Private Life of Stalin

STALIN IS GOOD LEADER

When I’m met Stalin, I did not find him enigmatic. I found him the easiest person to talk to I ever met. He is far and away the best Committee Chairman of my experience. He can bring everybody’s views out and combine them in the minimum of time.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 47

If I should explain Stalin to politicians, I should call him a superlatively good committee man. Is this too prosaic a term for the leader of 200 million people? I might call him instead a farseeing statesman; this also is true….
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 52

Stalin brings certain important qualities to these joint decisions. People who meet him are first of impressed by his directness and simplicity, his swift approach. Next they noticed his clearness and objectivity in handling questions. He completely lacks Hitler’s emotional hysteria and Mussolini cocky self-assertion; he does not thrust himself into the picture. Gradually one becomes aware of his keen analysis, his colossal knowledge, his grip of world politics, his willingness to face facts, an especially his long view, which fits the problem in the history, judging not only its immediate factors, but its past and future too.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 54

“I [A.L. Strong] was hardly conscious of the part played by Stalin in helping us to reach a decision. I thought of him rather as someone superlatively easy to explain things to, who got one’s meaning half through a sentence, and brought it all out very quickly. When everything became clear, and not a moment sooner or later, Stalin turned to the others: ‘Well?’ A word from one, a phrase from another, together accomplished a sentence. Nods–it was unanimous. It seemed we had all decided, simultaneously, unanimously. That is Stalin’s method and greatness. He is supreme analyst of situations, personalities, tendencies. Through his analysis he is supreme combiner of many wills. A creator of collective will–such is supposed to be every Communist, though by no means all of them measure up to this high calling. The greatness of the man is known by the range over which he can do this. “I can analyze and plan with the workers of one plant for a period of several months,” said a responsible Communist to me. “Others, much wiser than I, like men on our Central Committee, can plan with wider masses for years. Stalin is in this our ablest. He sees the interrelations of our path with world events, and the order of each step, as a man sees the earth from the stratosphere. But the men of our Central Committee take his analysis not because it is Stalin’s but because it is clear and convincing and documented with facts.”
When Stalin reports to a congress of the party, or of the farm champions, or the heads of industry, none of his statements can be ranked as new. They are statements heard already on the lips of millions throughout the land. But he puts them together more completely than anyone else. He analyzes them, shows the beginning, the end and all the stages to that end. He shows the farm champions the long, hard path to collective farming and just where they are on that path today. He shows the heads of industry what and why are the fundamental tasks in industry at the moment. He shows the party congress the chief tasks for the Soviet Union in the next few years. All of this he shows out of their own reports and knowledge, combining and relating these to the situation in the country and the world. It is not the statements or the policies that are new but the combining of them, so that they become a collective program, unanimously and understandingly adopted. It is for this capacity that men cheer Stalin….
Men never speak in the Soviet Union of “Stalin’s policy” but always of the “party line,” which Stalin “reports” in its present aspects, but does not “make.”
Strong, Anna Louise. Dictatorship and Democracy in the Soviet Union. New York: International Pamphlets, 1934, p. 17-18

What Lenin valued in Stalin was his knowledge of details and of persons, his working power and the swiftness of his decisions, qualities which only a supreme character would appreciate in a subordinate.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 71

Everyone knows about Stalin’s own revolutionary spirit and about his other virtues which have been cited by the party over and over again. His pretensions to a very special role in our history were well founded, for he really was a man of outstanding skill and intelligence. He truly did tower over everyone around him, and despite my implacable condemnation of his methods and his abuses of power, I have always recognized and acknowledged his strengths.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970. p. 4

[HOXHA STATED On the occasion of the centenary of the birth of great Marxist-Leninist Joseph Stalin]
All this villainy emerged soon after the death, or to be more precise, after the murder of Stalin. I say after the murder of Stalin, because Mikoyan himself told me and Mehmet Shehu that they, together with Khrushchev and their associates, had decided to carry out a “pokushenie”, i.e., to make an attempt on Stalin’s life, but later, as Mikoyan told us, they gave up this plan. It is a known fact that the Khrushchevites could hardly wait for Stalin to die. The circumstances of his death are not clear.
An unsolved enigma in this direction is the question of the “white smocks”, the trial conducted against the Kremlin doctors, who, as long as Stalin was alive were accused of having attempted to kill many leaders of the Soviet Union. After Stalin’s death these doctors were rehabilitated and no more was said about this question! But why was this question hushed up?! Was the criminal activity of these doctors proved at the time of the trial, or not? The question of the doctors was hushed up, because had it been investigated later, had it been gone into thoroughly, it would have brought to light a great deal of dirty linen, many crimes and plots that the concealed revisionists, with Khrushchev and Mikoyan at the head, had been perpetrating. This could be the explanation also for the sudden deaths within a very short time, of Gottwald, Bierut, Foster, Dimitrov and some others, all from curable illnesses, about which I have written in my unpublished memoirs, “The Khrushchevites and Us”. This could prove to be the true reason for the sudden death of Stalin, too. In order to attain their vile aims and to carry out their plans for the struggle against Marxism-Leninism and socialism, Khrushchev and his group liquidated many of the main leaders of the Comintern, one after the other, by silent and mysterious methods. Apart from others, they also attacked and discredited Rakosi, dismissed him from his post and interned him deep in the interior of the steppes of Russia, in this way. In the “secret” report delivered at their 20th Congress, Nikita Khrushchev and his associates threw mud at Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin and tried to defile him in the filthiest manner, resorting to the most cynical Trotskyite methods. After compromising some of the cadres of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Khrushchevites exploited them thoroughly and then kicked them out and liquidated them as anti-party elements. The Khrushchevites headed by Khrushchev, who condemned the cult of Stalin in order to cover up their subsequent crimes against the Soviet Union and socialism raised the cult of Khrushchev sky-high. Those top functionaries of the party and Soviet state attributed to Stalin the brutality, cunning perfidy and baseness of character, the imprisonments and murders which they themselves practised and which were second nature to them. As long as Stalin was alive it was precisely they who sang hymns of praise to him in order to cover up their careerism, and their underhand aims and actions. In 1949 Krushchev described Stalin as the “leader and teacher of genius”, and said that “the name of Comrade Stalin is the banner of all the victories of the Soviet people, the banner of the struggle of the working people the world over”. Mikoyan described the Works of Stalin as a “new, higher historical stage of Leninism”. Kosygin said, “We owe all our victories and successes, to the great Stalin”, etc., etc. While after his death they behaved quite differently. It was the Khrushchevites who strangled the voice of the party, strangled the voice of the working class and filled the concentration camps with patriots; it was they who released the dregs of treachery from prison, the Trotskyites and all the enemies, whom time and the facts had proved and have proved again now with their struggle as dissidents to be opponents of socialism and agents in the service of foreign capitalist enemies. It is the Khrushchovites who, in conspiratorial and mysterious ways, tried and condemned not only the Soviet revolutionaries but also many persons from other countries.
Khrushchev, Mikoyan and Suslov first defended the conspirator Imre Nagy, and then condemned and executed him secretly somewhere in Rumania! Who gave them the right to act in that way with a foreign citizen? Although he was a conspirator, he should have been subject only to trial in his own country and not to any foreign law, court or punishment. Stalin never did such things.
No, Stalin never acted in that way. He conducted public trials against the traitors to the party and Soviet state. The party and the Soviet peoples were told openly of the crimes they had committed. You never find in Stalin’s actions such Mafia-like methods as you find in the actions of the Soviet revisionist chiefs. The Soviet revisionists have used and are still using such methods against one another in their struggle for power, just as in every capitalist country. Khrushchev seized power through a putsch, and Brezhnev toppled him from the throne with a putsch.
Brezhnev and company got rid of Khrushchev to protect the revisionist policy and ideology from the discredit and exposure resulting from his crazy behaviour and actions and embarrassing buffoonery. He did not in any way reject Khrushchevism, the reports and decisions of the 20th and 22nd Congresses in which Khrushchevisrn is embodied. Brezhnev showed himself to be so ungrateful to Khrushchev, whom he had previously lauded so high, that he could not even find a hole in the wall of the Kremlin to put his ashes when he died!
Stalin was not at all what the enemies of communism accused and accuse him of being. On the contrary, he was just and a man of principle. He knew how to help and combat those who made mistakes, knew now to support, encourage and point out the special merits of those who served Marxism-Leninism loyally, as the occasion required. The question of Rokossovsky and that of Zhukov are now well known. When Rokossovsky and Zhukov made mistakes they were criticized and discharged from their posts. But they were not cast off as incorrigible. On the contrary, they were, warmly assisted and the moment it was considered that these cadres had corrected themselves, Stalin elevated them to responsible positions promoted them to marshals and at the time of the Great Patriotic War charged them with extremely important duties on the main fronts of the war against the Hitlerite invaders. Only a leader who had a clear concept of and applied Marxist-Leninist justice in evaluating the work of people, with their good points and errors, could have acted as Stalin did.
Following Stalin’s death, Marshal Zhukov became a tool of Nikita Khrushchev and his group; he supported the treacherous activity of Khrushchev against the Soviet Union, the Bolshevik Party and Stalin. Eventually, Nikita Khrushchev tossed Zhukov away like a squeezed lemon. He did the same with Rokossovsky and many other main cadres. Many Soviet communists were deceived by the demagogy of the Khrushchevite revisionist group and thought that after Stalin’s death the Soviet Union would become a real paradise, as the revisionist traitors started to trumpet. They declared with great pomp that in 1980 communism would be established in the Soviet Union!! But what happened? The opposite, and it could not be otherwise.
Khrushchev himself admitted to us that Stalin had said to them that they would sell out the Soviet Union to imperialism. And this is what happened in fact. What he said has proved true.
Any person who assesses Stalin’s work as a whole can understand that the genius and communist spirit of this outstanding personality are rare in the modern world.
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.

GOLOVANOV: I heard from Stalin many times and I say categorically that the way people live is the basis of everything….
Unless we have another Stalinist hand firmly on the helm, we won’t build communism. I hold that Stalin took the correct road and that we must continue this line.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 303

Stalin and Khrushchev. As for Khrushchev, he is not worth one of Stalin’s fingernails. Stalin’s achievements, despite everything, are enormous. He was the great transformer…. While they strive to efface his colossal achievements.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 364

The end of the war is still vivid in my memory as a glorious event that washed away all my doubts about the wisdom of Stalin’s leadership. All heroic and tragic events, losses and even purges, seemed to be justified by the triumph over Hitler. I remember the grand reception in the Kremlin where I had the privilege of being seated in the Georgian Hall at table No. 9 together with Admiral Isakov, deputy commander of the Navy…. I remember when Stalin came to our table to greet Isakov, who had lost a leg in a German air raid in the Caucasus in 1942, and pronounced a toast in his honor. Isakov could not appear before an audience on crutches, and we were all moved by Stalin’s gesture.
You must realize the emotion of every officer in the high command when Stalin admitted in his speech to us that mistakes were made and that we had been helpless in dreadful situations in the war. He said that another people and another nation would have asked the government to conclude a peace treaty with the Germans, but the Russian people had displayed confidence and patience in their government, and he thanked the Russian nation for that confidence.
Stalin was quite a different man that night from the one I had met in his Kremlin office. This time he displayed deep emotion, and it seemed to me that he looked at us young generals and admirals as the generation he had raised, his children and his heirs.
In retrospect, what is remarkable is that Stalin displayed such emotion and devoted such special attention to the mid-level military leaders who were much younger than Zhukov, Voroshilov, and others of the old guard. He was definitely addressing himself to my generation, which had come of age in the war, and we were thrilled to bask in his proud and approving glances in our direction.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 170

If Stalin had accomplished for the world bourgeoisie what he did for the world proletariat, he would have long been hailed in bourgeois circles as one of the “greats” of all time, not only of the present century. The same general criteria should apply to Stalin’s reputation from the Marxist point of view. Stalin advanced the position of the world proletariat further than any person in history with the exception of Lenin. True, without the base Lenin laid, Stalin could not have built, but using this base he moved about as far as was possible in the existing situation.
In short a new class of world leader has emerged, and Stalin is in its highest rank.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 120

His [Stalin] history is a series of victories over a series of tremendous difficulties. Since 1917, not a single year of his career has passed without his having done something which would have made any other man famous. He is a man of iron…. He is as strong and yet as flexible as steel. His power lies in his formidable intelligence, the breadth of his knowledge, the amazing orderliness of his mind, his passion for precision, his inexorable spirit of progress, the rapidity, sureness, and intensity of his decisions, and his constant care to choose the right men.
In many ways, as we have seen, he [Stalin] is extraordinarily like Lenin: he has the same knowledge of theory, the same practical common sense, the same firmness.
Among all the sources of his genius, which is the principal one? Bela Kun said, in a fine phrase: “He knows how not to go too quickly. He knows how to weigh the moment.” And Bela Kun considers that to be the chief characteristic of Stalin, the one which belongs to him in particular, much more than any other; to wait, to temporize, to resist alluring temptations and to be possessed of terrible patience. Is it not this power that has made Stalin, of all the Revolutionaries of history, the man who has most practically enriched the spirit of Revolution, and who has committed the fewest faults? He weighs the pros and cons and reflects a great deal before proposing anything (a great deal does not mean a long time). He is extremely circumspect and does not easily give his confidence. He said to one of his close associates, who distrusted a third party: “A reasonable amount of distrust is a good basis for collective work.” He is as prudent as a lion.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 275-276

Whoever you may be, the finest part of your destiny is in the hands of that other man [Stalin], who also watches over you, and who works for you–the man with a scholar’s mind, a workman’s face, and the dress of a private soldier.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 283

By the mid 1920s, Stalin’s main opponents would come to realize that this ‘outstanding mediocrity’ [to quote Trotsky] was an exceptional politician,…
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 108

Sklyansky knew Stalin well enough himself. He wanted my definition of Stalin and my explanation of his success. I thought for a minute.
“Stalin,” I said, “is the outstanding mediocrity in the party.”
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 512

Koba is cautious, but his is the caution of a statesman. He does not want to begin anything without being 100 percent certain of success. That is characteristic of him.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 127

But there was much more to him [Stalin]. He had the potential of a true leader. He was decisive, competent, confident, and ambitious. The choice of him rather than Zinoviev or Kamenev to head the charge against Trotsky at the 13th Party Conference showed that this was beginning to be understood by other Central Committee members.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 228

First Meeting of Hoxha with Stalin
July 1947
The attention with which he followed my explanations about our new economy and its course of development made a very deep impression on us. Both during the talk about these problems, and in all the other talks with him, one wonderful feature of his, among others, made an indelible impression on my mind: he never gave orders or sought to impose his opinion. He spoke, gave advice, made various proposals, but always added: This is my opinion, this is what we think. You, comrades, must judge and decide for yourselves, according to the concrete situation on the basis of your conditions.. His interest extended to every problem.
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.

Premier Stalin left upon me an impression of deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any time. Said by Sir Stafford Cripps
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 12

…He [Stalin] was mainly a politician. He played a great historic role in the affairs of the nation. It’s being hushed up now. The riffraff do their job, that’s for sure.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 176

How did he exercise his power while presiding over the commissariat for nationality affairs? In his own department, Stalin was neither imperious nor hard. He was not a thunderer. His close collaborator in this work, Pestkovsky, described Stalin’s relations with the collegium or council governing his commissariat
“… Stalin faced the difficult task of fighting within his own organization. I am almost certain that Trotsky, who accuses Stalin of ‘dictating,’ would in three days have dispersed the oppositional council and surrounded himself with his own followers. But Stalin acted differently. He decided to educate us by slow and persistent efforts, and displayed much discipline and self-control. He had his conflicts with individual members of the council, but was loyal to the body as a whole, submitted to its decisions even when he disagreed, with the exception of such cases where there was a violation of party discipline.”…
“Sometimes Stalin would grow weary at the conferences with his department chiefs, but he would never lose his temper.”
Pestkovsky continues, “Lenin could not get along without Stalin for a single day. It was probably because of that that our office in the Smolny was next to that of Lenin. In the course of the day, Lenin would telephone Stalin innumerable times, or he would drop in and take Stalin with him. Stalin spent most of his time with Lenin.”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 160-161

Conventionally it has been supposed that Stalin was put in office because he was an experienced bureaucrat with an unusual capacity for not being bored by administrative work. The facts do not bear this out.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 190

All of this meant that Stalin was well adapted to survival in the environment of bureaucracy that inevitably grew up as the Soviet-Bolshevik regime adapted to the task of ruling a large country.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 49

But a capacity for antagonistic working relations was not the only aspect of Stalin’s personality as a boss. Those who were loyal and hard-working in Stalin’s interest, received his protection. Testimony that Stalin displayed this valuable and by no means contemptible characteristic comes from a witness who was not partial to Stalin, Trotsky.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 49

STALIN WAS GOOD DEBATER

He was a fearless debater, and preferred organized debates to any other form of public speaking.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 46

The debates with the Mensheviks were to him as much a part of the war against Czardom as a conflict with the police, and far more important.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 61

Stalin was a genius, but Dimitrov was hardly a nobody.
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 117

His ability as an organizer was not in question; he was a man who could get things done, and while Stalin as a Marxist never showed anything like Lenin’s originality, he was an effective debater who knew his Marxist texts well enough to be able to support his arguments with quotations from Marx and Engels as well as Plekhanov and Lenin. But even in controversies that were conducted with no regard for civility on either side, he gave offense by his rudeness and sarcasm.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 33

STALIN READ CENSORED BOOKS

This was the 13th time books deemed subversive had got him into trouble.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 18

There are some very interesting entries in the conduct book of the theological seminary:
“It appears that Djugashvili has a ticket to the Cheap Library, from which he borrows books. Today I confiscated Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea, in which I found the said library ticket—Father Germogen, Supervisor.”
The report bears the notation:
“Confine him to the punishment cell for a prolonged period. I have already warned him once about an unsanctioned book, Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo.” (Entry made in November 1896.)
“At 11 p.m. I took away from Djugashvili Letourneau’s Literary Evolution of the Nation’s, which he had borrowed from the Cheap Library…. This is the 13th time this student has been discovered reading books borrowed from the Cheap Library.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 16

Djugashvili was discovered reading the same book on the chapel stairs. This is the 13th time the student has been discovered reading books borrowed from the Cheap Library. I handed over the book to the Father Supervisor.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 18

Stalin’s biographers, official or hostile, dispute whether Stalin first became a Marxist in those years [his adolescent years in seminary] (which is probable), whether he first became a Leninist in any sense (highly improbable)…. They agree in portraying his life as a round of reading forbidden books, discussing forbidden ideas, and attending forbidden meetings, along with consequent clashes with the monks. No doubt such activities were the best and most intense parts of Stalin’s adolescent life.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press, 1965, p. 25

STALIN READ A LOT AND WROTE WHEN HE COULD

Some people have asked, “Where are the theoretical works of Stalin in this period?” as if he had been deported to the Reading Rooms of the British Museum instead of a peasant’s hut in the Arctic.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 78

Accordingly, Joseph Stalin read a great deal. He read so much that he aroused suspicion in ”the minds of the authorities of the seminary,”… and he was expelled from the seminary.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 22

Trotsky made much of the fact that during those years of continuous exile Stalin did not write a line or attempt any literary work, but for this, too, no blame attaches to Stalin. Not every political captive, even though an intellectual, wrote anything in such exile. Some did, but when a man is living in a small village in a wilderness of snow, the conditions are naturally not encouraging. Even the newspapers took weeks or months to arrive. The exiled intellectuals asked their friends and relations to send them books. Stalin, the shoemaker’s son, had no relations who could do him that service. And his few friends were naturally without the means to send him parcels of books; moreover, the books that interested him would not have reached him, for there was a very severe censorship of the material sent by post to the exiles.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 43

Stalin likes both hunting and fishing, and occasionally will play chess. His favorite relaxation, however, is reading, of which he does as much as demands upon his time permit. Starting from a good foundation in such literary classics as Shakespeare, Schiller, and Tolstoy, his favorite authors are Saltykov-Shchedrin, Gogol, and Chekov. He has read the works of many American and English authors in translation, including James Fennimore Cooper, Upton Sinclair, Mark Twain, and Sinclair Lewis, and, on one occasion, used the term “Babbitt” in a speech. He has read widely in the history of civilization and Marxian literature, but his first love in reading was and is poetry. When he was young he wrote poetry, and at the age of 16 a few of his poems were published in the newspaper Iberia….
Stalin reads all the best works of the contemporary Soviet writers and takes real personal interest in them, frequently receiving authors for personal chats. It is not infrequent that, enthusiastic about a new work, he telephones the author in the middle of the night to congratulate him on the achievement. His interest in culture is well reflected by the fact that the government awards for outstanding work in the fields of literature, art, music, and science have been titled the Stalin prizes, and Stalin, as head of the government, takes an active part in choosing the award winners….
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 10

Books were Joseph’s inseparable friends; he would not part with them even at meal times….
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 14

It is widely supposed abroad that Stalin is a poorly educated and uncultured man, a notion fostered especially by Trotsky in his followers.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 155

I read a great deal, for my father had a vast library of books….
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 142

He was neither unintelligent nor devoid of common sense.
… Stalin hardly ever signed a document without reading it over very carefully. He read a great deal; he read the party press, the most significant literary works, material from the Western press translated especially for him, and even emigre literature, not to mention various diplomatic documents, materials relating to the internal party disputes, etc.. In addition, he often attended performances at the Moscow Art Theatre and the Bolshoi Theatre.
…he was by no means an entirely unskilled polemicist. Igor Sats, a veteran party member, writes in his memoirs:
“I must add a few words to try to explain in part Stalin’s effectiveness as a writer and orator, what gave him an edge over other orators and writers who were far more skilled. Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, even Trotsky were much less familiar with the text of Lenin’s writings than Stalin. These men had interacted with the living Lenin much more closely and more often than Stalin. They had listened to him, argued with him, and read what he had just published, but they hardly ever reread his writings…. Unlike them, Stalin studied Lenin’s texts and knew the printed Lenin intimately. He had no trouble selecting a quotation from Lenin if he needed it….”
It should be added that 1924 was the year of Stalin’s most creative activity. His writings of that year occupy an entire volume of his works (Volume 6). In 1924 Stalin published his two most important theoretical pamphlets, Foundations of Leninism and The October Revolution and The Tactics of the Russian Communists. In these writings Stalin showed himself to be, if not a continuator, at least a rather skillful systematizer of Lenin’s views.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 90

It is worth noting in this connection that Stalin’s regular reading included extracts from all the nine main emigre journals, and that his library had copies of many of the emigre books, including Trotsky’s.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 210

Nearly all the memoirists, whether friendly or hostile to Stalin, agree with the impression of him given by Glurdjidze, one of the school-fellows who said, “…Books were Joseph’s inseparable friends; he would not part with them even at meal times….
Another writer, Iremashvili…describes Djugashvili as one of the chief debaters among the seminarists, more knowledgeable than most of his comrades, and able to advance his argument with much stubbornness and political skill.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 17

As his daughter remarks, in spirit Stalin was completely Russianized. He had not learned Russian until he was eight or nine, and always spoke it with an accent. But he spoke it well and his conversation was often rich and vivid in a course way. Although not well-educated, he was widely read in the Russian classics–in particular, the satirists Shchedrin and Gogol. He had also read when young a number of foreign authors in Russian translation–in particular, Victor Hugo–and popular works on Darwinism and social and economic matters. Gendarmerie reports on the Tiflis Theological Seminary in the last part of the 19th-century mention the reading by students of “seditious” literature of this sort, and Stalin’s name appears in the seminary bad-conduct book a number of times for the discovery of such works from the local “Cheap Library,” showing that he was engaged in absorbing this sort of self-education.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 62

A discussion followed. Koba surprised me by his thorough knowledge of the subject. He had obviously done some researching. He asked Yagoda, a little slyly, about masonic degrees. Yagoda got muddled and spoke of the degrees of the Scottish Ritual. Koba said, “You are obviously not familiar with the subject. The degree of the Scottish Ritual, which at one time numbered 25, became 33 degrees in the Grand Orient on September 22, 1804. The Grand Orient took eight additional degrees from the Lodge at Charleston, U.S.A.. An example, of course, of American exports to Europe”….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 86

From other sources, information became available about Stalin’s intellectual interests. In the year 1926, he composed a list for Tovstukha, his then Secretary, to buy a personal library covering all major fields of human knowledge. He was particularly interested in historical literature…. But he also read historical textbooks and from time to time he would send a short note to one of his favorite writers…. Stalin devoured newspapers. In 1936, he subscribed to no fewer than nine emigre Russian newspapers and periodicals from Paris, Prague, and New York–including Vremya, published in Harbin.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 150

His formal education was admittedly defective; he criticized it himself with customary savagery. But at some point in his adolescence Stalin acquired a taste for reading–whether Karl Marx or Victor Hugo–and for the wider world that books uncover. Stalin seems to have read all the literature, all the science, social science, and philosophy that he could get hold of in Tbilisi. He thereby became a kind of European intellectual. He became, more specifically, one of the intelligentsia of the Russian Empire–one of that extraordinary body of men and women who, regardless of national or class origin, read and treasured a large body of Russian and European writings and felt that the injustices of the Tsarist regime could not be allowed to continue.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 23

As Stalin earned his status as an intelligent he grew in the eyes of workers and peasants, in the eyes of his fellow students, and eventually in the eyes of the regime.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press, 1965, p. 24

A voracious reader, Stalin once told a visitor who noted a pile of books on his office table that his “daily norm” was 500 pages.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 51

He became pensive, seemed gloomy and introspective, was never without a book,” wrote one of his contemporaries later. He was never without a new book, to be precise.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 36

He [Stalin] was, as we have already seen, a voracious reader, with a considerable stock of historical and philosophical knowledge.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 119

Stalin was a well-read man;….
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 704

The private library of a person in power serves as an additional special source of authority and information. Stalin was always a great reader, particularly during his exile….
Visitors to Stalin’s apartment in the Kremlin were always struck by the extensive range of his library.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 95

Zolotukhina describes the Kremlin apartment [of Stalin]: Clearly Stalin was an educated person. He got extremely irritated whenever he came across grammar or spelling mistakes, which he would carefully correct with a red pencil.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 97

In view of the fact that Stalin always read with a pencil in his hand, never simply for pleasure or relaxation, there should be thousands of books containing his notes and comments, but, unfortunately for historians, it seems that most of his private library has simply vanished forever.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 99

If Stalin’s personal archive had not been destroyed, selected items certainly would have surfaced and been used to support the moves to rehabilitate Stalin in 1965.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores,. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 101

Surreptitiously and voraciously he read books on sociology, natural sciences, and the labor movement.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 10

Verestchak continues, He always carried a book. Of more than medium- height, he walked with a slow catlike tread.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 79

He read voraciously and actively.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 9

Determination stimulated both aptitude and memory. Another school comrade, Kapanadze, testifies that throughout the 13 years of tutelage and throughout the later 35 years of activity as a teacher he never had occasion once “to meet such a gifted and able pupil” as Joseph Djugashvili. Yet even Iremashvili, who wrote his book not in Tiflis but in Berlin, maintains that Soso was the best pupil in the theological school. In other testimonies there are, however, substantial shadings. “During the first years, in the preparatory grades,” relates Glurdzhidze, “Joseph studied superbly, and with time, as he disclosed increasingly brilliant abilities, he became one of the best pupils.”
…Identical in nature are the recollections of another schoolmate, Elisabedashvili. Joseph, says he, “was one of the most indigent and one of the most gifted….”
Without being definite as to Joseph’s exact rating in his class, Gogokhiya states that in development and knowledge he ranked “much higher than his schoolmates.” Soso read everything available in the school library, including Georgian and Russian classics, which were, of course, carefully sifted by the authorities. After his graduation examinations Joseph was rewarded with a certificate of merit, “which in those days was an extraordinary achievement, because his father was not a clergyman and plied the shoemaking trade.” Truly a remarkable touch!
“Usually he was serious, persistent,” writes Gogokhiya, “did not like pranks and mischief. After his schoolwork he hurried home, and he was always seen poring over a book.”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 10-11

“The book was Joseph’s inseparable friend, and he did not part with it even while eating,” testifies Glurdzhidze.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 16

STALIN REJECTS FILTH, IMMORALITY, AND SEXUAL CORRUPTION

Those who search for sexual scandal in Stalin’s life will search in vain. I recall Radek speaking to me of Stalin’s reaction to the vagaries and often abominable aberration’s in the sexual life of modern civilization. Several illustrated German books dealing with the subject lay on Radek’s table, which was as usual piled with volumes newly arrived from Europe and America. Stalin was just about to leave Radek’s room when he noticed these books and began thumbing over their pages. Turning to Radek he asked: “are there really people in Europe who do these kinds of things?” “Yes, of course,” answered Radek. “Stalin,” Radek said to me, “looked utterly disgusted, shrugged his shoulders, and walked away without saying another word.” To Stalin they reflected a diseased way of life, and he was a normal healthy man in his reactions to disease whether of the mind or of the body.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 137

The Soviet leader’s recreational likes and dislikes are quite in keeping with his character. All Stalin’s associates say that he is quite puritanical in his personal habits. He never permits smutty stories to be told in his presence. He rarely drinks vodka, preferring the mild Caucasian red wine. He smokes a pipe, never gambles and never drinks to excess.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 10

Stalin has no vices. He smokes a pipe. Like all Georgians, he drinks wine with his dinner. But he is not addicted to alcohol. Women, gambling, and similar pleasures do not exist for him.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 323

Despite such occurrences, one must not think that Stalin staged drinking orgies in the manner of Peter the Great. Actually, parties were held rather infrequently, inasmuch as the major Soviet leaders were beavers for work, with Stalin a good example.
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 163

But my father took a puritanical view of what he called “foreign luxury” and refused to tolerate even the scent of perfume. In his opinion the only fragrance that was becoming to a woman was her own freshness and cleanliness. And so my mother had to enjoy these presents surreptitiously, although she did wear the perfume.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 53

So it was that Lesakov [the escort of Djilas through Leningrad] told me “in confidence” that Marshall Zhukov had been ousted for looting jewelry in Berlin–“You know, Comrade Stalin cannot endure immorality!”
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 170

Unbridled sexual appetites also caused Dekanozov’s first fall from grace. After the war, he seduced a girl who turned out to be the daughter of a ranking government official close to Molotov. When that happened, Stalin didn’t step in to cover his protege. Dekanozov was reprimanded by his Party cell and was fired from the Peoples Commissariat for Foreign Affairs.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 349

My uncle [Stalin] and aunt bowed to the custom, but after their embrace was over, Nadejda [Stalin’s wife] told her guests, “You know, you really shouldn’t treat us as newlyweds. It’s true we only registered our marriage today, but we’re going to have a child shortly.”
“Why did you bother to register it, Koba?” Mdivani asked. “Why didn’t you and Nadia go on living in free union like the rest of us?”
“Do you want me to be like that idiot Yenukidze who has got to his fourth wife? Or Makhardze whose had three?” Stalin demanded. “Remember, we’re not members of a little underground party any more. We are the government. If we live lives of indulgence and dissipation, our enemies are going to find it difficult to attack us on our weak points. We must be responsible, comrades!
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 42

Stalin said, “Ilyich [Lenin] married Comrade Krupskaya in church. I married my first wife in church. The heads of the government must have faithful wives, not women to be married and dropped again in a few months. A wedding should be celebrated as an important event in our lives. We shouldn’t mate like dogs in the street!”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 43

“I know,” he [Stalin] said, “that people criticize me for marrying Rosa. She’s 27 years younger than I. But I had to marry to set the example of an orderly life, free of any moral degeneration, to all our comrades who have come to power. The danger of loose morals is the gravest there is for revolutionary leaders who have passed all the earlier part of their lives in prison or exile, or simply in want and poverty. It’s a more serious danger then you might think.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 127

“The French Revolution collapsed because of the degeneration of the morals of its leaders, who surrounded themselves with loose women from the Palais Royal, that ignoble cesspool which drowned the Revolution! I am determined to bear down with a white-hot iron to burn in the bud the loosening of morals. Everyone thinks that I am pursuing the faulty because I want another Thermidor here. That’s a stupid slander! It’s the others who would have brought on a Thermidor if they had been allowed to stay in power without being subjected to the effective control of the Party.” Thermidor 9, 1794, was the date of Robespierre’s overthrow. Thermidor was the month July-August in the republican calendar.
He paused for a moment, and then resumed. “Zinoviev and Kamenev will be rooted out soon. Do you know, Budu, when Zinoviev was president of the municipal government of Leningrad, he introduced the most abject practices there! He surrounded himself with loose women, some of whom were spies. His intimate friend, Slivkin, whom he made a diplomatic courier, smuggled in silk stockings, perfumes, and drugs from abroad. When I found that out, in 1924, I knew that some time or other I would have to cauterize that wound with a white-hot iron! As for Kamenev, I’ve never known a man as cynical as he, as ready to make jokes in the worst of taste about things which are most sacred to us revolutionaries. He became enamored of an Englishwoman who came here purporting to be a journalist and a sculptor and introduced her to Comrade Lenin. He brought her here, to the Crimea, among our comrades, and amused himself by writing love sonnets on Bank of England notes intended to be sent to Great Britain to help striking workers.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 128

“And Muralov, a former worker-revolutionary! He married an obscene creature from those sewers, the Sandunov baths and paraded her at his side at youth meetings. Pah! It’s disgusting!” The Sandunov baths had a very bad reputation in Moscow as a place of debauchery.
I gazed at him closely. His eyes were filled with hatred and rage which he seemed to find it difficult to restrain. He stopped near a bush of kizil, tore off a branch with an angry gesture, and cried, “I’ll break the backs of all the rotten riff raff who want to plunge our country into corruption! I’ll have no mercy on them! None of them! None of them!”
I was amazed that he had worked himself up into such a state, he who was usually so calm and reflective.
He continued, “I once read a splendid speech of Robespierre’s, which he delivered to the Convention shortly before his death. That caught me hatred for the vermin which revolutions, unfortunately, bear with them on their crest– vermin which have to be destroyed without mercy in order not to see the same thing happen as at Paris, where the dregs of the Palais Royal became the mistresses and the wives of the republican chiefs–and even empresses! What a pity that Robespierre was overthrown! The struggle of humanity toward happiness would have been shortened by centuries if he had stayed in power!”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 129

“Your Uncle Sosso was overwhelmed by Nadia’s death,” he said (that was hardly news to me). “But he insisted that the interests of the state made it necessary to continue to repress the opposition. He married Kaganovich’s sister after Nadia’s death, but he divorced her again almost immediately.”
This was not quite news to me either. Even in far-off Siberia, I had heard that my uncle had divorced his third wife, and, remembering what little I had seen of her, I was not particularly surprised. I had heard no details, however, so I was curious to know what reasons were being given for the extreme brevity of my Uncle Joe’s third marriage.
“Why didn’t it last?” I asked.
“She interfered in governmental matters. Besides, you know, there’s a lot of anti-Semitism around now. She’s Jewish.”
Privately, I thought that the first reason was probably the more important. I could very well imagine that Rosa would have interfered in governmental matters–in fact, my own contact with her had come pretty much under that head. I could not imagine my uncle putting up very long with that sort of conduct in his wife–particularly in a wife whom he had married more or less as an act of policy, not because he was especially fond of her, if I might base that opinion on the conversation I had had with him on the beach at Saki.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 139

Nothing could be more unlikely than the story spread in the West about “Stalin’s third wife”–the mythical Rosa Kaganovich. Aside from the fact that I never saw any ” Rosa” in the Kaganovich family, the idea that this legendary Rosa, an intellectual woman (according to the Western version, a doctor), and above all a Jewess, could have captured my father’s fancy shows how totally ignorant people were of his true nature; such a possibility was absolutely excluded from his life.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 382

Often, and also in front of others, he would criticize my [Svetlana] appearance, my clothes, reducing me, a teenager, to tears with such remarks as, “Why do you wear that tight-fitting sweater? You are a grown girl now, wear something lose!”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 384

Women didn’t interest him. His own woman was enough for him, and he paid scant attention to her.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 106

From the end of July to the 3rd of November, we visited Sochi often. The summer cottage was located near Matsesta in the mountains. In 1932, I was assigned to this place as a personal guard to Stalin. We, the personnel, lived near this cottage. Stalin many times took salt baths in the small Matsesta –he had serious polyarthritis. Pain in his legs did not give him the opportunity to sit for a long time. If he was standing, he always had to move from one leg to another. He felt much better that way. When he walked, he felt better. Therefore, during working hours or meetings, he was always walking around in the office. He received this sickness from earlier revolutionary work, exile, deprivation, cold, and freezing discomfort.
Voroshilov, Kirov, and Kalinin were frequent visitors. Stalin liked very much to receive guests, but he hardly ever drank himself. He never touched vodka, cognac–not often. He only drank wine, called “Tsinandali” or “Teliani”.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 6

His attitude to sex is quite normal and healthy. He has married twice. He is supposed now to be living with the sister of Kaganovich, his first assistant. He is rather naive, apparently. One evening, dropping in to see his friend Radek, he noted on the table a volume by a German man named Fuchs, called Sitten Geschichte (History of Morals), a pseudo- scientific picture-book. Stalin turned the pages idly, saw one of the more fantastic illustrations. He turned to his friend: “Tell me, Radek: do people really do this sort of thing?”
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 532

Stalin was no womanizer: he was married to Bolshevism and emotionally committed to his own, in the cause of Revolution. Any private emotions were bagatelles compared to the betterment of mankind through Marxism-Leninism.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 15

Everyone who knew Stalin insists that he was no womanizer and he was famously inhibited about his body.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 292

Stalin has a decided puritan bend, and prefers “clean” plays and stories. On one occasion, after reading a story by a well-known young writer in a leading monthly magazine, Stalin was shocked by the author’s “obscenity.” The following morning he telephoned the editor and severely reprimanded him for printing pornographic matter. The editor tried to argue in vain that it was literature of a high order. To Stalin, it was a “smutty” story.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 325

Kyra said, “Your [Svetlana] mother was jealous of him [Stalin]; not only was he very busy with politics, but he said once in passing that he liked a particular singer at the opera. He had a good ear and liked to go regularly. Nadya [Stalin’s wife] had a fit of jealousy and everybody knew about it; she couldn’t stand it if a word was said about another woman. She had this burning passion, which dated from her childhood, from when she was 16 and met the hero from Siberian exile. She couldn’t cope with it: it was too much for her.”
“But,” Svetlana adds, “my mother was not a fool. She was very young; she fell in love, and they lived together for 14 years. There were happy moments to remember, and my father was absolutely loyal to her. He was not a ladies’ man, he was never chasing women. To say that a singer was good and that he liked her voice was enough to make her jealous. But there was never anything more than that.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 86

STALIN IS NOT DICTORIAL BUT IS OPEN-MINDED

His handling of the Commissariat of Nationalities confirms these observations. Pestovsky, the Pole who became his first secretary in this department, writes “there were Lettish, Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian and other elements in the council of his secretariat. They were afflicted with the ideas of left bolshevism. I am almost certain that Trotsky, who accuses Stalin of “dictating,” would in three days have dispersed the oppositional council and surrounded himself with his own followers. But Stalin acted differently. He decided to educate us by slow and persistent efforts, and displayed much discipline and self-control. He had his conflicts with individual members of the council, but was loyal to the body as a whole, submitted to its decisions even when he disagreed, with the exception of such cases where there was a violation of party discipline.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 145

It was said later that Stalin got all his opponents out of the way and then carried out their programs. That is not so. At that time there was unanimity between all groups on certain questions of Soviet policy. All agreed that Russia must be industrialized. All agreed that the famous ‘scissors’ (the term was first used by Trotsky)–the abnormal gap between the prices for industrial goods and those for agricultural produce–must be closed…. This was agreed; what was at issue was the timing, and tempo. When should industrialization begin? When should a start be made with the closing of the scissors? And then, at what rate? What should be the pace of industrialization?
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 132

Stalin was always receptive to what he called constructive criticism and discussion of alternatives. He was willing to consider various approaches to military, industrial, and foreign policies.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 90

During the war a small top leadership group was needed. With this group, however, as Zhukov noted, Stalin worked collectively. “Today, after Stalin’s death,” he writes, apparently answering Khrushchev, “the idea is current that he never heeded anybody’s advice and decided questions of military policy all by himself. I can’t agree with it. When the person reporting knew what he was talking about he would listen and I know of cases when he reconsidered his own opinions and decisions. This was the case with many operations.” “As a rule the General Headquarters worked in an orderly, business-like manner. Everyone had a chance to state his opinion…. He [Stalin] listened attentively to anybody speaking to the point.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 125

Stalin was equally stern to everybody and rather formal. He listened attentively to anyone speaking to the point.
Incidentally, I know from my war experience that one could safely bring up matters unlikely to please Stalin, argue them out, and firmly carry the point. Those who assert it was not so are wrong.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, APPENDIX 1
Portrait of Stalin by Zhukov, p. 140

A detailed study of the ideological and political struggle that took place in the Bolshevik leadership from 1922 to 1934 refutes many well-ingrained lies and prejudices. It is patently false that Stalin did not allow other leaders to express themselves freely and that he ruled like a `tyrant’ over the Party. Debates and struggles took place openly and over an extended period of time. Fundamentally different ideas confronted each other violently, and socialism’s very future was at stake. Both in theory and in practice, the leadership around Stalin showed that it followed a Leninist line and the different opportunist factions expressed the interests of the old and new bourgeoisies. Stalin was not only careful and patient in the struggle, he even allowed opponents who claimed that they had understood their errors to return to the leadership. Stalin really believed in the honesty of the self-criticisms presented by his former opponents.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 136-137 [p. 118 on the NET]

According to Zhukov and Vasilevsky, Stalin was always prepared to listen to views contrary to his own, provided they were based on facts and presented lucidly.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 367

The State Committee for Defense, whose sittings took place at any time of day or night in the Kremlin or at Stalin’s country house, discussed and decided upon the crucial issues….
Often sharp arguments arose at the Committee sittings. Views were expressed in definite and sharp terms. Stalin would usually walk up and down the room past the table, carefully listening to those who argued. He himself was short-spoken and would often stop others with remarks like “come to the point,” “make yourself clear.” He opened the sittings without any preliminaries and spoke in a quiet voice and freely, and only on the main points. He was laconic and precise.
Zhukov, Georgi. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 267

As a rule, the General Headquarters worked in an orderly, business-like manner. Everyone had a chance to state his opinion.
Stalin was equally stern to everybody and rather formal. He listened attentively to anybody speaking to the point.
Incidentally, I know from my war experience that one could safely bring up matters unlikely to please Stalin, argue them out and firmly carry the point. Those who assert it was not so are wrong.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 281

Though the troops of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts reached the FEBA of the enemy defenses on July 23, 1943, they were not able to undertake a counter-attack at once as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [Stalin] demanded. They had to replenish stocks–fuel, ammunition, and other material, arrange for cooperation of all arms and thorough reconnaissance, and do some re-grouping, particularly of artillery and tanks. This required at least 8 days according to the most rigid calculations.
After heated debates, Stalin grudgingly endorsed our decision, there being no other alternative.
Stalin was pushing us with the operation. It cost Vasilevsky and myself great pains to convince Stalin that there should be no haste and that the operation should be started only when everything was absolutely ready. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief had to agree with our arguments.
Today, after Stalin’s death, the idea is current that he never heeded anybody’s advice and decided questions of military policy all by himself. I can’t agree with it. When he realized that the person reporting knew what he was talking about he would listen and I know of cases when he reconsidered his own opinions and decisions.
This was the case with many operations.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 464

Stalin insisted on being informed about the decisions made by the staff. In the mornings he telephoned the chief of operations for a detailed survey of the front, whose intricacies he knew perfectly; in the evening around 11 o’clock the chief of staff, or his deputy, would come to the Kremlin to make a detailed report, which could last well into the night. The difference lay in Stalin’s attitude. He seldom interrupted the reports. He allowed the staff to suggest operations; he came to insist that front commanders should be consulted for their views first. The soldiers slowly overcame their natural caution and began to argue openly with Stalin. It was discovered that Stalin could tolerate dissent, if forcibly and sensibly expressed. He liked to be told the truth, however unpalatable. He took advice and bowed to others’ judgment.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 231

I realized during the war that Stalin was not the kind of man who objected to sharp questions or to anyone arguing with him. If someone says the reverse, he is a liar.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 364

I remember a conversation between Zhukov and Stalin which I witnessed. Stalin had instructed Zhukov to carry out some minor operation, in the area of the railway station Mga, if I remember correctly, in order to help the Leningraders a bit. Zhukov insisted that a large-scale operation was necessary if the objective was to be achieved.
“That is all very well, Comrade Zhukov,” Stalin replied, “but we lack the means, and this must be taken into account.”
Zhukov stuck to his guns. “Nothing will come out of it otherwise,” he declared. “Wishful thinking is not enough.”
Stalin did not conceal his irritation, but Zhukov stood his ground. Finally Stalin said, “Think it over, Comrade Zhukov. You may go for the time being.”
I admired Zhukov’s straightforwardness, but when we left the room I remarked that I didn’t think he should have spoken so sharply to the Supreme Commander.
“It’s nothing to what goes on here sometimes,” Zhukov replied.
Rokossovsky, K., Ed. by Bob Daglish A Soldier’s Duty. Moscow: Progress Pub., 1985, p. 85

