can’t even shoot straight.’

Yakov Dzhugashvili was a lieutenant in the artillery in the Red Army as the country was preparing for the World War II. When he was about to go to war, his father told him ‘Go and fight,’ but he was captured by the Nazis and taken prisoner. Speaking of prisoners, Stalin said: ‘There are no prisoners of war only traitors to their homeland.’ He failed his father, and he admitted that he tried to shoot himself during the interrogation. His father would have probably respected him more if he managed to take his life away.

Yakov was married to a Jewish girl Julia, and Joseph became quite fond of her. However, when Yakov was captured, Julia was arrested too, and she was sent to the gulag, a labor camp created by Lenin which reached its peak during Stalin’s rule. Since Joseph considered the prisoners to be the traitors, Julia had to be imprisoned despite the fact that she was family. Joseph brokered her release, but she was forever traumatized by the experience at the camp.

The Germans advised Russian to give up from fighting, and they used Yakov as an example. They said that he was alive and well and that the others should follow Stalin’s son. At one point, Russians captured German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus and the Nazis offered an exchange of prisoners – Yakov for Freidrich – to which Joseph said: ‘I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant.’

Yakov Dzhugashvili died shortly after he heard of the Katyn massacre. Stalin ordered the murder of 15,000 Polish officers and some of them were Yakov’s friends. This was too much for him to bare, and a 36-year-old Stalin’s son threw himself onto an electric fence.

Vasily Dzhugashvili Stalin

Stalin’s second wife was Nadezhda Alliluyeva who gave birth to Stalin’s second son Vasily Stalin and his daughter Svetlana, five years later. Vasily was born in 1921, but when he was 11 years old, his mother Nadezhda shot herself because she was suffering from depression. This was too much for the young Vasily, who joined the aviation school at the age of 17 although he didn’t have the grades for it. According to Joseph, Vasily was a ‘spoilt boy of average abilities.’ However, Vasily was no fool, and he used his father’s name to get special treatment, but when the news reached his father, he ordered an immediate end to such a folly.

Vasily Stalin kept using his name to get the perks of life. He managed to become a pilot despite his excessive drinking, and he was a womanizer. He would fly planes while intoxicated and even though he was married twice, he always had mistresses. At the beginning of the war he became a colonel, and in 1946 he was a Major-General, which was far above his abilities.

Vasily was not popular because of his drinking problems, but he was afraid of no-one mostly because of his father’s reputation. However, he was scared of his father, and he lived in constant fear of what would happen to him after Joseph dies. And he was right to be afraid. After Stalin’s death, Vasily was dismissed from the air force and arrested for ‘misappropriation of state property.’ In other words, he used the funds from the air force in private purpose. Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Stalin, and this was the time when Vasily Stalin was released, but he ended back behind bars in less than a year for a traffic accident. He was exiled to Kazan after he was released due to ill health, but he died on 19 March 1962, just two days before his 41st birthday.