Profession: Soviet General Secretary
Why Famous: Came to prominence after Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, leading the Communist state till his death in 1953.
Instituted policies of collective agriculture and rapid industrialization lead to rapid growth in the Soviet economy but at a huge cost to Soviet citizens.
Halted the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, helping defeat the axis powers and establishing the Eastern Bloc of communist countries.
Soviet Union Founded
Germany Invades the Soviet Union
Siege of Leningrad
Nazi General Friedrich Paulus Surrenders
Nazi Germany Surrenders
The Berlin Candy Bombers
Mass Murderer Stalin Goes to His Grave
- 1906-07-28 Future dictator of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin (27) weds Ekaterina Svanidze (21) at St. David's Church in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia)
- 1913-01-12 After using other pseudonyms over the years, Josef Dzhugashvili signs himself as Stalin ("man of steel") in a letter to the newspaper Social Democrat
- 1917-11-07 The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic is proclaimed; first Council of People's Commissars is formed with Vladimir Lenin as leader and including Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin
- 1917-12-18 The Soviet government issues a decree recognizing Finland's newly-declared independence [N.S. December 31]
- 1919-03-23 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party re-establishes a five-member Politburo which becomes the center of political power in the Soviet Union. Original members Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Lev Kamenev and Nikolai Krestinsky
- 1922-04-03 Joseph Stalin is appointed General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party by an ailing Vladimir Lenin
- 1924-01-21 Vladimir Lenin's Testament is handed over to the Communist Party; it calls for changes to the Soviet governing structure and criticizes Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky and other members
- 1925-01-06 Mikhail Frunze replaces Leon Trotsky as People's Commissioner of Military and Native Affairs (Minister of Defence) as Trotsky and Joseph Stalin battle for power in the aftermath of Vladimir Lenin's death
- 1927-11-12 Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, paving the way for Joseph Stalin to consolidate complete power
- 1929-11-17 Nikolai Bukharin is expelled from the Soviet Politburo amidst a power struggle with Joseph Stalin
- 1932-10-09 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin expels Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev from the Communist Party after a power struggle
- 1934-12-01 Leningrad mayor Sergey Kirov is assassinated and Joseph Stalin uses it as an excuse to begin his Great Purge of 1934-38
- 1935-11-07 Addressing a meeting of Stakhanovites, Joseph Stalin utters his famous phrase "life has become better"
- 1936-01-26 Joseph Stalin views Dmitri Shostakovich's opera "Lady Macbeth" but he and his officials leave early and the play is denounced in state press
- 1937-01-23 Karl Radek and sixteen others go on trial in Moscow as part of the Great Purge, many are sentenced to death
- 1937-06-12 After a one-day show trial, eight Soviet generals are sentenced to death and executed by the NKVD
- 1937-11-01 Stalinists execute by shooting Pastor Paul Hamberg and seven members of Azerbaijan's Lutheran community (including three women).
- 1938-11-25 Lavrentiy Beria succeeds Nikolai Yezhov as the head of the Soviet secret police, NKVD, after Yezhov was executed on Joseph Stalin's orders
- 1939-04-16 The Soviet Union proposes an alliance with Britain and France to counter Nazi Germany; the Soviets would later sign a secret agreement with the Nazis
- 1941-04-03 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warns Soviet leader Joseph Stalin that a German invasion is imminent
- 1941-05-06 Joseph Stalin becomes Premier of the Soviet Union, replacing his foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov
- 1942-08-12 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Moscow for a conference with Joseph Stalin and US representative W. Averrell Harriman
- 1943-05-15 Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern (or Third International) to avoid upsetting his Western allies with claims he was trying to foment revolution globally
- 1943-11-28 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin meet at the Tehran Conference in Iran to map out strategy
- 1943-12-01 At the end of the Tehran Conference, the Big Three (Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt) agree that the invasion of Normandy should take place in May 1944
- 1944-04-28 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meets Polish-American priest Stanislaus Orlemanski in Moscow to discuss religion and the future of post-war Poland
- 1944-10-09 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Russia for talks with Joseph Stalin
- 1945-02-04 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin meet at Yalta in the Crimea to discuss the final phase of World War II
- 1945-02-11 Declaration of Liberated Europe signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin after the Yalta Conference
- 1945-07-17 Potsdam Conference: Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill hold 1st post-World War II meeting
- 1945-08-02 Potsdam Conference between Joseph Stalin, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill (replaced by Clement Attlee after losing the 1945 general election) ends
- 1948-03-18 Soviet consultants leave Yugoslavia in first sign of Tito-Stalin split
- 1951-10-06 Joseph Stalin proclaims the Soviet Union has the atomic bomb
- 1952-08-20 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meets Chinese premier Zhou Enlai
- 1952-11-20 Slánský trials begin - a series of Stalinist and anti-Semitic show trials in Czechoslovakia.
- 1953-03-01 After an all-night movie and dinner session with his top advisers, Joseph Stalin suffers a stroke and collapses. He dies four days later.
- 1953-03-09 Joseph Stalin's funeral is held in Moscow after four days of national mourning
- 1956-02-25 Nikita Khrushchev denounces Joseph Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
- 1961-10-30 Soviet Party Congress unanimously approves a resolution removing Stalin's body from Lenin's tomb in Red Square as part of de-Stalinization efforts