I realized that I should have to work hard to be able to cope with this new command and justify the trust of the Party and the Government. The details are hard to describe, but one episode impressed itself on my memory. Shortly before the Voronezh operation I came again to Moscow to report to the Supreme Commander. When I had finished and was about to leave, Stalin said,
“Don’t go yet.”
He phoned Poskrebyshev and asked him to call in a general just removed from the command of a Front. The following dialogue took place:
“You say that we have punished you wrongly?”
“Yes, because the GHQ Representative kept getting in my way.”
“How?”
“He interfered with my orders, held conferences when it was necessary to act, gave contradictory instructions…. And generally tried to override the commander.”
“So he got in your way. But you were in command of the Front?”
“Yes.”
“The Party and the Government entrusted the Front to you…. Did you have a telephone?”
“Yes.”
“Then why didn’t you report that he was getting in your way?”
“I didn’t dare complain about your representative.”
“Well, that is what we have punished you for: not daring to pick up the receiver and phone up, as a result of which you failed to carry out the operation.”
I walked out of the Supreme Commander’s office with the thought that, as a new-fledged Front Commander, I had just been taught an object lesson. Believe me, I made the most of it.
Rokossovsky, K., Ed. by Bob Daglish A Soldier’s Duty. Moscow: Progress Pub., 1985, p. 118

By mid-May that planning for ‘Bagration’ had been completed. From 22 to 24 May the draft plans were discussed in detail at a conference of the GHQ Supreme Command attended by Stalin and the commanders of the respective Fronts. On the first day of the conference an argument broke out between Stalin and Rokossovsky that became known throughout the Army….
The tall, highly popular army commander wanted to envelop the German armies in a powerful pincer movement. Stalin and some of his General Staff officers demanded a single offensive thrust. A number of generals including Rokossovsky himself have described the incident….
When Rokossovsky would not agree with him, Stalin ordered the marshal to go to the next room and think over Stavka’s [General Headquarters] proposal. After 20 minutes he came back. He said there was nothing for him to think over and he stuck to his view. Again Stalin sent him back to the next room to ‘think’ for 20 minutes. During the second interval (Rokossovsky calls it ‘confinement’. Foreign Minister Molotov and Stalin’s right-hand man, Malenkov joined him, saying that they disapproved of his quarrel with the Supreme Commander and suggested that he accept the Stavka proposal. But Rokossovsky replied that he was convinced of the correctness of his view and that if Stavka ordered him to mount an offensive according to its own plan, he would ask to be relieved of his Front command. He returned to the conference room, but again failed to convince Stalin and his advisers. So for a third time Stalin asked him to ‘think it over.’ In the next room, alone. But when he returned this time with his mind unchanged, Stalin went along with him. In acceding to Rokossovsky, Stalin said: ‘When a commander is so determined he probably knows what is best.’
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 99

STALIN DID NOT RULE BY IMPOSING HIS WILL ON THE MASSES BUT BY PERSONALITY

That the Bolsheviks ever entertained the idea they could impose their solution on the masses is absurd, and that Stalin could impose his will on the Bolshevik party is equally absurd. That he expressed the will and power of the party more emphatically than any other man is more a tribute to his qualities as a collective worker than an indication of domination by personal power.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 172

It is authority rather than power that Stalin possesses. Though his standing is far higher than that of any man in the Soviet Union, though he is cheered and quoted at all congresses as high authority, men never speak of “Stalin’s will” or “Stalin’s power,” but of the “Party Line” which Stalin reports but does not make.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 109

Nor did his authority within the party-state system rest on actual or threatened physical repression…. In dealing with Bolsheviks…his authority rested mainly on personality, on decisiveness and that capacity for non-physical intimidation that has served well so many successful bosses throughout history. Lenin was relying on this quality in January 1922 when he entrusted Stalin with an important commission concerning grain purchases abroad, a vital matter in a time of famine.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 48

STALIN WORKED VERY HARD AND SOUGHT OTHERS ADVICE

Stalin was, and is, a most systematic worker. His office at the headquarters of the Russian Bolshevik party is a model of simplicity and good order…. Stalin’s serenity hid his tireless activity. And contrary to the common conception of his relationship with other people, he was always seeking collective decisions.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 193

The Marshal is an extremely hard worker. He keeps long but unusual hours–probably a heritage from his early days in the revolutionary movement. He is seldom in the Kremlin in the morning. The afternoon is usually spent in his office, and following his evening meal, he works until the early morning hours, sometimes all night. In spite of long hours and a rigorous schedule, at 66 he looks the picture of health.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 10

In his ‘secret speech’ to the 20th Party Congress in 1956, Premier Khrushchev said: ‘We should note that Stalin planned operations on a globe. Yes, comrades, he used to take the globe and trace the front line on it!’
But t two high-ranking military men with a reputation for veracity, who know more than Khrushchev about this matter (they met Stalin sometimes daily during the war), disagree. Marshal Zhukov says: ‘The widespread tale that the Supreme Commander studied the situation and adopted decisions when toying with a globe is untrue.’ And General Shtemenko, who daily took to the Kremlin an armful of detailed maps of the various Fronts for Stalin’s perusal says that: ‘The talk of the Fronts being directed by reference to a globe is completely unfounded.’
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 167

…Khrushchev’s picture of Stalin deciding battle strategy on a globe of the world is clearly a caricature. Stalin took advice from the military experts, at least following the initial military setbacks.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 41

Antonov alternated with General Shtemenko as Stalin’s principal duty officer, the former covering from noon until five or 6 a.m. and the latter from 7 p.m. until 2 p.m.. Thus, both officers were available when Stalin was at his best, from six or 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. They reported on the military situation three times daily, with a joint summary somewhere around midnight, using maps on a scale of 1:200,000 for each army group, showing the position of each division and sometimes of regiments. Shtemenko notes that there was indeed a globe in Stalin’s Kremlin office, but he never saw it used in discussions of operations. This is one of several sources that discredits Khrushchev’s polemical assertion in 1956 that Stalin planned Red Army operations on a globe.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 242

In practical work Stalin was not so much stronger as he was more persistent. That could be a disadvantage. He was a great specialist on the national question.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 129

Stalin had a rather singular daily schedule: he worked mainly in the late hours of the evening and at night, hardly ever rising before noon. He worked a lot, 12-15 hours at a stretch. Adapting themselves to Stalin’s schedule, the Central Committee of the Party, the Council of People’s Commissars, the Commissariats, and the major government and planning bodies would likewise keep working until late at night. Such a routine exhausted people.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, APPENDIX 1
Portrait of Stalin by Zhukov, p. 142

This frank and great man is, we have already seen, a simple man. He is only difficult to meet because he is always working. When one goes to see him in a room in the Kremlin, one never meets more than three or four people altogether at the foot of a staircase or in the ante-rooms…. Stalin goes to bed regularly at four in the morning. He does not employ 32 secretaries, like Mr. Lloyd George; he has only one, Comrade Proskrobicheff. He does not sign what other people write. He is supplied with the material and does everything else himself. Everything passes through his hands. And that does not prevent him from replying or having replies sent to every letter he receives. When one meets him, he is cordial and unrestrained. His “frank cordiality,” says Serafima Gopner. “His kindness, his delicacy,” says Barbara Djaparidze, who fought beside him in Georgia. “His gaiety,” said Orakhelashvili. He laughs like a child.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 277

The French writer Henri Barbusse (French writer (1873-1935) describes the simplicity of Stalin’s life-style: “One goes up to the first floor, were white curtains hang over three of the windows. These three windows are Stalin’s home. In the tiny hall a long military cloak hangs on a peg beneath a cap. In addition to this hall there are three bedrooms and a dining room. The bedrooms are as simply furnished as those of a respectable, second-class hotel. The eldest son, Jasheka, sleeps at night in the dining room, on a divan which is converted into a bed; the younger sleeps in a tiny recess, a sort of alcove opening out of it. . . . Each month he earns the five hundred roubles, which constitute the meagre maximum salary of the officials of the Communist Party (amounting to between £20 and £25 in English money). . . This frank and brilliant man is . . . a simple man. . . . He does not employ thirty-two secretaries, like
Mr. Lloyd George; he has only one. . . . Stalin systematically gives credit for all progress made to Lenin, whereas the credit has been in very large measure his own”.
Barbusse, Henri. ‘Stalin: A New World Seen Through One Man’; London; 1935; p. vii, viii, 291, 294).

In trying to recall all the comments about Stalin he had heard, Trotsky also quoted Bukharin to the effect that, above all, Stalin was an extremely lazy person. This opinion (if Bukharin really voiced it) is mistaken. Stalin was leisurely and unhurried in his actions but he was by no means lazy.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 89

Stalin had the reputation of a hard-working, reliable, and able Party worker….
He was a dynamic, fearless, indefatigable party workhorse, at least until his last, longest internment in 1913….
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 8

Stalin was very hard-working, according to Orlov, another of his personal guards. He worked day and night, especially during the war; usually he fell asleep only in the early hours of the morning, without even having undressed himself, in his gray military coat and his high boots.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 149

Yenukidze said, “The Bolshevist newspapers of the period in Tiflis were largely founded on Stalin,” writes Yenukidze. “In addition to numerous revolutionary articles, on questions of historical materialism, the labor movement, the trade-union question, Stalin wrote a lot on the national problem. Incidentally, in this question he undoubtedly, with the exception of Lenin, is the leading theoretician of our party. In a word, Stalin was the ideological and practical guide of our organizations in Transcaucasia. In order to take care of this enormous task, it was necessary to work incessantly, to be swallowed up by it entirely, and constantly to replenish one’s knowledge. Stalin actually gave all of himself to the work. For him, outside of the revolutionary activity, there was no life, nothing existed. When he did not attend meetings and conduct circles, he spent all his time in a little room piled with books and newspapers, or in the editorial office of a Bolshevist journal which was just as ‘spacious.'”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 58

Stalin works hard, but he also knows how to relax. The general impression notwithstanding, Stalin is fond of sports and recreation. He hunts, fishes, and reads a great deal.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 322

Having risen to political supremacy, he could have slackened his routines. But Stalin was a driven man. He thrashed himself as hard as he did his subordinates. He could no more spend a day in indolence than he was able to leap to the moon. Stalin, unlike Hitler, was addicted to administrative detail. He was also ultra-suspicious in his ceaseless search for signs that someone might be trying to dislodge his policies or supplant him as the Leader.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 571

CHURCHILL COMPLIMENTS STALIN

On September 7, 1942, after his first visit to Moscow, Mr. Churchill reported to the British house of Commons, “Premier Stalin also left upon me an impression of deep cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind…”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 237

Churchill said about Stalin, “Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom, and a complete absence of illusion of any kind.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 442

Stalin cannot help but impress anyone who comes in close contact with him. This has been testified to by the many Allied leaders who saw him during the war. After Wendell Willkie’s visit to Russia I asked him for his impressions of the Marshall. Willkie said, “Stalin would have made a great political leader or businessman if he had been born in the West. I’m glad he wasn’t, for he would have given us too much competition.” Cordell Hull, former Secretary of State, declared, “I found in Marshall Stalin a remarkable personality, one of the great statesman and leaders of this age.” The testimony of Winston Churchill, since he bitterly dislikes even the mild socialism of the British Labor government to say nothing of communism, is even more impressive. “It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this rugged chief at her head,” said Churchill during the war. “He is a man of outstanding personality, suited to the somber and stormy times in which his life has been cast. He is a man of inexhaustible courage and will power, a man of direct and even blunt speech. Above all, he is a man with a saving sense of humor which is of high importance to all men and to all nations. Premier Stalin left upon me an impression of deep, cool wisdom, and a complete absence of illusions of any kind.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 13

Churchill said as early as 1918 that Soviet power should be strangled in its infancy. But at our intimate dinners with Roosevelt in Tehran and Yalta, he said, “I get up in the morning and pray that Stalin is alive and well. Only Stalin can save the peace!” He was confident that Stalin would play that exceptional role which he had assumed in the war. His cheeks were wet with tears. Either he was a great actor or he spoke sincerely.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 49

It should be emphasized that Churchill obviously held Stalin in high esteem and, I felt, feared to enter into acute discussions with him. In all his arguments with Churchill Stalin was always extremely specific and logical.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 675

PEOPLE COMPLIMENT STALIN’S MIND AND COMPOSURE

Mr. Joseph Davies, formerly American ambassador to the Soviet Union, telling his daughter of his meeting with Stalin, says,
“He gives the impression of a strong mind which is composed and wise. His brown eye is exceedingly kind and gentle. A child would like to sit on his knee and a dog would sidle up to him…. He has a sly humor. He has a very great mentality. It is sharp, shrewd and above all things else, wise, at least so it would appear to me. If you can picture a personality that is exactly opposite to what the most rabid anti-Stalinist anywhere could conceive, then you might picture this man….”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 238

… Stalin has a sly humor. He has a very great mentality. It a sharp, shrewd, and above all things else, wise, at least so it would appear to me. If you can picture a personality that is exactly opposite to what the most rabid anti-Stalinist anywhere could conceive, then you might picture this man. The conditions that I know to exist here and his personality are just as far apart as the poles.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 357

Yenukidze states, “Stalin then, as now, was not noted for verbosity. Brevity, clarity, exactitude from his early years were his distinctive qualities.
Life of Stalin, A Symposium. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1930, p. 91

“I see quite clearly before me young Soso at Tiflis,” writes Yenukidze, “where I had my first business interview with him. Stalin even then, as now, was not distinguished by talkativeness. Brevity, clarity, accuracy were his distinctive qualities…. The natural simplicity of his speech and address, his absolute carelessness of his own private comfort, his inner hardness and complete absence of vanity, the fact that already he was politically educated, made this young revolutionary an authority among the Tiflis workers, who looked upon him as one of themselves.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 15

Yet despite the adulation to which he is constantly subjected, it is agreed by men who have had contact with him, and it is obvious from his works, that Stalin is no neurotic megalomaniac. Throughout the war he has maintained an active sense of proportion and a Russian sense of modesty. Stalin has never made any claims to supernatural guidance or claimed messianic wisdom, nor does he affect the personal mannerisms of a dictator. It cannot be shown anywhere that he ever boasted of adding any new principle to Marxism, though he has not opposed the use of the phrase Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism.
“I am merely a pupil of Lenin,” he likes to repeat, “and my aim is to be a worthy pupil of his.”…
Appreciation of the limitations of his own knowledge evidently saved Stalin from interfering disastrously with the work of experts. He never made the mistake of setting up headquarters at the front, and countermanding tactical plans, as Hitler did.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 150

He studies assiduously in many branches of knowledge and he has the help of experts always in readiness for consultation. I never met anyone who talked to him who was not surprised by his ready fund of information on a wide variety of subjects, his ability to ask searching and highly pertinent questions, and his great capacity to listen.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 156

…He [Stalin] is direct to the extent of bluntness or rudeness. He likes candor in other people too….
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 157

…As regards personal qualities, he had a very strong character, dogged determination, clarity of mind that most lacked.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 181

He had an exceptional memory.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 184

Stalin is in no sense a “misfit.” He won a scholarship as a boy. That feature of his ability is still evident in him. He has an unusual memory. He has an instinct for finding facts and culling from most unexpected sources information which he can use in a practical manner.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 322

Stalin was a fast learner and was quick to grasp anything new.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 226

SHAKHURIN: I am in a position to know that Stalin had very many positive qualities, because I met with him frequently–almost every day–for six years, Shakhurin said. I know personally of his many rare, positive qualities and how much he accomplished. He had unique attributes, the mind of the greatest of statesmen.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 308

Not the least of Stalin’s qualities is his ability to profit by experience.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 135

Unfortunately for his tranquility he secretly studied, at the Tiflis Seminary, books on the natural sciences and on sociology. He introduced into this well-ordered house the written poison of positive knowledge. The scandal was discovered by the authorities of the place. The need for genuine self-instruction being incompatible with the pure tradition of the Seminary, young Soso was expelled on the ground that he displayed a lack of “political balance.”
In 1898 he joined the Tiflis branch of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party…. This intellectual, the son of a peasant worker, embraced the calling of “professional revolutionary,” first among the Tiflis railway workers and later among the tobacco workers and the workers in the boot factories and, later still, among the workers at the meteorological observatory–a little everywhere, in fact: a workman in the workers’ cause.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 8

Addressing the conference [at Tehran], Stalin spoke quietly and at times curtly. He had a highly disciplined mind and expressed himself with utmost economy. Nothing aggravated him more than woolly, long-winded oratory.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 381

I admit that there was something in his personality which revealed pre-eminence, a grasp of the essentials, the alert mind, which could not fail to impress and fascinate. He relied to a minimum on his assistants at the roundtable; he carried all the details in his head. Nor did he miss any weakness in the argument of his opponents, on which he would pounce like a bird of prey. I liked his slow, simple manner of expressing himself, which entailed no effort for his interpreter to follow his train of thought.
Birse, Arthur Herbert. Memoirs of an Interpreter. New York: Coward-McCann, 1967, p. 212

Zhukov detected in Stalin ‘an ability to formulate an idea concisely, a naturally analytical mind, great erudition and a rare memory’.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 233

Recalling Stalin traits, Marshal Vasilevsky singled out his phenomenal memory:
“I have never met anyone who could remember as much. He knew by name all the army and front commanders, of whom there were more than 100, and he even knew the names of some corps and divisional commanders…. Throughout the war Stalin had the composition of the strategic reserves in his head and could name any formation any time.”
Stalin’s ability to grasp the essence of a situation quickly also made a deep impression on Winston Churchill: ‘Very few people alive could have comprehended in so few minutes the reasons which we had all so long been wrestling with for months. He saw it all in a flash.’
It seems indisputable that Stalin had considerable intellectual powers, in addition to his highly developed purposefulness and strong will, and that it was more than force of circumstance or mere chance that made of him one of Lenin’s comrades-in-arms during the revolution and civil war. He was able to show these qualities at a time when they were most needed, and it was perhaps for that reason they became evident. Perhaps as a result Stalin came to believe in himself, and perhaps he was therefore able to do things that others found impossible.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 234

He [Stalin in] would recall his civil war years with pride: with the exception of Trotsky, he had probably been on more fronts than anyone.
He personally knew nearly all the officers from corps commander up, most of the marshals and army commanders since the civil war,…
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 316

One of his great characteristics was a phenomenal memory, at least in the matters which concerned him most. And he had the ability to master the facts in a variety of fields.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 193

In December 1941 Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, came to Moscow and saw Stalin. He had had an interview with him in 1935. Stalin had then ‘impressed me from the first: his personality made itself felt without effort or exaggeration. He had natural good manners, perhaps a result of his Georgian inheritance. Though I knew the man to be without mercy, I respected the quality of his mind and even felt a sympathy which I have never been able entirely to analyze.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 250

I was amazed at the rapidity of his judgments, at their accuracy, and at the ease with which he grasped the essentials of cases whose untangling sometimes required hours of work from me, so that I wondered at times if the local authorities had not purposely tried to make their acts too incomprehensible for us to understand them. I once expressed to him my surprise at the facility he showed in unraveling complicated matters.
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m used to spotting the essential link in each of these matters. After that, the rest is easy.”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 178

I found my uncle sitting on the veranda of the Villa Nadejda, watching the sunset and reading Les Chouans, by his favorite author, Balzac….
“Well, Budu!” he said. “I read with interest your observations on Hungarian monetary reform which Sviridov sent on to me. Congratulations! Except, of course, for confusing the prewar pengo with the one which circulated in Sub-Carpathian Russia, which was still tied to the Czech crown.”
It was a fact that I had made this slip, of no great practical importance. I marveled once again at his [Stalin] ability to detect the errors of others in apparently every field, and said as much to him.
“There’s nothing astonishing about my knowing that,” he said. “I have nothing to do now and I’m reading and studying all sorts of economic problems of Central Europe.”
“Why so?” I asked.
“It’s obvious that we’ve got to take a hand there. As a result of my recent reading, I’m of the opinion that Molotov is wrong about the economic attachment of these countries to the USSR. It’s a difficult problem to solve. Unfortunately, Voroshilov agrees with him and the other members of the Politburo are backing them out.”
“He then put a series of questions to me on various financial and economic problems in the regions which we had occupied. He always went straight to the point on every question and showed a deep understanding of all these matters, which amazed me. This was my specialty, not his particularly, yet on many points I was obliged to admit that he was my master in my own field.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 227

He was neither hot-tempered, nor openhearted, nor emotional, nor sentimental; in other words, he lacked all that was characteristic of a typically Georgian temperament.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 359

The fact, however, remains that my father was capable of flaring up, of flying into a temper, and using rude language. He slapped my face twice on an occasion when he lost his temper. He hit Vasily once, when Vasily was still a small boy. Such short outbursts were sufficient to cool him down…. But my father’s grossness was limited, in essence, to his tongue.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 365

But Stalin has great power of mental concentration. He went through a test of a kind once. It was before the revolution. The Tsar’s police and military were tired of his constant escapes from banishment and decided to put him through a torture which few survive with sanity. He was made to run the gauntlet of the Salyansky regiment and each soldier beat him as he passed with the butt end of his rifle. Stalin concentrated his thoughts upon some aspect of Marxism, gritted his teeth and walked the whole alley of yelling and buffeting soldiers. The man who could do that has some almost Indian power of thought over body. So one need not assume that in his long silences over his pipe Stalin has not thought out the development of the revolution and the next steps in his career.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 120

He [Stalin] is not an emotional man like Roosevelt, nor does he live on his nerves like Lloyd George or McDonald. He has nerves, he can get excited, but he is always under control. His nerves are not frayed by the difficulties of administration.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 122

Stalin recognized only the truth, no matter how bitter that truth was. To the end of his days, Stalin always had a steady character, a phenomenal memory, quick mind, sharp reflexes, and was very observant of life.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 104

Then, consider his patience, his tenacity. His perseverance, as Walter Duranty says, is “inhuman.” He is a slow builder of bricks, so slow that often his followers are impatient, because they do not see the outline of the finished structure he is building. His line is undeviating; he takes only “the long view.”
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 517

Again, there is his sense of detail, which is very great. His wary eye penetrates to the smallest elements in the national life,… Stalin reads everything, down to the last paragraph in Pravda. His day begins with the perusal of local reports, carefully sifted from all parts of the Soviet Union. W. H. Chamberlain (cf. Russia’s Iron Age, p. 187), certainly no friendly critic, notes that Stalin, by personal intervention, remedied injustices in spheres very far removed from his normal business.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 518

His intelligence is wary, cautious, thorough…. witness his talk with H. G. Wells, wherein he more then held his own with that glib and eloquent interlocutor. And witness his remarkable interview in 1927 with an American women’s delegation when he answered questions for four solid hours, questions of great diversity and difficulty. He talked strictly extemporaneously, but with perfect organization of material, of a kind only possible to a man completely sure of himself. The verbatim report, about 11,800 words, comprises one of the most comprehensive and discerning statements of Soviet aims ever made; it was a tour de force quite beyond the capacity of any but an exceptionally intelligent man.
When the delegation, thoroughly exhausted, had concluded its queries, Stalin asked if he might ask questions about America–and he did so for two hours more. His questions were penetrating and showed considerable knowledge of American conditions; Stalin, single-handed, answered the delegation’s questions much better than they replied to him. During this 6 ours of talk, the telephone did not ring once; no secretary was allowed to interrupt–another indication of Stalin’s habit of utter concentration to the job in hand.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 519

In the company of two such astute politicians as Churchill and Roosevelt [at Yalta], with their long experience of the turmoil of democratic politics, Stalin impressed all who sat around the table with him, or heard him speak, with his mastery of the business, his remarkable memory–he never made a note or consulted a paper–his skill in debate and the quickness with which he could switch from the “roughness” that Lenin had criticized to the charm that Churchill felt even when he resisted it.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 876

[After a meeting with Stalin in July 1941 shortly after the German attack Harry Hopkins stated in the American magazine: Not once did he repeat himself. He talked as he knew his troops were shooting–straight and hard. He welcomed me with a few, swift Russian words. He shook my hand briefly, firmly, courteously. He smiled warmly. There was no waste of word, gesture, nor mannerism. It was like talking to a perfectly co-coordinated machine, an intelligent machine. Joseph Stalin knew what he wanted, knew what Russia wanted, and he assumed that you knew. We talked for almost four hours on this second visit. The questions he asked were clear, concise, direct. Tired as I was, I found myself replying as tersely. His answers were ready, unequivocal, spoken as if the man had had them on his tongue for years.
Only once while we talked did his telephone ring. He apologized for the interruption, telling me he was making plans for his supper at 12:30 that night. Not once did a secretary enter with dispatches or memoranda. And when we said goodbye we shook hands again with the same finality. He said goodbye once, just as only once he said hello.
No man could forget the picture of the dictator of Russia as he stood watching me leave –an austere, rugged, determined figure in boots that shone like mirrors, stout baggy trousers, and snug-fitting blouse. He wore no ornament, military or civilian. He’s built close to the ground, like a football coach’s dream of a tackle. He’s about five feet six, about 190 pounds. His hands are huge, as hard as his mind. His voice is harsh but ever under control. What he says is all the accent and inflection his words need….
If he is always as I heard him, he never wastes a syllable. If he wants to soften an abrupt answer or a sudden question he does it with that quick, managed smile–a smile that can be cold but friendly, austere but warm. He curries no favor with you. He seems to have no doubts. He assures you that Russia will stand against the onslaughts of the German army. He takes it for granted that you have no doubts, either….
He offered me one of his cigarettes and he took one of mine. He’s a chain smoker, probably accounting for the harshness of his carefully controlled voice. He laughs often enough, but it’s a short laugh, somewhat sardonic, perhaps. There is no small talk in him. His humor is keen, penetrating. He speaks no English, but as he shot rapid Russian at me he ignored the interpreter, looking straight into my eyes as though I understood every word that he uttered.
Sherwood, Robert E. Roosevelt and Hopkins. New York: Harper, 1948, p. 343-344

Beaverbrook noted of Stalin, “We had got to like him; a kindly man, with a habit, when agitated, of walking about the floor with his hands behind his back. He smoked a great deal and practically never shows any impatience at all.”
Sherwood, Robert E. Roosevelt and Hopkins. New York: Harper, 1948, p. 391

I met him [Stalin] several times towards the end of his life, and I was able to observe the facility with which he went straight to what was essential, even in technological spheres he knew nothing about. He had the gift of putting his finger on the weak points. An organizer of genius, he was able to create a service in a few minutes, give it a mission to perform, and obtain the result he wanted within the deadline fixed by him. In that he was better even than my father.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 134

Far from being the head-case he is described as nowadays, Stalin was supremely intelligent….
Methodical in the extreme, Stalin’s vast memory constituted a veritable collection of archives, and he drew from it at will the data he considered he needed in order to achieve an aim. He prepared carefully for every meeting, studying the questions he meant to raise. He swotted at his books like a good pupil, said my father, who did the same himself. Stalin’s life was just as ordered, despite the distressing timetables that he inflicted on his collaborators, because he worked late into the night.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 148

Stalin’s gift, apart from his catechismic rhythms of question and answer, was the ability to reduce complex problems to lucid simplicity, a talent that is invaluable in a politician. He could draft, usually in his own hand, a diplomatic telegram, speech or article straight off in the clearest, yet often subtle prose….
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 98

He [Stalin] found the solution in a meticulous and pedantic study of international problems and of diplomatic history, as well as in keeping the closest watch on his diplomatists. This study yielded results. The extent of his knowledge in this domain began to surprise the statesmen who came into contact with him. Roosevelt, Churchill, Eden, Stettinius, T.V. Soong, and Victor Hoo, negotiating with Moscow in 1945, were astonished by the degree of his erudition and by his memory.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 196

The information which he received was as usual contradictory. In these circumstances Stalin adhered to his basic principle. He tried to obtain as much information as possible while endeavoring to perceive, through his personal informers, the realities which so often escaped them. By endeavoring to maintain an absolute objectivity, he detached himself from all the ideas inspired by his own theories and conceptions. In this he was entirely successful, which unfortunately cannot always be said of the majority of people at work in the international arena.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 223

Certainly in personal conversation or in the wording of his speeches, Stalin gives no sign of arrogance or undue self-esteem. This has been noted by everyone who comes into contact with him. Churchill, for instance, said: “Premier Stalin left on me an impression of deep, cool wisdom and absence of illusions… A man direct, even blunt in speech…with that saving sense of humor which is of high importance.” Wendell Willkie said: “As I was leaving him after my first talk, I thanked him for the time he had given me in the honor he had conferred upon me in talking so candidly. A little embarrassed, he replied: ‘Mr. Willkie, you know I grew up a Georgian peasant. I am unschooled in pretty talk. All I can say is I like you very much.’ He is a simple man with no affectations or poses.” Former Ambassador Davies in an official report to Secretary Hull, June 9, 1938, on his interview with Stalin, said: “His demeanor is kindly, his manner almost deprecatingly simple…. He gave me the impression of being sincerely modest.”
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 52

I associated with Stalin from February 1941, when I stepped into the post of Chief of General Staff. Stalin’s outer appearance has been described many times. Though of moderate height and externally undistinguished, Stalin produced a strong impression on whoever spoke with him. Free of affectations and mannerisms, he won people’s hearts by his simple ways. His uninhibited way of speaking, the ability to express himself clearly, is inborn analytical mind, his extensive knowledge and phenomenal memory, made even old hands and eminent people brace themselves and gather their wits when talking to him.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 365

All his life he devoted himself to accumulating knowledge. His attentiveness, memory, and analytical skills were razor-sharp even if he did not brag about this to others;…
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 115

STALIN IS NOT A DICTATOR

Assuming that we accept the primary meaning of the term dictator, as it is defined in the The New English Dictionary — “a ruler or governor whose word is law; an absolute ruler of the state — and who authoritatively prescribes a course of action or dictates what is to be done” — Stalin is not a dictator.
In May 1941 Stalin hitherto content to be a member of the Presidium, alarmed at the menace of a victorious German Army invading the Ukraine, took over, with the consent of the Presidium, the office a prime minister and Minister of defense, leaving Molotov as foreign Secretary; in exactly the same way, and for a similar reason–the world war–that Winston Churchill, with the consent of the house of Commons, became prime minister and Minister of defense with Chamberlain,…. Neither the prime minister of the British cabinet nor the presiding member of the Sovnarkom has anything like the autocratic power of the president of the USA, who not only selects his cabinet, subject merely to approval by a simple majority of the Senate, but is also commander in chief of the American Armed Forces and, under the Lend Lease act, is empowered to safeguard in one way or another, the arrival of munitions and food at the British ports. By declaring, in May 1941, a state of unlimited national emergency, President Roosevelt legally assumes a virtual dictatorship of the United States. He has power to takeover transport, to comandeer the radio for the purposes of propaganda, to control imports in all exchange transactions, to requisition ships and to suspend laws governing working hours, and most important of all, to decide on industrial priorities and, if necessary, to take over industrial plants.
Webb, Sidney. The Truth about Soviet Russia. New York: Longmans, Green, 1942, p. 16

Stalin’s opponents accuse him of absolutism, and it is true and false. Absolutism there is–not that Stalin wants it for his ambition or vainglory but because the circumstances in Russia demand it….
Outsiders may write nonsense about Stalin’s ego and the purely personal quality of “the struggle for power” between him and Trotsky or Rykov or Zinoviev.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 218

…To begin with, Stalin is anything but remote or autocratic in method. I doubt if any national leader has his ear so close to the ground, and by all accounts his method in meetings of the Politburo, which is the real government, is to let other people talk, after he has briefly indicated the lines of discussion, and to reach a conclusion by the process of summary, comparison, and the elimination of his colleagues’ views.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 225

Stalin does not rule personally…. When Emil Ludwig asked him who really made decisions, he answered: “Single persons cannot decide…. The leadership of our party is the Central Committee, which directs all the Soviet and Communist organizations, consists of about 70 people…. It is in this Supreme Council that the whole wisdom of our party is concentrated. Each man is entitled to challenge his neighbor’s opinion or suggestion. Each man may give the benefit of his own experience. If it were otherwise, if individual decisions were admitted, there would be serious mistakes in our work.”
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 110

At one point the head of our Regional Party organization requested that Comrade Stalin permit himself to be photographed with our delegation…. The photographer, whose name was Petrov, went to this camera and started to arrange the group for the picture. Petrov was a respected specialist in his trade. He had worked around the Kremlin for years and was well-known among Party workers. He started giving us instructions on which way to look and how to turn our heads. Suddenly Stalin remarked in a voice everyone could hear, “Comrade Petrov loves to order people around. But now that’s forbidden here. No one may order anyone else around ever again.” Even though he said this jokingly, we all took him seriously and were heartened by the democratic spirit he displayed.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 26

A similar incident occurred a few years later when my friend Rimsky took a group of students to Moscow to see the sights of the capital. Rimsky decided to ask Stalin if he would receive a delegation of these students. As Rimsky told me, “I called the Kremlin and was put straight through to Stalin. What accessibility! Stalin agreed to receive us. When we arrived in Stalin’s office, I said, ‘Comrade Stalin, we’ve come from the city formerly called Yuzovka which now bears your name. It’s called Stalino. Therefore we’d like to ask you to send a letter of greeting back with us to the Stalino workers.'” And here is how Stalin answered this request: “What do you think I am? A big landowner? The workers in the factories aren’t serfs on my farm. It would be insulting and completely unsuitable for me to write them a letter of greeting. I won’t do it myself, and I don’t like it when other people do that sort of thing.” Rimsky was pleasantly surprised. When he got home he spread the story around to illustrate Stalin’s democratic spirit, his accessibility, and his proper understanding of his place.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 27

…there are situations in which he [Stalin] does not have as much freedom as the President of the United States.
Roosevelt, for example, did not ask his Cabinet’s permission when he chose to go abroad. In declining to attend the Quebec Conference, Stalin explained that his government–really the Politburo–thought it undesirable that he should leave at that moment….
“The decisions of single persons,” said Stalin, in rejecting the Fuhrer principle of personal dictatorship, “are always, or nearly always, one-sided. Out of every 100 decisions made by single persons, that have not been tested and corrected collectively, 90 are one-sided. In our leading body, the Central Committee of our party, which guides all our soviet and party organizations, there are about 70 members. Each one is able to contribute his experience. Were it otherwise, if decisions had been taken by individuals, we should have committed very serious mistakes.”
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 164

…The characterization of Stalinism as highly centralized can be applied to the decision-making process at the top of the Soviet hierarchy where Stalin’s personal involvement was clearly immense, but it is less applicable when discussing the relations between central and lower-level political organs. Furthermore the term totalitarian, with its connotations of all pervasive control, does not accord well with the severe limitations that existed on central power and the massive social upheavals over which it was physically impossible to exercise close control.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 56

…Although Stalin was clearly able to exercise considerable power at the lower levels of the political system, and certainly much more than his opponents, he was not able to build up an extensive, smoothly organized and disciplined political machine that would obey his will. Instead he had to proceed principally through gaining the support of other political leaders at all levels in a coalition-building process.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 65

Although by the end of the decade [1930s] he [Stalin] was unquestionably the supreme leader, he was never omnipotent, and he always functioned within a matrix of other groups and interests.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 7

The main causal element in the literature has always been Stalin’s personality and culpability. In most accounts there were no other authoritative actors, no limits on his power, no politics, no discussion of society or social climate, no confusion or indecision. Stalin gave and everyone else received. The actions of others, or the environment within which he worked, were largely irrelevant or impotent. As a result, these accounts came perilously close to falling into the literary genre of fairy tales, complete with an evil and all-powerful sorcerer working against virtuous but powerless victims. Many existing historical treatments of the terror–including some quite recent ones–followed simple linguistic conventions and structures in order to illustrate their only point. Given the narrow focus, it was difficult to say more than “At this time Stalin decided to destroy….”
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 570

There can be no [one man] dictatorship in the Communist International and in the USSR. It cannot exist because Communism and the Soviet regime develop along the lines of an extremely definite doctrine, of which the most important people are merely the servants, whereas the characteristic of dictatorship, of personal power, is to impose one’s own will, one’s own fancies, in opposition to existing law.
There may be different interpretations of Marxism, especially in its reaction to events and, from this point of view, a particular interpretation or even a particular course of action may at any given moment predominate at the head of the State of the International. The question of whether such interpretation or course of action is a good one is solved automatically, and the leaders prove themselves to be right or wrong by contact with logical exigencies and the sequence of events. It would therefore be a great mistake to think that there is any supreme authority in the USSR, an individual sovereignty imposing itself on this great organization by artificial means, such as force of arms or intrigues. (The tyrant who, when anyone stands in his way, makes a sign to the executioner, like the Caliphs in the Arabian Nights or to hired assassins.)
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 147

[Interview of Yaroslavski with an American delegation of professors at the Central Council of the League of Militant Atheists, July 13, 1932]
QUESTIONER: In America there is the widespread opinion that (the Soviet Union) is an absolute dictatorship.
COMRADE YAROSLAVSKI: Of course, any talk of Comrade Stalin’s dictatorship is utter nonsense. Comrade Stalin is not a dictator but the extremely beloved leader of our party, who enjoys unlimited trust and extraordinary prestige because he has carried out the correct line of the party for more than 30 years, never wavered at the most critical moments, and always walked side-by-side with Lenin. No one in our party ever considered, considers him, or could ever consider him a dictator because Comrade Stalin’s proposals are discussed by the supreme bodies of our party, including the Central Committee, the Political Bureau, the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, and the congresses, which may disagree with Comrade Stalin. If they do agree with him, it is because his policy is the correct one. In this respect, Lenin was also “justifiably” or, more probably, without any justification, called a dictator in his day, even though his authority was based on boundless trust and respect, not subordination. In Comrade Stalin’s writings you can find a number of articles and letters in which he argues with his comrades who disagree with him and tries to persuade them. Of course, if the rumors you’re talking about were true, he wouldn’t even try to persuade or argue with his comrades.
QUESTIONER: We personally don’t doubt that Comrade Stalin is a great man and a great leader, but have there not been cases, despite all his prestige, where the proposals he has submitted to the Central Committee have failed to win a majority of votes? After all, Lenin was sometimes in the minority.
COMRADE YAROSLAVSKI: I don’t remember any instances where Comrade Stalin has submitted incorrect proposals. With respect to your comments that Lenin was sometimes in the minority, during the Brest peace negotiations many people disagreed with Lenin. I myself was opposed to the Brest Treaty, which I have always deeply regretted, because I was wrong and Lenin was right. Even then Comrade Stalin supported Lenin’s policy.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 609

As Timothy Dunmore recently noted, “Few are now prepared to accept too literally Djilas’s picture of senior Politburo members obsequiously following Stalin about and taking his orders down on a convenient note pad.”
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 199

When I then asked him whether an individual was not governing in Russia, instead of a committee, he pointed to the 16 chairs round our table and said: “Three revolutions have taught us that of every 100 decisions an individual makes, 90 are wrong. Our committee of 70 members comprises the most intelligent leaders of industry, the shrewdest businessmen, the most skillful agitators, experts in agriculture and nationality. Each one of them can correct a single resolution by his experience.”
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 118

And yet it should be kept in mind that at the end of the 1920s Stalin certainly did not yet possess unlimited power. Major decisions were taken by a group of 20 to 30 individuals including certain key figures on the Central Committee who were the leaders of the most important provincial organizations.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 66

Stalin apologized to Mikoyan and he often had to apologize to the others too. Dictators did not need to apologize.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 62

He [Stalin] discovered, moreover, that the President of the United States had more liberty of action than the master of the Kremlin, who had always to deal with his Politburo.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 347

On the eve of the Yalta Conference the Politburo appointed a Permanent Committee to follow the negotiations on the spot. The President of this committee was Molotov; it included Beria, Malenkov, Bulganin, Voroshilov, and Mikoyan. Stalin’s authority was, of course, very great, but for once his traditional tactics of taking refuge behind the decisions of the Politburo turned against him. Carried away by Roosevelt’s example, he wanted to form decisions which had not been previously considered by the committee. He even did so. But the Politburo was accustomed to being the supreme official authority; it jibbed at this, and sought to impose its actual authority.
…The result was that Stalin, contrary to the general belief, was less free in his decisions than Churchill and Roosevelt.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 369

But Stalin was not free to maneuver as he wished. The Permanent Committee was keeping a watch on him.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 370

It was then that Stalin made a series of confidences to Roosevelt, which Stettinius and Pavlov remembered: “You are mistaken in believing that I am a dictator like Hitler,” said Stalin. “I am not. Of course, I exercise indisputable authority, and I could impose concessions which I am ready to make, but which my colleagues would not wish to allow. But in this case I have to show them the immediate or future advantages which I should expect from such concessions. Otherwise I should be diminishing my own authority.”
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 374

This was his [Stalin] last act of homage [accepting Roosevelt’s refusal to OK the Soviet demand for the right of veto concerning the questionss to be inscribed on the order of the day] to the memory of the great President, before whom he had accepted the liberty of discussion in the Security Council of the United Nations Organization. From this moment he once more became a prisoner of the aggressive obstinacy of his colleagues of the Politburo, who in the vertigo of victory thought they could impose their conceptions on the whole world.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 388

In the autumn of 1945 Stalin left for Sochi. This absence was justified by the prescription of semi-retirement, and by the state of his health, and his disappointments; it coincided with a fit of exasperation with the attitude of the majority of the Politburo, which disagreed with him on a number of questions.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 398

In the higher spheres of Communism no secret was made of this [others were making decisions challenging those of Stalin and making themselves his equal]. Thus, Zhdanov once said before Diaz and two other Spanish Communists who were refugees in Moscow, in explanation of the private ideas of the group of Stalin’s successors: “The king is absolute when he does our will.” This translation of Schiller’s sentence: “Und der Konig ist absolute wenn er unseren Willen tut,” shows plainly that the new bureaucratic caste which had been created in the USSR saw in Stalin merely an external symbol of the unity of the State, and no longer a source of immediate power. The “Supreme Arbiter” was relegated to Sochi for months at a time, and remained in the background, while others ruled the country in his name and under his authority. Stalin’s superior astuteness consisted in accepting this “diminution” as though it were imposed upon him, whereas it was actually precisely what he desired.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 400

Harold Lasky, who went to Moscow in 1947, and who had the advantage of being able to speak Russian, explained in the Labor press that “Stalin was not a true personal dictator, since he is obliged to obey the majority of the Politburo.”
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 401

But [my] four lengthy talks and one or two brief social meetings with Stalin were more than any other Western diplomat enjoyed during the period I was in Russia, and those opportunities to meet the leader of the Soviet peoples face-to-face, climaxing careful study of what he has said and what he has done during the past years, make it possible to differentiate the Stalin of fact from the Stalin of legend….
From that spirit, I had drawn certain conclusions about Stalin in the sixty-ninth year of his life and his 25th year in power:
He is not, for instance, an absolute dictator, on the one hand, nor a prisoner of the Politburo, on the other; his position, I would say, is more that of chairman of the board with the decisive vote.
Smith, Walter Bedell. My Three Years in Moscow. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1950, p. 55

Sometimes it is asserted that, whereas the form may be otherwise, the fact is that, whilst the Communist Party controls the whole administration, the Party itself, and thus indirectly the whole state, is governed by the will of a single person, Josef Stalin.
First let it be noted that, unlike Mussolini, Hitler, and other modern-day dictators, Stalin is not invested by law with any authority over his fellow-citizens, and not even over the members of the Party to which he belongs. He has not even the extensive power which the Congress of the United States has temporarily conferred upon President Roosevelt, or that which the American Constitution entrusts for four years to every successive president. So far as grade or dignity is concerned, Stalin is in no sense the highest official in the USSR, or even in the Communist Party. He is not, and has never been, President of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Union Congress of Soviets–a place long held by Sverdlov and now by Kalinin, who is commonly treated as the President of the USSR. He is not (as Lenin was) the President of the Sovnarkom of the RSFSR, the dominant member of the Federation; or of the USSR itself, the place now held by Molotov, who may be taken to correspond to the Prime Minister of a parliamentary democracy. He is not even a People’s Commissar, or member of the Cabinet, either of the USSR or of any of the constituent republics. Until 1934 he held no other office in the machinery of the constitution than that, since 1930 only, of membership (one among 10) of the Committee of Labor and Defense. Even in the Communist Party, he is not the president of the Central Committee of the Party, who may be deemed the highest placed member; indeed, he is not even the president of the presidium of this Central Committee. He is, in fact, only the General Secretary of the Party, receiving his salary from the Party funds and holding his office by appointment by the Party Central Committee, and, as such, also a member (one among nine) of its most important subcommittee, the Politburo.
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 333

