Joseph Stalin: Bloody Soviet

Nathan Chandler

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Joseph Stalin took the reins of the Soviet Union during troubled times and attempted to right the ship. In doing so, many people suffered horrible fates. How much do you know about Stalin, the steely-eyed dictator?

Stalin didn't like political dissidents. What did he do to his opposition?

He was ruthless to his political enemies. Stalin often sent enemies to labor camps...or simply had them executed.

Early during his adulthood, Joseph adopted the name Stalin, which means what?

He wasn't Superman, but perhaps he wanted to be. Stalin means "Man of Steel." His steely resolve terrified politicians and civilians alike.

Stalin's successor was named Nikita Khrushchev, who started a process called what?

After Khrushchev came to power, he started the long process of de-Stalinization. He wanted to destroy the cult of personality that Stalin had used to warp the minds of millions of people.

During World War II, Soviet forces helped Germans occupy which country?

The Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and the Soviets were right behind them. The Red Army provided some support for the Nazis early in the war. Later, of course, the Nazis turned on them.

Joseph Stalin was essentially the dictator of the U.S.S.R. How long was he in power?

For three iron-fisted decades, Stalin was a hardcore ruler who made the most significant decisions in the Soviet Union. His legacy, shall we say, is a bit dubious.

Stalin was born into what sort of family?

Joseph was born into an impoverished family. His alcoholic father left them when Joseph was still a child. His childhood experiences definitely motivated some of his later thinking.

Stalin helped transform the Soviet Union from a peasant society to an industrial superpower.

When he came to power, the country was an agrarian society. Stalin forcibly upended the order of things to make the Soviet Union more powerful, but at great cost.

Stalin eventually became immensely powerful. As a young man, what sort of student was Stalin?

He was a good student who went on to higher education. But he was kicked out of school in part because he missed finals...and because he couldn't afford his tuition.

Once he was expelled from school, what did Stalin do?

Stalin admired the political writings of Lenin and turned to Marxism. He decided to become a revolutionary devoted to improving Soviet society.

Stalin initiated the Great Purge, which was meant to do what?

Ever paranoid about political opponents, the Great Purge was meant to rid the Communist party and other Soviet entities of all opposition voices. Many people suffered (often unfairly) as a result.

Stalin did some cruel things in his life. He was a religious man.

Stalin was raised in the Georgian Orthodox faith. In his adulthood, he gave up religion entirely and became an atheist.

When Stalin came to power in 1922, the country's economic output was very low. Why?

The Russian Civil War drastically reduced the country's ability to care for itself. Stalin instituted a number of "Five-Year Plans" meant to get the Soviet Union back on track.

Stalin could be cruel to even his own children. One of his sons shot himself to avoid more abuse, but he survived his wounds. How did Stalin respond?

After his son's failed suicide attempt, Stalin scoffed and made a comment about his abused son's poor marksmanship.

Stalin used his Communist principles to collectivize agriculture. How did that plan fare?

The forced collectivization actually caused food production to plummet. Millions of people died in the famine that resulted.

Some historians think Stalin purposely limited food production in the area of Ukraine in order to kill off the people there. How many died?

Joseph had no love for Ukrainians, some of whom he suspected of being revolutionaries. As many as 5 million died during the famine...a result which Stalin may have desired.

How did Stalin's form of government treat females?

Stalin's brand of Communism meant that women saw more rights and greater equality. They had more access to education and employment. They even had better health care.

How did Stalin wind up with severe facial scars?

The boy survived a bout with smallpox, but he was scarred for life. His facial scarring was noticeable to everyone who met him.

How did the Russian Orthodox Church fare under Stalin's early rule?

Stalin saw the Russian Orthodox Church as a potential threat to his power. He leveled many churches and had many religious leaders murdered. Other religions met similar fates.

Stalin gave much assistance to Germany at the beginning of World War II.

Not only did Stalin promise not to attack Germany, he provided the Nazis with all sorts of economic support that propped up Hitler's dreams of world domination.

Stalin married in 1906. What happened to his wife a year later?

Joseph married "Kato" Svanidze in 1906 and they had one child. She was dead a year later due to typhus.

How did farmers receive news of Stalin's agricultural collectivization efforts?

Farmers wanted nothing to do with the plan. They wanted to keep their land and farm as they wished. Stalin executed many of them for their refusal to embrace his Communists ideals.

During World War II, Stalin threatened the lives of army deserters. How many deserters were killed?

Red Army officers couldn't let soldiers abandon their posts. Instead, they shot around 160,000 as a lesson to surviving soldiers. Stalin was well-known for his willingness to brutalize his own troops.

Stalin was a hardcore Communist. What sort of public persona did he cultivate?

Stalin stoked a cult of personality, renaming cities to bear his name, including his name in the national anthem and many other acts meant to make him seem nearly god-like. His people admired and feared him.

Stalin had an unusual physical characteristic. What was it?

Due to a carriage accident when he was a child, one of Stalin's arms was shorter than the other. He expended a lot of effort to hide this throughout his life.

Stalin definitely killed many of his own people. He may have killed how many Soviet civilians?

Some historians think Stalin may have killed as many as 60 million of his own people. Whatever the real number, his brutality was legendary.

Stallin wanted to build an army of invincible soldiers that were half man and half what?

Stalin instructed a scientist to create a race that was half man and half ape with the idea that they'd make great soldiers. The scientist failed and was exiled.

The fearsome leader wanted total privacy in his sleeping quarters and prohibited even his bodyguards from entering. One time he pretended to be hurt. What did his guards do?

Stalin faked an injury and screamed in mock pain. The guards rushed into his private quarters...and as punishment he had them killed.

Stalin was one of the most powerful men of the 20th century. How did he die?

As World War II came to a close, Stalin's health was failing. His smoking and drinking (and stress) contributed to a stroke that killed him.

It's possible that Stalin was assassinated.

Stalin's body exhibited signs of internal bleeding that don't typically appear during a stroke -- but that could instead be caused by poisoning. It's possible that he was assassinated, something that the government of the time would not have publicized.

Much of the world views Stalin as a bloodthirsty tyrant. How is Stalin regarded in modern Russia?

Many Russians acknowledge his brutality, but others think of him as a wise leader in troubled times -- not everyone thinks he was such a bad guy.

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