10 Brutal Realities of Life in Stalin’s Soviet Union

10 Brutal Realities of Life in Stalin’s Soviet Union


When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, his charismatic
henchman Leon Trotsky seemed to be his most obvious successor. Instead it was Joseph Stalin, a man once described
by Trotsky as a “dull grey blur” and a “nonentity” who had, by 1929, vanquished
his political rivals and seized power for himself. The self-proclaimed man of steel would rule
over the Soviet Union until his death in 1953. Over the course of a little more than two
decades he transformed the Soviet Union from a technologically backwards agricultural society
into a nuclear-armed superpower. Remarkable as this feat was, it was achieved
through suffering on a colossal scale. Stalin’s Soviet Union was billed as a workers’
paradise, instead it was a terrifying police state presided over by one of history’s
most brutal dictators. 10. The Soviet Famine of 1932-33 In 1929 around 80% of Russia’s population
worked the land. Their way of life had been largely unchanged
for generations, until Stalin launched what has been described as a civil war against
the peasant class. Stalin’s goal was to modernize agriculture
in order to drive the rapid industrialization he saw as essential to the Soviet Union’s
future. The wealthier peasants, denounced by Stalin
as rural capitalists, were executed or deported to prison camps in Siberia. The remainder were stripped of their land
and livestock and forced to work the fields of vast state-run collective farms. Many peasants chose to slaughter their livestock
rather than hand it over to the state, resulting in catastrophic shortages. Grain production fell, but state quotas had
to be met. The army and the secret police took all that
could be found, leaving whole villages to starve. Any peasant found to be stealing a single
grain could be shot. In cities and towns, mass graves were dug. In villages, the corpses were often left piled
by the side of the road, the living too weak to bury the dead. As his people suffered and starved, Stalin
exported huge quantities of food abroad to fund the industrialization of the Soviet Union. The famine of 1932-33 had been entirely preventable,
but it caused the death of millions. 9. The Great Terror Stalin’s brutal methods and growing power
were a cause of grave concern amongst at least some members of the Soviet leadership. In early 1934, at the 17th Congress of the
Committee of the Communist Party, Stalin received more than 100 anonymous negative votes. This only strengthened his conviction that
enemies and traitors were everywhere, plotting his downfall. Determined to eradicate any possible threat
to his position, Stalin began a purge of his own party, targeting enemies both real and
perceived. More than half of the 1,996 who attended the
17th Congress had been arrested by the end of 1939. Most were executed by Stalin’s secret police,
others were put to work in the labor camps of icy Siberia; few returned. The Great Terror was not confined to party
elites. Stalin intended to kill anybody who might
pose a potential threat; innocence of any actual crime afforded no protection. Intellectuals, scientists, and artists were
all targeted. The Red Army was by no means exempt, and thousands
of its officers suspected of disloyalty were removed from their posts or executed. The purges spread like a contagion through
the ranks and society. Even the innocent would confess to crimes
and name friends and acquaintances as accomplices, anything to make the torture stop. The process would then repeat itself with
a new set of victims. By the end of 1938, as the Great Terror began
to wind down, more than a million people had been arrested and half a million executed. Stalin’s grip on power was assured, and
all understood that the merest hint of disloyalty or criticism would be met with brutal retribution. 8. The Activities of the NKVD were an Open Secret The secret police went by numerous different
names over the course of the Soviet Union’s 69 years of existence, but from 1934 until
Stalin’s death in 1953 they were known as the NKVD. Above the law and separate from the party,
the NKVD answered to Stalin alone. It was the instrument through which Stalin
inflicted terror on a population of more than 170 million, and one of the main pillars on
which his power rested. An entirely rational fear of the secret police
permeated all levels of Soviet society. Almost everybody had a friend or relative
who’d vanished never to be seen again. It was understood yet rarely mentioned that
the NKVD were responsible for the disappearances. The activities of the secret police were an
open secret; to mention their existence carried the very real risk of a visit. Any man elevated to head of the NKVD wielded