If we are invited to believe that Stalin is, in effect, a dictator, we may inquire whether he does, in fact, act in the way that dictators have usually acted?
We have given particular attention to this point, collecting all the available evidence, and noting carefully the inferences to be drawn from the experience of the past eight years (1926-1934). We do not think that the Party is governed by the will of a single person; or that Stalin is the sort of person to claim or desire such a position. He has himself very explicitly denied any such personal dictatorship in terms which, whether or not he is credited with sincerity, certainly accord with our own impression of the facts….
This reasoned answer [his response to Emil Ludwig’ questions] by Stalin himself puts the matter on the right basis. The Communist Party in the USSR has adopted for its own organization the pattern which we have described as common throughout the whole soviet constitution. In this pattern individual dictatorship has no place. Personal decisions are distrusted, and elaborately guarded against. In order to avoid the mistakes due to bias, anger, jealousy, vanity, and other distempers, from which no person is, at all times, entirely free or on his guard, it is desirable that the individual will should always be controlled by the necessity of gaining the ascent of colleagues of equal grade, who have candidly discussed the matter, and who have to make themselves jointly responsible for the decision.
We find confirmation of this inference in Stalin’s explicit description of how he acted in a remarkable case. He has, in fact, frequently pointed out that he does no more than carry out the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Thus, in describing his momentous article known as “Dizzy with Success,” he expressly states that this was written on “the well-known decision of the Central Committee regarding the ‘Fight against Distortions of the Party Line’ in the collective farm movement….” “In this connection,” he continues, “I recently received a number of letters from comrades, collective farmers, calling up on me to reply to the questions contained in them. It was my duty to reply to the letters in private correspondence; but that proved to be impossible, since more than half the letters received did not have the addresses of the writers (they forgot to send their addresses). Nevertheless the questions raised in these letters are of tremendous political interest to all our comrades…. In view of this I found myself faced with the necessity of replying to the comrades in an open letter, i.e. in the press…. I did this all the more willingly since I had a direct decision of the Central Committee to this purpose.” We cannot imagine the contemporary “dictators” of Italy, Hungary, Germany and now (1935) the United States–or even the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or France–seeking the instructions of his Cabinet as to how he should deal with letters which he could not answer individually. But Stalin goes further. He gives the reason for such collegiate decision. He points out that there is a “real danger” attendant on the personal decreeing by individual representatives of the Party in this or that corner of our vast country. I have in mind not only local functionaries, but even certain regional committee members, and even certain members of the Central Committee, a practice which Lenin had stigmatized as communist conceit. “The Central Committee of the Party,” he said, “realized this danger, and did not delay intervening, instructing Stalin to warn the erring comrades in an article on the collective farm movement. Some people believe that the article ‘Dizzy with Success’ is the result of the personal initiative of Stalin. That is nonsense. Our Central Committee does not exist in order to permit the personal initiative of anybody, whoever it may be, in matters of this kind. It was a reconnaissance on the part of the Central Committee. And when the depth and seriousness of the errors were established, the Central Committee did not hesitate to strike against these errors with the full force of its authority, and accordingly issued its famous decision of March 15, 1930.”
The plain truth is that, surveying the administration of the USSR during the past decade, under the alleged dictatorship of Stalin, the principal decisions have manifested neither the promptitude nor the timeliness, nor yet the fearless obstinacy that have often been claimed as the merits of a dictatorship. On the contrary, the action of the Party has frequently been taken after consideration so prolonged, and as the outcome of discussion sometimes so heated and embittered, as to bear upon their formulation the marks of hesitancy and lack of assurance. More than once, their adoption has been delayed to a degree that has militated against their success; and, far from having been obstinately and ruthlessly carried out, the execution has often been marked by a succession of orders each contradicting its predecessor, and none of them pretending to completeness or finality. Whether we take the First Five-year Plan, or the determination to make universal the collective farms; the frantic drive towards “self-sufficiency” in the equipment of the heavy industries, and in every kind of machine-making, or the complete “liquidation of the kulaks as a class,” we see nothing characteristic of government by the will of a single person. On the contrary, these policies have borne, in the matter of their adoption and in the style of their formulation, the stigmata of committee control. If the USSR during the past 8 or 10 years has been under a dictatorship, the dictator has surely been an inefficient one! He has often acted neither promptly nor at the right moment; his execution has been vacillating and lacking in ruthless completeness. If we had to judge him by the actions taken in his name, Stalin has had many of the defects from which, by its very nature, a dictator is free. In short, the government of the USSR during the past decade has been clearly no better than that of a committee. Our inference is that it has been, in fact, the very opposite of a dictatorship. It has been, as it still is, government by a whole series of committees.
This does not mean, of course, that the interminable series of committees, which is the characteristic feature of the USSR Government, have no leaders; nor need it be doubted that among these leaders the most influential, both within the Kremlin and without, is now Stalin himself. But so far as we have been able to ascertain, his leadership is not that of a dictator. We are glad to quote an illustrative example of Stalin’s administration, as described by an able American resident of Moscow: “Let me give a brief example of how Stalin functions. I saw him preside at a small committee meeting, deciding a matter on which I had brought a complaint. He summoned to the office all the persons concerned in the matter, but when we arrived we found ourselves meeting not only with Stalin, but also with Voroshilov and Kaganovich. Stalin sat down, not at the head of the table, but informally placed where he could see the faces of all. He opened the talk with a plain, direct question, repeating the complaint in one sentence, and asking the man complained against: ‘Why was it necessary to do this?’
“After this, he said less than anyone. An occasional phrase, a word without pressure; even his questions were less demands for answers than interjections guiding the speaker’s thought. But how swiftly everything was revealed, all our hopes, egotisms, conflicts, all the things we had been doing to each other. The essential nature of men I had known for years, and of others I met for the first time, came out sharply, more clearly than I had ever seen them, yet without prejudice. Each of them had to cooperate, to be taken account of in a problem; the job we must do, and its direction became clear.
There is, in fact, a consensus of opinion, among those who have watched Stalin’s action in administration, that this is not at all characteristic of a dictator. It is rather that of a shrewd and definitely skillful manager facing a succession of stupendous problems which have to be grappled with. He is not conceited enough to imagine that he has, within his own knowledge and judgment, any completely perfect plan for surmounting the difficulties. None of the colleagues seated around the committee table, as he realizes, has such a plan. He does not attempt to bully the committee. He does not even drive them. Imperturbably he listens to the endless discussion, picking up something from each speaker, and gradually combining every relevant consideration in the most promising conclusion then and there possible. At the end of the meeting, or at a subsequent one–for the discussions are often adjourned from day-to-day–he will lay before his colleagues a plan uniting the valuable suggestions of all the other proposals, as qualified by all the criticisms; and it will seem to his colleagues, as it does to himself, that this is the plan to be adopted. When it is put in operation, all sorts of unforeseen difficulties reveal themselves, for no plan can be free from shortcomings and defects. The difficulties give rise to further discussions and to successive modifications, none of which achieves perfect success. Is not this very much how administration is carried on in every country in the world, whatever may be its constitution? The “endless adventure of governing men” can never be other than a series of imperfect expedients, for which, even taking into account all past experience and all political science, there is, in the end, and inevitable resort to empirical “trial and error.”
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 334-337

If he is a dictator, he is not of the obtrusive conventional variety. He does not believe in hero-worship and does not practice it. The trappings of power do not tempt him.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 301

Is Stalin a dictator? Like the mythical Atlas, he carries the world on his shoulders. That Stalin knows. But he does not regard himself as a dictator. It is unquestionable that his attitude defies the conventional idea of an absolutist ruler. He is not and does not want to be a Nero. He is not and does not seek to be a Napoleon. He has no ambitions of gain. Worldly prowess is alien to his nature. He believes that he is helping create a new order from which someday all happiness will automatically flow to mankind. He believes that it is imperative to traverse a road of untold travail to reach that ideal. The vivisection of 160 million people today he justifies as a sacrifice necessary to bring bliss to double that number tomorrow. To Stalin, only Lenin has charted the right course through the darkness to light. And Stalin is adamant in his belief that he alone understands Lenin’s cosmography correctly.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 314

“Comrade Stalin, the press of the world is by this time in the habit of calling you a dictator,” I said. “Are you a dictator?”
I could see that Voroshilov waited with interest for the answer.
Stalin smiled, implying that the question was on the preposterous side.
“No, I am no dictator. Those who use the word do not understand the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Communist Party. No one man or group of men can dictate. Decisions are made by the Party and acted upon by its chosen organs, the Central Committee and the Politburo.”
Lyons, Eugene. Assignment in Utopia. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, c1937, p. 387

[Stalin said to Ludwig in an interview] Just now you asked me whether everything in our country was decided by one person. Never under any circumstances would our workers now tolerate power in the hands of one person. With us personages of the greatest authority are reduced to nonentities, become mere ciphers, as soon as the masses of the workers lose confidence in them, as soon as they lose contact with the masses of the workers.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 113

Powerful though he was, his powers were not limitless…constraints of power existed even for Stalin.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 9

The solution [to Stalin’s alleged tendency to have his way] was obvious. Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Bukharin were appointed to the Orgbureau. They could oppose Stalin’s schemes whenever they wanted.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 215

Though dominant in the Politburo, Stalin did not chair it. The tradition persisted that the chairman of Sovnarkom should perform this task.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 277

Yet this was not a totalitarian dictatorship as conventionally defined because Stalin lacked the capacity, even at the height of his power, to secure automatic universal compliance with his wishes. He could purge personnel without difficulty. But when it came to ridding the Soviet order of many informal practices he disliked, he was much less successful. In such cases it was like someone trying to strike a match on a block of soap….
Constraints continue to exist upon his rule. In 1937 he had told the Party Central Committee that he intended to eradicate the network of political patronage in the USSR. Yet clientele groups survived.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 371

“Stalin was no tyrant, no despot. He was a man of principle; he was just, modest and very kindly and considerate towards people, the cadres, and his colleagues.”
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979. p. 14-15

Stalin’s opponents accuse him of absolutism, and it is true and false. Absolutism there is–not that Stalin wants it for his ambition or vainglory but because the circumstances and Russia demand it; because there is no more time for argument or discussion or even freedom in the Western sense, for which Russia cares nothing, because, in short, a house divided against itself cannot stand in an hour of stress.
Outsiders may write nonsense about Stalin’s egoism and the purely personal equality of “the struggle for power” between him and Trotsky or Rykov or Zinoviev. Personal elements do and must enter all human relations, but in default of familiarity with the new Russia these critics might study the early history of the Christian Church, which as wracked and torn far worse by “ideological controversy,” as the Bolsheviki call it….
The parallel is sharper and closer than either Christians or Bolsheviki would care to admit….
Stalin did not do it–if the truth were known it was perhaps done despite him–but Russia did it, is doing it, and will go on doing it whatever happens.
Duranty, Walter. “Stalinism’s Mark is Party Discipline,” New York Times, June 27, 1931.

There is, incidentally, no doubt about responsibility for the disaster. Stalin must be primarily answerable as the leading advocate of excessive demands on the peasantry and the prime backer of hard-line collectivization. But there is plenty of blame to go around. It must be shared by the tens of thousands of activists and officials who carried out the policy and by the peasants who chose to slaughter animals, burn fields and boycott cultivation in protest. Beyond fixing blame, however, the tempting conclusion of intentionality is unwarranted: the case for a purposeful famine is weakly supported by the evidence and relies on a very strained interpretation of it….
There are reasons why the majority of scholars have so far rejected the theory [Conquest’s contention the famine was intentionally caused]. First, we actually know very little about the scale of the famine. Using census calculations of excess mortality, Conquest arrives at a figure of some 5,000,000 victims of the Ukrainian famine. Yet such respected economic and demographic experts as Wheatcroft, Barbara Anderson and Brian Silver have examined the same census data and have suggested that the numbers Conquest supports are much too high….
Second, Conquest has failed to establish a convincing motive for genocide. Certainly Stalin was capable of vindictive cruelty and cold-hearted repression, but those who knew and dealt with him during the war and after, and they include many Westerners, agree that he was not insane or irrational. Although he certainly mean to break peasant resistance to his brand of socialism, one must wonder why any national leader would deliberately imperil the country’s survival, its military strength and thus his own security, by methodically setting out to exterminate those who produced the food–and then stopping short of completing the presumed genocide…. our knowledge of the sources suggests that a genocidal Stalin is unnecessary to explain the events of the famine as we know them. More convincing explanations can be advanced….
Conquest’s argument for the terror-famine assumes a situation in which the Stalin leadership was always able to realize its will in the country. We might first observe that nearly all the students of the Thirties agree that Stalin’s power was not absolute even in the upper leadership until the Great Purges of 1937-1939. Any intentional genocide would have been a joint project.
Second, the more scholars learn about the Thirties, the more they are struck by the limits and inhibitions on Moscow’s exercies of power in the provinces. Kremlin orders, which were vague and frequently contradictory to begin with, were routinely stalled, transformed, ignored, or even reversed as they made their way down the chain of command. From the works of Lynn Viola, Peter Solomon, Sheila Fitzpatrick and others, we now have much evidence on this bureaucratic compartmentalization, inefficiency, and local autonomy in agriculture, administration of justice, party structure and industry. Stalinist bureaucracy of the Thirties was more disjointed than efficient. Conquest himself cites numerous instances in which local implementation of collectivization differed sharply from Moscow’s presumed intentions. In some places, Stalin’s original projections for kulak expropriations were wildly exceeded. In others, local leaders minimised or even ignored Moscow’s call for full collectivization.
Within rather broad and vague parameters, local party leaders ran their satrapies largely as they saw fit. Moscow was far away and the infrequent inspectors…from Moscow could often be ignored. Officials protected each other, lobbied and negotiated for themselves and their regions in Moscow, and ruled their territories arbitrarily….Insofar as the Stalinists set the broad policies of the period, they are responsible for the consequent tragedy. But we can no longer be sure that what happened on the ground accurately reflected their plans. It was surely easier to ignite a social revolution…than it was to predict or control the results….
Yet there is no more evidence for the claim that Stalin planned to destroy the Ukraine than there is for the theory that he wanted the Germans to invade.
Once the 1932 cataclysm unfolded, the Stalinists tried to cope with what they had done. As Conquest shows, some grain quotas were lowered, highly prized-grain exports were cut to 1 or 2 percent of the harvest and some grain reserves were opened. Although famine was limited to certain areas, food was not plentiful anywhere in the USSR in 1932. To contain the famine, to prevent runs on meager food supplies in non-famine areas, and to keep disaster from overwhelming the entire country, the Ukraine is said to have been partially sealed off. (The evidence for this isolation comes exclusively from memoir sources.) Such a cold, hard way to cope with the famine would resemble Stalin’s 1941 decision to strip resources from Leningrad to save Moscow from falling to the Germans. His leadership contributed directly or indirectly to both disasters, and millions of Ukrainians and Leningraders paid the price for his policies and raison d’etat. But it’s a long and polemical leap from this to the assertion that Stalin deliberately brought about either holocaust.
Getty, Arch. “Starving the Ukraine.” Reviewing in The London Review of Books on January 22, 1987, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine by Robert Conquest September,1986.

During my years in Moscow I never stopped marveling at the contrast between the man [Stalin] and the colossal likenesses that had been made of him. That medium-sized, slightly pockmarked Caucasian with a mustache was as far removed as could be from the stereotype of a dictator. The sweeping gestures of Hitler and Mussolini were lacking completely in him; he did not gesture even when making speeches, no matter how impassioned the words.
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 155

Nevertheless, the prevailing impression that he was an autocrat in all the initial stages of deliberation, a tyrant who dictated his decisions from on high to be executed by the party organizations and the government, was untrue. On the contrary, he was quite democratic and cooperative in certain matters, particularly when important questions were being resolved.
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 156

AUTHOR: In the documentary film ‘Zhukov’, Marshall Zhukov says that Stalin was not a dictator; that he, Zhukov, could argue with Stalin, that he was able to stand up to Stalin and say ‘nyet,’ Comrade Stalin, ‘nyet.’ Is this true in your opinion?
MARSHAL RUDENKO: Yes. A dictator in the formal sense to someone who never agrees with anyone else’s opinion, only his own. But you could argue with Stalin. Zhukov did, Rokossovsky did. Meretskov, did. When these marshals stuck to their guns and proved they were correct, Stalin changed his mind.
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 50

STALIN’S BRAIN HAD BIG ROLE IN CREATING THE SU

But during the last year [1922] Stalin has shown judgment and analytical power not unworthy of Lenin. It is to him that the greatest part of the credit is due for bringing about the new Soviet Union, which history may regard as one of the most remarkable constitutions in human history. Trotsky helped him in drawing up, but Stalin’s brain guided the pen.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 103

STALIN EXPLAINS WHY HE BECAME A REVOLUTIONARY

In the case of Stalin, this remote reticent Lord of all the Russians, he gave me the key himself. He said he became a revolutionary because he could not stand the Jesuitic repression and martinet intolerance of the Orthodox church seminary where he spent some years.
He had in him a fire of revolt against tyranny and would brook no master.
Their Orthodox church, which was, in his land of superstitious peasants, a valuable tool of government.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 167

The Marxist conception is a scientific one. It becomes confused with the scientific conception. The Revolutionary always remains an apostle and a soldier, but he is, above all, a scholar who goes out into the highways and byways…
It made me smile to hear the German writer Ludwig ask Stalin, as he did two years ago: “Perhaps you were ill-treated by your parents in your childhood, to have become such a Revolutionary?”
The excellent Ludwig still firmly believed in the old adage of the wisdom of nations, which lays it down that, in order to be a Revolutionary, one must be vicious or embittered, and from one’s earliest youth, have been beaten by one’s parents. A poor argument, too paltry to be harmful. No doubt individuals and the masses are egged on by misfortune, but Revolutionaries are “far beyond any small personal grievances on the road to collective progress. Stalin replied patiently to Ludwig: “Not at all. My parents did not maltreat me. The reason that I became a Revolutionary is simply because I thought the Marxists were right.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 15

STALIN HATES THE WORD STALINISM

… but Stalinism–to use a word which Joseph Stalin deprecates and rejects.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 186

The Dominant principle in Russia today is not Marxism or even Leninism, although the latter is its official title, but Stalinisn–to use a word which Joseph Stalin deprecates and rejects.
Duranty, Walter, “Red Russia of Today Ruled by Stalinism, not by Communism,” New York Times, June 14, 1931.

According to Khrushchev, Kaganovich urged Stalin to replace ‘Leninism’ with ‘Stalinism’, only to be rebuffed by the Boss, who in fact never sanctioned the use of this term, so honorific in a highly ideological culture.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 153

STALIN IS ALWAYS CONSISTENT AND PERSISTENT

Any utterance of Stalin implies that he has thought out a problem and settled it, and anything he has once thought out and formulated he will continue to declare again and again. It may be possible to point to inconsistencies in Stalin’s policy (though even this is not so certain), but nobody will ever be able to trace inconsistencies in what he says.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 59

STALIN’S WIFE SHOWED NO SIGNS OF VIOLENT DEATH

It must be said, however, that as she lay in state Madame Alleluieva’s corpse showed not the slightest trace of a violent death.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: St. Maples Press, 1952, p. 228

Years later, in 1919, Stalin again met Nadya. They were soon married and live happily together. On November 8, 1932, she died of peritonitis following an operation for appendicitis. In her memory Stalin erected an impressive memorial designed by a famous woman sculptor, Mukhino. It is a rough shaft of white marble with the lovely head of his wife hewn out of the rock…. The statute is located at the Novo Devitchi (New Maiden) cemetery, which is at the site of the most beautiful convent in Moscow….
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 10

“I was a bad husband. I had no time to take her to the movies,” Stalin said.
People started a rumor that he had killed her. I had never seen him cry, but at Allilueva’s coffin I saw tears running down his cheeks….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 173

And yet, according to my aunts (my mother’s sister, Anna Redens, and her brother’s wife, Yevgenia Alliluyeva), Father was more shattered than anyone else, for he fully realized that this was a challenge and a protest against him. He couldn’t even force himself to go to the funeral. He was a broken, drained man. He had considered Mama his most faithful, devoted friend.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 146

A death of Nadezhda Allilueva was not, in all probability, murder, and it did not lead quickly to a morbid deterioration of Stalin’s dealings with his political associates.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 168

Moreover, Trotsky, respected in the West as a presumed expert on Soviet politics and surely a man with a motive to blacken Stalin, did not accuse Stalin of arranging this murder.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 169

STALIN IS SHAKEN AND DEPRESSED BY HIS WIFE’S DEATH

Later, when I was grown up, I was told that my father had been terribly shaken. He was shaken because he couldn’t understand why it had happened. What did it mean? Why had such a terrible stab in the back been dealt to him, of all people?…
The first few days he was in a state of shock. He said he didn’t want to go on living either. I was told this by Uncle Pavel’s widow, who with Aunt Anna stayed with us day and night. My father was in such a state that they were afraid to leave him alone. He had sporadic fits of rage. The reason is that my mother had left him a letter…. It was a terrible letter, full of reproaches and accusations. It wasn’t purely personal; it was partly political as well. After reading it, it would have been possible for my father to think that my mother had been on his side only outwardly, but that in her heart she had been on the side of those who were in political opposition to him.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 112

He was shocked and incensed. At the civil leavetaking ceremony he went up to the coffin for a moment. Suddenly he pushed it away from him, turned on his heel and left. He didn’t even go to the funeral….
It was a longtime before my father regained his equilibrium. He never went to visit her grave at Novo-Devichy. Not even once. He couldn’t. He thought my mother had left him as his personal enemy.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 113

His daughter Svetlana asserted that he [Stalin] did not join in the funeral procession. The fact remains that many people saw him walking behind the coffin.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 289

…I remember this well. Stalin approached her coffin at the moment of farewell, his eyes filled with tears. And he said so sadly, “I didn’t save her.” I heard that and remembered it: “I didn’t save her.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 174

My father moved to a different apartment because he couldn’t bear to stay in the one my mother had died in.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 122

My mother’s death was a dreadful, crushing blow, and it destroyed his faith in his friends and people in general. He had always considered my mother his closest and most faithful friend. He viewed her death as a betrayal and a stab in the back. He was embittered by it. Probably whenever he saw any member of her family it was a painful reminder of her. So he started avoiding them.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 136

Whatever the truth on this point might have been, Stalin was obviously overcome by the death of his second wife. After appearing at the elaborate funeral ceremonies upon which he had himself insisted, he retired to Gorinka and shut himself up there for a week, refusing to receive anyone–even Molotov. He made only one exception to this rule. Lisa Khazanova.
This circumstance naturally set tongues wagging. It was for many a confirmation of the story that my Aunt Nadia had committed suicide because of a love affair between Stalin and her best friend. This I never believed myself for a number of reasons–first of all because I knew how great my uncle’s affection for Nadia had been. Another reason for discounting the scandal was that Lisa Khazanova had a fiance, Division Commander Ivan Lepa of the Far East Army, a Latvian from Riga. Finally there was Stalin’s evident great grief at Nadejda’s death. All of these indications led me to accept the more charitable interpretation of Stalin’s choice of a consoler, which attributed it solely to his desire to talk with his late wife’s closest friend and to learn from her any last wishes which Nadia, if she had really intended to take her own life, might have expressed to Lisa Khazanova.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 98

The death of his wife caused untold feelings in Stalin. He followed her casket to the Novodevichi cemetery all the way on foot. Thereafter, for a long time, Stalin at night used to visit her grave at the cemetery. Guards saw him talking sometimes to her while smoking his pipe, one after another….
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 9

Stalin walked beside it [his wife’s casket], wearing no gloves in the freezing cold, clutching at the side of the coffin with tears running down his cheeks.
Stalin was weeping. Vasili left Artyom and ran forward toward Stalin and “hung on to his father, saying, “Papa don’t cry!”
“I’d never seen Stalin cry before,” said Molotov, “but as he stood there beside the coffin, the tears ran down his cheeks.”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 107-108

That Joseph was shaken by her [his first wife] death, though, is beyond dispute.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 71

Indisputably Stalin was deeply shaken. “I was a bad husband,’ he admitted to Molotov: “I never had time to take her to the cinema.’
…Within a few weeks he was blaming her directly and worrying about the fate of their children. The attempt on his own life by young Yakov [Stalin’s son] came back to mind, and at a dinner with his friends he blurted out: “How could Nadya, who so much condemned Yakov for such a step, go off and shoot herself? She did a very bad thing: she made a cripple out of me.’
…Steadily he came to take a less charitable view of Nadya’s suicide:
“The children grew up without their mother; that was the trouble. Nannies, governesses, however ideal they might have been,could not replace the mother for them. Ah, Nadya, Nadya, what did you do and how much I and the children needed you!”
…For some weeks there were worries that he too might do away with himself. He was pale and inattentive to his daily needs. His characteristic earthy sense of humor disappeared. It was weeks before he started to pull himself around. Seeking companionship, he turned to his Politburo associates. Kirov was a particular chum.
…The Soviet Union’s ruler was a lonely widower. According to Kaganovich, he was never the same man again.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 294-295

They later said that he changed a lot after Nadya‘s death. But the same works emphasize what made him exceptional: will power, clarity of vision, endurance, and courage.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 297

‘It was a terrible shock to my father. He said to his sisters-in-law, “I can’t go on living after this,” and became deeply depressed. That frightened my two aunts, Anna and Eugenia, who stayed on for two weeks in our apartment because they were afraid to leave him alone. They tried to make things easier for him, not holding him responsible, trying to console and support him– “We all feel terrible about it.” Eugenia would take his side against Nadya. He was in a shambles, he was knocked sideways. Saying that he didn’t want to live anymore was something they had not heard before. They were shaken by that.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 129

‘He wanted to resign from the General Secretaryship, He felt he could not continue. But the politburo said, “Oh no no no, you have to stay!” Molotov and others near to him saw to it that he carried on working and that he wouldn’t resign. They convinced him that he would be all right.
‘For my father it was a matter of trust betrayed. For this very strong, unsentimental man, trust was extremely important. When somebody betrayed trust, be it a colleague in business, or in the family, it really hit him. He had trusted her, and what did he get? A stab in the back; that was how he saw it. He couldn’t get over that. He felt deceived and betrayed.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 130

“Father felt betrayed by Mother’s suicide: he kept asking Eugenia what was missing in him: he could not understand it.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 133

“What was more disturbing to me was that my father never visited my mother’s grave–it was in Moscow, after all. He could not excuse her for what she did. It completely shocked him, he was bouleverse. He never visited it, never once, not even towards the end of his life when he began to talk about her for the first time, and to ‘forgive’ her.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 202

STALIN IS KIND, DECENT, FORGIVING AND NOT REVENGEFUL

All foreign visitors to Stalin, without exception, describe him as an attractive personality. The American Ambassador, Joseph Davis, has written of him that he gives the impression that any child would be glad to snuggle up to him. An American journalist who was expelled from Russia, and who since then has been in the front rank of the haters of Russia, makes an exception for Stalin. He, too, describes him as full of charm, as a man radiating energy, but full of good nature.
All this is countered by the venomous descriptions given by Trotsky. Many of Stalin’s other adversaries also speak of his revengefulness. He has steadily pursued, they say, all who at any time offered any sort of opposition to him.
This judgment is certainly too harsh. An inquiry into the facts supplies no evidence that Stalin is more revengeful than other people. It is very easy to start such a legend: mountain races in general and Caucasians in particular are described as revengeful…. But the shoemaker’s son [Stalin] does not seem to share that quality. Stalin and Marshal Tukhachevsky, for instance, were more or less rivals in the Polish War, and Stalin could not endure Tukhachevsky’s aristocratic manners; but he did nothing to interfere with the marshal’s career. Tukhachevsky not only attained the highest rank in the Russian army, but was also proposed by Stalin as Deputy People’s Commissar for War, the so-called Head of the Army, responsible if War should come for taking over the supreme command.
There is another incident that shows that Stalin himself can pass over an insult. There was an old Bolshevik, a man of great learning, who had been living for many years in England as an emigre. After the revolution he became one of the leading Soviet diplomats, an Ambassador, and finally a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs….. He was very outspoken by nature, and could be rather too direct. The fearful excesses of the collectivization campaign became more than he could stand, and in a talk with Stalin he grew decidedly rude. He brought up everything for which Stalin could possibly be blamed, and roundly condemned his policy. Stalin replied very quietly: ‘you may, of course, be right; still, I think I am right.’ The old professor came to no harm.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 233

There is, in fact, nothing to show that Stalin is particularly revengeful….
There have been many public instances, or instances that have become known to the public, of Stalin’s good nature. Petitions addressed to Stalin have often been handled with the utmost goodwill. In the great trials that will be referred to later, it was common knowledge that Stalin exerted himself to save the lives of some of the defendants, against the opposition of the other members of the Politburo; this applied especially to Radek, and also to Christian Rakovsky and Gregory Sokolnikov. In the end these three were not executed.
It was a tactical move when, at the end of 1938, Stalin caused the maximum period of imprisonment to be extended from 10 to 25 years…. Stalin explained that the lengthening of the sentences that could be imposed would make it possible to restrict the death sentences and ultimately to do away with them entirely.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 234

And now that I was a candidate member of the Politburo, I had an opportunity to watch Stalin in action at close quarters, regularly. My admiration for him continued to grow. I was spell-bound by the patience and sympathy for others that he showed at Politburo meetings in the middle 30s.
I can think of various examples of what I mean, but I’ll single out just one. It was a fairly unusual case, involving a young diplomat who had gone to some Latin American country with one of our trade missions and let himself be compromised by the local press. He was brought in to testify during a Politburo meeting and was obviously very embarrassed and upset. Stalin opened the discussion.
“Tell me, please, everything that happened. Don’t hold anything back.”
The young diplomat explained that just after he arrived in the Latin American country, he went to a restaurant to get something to eat. “I was shown to a table, and I ordered dinner. A man came up and sat down at my table. He asked me if I were from Russia. I said, yes, I was. Then he started asking all sorts of questions–what did I come to buy, had I served in the Army, did I know how to shoot? I told him that I’d been in the cavalry, that I wasn’t a bad shot–things like that. Then, to my horror, an article appeared in the newspaper the very next day. It was full of all kinds of nonsense about how I was a real Caucasian cowboy and a crack shot; it was also full of lies about why I’d come, what I was going to buy, what prices I was going to pay, and so on. Shortly afterward the embassy told me I’d better return to the Homeland and report to you. That’s what happened. I only ask you to take into account that I committed this blunder out of inexperience, and without any malicious intent.”
I felt very sorry for this young man. He had obviously been a victim of his own naivete. Everyone squirmed in his seat and whispered to his neighbor–we were all waiting to see what would happen.
Suddenly Stalin said, “Well, as far is I can see, a trusting fellow was taken advantage of by a bunch of rascals. Is there anything more to it than that?”
“No.”
“Then the incident is closed.” Stalin looked the young diplomat in the eye and said, “See that you’re more careful in the future.” The poor fellow just sat there with his mouth open as the meeting was adjourned. He was so surprised by his good fortune that he couldn’t move. Then he grabbed his briefcase and scurried out.
I was very impressed by the simplicity and compassion with which Stalin had handled the case. So was everyone else.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 50

…here was a man not of this world, laughing and joking like the rest of us! After a while I began to admire him not only as a political leader who had no equal, but simply as another human being.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 62

Yet it is a mistake to see in this some sort of grand plan for terror…. The cases of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, Yenukidze, Postyshev, Yagoda, and especially Bukharin were hardly handled in such a way as to suggest a plan. In each of these cases, there were false starts and abrupt “soft” but apparently “final” resolutions that had to be contradicted later when the defendants’ fates were otherwise decided. Had there been a plan, it would have been much easier and more convincing not to have let them off the hook so repeatedly and publicly.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 578

In each case the final fatal texts had to explain previous embarrassing contrary decisions. An authoritative 1935 text exonerated Zinoviev and Kamenev of Kirov’s murder; the next year’s discourse maintained that, after all, they were guilty. Yenukidze was expelled and then readmitted, both apparently on Stalin’s initiative and amid considerable confusion, then finally arrested a year later. The Politburo criticized Postyshev, fired him, re-hired him, denounced his critics, fired him again. In January 1938 it decided to keep him in the Party and in days later expelled him. Yagoda was kept on at the NKVD long after he had been discredited, then removed but casually kept on the central committee. After several months he was kicked off the central committee and arrested in a sudden panic about his being at liberty “even one day.” Bukharin was denounced at the 1936 trial and then publicly cleared in the press. He was denounced again in December but saved by Stalin at a plenum that remained secret for decades. Finally, in February 1937 he was expelled and arrested in a flurry of paperwork that raises enormous doubts about who wanted what. He was brought to trial an entire year later, and more than six months after he began to confess to the monstrous charges brought against him. Why all this delay and confusion?
…Our reading of the Central Committee plena from the 1930s, along with other documents, has convinced us that the usual explanations for support for the terror–that Stalin secured cooperation from his senior officials through fear, cunning, intimidation, and blackmail, and by forcing them to become accomplices–are in themselves inadequate. Not only are there no signs that Stalin was feared in the early phase when the terror was engendered, but there is no evidence of any reluctance or protest among senior party leaders about the terror at any point. Instead, there seems to have been a broad consensus at various stages on the need for repression of particular groups and on cleansing the party of unreliable elements. At several key junctures Central Committee members advocated repressive measures that defied and went beyond those prescribed by Stalin’s closest [supporters]….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 579

Vasilevsky had a very interesting encounter with Stalin. Alexander Mikhailovich told me about it. Stalin asked him to come over to his dacha and started questioning him about his parents. His father was a village priest, and Vasilevsky had been out of touch with him for a long time. “One shouldn’t forget one’s parents,” said Stalin. “And it will be a long time before you pay off your debt to me!” He then walked over to his safe and took out a stack of money order receipts. It turns out that Stalin mailed money orders to Vasilevsky’s father regularly. The old man believed the money came from his own son. “I couldn’t find any words. I was just stunned,” said Vasilevsky.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 303

My “watchdog” Klimov was also taken off the job in the autumn of 1943, when I started at the university. I begged my father to abolish this kind of protection because it made me feel ashamed in front of the rest of the students. To my surprise, my father understood and agreed.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 186

There was only one person who didn’t like her [Granny] and that was my governess Lydia Georgiyevna, who tried to get her fired and later paid for it. My father thought highly of “Granny” and had nothing but respect for her.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 226

He [Stalin] had fought his political opponents without mercy or compunction, but had repeatedly shown himself willing to except their flimsy promises to mend their ways. On one occasion he had reminded Zinoviev and Kamenev that expulsion from the Party was worse than death for a Communist. When, after long forbearance, he had applied this extreme measure to them and others, he had rescinded it at their request. Kirov, perhaps his closest friend, had encouraged Stalin’s generosity, which made the murder of Kirov all the harder to forgive….
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 212

Hoxha, then fresh from leading the Albanian revolution, meeting Stalin in the 1940s, had the same impression: a “modest, kindly, wise man” who “loved the Soviet people wholeheartedly…his heart and mind worked for them.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 124

…Stalin, however, was not an egocentric individualist–as Khrushchev implies–but a disciplined communist who, like all such communists, subordinated personal interest to those of the Party. In 1937, before he had met Stalin, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Davies reported to the Secretary of State: “He is generally considered to be a clean-living, modest, retiring, single-purposed man, with a one-track mine, devoted to communism and the elevation of the proletariat.” On meeting Stalin these impressions were reinforced: “His demeanor is kindly, his manner almost deprecatingly simple, his personality and expression of reserve strength and poise very marked…. He gave me the impression of being sincerely modest.” “Free of affectation and mannerisms,” wrote Marshall Zhukov, “he won the heart of everyone he talked to. His visitors were invariably struck by his candor and his uninhibited manner of speaking, and impressed by his ability to express his thoughts clearly, his inborn analytical turn of mind, his erudition and retentive memory.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 124

The other thought is that to me, a small cog in the machinery of negotiations, he [Stalin] was always amiable, friendly, and considerate, even more so than Molotov or Vyshinsky, with whom I had most to do. True, I belonged to the opposite side in the talks, and common decency demanded a certain amount of courtesy; he could be very sharp with his own interpreters. His recognition of obvious attempts to do the work as well as possible, which he acknowledged more than once, and of the smoothness of the talks, thanks to my being able to think in Russian as well as speak it, indicated the existence of a spark of human feeling. And there was more than a spark in his intelligence and skill as a negotiator….
Birse, Arthur Herbert. Memoirs of an Interpreter. New York: Coward-McCann, 1967, p. 212

Undoubtedly the members of the [Soviet] Delegation were friendly and Churchill thought it was typical of all Russians, except the leaders, though he thought Stalin the most human of them all. He said he had liked Vyshinsky, but Molotov was only a first-class civil servant who obeyed orders.
Birse, Arthur Herbert. Memoirs of an Interpreter. New York: Coward-McCann, 1967, p. 223

… there is the case at the Zinovievite Central Committee member Kuklin, serving a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. When assured that Kuklin, a sick man, was at the point of death, Stalin permitted his immediate release.
There are several such stories. But the one most obviously due to a caprice was his sudden release from a labor camp in 1940 of the Georgian (Communist Kavtaradze, who was brought straight from prison to Stalin, and after a friendly conversation was immediately made Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs–Stalin adding at the end of the interview, in a gloomier tone, ‘Still, you planned to kill me.’ What can this signify about Stalin? That he knew Kavtaradze to be innocent and just made his last remark as some sort of justification for his earlier treatment? Or that he still thought Kavtaradze to be guilty, and was explaining, even to himself, the extraordinary extent of his forgiveness?
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 205

An even more extraordinary example is that of another Georgian, Kavtaradze. He had been Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars in Georgia from 1921 to 1922, and had fallen with the rest of the Georgian leadership during Stalin’s clash with them before and after Lenin’s death. He was expelled from the party as a Trotskyite in 1927, and was among those not readmitted during the following years. He was arrested and sentenced in connection with the Ryutin affair, and is reported in Maryinsk and Kolyma labor camps in 1936, thoroughly disillusioned. In 1940, he was still in camp. One day the commandant called him, and he was sent off to Moscow. Much to his surprise, he was taken directly in his prison clothes to see Stalin, who greeted him affably, asking him where he had been all these years. He was at once rehabilitated, and sent to the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, where he shortly became Assistant People’s Commissar. After the war, he was ambassador to Rumania for a time. In his biography, as given in various Soviet reference books, a bare mention is made of the 13 year gap in his Party membership between December 1927 and December 1940!
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 68

All are familiar with the demands for the good of the people by Stalin. But not too many are familiar with the goodness, humility, and dedication of Stalin.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 26

Going with our car among the ruins [of Stalingrad], we somehow collided with another car with a woman chauffeur in a Red Army uniform. The chauffeur, seeing that her car crashed into that of Stalin, got out, started to cry. Stalin came up to her, made her feel at ease by saying:
Don’t cry…our car is bullet-proofed, and you will be able to fix your car soon.
Soon, the militia came to the scene, ready to pounce on the unlucky lady chauffeur. Stalin intervened:
Do not touch her. She is not to blame.
We then went on our way.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 45

After returning to Moscow, Stalin went to the steam bath which was built for him, since it was the only cure that seemed to have helped Stalin with his feet. The steam bath was locked. Stalin waited and the poor bodyguard who was not supposed to be there, but thinking that Stalin was away, just went in. When he heard Stalin’s voice, he practically jumped wet into his uniform, apologizing. Stalin told Dubinin [the bodyguard] that it’s fine, stay awhile and wished him:
May you have a light steam bath, Comrade Dubinin!
That is the kind of leader we had. He made everyone feel at ease.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 54

We were returning to Moscow, a very heavy rain was falling, and Stalin saw on the highway some collective farmers standing, waiting for a bus. He made us stop the cars and told us to shuttle all the people to their village, so that they would not get soaked to the skin. But the collective farmers did not move when they were asked to by Sokolov. Stalin himself got out of the car, went over to the collective workers, explained and invited them to the cars. They talked about problems, about the last war and the deaths of loved ones. Stalin sighed and said:
I also lost my son….
Hearing about the wonderful event of riding with comrade Stalin, in the village square, more than 100 people gathered, hoping to also get such a privilege… but we were almost out of gas and we nearly did not make it to Moscow.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 56

At the Kremlin, Stalin, on his nightly walk before going back to work in his office, asked the guard Melnikov:
How many hours do you stand here?
Every six hours I stand three here without moving.
When do you receive new uniforms?
Once per year, comrade Stalin.
How much do you get paid?
600 rubles, comrade Stalin.
That is not much at all….
After this, all the guards received new uniforms twice a year and a raise in their pay. Stalin was always concerned about others. He always demanded that prices on goods be lowered. He always thought about these problems.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 57

Met face-to-face, Stalin is not by any means the unattractive personality which some writers have depicted. Indeed, he has genuine charm when he chooses to exercise it.
I scarcely noticed the pockmarks which some American writers have emphasized. The most attractive feature of Stalin’s face is his fine dark eyes, which light up when he is interested. They did not impress me either as “gentle,” as one observer thought, or “cold as steel,” as others have remarked, but they are alert, expressive and intelligent. His manner is calm, slow and self-assured, and when he wishes to warm up during a conversation he seems at times actually benign.
Smith, Walter Bedell. My Three Years in Moscow. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1950, p. 59

“I do not know Stalin sufficiently well to have a strong personal opinion of him,” Dmitrievsky writes. “But I do know that all those who have come in contact with him intimately hold that he is a very decent man. He lives like an ascetic. He works like a giant.”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 315

In the fall of 1927, an American trade-union delegation, consisting of half a dozen liberal labor leaders, a dozen advisors holding various Ph.D. degrees, and a secretarial staff of college graduates, altogether about 25 men and women, went to the Soviet Union to conduct an inquiry into the entire system of government there. An unusual interview was arranged with Stalin. It lasted about five hours.
“I have never seen a politician so anxious to be explicit, so little inclined to be cryptic or laconic, as the proverbially taciturn head of the most powerful party in the world,” writes Anne O’Hare McCormick, who was in Moscow at the time and who was present at the session.
…The rudeness Lenin complained of is probably the roughness of his steamroller methods. His manner as he greeted us was affable and self-possessed, almost gentle; and in contrast to the carelessness affected by many Bolsheviks, he was trim and well-groomed in his neat khaki uniform….
He was the steadiest and most assured of all the Soviet leaders I saw. In the thick of the last bitter battle with the opposition he was unworried, under the tedious ordeal of the long pauses in a translated interview he was not fidgety…. His smile was frequent and genuine, and it was the reserved smile of the East rather than the open smile of the West…. Lacking brilliance, Stalin gives an impression of craft and suppleness. He is the shrewd manipulator, quite obstinate, ruthless without passion. Trotsky is the agitator, bold and vivid, and Stalin is the organizer, composed and wary…. The Bolshevik chief answered questions like a teacher. He was bland and patient.”
…Stalin in the course of the lengthy interview showed, as far as the unpublished minutes are concerned, his unmistakable superiority to the entire American delegation.
…But when Stalin turned the tables and interviewed his guests, the conference assumed an illuminating aspect. It was not only that the replies he received were a pathetic commentary upon the intellectual paucity of the Americans who endeavored to enlighten him. Stalin’s probing questions, which follow, show a stubborn and honest desire to penetrate and understand the American scene.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 341-343

One cannot live in the shadow of Stalin’s legend without coming under its spell. My pulse, I am sure, was high [as I prepared to interview him]. No sooner, however, had I stepped across the threshold than diffidence and nervousness fell away. Stalin met me at the door and shook hands, smiling. There was a certain shyness in his smile, and the handshake was not perfunctory. He was remarkably unlike the scowling, self-important dictator of popular imagination. His every gesture was a rebuke to the thousand little bureaucrats who had inflicted their puny greatness on me in these Russian years.
We followed him to the extreme end of a long conference table, where he motioned us affably to chairs and sat down himself. His personal interpreter, a young man with bushy black hair, was there. Stalin pushed over a box of cigarettes, took one himself, and we all lighted up. The standardized photographs of Stalin show him smoking a pipe and I had a feeling of faint disappointment that he was not measuring up to the clichEs, even in this regard.
In my letter the previous day, I had specifically asked for “only two minutes” and I had assumed that the interview was to be no more than a brief formality to enable at least one reporter to testify that Stalin was still fully alive. But I saw him stretch out his feet and lean back in leisurely fashion as though we had hours ahead of us. With that natural gesture of relaxing in his chair, Stalin turned a straitjacketed interview into an unhurried social call. I realized that there would be no time limitations.
And here was I, unprepared for this generosity, with only one question ready–the superfluous question whether he was alive or not! I cursed myself inwardly for a bungler not to have mapped out an organized campaign of interrogation that would probe to the very center of the Soviet situation.
“Tell Mr. Lyons,” Stalin addressed his interpreter, “that I’m sorry I could not receive him before. I saw his letters, but I cannot easily find the opportunity for interviews.”
…To this day I do not know precisely why, among the score of permanent correspondents in his capital–many of them less outspoken in their criticism of the regime and more amenable to the discipline of the Press Department–he had selected me for this first interview since his rise to supreme power. Any one of a dozen other correspondents would have served Moscow’s purpose just as well. But unquestionably my letters over more than a year played a part in the selection.
“Comrade Stalin,” I began the interview, “May I quote you to the effect that you have not been assassinated?”
He laughed….such close range, there was not a trace of the Napoleonic quality one sees in his self-conscious camera or oil portraits. The shaggy mustache, framing a sensual mouth and a smile nearly as full of teeth as Teddy Roosevelt’s, gave his swarthy face a friendly, almost benignant look.
“Yes, you may,” he said,
The room in which we sat was large, high-ceilinged, and furnished simply almost to bareness. Its only decorations were framed pictures of Karl Marx, Lenin, and Engels –there was no portrait of Stalin:… Stalin wore the familiar olive -drab jacket with stand-up collar, belted at the waist, and his trousers were tucked into high black boots. The negligent austerity of his attire was of a piece with that room.
For over an hour I asked questions and answered them. Again and again the talk debouched into argument; I was aware afterwards, though not at the time, that I did not hesitate to interrupt him: another proof of the essential simplicity of a powerful ruler who could put a reporter so completely at his ease. The “ethics of bourgeois journalism” came in for considerable discussion; though at the moment he had sufficient cause to be indignant with that journalism, there was no bitterness in Stalin’s comments.
I asked him about Soviet-American relations, about the chances for world revolution, the progress of the Piatiletka [Five Year Plan], and such other obvious matters as came to my mind. He listened without the slightest sign of impatience to my labored Russian and repeated sentences slowly when he thought I might not have grasped the meaning. Often I reached a linguistic impasse from which Charlie and the other interpreter retrieved me. Stalin never once spoke impetuously, never once resorted to mere cleverness or evasion. Sometimes he thought for many seconds before he replied, his forehead furrowed in lines of concentration, and the answers came in a strangely stigmatized array:…
“I don’t want in any way to interfere with what you may write,” Stalin said, “but I would be interested to see what you make of this interview.”
“On the contrary,” I said, “I am anxious that you read my dispatch before I send it. Above all things I should hate to misrepresent anything you have said. The only trouble is that this is Saturday night and the Sunday papers go to press early. Getting the story to you and back again may make me miss the early editions.”
“Well, then, never mind.” He waved the matter aside.
I thought quickly.
“But if I could get a Latin-script typewriter,” I said, “I could write my story right here and now and show it to you immediately.”
Stalin thought that was a good idea. With Charlie and myself at his heels, he walked into the adjoining room, where several secretaries were standing around chatting and asked whether they couldn’t dig up a Latin typewriter. The relation between Stalin and his immediate employees was entirely human, without so much as a touch of restraint. To them, obviously, he was not the formidable dictator of one-sixth of the earth’s surface but a friendly, comradely boss. They were deferential without being obsequious.
The typewriter was found and I was installed in a small room to do my stuff. I could hear Stalin suggesting that they send in tea and sandwiches as he returned to the conference room. I was nearly an hour in writing the dispatch. Several times Stalin peeked in, and inquired whether we were comfortable and had everything we needed.
Voroshilov was still with Stalin when I took in the typewritten sheets. Both leaders smiled as the dispatch was translated, particularly at my detailed description of Stalin’s looks and manner, Voroshilov’s boyish exuberance and the references to Stalin’s family. Four or five times Stalin interjected minor corrections and suggestions, none of them of a political character. That finished, I said:
“Would you be good enough to sign this copy for me? It may simplify matters in getting the story by the censors. You know, there is a censorship on news here.”
He wrote: “More or less correct, J. Stalin.” That autographed copy is still in my possession.
Then I wrote a few words of thanks for his patience on one of the carbon copies, signed it, and left it with him.
The unthinkable interview was over. The two minutes had stretched to nearly two hours. As we left the building and hailed a droshky, I said to Charlie:
“I like that man!”
Charlie agreed, but in a lower emotional key.
But in the years that followed, with ample time to reassay my impressions, I did not change my mind about his essential reaction to Stalin’s personality. Even at moments when the behavior of his regime seemed to me most hateful, I retain that liking for Stalin as a human being. I could understand thereafter the devotion to the man held by certain writers of my acquaintance who had come to know him personally. There was little in common between the infallible defied Stalin fostered as a political myth and the Stalin I had met. In the simplicity which impressed me more than any other element in his make-up, there was nothing of make-believe, nowhere a note of falseness or affectation. His friendliness was not the back-slapping good-fellow type of the politician, but something innate, something that rang true. In his unpretentiousness there was nothing pretentious
Subsequently another American correspondent was received by Stalin. We compared notes, and it was as if we had met totally different men, our impressions were so completely at variance. He carried away the imprint of a ruthless, steel-armored personality, with few of those human attributes which I had seen to relieve its harshness: a picture more consistent with Stalin’s public character. For years I wondered which of us was closer to the truth, or whether there were two truths. Then I read the autobiography of H. G. Wells, where he gives a vivid word picture of his interview with Stalin. His reactions to the man were so close to my own that he used almost the same words to convey his impression of Stalin’s essential humaneness and simplicity. It was reassuring to know that if I was wrong, I had eminent company in my error.
My description of Stalin as a likable human being seemed to touch the world’s imagination. “Congratulations to the United Press,” said an editorial in the New York Daily News, “on the most distinguished piece of reporting of this year, if not of the last four or five years.”
Lyons, Eugene. Assignment in Utopia. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, c1937, p. 384-391

