Skip to main content
Skip to main Navigation
Skip to Search
China In Eurasia by Reid Standish
Steve Gutterman's Week In Russia
Qishloq Ovozi By Bruce Pannier: Events Shaping Central Asia
Watchdog: Monitoring Human Rights
The Week Ahead In Russia
Majlis: Talking Central Asia
Crisis In Belarus
The Fall Of The U.S.S.R.
Locked Up In China
All RFE/RL sites
Stalin: The Early Years
March 03, 2013 02:15 GMT
Josef Stalin rose from obscure origins in Georgia to rule the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. RFE/RL takes a look at some images from his early life. (11 PHOTOS)
A portrait of Josef Stalin's mother, Ketevan Gheladze Dzhugashvili (1858-1937), a housewife, seamstress, and laundress. Photo probably from the 1930s.
Stalin's father, Besarion Vanovis Dzhugashvili (1849/1850-1909), a cobbler. Photo undated.
The information card on Dzhugashvili from the files of the tsarist secret police in St. Petersburg from some time between 1902 and 1910, when he was already a professional revolutionary and a member of the Bolshevik group Iskra (Spark). He began using the name Stalin in 1912.
Stalin's first wife, Yekaterina "Kato" Svanidze (1885-1907), shown in a 1904 portrait. They were married in Tbilisi in 1906. She and Stalin had one son, Yakov Dzhugashvili, who was born in 1907. Yekaterina died of tuberculosis in 1907. Much of her family, including a sister and brother, were executed during the Great Terror. Yakov Dzhugashvili was a Soviet artillery officer during World War II. He was captured by the Germans in 1941. After Stalin refused a prisoner exchange for him, Yakov died in captivity under unknown circumstances in April 1943.
Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin's second wife, shown here with their son, Vasily, in 1922. The daughter of a revolutionary railroad worker, Alliluyeva met Stalin while he hid in her family's house in 1911. They married in 1919, when Stalin was 41 and Nadezhda was 18. Nadezhda died in 1932, officially of appendicitis. Some believe she committed suicide, while others contend that Stalin killed her. Vasily was born in 1921. He was a Soviet pilot during World War II and was made a general after the war. After Stalin died, Vasily was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in 1960. He was allowed to wear his uniform and medals. He died of alcholism in 1962 and was partially rehabilitated in 1999.
Josef Stalin and his daughter, Svetlana, in 1935. Svetlana was born in 1926, the daughter of Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva. She defected to the United States in 1967, leaving two adult children in the Soviet Union. She returned to the USSR and lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 1984-86. She then returned to the United States, where she died of cancer in 2011.
Images of Stalin from a Soviet calendar published in 1980.
Stalin: The Early Years
Two Lives Joined By Stalin's Terror
Reporter’s Notebook: A Train Trip To The Land Of The Gulag
Russians And Stalin: ‘What Is Not Positive In History, They Prefer To Forget’
Stalin's Legacy: Ethnic Time Bombs That Continue To Tick
Stalin's Legacy: Son Of An 'Enemy Of The People' Vows He'll Never Forget
The Birth Of Yugoslavia's Spomeniks
Back to top