Category: Mass Murder
Location: Soviet Union
Date: 1937 - 1938
Crime: As the leader of the Communist Soviet Union, perpetrated what is known as 'The Great Purge' or 'Great Terror', killing as many as three million people who were accused of sabotage, treachery or terrorism.
Biography: Joseph Stalin was born on December 18, 1878 and rose to power as the General Secretary of the Communist Party, following the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1923. As a youth, he contracted smallpox which left his face permanently scarred and was involved in two separate carriage accidents causing permanent damage to his left arm. At the age of 21, he left seminary school and turned to Marxism, after discovering the writings of Lenin. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Marxist revolutionary's by carrying out paramilitary strikes, inciting riots and robbing banks to raise money. Prior to Lenin's death, the relationship between the two powerful men had deteriorated due to differences in policy and abuses of power. Upon assuming control, Stalin overturned Lenin's 'New Economic Policy' which was created to avert the collapse of the Soviet economy, and proceeded to implement an excessive industrialization policy where every aspect of the Soviet economy was controlled by the government. In the late 30's, to maintain control over the rise of differing political opinions, Stalin commenced the 'Great Purge'. Using secret police, military and underground operatives, Stalin sought out and eliminated anyone who opposed his views. Many were executed, others where expelled from the country and still more were sent to the famous Gulag where they suffered in wretched conditions, dying of starvation, disease or collapsing from being over worked. Stalin ruled until his death in March of 1953, the cause of which is officially listed as him having suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, although many at the time believed he was murdered with a form of rat poison that created a condition in the blood which caused stroke.