[At a We-Have-Been-to-the-USSR Dinner] a microphone was brought to the table and for 15 minutes I read into it on a coast-to-coast broadcast. The subject I had chosen was Stalin. My pleasant impression of the man in personal contact was still fresh in my mind and the talk was consequently in a key of appreciative analysis of his character.
In my peroration, therefore, I drew a parallel between Stalin and Abraham Lincoln–the same humble origin, the same readiness to make costly decisions in the interest of their social faith, etc. The comparison was far-fetched and I am not too proud of it. A number of professional patriots were scandalized, perhaps not unjustly, and protested against the blasphemy in vigorous language in the course of the next few days. Certain communists, on the other hand, professed to be no less scandalized. “Why must you drag Stalin down to Lincoln’s level?” one of them complained.
Lyons, Eugene. Assignment in Utopia. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, c1937, p. 407-408

When he came back from Siberia, acquaintances had warned of the unpleasant features in his character, and these had been discussed at the April Party Conference. But he had gained a better reputation in the following months. Not once did he come to notice for insensitivity, or egocentrism.. If anything was held against him, it was that he was too supportive towards Lenin on the national question.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 147

This is what a Amakyan Nazaretyan wrote about working “under Koba’s firm hand”:
“I can’t take offense. There’s much to be learned from him. Having got to know him at close hand, I have developed an extraordinary respect towards him. He has a character that one can only envy. I can’t take offense. His strictness is covered by attentiveness to those who work with him.
On another occasion Nazaretyan added:
He’s very cunning. He’s hard as a nut and can’t be broken at one go. But I have a completely different view of him now from the one I had in Tiflis. Despite his rational wildness, so to speak, he’s a soft individual; he has a heart and knows how to value the merits of people.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 225-226

For all his denigration of Stalin, Khrushchev found him a man who was ‘incorruptible and irreconcilable in class questions. It was one of his strongest qualities and he was greatly respected for it.’
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 312

AUTHOR: Did you ever meet Stalin?
MARSHAL RUDENKO: Yes. I remember being summoned to Stalin’s office after I had made some mistakes. So I was prepared to take the consequences. I have to admit that when I was on my way–and I knew I had made some real blunders–I thought I would be severely punished. As the Japanese put it, I was in a ‘hara-hiri situation’. And in the presence of our chief commanders, Stalin was kind enough to listen to my report and, instead of hara-hiri, of punishing me, I actually got a promotion and was assigned to another post. That is, everything said by Zhukov –about Stalin giving you a chance to explain your side of the question-I think is true….
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 50

STALIN TRIED TO RAISE HIS CHILDREN WELL

They told my father that my nurse was “untrustworthy” and that her son had undesirable friends.
My father had no time to go into these things himself. He liked having the people whose job it was to go into such matters thoroughly and only bring them to his attention when they had “closed their case.” When I heard there was a plot afoot to get rid of my nurse, I set up an outcry. My father couldn’t stand tears. Besides, maybe he, too, wanted to express some inner protest against all this insanity. In any case, he got angry all of a sudden and commanded them to leave my nurse in peace.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 124

My father seemed very remote from all of us. Once in a while he gave our unofficial guardian Vlasik overall directives on how we were to be brought up. We were to be fed, clothed, and shod at state expense, not luxuriously or with frills, but solidly and well. No one was to spoil us;…
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 131

Stalin is a stern father. He son Yasha has been giving him considerable trouble. When he was 20, after a poor record in the technological institute, he announced that he did not want an education. Stalin engaged a tutor for the youth, but the teacher was compelled to give up Yasha as a hopeless case. He was then placed in a manual training school to learn a trade.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 325

STALIN EXERCISES MODESTY AND OPPOSES THE CULT OF THE INDIVIDUAL

What distinguished Stalin…was the way he came before the public. It would be difficult or impossible to find in any speech of Stalin’s the little word ‘I’. When he spoke, he did so always in the name of the party, in the name of the Soviet Union, or, in recent years, as Prime Minister, in the name of the Soviet Government. His appearances in public were as modest as his clothing. He had long been the foremost man in the great realm, but when in the past, for instance, he attended a meeting of the Central Executive Committee, of whose Presidium he was a member, he invariably appeared when the meeting had already begun, and sat down modestly in one of the back rows. He would be seen for all that. There would be long ovations. When the applause was dying away, some woman would jump up and shout in a shrill, hysterical voice: ‘long live the great Stalin!’ And there would be a “further storm of applause. Stalin would sit there as if it all had nothing to do with him. Later on it would often be necessary for him to sit in the front row of the Presidium; but he never appeared alone, but always among some dozens of other people, just as he never takes the salute alone at a military parade and at the parades in the Red Square he always stands in the midst of some dozens of other people. When he appears in the Supreme Council or at a festivity on the stage of the Great Theater in Moscow, and the audience starts wild acclamations in the Russian fashion, Stalin remains seated. He behaves as if the ovation was not for him, and he also joins in the applause. That has been interpreted as applauding himself, but it is not that; it is the attitude he has adopted in order to ignore the ovation. He neither stands up nor bows as he sits; he simply joins in the applause as if the ovation were for somebody else. In this way he becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the people present. He tries to become one of a collectivity.
This was also the style of his speeches. The party had long been described in official language as the party of Lenin and Stalin, as if Lenin and Stalin had founded it and had been its sole organizers. On one occasion at a meeting of the Central Executive Committee Stalin was speaking and had to read letters from young Communists. In one of the letters he came to a mention of the party of Lenin and Stalin. After those words he put down the letter for a moment, turned to his hearers, and added: ‘As people put it!’ indicating disagreement with the phrase.
From time to time Stalin repeats that he does not approve the wild propaganda in his personal favor….
He certainly warns the party and the Government, indeed the whole country, continually against extravagance of outlook, against being led by successes into a loss of the sense of proportion. One gets the impression that Stalin is warning himself against presumption. It may be that this is one of the secrets of his success; this may be the moral he has drawn from observation of his opponents. For they have all had too good an opinion of themselves, and Stalin has no intention of making that mistake.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 237

She [Aunt Anna] never judges or condemns. She’s beside herself when people talk about the “cult of personality.” She gets worked up and talks on and on. “They’re exaggerating. They always exaggerate in this country,” she’ll say indignantly. “Now they’re blaming everything on Stalin. But he didn’t have an easy time either. We know his life wasn’t easy. It wasn’t as simple as all that. Think of all the time he spent in Siberia. We mustn’t forget that. And we mustn’t forget the good things he did!”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 63

Svetlana tells us that her father used to let his salary checks pile up unused on his desk and that he hated public adulation. Applause for his speeches at a Party Congress he would except as directed at the Party leadership and not at himself as a person. The development of the “cult” was not his doing….
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 124

Stalin was not a stupid man…. He tried to convey the impression… that relations based on personal loyalty were not worthy of state affairs. For instance, replying to a letter from party member Shatunovsky, he wrote:
“You speak about your ‘devotion’ to me. Maybe the phrase just slipped out. Maybe…. But if it didn’t just slip out, I would advise you to discard the ‘principle’ of devotion to individuals. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working-class, to its party, its state. That is what is needed and what is good. But don’t get it mixed up with devotion to people, which is just an empty and superfluous fad of intellectuals.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 201

Occasionally Stalin would indicate to the party and the people that he was against all the glorification and idolatry…. There is, for instance, the following letter in the archives:
“To Comrades Andreyev and Smirnova.
I am decisively against publishing Tales of Stalin’s Childhood. The book is full of factual errors. But that’s not the main thing. The main thing is that the book has the tendency to instill in the minds of the Soviet people (and people in general) a cult of personalities, of leaders and infallible heroes. That is dangerous and harmful. The theory of ‘heroes’ and the ‘crowd’ is not a Bolshevik one, but is SR [Socialist Revolutionary]…. The people make heroes, the Bolsheviks reply. I advise you to burn the book. Feb. 16, 1938. J. Stalin

It pleased him [Stalin] most to hear others remark on his modesty. At the February-March 1937 plenum, Mekhlis said that ‘as early as 1930, Comrade Stalin sent me the following letter for Pravda. I will allow myself to read it out without his permission:
“Comrade Mekhlis. There is a request to publish the enclosed instructive work of a kolkhoz. I have deleted what it says about ‘Stalin’ as the ‘vozhd of the party’, the ‘leader of the party’ and so on. I think such laudatory embellishments can only do harm. The letter should be printed without these epithets. J. Stalin.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 241

He had told Feuchtwanger that adulation was distasteful to him, but forgivable in the circumstances…. More privately, he prevented publication of a book called Tales of Stalin’s Childhood as not only ‘full of factual errors’ but also as instilling a ‘cult of personalities of leaders’: but in this case perhaps the ‘errors’ loomed largest. Similarly he stopped Malenkov and Poskrebyshev from sponsoring a Russian translation of his youthful poems; here too, he may have wished not to lay himself open. On a slightly different note, early in 1938, citing ‘workers’ suggestions’, Yezhov proposed to the Politburo that Moscow should be renamed Stalinodar. Stalin pronounced against this.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 214

Then Stalin asked:
“Don’t you think we should celebrate the defeat of Fascist Germany with a victory parade in Moscow and invite the most distinguished heroes from among the soldiers, NCO’s, officers, and generals?”
I cannot recall exactly the day, but I think it was somewhere around June 18 or 19, that I was summoned by Stalin to his dacha. He asked whether I had not forgotten how to ride a horse. I replied:
“No, I haven’t, in fact I still ride even now.”
“Good,” said Stalin, “you will have to take the salute at the Victory Parade. Rokossovsky will command it.”
I replied:
“Thank you for the honor, but wouldn’t it be better for you to take the salute? You are Supreme Commander-in-Chief and by right you should take the salute.”
Stalin countered:
“I am too old to review parades. You do it, you are younger.”
On June 22 the newspapers carried the following order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief:
“To mark the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War I hereby order a parade of troops of the active army, navy, and the Moscow garrison, a Victory Parade, to be held on June 24, 1945, in Red Square, Moscow….
The salute at the Victory Parade shall be taken by my deputy, Marshal of the Soviet Union Zhukov; the parade shall be commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union Rokossovsky.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 652-653

On July 16 a special train was to bring Stalin, Molotov, and others of Stalin’s party.
The day before, Stalin called me on the phone and said:
“Don’t try and bring up any honor guards with bands to meet us. Come to the station yourself and bring along those you feel necessary.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 668

He [Beria] had spoken to Stalin about the objections to the cult of his personality, and Stalin had expressed agreement. Nevertheless, his [Stalin] whole entourage encouraged him in that direction–then, later, declared him guilty of everything.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 159

Footnote: a very critical and even unfriendly, biographer gives the following characterization of him: “Stalin does not seek honors. He loathes pomp. He is averse to public displays. He could have all the nominal regalia in the chest of a great state. But he prefers the background…. He is the perfect inheritor of the individual Lenin paternalism. No other associate of Lenin was endowed with that characteristic. Stalin is the stern father of a family, the dogmatic pastor of a flock. He is a boss with this difference: his power is not used for personal aggrandizement. Moreover, he is a boss with an education. Notwithstanding general impressions, Stalin is a widely informed and well-read person. He lacks culture, but he absorbs knowledge. He is rough towards his enemies but he learns from them.”
[Stalin: A Biography, by Isaac Don Levine, 1929, pages 248-249]
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 333

Stalin does not seek honors. He loathes pomp. He is averse to public displays. He could have all the nominal regalia in the chest of a great state. But he prefers the background…. He is the perfect inheritor of the individual Lenin paternalism. No other associate of Lenin was endowed with that characteristic. Stalin is the stern father of a family, the dogmatic pastor of a flock. He is a boss with this difference: his power is not used for personal aggrandizement.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 301

“I am resolutely against the publication of Tales of Stalin’s Childhood. The book abounds in a mass of factual improbabilities, distortions, exaggerations, undeserved eulogies. The author has been led astray by story-lovers, by fabulists, by sycophants…. But that is not the main point. The main point is that the book tends to instill in the consciousness of Soviet children (and people in general), the cult of personalities, of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous [and] harmful. The theory of ‘heroes’ and the masses is not a Bolshevik theory…. Any book such as this… will harm our common Bolshevik cause. I recommend you burn the book. I. Stalin.”
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 208

There was, for example, an immense special effort to teach children the benign stories of their ultimate father. Stalin personally determined that this myth should not emphasize one of the obvious devices at the disposal of the propagandists: didactic legends about the young Soso. In 1938, the editors of the state publishing house sent Stalin a book manuscript entitled Stories of Stalin’s Childhood, which he rejected, observing that it was harmful ‘to inculcate in the consciousness of Soviet children (and people in general) a cult of personality, of leaders, of flawless heroes’. This, he said, was not Bolshevik but Socialist-Revolutionary, meaning non-Marxist, in its concept of historical determination.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 227

Sometimes, though, he aimed his ridicule at himself. Writing to Voroshilov in March 1929, he mocked his own grandiose image: “World Leader [Vozhd]? Go fuck his mother!’
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 280

“No, individual persons cannot decide. Decisions of individuals are always, or nearly always, one-sided decisions. In every collegium, in every collective body, there are people whose opinion must be reckoned with. In every collegium, in collective body, there are people who may express wrong opinions. From the experience of three revolutions we know that out of every 100 decisions taken by individual persons without being tested and corrected collectively, approximately 90 are one-sided.”
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 109

“Dear Comrade Bazhanov,
I have received your letter ceding me your second Order as a reward for my work.
I thank you very much for your warm words and comradely present. I know what you are depriving yourself of in my favour and appreciate your sentiments.
Nevertheless, I cannot accept your second Order. I cannot and must not accept it, not only because it can belong only to you, as you alone have earned it, but also because I have been amply rewarded as it is by the attention and respect of the comrades and, consequently, have no right to rob you.
` Orders were instituted not for those who are well known as it is, but mainly for heroic people who are little known and who need to be made known to all.
Besides, I must tell you that I already have two Orders. That is more than one needs, I assure you. I apologize for the delay in replying.”
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 241

Lenin, a connoisseur of power, had the best opportunity to evaluate Stalin in this respect, and he rendered his judgment in a debate in 1922. Replying to a complaint about the concentration of power in general and in particular Stalin’s responsibility for two peoples’ commissariats, Lenin called Stalin ‘a person of authority’. On what did this aura of authority rest? Not on a heroic image. Stalin was not a highly visible hero of the Revolution and Civil War in these years. The fame of Trotsky, the organizer of the Red Army and eloquent speaker and writer, was far greater, and a number of others–such as Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin –probably received more attention in the Soviet media than did Stalin. This incidentally, suggests that he was in these years, at least, much more concerned with getting on with his practical work than in preening himself in public. An unbalanced thirst for popular glory, a ‘cult’ could more easily be attributed to some of his comrades than to him.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 48

Stalin seated himself at the head of the banquet table, and the rest of us took our places in the order determined by that moment’s prestige-exchange quotation. Tensely we waited to see what would happen next. Careful preparations had been made in the Politburo and the Comintern’s Presidium for long thorough speeches extolling the virtues of the great Stalin, who then was approaching the zenith of his power. We considered it only natural that these festivities had been arranged for the glorification of Stalin. Four or five Politburo man had speeches tucked away in their pockets, while in the Comintern’s Presidium we had agreed that Dimitrov and Manuilsky would express our most heartfelt sentiments.
As soon as we were seated, Stalin, to our surprise, clinked his glass for silence, rose and spoke ceremoniously in this manner:
“Comrades! I want to propose a toast to our patriarch, life and sun, liberator of nations, architect of socialism, omniscient genius (he rattled off all the appellations applied to him in those days) and great leader of our peoples, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin and I hope that this is the first and last speech made to that genius this evening.”
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 162

After salutations had been exchanged, he [Leon Feuchtwanger] asked whether Stalin was not disgusted with the phenomenal Stalin-worship that was practiced throughout the Soviet Union. Stalin’s portraits were everywhere, and his praises were sung, but the height of everything was seeing, amidst the great old art at the Tretiakov Gallery, some propaganda painter’s version of Stalin staring out from almost every wall.
Stalin was absolutely flabbergasted and asked whether it was really true even in the Tretiakov.
“Yes. You can send your men to take a look.”
“That’s strange,” said Stalin. “That’s downright sabotage.”
And he jotted down something on the paper before him, obviously a notation ordering the removal of his portraits from that gallery.
Feuchtwanger related that Stalin declared himself to be as disgusted as any foreigner with the ubiquitous pictures and their worship. But there was an explanation for them: over the centuries the Russian people had become accustomed to thinking concretely. Such things as the Soviet state, the Communist Party, and everything pertaining to it were an abstraction to the ordinary peasant and worker, a purely abstruse concept, whereas Comrade Stalin was concrete, a tangible fact.
In the old days, Stalin continued, the Russian people had God and the Czar. Both were concrete in that even the most wretched hovel had a picture of the Holy Virgin, and a picture of the Czar in a corner and, if the means permitted, a candle burning before them, at least on holidays. When God and the Czar were removed from the corner the people had to have something as a replacement, and so one must bear with the fact that Stalin’s picture was put there and that a candle is lighted before it if the means permit in. They know that such a person exists, have heard his voice over and the radio, perhaps a few have even seen him with their own eyes and can attest to his existence. Thus, idolatry is a necessity from the standpoint of governing and the socialist building of Soviet power, and for such a great cause personal antipathy must be overcome.
As we can see, this explanation seems quite logical and natural and makes one doubt whether he actually believed in his semi-divinity as his closest colleagues and friends subsequently claimed.
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 164

STALIN WAS CRUEL TO THOSE WHO DESERVED IT

Those who accused Stalin of brutality in the execution of the State Plans cannot ignore the fact that he has never denied the suffering and the pain, answering the charge as Ivan answered it before him: “Many among you say that I’m cruel; it is true that I am cruel and irascible, I do not deny it. But toward whom, I ask, am I cruel? I am cruel toward him who is cruel toward me.”
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 72

Stalin is not wantonly cruel, but he is not soft or sentimental, nor just nor legalistic.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 124

STALIN WAS NOT FOOLED BY FALSE PRAISE

…Stalin is quick to detect false praise from the genuine article. No one indulged in more extravagant flattery than Zinoviev and Kamenev. Each time they were caught out in treachery, they burst into paeans of praise in order (as Zinoviev put it) “to crawl back into the party on our bellies.” They were even foolish enough to imagine that, because Stalin forgave them time after time, they were successfully hoodwinking him. It needed the Treason Trials of 1936 to 1938 to show them the real truth.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 92

Did Stalin believe (and if so, in what sense) all this adulation? His daughter puts it in this way: ‘Did he perceive the hypocrisy that lay behind “homage” of this sort? I think so, for he was astonishingly sensitive to hypocrisy and impossible to lie to.’ A veteran Soviet diplomat and soldier wrote: ‘Anyone who imagines that Stalin believes this praise or laps it up in a mood of egotistical willingness to be deceived, is sadly mistaken. Stalin is not deluded by it.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 213

He [Stalin] could be snared by neither flattery nor threats, neither favors nor trickery.
Lyons, Eugene. Assignment in Utopia. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, c1937, p. 263

STALIN SHOWS DEEP SYMPATHY FOR ROOSEVELT’S CONDITION

At Yalta Roosevelt became ill and the session was deferred for the day. Stalin wanted to visit him and he asked Molotov and me to accompany him. We went to the president’s rooms on the first floor of the Livadia Palace where the empress had once slept. The window opened on to a beautiful view of the sea.
The president was delighted to see us, as he was confined to his bed and had hardly any visitors. He was clearly tired and drained, though he tried not to show it. We sat with him for maybe twenty minutes, while he and Stalin exchanged polite remarks about health, the weather and the beauties of the Crimea. We left him when it seemed that Roosevelt had become detached, strangely remote, as if he could see us, yet was gazing somewhere into the distance.
We descending the narrow staircase when Stalin suddenly stopped, took his pipe out of his pocket, filled it unhurriedly and, as if to himself, said quietly, but so that we could hear: ‘ Why did nature have to punish him so? Is he any worst than other people?’
Despite his basic harshness of character, Stalin did just occasionally give way to positive human emotions.
Next day Roosevelt was back to normal and the sessions restarted, though the fatigue did not leave his face throughout the conference. He had only two months to live.
I repeat: Stalin sympathized with Roosevelt the man and he made this clear to us. He rarely bestowed his sympathy on anybody from another social system,…
Gromyko, Andrei. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday, c1989. p. 98

Koba called me to discuss future relations with the United States. He said: “We don’t want merely to continue diplomatic relations on the basis of the 1933 Agreement…. No. We must establish the closest and most intimate relations with Roosevelt and his group and give them moral guarantees that we shall be on their side in the event of a decisive world conflict…. Roosevelt is a man who takes a broad view in international affairs…. He looks far ahead…. He is no Chamberlain, with Birmingham ties and petty bargaining instead of a really broad policy….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 252

STALIN SAYS SEMINARY TURNED HIM INTO A REVOLUTIONARY

But, when I asked Stalin whether the privations of his childhood had made him what he was, he answered in the negative and offered me the following astonishing explanation:
“My parents had no education, but they did much for me. Such things as you tell me about Masaryk did not make me into a socialist, either at the age of six or at the age of 12. I became one at the seminary, because the character of the discipline enraged me. The place was a hotbed of espionage and chicanery. At nine in the morning we assembled for tea, and when we returned to our bedrooms all the drawers had been rifled. And just as they went daily through our papers, they went daily through our souls. I could not stand it; everything infuriated me.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 19

In the case of Stalin, the remote reticence lord of all the Russians, he gave me the key himself. He said he became a revolutionary because he could not stand the Jesuitic repression and martinet intolerance of the Orthodox Church seminary where he spent some years. Those are his own words, and came right from his heart, although he gave other reasons, about his poor birth and surroundings and revolutionary friends, all in the proper Marxist manner.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 169

STALIN IS FLEXIBLE AND NOT HARD-HEADED

Sometimes if you persistently opposed Stalin and if he became convinced you were right, he would retreat from his position and accept yours. Of course, such flexibility and reasonableness is a positive quality in any man.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 93

STALIN AND MOLOTOV HAVE NO RESPECT FOR TRUMAN

However, at this time Truman was president, and Stalin had no respect at all for Truman. He considered Truman worthless. Rightly so. Truman didn’t deserve respect. This is a fact.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 221

Roosevelt was an imperialist who would grab anyone by the throat…. Roosevelt knew how to conceal his attitude toward us, but Truman–he didn’t know how to do that at all. He had an openly hostile attitude.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 51

And Truman had a very anti-Soviet mindset. That’s why he began in that tone; he wanted to show who was boss…. He was far from having Roosevelt’s intellect. A big difference. They had only one thing in common– Roosevelt had been an inveterate imperialist, too.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 55

Truman was least of all interested in either friendship or cooperation with Russia.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 56

STALIN EXPRESSED HIMSELF BRIEFLY, CONCISELY, AND COMPREHENSIVELY

I want to give Stalin his due here. Right up to his very death, Stalin could express himself clearly and concisely. His formulations were short, comprehensible, and to the point. It was one of Stalin’s great gifts. In this regard Stalin was possessed of a tremendous power which can neither be denied nor debased. Everyone who knew Stalin admired this talent of his, and because of it we were proud to work with him.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 275

He accomplishes a great deal during his working day because he possesses an orderly and self-controlled mind and a marvelously retentive memory. Foreign statesmen are usually amazed at the extent of his knowledge, down to the most minute detail, on matters in which he is interested. Yenukidze, Secretary of the Soviet executive committee, says that Stalin’s distinctive characteristics in speaking, writing, and working are brevity, clarity, accuracy. This was evident in my interviews with Stalin. He answered questions instantly in clear, brief statements, frequently listing his points in one, two, three order.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 10

At Politburo meetings he was brief and to the point, he sought not so much to polemicize against others as to summarize in a few words the opinion of the majority. A man of strong will, Stalin was at the same time extremely cautious and, on occasion, indecisive as well…. Stalin was not interested in women.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 89

Stalin was not interested women… He was neither unintelligent nor devoid of common sense.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 33

STALIN LIVED A VERY FRUGAL, SPARTAN LIFE WITHOUT WEALTH

The story of Stalin is a success story…. No orator in the traditional sense, and betraying a Georgian accent, he nevertheless has perfect self-possession in speaking….
He is a quiet man…. There is little to be said about his personal life since the Soviet leaders do not consider their personal lives something to be spread over the front pages. As a result fantastic rumors have spread throughout the world that Stalin loves luxury and lives amid great splendor and pomp. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing can give such a misleading idea of the man and his aims. The fact is that Stalin does not care for money, is extremely modest and simple in his dress, in his habits, and in his home. He has a small four room apartment in the Kremlin. When his children were small one of them slept on a sofa in the dining room. Except for the worst period of the winter Stalin lives in Gorky in the little house where Lenin lived before his death.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 9

Stalin was very frugal. He had no clothes in which to be buried. He was buried in his old military suit which had been cleaned and repaired….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 210

My father never cared about possessions. He led a puritanical life, and the things that belonged to him said very little about him. The ones he left behind–his house, his rooms, and his apartment–give no clue to what he was like.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 15

My father lived on the ground floor. He lived in one room, in fact, and made it do for everything. He slept on the sofa, made up at night as a bed, and had telephones on the table beside it. The large dining table was piled high with documents, newspapers, and books…. The great, soft rug, and the fireplace were all the luxury my father wanted.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 20

The garden, the flowers, and the woods that surrounded the dacha were my father’s hobby and relaxation.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 21

There was no need to make a Puritan of my mother–her tastes were simple enough already. Besides, in those days it was a matter of course for the leaders, especially leaders of the Party, to live in what was almost puritanical style.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 54

Often he spent days at a time in the big room with the fireplace. Since he didn’t care for luxury, there was nothing luxurious about the room except the wood paneling and the valuable rug on the floor.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 205

He [my father] let his salary pile up in packets every month on his desk. I have no idea whether he had a savings account, but probably not. He never spent any money–he had no place to spend it and nothing to spend it on. Everything he needed–his food, his clothing, his dachas, and his servants–was paid for by the government.
Sometimes he’d pounce on his commandants or the generals of his bodyguard, someone like Vlasik, and start cursing: “You parasites! You’re making a fortune here. Don’t think I don’t know how much money is running through your fingers!”
But the fact was, he knew no such thing. His intuition told him huge sums were going out the window, but that was all. From time to time he’d make a stab of auditing the household accounts, but nothing ever came of it, of course, because the figures they gave him were faked. He’d be furious, but he couldn’t find out a thing. All-powerful as he was, he was impotent in the face of the frightful system that had grown up around him like a huge honeycomb, and he was helpless either to destroy it or to bring it under control. General Vlasik laid out millions in my father’s name. He spent it on new houses and trips by enormous special trains, for example. Yet my father was unable even to get a clear explanation of how much money was being paid out, where, and to whom.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 209-210

[Zhukov said] “He [Stalin] never tolerated any luxury in clothing, furniture, or his life in general.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 124

People who laugh like children love children….
Footnote: I can hear Stalin’s laughter from here if he ever heard the monumental ineptitude of the Vermot Almanac which says: “Stalin spends 250,000 francs a year for his personal needs.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 278

As a person, however, Stalin had changed greatly. He had power and position, but showed no interest in possessions and luxuries. His tastes were simple and he lived austerely. In summer he wore a plain military tunic of linen and in winter a similar tunic of wool, and an overcoat that was some 15 years old. He also had a short fur coat with squirrel on the inside and reindeer skin on the outside, which he started wearing soon after the Revolution and continued to wear with an old fur hat until his death. The presents, many of them valuable and even priceless works of craftsmanship, sent to him from all parts of the country and, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, from all over the world, embarrassed him. He felt that it would be wrong to make any personal use of such gifts. And, as his daughter noted: “He could not imagine why people would want to send him all these things.” It was an insight into the paradoxical humility of this extraordinary man.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 235

After an official dinner in the Kremlin on August 14, 1942, there was a more informal final meeting on the following evening. Churchill was saying goodbye when Stalin proposed that they go to his apartment for a farewell drink. He led the way along corridors into a narrow street, still within the Kremlin, and into another building, followed by Churchill and Birse, the British interpreter, and two or three NKVD guards. Stalin’s apartment comprised a dining room, work room, bedroom, and a large bathroom, all very simply furnished. There was no trace of luxury. An elderly housekeeper in white overalls, wearing a head scarf, was setting the table.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 352

Shortly before midnight Churchill said he would like to wash his hands, so Stalin led him through the adjoining bedroom to a bathroom beyond. I accompanied them, and thus became the first foreigner to see Stalin’s bedroom. It was as simply furnished as the dining room, with a marked absence of luxury. A bed and bedside table, a rug or two on the floor, a few chairs, and a large bookcase made up the total. There may have been a clothes cupboard as well, I cannot remember. I had a look at the books. They were a collection of Marxist literature, with a good many historical works, but I could see no Russian classics.
Birse, Arthur Herbert. Memoirs of an Interpreter. New York: Coward-McCann, 1967, p. 103

… Stalin always dressed simply and lived modestly. He displayed no taste for luxury or desire to enjoy the good things of life. He lived in the Kremlin in a modestly furnished apartment formerly occupied by a palace servant. At a time when Kamenev had already appropriated a magnificent Rolls-Royce, Stalin rode around Moscow in an old “Russo-Balte.”…
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 89

Among party leaders in the ’20s Stalin was known for the ascetic simplicity of his personal life, and echoes of that lifestyle persisted. For example, at his dacha in Kuntsevo there was hardly any furniture in the rooms he used for leisure or sleep. There was a clothes closet, a shelf with a small number of books (his main library was at his Kremlin apartment), a plain lamp without a shade, and a bed….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 843

They [Stalin and Churchill] set off on their way along the Kremlin passageways. They came out into a small yard, crossed a street, and finally found themselves in Stalin’s apartment, which the British prime minister later described as “modest in style and size”: a dining room, a living room, a study, and a large bathroom. Stalin made no mention of the fact that the place had previously belonged to Bukharin. They switched apartments after Stalin’s life, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, committed suicide.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 299

Stalin’s son, Vasili, was born in 1921 and a few years later came Svetlana. Shortly after she was born, they were joined by Yakov, their father’s son by his first marriage. Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda, who was 22 years his junior, went about the task of setting up a simple household with zeal and dedication. They lived modestly on Stalin’s salary until she went to work, first, for the journal Revolution and Culture then in the Sovnarkom secretariat, and finally to study at the Industrial Academy. One day at dinner Stalin suddenly said to her, ‘I’ve never loved money, because I usually never had any.’…
Like all the other leaders at that time, Stalin lived in simple circumstances, in keeping with the family budget and party norms….
… Stalin had a natural bent for physical asceticism. When he died, he was found to have owned very few personal items–some uniforms, a pair of embroidered felt boots and a patched, peasant sheepskin coat. He did not love objects,…
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 102

The leadership of the 1920s lived rather modestly. At first, Stalin lived in a small apartment he had been given on Lenin’s orders. A letter from Lunacharsky of November 18, 1921, requests that Stalin be found something more comfortable. When Lenin saw the letter he sent a note to the head of security, Belenky: “This is news to me. Can nothing else be found?” There is also a note from Lenin to Yenukidze, requesting that the matter of Stalin’s apartment be expedited and asking to be informed by telephone when it had been settled. And indeed Stalin was soon re-housed in former servants quarters in the Kremlin, an inelegant dwelling with some of the original furniture, a worn floor, and small windows.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 145

In his last years, he [Stalin] had a small wooden house built next to the large villa and he moved into it. As Shelepin, (at one time head of the KGB and a member of the Politburo in the early 1970s), told me [Volkogonov]:
“When Stalin died and an inventory of his possessions had to be made, it turned out to be a very simple job. There were no antiques or valuable objects of any kind, apart from a government-issue piano. The furniture was cheap and the armchairs had loose covers. There was not even a single good ‘real’ picture, they were all printed reproductions in plain wooden frames. Hanging in the central position in the sitting room was an enlarged photograph of Lenin and Stalin, taken at Gorky in September 1922 by Lenin’s sister, Maria.
There were two rugs on the floor. Stalin slept under an army blanket. Apart from his marshal’s uniform, his clothes consisted of a couple of ordinary suits, one of them in canvas, embroidered felt boots, and a peasant’s sheepskin.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 146

Stalin’s own material demands were modest; his flat, furniture, pictures, clothes were simple and inexpensive. His salary simply accumulated in a drawer.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 311

I [Budu] felt that I had been away from Moscow for too long of time and I wanted someone to fill in the gaps for me with all the rumors and gossip of the capital. Mikeladze was just the man to do me that service.
Among other things, he told me how my Uncle Sosso had been living during the period when I had not been able to see him.
“He’s the simplest man in the government,” he told me. “He’s also the most conservative in his daily habits. He’s still living in the same little apartment in the Kremlin that he has had since the start of his career. He goes for a couple of months in the summer to his country house in Gorinka–you’ve been there–and goes hunting with Voroshilov and Budenny in the Perlovka woods or the forest of Bolchevo.”
“Do you know his place at Sochi?” I asked.
“Yes. He has a villa built on the foundations of the old convent of St. Tamar. It was constructed by Auphane according to Comrade Stalin’s own plans. It’s modern and comfortable, but there’s no ostentatious luxury about it, as there is in the villas of some of the members of the government.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 140

“Svetlana,” he [Stalin] said, “you haven’t run over your budget this month?”
“No, papa.”
“Let’s see your accounts.” And, turning to me [Budu], he added, “She cheats. By the end of the year I have quite a deficit.”
“Oh, papa, the state publishing house still owes you more than one million rubles for your books, and all you spend is 120,000 rubles year. How can you have a deficit?”
“You forget my donations,” my uncle said. “Besides that, I took 500,000 rubles of bonds of the military loan. I have just 120,000 rubles left for my personal expenses. That’s not bad either, when you add the same amount that I get as head of the government.”
“Yes,” said Svetlana, “and then you spend your own money for official ceremonies! When Churchill had dinner with us in your apartment at the Kremlin, I spent more than 10,000 rubles out of my budget then you never asked to be paid back for it.”
“Yes, I did.” My uncle laughed. “I asked Molotov to pay half of it, for that was really a private dinner which he and I gave to Churchill. He said he’d pay half if he could take it out of the secret funds of the Foreign Ministry.”
“You see, papa, Molotov is smarter than you!”
“He’s poorer than I am, too. He doesn’t publish any books.” He laughed maliciously.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 202

Until the Second World War, he [Stalin] dressed with traditional Bolshevik modesty in a plain brown military coat and dark trousers stuffed into leather boots. He lived unpretentiously in a small house in the Kremlin, formerly part of the Tsars servants’ quarters. Ownership and money as such played no part in his life. In the 1930s, his official salary was about 1000 rubles a month–in purchasing power, perhaps $40. One of his secretaries accepted and dealt with this small sum, paying the superintendent of the Kremlin a modest rent for his apartment, and dealing with his Party dues, his payment for his holiday, and so on…. His country villa at Borovikha and his seaside Government Summer House No. 7 at Sochi were “State property.”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 59

But he [Stalin] has now his country seat or summer residence. He lives in the house where Lenin died, outside Moscow, Gorky, a fine white house with Greek columns. It is a nice place with white walled rooms, pictures in gilded frames, armchairs and sofas upholstered in white and gold, antique marble vases, crimson curtains, palms and ferns in big pots. There are portraits of gentry of a bygone age. Not much has been disturbed since the original owners quitted the scene. Stalin lives there as if he had leased a furnished house for the season. He does not order the bourgeois luxury to be removed. Neither does he profit by it very much. It does not interest him. He sits in his own cabinet with masses of papers and books and works. Here for a while he tried to learn English, but gave it up, finding it too difficult.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 117

He does not play cards like most of the other leaders and also, unlike other comrades, takes little pleasure in sitting around a table drinking and gossiping.
In the winter he moves his family back to the Kremlin, to his rooms there. That is less comfortable, but perhaps more to his liking. He engages no cook. The meals are sent in on a tray from the Communal restaurant. It is true he dines more amply than the working man; he does not stint his stomach. He has his mince stewed in grape leaves, his shashlik, his cranberry cream, all washed down with abundant wine from his native Georgia. He is not a vodka drinker and does not care for beer. Red table-wine such as one can get at any dukhan in the Caucasus, is all he asks. He enjoys good health; his abdominal trouble does not recur.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 118

The dinner is served on nationalized plates, some of them still bearing the initials of the Tsars. His rooms are simply furnished; no armchairs, divans or anything of the kind; white-curtained windows; wooden chairs; no tablecloth; a portrait of Lenin. He sits down to dinner in the afternoon and to supper in the evening with his new young consort, Nadia, and his children. There are seldom any visitors at these meals. Stalin eats and drinks and says little. He does not discuss politics with his wife nor tell her the events of the day. When the meal is over he moves back his chair, lights his pipe and seems to fall into a reverie.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 119

In those years, the 1920s, Stalin led a very simple life. He always wore an ordinary outfit, of a military cut, with boots and a military cap. He had neither the taste for luxuries nor the wish to enjoy the pleasures of life. He lived in the Kremlin, in a small and simply furnished apartment, where palace servants had lived before. Whereas Kamenev, for example, with his new understanding of cars, had a splendid Rolls-Royce, Stalin was content with a Russo-Balt (an old Russian model) that was powerful but old and modest.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 109

A couple of times the Supreme Commander-in-Chief invited us to dinner in his Kremlin apartment.
Stalin led a rather modest life. The food was always very simple, mostly Russian cuisine, sometimes Georgian national dishes. He never tolerated any luxury in clothing, furniture, or his life in general.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 495

Stalin inspected the villa [at Potsdam] placed at his disposal and asked whose it had been before. He was told it had belonged to General Ludendorff. Stalin never liked any lavishness. After he had inspected the quarters he asked for some of the furniture to be removed.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 668

Stalin inspected the villa placed at his disposal [at Potsdam] and asked who it had belonged to before. He was told it had belonged to General Ludendorff. Stalin never liked any lavishness. After he had inspected the quarters he asked for some of the furniture to be removed.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 442

I later found out that Stalin was very frugal, economizing on everything and thus trying to set an example to others. He had to be convinced to get something new. As an example, to get summer suits. He wore his boots and shoes until they nearly fell off his feet. He raised his children also without luxury. In order to please Svetlana (Stalin’s daughter) Vlasik gave her a small cabin to herself which was empty.
Stalin, finding this out later, said:
“Vlasik, you should not do this, it’s against the law. Who is she, a member of our Politburo, a member of our Central Committee? Vacate the cabin and give her a place together with the others.”
Here is another example. It was a September day. The ocean was calm. Antonov was sunning himself under a large tree. All of a sudden, a dark storm blew up. I stood nearby. The downpour was horrendous, while Antonov, the guard, bravely stood at his post in the open, not moving from his guard duty. It was the most frightful storm I have ever witnessed…but the bodyguards stood where they were placed throughout this deluge. Stalin, during this event, saw through the window as Antonov was practically drowned by the rain and nearly blown off his feet. After the storm subsided, Stalin, together with commissar Bogdanov, wanted to see this dutiful man, Antonov.
Antonov said: I’m listening, comrade Stalin!
You certainly got a soaking…. I saw everything.
It’s nothing, comrade Stalin, soon my uniform will dry.
Why hasn’t a small shelter for the guards been built here?, asked Stalin of Bogdanov. You should be put in his place so that you can see what it is to suffer through such a downpour. I want this small shelter built immediately, within two hours.
In two hours, Stalin came out to see whether this had been done and seeing a new shelter, said:
Something like this should not have to be ordered by me. Bogdanov should have thought of this himself. All of us must carry out our responsibilities!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, comrade Stalin, for being so concerned about us! Altshuler, the guard who had replaced Antonov who had gone to dry himself, thanked Stalin.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 11-13

On July 16, 1945, Stalin came to Berlin to attend the Potsdam Conference. Yefimov and Orlov provided Stalin with a luxurious room in a hotel, got him gold-embossed furniture. When Stalin saw this, he made them take it out and replace it with ordinary furniture and he blasted them for this bootlicking, fawning attitude to him.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 49

After the death of Stalin, in his bedroom on his small night table, Starostin found Stalin’s bank book–only 900 rubles had he saved. The bank book was given to Svetlana.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 107

His habits were modest enough. He dressed simply, worked in his ostentatious lodgings in the Kremlin, drank sparingly of vodka and Georgian wines and ate traditional Russian food.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 35

There the dictator occupies two plain rooms in an annex. His living quarters in another part of the Kremlin, where he lives with his family, is just as unpretentious. His office looks more like the hygienic surgery of a doctor, and the man in the light gray jacket, a kind of military tunic without buttons or badges, also looks thoroughly washed. Everything stands in precise and tasteless order on the long table, the carafes, ashtrays and sheets of paper. If Marx’s magnificently domed forehead, which always reminds me of someone dear to me, did not look down from the wall, one might feel himself in Department X of the Y ministry in the capital of Z.
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 117

In his memoirs Bazhanov gives us a description of Stalin in 1923-25 that has the ring of truth about it…. He [Stalin] lived very modestly in a Kremlin apartment formerly occupied by a palace servant. He always wore simple clothes and had little taste for luxury or other creature comforts. At time when Kamenev had already appropriated a magnificent Rolls, Stalin drove around Moscow in an old “Russo-Balte.”…
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 33

On one occasion, Stalin asked the two Germans to come unobtrusively to his apartment in the Kremlin. What impressed his visitors was the modest style in which Stalin lived: He occupied a single-story, two-room house in the former servants’ quarters of the Kremlin, shabbily furnished, despite the fact that he was the organizer of “tens of thousands of salaried employees, including the state police… and could offer party jobs and state jobs, give influential assignments in Russia and abroad, and very often “responsible party tasks” combined with substantial material advantages–apartments, automobiles, country residences, special medical care, and jobs for members of the family.”
The simplicity of Stalin’s life-style was not a pose. He was interested in the substance not the trappings of power. Bazhanov and other witnesses confirm this: “This passionate politician has no other vices. He loves neither money nor pleasure, neither sport nor women. Women, apart from his own wife, do not exist for him.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 181

Now, in 1952, Stalin is an old, white-haired man .
His private life is quiet and modest. Luxury, sumptuous dwellings, adorned with works of art, brilliant receptions and recherche dinners, have no attraction for him. In Moscow he is still living in the same small house, in the courtyard of the Kremlin, in which he received Matsuoka in 1941 and Churchill in 1942.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 414

Stalin and his family occupy a small two-room apartment within the Kremlin, formerly tenanted by the attaches at the palace. One passes through a dark corridor and climbs up a stairway to reach the Stalin abode. You enter an antechamber. An army coat is on the rack. Stalin is home.
The dining-room, which is also the living-room, is rather small and elongated. The Stalins are at the table. All their meals are brought from the Kremlin restaurant, which supplies all the other high officials. The dinner is perhaps superior to that of the ordinary Russian restaurant, but it is the kind of food that an American railway conductor would disdain. No luxuries, no delicacies, with the exception of the fine wine.
The furniture in the apartment is of the simplest character. White canvas curtains are hanging over the windows. On the couch in the dining-room the oldest son will go to sleep after dinner. That is his bedroom.
During the meal, there is little conversation. Stalin is not loquacious. He eats heartily. After dinner he will sit down in an armchair near the window and puff away at his pipe.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 323-324