power second only to that of Stalin. This made their position a dangerous one. The first chief of the NKVD, Genrikh Yagoda,
was himself arrested, tortured, and executed on Stalin’s orders. His successor, Nikolai Yezhov, nicknamed the
poison dwarf due to his short stature, suffered the same fate. 7. Stalin’s Right-Hand Man was a Sadist and
a Serial Killer Only an individual of exceptional cruelty
and cunning could hope to survive for any great length of time as chief of Stalin’s
NKVD. The unassuming-looking Lavrentiy Beria was
just such a man. Described by Stalin’s daughter as an evil
genius who surpassed even her father in the dark political arts, Beria was perhaps the
most depraved of all Stalin’s creatures. Appointed as chief of the NKVD in place of
Nikolai Yezhov, Beria was a sycophantic crawler who did everything in his power to ingratiate
himself with Stalin, the man he called “The Boss.” He was also a man who thoroughly enjoyed his
job. Reported to be capable of going days on end
without sleep, he delighted in presiding over marathon torture sessions. When Beria wasn’t killing in his professional
capacity as Stalin’s attack dog, he did so for his own amusement. His henchmen were under instruction to roam
the streets seeking out young women and girls for him to rape and murder. There’s little doubt that Stalin must have
been aware of Beria’s activities, but the Soviet dictator prized loyalty and efficiency
over all else and cared nothing for the suffering of others. Beria’s loyalty, however, was not as complete
as Stalin imagined. When Stalin died in 1953, Beria spat on his
corpse and smiled. Most likely he believed he would replace his
former master as dictator, but with Stalin’s protection lost he was instead arrested and
sentenced to death for his many crimes. Beria, the merciless killer, broke down in
tears and pleaded for his life. His screams were muffled by a rag stuffed
in his mouth before he was shot in the head. 6. Suppression of Religion Karl Marx famously described religion as the
opium of the people. He saw religion as a tool used by the ruling
capitalist class to oppress the proletariat. There would be no need for religion in a properly
functioning Communist society, and this alone would have been reason enough for Stalin to
attempt to eradicate it. However, Stalin had another motivation, too. He hated the idea that his people might believe
in a power even greater than his own. Russian Orthodoxy was the dominant religion
in the Soviet Union, but there were also substantial numbers of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims,
and others. The process of attempting to stamp out religion
began under Lenin, but it accelerated under Stalin. Religious works of literature were banned,
and atheism was promoted in schools. Worshippers were harassed, their places of
worship closed or even destroyed, and priests and preachers targeted by the secret police. 5. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 On June 22, 1941, Hitler’s Nazi Germany
launched an attack of unprecedented scale against Stalin’s Soviet Union. The titanic clash between the two totalitarian
powers would decide the outcome of World War Two. In the Soviet Union the struggle became known
as the Great Patriotic War. No other nation on earth would have been able
to withstand such an enormous attack. Very few individuals in history other than
Stalin would have been so inured to the suffering of their people as to pay the price required
to repel it. As the Red Army fell back under the weight
of the onslaught, Stalin ordered a scorched earth policy. Wells were poisoned, crops burned in the fields,
farm animals slaughtered, and entire towns destroyed. No consideration was given as to how civilians
would survive in the blackened wastelands they had once called home. Stalin demanded that civilians and soldiers
alike be prepared to pay any price to keep him in power. The Red Army was the largest army in the world,
but its soldiers were badly equipped and trained. To guard against the possibility of them fleeing
from the enemy, battalions armed with machine guns were stationed to the rear of the lines
of battle, ready to gun down any man who lost their nerve and attempted to escape. With Germany’s eventual defeat in May 1945,
Stalin’s power and international prestige were at an all-time high, but the Soviet Union
lost between 20 and 42 million dead. 4. Prisoners of War were Treated as Traitors When Germany surrendered to the Allies in
May 1945 more than six million Red Army soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Germans. Millions more civilians had been captured
and put to work as slave laborers in the Reich. Many were now in territory controlled by the
British and Americans, and Stalin demanded they be returned to the Soviet Union. The Western Allies saw no reason to refuse
what seemed to be a reasonable request, and from the chaos of post-war Europe some four
