Film: Stalin - Early Life

Film Series: Power and authority in Russia and the Soviet Union

By Professor James Harris, University of Leeds, published 27th March 2024

Joseph Stalin was born Joseph Besarionis dze Jughashvili in 1878 into a poor family in Gori, Georgia, part of the then Russian Empire. Stalin attended the Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary while his own radicalism grew, before joining the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He edited the party's newspaper, Pravda, and raised funds for Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik faction through robberies, kidnappings and protection rackets. Repeatedly arrested, he underwent several internal exiles to Siberia. After the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution and created a one-party state under the new Communist Party in 1917, Stalin joined its governing Politburo. 

In this film, Professor James Harris (University of Leeds) discusses Stalin’s psychology and early life and the influences that drove his ambition and his thinking.

(This film is open access).

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View the other films in this series here:

1. Stalin - Early Life

2. Stalin - Rise to Power

3. Stalin - The Early Soviet Economy & the preparation for war

4. Stalin & the Great Terror

5. Stalin - World War II 

6. Stalin - Interpretations and Legacy