His own savings were depreciated by the devaluation decree [of 1949]; but he had never been a materialistic man. Unopened pay-packets were found at his dacha when he died.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 497

Iremashvili informs us,… “He was least of all concerned with his personal welfare. He made no demands on life, regarding them as incompatible with Socialist principles. He had sufficient integrity to make sacrifices for his ideal.” Koba was true to that vow of poverty which was taken unostentatiously and without any ado by all the young people who went into the revolutionary underground.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 51

Volodya says, “I have read a lot of contemporary books and I disagree completely with the way he is described. He was a man dedicated fully to his cause. He never wanted anything for himself–he left no possessions after his death. He gave his life to Russia, to the Soviet Union….
Volodya says, “It is all too easy today to call Stalin a fool, a paranoiac and a mass- murderer. It was not so at all!
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 274-275

STALIN HAD A SENSE OF HUMOR

One always receives the impression with Stalin of a flaming enthusiasm kept in bounds by an iron will….
Stalin has a good, if somewhat heavy footed, sense of humor. Once Stalin received Arnold Kaplani and Boris Goldstein, youthful piano and violin stars, and awarded them each a government grant of 3000 rubles. When the youngsters had the money in their hands, he quizzed them, “Now that you are capitalists will you recognize me on the street?”…
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 11

He has a sense of humor, though it is heavy to Western ears;… Addressing the 1930 congress of the party, he ticked off the Right Opposition of Bukharin and Rykov by asserting that if Bukharin saw a cockroach he proceeded at once to smell catastrophe, foreseeing the end of the Soviet Union in one month. “Rykov supported Bukharin’s theses on the subject,” said Stalin, “with the reservation, however, that he had a very serious difference with Bukharin, namely that the Soviet government will perish, in his opinion, not in one month, but in one month and two days.”
At the 1934 congress he took time out to deal with those who indulged in the great Russian habit of talkativeness:
“I had a conversation with one such comrade, a very respected comrade, but an incorrigible chatterbox, who was capable of submerging any living cause in a flood of talk. Well, here is the conversation:
I: How are you getting on with the sowing?
He: With the sowing, Comrade Stalin? We have mobilized ourselves.
I: Well, and what then?
He: We have put the question bluntly.
I: And what next?
He: There is a turn, Comrade Stalin; soon there will be a turn.
I: But still?
He: We can observe some progress.
I: But for all that, how are you getting on with the sowing?
He: Nothing has come of the sowing as yet, Comrade Stalin.”
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 530

Stalin has a sense of humor. His cynicism is deep, his irony open. He has a genuine appreciation of satire.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 327

STALIN STOOD FIRM WHEN OTHERS PANICKED

In political debate Stalin’s humor turns to acid–and it is most effective. When attacking Rykov, Tomsky, Bukharin and the opposition from the right in the party, he ridiculed their fears of every new policy. Said Stalin: “These features take on particularly ridiculous forms when difficulties appear, when the slightest cloud makes its appearance on the horizon. If any difficulty or hitch has appeared anywhere, they fall into a panic, lest something may happen. A cockroach somewhere stirs, without having time even to crawl out of its hole, and they are already starting back in terror, and beginning to shout about a catastrophe, about the ruin of the Soviet government.”
He continued: “We try to calm them down, we try to convince them that nothing dangerous has happened yet, that it is only a cockroach, and there is no need to be afraid, but all in vain. They continue to shout as before: “What cockroach? That’s no cockroach, it’s a thousand wild beasts! It’s not a cockroach, but the abyss, the ruin of the Soviet government!” And volumes of paper begin to poor in.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 11

STALIN COULD BE WITTY AND ASK SHARP QUESTIONS

If at times his intent is softer his wit is no less pointed. In our group interviews with Stalin in 1927, after we had questioned him for six hours, he finally turned to us and said, “If the delegation is not too tired, I would ask it to permit me to put several questions.” Stalin then slyly asked the sociologists and economists: “How you account for the small percentage of American workers organized in trade unions?” I can still see Stalin chuckling to himself at our contradictory answers….
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 11

STALIN SUCCESSFULLY OVERCAME ONE CRISIS AFTER ANOTHER

There is no question but that he is accustomed to facing and overcoming the most formidable obstacles. There has not been a single year since 1899 but what has involved some sort of crisis for him. First were the revolutionary struggles in Tsarist times with consequent imprisonments and exile. The civil war and intervention followed. The death of Lenin came next, with the explosion of bitter rivalry within the party. Almost numberless crises developed on the fronts of economic and social change. There were three great Five-Year Plans–and the threat of war always lurked ominously in the background. Hitler’s march into Russia in 1941 precipitated the titanic struggle so long expected. Now there is the herculean task of reconstruction.
Experience has made Stalin intensely practical–and when theory does not workout in practice it’s too bad for the theory….
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 11

But, in spite of apparently insoluble difficulties, in spite of the fact that each spring the regime seemed to be tottering on its last legs, the man’s [Stalin] indomitable energy did succeed in giving the USSR a new industrial equipment. After a few more years of intense effort, the results of the terrific, almost superhuman strain, would show themselves in an increase of general prosperity and happiness. In spite of everything, therefore, our devotion to Stalin was colored with a determined enthusiasm. It was infectious: it penetrated even the ranks of the Opposition. How else explain the frequent surrender of its members? “Stalin’s work, cruel and clumsy though his methods of carrying it out may be”–they argued–“is more important than our differences with him”; and they abjured their dissident faith.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited,1938, p. 237

STALIN DISLIKES ALL THE PRAISE HEAPED ON HIM

Paradoxically enough, in view of his very real modesty and unassuming nature, Stalin permits his statue and his picture to be plastered from one end of the country to the other. He has said the reason he does not object to pictures, memorials in his honor and the like, is because the people are merely using him as a symbol of the Soviet state. There are indications, however, that he finds the fulsome tributes to him, which are regulation oratorical flourishes in Russia, somewhat distasteful. In a speech to the workers of Tiflis he alluded to this in a half-mocking way:
“I must, in all conscience, tell you, that I have not deserved half the praise that has been given me. It appears that I am one of the heroes, the director of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union… a peerless knight and all sorts of other things. This is mere fantasy, and a perfectly useless exaggeration. This is the way one speaks at the funeral of a revolutionary. But I’m not preparing to die….”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 12

Twice in my life I called Stalin a genius. Once it was in some sort of a welcoming speech which I didn’t write, and it was signed by a group of us. Stalin got angry, ordered that it be deleted, and said, “How did you end up in this?”
The second time was at his funeral.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 165

Stalin regretted that he had agreed to become Generalissimo. He always regretted it. And that was right. Kaganovich and Beria overdid it…. Well, the commanders also insisted on it…. He had no need for that title. No, he regretted this very much. …Twicethey tried to give him that rank. He rejected the first attempt, then agreed and came to regret it.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 175

At one time there were persistent suggestions that Moscow be renamed the city of Stalin. Very persistent! I objected. Kaganovich proposed it. He said, “There’s not only Leninism, there’s Stalinism too!”
Stalin was outraged.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 176

After the Tehran conference, Stalin once told me he was sickened by the way they were deifying him, and that there were no saints. He said there was no such man as Stalin as depicted, but if the people created such a Stalin, if they believed in him, it meant this was necessary in the interests of the proletariat and should therefore be supported.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 302

He [Stalin] hated the futile homage the Georgians paid him. He thought about Georgia only when he was an old man.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 67

My father had unpleasant memories of his journey here [Kutaisi railway station] because he couldn’t stand the sight of a crowd applauding him and shouting “Hurrah!” His face would twitch with annoyance each time it happened. Here, at the Kutaisi railway station, his Georgian countrymen had given him such a reception that he’d been unable to leave the train and get into his car. People literally threw themselves under the wheels. They crawled and shouted and threw flowers and carried their children on their shoulders. Here if nowhere else, it was warm-blooded, unfeigned, and sincere. Here if anywhere it was straight from the heart, but my father was angry anyway. He was accustomed by this time to having the stations empty and cleared for his arrival and to the roads he traveled on being empty. He wasn’t used to people shouting and hurling themselves at his car. He had altogether forgotten that feelings of this kind could be sincere and not put on.
I was horribly embarrassed even by the more modest “homage” paid us when we went to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and at the banquets in honor of my father’s 70th birthday. I was always afraid my father might at any moment say something that would throw cold water on everyone, and also I could see his face twitching with annoyance. “They open their mouths and yell like fools,” he would say in a tone of angry contempt.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 201

… Though he [Stalin] had been chairman at the recent meeting of the Party which had resolved to encourage the cult of his greatness he now remarked how wrong it was to ascribe the country’s successes to any single leader!
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 34

Stalin was, in fact, not a vain, self-obsessed man who had to be surrounded by fawning and flattery. He detested this mass adulation of his person, and throughout his life he went to great lengths to avoid demonstrations in his honor. Indeed, he was to be seen in public only at party congresses and at ceremonial occasions on Red Square, when he was a remote figure standing on Lenin’s mausoleum. He had the same lack of personal vanity as Peter the Great and Lenin, but like them he had the same supremely arrogant conviction, transcending mere vanity, that he was the man of destiny, who held the key to the future….
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 234

I must, in all conscience, tell you, that I have not deserved half the eulogy that has been given me. It appears that I am one of the heroes, the director of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the head of the Communist International, the peerless knight, and all sorts of other things. This is mere fantasy, and a perfectly useless exaggeration. That is the way one speaks at the grave of a revolutionary. But I am not preparing to die.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 3

[Despite Stalin’s opposition to hero worship] nothing could be allowed to jeopardize the facade. When in 1938 Stalin criticized the cult of personality, it was necessary to suppress his remarks. In a letter to a minor publishing house, Stalin advised against the publication of a hagiographical Stories about Stalin’s Childhood:
Stalin stated, “The book abounds in a mass of factual improbabilities, alterations, and unearned praise. The author is led astray by lovers of fables, by impostors (even by impostors “in good faith”), by flatterers…the book tends to instill… the cult of personalities, of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and harmful. The theory of “heroes” and masses is not a Bolshevist theory… I recommend burning the book.”
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 205

In 1937, when the Children’s Publishing House (Detgiz) produced a book of “Stories about Stalin’s Childhood” and sent it to Stalin for approval, he sent Detgiz the following letter:
“February 16, 1938
I am strongly opposed to the publication of “Stories about Stalin’s Childhood.” The book is filled with a mass of factual distortions, untruths, exaggerations, and undeserved encomia. The author has been misled by lovers of fairy tales–by liars (perhaps “honest liars”) and timeservers. A pity for the author, but facts remain facts. But that isn’t the main thing. The main thing is that the book has the tendency to inculcate in Soviet people (and people in general) the cult of the personality of chiefs and infallible heroes. That is dangerous, harmful. The theory of “heroes and the mob” is not Bolshevik but Socialist-Revolutionary. The Socialist-Revolutionaries say the “Heroes make a people, turn it from a mob into a people.” “The people make heroes,” reply the Bolsheviks. The book is grist for the Socialist-Revolutionaries mill; it will harm our general Bolshevik cause. My advice is to burn the book.
Signed J. Stalin
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 818

Stalin even denounced the cult of personality. In 1932, when the Society of Old Bolsheviks asked for permission to open an exhibition of documents concerning his life and activity, he refused. “I am against it because such enterprises lead to the establishment of a ‘cult of personality,’ which is harmful and incompatible with the spirit of the party.”… In 1930 he wrote a letter to a certain Shatunovsky, urging him not to speak of devotion to Stalin or to any individual. “That is not a Bolshevik principle. Have devotion to the working-class, to its party, to its state, but don’t mix that up with devotion to individuals, which is an inane and unnecessary toy of the intelligentsia.”…
In a 1928 speech Stalin uttered the following words,…
“The fact that the chiefs rising to the top become separated from masses, while masses begin to look up at them from below, not daring to criticize them–this fact cannot but create a certain danger of isolation and estrangement between the chiefs and masses. This danger may reach the point where the chiefs get conceited and consider themselves infallible. And what good can come of the leaders on top growing conceited and beginning to look down on the masses from above? Clearly nothing but disaster for the party can come from this.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 850

It is manifestly irksome to Stalin to be idolized as he is, and from time to time he makes fun of it.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 75

The story goes that at a little dinner which he gave on New Year’s Day to a circle of intimate friends, he raised his glass and said: “I drink to the health of the incomparable leader of the people, of the great genius Comrade Stalin. There, friends; and that is the last time I shall be toasted here this year.”
Of all the men I know who have power, Stalin is the most unpretentious. I spoke frankly to him about the vulgar and excessive cult made of him, and he replied with equal candor. He grudged, he said, the time which he had to spend in a representative capacity, and that is easy to believe, for Stalin is, as many well-documented examples have proved to me, prodigiously industrious and attentive to every detail, so that he really has no time for the stuff and nonsense of superfluous compliments and adoration. On an average, he allows to be answered no more than one of every hundred telegrams of homage which he receives. He himself is extremely objective, almost to the point of incivility, and welcomes a like objectivity from the person he is talking to.
He shrugs his shoulders at the vulgarity of the immoderate worship of his person. He excuses his peasants and workers on the grounds that they have had too much to do to be able to acquire good taste as well, and laughs a little at the hundreds of thousands of enormously enlarged portraits of a man with a mustache which dance before his eyes at demonstrations.
He thinks it is possible even that the “wreckers” may be behind it in an attempt to discredit him. “A servile fool,” he said irritably, “does more harm than 100 enemies.” If he tolerates all the cheering, he explained, it is because he knows the naive joy the uproar of the festivities affords those who organize them, and is conscious that it is not intended for him personally, but for the representative of the principle that the establishment of socialist economy in the Soviet Union is more important than the permanent revolution.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 76-77

With the same aim of protecting himself, Yezhov initiated the plan to rename Moscow “Stalinodar” in the beginning of 1938. This aim inspired an appeal by all categories of workers to change Moscow’s name. The question was raised at a session of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Stalin, however, reacted entirely negatively to this idea, and, for this reason, the city remained Moscow.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 37

Enthusiasm for a leader is a characteristic effect of successful leadership. Stalin’s leadership during the last nine years produced for him a wave of enthusiasm which, because his triumphs have been spectacular in creating, for example, a record-breaking heavy industry and progressively raising the standard of living, has exceeded in cumulative strength even that felt for Lenin. The hangers-on of the Revolution, place-seekers, and bureaucrats have at times, by their motivated flattery, exceeded reason and justification. For that reason it is all the more important to distinguish between such spurious flattery, which many have mistaken for currency between the masses and Stalin, and the genuine praise which the masses lavish on him. If a newspaper critic can refer to a tennis player, a boxer, an actor, or a buffoon as great, is it unreasonable that millions of people supporting and benefiting from the Stalin policy should refer to him as “Bolshoi Stalin”–the great Stalin? Stalin has himself repeatedly deprecated complacent praise of himself, and insisted on a critical approach to all questions of policy and administration.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 135

In August 1931,… there were attempts to immortalize Stalin in works of political biography. There is a letter in Stalin’s archive from Yaroslavski [to Stalin], which includes the following: “As he was leaving today, Ordjonikidze rang to say he’d spoken to you [Stalin] about the book called Stalin that I [Yaroslavski] want to write…” Stalin’s customary pencilled remark on the note reads: “Comrade Yaroslavski, I’m against it. I think the time has not yet come for biographies.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 191

He [Stalin] was on the whole punctilious about awards. For instance, in 1949 he would not agree to Malenkov’s suggestion that his 70th birthday be marked by conferring on him his second Gold Star Hero of the Soviet Union. He decided enough was enough after receiving the Order of Victory and he stopped the flow of decorations,… In all, Stalin had about as many decorations as, say, Mekhlis, and four or five times fewer than Brezhnev. He was similarly punctilious about the indiscriminate award of medals to others and would cancel decorations if he thought them undeserved. ‘Medals are for fighters who distinguish themselves in battle with the German aggressors, and not to be dished out to anyone who comes along,’ he wrote to the commander-in-chief of the 1st Baltic front on November 16, 1943, when he was told that general Yeremenko had been awarding medals without the agreement of the War Council.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 477

Stalin’s 70th birthday was approaching. He knew that from the Politburo down, everyone was hectically making arrangements. He called in Malenkov and said, ‘Don’t even think of presenting me with another Star!’
‘But, Comrade Stalin,’ Malenkov protested, ‘for a jubilee like this, the people won’t understand….”
‘Leave the people out of this. I’ve no intention of arguing about it. Don’t insist! Got it?’
Mention of the ‘Star’ had not been accidental. After the Victory Parade and reception in honor of the front commanders in June 1945, a group of marshals had suggested to Molotov & Malenkov that they should mark the ‘leader’s extraordinary contribution’ by conferring on him the country’s highest award, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. They referred to the fact that for his 60th birthday Stalin had been awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor, and that during the war he had received three decorations, the Victory Order No. 3–numbers one and two having gone to Zhukov and Tolbukhin–the Suvorov 1st Class, and the Red Banner, which he was given ‘for service in the Red Army’.
Over the next day and half, Molotov and Malenkov had debated the matter with their colleagues and on June 26 two decrees were issued by the Supreme Soviet ordering that the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and a second Victory Order be conferred on Marshal of the Soviet Union, Stalin. The same day, the title of Generalissimo of the Soviet Union was created and on the 27th it was conferred on Stalin. This was probably the only occasion when they disobeyed their leader. That morning before breakfast, Stalin unfolded his copy of Pravda as usual and flew into a rage. They had not consulted him! They had not asked him!
‘Say what you like,’ Stalin had said conclusively, ‘I will not accept the decoration. Do you hear me, I will not!’
The comrades tried another two or three times to persuade him, even recruiting Poskrebyshev and Vlasik in their cause. But in vain…. Finally, on the eve of the May Day celebrations of 1950, Shvernik managed to hand Stalin the medals he had been awarded in 1945, plus an Order of Lenin for his 70th birthday of 1949.
‘You’re indulging an old man,’ Stalin muttered. ‘It won’t do anything for my health.’
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 525-526

The Politburo resolved to celebrate Stalin’s birthday with a splash. Shvernik was appointed to handle the festivities….
The organizers also prepared a surprise in the form of the Stalin Prize, the cost of which was calculated at 7 rubles 64 kopeks per medal, while the total quantity of metal for one million medals was worked out at 24 tons of bronze and six tons of nickel. There was also to be an international Stalin Peace Prize. Thirteen versions of the medal were submitted for Stalin’s approval by the artists. Everything was set for the presentation of this most prestigious decoration, when at the last moment Stalin dug his heels in, despite having given his preliminary approval of the idea.
Having looked over all the designs and read all the draft decrees (while his comrades-in-arms were waiting in hopes of being the first to receive the new prize), Stalin suddenly declared: ‘I will only approve the decree on the international prize.’ After a pause he added: ‘And orders of this kind are only to be given posthumously.’
Nearly an hour before the ceremony was due to start, the carefully selected and screened audience had filled the Bolshoi Theatre. Half an hour later Stalin entered the room set aside for the Presidium (as the Politburo was now called) where he exchanged greetings with such luminaries of the Communist world as Togliatti, Mao Tse-tung, Walter Ulbricht, Dolores Ibarruri, and Rakosi, among others.
When the Presidium went out on to the stage, the audience could not contain themselves. The day before, Stalin had altered Malenkov’s seating plan, which had placed him [Stalin] in the center, but he compromised over his usual custom of sitting ‘modestly’ in the second row at all such meetings and put himself well to the right of the chairman, placing Mao on his right and Khrushchev on his left.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 527-528

He [Stalin] seldom went back to Georgia after the Revolution, and particularly after a stunning rebuff he received there in 1921. But when he did (especially in later life), he would stay at such secluded spots as the Likani Palace in the mountain spa of Borzhomi, on a gorge of the upper Kura–never going to nearby Gori, or even to Tiflis (though at one point he did set off for Gori, but was so disgusted by the uproarious welcome of villages in between that he turned back).
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 14

The open hardness and trust of Georgians irritate my father….when during his trip through Georgia in 1952 he was met on the roads by entire villages. He couldn’t bring himself to have a good talk with those sincere peasants–maybe he was already afraid of everything. He refused to accept their offerings, their greetings, and, turning the car around, would leave them behind.
…In him everything was the other way round, and cold calculation, dissimulation, a sober, cynical realism became stronger in him with the years.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 360

My father alone [compared to other Politburo members] was in the habit of giving to museums the numerous gifts sent by workers to their leaders.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 401

On a few occasions, Stalin himself was mildly critical of the excessive praise heaped on him as unbecoming to the Bolshevik tradition.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 16

From the stories of his guards Stalin appears to have been a self-effacing, fatherly person. On various occasions he angrily protested having watched documentary films showing him in situations that had never taken place. When Beria and Malenkov argued that the scenes were “needed for history,” he opposed them, saying: “Leave me alone with such history.”
… Beria’s book on the history of Bolshevism in the Caucasus, which heaped praise on Stalin, was not written (as generally believed) upon Stalin’s request; rather, it was written on Beria’s initiative, because Beria wanted to ingratiate himself with Stalin.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 149

The Central Committee had decided to award Stalin the medal of Socialist Hero. Stalin appreciated this honor since he was so heavily involved in all of the five-year plans. The Politburo also wanted to give him the Hero of the Soviet Union medal for his role in the Great Patriotic War. When Stalin heard about this from Tukov, he called this disgraceful:
This is toadyism by jesters! Such a high award must be only given to soldiers, who showed heroism on the battlefield! I was never in the front lines with a rifle in my hands and did not show any heroism!
Finding out Stalin’s unceremonious feelings towards this, Malenkov was elected to approach Stalin on this… but being very cagey he asked Poskrebyshev to do this instead. Poskrebyshev was also afraid, since he knew that Stalin does not approve of such “ceremonious glorification.” He assigned this task to Orlov, the Commandant of the personal bodyguards of Stalin…let him do it. Orlov knew better than that… the medal was never given and Stalin never accepted it.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 48

Before the Victory Parade in 1945, the Central Committee decided to make Stalin happy by designing him a new parade-oriented uniform as Generalissimo. Khalev, head of the bodyguards now, was given the task of getting three different uniforms designed and sewn. He got a young, well-built soldier to model for the uniform and showed it to the assembled Central Committee. Stalin, coming from his office, seeing this young athletic man in a General’s uniform with sashes, epulets, gold braid and gold buttons asked:
What is this peacock doing here?
Comrade Stalin, these are three proposed designs for your uniform for the Victory Parade, that you will wear.
Stalin refused all of them, had them taken away. He received the parade in his usual uniform.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 49

Stalin loved to fish and there were many rivers there [the lake at Ritsa], so in some free time, we managed to fish and cook, together, as one family, not as head of the USSR and his bodyguards. He never wanted us to raise a glass of wine to his health. In this case, he proposed that we should raise a glass to the health of Elizarov, the one who caught the most fish.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 53

In private, for example, he [Stalin] repeatedly affected disdain for adulation. In 1930, for example, he ended a letter to Shatunovsky, an Old Bolshevik, by saying, “You speak of your ‘devotion’ to me. Perhaps that phrase slipped out accidentally. Perhaps. But if it isn’t an accidental phrase, I’d advise you to thrust aside the ‘principle’ of devotion to persons. It isn’t the Bolshevik way. Have devotion to the working class, its party, its state. That’s needed and good. But don’t mix it with devotion to persons, that empty and needless intellectuals’ bauble.”
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 146

August 1930: “You speak of your devotion’ to me. . . I would advise you to discard the `principle’ of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals”.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 20.

On June 8, 1926, he [Stalin] talked in Tiflis to the workers in the local railroad shops…. He said, “In all honesty I should tell you, comrades, that I do not deserve as much as half of those praises which here have been bestowed upon me. It would appear that I was the hero of October, the leader of the Communist Party and the Comintern, a veritable miraclemaker. All that is fantasy, comrades, a completely needless exaggeration. One talks in such terms over the grave of a revolutionary…. But I am not ready for the grave.”
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 288

…writers and artists vie in idolizing him unreservedly. But the admiration of the crowd irritated him.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 148

Some title you’ve [Koniev suggested to Molotov and Malenkov that Stalin be called Generalissimo] thought up! Chang Kai-shek’s a Generalissimo. Franco’s a Generalissimo–find company I find myself in!” Kaganovich, proud inventor of “Stalinism,” also suggested renaming Moscow as Stalinodar, an idea that had first been suggested by Yezhov in 1938. Beria seconded him. This simply “outraged” Stalin: “What do I need this for?”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 494

Three days after the parade [in June 1945] , Pravda announced Stalin’s new rank and medals. He was furious and summoned Molotov, Malenkov, Beria, Zhdanov, and old Kalinin, who was already extremely ill with stomach cancer. “I haven’t led regiments in the field…. I’m refusing the star as undeserved.” They argued but he insisted. “Say what you like. I won’t accept the decorations.”
…Malenkov and Beria were left with the gold star of the Hero of the Soviet Union: how to get him to accept it? Here Stalin’s court dissolves into an opera bouffe farce in which the cantankerous Generalissimo was virtually pursued around Moscow by courtiers trying to pin the medal on him. First Malenkov agreed to try but Stalin would not listen. Next he recruited Poskrebyshev who accepted the mission but gave up when Stalin resisted energetically. Beria and Malenkov tried Vlasik but he too failed. They decided it was best to ambush Stalin when he was gardening because he loved his roses and lemon trees so they persuaded Orlov, the Kuntsevo commandant, to present it. When Stalin asked for the secateurs to prune his beloved roses, Orlov brought the secateurs but kept the star behind his back, wondering what to do with it.
“What are you hiding?” asked Stalin. “Let me see.” Orlov gingerly brought out the star. Stalin cursed him: “Give it back to those who thought up this nonsense!”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 495

There is little doubt that this Stalin-worship–for that is what it amounts to–could be stopped by him if he so desired, but that does not necessarily mean that he likes it. In point of fact on more than one occasion he has shown displeasure at excessive flattery. The Bolshevik (the official Party monthly) in March, 1947, reported Stalin’s comment on a military history written by one Colonel Razin, in which the Soviet leader said “the panegyrics” (of himself) ” grate upon the ear,” and “it is really uncomfortable to read them.” The New York Times, March 9, 1947, reports that Stalin had recently used a blue pencil on a biography of Lenin in which he (Stalin) was praised excessively. He left only one sentence about himself, that “he was and remains a loyal disciple of Lenin.”
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 50

[In reply to the railway workers in Tiflis on June 8, 1926 Stalin stated] I must say in all conscience, comrades, that I do not deserve a good half of the flattering things that have been stated here about me. I am, it appears, a hero of the October Revolution, the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the leader of the Communist International, a legendary warrior-knight and all the rest of it. That is absurd, comrades, and quite unnecessary exaggeration. It is the sort of thing that is usually said at the graveside of a departed revolutionary. But I have no intention of dying yet.
…I really was, and still am, one of the pupils of the advanced workers of the Tiflis railway workshops.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 8, p. 182

“And what is Stalin? Stalin is only a minor figure.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 176

“Your congratulations and greetings I place to the credit of the great Party of the working class which bore me and raised me in its own image and likeness.”
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 12, p. 146

[In a December 30, 1926 letter to Ksenofontov Stalin stated] I object to your calling yourself “a disciple of Lenin and Stalin.” I have no disciples. Call yourself a disciple of Lenin; you have the right to do so, notwithstanding Shatskin’s criticism. But you have no grounds for calling yourself a disciple of a disciple of Lenin’s. It is not true. It is out of place.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 9, p. 156

[In a letter to Comrade Shatunovsky in August 1930 Stalin stated] You speak of your “devotion” to me. Perhaps it was just a chance phrase. Perhaps…. But if the phrase was not accidental I would advise you to discard the “principle” of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 20

He asked for limits to the praise [being heaped upon him] and muttered to his propagandists that they were overstepping them. In 1945, discussing plans for the first volume of his collected works, he proposed to restrict the print run to 30,000 copies because of the paper shortage. Other participants in the meeting got him to agree to 300,000 copies, arguing that the public demand would be enormous.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 541

He both loved and detested excesses of flattery. For such reasons he chose to place technical limits on his iconography to a greater extent than did most contemporary foreign rulers.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 545

STALIN DENOUNCES THOSE REJECTING THE USE OF ARMS

Stalin strongly attacked those he thought guilty of dilatory tactics and opportunism. A friend described a speech by Stalin at this time. He wrote that Comrade Stalin mounted the platform and addressed the audience; “You have one bad habit,” he said, “of which I must plainly warn you. No matter who comes forward, and no matter what he says, you invariably greet him with hearty applause. If he says, ‘Long live freedom’ you applaud; if he says ‘Long live revolution’ you applaud. And that is quite right. But when somebody comes along and says, ‘Down with arms,’ you applaud too. What chance is there of a revolution succeeding without arms? And what sort of a revolutionist is he who cries ‘Down with arms’? The speaker who said that is probably a Tolstoian, not a revolutionary. But, whoever he is, he is an enemy of the revolution, an enemy of liberty for the people…. What do we need in order to really win? We need three things, understand that and bear it well in mind. The first is arms, the second is arms, and the third is arms.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 17

STALIN WAS AN ATHEIST

G.Glurdjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin’s relates:
“I began to speak of God. Joseph heard me out, and after a moment’s silence said:
“‘You know, they are fooling us, there is no God….
I’ll lend you a book to read; it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense,'” Joseph said.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 8

“Comrade Stalin brought these books to our notice. The first thing we had to do, he would say, was to become atheists.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 12

It must be noted that Stalin was not a member of the “League of Militant Atheists.” He was, of course, first and foremost a revolutionary, and he continued Lenin’s anticlerical line.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 188

I once asked him [Stalin] if he believed in luck. I didn’t put the question very seriously, but thought it would be a sort of human interest touch at the end of an interview. To my dismay he became indignant and replied sharply, “Do you think I’m an old Georgian granny to believe in things like that? I’m a Bolshevik, and I don’t believe in gods or devils or any form of obsolete superstition.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 147

Glurdzhidze recalls in his turn that the 13-year-old Joseph told him once: “You know, they are deceiving us. There is no God….” In reply to the amazed cry of his interlocutor, Joseph suggested that he read a book from which it was evident that “the talk of God is empty chatter.” What book was that? ” Darwin. You must read it.”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 12

STALIN EXPELLED FROM SEMINARY FOR HIS POLITICAL ACTIONS

But the real reason for his expulsion was his political activities. He was expelled from the seminary as a person who harbored views dangerous to Tsardom.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 17

STALIN WAS AN EXCELLENT ORGANIZER OF THE PROLETARIAT

Working in Baku in this difficult period of reaction, Comrade Stalin displayed his talents as an organizer and propagandist to a greater degree than ever. He literally won Baku for Bolshevism. That was a great service Comrade Stalin performed.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 52

Somebody had to look after that vast mass of agitators, shop-stewards, and members of the Soviets. Somebody had to keep in touch with them from day to day, convey to them the decisions of the Central Committee and instruct them how to vote in the Soviets and behave vis-a-vis the other parties. This arduous job was carried out by Stalin and Sverdlov.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 144

As an organizer, he was supreme. He was a stickler for details that were undertaken to be done, and if they were not done, he made certain that they were done.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 104

STALIN WAS A GREAT POLITICAL TACTICIAN

MOLOTOV: Stalin was the greatest tactician. Hitler, after all, signed the nonaggression pact with us without the acquiescence of Japan! Stalin made him do that. Japan was deeply resentful toward Germany and gained no benefit from their alliance. Our talks with the Japanese Minister of foreign affairs, Matsuoka, had great significance. At the end of Matsuoka’s visit Stalin made a gesture that caught the whole world’s attention. He personally went to the station to see off the Japanese minister. No one had expected this; Stalin never met or saw off anyone. The Japanese and the Germans were stunned.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 21

MOLOTOV AND STALIN DID NOT EXPECT AN ATTACK UNTIL ENGLAND LOST

CHUEV: And maybe Stalin overestimated Hitler? Maybe he thought Hitler was smart enough not to attack us until he finished the war with England?
MOLOTOV: That’s right, that’s right. Not only Stalin had this feeling but I and others did, too. On the other hand, there was nothing left for Hitler to do but attack us. He would never have finished his war with England–you just try to finish a war with England!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 23

Zhukov said that ‘most of the people around him supported Stalin in the political judgments he made before the war, especially the notion that, as long as we did not rise to any provocation, or make any false step, then Hitler would not break the pact and attack us. This line was most ardently advocated by Molotov who, after his trip to Berlin in November 1940, continued to insist that Hitler would not attack the USSR.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 371

The wily Boss, a leader whose first rule was “trust no one,” whose whole strategy consisted in misleading the enemy, suddenly proves gullible in his dealings with the archenemy, is suddenly himself so easily gulled that he pays not the slightest attention to repeated warnings, but puts implicit trust in the liar Hitler, who has betrayed so many and broken his word so often….
It would be believable if it were talking about a different man, and not our Stalin. He had proved conclusively in the 60 years of his life that he was not a bit like that.
What, then, did happen?
As early as March 1941 his intelligence service had supplied him in effect with the full details of Barbarossa. The date set for the German invasion was somewhere between May 15 and June 15. But the Boss was a pragmatist and expected people to behave rationally. Hitler simply could not afford such a risky venture. As a Marxist, Stalin respected economic realities. It seemed incredible to him that Hitler would wage war simultaneously on several countries whose combined resources were incomparably greater than those of Germany.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 450

STALIN HELPED OTHERS AND PEOPLE GRUMBLED

CHUEV: Many people are displeased that we help others too much. They say it’s time to take care of ourselves….
MOLOTOV: In Stalin’s time we helped, too, though we had less wherewithal. Then people grumbled, too….
If tiny Vietnam, with help from friends, can stand up to American imperialism, what does the Soviet Union have to fear? Only its own helplessness, faintheartedness, slackness of discipline.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 66

STALIN WOULD NOT EXCHANGE HIS SON FOR A NAZI GENERAL

Svetlana writes that Stalin did not get along with his son Jakov.
He [Jakov] served in the artillery. As a prisoner of war of the Germans, he bore up bravely and nobly. He perished, a hero. Stalin would not exchange a captured German General for Jakov. He said, “All of them are my sons.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 209

STALIN GAVE HIS CHILDREN NO SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND DID NOT PLAY FAVORITES

CHUEV: Artem Fedorovich told me: “…Once he [Stalin] gathered his sons together: Jakov, Vasily, and me. ‘Boys, war is coming. You will have to become soldiers.’
“Jakov and me,” said Artem, “joined the artillery, and Vasily became a pilot. All of us went to the front–from the first day; Stalin telephoned to have us taken there immediately. It was the only privilege we got from him as a father. There remain several letters from Vasily to his father. In one of them from the front, he asked his father to send him money. A snack bar had opened in his detachment and he wanted a new officer’s uniform. His father replied: ‘1. As far as I know, the rations in the air force are quite sufficient. 2. A special uniform for Stalin’s son is not on the agenda.’ Vasily didn’t get the money.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 210

…Even my wife was arrested when I was a Politburo member.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 282

She (my wife, Polina) was in prison for a year and in exile more than three years.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 323

“How are you [Svetlana] getting on there? Have you made friends with anybody in Kuibyshev?” he [my father] asked casually. “No,” I said. “They’ve set up a special school there for children who’ve been evacuated, and there’s a whole lot of them.” It never occurred to me that this remark might cause any special reaction.
My father suddenly turned a pair of darting eyes on me as he always did when something made him mad. “What? A special school?” I saw that he was getting angrier by the minute. “Ah, you–” he was trying to find a word that wasn’t too improper–” Ah, you dammed caste! Just think! The government and the people from Moscow come and they give them their own school. That scoundrel Vlasik– I bet he’s behind it!” By this time he was furious and was distracted only because there were pressing matters to attend to and other people in the room.
He was quite right. It was a caste, a caste of bigwigs from the capital that had come to Kuibyshev. Half the population had to be evicted to make room for all these families, who were used to a comfortable life and felt cramped in modest provincial apartments.
But it was too late to do anything about it. The caste was already in existence, and it lived by laws of its own.
I visited Moscow in November, 1941, and in January, 1942, for a day or two each time, to see my father. He was just as irritable and busy as on my first visit and had absolutely no time for me and my foolish, domestic concerns.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 166

My father didn’t object when I told him I was leaving the Zhdanovs’. “Do as you like,” was all he said. Still, he was unhappy about the divorce and didn’t like it.
…He was pleased when I moved into an apartment of my own; he felt I’d been provided for long enough. No one tried harder than he to imbue his children with the idea that they had to support themselves. “Apartments, dachas, cars–don’t think they’re yours. It doesn’t any of it belong to you,” he said to me again and again.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 211

My father saw the state he [Vasily] was in. He scolded him unmercifully. He humiliated him and browbeat him like a little boy in front of everyone, but of course it did no good. Vasily was ill, and what he needed was to be cured. But he didn’t want to be cured and nobody dared suggest it.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 213

My father was the one who signed the order removing Vasily as chief aviation officer of the Moscow Military District.
…”I’m 70 years old,” my father used to say to him [Vasily], pointing to the books he was reading on history, literature, and military affairs, “yet I still go on learning.”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 214

It is sometimes said that Stalin was harsh, but fair. The case is cited of his treatment of his younger son, Vasili, whom he mercilessly removed from his post because he was not doing his job, but in fact because Vasili had discredited his father. Stalin fired his son both during and after the war. On May 26,1943 Beria reported to Stalin that Vasili’s drunkenness was causing trouble again. Vasili had by now become commanding officer of an air regiment. Furious, Stalin at once dictated the following order to Marshal of the Air Force Novikov:
1. Vasily Stalin is to be removed at once from the post of commanding officer of his air regiment and be given no other command post without my orders.
2. Both the regiment and its former commander, Col. Stalin, are to be told that Col. Stalin is being removed from his post as regimental commander for drunkenness and debauchery and because he is ruining and perverting the regiment.
3. You are to inform me that these orders have been carried out.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 468

As for Stalin’s younger son Vasily, he continued to get undeserved promotion in the Air Force, becoming a lieutenant general at the age of 29–all this not because Stalin intervened for him, which he seems not to have done, but because it was seldom that anyone dared do otherwise. Bulganin, Malenkov, Beria and Kaganovich did him favors.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 293

[Footnote] Yasha was killed by the Germans in a camp of Russian prisoners of war in 1944. Stalin offered a reward of one million rubles to anyone who could locate his grave.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 100

I was obliged to admit that Aunt Rosa was at least a well educated person.
“I don’t think we adults want to stay for the play,” Rosa said, “but I’ll leave my son Basil with you. Will you keep an eye on him? I’m going with my friends for a walk in the Gorky Culture and Rest Park. I’ll, back for Basil in about three hours.”
“Have you a car?” Rosanelle asked.
“No. We’ll take a taxi.”
“I’ll let you have mine,” the theater manageress said.
I was somewhat surprised that Stalin’s wife had no car, while all the other women of her circle seemed to be provided with one. I learned afterward that my uncle forbade her to use official cars for private purposes. Apparently he was the only beneficiary of official cars who had such scruples.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 112

Vasily was transferred to Moscow, and for while my father was pleased to hear his son being praised as “very capable.” But pretty soon he became convinced that alcoholism had destroyed the thirty year old general, and in 1952 he was obliged to discharge Vasily from his high military post. His sons had not brought any glory to his name, either in the army or in politics.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 371

But Stalin finally removed Vasili from his command for drunken incompetence. And it does not seem that he ever intervened directly to advance his career.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 58

In the course of the East Pomeranian operation, I think it was on March 7 or 8, 1945, I had to make an urgent flight to the General Headquarters on an order from the Supreme Commander.
Straight from the airfield I went to Stalin’s country house where he was staying. He was not quite well.
Stalin asked me a few questions about the situation in Pomerania and on the 0der, heard out my answers, then said: “Let’s stretch our legs a little, I feel sort of limp.”
From the way he looked, talked, and moved you could tell that he was greatly fatigued. After four war years he was badly overworked. He had worked too much and slept too little all that time, taking reverses, particularly those of 1941-42, close to heart. All of that could not but tell on his health and his nervous system.
On our way back I said:
“I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time about your son Yakov, have you heard anything about his fate?”
Stalin did not answer at once. We had made a good hundred steps before he said in a kind of subdued voice:
“Yakov won’t be able to get out of captivity. They’ll shoot him, the killers. From what we know, they are keeping him separately from the other POWs and are persuading him to betray his country.”
Stalin was silent for a minute, then he said: “No, Yakov will prefer any kind of death to betrayal.”
It was obvious that he was worrying about his son. At the table, Stalin sat silent for a long time, not touching food.
Then, as though continuing his thoughts aloud, he said bitterly:
“What a terrible war. How many lives of our people it has carried away. They’ll probably be very few families left who haven’t lost a relative.”
Stalin then told me about the Yalta Conference. I understood that he was pleased with the results, and thought highly of Roosevelt.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 582

He also took to task the first husband of his daughter, Svetlana, whose husband took advantage of a tailor enterprise, getting his suits sewn… but not only his own, but with the gang of friends which began to have loose morals and behavioral problems. When Stalin found this out, he called Svetlana on the carpet and stated:
You are still a student, he is also a student, both of you are married. Do both of you think that you will take advantage of your father and of the State? This will not happen!
After that, the whole gang was thrown out and none of them were allowed to receive any sort of privileges.
The counter-revolutionary assassin of Lenin, Kaplan, was in jail, but it was found out that she had her garden and land near Solovkah. When she died in prison and Stalin was told about this, he said:
Everything has it’s time.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 54

It is needed to be said that Stalin’s son Vasily was also captured by German fascists who wanted him exchanged for Von Paulus, the Marshal that was captured in Stalingrad. Stalin would not concur in this.
This act alone showed the courage, the dedication of Stalin who said, “All Red Army soldiers are my sons, I cannot choose one over the others!”
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 187

His [Yasha] entire short life shows that he stayed loyal to his father. When the Germans took him prisoner in July 1941 they wanted to make use of him, but Yasha was inflexible. They offered to exchange him for Paulus. Stalin refused, saying that mere officers were not exchanged against Field Marshals. Svetlana told me how her father felt when he took that decision. He was in such anguish that he asked her to stay with him in his bedroom several nights in succession, something he had never done when she was small. He couldn’t sleep, talked to her about his youth, his first marriage, Yasha’s childhood. He also recalled her childhood. “I felt then that he did love us, in his own way,” she told me. He aged a lot in that period. Later I asked my father how he thought Stalin should have acted when faced with such a dilemma. “You know, he could not have acted otherwise,” he replied.

On two occasions Stalin opposed a promotion for Vasili and refused to let him be given command of a division, giving as his reason that the young man lacked the necessary experience. He gave in, though, when it was pointed out to him that men less gifted and less deserving had obtained higher appointments than this.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 154

Soon afterwards, Vasily entered an artillery school, along with other leaders’ children including Stepan Mikoyan; his teacher also wrote to Stalin to complain of Vasily’s suicide threats: “I received your letter about Vasily’s tricks,” wrote Stalin to Martyshin [his son’s teacher]. “I’m answering very late because I’m so busy. Vasily is a spoilt boy of average abilities, savage (a type of Scythian), not always honest, uses blackmail against weak ‘rules,’ is often impudent with the weak…. He’s spoilt by different patrons who remind him at every step that he’s ‘Stalin’s son.’ I’m happy to see you’re a good teacher who treats Vasily like other children and demands he obey the school regime…. If Vasily has not ruined himself until now, it’s because in our country there are teachers who give no quarter to this capricious son of a baron. My advice is: treat Vasily MORE STRICTLY and don’t be afraid of this child’s false blackmailing threats of ‘suicide.’ I’ll support you….”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 180

The refusal to swap Yakov has been treated as evidence of Stalin’s loveless cruelty but this is unfair…. it is hard to imagine that either Churchill or Roosevelt would have swapped their sons if they had been captured–when thousands of ordinary men were being killed or captured. After the war, a Georgian confidant plucked up the courage to ask Stalin if the Paulus offer was a myth.
He “hung his head,” answering “in a sad, piercing voice”: “Not a myth… Just think how many sons ended in camps! Who would swap them for Paulus? Were they worse than Yakov? I had to refuse…. What would they have said of me, our millions of Party fathers, if having forgotten about them, I had agreed to swapping Yakov? No, I had no right….” Then he again showed the struggle between the nervy, angry, tormented man within and the persona he had become: “Otherwise, I’d no longer be Stalin.” He added: “I so pitied Yasha!”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 445-446

On May 26, Stalin ordered air-force Commander Novikov to “1. dismiss Col. VJ Stalin immediately from…command of air regiment; 2. announce to the regimental officers and VJ Stalin that Col. Stalin is dismissed for hard drinking, debauchery, and corrupting the regiment.”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 451

Zhenya Alliluyeva was sentenced to 10 years, her daughter Kira to five years, “for supplying information about the personal life of [Stalin’s] family to the American Embassy.” Anna Redens also got five years.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 574

In the course of the East Pomeranian operation, most likely on March 7 or 8, I had to urgently fly to the General Headquarters on order from the Supreme Commander.
Straight from the airfield I went to Stalin’s country house where he was staying. He was not in the best of health.
Stalin asked me a few questions about the situation in Pomerania and on the Oder, heard out my answers, then said: “Let’s stretch our legs a little, I feel sort of limp.”
From the way he looked, talked, and moved you could tell that he was extremely fatigued. After four years of war he was utterly overworked. He had worked overly hard and slept too little all that time, taking reverses, particularly those of 1941-1942 close to heart. All was bound to tell on his health and nervous system.
As we were strolling through the park, Stalin unexpectedly began telling me about his childhood….
On our way back I said: “Comrade Stalin, I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time about your son Yakov. Have you heard anything about him?”
Stalin did not answer at once. We took a good hundred steps before he said in a kind of subdued voice:
“Yakov won’t be let free. The fascists will shoot him first. From what we know, they are keeping him separate from the other POWs, and are putting pressure on him to betray his country.”
Stalin was silent for a minute, then said firmly: “No, Yakov will prefer any kind of death to betrayal.”
It was obvious that he was deeply worried about his son. At the table, Stalin sat silent for a long time, not touching his food.
Then, as though continuing his thoughts aloud, he said bitterly:
“What a terrible war. How many lives of our people it has carried away. There are probably very few families of us left who haven’t lost someone near to them…. Only the Soviet people, tempered in battle, and imbued with great spirit by the Communist Party, could endure trials and tribulations of this magnitude.”
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 339=340

STALIN WAS ABRUPT BUT FAIR

In your opinion, did Stalin have negative features?
He was by character an abrupt person, but at the same time fair.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 214

Stalin and his system were apparently genuinely popular; he was an excellent father figure for tens of millions of his subjects, strict but fair and wise.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 14

STALIN WILL EVENTUALLY BE REHABILITATED AND HONORED BY THE SOVIET PEOPLE

In time Stalin will be rehabilitated in history. There will be a Stalin Museum in Moscow. Without fail! By popular demand.
The role of Stalin was tremendous. I do not doubt that his name will rise again and duly win a glorious place in history.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 215

Molotov remarked that, “Stalin will be rehabilitated, needless to say.”
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 335

STALIN’S RETURN COULD BRING BETTER TIMES

GOLOVANOV: If Stalin were alive today, the Soviet people would live much better, there would be five times greater aid to Vietnam, and we would have excellent relations with China and India.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 302

STALIN’S JUDGMENT NEAR THE END WAS OCCASIONALLY POOR

Stalin had undergone so many years of ordeal and had taken so much on his own shoulders that in his last years he suffered from impaired judgment. Impaired in the sense that a simple mistake might seem to him evidence of some dastardly plot.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 317

STALIN CARRIED A HEAVY BURDEN AND BURNED OUT AT THE END

Stalin shouldered a burden so heavy that it naturally left him burned out…. but the main thing is that he was utterly drained in every way. Also he was afraid of taking medicine. He had good reason. Stalin had enemies enough who might put one over on him. His fear that someone might slip some poison either into his food or into his medicine, however, went beyond all limits….
To a certain extent this is understandable, because really it was very difficult to bear the entire burden on his own two shoulders. Apparently he had all kinds of doubts whether anyone induced to take up this burden would have the patience, the will, and the strength to bear it. That was his predicament.
Although these events did not leave me untouched, and although I might not have remained in one piece had he lived on, I have regarded him and still regard him as a great man who fulfilled such immense and arduous tasks as none of us, none of those in the party back then, could have fulfilled.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 327

STALIN SOMETIMES ERRED ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM

CHUEV: Some kind of demarcation must be drawn between socialism and communism.
MOLOTOV: That goes without saying. The line is already sharply drawn. Under communism there is no state, while Stalin allowed for the existence of the state under communism. That is absurd from the point of view of Leninism. Stalin said, under communism there should be no state, but if capitalist encirclement remains….
CHUEV: There will be an army and state apparatus.
MOLOTOV: What kind of communism is that? Good housing, good living conditions, everything provided for–this is enough from the philistine’s point of view. If all the poor live more or less well, they say, that means we already have socialism, not capitalism. But this in itself is not complete socialism….
Marx holds that in a society based on collectivist principles, producers will not engage in exchange of their commodities. There will be no trade. Will they then dump their goods into a garbage pit? No, they will get along without trade, without commodity-money relations. Here you have socialism.
CHUEV: In that case, what distinguishes communism from socialism?
MOLOTOV: A lot. The point, you see, is this. When classes do not exist, when there are no money-commodity relations, and the level of production is still not high enough so that each receives according to his needs….
CHUEV: To fully satisfy his needs?
MOLOTOV: No, not fully, but for the most part. Generally speaking, maximum satisfaction of human needs will never be achieved. Stalin’s assertion that it would be is empty, a banality so to speak. What does maximum satisfaction of needs mean? Everyone gets himself a piano? everyone gets himself an automobile? That is absurd. Socialism means satisfaction of all basic needs, not maximum satisfaction. Everyone will have the right to use publicly owned facilities. Along with the other former ministers–and not only ministers–I will have my meals at a public dining facility. I pay sixty rubles per month and take my meals. Having completed 100 work days, you would be entitled to a certain remuneration….
CHUEV: What kind of accounting would be practiced? Socialism is accounting.
MOLOTOV: The most rigorous, rigorous accounting. Communism is a higher stage than socialism, because there will be such abundance that it will be possible to eliminate the distinction between physical and intellectual labour as well as to eliminate social classes. It will also be possible to eliminate the distinction between town and country, but differences in standards of living will remain.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 378-380

A socialism in which money dominates is not the socialism of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. There is no such socialism.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 383

The party proclaimed from the lofty tribune of the party congress, “The present generation of Soviet people will live under communism.” This proposition is so remote from reality that the people have ceased believing anything. As never before, the slogan “The people and the party are one” rang true. The party deceived the people, and the people having lost faith and working slapdash, began to deceive the party.
I have often thought about this and have come to the conclusion that this happened because there was no correct conception of what constitutes socialism.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 394

STALIN: The society which we have built cannot possibly be called “state socialism.” Our Soviet society is socialist society, because the private ownership of the factories, works, the land, the banks, and the transport system has been abolished and public ownership put in its place. The social organization which we have created may be called a Soviet socialist organization, not entirely completed, but fundamentally, a socialist organization of society. The foundation of this society is public property: state, i.e., national, and also co-operative, collective farm, property. Neither Italian fascism nor German National “Socialism” has anything in common with such a society. Primarily, this is because the private ownership of the factories and works, of the land, the banks, transport, etc., has remained intact, and therefore, capitalism remains in full force in Germany and in Italy.
Yes, you’re right, we have not yet built communist society. It is not so easy to build such a society. You are probably aware of the difference between socialist society and communist society. In socialist society certain inequalities in property still exist. But in socialist society there is no longer unemployment, no exploitation, no oppression of nationalities. In socialist society everyone is obliged to work, although he does not in return for his labor receive according to his requirements, but according to the quantity and quality of the work he has performed. That is why wages, and, moreover, unequal, differentiated wages, still exist. Only when we have succeeded in creating a system under which in return for their labor people will receive from society, not according to the quantity and quality of the labor they perform, but according to their requirements, will it be possible to say that we have built communist society.
Stalin, J. The Stalin-Howard Interview. New York: International Publishers, 1936, p. 11

[Letter from Sydney Bloomfield to Dimitrov, Aug. 12, 1938, discussing changes in the policies of the U.S. Communist Party]
… Communism is the classless society in which the exploitation of man by man has been abolished; in which the state has withered away; in which the economic and other material conditions of life are on such a high level that the relations between men are on a high idealistic plane based upon the contribution of the individual to society according to his ability and from which the individual receives according to his needs; that Communism, which is the highest development of Socialism (which can be realized in one country) is universal. Now, since Americanism has not yet shown any sign of any society higher than capitalism, and sense even in its development (in one country) the most it possibly could develop to, would be Socialism, therefore to call it “Communism” (regardless of which century) would be incorrect from a Marxian standpoint.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 612

The principle of socialism is that in a socialist society each works according to his ability and receives articles of consumption, not according to his needs, but according to the work he performs for society. This means that the cultural and technical level of the working-class is still not a high one, that the distinction between mental and manual labor persists, that the productivity of labor is still not high enough to insure an abundance of articles of consumption, and, as a result, society is obliged to distribute articles of consumption, not in accordance with the needs of the members of society, but in accordance with the work they performed for society.
Communism represents a higher stage of development. The principal of communism is that in a communist society each works according to his abilities and receives articles of consumption, not according to the work he performs, but according to his needs as a culturally developed individual. This means that the cultural and technical level of the working-class has become high enough to undermine the basis of the distinction between mental labor and manual labor; that the distinction between mental labor and manual labor has already disappeared, while productivity of labor has reached such a high-level that it is able to insure an absolute abundance of articles of consumption, and as a result society is able to distribute these articles according to the needs of its members.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 106

There is no reason to doubt that only such a rise in the cultural and technical level of the working-class can undermine the basis of the distinction between mental labor and manual labor, that it alone can ensure the high level of productivity of labor and the abundance of articles of consumption which are necessary in order to begin the transition from socialism to communism.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 107

… we say openly and honestly that the victory of socialism in our country is not yet final.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 162

STALIN’S DEAD WIFE TREATED HIM WELL AND STALIN WAS KIND TO HER FAMILY

It’s not true that after my mother died her family repudiated my father. On the contrary, they all did their best to make him happy. They treated him with consideration, and he was cordial and kind to them all.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 19

STALIN LOVED HIS DEAD WIFE TREMENDOUSLY

My grandparents took her [my mother] death terribly hard. They understood only too well how much my father must be suffering. And so, it seemed to me then and still seems to me now, looking back, nothing in their attitude changed. No one spoke openly of the pain all three of them shared, but it was always imperceptibly present.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 48

The next day he [my father] suddenly started talking to me for the first time about my mother and the way she died. We were by ourselves. The anniversary of her death, November 8, fell during the November 7 holiday every year. It ruined the holiday for him for all time, and in his last years he tried to spend November in the south.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 193

In the first years of their life together Stalin loved his young wife very much, and she responded in kind. They soon had a son, Vasily (in the past that had been one of Stalin’s party names). A few years later their daughter, Svetlana, was born….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 55

As his bodyguards indicated in conversations with me many years afterward, Stalin… following the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45… would frequently order a detour from routes of his daily travel between the Kremlin where he worked and his dacha outside Moscow, so that the caravan of cars could stop at the Novodevichi Cemetery [where his wife was buried].
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 186

I have stated these facts in view of the many legends that now exist about Alliluyeva and her relations with Stalin. Ten years ago, visiting an acquaintance, I was shown a book in Russian entitled Stalin, on the Life of the Soviet Dictator. It had been published in Estonia in 1930 when that country was still independent and the home of several emigre publishing houses. After reading only the first part of this book it was clear that the author, who had a Caucasian surname, had used some of the Soviet materials on Stalin that appeared at the time of his 50th birthday, but had simply invented the rest. For example, he asserted that Stalin, in the manner of an eastern despot, kept his wife in seclusion in a large Kremlin apartment and that none of Stalin’s Circle living in the Kremlin ever saw her face.
In reality Nadezhda Alliluyeva was an extremely sociable person and a familiar figure in Party circles.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 81

…Stalin treasures every memory of his wife with a tenderness little in accord with his nature.
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 57

Despite what many subsequently suggested, he [Stalin] attended the ceremony [Nadya’s funeral].
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 293

STALIN’S WIFE’S PHILOSOPHY AND MENTAL STATE

In one of her letters as a schoolgirl my mother had stated the rule that “The more time you have, the lazier you are,” and it was a rule she always observed when it came to her children.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 98

My nurse told me that before she died my mother was unusually irritable and sad. One day an old friend from her school in Leningrad came to see her. They sat and talked awhile in my nursery, which also served us as the room where my mother saw visitors. My nurse heard my mother say again and again that “everything bored her,” that she was “sick of everything” and “nothing made her happy.” The friend asked, “What about the children?” “Everything, even the children,” was my mother’s reply. My nurse saw that it was so, that my mother really was tired of being alive. But it never occurred to her or to anybody else that she was capable of taking her own life within a matter of days.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 105

Her [my mother] self-control, her tremendous inner tension and discipline, her pent-up irritation and discontent built up more and more pressure within until finally she was like a tightly coiled spring. And when the spring uncoiled at last, it did so with ferocious force.
What caused the spring to give, the immediate occasion, was trivial in itself, so trivial one would have said it happened for no reason at all. It was a minor falling out at a banquet in honor of the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution. My father merely said to her, “Hey, you. Have a drink!” My mother screamed, “Don’t you dare ‘hey’ me!” And in front of everyone she got up and ran from the table.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 107

Nadezhda herself was not endlessly patient with Stalin’s way of life…. But the life continued to weigh on her, and in the late 1920s she went to Berlin, where her brother Pavel was then stationed, to consult a neurologist. There seems to have been some family predisposition to depression; both her sister Anna and her brother Fedor were at various times hospitalized for psychological problems.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 128

Nadya was becoming ever more hysterical, or as Molotov put it, “unbalanced.” Sergo’s daughter Eteri, who had every reason to hate Stalin, explains, “Stalin didn’t treat her well but she, like all the Alliluyevs, was very unstable.” She seemed to become estranged from the children and everything else. Stalin confided in Khrushchev that he sometimes locked himself in the bathroom, while she beat on the door, shouting: “You’re an impossible man. It’s impossible to live with you!”
…This image of Stalin as the powerless henpecked husband besieged, cowering in his own bathroom by the wild-eyed Nadya, must rank as the most incongruous vision of the Man of Steel in his entire career. Himself frantic, with his mission in jeopardy, Stalin was baffled by Nadya’s mania. She told her friend that “everything bored her–she was sick of everything.”
“What about the children?” asked the friend.
“Everything, even the children.” This gives some idea of the difficulties Stalin faced. Nadya’s state of mind sounds more like a psychological illness than despair caused by political protest or even her oafish husband. “She had attacks of melancholy,” Zhenya told Stalin; she was “sick.” The doctors prescribed “caffeine” to pep her up. Stalin later blamed the caffeine and he was right: caffeine would have disastrously exacerbated her despair.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 88

[Footnote]: It was Zinaida [Zhdanov’s wife] who was tactless enough to tell Svetlana her mother was mentally “sick.”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 138

STALIN WAS A GEORGIAN WHO LOVED RUSSIA

In spite of her mixed blood my mother, of course, was Russian, a real Russian by temperament and upbringing. My father loved Russia deeply all his life. I know of no other Georgian who had so completely’s sloughed off his qualities as a Georgian and loved everything Russian the way he did. Even in Siberia my father had a real love of Russia–the nature, the people, the language. He always looked back on his years of exile as if they were nothing but hunting, fishing, and walks through the taiga. This love remained with him always.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 119

STALIN WAS A KIND FATHER RAISING HIS DAUGHTER

For 10 years after my mother died, my father was a good father to me. It wasn’t easy with the kind of life he led, but he did his best. Although our home life was shattered, from the time I was six until I was 16 my father was the final, unquestioned authority for me in everything.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 121

But in those years I loved him [Stalin] tenderly, as he loved me. He used to say I was like his mother. That touched him, I think.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 143

Sometimes before he [my father] left he’d come to my room in his overcoat to kiss me good night as I lay sleeping. He liked kissing me while I was little, and I’ll never forget how tender he was to me. It was the warm Georgian tenderness to children.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 144

Events that occurred about that time, in 1942 and 1943, came between me and my father permanently. We began to become alienated from one another. But I shall never forget his affection, his love, and tenderness to me as a child. He was rarely as tender to anyone as he was to me. At one time he must have loved my mother very much. And he also loved and respected his own mother.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 153

…In fact, though Stalin had little time for his young son and daughter, he seems to have had a more affectionate manner towards them than their mother’s.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 128

This [Stalin tearing up the letters and photographs of his daughter’s boyfriend] is often presented as the height of Stalin’s brutality yet, even today, no parents would be delighted by the seduction (as he thought) of their schoolgirl daughters, especially by a married middle-aged playboy.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 450

“My father talked about his mother a lot, and always with great love. People today portray him as a caricature; that he neglected and hated his mother. He was a very complicated man. He was made out to be completely black, but there was a great deal else in him. Because of his love for his mother, there was tenderness, there was love, love towards me. He used to say to me, “You look like my mother, it’s ridiculous how much! It’s unbelievable.” I remember my father now as being loving and tremendously tender towards me; had he had no love in him at all I would not have received that. I got all the warmth and hugs and kisses.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 199

STALIN’S SONS ARGUED A LOT

Yakov didn’t get along with Vasily. Although they were brothers, they were so different they could never agree on anything.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 148

I saw him [Yakov] angry only twice. Otherwise I never would have known he was capable of anger. Both times his loss of temper was occasioned by Vasily’s penchant for profanity in front of me and other women, and in general for swearing whenever he felt like it, no matter who happened to be present. Yakov couldn’t stand it. He turned on Vasily like a lion and they had a fist fight.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 158

STALIN DEVOTED HIMSELF TO THE CAUSE MORE THAN TO HIS FAMILY

But he [my father] was a bad and neglectful son, as he was a father and husband. He devoted his whole being to something else, to politics and struggle. And so people who weren’t personally close were always more important to him than those who were.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 154

He lived very much as a bachelor. His consumptive first wife, in the Caucasus, he never saw again. He had no home life. The comrades looked after his children as best they could. The father’s whole life interest and energy was given to the cause of revolution. A man of so many aliases, changes of abode, imprisonments, and banishments could not very well fulfil his part either as husband or father.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 29

For the past 35 years there has been in his mind only one single thought, and to this he has sacrificed youth, security, health, and all the other blessings of life, not that he himself might govern but that there might be a government according to the principles to which he has sworn fealty. “My life’s task,” he said to me, “is to lift up the working classes to another level, not the consolidation of a national State but of a Socialist one which will guard the interests of all the workers of the world. If each step in my career did not lead towards the consolidation of this State I should look upon my life as having been lived in vain.” He spoke softly and in his customary muffled tone, almost as if talking to himself….
In Russia, however, at the beginning of the present century whoever was known to be a Socialist had to give up everything that freedom means. He had to exchange peace and security for a wandering and uncertain existence. He had to give up home and family and possessions precisely because he was engaged in undermining the foundations of the social order to which they belonged. Therefore he could not claim them for himself. In the adventurous spirit of youth a person may enter on such a course of life, but only staunch faith in his principles will enable him to hold out and endure.
Stalin did not become a Socialist because his parents were downtrodden. His father was a shoe-maker and at the same time a peasant farmer. Stalin has something of both these classes in his nature. He has no grudge against either class. On the contrary he became revolutionary because of the experience he went through as a student in the clerical seminary to which his father sent him, in the hope that he would be educated for the priesthood. Had this experience not occurred in his life he would probably have remained in much the same position as his parents were. Today he might be either a peasant farmer or a small tradesman in some town are other.
“My parents were uneducated people,” he said to me in answer to a question I had put. “But they did a great deal for me…. Not until I was in the clerical seminary did I become a Socialist, and then out of opposition to the regime in vogue there. It was nothing but constant espionage and chicanery. At nine o’clock in the morning we were summoned to our tea, and when we came back to our dormitories we found that all the drawers had been ransacked. And just as they ransacked our papers they ransacked every corner of our souls. It was unbearable. I would have gone to any length and championed any cause that was possible to champion if only I could use it as a protest against that regime. Just at that time the first illegal group of Russian Socialists came to the Transcaucasian Mountains. They made a great impression on me and I soon acquired a taste for their forbidden literature.”
When this was discovered he was expelled from the seminary, to the horror of his parents. At the age of 16 he enrolled as a member of the Socialist party.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 353

MANY LIES HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT STALIN AND HIS FAMILY

Recently in a French magazine I came across an article by a Scots officer who purported to be another eyewitness of Yakov’s death. You have to be skeptical about articles like that because so many false things have appeared in the West about the “private life” of my father and the various members of his family.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 162

STALIN LIKED CHURCHILL

You could see he [my father] liked Churchill.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 171

STALIN STUDIED HISTORY A LOT

“It’s one of those literary types you want to be!” muttered my father in a tone of displeasure…. Study history. Then you can do what you want.”
…I once again trusted to my father’s authority and went into history.
I’ve never regretted it. History has indeed proved useful.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 184-185

Of one thing I was certain: My Uncle Joe knew his history. If troubled times and decisive days approached, they would not catch him napping. If he were ever to go down in defeat, it would not be by default, it would not be without a fight.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 96

Stalin won three games in a row [of croquet] and arrived chuckling on the veranda, where the table was already set for supper. Sitting down to attack is food, he announced smilingly, “Tonight, after the supper, in accord with my functions as Secretary-General of the Party, I’m going to put everyone through a proverka.”
Everyone pulled a long face. The proverka was hardly popular in the Soviet Union. It is the periodic examination to which all members of the Communist Party must submit to attest the degree of their knowledge of politics, economics, history, etc., according to the Communist conception of these matters. The proverka has an unfortunate result for those who take it, since a lack of success is apt to mean relegation to an inferior post because of “political ignorance.”
Stalin burst into roars of laughter.
“Don’t be afraid,” he chuckled. “I won’t send the results to the special section of the Central Committee of the Party.”
After the meal, the examination began. The first victim was the head of the Orgraspred, Comrade Malenkov.
“Tell us, Comrade Malenkov,” my uncle began, “who originated dialectic materialism?”
“Feuerbach.”
“In what year did Karl Marx die?”
“1883.”
“When was the First International founded?”
“In 1867.”
“And when was it dissolved?”
Malenkov didn’t know. He hazarded several dates, all which by my uncle contradicted, with an amused smile.
“No, Comrade Malenkov… No… No, wrong again.”
He abandoned the effort to get the right answer on this point from his aide, and said, “Let’s switch to general history. When did the Russo-Japanese war begin?”
“On Feb. 8, 1904.”
“Not exact enough! At dawn on Feb. 9, 1904, by a treacherous attack of the Japanese against our fleet in the harbor of Port Arthur. How did the Crimean War end?”
“As a result of the Congress of Paris and the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1856.”
“Not exact enough! The Crimean War was ended by a preliminary peace conference held in Vienna in 1855. The Congress of Paris in 1856 followed the Vienna conference. What was the name of the English minister who proposed that Russia should occupy the Straits in exchange for an agreement concerning Persia and Afghanistan?”
“Lord Ellenborough. That was in 1907. The agreement was actually signed in 1907, but the English cheated us. The question of the Straits remained open.”
“Bravo, Comrade Malenkov! And who else cheated Russia on that same subject?”
“Baron Aerenthal, in his conversation with Izvolsky about Russian consent to the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary. Aerenthal claimed later that Izvolsky had misunderstood.”
“Bravo! You’ll make a first-rate diplomat, Comrade Malenkov!”
Everyone broke into gales of laughter, for it was difficult to imagine Malenkov, with his bashkir face, in the role of a diplomat. The bashkirs were a people of the Urals of Turkish-Altaien origin, a group to which Malenkov’s father belonged.
My uncle passed on to the others. He was having a wonderful time. He delighted in tripping up his victims on the details of the questions, sometimes tricky, which he put to them, and at the same time demonstrating his own minute knowledge of history.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 132-134

My uncle left Malenkov in peace. But he was incorrigible and opened fire again a moment later against Zhdanov.
“Andrei,” he said, “is our great specialist in philosophy. He’s even a professor of philosophy at the Academy or Red Professors. He draws big crowds to his lectures. I went to one of them myself. Comrade Zhdanov was talking about the Stoic philosophers, and he had stoically included among them–would you believe it?–Epicurus! He had confused Epicurus with Epictetus, who wrote a manual of Stoicism. So poor Epictetus became for him Epicuri de grege porcus” [A pig of the Epicurean herd].
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 212

“I don’t understand Latin,” Zhdanov said. “I didn’t have a chance to study at a theological school.”
“That’s a pity! Latin is a ‘must’ for a professor of philosophy.”
Svetlana entered the conversation again.
“Papa, is it true that Epicurus was dissipated?”
“Not at all, not at all!” Stalin said. “He was the greatest philosopher of all time. He was the one who recommended practicing virtue to derive the greatest joy from life.”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 213

STALIN SAYS SVETLANA’S HUSBAND IS TOO CALCULATING

“He’s [my first husband] too calculating, that young man of yours,” he [my father] told me.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 187

My father never asked me to divorce him. He never expressed a desire for me to do any such thing. We broke up after three years, in the spring of 1947, for reasons of a personal nature. I was therefore very much surprised later on to hear it rumored that my father had insisted on a divorce.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 189

My father was pleased, of course, when I was divorced from my first husband, whom he never approved of. His attitude toward me softened after that, but not for long. I was a source of irritation to him and hadn’t turned out the way he hoped at all. But he was affectionate with my son.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 190

All of them were lumped together in a single alleged “Zionist center.”
“That first husband of yours was thrown your way by the Zionists,” my father told me a little later on. “Papa,” I tried to object, “the younger ones couldn’t care less about Zionism.” “No! You don’t understand,” was the sharp answer. “The entire older generation is contaminated with Zionism, and now they’re teaching the young people too.”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 196

STALIN WAS KEPT ISOLATED BY HIS SECURITY PEOPLE

But he [my father] wasn’t afraid of people, ever, and the hypocritical remarks you hear today to the effect that “He didn’t like the people” sound absurd to me.
As we pulled in at the various railroad stations, we’d go for a stroll along the platform. My father would walk as far as the engine, giving greetings to the railway workers as he went. You couldn’t see a single passenger. It was a special train, and no one was allowed on the platform. It was a sinister, sad, depressing sight. Who ever thought up such a thing? Who had contrived all these stratagems? Not he. It was the system of which he himself was a prisoner and in which he was stifling from loneliness, emptiness, and lack of human companionship.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 195

STALIN WAS ALIENATED FROM HIS DAUGHTER

It was hard being with him. It cost me an enormous amount of nervous energy. We were very far apart, and both of us knew it. Each of us yearned to be back in his own home alone, to get a rest from the other. Each was ruffled and upset by the other. Each of us suffered and was sad. Why must life be so absurd? And each of us thought the other was to blame.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 196

…the more I learned about my mother, the more she grew in my eyes, while my father lost his aureole.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 149

STALIN CRITICIZES HIS DAUGHTER FOR BEING ANTI-SOVIET

“You yourself make anti-Soviet statements, “he [my father] told me one day angrily and in complete earnest. I didn’t try to object or ask him where he got that from.
My father hadn’t been far wrong. It was by no means as easy and pleasant at the Zhdanov’s as I’d thought. Our house was dreary, empty, quiet, and uncomfortable. It wasn’t easy living there, but one thing we never had, and that was cheapness of spirit.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 197

STALIN LOVED HIS DAUGHTER

Dear Svetochka! …Where did you ever get the idea that I had abandoned you?! It’s the sort of thing people dream up. I advise you not to believe your dreams. Take care of yourself. Take care of your daughter, too. Signed Your Little Papa.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 199

“I appreciated him more as a father and a parent when I grew up. I do appreciate now that he was a very loving father. I couldn’t grasp it at the time. He always had this tobacco smell, puffing clouds of smoke with his pipe. He was always kissing me and smooching and I didn’t like his mustache on my face. He would squeeze me and hold me in his hands.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 132

He said to me several times, “What will you do when I am gone? You will perish!” He had the feeling that I would be completely wiped out without him. His gentle word to me was always, “You little fool”.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 210

Svetlana says, “But I have been made very angry by all the people who have written about me saying “oh she suffered so much, such a cross to bear, such a difficult life to cope with–she must have suffered as a child.” Nobody abused me. My life was very good and happy until I was 15, and that is a long chunk of time.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 269

STALIN RECEIVED SO MANY GIFTS HE SET UP A MUSEUM FOR THEM

As for the presents which were sent to him from all corners of the earth, he had them collected in one spot and donated them to a museum. It wasn’t hypocrisy or a pose on his part, as a lot of people say, but simply the fact that he had no idea what to do with this avalanche of objects that were valuable, sometimes priceless: paintings, china, furniture, weapons, clothing, utensils, and products of local craftsmanship from everywhere in the world.
Once in a while he gave one of them, a Rumanian or Bulgarian folk costume or something like that, to me. On the whole, however, he considered it wrong that any personal use should be made even of the things that were sent to me. Maybe he realized that the feelings that went into them were symbolic, and he thought the things themselves deserved to be treated as symbols.
In 1950 a Museum of Gifts was opened in Moscow.
I was worried at how badly he looked. He must have felt his illness coming on. Maybe he was aware of some hypertension, for he’d suddenly given up smoking and was very pleased with himself. It must have taken a lot of will power, because he’d smoked for 50 or 60 years. He was probably aware of an increase in his blood pressure, but he hadn’t any doctor to take care of him. Vinogradov, the only one he trusted, had been arrested and he wouldn’t let any other doctor near him.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 206

There were so many gifts given to Stalin by people, by different Soviet Republics, all meant for Stalin’s personal use like a handwoven carpet. This huge carpet from Azerbaijan was worked on for three years by about 30 of the best masters. Stalin, in his usual manner, gave this to the Art Crafts Museum instead of using it in his Kremlin office or at the Dacha. There was also an Arab stallion that was given to Stalin as a gift. Only once did Stalin allow this stallion to pull the sled in winter, then he gave this personal beautiful stallion to a stud farm. Of all the gifts that thousands of people, enterprises, and foreign countries gave Stalin on his 70th birthday, he only kept for himself a pair of gloves and felt boots.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 104

Stalin recived a mountain of presents [on his 70th birthday], some of which were priceless. The Chinese, for example, had sent magnificent objects made of old jade. Stalin took none of them and did not even want to look at them, despite Malenkov’s insistence. He did not feel the need to surround himself with beautiful things. Later, a museum was created for these presents, which was stupid, because splendid antiques appeared there side-by-side with drawings and paintings that showed Stalin as seen by Mexicans or Chinese.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 218

STALIN WAS MUCH MORE REASONABLE AND LESS DOGMATIC THAN HIS CRITICS

The history of the Soviet Union has been a steady swing away from the early ideas of extreme or “militant” communism to more practical and reasonable methods, and inevitable compromise. Stalin was bitterly attacked by Trotsky and the “Old Bolsheviks” as a backslider from initial ideals. But he won and they lost because he was practical and dared to reconcile the present possible goal with the ultimate hoped-for goal.
To put it simply, the Bolsheviks swung way, way off to the “Left,” and believed with fanatic enthusiasm that they could make a new “Left” Heaven upon Earth. Some of them, the Old Bolsheviks and Trotsky, continued to believe it, but Stalin realized that a compromise was necessary. He declined to allow the growing Russian tree to be bound anew by the iron band of Marxist dogma. He allowed a free development on Russian rather than dogmatic Marxist lines.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 277

Nor did Stalin at that time impress people as being more intolerant than befitted a Bolshevik leader. He was, as we have seen, lesS vicious in his attacks on the opposition than the other triumvirs. In his speeches there was usually the tone of a good-natured and soothing, if facile, optimism, which harmonized well with the party’s growing complacency. In the Politburo, when matters of high policy were under debate, he never seemed to impose his views on his colleagues…. To party audiences he appeared as a man without personal grudge and rancor, as a detached Leninist, a guardian of the doctrine who criticized others only for the sake of the cause. He gave this impression even when he spoke behind the closed doors of the Politburo. In the middle of the struggle Trotsky still described Stalin to a trusted foreign visitor as ‘a brave and sincere revolutionary’.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 274

STALIN IS GENEROUS TO HIS FRIENDS

When I mentioned a loan of $200,000, he called this a trifle, saying that we could not do much with this amount, but that the sum would be allocated to us immediately. At my remark that we would repay this as well as all shipments of arms and other equipment after the liberation, he became sincerely angry: “You insult me. You are shedding your blood, and you expect me to charge you for the weapons! I am not a merchant, we are not merchants. You are fighting for the same cause as we. We are duty bound to share with you whatever we have.”
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 63

During the war, he [Stalin] suddenly noticed that his assistant, Poskrebyshev, was keeping large sums of money in his safe. With a mixture of puzzlement and suspicion, and looking not at the money but at Poskrebyshev, he asked where it had come from. ‘It’s your pay as a deputy. It’s been piling up for years now,’ Poskrebyshev explained. ‘I only use what I need to pay your party dues.’ Stalin said nothing, but a few days later he gave orders that substantial sums be sent to Peter Kopanidze, Grigory Glurdzhidze, and Mikhail Dzeradze. Stalin himself wrote on the order:
1) To my friend Pete–40,000.
2) 30,000 rubles to Grisha
3) 30,000 rubles to Dzeradze
May 9, 1944. Soso
On the same day, the wrote a brief note in Georgian:
Grisha! Accept this small gift from me. May 9, 1944. Yours, Soso.
There is, however, evidence of another benevolent gesture that he made after the war. He sent the following letter to the settlement of Pchelok in the Parbig district of Tomsk:
Comrade Solomon. I received your letter of January 16, 1947, sent via Academician Tsipin. I have not forgotten you and the other comrades from Turukhansk, nor will I, I’m sure. I enclose 6000 rubles out of my pay as a deputy. It is not a large amount, but will nevertheless be useful to you. I wish you good health. Stalin.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 7-8

Stalin was articulate, happy, and very generous. Not too many members of the Central Committee of the CPSU had the loyalty and the camaraderie with their bodyguards or helpers as Stalin had. When working in the woods, he always either cooked or washed dishes, he never commanded anyone to do what he could not do himself….
When we were at Borzhomi in the Crimea, friends of Stalin, who were in the underground with him in the early days, came around and Stalin found out that due to many circumstances, his friends were hard pressed for some finances. Since Stalin never carried any money with him, he passed a hat around and we collected 300 rubles, which Stalin gave to his friends in an envelope.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 53

She [Stalin’s first wife] bore him a son, Yakov. With a babe in arms to look after, she had difficulty making ends meet. As always, they had no money. The enormous sums which he obtained went immediately to Lenin. And in any case this near pauper despised money. To him, it was part of the system which he had set out to destroy. When money came his way he unhesitatingly distributed it among his friends. Sergei Alliluyev writes that “I was supposed to go to Petersburg at the end of July 1907, and had no money, so on the advice of comrades I went to see Koba.” Koba immediately offered him money, but Alliluyev could see how poor he was and of course refused to take it. Koba was adamant. He kept trying to force the money on Alliluyev, saying “Take it, take it, you may need it,” until Alliluyev finally gave in and took it. The Alliluyevs owed him a lot. It was Koba who had saved Sergei’s little girl from drowning.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 64

Stalin always had cash, piled up and packets in his desk drawers and cupboards. He never had any need for cash nor did he think it necessary to put it in a safe. Stalin received a salary for each of his 10 official positions (Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Secretary of the Central Committee, member of the Politburo, deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and of the Russian Republic, deputy of the Moscow Soviet, member of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Supreme Commander in Chief, member of the Central Committee, and, until 1947, Minister of Defense). In the Soviet Union at that time, it was normal practice for salaries to be paid in cash twice a month. As the envelopes with bank notes regularly arrived, he would put them away in his desk or cupboard without even bothering to open them. Occasionally he gave large sums to his daughter Svetlana or to other relatives who sometimes visited the dacha, and he also sent money to the widow of his eldest son Yakov, who had died as a prisoner of war; she lived with her daughter, Stalin’s first grandchild, who had been born in 1938. There were also stories of gifts being sent to childhood friends in Georgia.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 91

Sergei Yakovlevich ends his memoirs with this story of a meeting he had with Soso, known now as Koba, in Baku in 1907.
“… ‘Well,’ he [Stalin] said as we parted, ‘it seems you ought to leave. I wish you a safe journey.’ Then he added, ‘By the way, take this money, you’ll need it.’
I tried to refuse, explaining that I was amply provided with funds, but Koba repeated firmly and calmly: ‘Take the money: you have a large family, children. You must look after them.’
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 38

STALIN WAS PRECISE AND WANTED CLARITY AND PRECISION

It was impossible to go to Stalin without being perfectly familiar with the situation plotted on the map and to report tentative or (which was worse) exaggerated information. Stalin would not tolerate hit-or-miss answers, he demanded utmost accuracy and clarity.
Stalin seemed to have a knack of detecting weak spots in reports and documents. He immediately laid them open and severely reprimanded those responsible for inaccuracies. He had a tenacious memory, perfectly remembered whatever was said and would not miss a chance to give a severe dressing-down. That is why we drafted staff documents as best we possibly could under the circumstances.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, APPENDIX 1
Portrait of Stalin by Zhukov, p. 140

Brevity, clearness, and accuracy were his main characteristics.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 8

It was impossible to go to Stalin without being perfectly familiar with the situation plotted on the map and to report tentative or (which was worse) exaggerated information. Stalin would not tolerate hit-or-miss answers, he demanded utmost accuracy and clarity.
Stalin seemed to have a knack of detecting weak spots in reports and documents. He immediately laid them open and severely reprimanded those responsible for inaccuracies. He had a tenacious memory, perfectly remembered whatever was said and would not miss a chance to give a severe dressing-down. That is why we drafted staff documents as best we possibly could under the circumstances.
Stalin based his judgments of crucial issues on the reports furnished by General Headquarters representatives, whom he would send to the Fronts for on-the-spot assessment of the situation and consultations with respective commanders, on conclusions made at the General Headquarters and suggestions by Front commanders and on special reports.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 282

Stalin wanted daily reports on the situation at the fronts. And one had to have the facts at one’s finger tips to report to the Supreme Commander. One could not go to him with maps that had “white spots” on them, or report approximate, much less exaggerated, information. He did not tolerate hit-or-miss replies. He wanted them to be exhaustive and clear….
The Supreme Commander had a knack of detecting week spots in reports and documents. He saw them instantly and reprimanded the culprit most severely. He had a tenacious memory and remembered everything that was said to him, and never missed an opportunity to take people to task for anything they forgot. That is why documents of the General Staff were always most carefully prepared.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 364-365

Skvirsky was often on the telephone to Stalin during the war. ‘Stalin didn’t like beating around the bush. He had no patience with too much talk. In my experience, I saw that he wanted frankness and no varnishing of the facts. Also, he favored commanders who applied themselves and carried out their assignments well.’
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 117

According to Marshal Vasilevsky, Stalin worked very hard himself. But he also made sure that others worked to capacity. The highest standard was insisted on in all matters involving the armed forces, extending to the drawing up of documents. The Marshal says that Stalin even paid attention to improving the literary quality of documents: ‘Stalin never forgave carelessness in work, our failure to finish a job properly, even if this happened with a highly indispensable worker without a previous blemish on his record.’ His demands were in most cases, just, the Marshal goes on: ‘His directives and commands showed Front commanders their mistakes and shortcomings [and] taught them how to deal with all manner of military operations skillfully.’
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 139

The new uncut edition of Zhukov’s memoirs, though containing additional criticisms of Stalin, retains Zhukov’s homage to his Commander-in-Chief: ‘With strictness and exactitude Stalin achieved the near-impossible.’ Also: ‘He had a tremendous capacity for work, a tenacious memory, he was a very gifted man.’ And: ‘Stalin’s merit lies in the fact that he correctly appraised the advice offered by the military experts and then in summarized form– in instructions, directives and regulations–immediately circulated them among the troops for practical guidance.’
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 163

OVERALL DESCRIPTION OF STALIN’S PERSONALITY

After 1940, when I served as Chief of Staff of the Red Army and later, during the war, as Deputy Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I had occasion to get to know Stalin closely.
Stalin’s outer appearance has been described on more than one occasion. Though slight in stature and undistinguished in outward appearance, Stalin was nevertheless an imposing figure. Free of affectation and mannerisms, he won the hearts of everyone he talked with. His visitors were invariably struck by his candor and his uninhibited manner of speaking, and impressed by his ability to express his thoughts clearly, his inborn analytical turn of mind, his erudition and retentive memory, all of which made even old hands and big shots brace themselves and be “on the alert.”
Stalin did not like to remain seated during a conversation. He used to pace the room slowly, stopping now and then, coming up close to the person he was talking with and looking him straight in the face. His gaze was clear, tenacious, and seemed to envelope and pierce through the visitor.
Stalin spoke softly, clearly shaping his phrases, almost without gesticulation. He used to hold his pipe, though not lighted at times, and stroke is mustache with the mouthpiece.
He spoke Russian with a Georgian accent, but flawlessly. In his speech he often used figures of speech, similies, metaphors.
One seldom saw him laughing; and when he laughed he did so quietly, as though to himself. But he had a sense of humor, and appreciated sharp wit and a good joke.
Stalin had excellent eyesight. He never used glasses in reading. As a rule, he wrote by hand. He read widely and was extensively knowledgeable in many different fields.
His tremendous capacity for work, his ability quickly to grasp the meaning of a book, his tenacious memory–all these enabled him to master, during one day, a tremendous amount of factual data, which could be coped with only by a very gifted man.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, APPENDIX 1
Portrait of Stalin by Zhukov, p. 141

We finish with the third “truth” about Stalin’s personality: the brutal and cold man, of mediocre intelligence, with no consideration for his fellow humans and who had nothing but contempt for his aids.
In fact, the men who had to “endure” this monster day after day for those four terrible war years offer a radically different picture of Stalin.
Here is how Zhukov described his “master”:
“After 1940, when I served as Chief of Staff of the Red Army and later, during the war, as Deputy Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I had occasion to get to know Stalin closely. Though slight in stature and undistinguished in outward appearance, Stalin was nevertheless an imposing figure. Free of affectation and mannerisms, he won the heart of everyone he talked with. His visitors were invariable struck by his candour and his uninhibited manner of speaking, and impressed by his ability to express his thoughts clearly, his inborn analytical turn of mind, his erudition and retentive memory, all of which made even old hands and big shots brace themselves and be “on the alert’.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 283
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 261 [p. 235 on the NET]

Lenin and Stalin were faced with a host of inconsistent adversaries whose want of confidence, of energy, of courage and–as one of them who was afterwards converted remarked–whose incredulity resulted in their losing the northern provinces and upset them so much that they gave utterance to the most puerile and paralyzing inconsistencies.
Here Stalin and Trotsky really appeared as the exact opposite to one another. They are two types of men situated at opposite poles of contemporary humanity. Stalin relies with all his weight upon reason and practical common sense. He is impeccably and inexorably methodical. He knows. He thoroughly understands Leninism, and the part played in government by the working classes and by the Party. He does not try to show off and is not worried by a desire to be original. He merely tries to do everything that he can do. He does not believe in eloquence or in sensationalism. When he speaks, he merely tries to combine simplicity with clearness. Like Lenin, he is always driving the same points home. He asks a large number of questions (because they show him the temper of his audience) and he relies largely on the same words, like some great preacher of old. And he has an unerring way of putting all the strong and all the weak points before you. He has no equal in ferreting out reformist complacency and opportunist laziness in a man. “With whatever veil,” says Radek, “opportunism covers his miserable body, Stalin tears it aside.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 175

The qualities that set him over other men and made him the arbiter of their destinies were his great and highly disciplined intelligence, is single-mindedness, his implacable will, his courage, and his ruthlessness. Although his formal education had been limited, he read widely. He studied the history of Russia and other countries and was mindful of the past in the formulation of policy, in day-by-day government, and in the conduct of the war. He acquired a considerable expertise in many fields and could pass from one subject to another with mastery, and he forgot nothing.
… As a man Stalin was remarkable and at times bewildering. Notwithstanding his popular reputation, he was human. He was sensitive to the feelings of others and capable of great warmth. He possessed a lively sense of humor.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. xiv

After 1940, when I served as Chief of Staff of the Red Army and later, during the war, as Deputy Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I had occasion to get to know Stalin closely.
Stalin’s outer appearance has been described on more than one occasion. Though slight in stature and undistinguished in outward appearance, Stalin was nevertheless an imposing figure. Free of affectation and mannerisms, he won the heart of everyone he talked with. His visitors were invariably struck by his candor and his uninhibited manner of speaking, and impressed by his ability to express his thoughts clearly, his inborn analytical turn of mind, his erudition and retentive memory, all of which made even old hands and big shots brace themselves and be “on the alert.”
Stalin did not like to remain seated during a conversation. He used to pace the room slowly, stopping now and then, coming up close to the person he was talking with and looking him straight in the face. His gaze was clear, tenacious, and seemed to envelop and pierce through the visitor.
Stalin spoke softly, clearly shaping his phrases, almost without gesticulation. He used to hold his pipe, though not lighted at times, and stroke his mustache with the mouthpiece.
He spoke Russian with a Georgian accent, but flawlessly. In his speech he often used figures of speech, similes, metaphors.
One seldom saw him laughing; and when he laughed he did so quietly, as though to himself. But he had a sense of humor, and appreciated sharp wit and a good joke.
Stalin had excellent eyesight. He never used glasses in reading. As a rule, he wrote by hand. He read widely and was extensively knowledgeable in many different fields.
His tremendous capacity for work, his ability quickly to grasp the meaning of a book, his tenacious memory–all these enabled him to master, during one day, a tremendous amount of factual data, which could be coped with only by a very gifted man.
It is hard to say which of his character traits was predominant.
Many-sided and gifted as Stalin was, his disposition could not be called even. He was a man of strong will, reserved, fervent, and impetuous.
Ordinarily calm and sober-minded he sometimes lost his temper, and objectivity failed him. He virtually changed before one’s eyes–he grew pale, a bitter expression came to his eyes and his gaze became heavy and spiteful. I knew of few daredevils who could hold out against Stalin’s anger and parry the blow.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 283

Stalin did not like to remain seated during a conversation. Usually, he walked about the room slowly, stopping from time to time, coming close to the person he was talking with, and looking him straight in the eyes. He had a sharp, penetrating gaze. He spoke softly and clearly, separating one phrase from the next, and almost never gesticulated. Mostly, he held his pipe, even if unlit , and stroked his mustache with its mouthpiece. He spoke with a distinct Georgian accent, but his Russian was fluent, and he often used figures of speech, similes, and metaphors….
Seldom did anyone see Stalin laugh. When he did, it was more like a chuckle, as though to himself. But he had a sense of humor, and liked a good joke. He had keen eyesight, and never used glasses to read, even after dark. Usually, he wrote what he needed himself, by hand. He read widely, and was well-informed in a variety of fields. His extraordinary capacity for work, his ability to grasp the crux of the matter quickly, enabled him to look through and assimilate a huge amount of information–and only an extraordinary person could match this feat….
It is hard to say what feature of his character predominated. A gifted man and many-sided, Stalin could never be called a man of even disposition. He had a strong will, he was impetuous, he was secretive. Though usually calm and reasonable, he would at times become highly irritable. And when he was angry he stopped being objective, changed abruptly before one’s eyes, grew paler still, and his gaze became heavy and hard. Not many were the brave men who stood up to Stalin’s anger and parried his attacks….
Stalin’s routine was rather singular. He worked chiefly in the evening hours and at night, hardly ever rising before noon.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 365-366

STALIN KNEW A LOT ABOUT ARMAMENTS, WEAPONRY, AND MILITARY MATERIAL

I can only repeat that Stalin devoted a good deal of attention to problems of armament and materiel. He frequently met with chief aircraft, artillery, and tank designers whom he would question in great detail about the progress achieved in designing the various types of equipment in our country and abroad. To give him his due, it must be said that he was fairly well versed in the characteristics of the basic types of armament.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, APPENDIX 1
Portrait of Stalin by Zhukov, p. 142

The Commissar for Armament, Vannikov, related that early in 1941 Stalin favored the 107-mm gun as the main armament for tanks, and he surprised Vannikov when he added that it was a good weapon, “for he knew it from the Civil War.” Vannikov had advocated the 85-mm antiaircraft gun for the purpose, but Stalin’s preference for the 107-mm proved justified: with some modification it was found to be excellent as an antitank weapon and remained in service.
Stalin demanded precise replies to his questions, and he was quick to show displeasure with vague and inadequate information.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 278

Stalin took a direct interest in the development of weapons, and indeed his approval was needed before any prototype or major change went into production. The improved T-34 medium tank and the IS heavy tank were, the Russians claimed, the most effective tanks in the war, and most German officers admitted their superiority.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 365

On the next evening the discussion was on the war in the Pacific….
At this point Brooke asked whether the Trans-Siberian railways could maintain the necessary supplies for the 60 Red Army divisions. Antonov looked to Stalin for the answer, although Brooke felt sure that he knew it. Stalin did not respond, and Antonov explained that the railway could meet the supply needs of the Red forces. Then Stalin intervened and gave what Brooke called “an astonishing presentation of technical railway detail” with the conclusion that the Trans-Siberian Railway would not be able to maintain adequate supplies. Brooke observed that more than ever before he was impressed by Stalin’s military ability.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 408

The avid interest with which he studied the technical aspects of modern warfare, down to the minute details, shows him to have been anything but a dilettante. He viewed the war primarily from the angle of logistics, to use the modern expression. To secure reserves of manpower and supplies of weapons, in the right quantities and proportions, to allocate them and to transport them to the right points at the right time, to amass a decisive strategic reserve and to have it ready for intervention at decisive moments–these operations made up nine-tenths of his task.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 469

During the spring of 1942, our designers-constructors came out with a new tank. Because of the lack of enough tanks, we suffered losses. The new tank was brought to the Kremlin where experts, including Stalin, tried to find weaknesses, potential problems and what our tanks were in opposition to and how they measured up. The design was good but it had a weakness. The designer said that the tank must stop for a salvo of 3-4 cannon shots then proceed. Stalin did not altogether agree with this and asked the artillery General how this would affect the possibility of Germans aiming at that time in scoring a hit on the stationary object. The designer was upset, but Stalin asked him:
How long will it take to get the weak points corrected?
One month, comrade Stalin.
We’ll give you three months. Do not undermine us. The front is desperately in need of a tank that can have its cannon operating as it is rolling over the terrain.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 43

These facts are meant to show that Stalin was interested in every aspect of warfare…. It was impossible for us to know when he rested. The lights were burning continually, he was always at the maps, always on the telephone with front commanders, getting their positions, advice. He slept in his overcoat, with his boots on.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 44

Stalin was no pampered potentate. He worked exceptional hours on affairs of state, major and minor. He achieved some understanding of modern technology; he knew that modern warfare, to which he was completely converted, needed new weapons, supplies and transport, and he placed these areas of the war effort on the same level as the military campaigning. Stalin’s contribution to the modernization of the Soviet war effort and to its ultimate triumph cannot be ignored. He worked for a more modern state before 1941, and its achievement made possible Soviet victory.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 348

I can only say once again that even before the war Stalin devoted a good deal of attention to armaments and materiel. He frequently summoned aviation, artillery and tank designers, whom he questioned in detail about progress in their field at home and abroad. To be fair, I must say that he was quite well versed in the characteristics of the basic types of armaments.
Stalin urged chief designers and directors of munitions factories, many of whom he knew personally, to produce new models of aircraft, tanks, guns, and other major weapons within established time limits, and to make sure that their quality should be superior to foreign models.
Not a single weapon was adopted or discarded without Stalin’s approval….
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 367

Stalin had an amazingly good memory. I have never met anyone who remembered so much as him. Stalin knew not only all the commanders of the fronts and armies, and there were over a hundred of them, but also several commanders of corps and divisions, as well as the top officials of the People’s Defense Commissariat, not to speak of the top personnel of the central and regional Party and state apparatus. Throughout the war Stalin constantly remembered the composition of the strategic reserve and could at any time name any particular formation. He did not need constant reminders; he knew very well the situation at the fronts, the good and bad sides of the generals, the potential of industry in satisfying the needs of the Front, the GHQ’s capacity in supplies of arms, artillery, tanks, planes, ammunition, and fuel that the troops needed, and he himself distributed them about the fronts.
Vasilevskii, Aleksandr M. A Lifelong Cause. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981, p. 451

Stalin’s remarkable memory, which Vasilevsky considers the best he ever encountered, enabled him to deal personally with the assignment of his high command.
“Stalin knew not only all the commanders of the fronts and armies, and there were over a hundred of them, but also several commanders of corps and divisions, as well as the top officials of the People’s Commissariat of Defense, not to speak of the top personnel of the central and regional party and state apparatus. Throughout the war Stalin constantly remembered the composition of the strategic reserve and could at any time name any particular formation”
recalled Vasilevsky. With this knowledge of individual personalities Stalin engaged in frequent reshuffling of commands, probably more than was useful. He usually preceded a new senior posting with an interview and often discharged unsuccessful officers the same way, or by personal telephone call.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 243

STALIN DID NOT ABUSE OPPONENTS OR TALK IN VIOLENT LANGUAGE

“He never abused an opponent,” adds the same eyewitness [Orakhelashvili]. “We suffered so much from the Mensheviks that when we found ourselves addressing one of them in a speech we could not prevent ourselves from going for him hammer and tongs and lashing him with our tongues. Stalin never liked this form of attack. Violent language was for him a prohibited weapon.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 11

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A REVOLUTIONARY AND STALIN HAD ALL OF IT

The vocation of secret agitator and professional Revolutionary, which attracted him in the wake of so many others, is a terrible vocation. One becomes an outlaw, spied upon by the machinery of the State, hounded by the police; the quarry of the Tsar and of his countless and well-nourished underlings, all armed to the teeth and huge of fist. One is like an exile whose temporary liberty hangs by a mere thread and who hides himself and watches. One is the tiny Revolutionary, almost alone in the crowd, swamped by the immense forces of Capitalism which have the nations in their grip from pole to pole–not only the 180 million subjects of the Tsar but everyone else in the world–and one is the man who, with a few friends, wants to alter all that. One appears now here, now there, to arouse resentment and to excite people to action, and one’s only weapons are one’s own convictions and the power of one’s words. To follow that calling in which, clearly silhouetted on the horizon, no matter what path one takes, stand prison, Siberia, and the gallows, it is not sufficient merely to have a vocation.
One must have iron health at the service of indomitable energy, and an almost limitless capacity for work. One must be in the championship class for doing without sleep and one must be able to throw oneself from one task into another at a moment’s notice, to fast and to freeze, to avoid capture and to know how to escape if one is captured. One must prefer to have one’s skin seared with a red-hot iron or one’s teeth smashed sooner than blurt out a name or an address. One’s whole heart must be devoted to the cause; it is impossible for it to harbour any other object, for one is a wanderer on the face of the earth and one never has either leisure or money.
And that is not all. One must have hope so firmly implanted in one that in the darkest moments and when faced by the bitterest defeats one must never cease to believe in victory.
And even that is not enough. Above everything else one must have clarity of vision and a perfect knowledge of what one wants. It is in this that Marxism specially arms Revolutionaries and gives these new men such a grasp of circumstances (and allows, and has allowed them such extraordinary foresight!).
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 12

Whoever imagines, when looking at Stalin’s amazingly circuitous path and life, that he has renounced revolution, has a surprise in store for him one day.
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 94

STALIN MAINTAINED MARXIST THEORY AGAINST REVISIONISTS

All realistic theory is supple, since it adjusts itself to life. But it is supple at its extremity, not at its foundation; on the side of circumstances, not on that of principles (which are, indeed, originally an imaginary synthesis of realities). The rigorous upholding of these principles, and their defense against the slightest attempted modification, was one of Stalin’s most exacting and unremitting tasks.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York : The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 30

STALIN MADE THE RIGHT DECISIONS AT THE RIGHT TIME

All those who have seen Stalin at work recognize that his most important quality is a capacity for “grasping a situation in all its complexity and detail, for putting all that is most essential to the fore, and for fixing his whole attention on what is most important for the time being.” It may be observed that when those who really know–such as Kuibyshev, who directs the State Plan–speak of Stalin’s accomplishments, they do not only say: “he did so and so,” they say: “he did so and so at the right time.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 130

STALIN IS NOT THE MAN HE IS DEPICTED AS BEING

Stalin is not at all the sort of man he is supposed to be on the “other side” of the human race,… but then this other half of the world is composed of a multitude of men born blind, guided by others who have willfully blinded themselves.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 152

STALIN WAS A CONFIDENT MAN OF ACTION AND PROGRESS

I will delve, rather at a venture, into far-distant times, into the days before the Revolution, right back into the last century: Vano Sturua tells of an illicit visit paid by Stalin to the big workshops at Tiflis in 1898–not yesterday, it will be noticed: “Sosso was remarkable for his decision and firmness”; and he found violent fault with the “slackness,” the “hesitation,” “the irritating spirit of compromise,” which he observed among many of the comrades, and the same Sosso (aged 19 at the time) already foresaw the defection of a number of intellectuals “of whom a good half actually passed over into the Menshevik camp after the Second Congress.”
That is how Stalin appeared then, and that is how he appeared, some 30 years later, when confronted with the Opposition crew. He was the same man; the man of action, confidence, and progress, as opposed to those of theory, pessimism, and marking time.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 189

Stalin became Vozhd, or leader, not only by force of personality, ability, and ruthless determination but also because he gave positive, challenging leadership. He inspired in people the faith that their hardships and sacrifices were to be endured, because they could bring victory, security, and other rewards. Indeed it was his own faith that anything was justified that would lead to the justice and prosperity of socialism.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 243

…Stalin was capable of charming his interlocutors. He was unquestionably a great actor and could play the role of an affable, modest, even a common man. In the first weeks of the war, when it seemed that the Soviet Union was about to collapse, all visiting foreign dignitaries, starting with Harry Hopkins, were pessimistic. However, they left Moscow fully confident that the Soviet people would fight on and ultimately win. But the situation was indeed desperate. The enemy was relentlessly pushing eastward. Almost every night people had to go down into bomb shelters. So what was it that made Hopkins, Harriman, Beaverbrook, and other experienced and skeptical politicians change their minds? Nothing else but their conversations with Stalin. Despite the seemingly hopeless situation, he was able to create an easy and calm atmosphere.
…The boss was radiating benevolence as he unhurriedly conversed. Nothing dramatic seemed to be occurring outside the walls of that room, nothing seemed to worry him. And that was reassuring.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 205

STALIN IS HUMBLE AND NOT DOMINATED BY PRIDE OR PERSONAL VANITY

Nowadays when I read or hear somewhere that my father used to consider himself practically a god, it amazes me that people who knew him well can say such a thing.
It’s true my father wasn’t especially democratic, but he never thought of himself as a god.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 205

One of his main objects seems to be never to try to shine, and never to make himself conspicuous.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 280

…It is quite obvious that it is something else than personal vanity and the pride that he has in his name that thrusts this man to the fore and keeps him in the breach. It is faith… It is faith in the inherent justice of logic. It is faith in knowledge, which Lenin expressed so deeply, when he replied to someone who spoke to him about the cowardly attack of which he had been the victim, and which shortened his days: “What can you expect? Everyone acts according to his knowledge.” It is faith in the socialist order and in the masses in which it is incarnate, faith in work, in what Stetsky calls the stormy growth of productive forces: “Work,” says Stalin, “is a question of dignity, heroism, and glory.” It is faith in the Workers’ Code, the Communist Law, and it’s terrific integrity….
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 280

Be that as it may, I attended many affairs at the Kremlin, even rowdy ones, but I never noticed any signs of vainglory in Stalin, not even when he was under the influence of alcohol; he merely became more garrulous than usual, his voice grew slightly louder though, and he laughed more readily.
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 163

STALIN DISCOUNTS THE POPE AS AN ALLY AND CONSIDERS HIM REACTIONARY

“The Vatican is a center of reaction,” Comrade Stalin told me among other things, “it is a tool in the service of capital and world reaction, which supports this international organization of subversion and espionage. It is a fact that many Catholic priests and missionaries of the Vatican are old hands at espionage on a world scale….” Then he told me of what happened once in Yalta with Roosevelt, the representative of the American Catholic church….

During the talk with Roosevelt, Churchill and others on problems of the anti-Hitlerite war, they had said: “We must no longer fight the pope in Rome. What had you against him that you attack him?!”

“I have nothing against him,” Stalin had replied.

“Then, let us make the Pope our ally,” they had said, “let us admit him to the coalition of the great allies.”

“All right,” Stalin had said, “but the anti-fascist alliance is an alliance to wipe out fascism and Nazism. As you know, gentlemen, this war is waged with soldiers, artillery, machine guns, tanks, aircraft. If the Pope or you can tell us what armies, artillery, machine guns, tanks and other weapons of war he possesses, let him become our ally. We don’t need an ally for talk and incense.”

After that, they had made no further mention of the question of the Pope, and the Vatican.

Hoxha, Enver. The Artful Albanian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1986, p. 132

Churchill said, “The British people have a sense of moral responsibility with regard to the Polish people and their spiritual values. It is also important that Poland is a Catholic country. We cannot allow internal developments there to complicate our relations with the Vatican.”

“And how many divisions does the pope have?” Stalin suddenly asked, interrupting Churchill’s train of oratory.

Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 309

MEETINGS WITH STALIN WERE MUCH FRIENDLIER THAN WITH KHRUSHCHOV & HIS ALLIES

Once in Moscow the meetings with the Soviet leaders would begin, but these meetings were no longer pleasant like those with Stalin. Now they were held sometimes with smothered anger, sometimes with open flare-ups.

Hoxha, Enver. The Artful Albanian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1986, p. 156

STALIN WAS QUIET, RESERVED, CALM THOUGHTFUL, PATIENT, RETICENT AND MODEST

Stalin did not appear to be a contender. Unobtrusive, quiet, modest, he was plainly the party worker who attended to the essential tasks of administration and organization. But he was always accessible to members and officials, listening patiently to their problems and complaints. Boris Bazhanov, a former official on the staff of the Central Committee who claimed to have been Stalin’s personal secretary, described him standing in a corner, puffing his pipe, listening for an hour or more while an agitated provincial secretary or ordinary party member poured out his troubles. His patience was unlimited and, although he rarely committed himself, he earned the gratitude of many members in this way. He was always reticent, a man of few words who kept his own counsel.

Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 193

As for myself, I am merely a pupil of Lenin, and my aim is to be a worthy pupil of his.

Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 7

When executions were taking place, and all the others were much shaken, he ‘slept soundly, or quietly studied Esperanto….

Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 45

…at the meeting of October 17, 1917,…amid the frayed tempers Stalin once again emerged as conciliator and voice of moderation.

Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 154

In his domestic life, Stalin is exceptionally modest and virtuous. He is 51, his wife is 28. He loves her deeply. Stalin has a son of 22 by his first wife. He has two children, a boy of 10 and a girl of five, by his present one, Nadya Alliluieva. His children go to the Kremlin school where most of the commissars’ boys and girls get their education. The oldest son, Yasha, was sent by his father to an Institute of technology to study railroading.

Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 323

Baibakov also recalled that Stalin never held discussions until he had studied the available material. He was well informed about many matters. He seldom raised his voice and scarcely ever bawled at anyone or even expressed irritation.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 453

STALIN MADE MISTAKES AND ADMITTED AS MUCH

KAGANOVICH: We know very well that even every great person has faults, Comrade Stalin had them, too. And we, his pupils, do not intend to deify him, describe him with no faults.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 74

SPECULATIONS ON STALIN’S MENTAL STATE AND PRIVATE ATTITUDES ARE BASELESS

Unlike some approaches to the politics of the ’30s, however, this analysis does not concentrate on Stalin’s personality. Although he was certainly the most authoritative political actor of the period, speculations on his mental state, private attitudes, and prejudices are baseless, given the lack of primary evidence on these matters.

Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 6

Rumors abounded, of course, but in actual fact there was not much to report about his [Stalin] private life.

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 147

STALIN COMPLIMENTED PEOPLE EXECUTED FOR THEIR CRIMES

Stalin spoke respectfully of some of his victims even after he had destroyed them. According to Todorsky, at a Politburo meeting in 1938 Stalin unexpectedly began to praise Tukhachevsky, who had already been shot. Stalin noted Tukhachevsky’s unquestioned military talent, his great sense of responsibility when given a job, and his striving to keep abreast of the fast-changing theory, technology, and practice of military affairs. And after Uborevitch had been shot, Stalin said to Meretskov: “Train our troops the same way you trained them under Uborevitch.”

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 586

THE PEOPLE PRAISE STALIN WHETHER HE WANTS IT OR NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE THANKFUL

There can be no question that in the great majority of cases this exaggerated veneration [of Stalin] is genuine. The people feel the need to express their gratitude, their infinite admiration. They do in truth believe that they owe to Stalin all they are and have, and however incongruous and at times distasteful this idolatry may seem to us of the West, nowhere have I found anything to indicate that it is in the least artificial or ready-made. Rather it has grown up organically, side-by-side with the results achieved in the economic reconstruction. The people are grateful to Stalin for their bread and meat, their order, their education, and for the creation of the Red Army to safeguard their new well-being. They must be able to show gratitude to someone for the manifest improvement in conditions, and no mere abstraction will suffice; they are not grateful to an abstract” Communism,” but to a tangible man, which is Stalin. The Russian is inclined to exuberance in his speech and his gestures, and he is glad to have the opportunity of pouring out his heart. This excessive homage is perhaps intended not so much for Stalin, the individual, as for the representative of this visibly successful economic construction. When the people say “Stalin,” they have in the back of their minds increasing prosperity and increasing culture. When the people say: “We love Stalin,” it is because this is the simplest and most natural form of expression they can give to their willing acceptance of their economic circumstances, of socialism, and of the regime.

Moreover, Stalin is flesh of the people’s flesh. He is the son of a peasant cobbler and has preserved his kinship with the workers and peasants. Of him it can be said, more truly than of any other statesman I know, that he speaks the people’s language. He is definitely not what one would call a great orator. He speaks hesitatingly, not at all brilliantly, and rather tonelessly, as if he found it difficult. His arguments come slowly: they appeal to the sound common sense of people who grasp a thing thoroughly, but not quickly. But above all, Stalin has a sense of humor, a circumstantial, sly, comfortable, often cruel peasants sense of humor. In his speeches he likes to quote humorous anecdotes from popular Russian writers; he thoroughly enjoys these anecdotes and points out the practical application. In parts, his speeches read like old-fashioned calendar inscriptions. When Stalin speaks with his knowing, comfortable smile, pointing with his forefinger, he does not, like other orators, make a breach between himself and his audience; he does not stand commandingly on the platform while they sit below him, but very soon an alliance, an intimacy is established between him and his listeners. They, being made of the same stuff, are susceptible to the arguments, and both laugh merrily at the same simple stories.

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 69

He will not allow public celebration of his birthday, and if homage is paid to him in public, he emphasizes that such homage applies exclusively to his policy, not to him personally. When, for instance, the Congress had carried the acceptance of the constitution proposed and in the end edited by him, and gave him an uproarious ovation, he himself joined in the applause to show that he did not accept this homage as arising from appreciation of him personally, but solely of his policy.

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 75

STALIN IS STILL POPULAR AMONG THE MASSES AND HAS A GOOD LEGACY

The Soviet regime was hardly democratic. Nonetheless, it appears to have been reasonably well grounded, at least in the cities and among young people, as it entered the extreme test of World War II. Most of the surrenders of 1941 occurred after encirclements had produced desperate conditions; even peasant recruits generally fought hard for their country. The victory over Germany then conferred high legitimacy on Stalinism and seemed to justify the sacrifices of collectivization and industrialization.
Stalin’s legacy is alive and important in the former USSR, for example, in the collective farms, where, ironically, there is now serious antipathy to change. Polls of Soviet, and now Russian, citizens have repeatedly asked their views of Stalin as a leader; the frequency of this question indicates anxiety among the elite about the possibility he is still popular.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 230

Two years later, in October 1987, the Politburo was debating the draft of the speech Gorbachev was to make on the seventieth anniversary of the October Revolution. The discussion turned to the subject of Stalin,…
Gorbachev’s speech mentioned Stalin three times, and each time the name was greeted by a storm of applause: ‘In the attainment of victory a role was played by the enormous political will, the purposefulness and persistence, the ability to organize and discipline people, shown by Stalin during the war years.’
…The applause at the mention of Stalin’s name showed how painful even the best-informed Soviet citizens were finding their self-emancipation. The published pamphlet of Gorbachev’s speech states that Stalin’s name was greeted by ‘prolonged applause’. That understates the case. Even the editors of the minutes were ashamed to write that the applause had in fact been a stormy ovation, and they downgraded it to ‘prolonged’.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 453-454

REPORTS OF PEOPLE AROUND STALIN BEING CHECKED FOR WEAPONS ARE LIES

Some authors now write that all visitors, even Molotov, were searched before entering the leader’s study, and that electronic devices were kept under the chairs to detect hidden weapons. There was nothing of the kind. Firstly, at that time there were no such electronic systems, and secondly, over the period of almost four years that I reported to Stalin’s office, I wasn’t searched once, and speaking more generally, I wasn’t subjected to any special clearance procedures. At the time, in the last and most difficult months of 1941, amidst the fears that German agents had infiltrated the capital, each one of us received a gun. I, for instance, had a small Walther that I could easily hide in my pocket…. When we reported for work in the Kremlin, we were to put our guns away in a safe. But nobody ever checked whether I had done that or was still carrying a gun when I was going to see Stalin.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 203

STALIN WAS TACTFUL BUT DIRECT IN CORRECTING THE WRITINGS OF OTHERS

I would go back to Stalin’s office. He would look through the text, make some amendments, and sign it. But on occasion he didn’t like my version. That irritated him. He was never rude, though; he would just reproach me:
“You were sitting there interpreting, you heard all, and you didn’t understand a thing. Is this important what you wrote here?”
However, he understood that I was doing my best, it was just that my best wasn’t good enough for him. And there was no point in sending me back with a simple instruction to “do it over again.” He would then say:
“Take out your notebook and write this down.” And he would dictate the points that he considered important.
After that it wasn’t difficult to draft a new telegram. But each time that happened a bad feeling stayed with me for a long time afterward.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 208

CHURCHILL ASKS STALIN TO FORGIVE HIM FOR LEADING THE INTERVENTION

Churchill often engaged in self-flagellation, asking Stalin not to bear Britain any grudge for its participation in the intervention against the young Soviet state.
“Let bygones be bygones,” Stalin said in a conciliatory tone of voice.
“But can you forgive me personally for organizing the Entente intervention campaign?” Churchill insisted.
“I don’t have to forgive you,” the leader of nations responded magnanimously. “Let God forgive you.”
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 312

STALIN LIKED AND TRUSTED ROOSEVELT MORE THAN CHURCHILL

Stalin found it easier to deal with Roosevelt than with the stubborn leader of the British Conservatives.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 314

It was quite obvious that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief did not quite rely on Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s promises to open the second front. But he did not lose hope that they would somehow try and do something in other areas. He trusted Roosevelt more, and Churchill less.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 364

He [Stalin] then walked over to his desk, leafed through some papers and finally came up with a letter.
“Here, read this.”
The letter was from a foreign well-wisher. It contained information about some backstage negotiations of Hitler’s agents with official Allied representatives, which made it clear that the Germans were making the Allies an offer to stop hostilities against them if they agreed to a separate peace.
The communication went on to say that the Allies had allegedly rejected these Nazi overtures. Yet the possibility of the Hitlerites letting the Allied forces through to Berlin could not be ruled out.
“Well, what do you say to that?” asked Stalin. And without waiting for a reply, he made this remark:
“I believe Roosevelt will not violate the Yalta Agreement, but as for Churchill, he can do anything.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 588

Stalin trusted Roosevelt more than he did Churchill.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 71

Then he [Stalin] came to his desk, leafed through some papers and picked up a letter.
“Here, read this.”
The letter was from a foreign well-wisher. It told about clandestine talks between Nazi agents and official representatives of the Allies, from which it was clear that the Germans proposed to the Allies to stop fighting against them if they were to agree to a separate peace on any terms.
The letter also said that the Allies had allegedly rejected the German overtures. Nevertheless, it was not to be excluded that the Germans would open the way to Berlin for the Allied troops.
“What do you make of it?” asked Stalin. And without waiting for an answer, he remarked: “I think Roosevelt won’t violate the Yalta accords, but as to Churchill, he wouldn’t flinch at anything.”
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 347

STALIN SAYS PEOPLE ARE WHAT COUNT AND HE SHOWS CONCERN FOR THEM AND CADRES

On May 4, 1935, in the Kremlin, Stalin addressed a Red Army graduation class. The young officers and political workers, in their creaking new shoulder-belts, new collar tabs and shoulder bars, concentrated their gaze on the short, stocky figure. Few gestures accompanied the soft voice that echoed in the absolute silence of the Kremlin hall. Stalin spoke slowly, glancing only occasionally at the text which he held before him:
“I recall an occasion in Siberia, where I was once exiled. It was spring, when the water was high. Thirty or so men had gone off to collect driftwood that had been brought down by the great river. They returned to the village towards evening, but they were minus one man. When we asked what had happened to him, they just said, ‘He stayed there.” I said, ‘What do you mean, he stayed there?’ They replied casually, ‘He probably drowned. What of it?’ And one of them dashed off somewhere, muttering something about feeding the mare. When I remonstrated that they cared more for animals than people, one of them said, to the general approval of the rest, ‘Why should we be sorry for people: we can make more people any time. But you try making a mare….’
The audience stirred. Holding up a crooked index finger to mark the paradoxical nature of the reply, Stalin went on:
“The indifferent attitude towards people and cadres shown by some of our leaders, and their inability to appreciate people, is a hangover of that same attitude towards people that I have just mentioned.
And so, comrades, if we want to overcome the famine of people in the regions, and if we want our country to have enough cadres capable of moving technology forward and setting it in motion, we must first of all learn to appreciate people, appreciate the cadres, appreciate every worker who is capable of doing good to the cause. We must, finally, understand that the most valuable capital in the world, the most valuable and most decisive capital is people, cadres. We must understand that, given our present circumstances, ‘the cadres determine everything’.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 305

STALIN GAVE PEOPLE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT AND WAS NOT QUICK TO CONDEMN

According to Rybin, who was working at that time in a section of the NKVD and later became one of Stalin’s bodyguards, when Stalin was given an oral report on Koltsov’s ‘contacts’ with ‘foreign intelligence agencies’, he paid little attention. He had recently had a conversation with the writer [Koltsov] and was left with a good impression of him. Yet only a month later, when he was shown a file containing denunciations by two of Koltsov’s close acquaintances, he ordered that action be taken. He could not believe that anyone would deceive or try to mislead him in writing.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 317

[Yezhov stated], “The head of the NKVD [Yezhov] has the Secretary-General’s personal order that there will be no sanctions or punishment without there first being irrefutable proof of guilt.
Alexandrov, Victor. The Tukhachevsky Affair. London: Macdonald, 1963, p. 152

BUKHARIN: What are you saying, Comrade’s? You have no conscience.
STALIN: I am saying that this was only because it seemed to us that it wasn’t enough to bring you to trial…. I said, don’t touch Bukharin, wait a bit…. We didn’t want to put you on trial, we showed mercy, I must confess, we showed mercy.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 104

Vasili Stalin wrote in a letter to Khrushchev: “When Beria spoke of arresting Redens, Comrade Stalin protested sharply…. But Beria was supported by Malenkov. And Comrade Stalin said, ‘look into it very carefully…. I don’t believe Redens is an enemy.'”
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 422

As we have seen in the case of Etinger’s arrest, Stalin would delay action until he thought a case had sufficiently developed.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 124

At his discretion, Stalin would distribute MGB documents to the members of the Politburo himself. He ordered that nothing be altered in any way by Ignatiev in the documents because, as Stalin put it, “we ourselves will be able to determine what is true and what is not true, what is important and what is not important”. Ignatiev was not to amend, annotate, or delete any part of any confession or statement; Stalin, not the investigators or the Politburo, would decide whether it was true or not.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 130

STALIN LOVED GEOGRAPHY

Stalin had always enjoyed geography and perusing atlases of the world.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 463

STALIN ATTACKS KHRUSHCHOV

Even after the war Stalin was to rebuke Khrushchev, who had transmitted a peasant complaint, with, ‘You [Khrushchov] have lost the proletarian class sense.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 114

STALIN HELD THE COUNTRY TOGETHER DURING A DIFFICULT PERIOD

But it was Stalin, when all was said and done, who had held the country together by the sheer application of will-power through this long and difficult period.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 266

STALIN SAYS HE FOLLOWS JESUS MORE THAN THOSE WHO CLAIM THEY DO

Not all the stories I heard about my uncle were uncritical. My mother told me how he had been scolded by another member of the family, Grigori Kurdiani, who was a priest–or in our terminology, a pope.
“Sosso,” Kurdiani said, “you will regret that you left the seminary to launch yourself into the dangerous path of revolt. Have you forgotten the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?”
He developed that theme for more than an hour. Uncle Sosso listened patiently without interrupting even once. When Kurdiani finally stopped, my Uncle Joe asked, “Have you finished, Father Kurdiani?”
“Yes,” said the other.
“Well, then, let me tell you that I struck out in this new direction because the popes, and especially their superiors, have abandoned the way of the Scriptures! They have forgotten their vows of poverty and their mission of serving the poor of this world by other means than prayers.”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 2

STALIN PATIENTLY LISTENS TO PEOPLE WITHOUT INTERRUPTING

The ability to listen without interrupting–and at the same time without letting his own opinions be swept away by what he was hearing–was characteristic of my uncle. My mother said to me once, when she was talking about Uncle Sosso, “He’s very modest. You’d never think when you talk to him that he has studied so much and that he knows so much. He never says anything. He listens to others talk without ever interrupting. He has extraordinary patience!”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 2

STALIN IS VERY WELL READ IN LITERATURE AND IS AN INTELLECTUAL

Svetlana and Poskrebyshev joined us on the veranda. The talk turned to literature. Stalin lashed out at contemporary Soviet writers.
…And he launched into a lecture on the necessity for writing clearly and simply in order to be understood by the masses.
“Our readers don’t appreciate effects of style and attempts to be original. They want to read clear things, told in language they can speak. Take Balzac. You won’t find any tricks of style or any originality in his works, and yet he’s the greatest writer of them all.”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 229

My cousin Svetlana [Stalin’s daughter] came in. She was no longer a child, but a grown-up young woman. She had a book in her hand, in English–Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol.
“What are you reading?” my uncle asked.
When she told him he made a face.
“What do you read trash like that for? I read the Russian translation of it once. It’s completely banal. I can’t understand what you see in that sort of poetry.”
“Oh, papa, you certainly don’t remember it!”
“Don’t I?” Stalin answered. “Listen.”
Hands he recited, in Russian, the beginning of the ballad.
Svetlana was astonished.
“What a memory you have, papa! How do you memorize things?”
“I don’t,” Stalin said. “I don’t memorize anything. I just remember. You have a good memory too. You’ve learned English in a year.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 147

Poskrebyshev tried to maintain that Balzac’s works had become dated and that his way of writing was out of date also.
“Never!” my uncle cried. “He will never be out of date. He’s the colossus of world literature!”
Svetlana spoke of some American writers she was reading in English.
“I don’t know them,” Stalin said, “and I don’t want to know them. I have other uses for my time. In my youth I read Upton Sinclair–his novel on the Chicago stockyards. It’s nothing but reporting.”
“You read it in translation, papa,” Svetlana reminded him.
“What of it? I read Balzac in translation too. Beside him, Sinclair and your other American writers are minute little scribblers!”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 230

Stalin was becoming a fairly effective journalist and pamphleteer. He had a fine, clear, direct style which goes much to disprove his alleged intellectual dullness.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 29

Stalin was extremely interested in and defended the theaters. Present-day enemies falsify and try to present Stalin as uncultured. Only enemies can talk in this way.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 23

Let no one think that Stalin is a thug. It would be idle to pretend that he could take a chair in fine arts at Harvard; nevertheless his learning is both broad and deep, especially in philosophy and history. One is instinctively tempted to consider this reticent Georgian as a roughneck, a man of instincts and muscle, not of brains. But his speeches quote Plato and Don Quixote; he knew about the monkey trial at Dayton and the composition of Lloyd George’s shadow-cabinet and the unionization of workers in America; in his talk with Wells he showed as much knowledge of Cromwell and the Chartists as Wells himself.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 529

In 1933 he shocked and horrified a deputation of Bolshevik writers by telling them their work was rubbish, because it had no broad basis in general culture. “Read Shakespeare, Goethe, and other classics, as I do,” he said.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 530

…one of the many singular things about Stalin is that he was much more deeply educated in a literary sense than any contemporary Western statesman. By his side, Lloyd George and Churchill were abnormally ill-read, and so was Roosevelt. Churchill in melancholy old age was reading Jane Austen and Trollope for the first time: Stalin, in this like almost all the Soviet leaders down to this day, had mastered the classical Russian literature while he was a student.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 229

His [Stalin] taste in the theater was even more solid….
It seems a little fantastic that, in addition to Stalin’s other activities, he took on those of Supreme Literary Critic. But he actually read the typescripts of most well-known writers before they were published, partly for political reasons but apparently also for sheer interest. The marvel is, how did he find the time. But the evidence is overwhelming. He made neat corrections in green and red pencil.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 230

Another oddity to Western eyes is the close personal relation of political leaders with writers. Gorky was an intimate of Stalin’s, and Sholokhov of Khrushchev’s. I don’t know, but I am prepared to bet that Churchill never met T. S. Eliot except perhaps on a formal occasion.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 231

Stalin, as I have said, was deeply read in Russian literature and in Russian literary history–and, of course, in Georgian, in which he published his first work, which was, somewhat surprisingly, a poem. He knew, more completely than any westerner, the role of the 19th-century writers as an unofficial opposition.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 233

He [Stalin] was a compulsive reader, then and later. His fellow pupils, future priests, used to hide books to squint at during the interminable orthodox services. Stalin was better at this art, more obsessively tied to his books, than any of the rest.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 240

… Stalin derived most pleasure from the theater and opera and took a close (often critical) interest in what was staged. He retained to the end of his life a certain respect for artists and writers as such,… The majority of Stalin’s books were concerned with politics, with Marxism and with history. His familiarity with the classics of Russian literature, however, was evident from his conversation…. Among authors he is reported to have referred to were Chekhov Gogol, Gorki, and the satirist Saltykov-Shchedrin, Tolstoy, even Dostoevsky and Pushkin.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 383

Far from being the nonintellectual some have pictured, Stalin was articulate, interested in ideas, and had a certain Marxist-Leninist and historical learning.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 317

…Stalin was a thinking, calculating, hard-working man possessed of an iron will and a considerable intellect; undoubtedly he was a patriot, concerned to uphold historic Russian statehood.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. New York: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 8

As has been mentioned previously, Stalin throughout his life was an avid collector of books. As he read, he would underline passages or make notes in the margin, usually with colored pencils. His office kept a record of all his requests for books, amounting to hundreds of titles a year. With his unusually good memory Stalin enjoyed demonstrating his erudition.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 188

He [Stalin] not only admired and appreciated great literature, he discerned the difference between hackery and genius. Ever since the seminary in the 1890s, he had read voraciously, claiming a rate of 500 pages daily in exile. When a fellow prisoner died, Stalin purloined his library and refused to share it with his outraged comrades. His hunger for literary knowledge was almost as driving as his Marxist faith and megalomania: one might say these were the ruling passions of his life. He did not possess literary talents himself but in terms of his reading alone, he was an intellectual, despite being the son of a cobbler and a washerwoman. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that Stalin was the best-read ruler of Russia from Catherine the Great up to Vladimir Putin, even including Lenin who is no mean intellectual himself and had enjoyed the benefits of a nobleman’s education.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 96

“He worked very hard to improve himself,” said Molotov. His library consisted of 20,000 well-used volumes. “If you want to know the people around you,” Stalin said, “find out what they read.” Svetlana found books there from the Life of Jesus to the novels of Galsworthy, Wilde, Maupassant, and later Steinbeck and Hemingway. His granddaughter later noticed him reading Gogol, Chekhov, Hugo, Thackeray, and Balzac. In old age, he was still discovering Goethe. He “worshiped Zola.”
…The Bolsheviks, who believed in the perfectibility of the New Man, were avid autodidacts, Stalin being the most accomplished and diligent of all. He read seriously, making notes, learning quotations, like an omnipotent student, leaving his revealing marginalia in books varying from Anatole France to Vipper’s History of Ancient Greece. He had “a very good knowledge of antiquity and mythology,” recalled Molotov. He could quote from the Bible, Chekhov and, Good Soldier Svejk, as well as Napoleon, Bismarck, and Talleyrand. His knowledge of Georgian literature was such that he debated arcane poetry with Shalva Nutsibidze, the philosopher, who said, long after Stalin was no longer a god, that his editorial comments were outstanding. He read literature aloud to his circle…. He adored The Last of the Mohicans, amazing a young translator whom he greeted in faux-Red Indian: “Big chief greets paleface!”
His deeply conservative tastes remained 19th-century even during the Modernist blossoming of the twenties: he was always much happier with Pushkin and Tchaikovsky than with Akhmatova and Shostakovich. He respected intellectuals, his tone changing completely when dealing with a famous professor.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 97

Moreover, Stalin is a boss with an education. Notwithstanding general impressions, Stalin is a widely-informed and well-read person. He lacks culture, but he absorbs knowledge. He is rough toward his enemies, but he learns from them.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 302

Stalin’s education is broad and continuous. When he was imprisoned in Baku, he studied Esperanto. A couple of years ago, he took up the study of English, which he pursued for about a year. He reads fiction, both Russian and foreign. He has read Sinclair Lewis’s “Babbitt” and applied the term Babbitt in his speeches. He is fond of Chekhov, Gogol, and Heine. The modern Soviet satirists, like Pilnyak and Ehrenburg, he follows, and has on various occasions employed their tales as illustrations for his points.
In the theater, Stalin is not a modernist. He likes, perhaps because of his southern origin, sentimental operas. He has been seen at performances of Verdi’s “Aida.” He has been reported shedding tears over a revolutionary melodrama.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 322

In fact Stalin was a fluent and thoughtful writer even though he was no stylist. His exegesis of Lenin’s doctrines was concise and to the point and his lectures were organized in a logical sequence.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 221

Marxism, architecture, linguistics, genetics, and international relations were among Stalin’s intellectual interests. Historical works especially attracted him. He kept up with writings on both the Russian past and the annals of Mesopotamia, ancient Rome and Byzantium. When the fancy took him, he held conversations with physicists, biologists and other scientists. He examined the novels winning his annual Stalin Prize and listened to gramophone records of folk and classical music before they appeared in the shops. In Moscow he attended ballets, operas, and concerts. He had his dachas equipped so that he could vet Soviet films before their public release. Volga! Volga! was his favorite film. He read, listened and watch mainly for personal delight and self-instruction.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 560

Stalin was a thoughtful man and throughout his life tried to make sense of the universe as he found it. He had studied a lot and forgotten little. His learning, though, had led to only a few basic changes in his ideas. Stalin’s mind was an accumulator and regurgitator. He was not an original thinker nor even an outstanding writer. Yet he was an intellectual to the end of his days.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 569

He was a real leader. He was also motivated by the lust for power as well as by ideas. He was in his own way an intellectual, and his level of literary and editorial craft was impressive.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 603

Vereshchak was astonished by the “mechanical memory” of Koba, whose little head “with its undeveloped forehead” presumably contained all of Marx’s “Capital.” “Marxism was his element, in it he was unconquerable…. He knew how to substantiate anything with the appropriate formula from Marx. This man made a strong impression on young party people unenlightened in politics.”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 118

The Stalin at this period [following Lenin’s death] was above all presented as a man of moderation, diligent, reliable, expert–the embodiment of Bolshevik virtue. The very dullness of his reports at official meetings helped to reassure. Here was no flamboyant intellectual, obsessed with theoretical and literary brilliance. But not without ideas. Comrade Stalin could impress many comrades, with his capacity to talk at length not only about Leninism, but also Chinese and European politics, Russian agriculture and Soviet-party administration, among many other topics. In truth, Stalin’s reports of this period, the most voluminous of his life, represented a lot of homework and staffwork. His real capacity to assimilate a vast amount of information, much of it on subjects that he had barely encountered in his previous life, showed up early and no doubt impressed many. That his style was for the most part unadorned probably did him no harm, bespeaking a solid man of the people, not the kind of fancy intellectual, who for generations have been trying to put himself at the head of the dark masses. Trotsky had the style of such an intellectual, and Stalin enjoyed mocking his adversary’s use of expressions such as ‘the splendid historical music of growing socialism’ and the ‘muscular sensation in physical labor’.

McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 107

STALIN WAS WORSHIPPED BY HIS INTERPRETER, PAVLOV

Pavlov was unable to accept the fact that Singh, a mere translator, was my husband, just as he could not stomach all that had happened in the USSR since the death of my father, whom he worshiped.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 43

HOW DID STALIN’S WIFE DIE

… my mother’s suicide was most eloquent testimony to the hopelessness of the situation.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 141

Some say my mother was a saint, others that she was mentally unbalanced. Neither of these things is true, any more than the story that she was murdered.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 83

He [my father] kept coming back to the subject of my mother more and more in his later years and was always trying to find those “guilty” of her death.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 106

My nurse started telling me how it happened shortly before she died, when she already felt that she didn’t have much longer to live. She didn’t want to take it with her. She wanted to purge her soul of the memory as if it were her last confession….
Carolina Till got up early that day as usual. She got breakfast ready and went to wake-up my mother. She came running to the nursery shaking with fright and motioned to my nurse, unable to say a word. They went back together. My mother was lying beside her bed in a pool of blood. She had a little Walther pistol in her hand that Pavel had brought her from Berlin. The sound of the shot hadn’t been loud enough to wake the rest of the household. The body was already cold….
That is the story my nurse told me. I trust her more than anybody because, first of all, she was totally without guile, and, secondly, because she told it to me as her confession and a simple Christian woman would never lie at such a time.
Because of her love for my mother, Polina Molotov had always been very good to me. My father, however, didn’t like her or want me to see her and so I saw her very rarely.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 108-109

How Nadezhda Alleluyeva [Stalin’s wife] died I do not know, and without sufficient knowledge of the facts, I make no accusations.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 162

I once had the courage to ask my cousin, Svetlana Stalin, how her mother had died. She told me that Nadia had become very nervous and suffered from insomnia, for which she took sleeping pills. One night she took an overdose, with fatal effect. Whether she had done so purposely or accidentally, Svetlana professed not to know. Thus the mystery of my aunt’s death remained entire.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 97

I was 16 when I learned that Mama’s death had been a suicide. It was a cruel discovery. The war was on, I was in Kuibyshev that winter with my aunt and grandmother. I began questioning them at once and understood that Mama had been very unhappy, that she and my father had had different points of view on everything, from politics to the upbringing of children. I had always loved Mama, though she had never spoiled me. And now I felt that my father had clearly been in the wrong and that he was to blame for her death. His irrefutable authority was violently shaken….
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 148

It was the same where my father was concerned. The story that he had killed my mother seemed more plausible to many than the truth about her suicide, and they continued not to believe the truth.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 364

There were several versions of the way she died, including some fantastic ones….
At the People’s Commissariat everybody is talking about Alliluyeva’s death and remarking the strange fact that the funeral did not take place in the Kremlin but at the Novodievich Monastery, where she was buried next to the grave of the suicides Yoffe and Lutovinov…. Some say that this is an admission on Koba’s part that she committed suicide. Others say that, on the contrary, this was her last wish expressed in a letter to Koba. There are many rumors about the contents of that letter. Koba is said to have been seen in his office near the Illinsk gate, reading that letter again and again. He always keeps it in his pocket and is said to have shown it to several members of the Instantsia, including Voroshilov, Molotov, and Kirov….
I have now been told the details of Alliluyeva’s death. I had already suspected that it had something to do with Mossina…. Alliluyeva’s visit to my office made me think at the time that her friendship with Mossina would sooner or later end tragically.
Last May Alliluyeva traveled to the Urals to see Mossina, who had been banished there and was living with friends in Perm. It appears that when Alliluyeva told Koba about her proposed journey he made a terrible scene and asked her not to go. Nevertheless she went, but when she arrived in Perm, Mossina was no longer there: she had been deported to another place…. Alliluyeva attempted to find out in Perm where her girl-friend had been sent, but she failed to get any information…. She then went to the regional headquarters of the GPU in Sverdlovsk. The man in charge was Linde, who turned out to be an old friend of hers from Leningrad. He was Medved’s deputy. Linde at first refused to disclose Mossina’s whereabouts, but eventually he gave in to her revealing that on Yagoda’s instructions she had been sent to Political Isolation Camp No. 7 in Kotlas. He refused to give her permission to visit Mossina, declaring that Camp No. 7 was under Yagoda’s direct supervision. Important people from the Opposition were now being detained there. Linde added that Mossina would undoubtedly be tried by a Judicial Troika in October or November, on a charge of having taken part in the “Rosenfeld plot.”
[Rosenfeld, Kamenev’s nephew, was charged with attempting to persuade the commandant of the Kremlin to arrest the Politburo, including Stalin]
When Alliluyeva protested that, having been banished to the Urals, Mossina could not have possibly taken part in a plot in Moscow, Linde replied that “participation is possible even from a distance”…. He also gave her to understand that Mossina’s life was in danger….
On returning to Moscow, Alliluyeva started pleading with Koba to intervene on Mossina’s behalf. He refused categorically, declaring that he had never interfered in Yagoda’s work and that anyway Mossina was a Trotskyite and a traitor. There was no reason, he said, to use kid gloves with such “characters.” At this point a stormy scene broke out between them at their villa. Alliluyeva went into the woods and did not return home at night. She was eventually found lying on a rug in some bushes. As Koba had given strict orders that she should be brought back at any cost, several men from his bodyguard carried her to the villa. In the night she had an attack of hysteria and Koba summoned Guetier and Pletnev to her bedside. She refused to be treated and said she was going to commit suicide. Koba threatened to put her in a clinic for nervous disorders…. Eventually he had to give in: he promised that the GPU would transfer Mossina from Isolation Camp No. 7 to Isolation Camp No. 2, where persons were treated more leniently and had the right to correspond with persons outside…. Alliluyeva she did not trust Yagoda, and insisted that Mossina should be allowed to write to her to say whether she had actually been transferred.
…In August she received a letter from Mossina from Political Isolation Camp No. 2; Mossina thanked her for her help, said she was pleased with everything, and asked her not to write as she did not want to cause her embarrassment and trouble….
In September Alliluyeva unexpectedly received a letter, sent through a member of the secret Komsomol Opposition organization who had arrived in Moscow from Perm. Mossina had sent the letter to him through the warden who was also a secret Trotskyite. She said that her first letter was written at Linde’s request. He had told her this was the only way to avoid trouble for her family and also to ensure her own safety. Mossina then gave her news about several mutual friends she had met at the camp and asked Alliluyeva to do everything in her power to save the lives of some 40 Komsomols accused of a conspiracy in Sverdlovsk. Their case had been referred to the Judicial Troika in Moscow…. Mossina’s correspondence with Alliluyeva became regular–two letters every month….
As a result, Alliluyeva began to press Koba still harder to “save the youth” from the Troika’s criminal executions. Violent scenes between them followed…. Koba must have realized that somebody was secretly informing his wife of what was going on in the Urals…. An investigation was ordered to discover “those guilty of revealing important state secrets.” The “criminals” who allowed the secrets to leak out, and their accomplices, were soon identified, including the isolation camp warden. The Komsomol youth who had acted as messenger was followed to Koba’s villa and arrested there. It was established that he had been to the villa before and he was charged with “attempted terrorism”…. After several interrogations he is said to have confessed that he really intended to kill Koba if his comrades in the Urals were shot…. The case was referred to the Judicial Troika, which wasted no time in dealing with it. The Komsomol and all his comrades were shot as accomplices. Mossina was also executed as the “leader of the group”…. All this took place at the end of October 1932…. Alliluyeva heard about the executions several days later from a woman friend, a doctor at the Party’s central committee…. She returned home to their flat in the Kremlin. Koba was at their villa, near Moscow…. She rang him up and they had a long conversation over the telephone…. Alliluyeva was crying, cursing, and saying that she had decided to die as she couldn’t bear the shame of being responsible for all that was happening, of remaining near him, with him. She said Mossina’s death had been a terrible blow to her, that he knew of it and shouldn’t have allowed it to happen…. He tried at first to quiet her and begged her to come to their villa. Then he said he would come to Moscow at once to prove to her that there was no other way…. Alliluyeva said she could no longer trust him, that she thought him capable of anything, even of ordering her execution. Then she suddenly said, “That’s enough, I’m picking up the revolver…. I know you are capable of ordering Leon to send his men here to seize me….” Within a few seconds a shot rang out. She had shot herself through the brain…. Koba telephoned at once to the Kremlin Commandant and five minutes later, on his instructions, they entered the room…. Doctors were summoned from the Kremlin clinic. They could only certify death…. An order was issued to maintain the highest degree of secrecy…. But one of the doctors talked….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 212-215

Reports were quick to spread that she [Nadejda Alliluyeva] tasted all food prepared for Stalin and had been poisoned. But the facts seem to be that she had been having acute intestinal pains for several days, and had neglected them. She did not wish to trouble her husband with what she thought was a minor ailment…. She sought to hide her pain, keep the tough spirit of the Bolsheviks. The ailment was appendicitis, and by the time she admitted she was ill it was too late, and she died of peritonitis.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 533

Noting the appearance of the two books by her daughter Svetlana, 20 Letters to a Friend and Only One Year, Souvarine writes: “… She believes that her mother, Nadejda, committed suicide, but she is simply repeating what was said in the Kremlin where everyone lies; although the story of the suicide was credible in it’s time (and accepted in my book as well), by now it is unofficially rejected in Kremlin circles and has been discredited by authoritative witnesses.”
But Souvarine produces no sources for the current opinion “in Kremlin circles,” nor does he name the “authoritative witnesses.” For the time being, therefore, the account of her suicide given above still seems to be the most plausible version of what took place. Conditions in the Kremlin in 1932 made it possible to conceal Alliluyeva’s suicide from the Soviet public by an official announcement of her illness and death, but there would have been no way of keeping it quiet if Stalin really had murdered his wife. There were too many people around who secretly bore a grudge against him, not to mention his recent enemies among the former Oppositionists who had not yet been arrested, and they were all connected in various ways to men at the top of the Party. The parents of Alliluyeva were still alive at the time and would never have resigned themselves meekly to the murder of their daughter, nor would her brother and sister have kept silent.
Of course I can be accused of relying exclusively on oral testimony, and this is indeed the case. The difficulty about coming to grips with incidents of the past, and particularly of Stalin’s time, is that events often occurred without leaving behind the slightest trace of reliable documentary evidence. On the whole the documents simply do not exist, not even in the most secret Soviet archives. The historian must, therefore, trust his intuition and rely on his capacity to judge the credibility of witnesses.
The absence of authentic source material inevitably leads to inaccuracy and makes it easier to get things wrong or to distort; it also opens the way to deliberate falsification.
…Unfortunately it is not only impostors who resort to invention– genuine authors do it as well.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 84-87

Vasily, their son, was now 11, and Svetlana, seven. Svetlana the apple of Stalin’s eye–so much like her mother. For three years, mother and children had been like school-mates. They too were proud of” Comrade Nadya’s diploma.” That was in June 1932. Now, had come November. Nadya seized with appendicitis, died during an operation.
Barrett, James. Stalin and God. New York: Booktab, Inc., 1943, p. 48

Svetlana learned only many years later that her mother had died by her own hand, and her memoirs are anyway not always reliable.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 293

Volodya [Nadya’s youngest nephew] said, “Rumors that Stalin had killed her started up immediately after her death, but it was all nonsense. A story goes around that, Kameneva, the wife of Kamenev, who had an old score to settle with the Alliluyevs from pre-revolution days, said that Nadya had been shot in the left temple, and pointed out that she was right-handed. Naturally the conclusion to draw from this is that Stalin shot her, or gave instructions to kill her. But Nadya shot herself in the heart, not in the temple….
Volodya continues, “People are people. Within the family no one ever blamed Stalin. Neither my mother, Anna, nor Grandmother Olga approved of what she had done to herself. They were on Stalin’s side in this conflict. They never accused him of causing Nadya’s death. They thought she was the only one to blame. Mother and Grandmother had a better understanding of Stalin’s position: the enormous work that he shouldered. He was unable to give attention to his family, it was simply impossible while he was the leader of such an enormous country. Nadya was much younger then he, and she didn’t understand.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 126

After mentioning the latest plays she had seen, Yelena Eduardovna went on to behind-the-scenes political gossip. Still a topical subject at that time was the sudden, unexpected death of Stalin’s wife, Allilueva.
“She committed suicide, that is quite definitely known,” she assured me.
“But in our Verkhne-Uralsk isolators,” I ventured to say doubtingly, “all Georgians were unanimous in asserting that Stalin had poisoned her.”
“No, no,” insisted Yelena Eduardovna, “she poisoned herself. It was like this. Stalin and Allilueva were on a visit to Ordzhonikidze; it was during the October celebrations–the seventh or eighth of November. When they were about to leave a quarrel started. Allilueva reproached Stalin for his affair with X (I confess that I have forgotten the name she mentioned). Stalin who had been drinking heavily, barked furiously; “Well, now I’m going straight to her.” Allilueva went home alone and took poison.”
Later, in Siberia, I heard a third version. Allilueva was said to have taken poison as a moral-political protest against Stalin’s perfidy. Of Allilueva’s modesty and decency I happen to have already heard during my stay in Moscow in 1928-29. At the beginning of the Five-Year Plan Allilueva enrolled as an ordinary student at the recently opened Industrial Academy. Anyway, her death, sudden, mysterious, and never quite cleared up, served as a basis for popular legend in the USSR.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 342

STALIN’S DAUGHTER ADMITS NOT PLANNING AHEAD

My day starts with the morning. I never plan ahead.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 306

Another memorandum reported that Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva had arrived in the country [ USSR] with her 13 year old American daughter, Olga Peters. She wanted her soviet citizenship restored, to find work, and do translating. She was ready to speak to the press. She says, ‘after everything I’ve done, I’m not likely to press my demands.’ Chernenko turned the document over, thought for a while and then decided it should be discussed by the Politburo. (It was quickly decided to accede to Svetlana’s wishes as a great propaganda coup, but she was unhappy in the Soviet Union, and went abroad again in 1986.)
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 421

STALIN’S DAUGHTER DENOUNCES HIPPIES

Hippies are nothing but froth, nothing but trash in the streets of large cities. They are not the face of the land.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 353

STALIN WAS A MATERIALIST WITH NO BELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL OR PRAYER

My father never had any feeling for religion. In a young man who had never for a moment believed in the Spirit, in God, endless prayers, and enforced religious training could have brought out only contrary results: extreme skepticism of everything “heavenly,” of everything “sublime.” The result was total materialism, the cynical realism of an “earthy,” “sober,” practical, and low view of life. Instead of a “spiritual outlook,” he evolved something very different:…
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 361

STALIN’S DAUGHTER DOES NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT RUSSIA

She [Col. Briggs with whom I was staying in the United States] said, “I seem to know more about Russia than you do!”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 398

HOW STALIN GOT THE NAME KOBA

It was, incidentally, during his stay in that town [Batum], on the Turkish border, that Djugashvili began to use the pseudonym Koba, meaning ‘The Indomitable’ in the Turkish vernacular. Koba was also the name of a heroic outlaw, a people’s avenger in a poem by the Georgian poet Kazbegi, one of Djugashvili’s favorite writers in the years of boyhood. As Koba the revolutionary was to be best known among his comrades before he assumed the more famous pseudonym Stalin, and old Caucasian Bolsheviks were to call him Koba even much later.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 46

STALIN FORGAVE PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZED AND ATTACKED HIM

Stalin had once announced that you couldn’t make omelettes without breaking eggs, and in Russian the same word means “egg” and “testicle.” Later, at a student reunion, Radek said that he could see plenty of “eggs” broken by Stalin but not the socialist omelette that they had been promised. And at a workers’ Congress in Leningrad Radek had made use of mouka, which means both “flour” and “suffering” for further jibes at Stalin.
“But I’m ready to forget your offenses,” Stalin said….
“But,” Stalin continued, “I don’t use my power to settle personal grudges. In insulting me though, you insult the Party.”
Alexandrov, Victor. The Tukhachevsky Affair. London: Macdonald, 1963, p. 28

STALIN CONSULTED POLITBURO MEMBERS BEFORE MAKING DECISIONS

On the best way of achieving this object, he [Stalin] was, as always, ready to listen to the views of the Politburo before making final decisions though, as always, those decisions would be his alone.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 185

At the Politburo meetings he was brief and to the point; he avoided argument and seldom tried to persuade others, preferring briefly to sum up the majority opinion. He was a strong-willed man who nevertheless remained extremely cautious and at times even indecisive….
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 33

STALIN SAYS IT IS WHO COUNTS THE VOTES THAT MATTERS NOT WHO HAS THEM

Forcing himself down to Stalin’s level, Kamenev said, “Of the question of capturing the majority of the Party.” “Do you know what I think about this?” Stalin replied, “I believe that who and how people in the Party vote, is unimportant. What is extremely important is who counts the votes and how they are recorded.”
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 57

DID STALIN HAVE PHYSICAL DEFECTS, ESPECIALLY IN HIS ARMS

Some authors have affirmed that one of his [Stalin] arms functioned poorly. His daughter Svetlana said that he moved his right arm with difficulty, whereas the old Bolshevik Shumiatsky wrote in the Soviet press that Stalin couldn’t bend his left arm. To tell the truth, I never noticed anything like that. I frequently saw him make large gestures with his right arm, bending and unbending it. In the final analysis, I never saw him do any physical work. It’s possible that his left arm was in bad shape, but I never had occasion to observe it.
Always calm, he disciplined himself well.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 104

STALIN DOES NOT TRUST FLYING IN AIRPLANES SINCE HIS FRIENDS WERE KILLED IN A PLANE

He could hardly admit to the U.S. President that he was terrified of flying. The only flight he ever made, to Tehran, had taken every ounce of his psychological strength. He had not forgotten an air crash of March 1925 in the Northern Caucasus, when three personal acquaintances had been killed. He was convinced it was no accident, and that two of those who died, ‘the Chekists Mogilevsky and Atarbegov, were targeted out of revenge for executions they had carried out,’ and the third, Myasnikov, ‘because he’s an Armenian’. He had proposed that ‘the strictest prohibition on flying be placed on senior officials’. This was quite impracticable even then, and it became virtually impossible in due course.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 148

STALIN WAS NOT AFRAID TO MIX WITH THE MASSES

It took 35 years after Stalin’s death and the glasnost era for more detailed accounts to emerge. They emanated from those who had been given some access to the archives; others collected oral evidence.
Of the sources, Major Rybin had perhaps been the one closest physically to Stalin. He had been a member of the NKVD detachment in charge of Stalin’s personal security. Provoked by Rybakov’s novel The Children of the Arbat, Rybin more or less systematically collected evidence from other members of Stalin’s household, mainly NKVD personnel. The general picture that emerged was certainly more flattering than the image of Stalin presented by Rybakov. It was not true that Stalin had been afraid to mix with people, as Rybakov had argued, or that he had a morbid fear of terrorists. His car slowly traversed the streets of Moscow (in particular, the Arbat) whenever he traveled from his dacha to the Kremlin. Sometimes he would pick up an old lady he had spotted who was walking slowly and with difficulty or a small group of people waiting in the rain for the bus. Sometimes he would upbraid General Vlasik, the commander of his personal guard, for what seemed to Stalin excessive precautions. He wanted not to be isolated from the rest of the world but to be in a railway carriage “together with all others.”
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 148

STALIN’S SERVANTS LOVED AND APPRECIATED HIM

Rybin’s account and the evidence collected from others who worked for Stalin shows that they were faithful servants who were totally devoted to their boss. In their eyes, Stalin was a strict taskmaster but a great and good man, and their accounts are, no doubt, subjectively honest: It is as they remember it.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 151

A highly placed legal official who worked for the Soviet army characterized the Rybin account as rose-colored; the picture of amoral Stalin as a “simple” and honest man originated with people who were captives of the Stalin myth. [If that is true–Ed.] how does one explain that the very same people who praise Stalin have the most negative recollections of his political associates, from Beria to Malenkov, from Voroshilov to Kaganovich?
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 152

How do you explain the loyalty and dedication of Stalin’s staff and bodyguards? Besides his humane attributes which I have already mentioned, Stalin was a man of high cultural integrity. He never yelled, never thundered, always spoke in a low voice but with authority that you did not question. He always loved to tell jokes and to be a merry host. He was very unassuming, modest in need, and he was always concerned and interested in our personal lives or any problems that we might have. Finding out that Tukov with his wife and grown-up daughter lived in one room, sometimes not sleeping at all, helped him to get a two-room apartment. We always saw before us sincere, correct behavior at all times–a person who was quite different from many members of the Soviet government.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 66

Stalin exercised kindness and the principle of noblesse oblige with his personal staff–the drivers, cooks, servants, and groundskeepers. …they admired and adored him. Now his three chauffeurs were reassigned, as were most servants at the Kuntsevo dacha.
Goryshev expressed apprehension over Stalin’s safety. “Soon something very bad is going to happen,” he predicted. “The Big Chief is being deprived of protection Petr Sergeyevich, and I’m afraid they will soon liquidate him.” His words in Russian (“I ya boyus’ chto ego skoro likividiruyut”) can also be translated, “And I’m afraid that soon he will no longer be.” Either way, both of us knew that not everyone loved Comrade Stalin.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 77

Then Stalin’s closest companion…Valechka, who was now aged 38 and had worked with Stalin since she was 20, pushed through the crying maids, “dropped heavily to her knees” and threw herself onto the corpse with all the uninhibited grief of the ordinary people. This cheerful but utterly discreet woman, who had seen so much, was convinced to her dying day that “no better man ever walked the earth.” Laying her head squarely on his chest, Valechka, with tears pouring down the cheeks of “her round face,” “wailed at the top of her voice as the women in the villages do. She went on for a long time and nobody tried to stop her.”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 650

I knew many people who worked for Stalin for years, those who served him, and his personnel. I have never heard from them one word of anything bad about him. This is quite remarkable. Thosee who write about him now have never known him at all. Those “authors” are creating his image from hearsay, from talk, and gossip. But there’s absolutely no resemblance to the real man. An idiot cannot create such a country, or win such a war. A fool can destroy a country, but not build it up.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 275

STALIN’S RELATIVES DEFENDED HIM

Stalin also had his admirers among his grandchildren, of whom there were eight…. The greatest Stalinist of them all was the eldest, Evgeni, Yakov’s son. He said he admired Joseph Vissarionovich for all he had done for his country and took a very dim view of the de-Stalinization campaign. Stalin’s policy was the only possible way to move ahead with both the industrialization of the country and the collectivization of agriculture. He bitterly criticized Volkogonov for stating that after Trotsky had been exiled from the country only a few Trotskyites had remained behind. This was a falsification of history; there had been many.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 156

SOME BOURGEOIS WRITERS COMPLIMENT STALIN

Even during the height of the Cold War, however, there were wide differences of opinion among students of the Soviet Union. It may be sufficient to point to the work of two of the most influential authors of the period, Edward H. Carr and Isaac Deutscher. Although not uncritical of Stalin and his system, on the whole they took a positive line toward him and his system. Although he had caused much suffering, in their eyes the benefits that accrued to his country from his policies far outweighed the damage. Seen from a larger perspective, the suffering would be forgotten, whereas the achievements would remain. Who could say with any assurance that there had been any other approach but Stalin’s to modernize a country as backward as the Soviet Union?
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 230

STALIN DID NOT DRINK AND WAS NO DRUNKARD

What kind of impression do we get after reading the book by Khrushchev? The impression is that Stalin was a drunkard. I would just like to quote one sentence in that book: “Stalin even in his youth was into heavy drinking. It looked as if that was his undoing.” Isn’t this a surprise? But we, who were with Stalin day and night for years, were blind to this malady? As I mentioned before, Stalin only drank very weak wine, together with mineral water, and cognac very, very seldom. He never touched vodka. His buddies drank it by the bottle! And this was billed to Stalin’s personal account….
Regarding Stalin himself…. From 1930 to 1953, we, the bodyguards, saw Stalin feeling a bit high only twice… once on the birthday of Shtemenko and the other, at the funeral of Zhdanov. He was never drunk, or unable to talk or walk normally. He was always of a sober and rational mind and outlook.
Yet, numerous books are written, focusing on these two occasions, trying desperately to make Stalin out as a drunkard.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 86-87

… although the evidence is strong that Stalin, unlike a good many of his entourage, was not himself a heavy drinker.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 226

Stalin liked simple food, especially soups and fish. He was not an alcoholic. He was happy with a dry wine which he mixed with Georgian lemonade, and never drank vodka with meals. He did not employ servants, even when he had guests. He always had a buffet set out on a big table. The drinks were placed on small round tables. Everyone served himself.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 134

STALIN WAS NOT PARANOID BY ANY MEANS

Another falsehood that these modern “democrats” promote is that Stalin was paranoid, saw terrorists behind every couch, chair, and the draperies that covered the windows. These lies are so absolutely false that I cannot in all good conscience even reply to them. Stalin always had the drapes parted, there were heaters near the window because in the wintertime, it was cold–there was no furnace or central heating. Stalin himself told Orlov:
“Are the electrical heaters heating the drapes that the windows are covered with at night, or should they not be heating the room”?
Thus the drapes were always opened, the room was airy and no amount of lies by Khrushchev and his modern accomplices will subvert this fact.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 104

STALIN WAS COURTEOUS WITH GOOD MANNERS

Nor are his manners bad. He sees visitors only very rarely, but one and all they report his soberness, his respectful attention to their questions, his attempt to put them at their ease. His speeches are full of a curious sort of sardonic courtliness; for instance he refers to capitalists usually as “Messieurs the Bourgeoisie.”…
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 530

Anthony Eden was impressed by Stalin’s personality, which ‘made itself felt without effort or exaggeration’ and by his ‘natural good manners’. Even the Finnish envoy, Paasiviki, who met Stalin in circumstances that were grim for Finland, noted Stalin’s recourse to humor….
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 216

STALIN HAS VERY LITTLE PROTECTION BY BODYGUARDS

Yet Stalin is not, on the whole, so drastically guarded as Hitler or Mussolini. He exposes himself a good deal more than they do. He has several times been seen returning to the Kremlin from the Opera on foot, walking with friends through the crowded square. And at least twice a year, on May 1 and November 7, the two great Soviet holidays, Stalin stands on the tomb of Lenin and literally several million people pass him at a range of about 30 yards.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 532

After a long visit to the Museum, in which I studied the archives of the French Revolution, I went to the Kremlin, where, with Herriot and Ambassador Alphand, I was to meet President Kalinin. Word went around: “Stalin is coming!” I stood with several officials in front of the palace in the Kremlin occupied by Stalin. After about five minutes, five great cars, all absolutely alike, dashed past us.
“But where is Stalin?” I asked one of the officials, who was cheering.
“Oh, he went by,” he said.
“He did?” I asked. “When?”
“Just now,” he answered. “He was in one of those five cars. They are all alike, as you probably noticed. It is considered safer that way.”
And yet, sometime later, I saw Stalin, absolutely unguarded, mingling boldly with the crowds, who seemed to idolize him. This was the occasion when we watched him review the parade in Red Square.
Tabouis, Genevi�ve R. They Called Me Cassandra. New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1942, p. 172

Every morning at nine o’clock a Rolls-Royce brings Stalin to his quarters at the huge building of the Central Committee. The car is well-protected. It is followed by an open automobile with armed agents of the GPU. Stalin remains at work for 16 to 18 hours, and returns home late at night.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 325

STALIN CARES LITTLE FOR POMP AND CEREMONY AND DRESSES PLAINLY

He cares nothing for pomp or ceremony. He does not wear a uniform, but a dark olive-green jacket buttoned at the neck, riding-breeches, and boots. When he goes out, he wears a cap with a visor. Not an official uniform, this costume has nevertheless been widely imitated throughout most of Russia;…
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 532

STALIN DID THE INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS HIMSELF AFTER KNOWING THE FACTS & SOURCE

Stalin, indeed, actively discouraged intelligence analysis by others, which he condemned as “dangerous guesswork.” “Don’t tell me what you think,” he is reported to have said. “Give me the facts and the source!”
Andrew and Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield (Pt 1). New York: Basic Books, c1999, p. 54

Stalin worked assiduously even after the Second World War at keeping himself well-informed.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 263

STALIN DEFEATED MAJOR CHALLENGES

Three great decisions faced Stalin in power and he met them magnificently; first, the problem of the peasants, then the West European attack, and last the Second World War. The poor Russian peasant was the lowest victim of tsarism, capitalism and the Orthodox Church. He surrendered the Little White Father easily; he turned less readily but perceptibly from his icons; but his kulaks clung tenaciously to capitalism and were near wrecking the revolution when Stalin risked a second revolution and drove out the rural bloodsuckers.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953

THE MASSES LOVED STALIN

Such was the man who lies dead, still the butt of noisy jackals and the illbred men of some parts of the distempered West. In life he suffered under continuous and studied insult; he was forced to make bitter decisions on his own lone responsibility. His reward comes as the common man stands in solemn acclaim.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953

… As I [Volodya] remember, Grandpa and Grandma and everyone else respected Stalin greatly until the last day.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 274

STALIN DOES NOT BELIEVE IN DESTINY

I preferred to revert to the problem of stories and legend-mongering and, since he had just asked whether the cigarette he had given me did not please me–or I had stopped smoking–I said:
“You are supposed to be against the creation of legends. And yet surely nothing has made you so popular as the legend that you always smoke a pipe.”
He laughed. “You see how little need I have of it. This morning I left it at home.”
“It is late. Will you kindly autograph this pamphlet you have given me?”
He nodded. But he seemed bewildered because he was not used to this European custom. “Yes, of course, but what shall I write?”
“Your own name, and that of Herr Ludwig,” said the translator. His shyness at that moment attracted me to him very much. He raised the red pencil with which he had been drawing and wrote on the pamphlet….
“Would you be surprised at a question?”
“Nothing that happens in Russia could surprise me,” Stalin said.
“That frame of mind is international. In Germany also, nothing that might happen could surprise us. Do you believe in Destiny?”
He became very serious. He turned to me and looked me straight in the face. Then, after a tense pause he said: “No, I don’t believe in Destiny. That is simply a prejudice. It is a nonsensical idea.” He laughed in his dark muffled way and said in German, “Schicksal, Schicksal.” Then he reverted to his native language and said: “Just as with the Greeks. They had their gods and goddesses who directed everything from above.”
“You have been through 100 dangers,” I said, “when you were banned and exiled, in revolutions and in wars. Is it merely an accident that you were not killed and that someone else is not in your place today?”
He was somewhat annoyed, but only for a moment. Then he said, in a clear, ringing voice:
“No accident, Herr Ludwig, no accident. Probably there were inner and outer causes that prevented my death. But it could have happened by accident that someone else might be sitting here and not I.”
…”Destiny is contrary to law. It is something mystic. In this mystical thing I do not believe. Of course there were causes why I came through all these dangers. It could not have happened merely by accident.”
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 382-384

STALIN KNEW THE WRITINGS OF MARX AND LENIN BETTER THAN THE OTHERS

Another old party member, I. A. Sats, writes in his memoirs:
“To some extent Stalin’s effectiveness as a publicist and orator, his advantage over others…can be explained in the following way. Stalin was much more familiar with the texts of Lenin’s works than Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, or even Trotsky. These men had been closer to Lenin, they had spent much more time with him when he was alive; they listened to his speeches, argued with him, read through whatever he had just written, but they seldom ever reread any of his work. There was not enough distance between him and themselves for that. Stalin, however, studied Lenin’s published works in detail and new them all verbatim–he could easily select an appropriate quotation whenever the need arose.”
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 46

STALIN DID GO OUT AMONG THE MASSES

Although Stalin was a reclusive man, not one to mingle with the masses, he appeared before and among the people extraordinarily often just at this time [Dec. 1935].
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 330

STALIN & HIS WIFE WRITE LOVING LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER INVITING HER BUT SHE REFUSES

The sort of letters a loving son usually writes. He sends her photographs of his wife, money, medicines, begs her not to be downhearted in spite of her many ailments. And sees to it that his wife accompanies his short letters with long ones of her own.

From one of his wife’s letters to his mother: “Everything is fine with us. We… were expecting you here, but it seems you couldn’t manage it.” Yes, it was the other way around: they invited his mother, they asked her to come and see them. But she will not come. Yet his mother never overlooks the slightest sign of neglect on the part of her busy son. He has to make excuses:
“Greetings, Mama dear It’s a long time since I got a letter from you. I must have offended you, but what can I do. God knows how busy I am.”
“Greetings, Mama dear. Of course I owe you an apology for not writing recently. But what can I do–I’m snowed under with work and couldn’t take time out to write.”

They continually invited his mother to Moscow. And she continually refused to come. In one of her last letters, his wife writes disparagingly: “Still, summer is not that far off, maybe we shall see each other. But why don’t you come to us sometime? It’s very embarrassing the way you spoil us with presents.” So then–she spoiled them by sending presents but would not go to see them, however much they begged her. They had installed her in a palace, but she persisted in living in one room.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 23

STALIN WAS NOT PARANOID

Stalin, it is said, was a schizophrenic. The story usually told by way of proof is that when in 1927 the great Russian medical scientist Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev was called in to examine Stalin, whose withered arm was troubling him, he diagnosed advanced paranoia and recommended immediate retirement….
In August 1989 , and the days of perestroika, a number of psychiatrists took part in an amusing roundtable discussion in the offices of the Literary Gazette. They were looking for an answer to the question: was Stalin mentally ill or not? One of those invited was academician N. Bekhterev, daughter of the great Bekhterev. She said, among other things, “I myself do not know whether Vladimir Bekhterev decided that Stalin was paranoid, but our family never heard anything to that effect.” That puts an end to a very popular legend.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 319

STALIN WAS NOT GRASPING FOR POWER AND SACRIFICED HIMSELF

There is no question that this was a role [supervising the war in Tsaritsyn] he preferred to sitting in Moscow and quarreling with his assistants on the Commissariat. To give him justice, however, it was not a role which a man who was interested only in power would have sought. Such a man would have preferred to sit in the relative safety of Moscow rather than shoulder hazardous responsibilities in the war zone. A mere politician would have opted for pulling the strings from the center, for building a power base at the head of one of the main Party organizations, as Zinoviev was already doing in Petrograd and Kamenev in Moscow. Stalin, like Trotsky, undertook jobs that could make and as easily break reputations.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 170

STALIN WAS REASONABLE AND NON-PARTISAN

A follower of the proceedings at the [Twelfth] Congress would very likely conclude that Comrade Stalin was firm but reasonable, different from the bullying Zinoviev. His ideas seemed sensible and nonpartisan….
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 226

STALIN DEVELOPED INTO A SHREWD, EFFECTIVE, REALISTIC POLITICIAN

In 1917 Stalin’s transformation with in a few weeks from a misanthropic recluse to a man acknowledged by a sizable group as their leader marked him as a skillful politician. By the mid-1920s and in the context of Soviet politics he became a superb one. He had all the essential ingredients: an excellent sense of timing; simple but effective oratory, which even in its certain crudity was reassuring to the average Party member; the appearance, which while not only correct was certainly more true then than at any time before or later, of a man free of internal complexes and problems, zestfully playing the political game. All these combined to gain him a widespread acceptance that sheer administrative intrigue alone could not have secured. Even some of his irritability seemed to have dissipated.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 237

Dzhughashvili was a fellow who would fight battles only when there was a decent chance of winning them.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 57

STALIN WAS CONVINCED ROOSEVELT WAS ASSASSINATED

Stalin was convinced, moreover, that Roosevelt had been assassinated and he blamed my father for having nothing to tell him about that matter.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 113

STALIN’S WIFE TREATED HIM RUDELY IN PUBLIC AT TIMES

Stalin was unbearably rude to Nadya [his wife] but historians, in their determination to show his monstrosity, have ignored how unbearably rude she was to him. This “peppery woman,” as Stalin’s security chief, Pauker, described her, frequently shouted at Stalin in public, which was why her own mother thought her a “fool.” The cavalryman Budyonny, who was at the dinner, remembered how she was “always nagging and humiliating” Stalin. “I don’t know how he puts up with it” Budyonny confided in his wife.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 17

STALIN GAINED SUPPORT BY CHARM NOT FEAR

The foundation of Stalin’s power in the Party was not fear: it was charm.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 48

Stalin was not the dreary bureaucrat that Trotsky wanted him to be. It was certainly true that he was a gifted organizer. He “never improvised” but “took every decision, weighing it carefully.” He was capable of working extraordinarily long hours–16 a day. But the new archives confirmed that his real genius was something different–and surprising: “he could charm people.” He was what is now known as a “people person.” While incapable of true empathy on the one hand, he was a master of friendships on the other. He constantly lost his temper, but when he set his mind to charming a man, he was irresistible….
Stalin’s face was “expressive and mobile,” his feline movements “supple and graceful”: he buzzed with sensitive energy. Everyone who saw him “was anxious to see him again” because “he created a sense that there was now a bond that linked them forever.” Artyom [his adopted son] said he made “we children feel like adults and feel important.” Visitors were impressed with his quiet modesty, the puffing on the pipe, the calmness. When the future Marshall Zhukov first met him, he could not sleep afterwards: “The appearance of Stalin, his quiet voice, the concreteness and depth of his judgments, the attention with which he heard the report made a great impression on me.” Sudoplatov, a Chekist, thought “it was hard to imagine such a man could deceive you, his reactions were so natural, without the slightest sense of him posing” but he also noticed “a certain harshness… which he did not… conceal.”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 48

In the eyes of these rough Bolsheviks from the regions, his flat quiet public speaking was an asset, a great improvement on Trotsky’s oratorical wizardry. Stalin’s lack of smoothness, his anti-oratory, inspired trust…. “he was that man the Party trusted,” admitted Bukharin. “He’s like the symbol of the Party, the lower strata trust him.” But above all, reflected the future secret police chief, Beria, he was “supremely intelligent,” a political “genius.” However rude or charming he was, “he dominated his entourage with his intelligence.”
…He did not just socialize with the magnates: he patronized junior officials too, constantly searching for tougher, more loyal, and more tireless lieutenants. He was always accessible: “I’m ready to help you and receive you,” he often replied to requests. Officials got through directly to Stalin….
Stalin was mercurial–far from a humorless drone: he was convivial and entertaining, if exhaustingly intense. “He was such fun,” says Artyom [his adopted son].
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 49

Stalin’s pitch was perfect: it was a “rare” and “sweet” voice. Indeed, one of his lieutenants said Stalin was good enough to have become a professional singer, a mind-boggling historical possibility.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 82

Perhaps it was one of Stalin’s traits to try to make people like him. I do not know. I never encountered Stalin directly. But I have heard the stories of other people who did meet alone with Stalin and who left him feeling not only esteem but also warmth for him as a person. One of the stories was told me after Khrushchev’s report on Stalin at the 20th Party Congress, a time when it was more advantageous to criticize than praise Stalin. The man who told it to me, Lieutenant General Vechny, is very modest. Even those of us who were close acquaintances of his had never heard him say that he had worked in Stalin’s immediate suite for a lengthy period at the beginning of the war– though any self-seeking careerist would have talked constantly about such an experience. But after we had read Khrushchev’s report, — Vechny sighed deeply and said: “This is not the Stalin I knew.”
…And he commenced his story, a simple human story about ordinary events and conversations. But out of his words arose the picture of a human being both great and humane! I am convinced that Vechny was sincere and honest. Stalin, he explained, actually made him feel that he could freely discuss with him the situation at the front and even calmly contradict him. And Stalin evidently did not forget him after this. How else can it be explained that Stalin took only Vechny’s name off of the order in which he was named as one of those to blame for the failure of the 1942 Kerch operation? When reading the order, Stalin crossed out Vechny’s name any time he came to it, never explaining to anyone why he did this.
Grigorenko, Petro G. Memoirs. New York: Norton, c1982, p. 138-139

I cannot refrain from stating that, when necessary, Stalin could literally charm a person by his warmth and attention and make one remember every meeting with him for a long time.
Rokossovsky, K., Ed. by Bob Daglish A Soldier’s Duty. Moscow: Progress Pub., 1985, p. 174

If Stalin’s regime wished to inculcate a high level of fear in its citizens, there was no reason to halt the Terror as abruptly as it did; no reason for Stalin to say in March 1939 that the punitive organs had already turned their attention “not to the interior of the country, but outside it, against external enemies”; and no reason to hold public trials of the NKVD agents and party cadres who had abused people. There would have been every reason to continue harrassment of the elite in some lesser fashion, but that did not happen.
Thurston, Robert W. “Fear and Belief in the USSR’s ‘Great Terror’: Response to Arrest, 1935-1939.” Slavic Review 45 (1986), p. 232.

STALIN CRITICIZES HIS WIFE’S BROTHER FOR GIVING STALIN’S WIFE A PISTOL

He stared sadly at Pavel [Nadya’s brother], growling, “That was a hell of a nice present you gave her! A pistol!”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 106

STALIN CHOOSES CREATIVE MARXISM OVER DOGMATIC MARXISM

“There is a dogmatic Marxism and a creative Marxism. I take my stand with the latter.”
[Proceedings of the 6th Cong. of the Bolshevik Party. Russian Ed. Pages 233 -234]
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 93

STALIN WAS OFTEN MORE LENIENT THAN OTHERS ON THE POLITBURO

Thus, the Politburo, as now constituted, became a stabilized organ, a sort of institution, with a majority grouped about Molotov. Stalin, of course, who had been promised 100 years of life by the medical commission of the Politburo, could impose his point of view whenever he was absolutely determined to do so. He did impose it at critical moments; as, for example, when he forbade Bulganin to close the air corridor during the blockade of Berlin, and to provoke an aerial war with the pursuit planes of General Lucius Clay. Further, through the Military Commission of the Politburo he forbade Molotov and Zhdanov to liquidate Tito’s regime by military action. This would have presented no technical difficulty in 1948, but it might very soon have provoked a generalized military conflict. Tito, at that moment, realized this as clearly as Stalin.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 404

STALIN’S PRESENCE INTIMIDATES CAPITALIST GOVERNMENTS

The mere presence of Stalin suffices, by a kind of virulent osmosis, to reduce and weaken the liberalism of the capitalist governments.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 415

STALIN WAS A BEACON OF HOPE IN A TIME OF GREAT TURMOIL AND DEPRIVATION

Generally the late 1920s are portrayed as stormy years during which great works were accomplished. One cannot deny that Stalin was adroit at advancing ever new and ever larger tasks. The people were tantalized by the goals he set before us. I remember the tremendous enthusiasm Stalin’s essay “The Year of the Great Turning Point” aroused when it appeared a few years after the time I am describing here. Grain was in acute shortage and long bread lines were appearing. Rationing was not far off; neither was famine. But Stalin’s essay engrossed and heartened us. Yes, we believed, the liquidation of small-scale peasant farming was a great turning point. The soil that might give rebirth to capitalism had been destroyed. Directly ahead of us lay the route to the complete victory of socialism.
Grigorenko, Petro G. Memoirs. New York: Norton, c1982, p. 28

STALIN STRONGLY OPPOSED THE MENSHEVIKS

Koba generally enjoyed in the Caucasus the reputation of a second Lenin. He was regarded as the leading Marxist expert. Hence his very special hatred for Menshevism. In his opinion, anyone who professed Marxism but he did not interpret it in the Bolshevist light was a scoundrel.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 80

In the memoirs of Badayev, one of the six Bolshevist representatives in the Duma and perhaps the one who took the most active part in the administration and protection of Pravda, Stalin is represented as the chief engineer of the party in all matters of policy. It was Stalin who was responsible for the creation of the Bolshevist caucus. It was Stalin who framed the basic Bolshevist planks in the platform of the Social Democratic bloc. And again it was he who did not lose his head and did not yield an inch in the many all-night conferences that were marked by extreme passion.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 94

STALIN DID MORE TO CREATE THE SOVIET UNION THAN ANYONE

Stalin more than other leaders of his party, is responsible for the cementing of the federation known as the Soviet Union.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 155

STALIN CONTENDS THAT TO BUILD ONE MUST LEARN AND LEARN FROM EVERYBODY

Stalin’s notion of and approach toward learning is typically paternal and didactic. “To build,” he wrote for a popular weekly magazine in 1928, “one must possess knowledge, one must master science, one must learn. Learn persistently, patiently. Learn from everybody, from your enemies, from your friends, but particularly from your enemies.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 306

STALIN IS HONEST AND REALLY CARES ABOUT THE WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE

Dmitrievsky continues, “Is Stalin honest? Does he think of the needs and welfare of the people? I am deeply convinced that he aims at the happiness of the people, and sincerely regards himself as the incarnation of the toilers of the country.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 317

STALIN SAYS HISTORY PROVES THE EASIEST THEORIES ARE FROM FROM BEING ALWAYS TRUE

[In a March 15, 1927 reply to Dmitriev Stalin stated]… history tells us that the simplest and easiest “theories” are far from always being the most correct.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 9, p. 190

STALIN SAYS YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT NOT WHAT IS POPULAR

[In a reply on June 12, 1928 to Comrade S Stalin stated] Remember the words quoted by Marx: “Follow your own course, and let people talk!”
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 120

STALIN WAS A STRONG STUDENT OF ESPERANTO

For a while he taught himself Esperanto. For Dzhughashvili and many young revolutionaries this language, invented by the Polish Jewish scholar Zamenhoff, would provide one of the cultural underpinnings for the socialist order which they wanted to create around the world.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 78

He always actively supported the ringleaders in jail, and this made him a good fellow in the eyes of the prison public.
At a time when the whole prison was upset, sleepless, tense, in expectation of a night execution, Koba would calmly compose himself in slumber or else study Esperanto, which he regarded as the future language of the Socialist International.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 80

Koba–who has regarded himself as an expert linguist ever since he learned Esperanto in Batum prison–will also take part in Radek’s linguistic endeavors….
He [Stalin] founded a club of Esperantists, and astonished the inhabitants of the town by talking Esperanto in the street.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 57

In the Baku prison he began to study Esperanto as “the language of the future.” … Although he spent eight years in prison and exile, he never managed to learn a single foreign language, not excluding his ill-starred Esperanto.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 119

The prison became stricter and calmer. There was not even any talk of collective discussion. Koba had sufficient leisure to study Esperanto, if he had not become disillusioned with the language of the future.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 125

STALIN LOVED AND WAS CARING TOWARD HIS MOTHER

“Recent biographies of my father say that he didn’t go to his mother’s funeral, he didn’t put a cross on her grave. I have to deny these stories. He visited her when she was ill and close to death, in 1935. It was a big effort for him to drive all the way from Moscow to Tblisi with his whole entourage, a thousand miles, but he did it because he wanted to see her.”
…”He didn’t have a cross put on her grave simply because that was not done in those times. The Party was atheist, and the KGB in Georgia decided how to bury her. My father cannot be blamed for that. ”She was a Christian, and attended church all her life. But it was not his decision.”
The many attempts made to define Stalin’s personality have eluded any real sense of dimension–usually because those who have tried did not know the man personally. Colleagues and contemporaries have given snippets, glimpses and epithets; but the person most qualified to talk about Stalin’s character is his daughter.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 200-201

LOT OF AMATEUR PSYCHOLOGISTS ANALYZING STALIN

“There are a lot of amateur psychologists around who think that they know my father. But they didn’t know the man. He was extremely complicated.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 202

STALIN IS AN IMPORTANT FIGURE ON THE WORLD STAGE

At the present time there are in the world only two persons to whose opinion, to whose every word, millions are listening: you and Roosevelt. Others may preach as much as they like; what they say will never be printed or heeded. I cannot yet appreciate what has been done in your country; I only arrived yesterday. But I have already seen the happy faces of healthy men and women and I know that something very considerable is being done here. The contrast with 1920 is astounding.
Joseph Stalin and H. G. Wells, Marxism Vs. Liberalism: An Interview, New York, New Century Publishers, September 1937, p. 297

STALIN SUPPORTS LISTENING TO THE LITTLE PEOPLE FOR IDEAS

This is what not only teaching the masses but also learning from the masses means.
Two examples to demonstrate the correctness of Lenin’s thesis.
This happened several years ago. We, the members of the Central Committee, were discussing the question of improving the situation in the Donetz Basin. The measures proposed by the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry were obviously unsatisfactory. Three times we sent the proposals back to the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. And three times we got different proposals from the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. But even then we could not regard them as satisfactory. Finally, we decided to call several workers and lower business and trade union officials from the Donetz Basin. For three days we discussed matters with these comrades. And all of us members of the Central Committee had to admit that only these ordinary workers, these “little people,” were able to suggest the proper solution to us. You no doubt remember the decision of the Central Committee and of the Council of People’s Commissars on measures for increasing coal output in the Donetz Basin. Well, this decision of the Central Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars, which all our comrades admitted was a correct and even a remarkable one, was suggested to us by simple people from the ranks.
The other example. I have in mind the case of Comrade Nikolayenko. Who is Nikolayenko? Nikolayenko is a rank-and-file member of the Party. She is an ordinary “little person.” For a whole year she had been giving signals that all was not well in the Party organization in Kiev; she exposed the family spirit, the philistine petty-bourgeois approach to workers, the suppression of self-criticism, the prevalence of Trotskyite wreckers. But she was constantly brushed aside as if she were a pestiferous fly. Finally, in order to get rid of her they expelled her from the Party. Neither the Kiev organization nor the Central Committee of the C.P. of the Ukraine helped her to bring the truth to light. The intervention of the Central Committee of the Party alone helped to unravel the knot. And what transpired after the case was investigated? It transpired that Nikolayenko was right and the Kiev organization was wrong. Neither more nor less. And yet, who is Nikolayenko? Of course, she is not a member of the Central Committee, she is not a People’s Commissar, she is not the secretary of the Kiev Regional Organization, she is not even the secretary of a Party cell, she is only a simple rank-and-file member of the Party.
As you see, simple people sometimes prove to be much nearer to the truth than some high institutions.
I could quote scores and hundreds of similar examples. Thus you see that our experience alone, the experience of the leaders, is far from enough for the leadership of our cause. In order to lead properly the experience of the leaders must be supplemented by the experience of the Party membership, the experience of the working class, the experience of the toilers, the experience of the so-called “little people.”
Stalin, Joseph. Works, Vol. 14, Speech in Reply to Debate, 1 April 1937, Red Star Press, London, Pravda 1978, pp. 290-291

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