million people were repatriated. In Stalin’s paranoid mind, however, to be
captured by the enemy was in and of itself an act of treachery and betrayal. This applied even to his own family. Stalin’s son had been captured by the Germans
in 1941, but the Soviet dictator refused to do a deal to secure his release. Soldiers and civilians returning to the Soviet
Union found themselves fed into camps for interrogation by the NKVD. The lucky ones were eventually freed to return
home, but the merest suspicion of having collaborated with the Germans meant execution or a visit
to the labor camps of Siberia. 3. The Most Powerful Men in the Soviet Union
were Routinely Humiliated Joseph Stalin did have a sense of humor, but
not a healthy one. While he never forgot or forgave a perceived
insult to himself, he took great amusement in the suffering and humiliation of others. One of the Soviet dictator’s favorite pastimes
was to stay up until the small hours of the morning drinking with his acolytes. Coming as he did from Georgian peasant stock,
Stalin was capable of consuming alcohol in prodigious quantities. Frequently, however, he would drink only water
whilst forcing his comrades to knock back enough alcohol to reduce them to stumbling,
insensible buffoons. Nikita Khrushchev, who was a powerful enough
individual within the Soviet Union to go on to succeed Stalin following the dictator’s
death in 1953, recalled how he was once forced to perform a traditional Cossack dance for
Stalin’s amusement. The ungainly and awkward Khrushchev possessed
many talents, but complicated, physically challenging dance routines were not amongst
them. Nonetheless, as Khrushchev later explained,
“When Stalin says dance, a wise man dances.” 2. Siberian Gulags With average temperatures well below freezing
throughout winter and into April and thousands of kilometers of land that remains frozen
throughout the year, Siberia has long been one of the most unforgiving climates on Earth. Used as a dumping ground for political prisoners
and criminals since the mid-1700s, even Stalin had spent some time imprisoned there during
the early days of his career as a revolutionary. The system of Siberian labor camps already
existed when Stalin came to power, but they were vastly extended under his rule. Differing from the death camps of Nazi Germany
in that they were not explicitly run with the intention of murdering their inmates,
conditions in the gulags were nonetheless appalling. Starvation was a constant threat, and it wasn’t
unknown for the inhabitants of entire camps, prisoners, guards, and even their dogs, to
freeze to death. Historian Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev estimated
that up to six million people may have been sentenced to Stalin’s gulags. Perhaps a million or more of these didn’t
survive the experience. 1. The Cult of Stalin Stalin might have been a ruthless dictator
with the blood of millions on his hands, but that wasn’t the image he wanted to project
to the people. Soviet propaganda portrayed Stalin as a powerful
yet benevolent father figure, a genius who devoted his life in service to the Soviet
Union and the protection of its people. He only rarely appeared in public, but his
portrait adorned the wall of every office, factory, classroom, and most people’s homes. Radio and newspapers hailed his genius; schools
taught a rewritten version of history, which wildly exaggerated his importance in the momentous
events of the Russian Revolution and Civil War. Anybody who spoke of Stalin in anything less
than terms of gushing praise was ruthlessly silenced. Unlike dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini,
Stalin was a poor public speaker. But when Stalin finished speaking, the crowds
erupted in applause. His audience understood that the NKVD would
be watching, and being the first person to stop clapping could be a death sentence. Stalin’s cult of personality was so successful
that the brutal dictator’s death was mourned by millions following his death in 1953.

100 Comments on "10 Brutal Realities of Life in Stalin’s Soviet Union"


  1. Hello everyone! We've been experimenting with a bit of a podcast for our Biographics channel (a few people were asking for audio versions so they can get Biographics while doing other things)! Fair warning: none of these are new biographies, but rather me having a bit more of a free form chat around the script. I'd love to know what you think, if these are useful, wanted etc :). Thanks, Simon.

    Links:

    iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/biographics-history-one-life-at-a-time/id1450405839?mt=2

    Sitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/biographics-history-one-life-at-a-time

    Website: http://biographics.blubrry.net/

    RSS: http://biographics.blubrry.net/feed/podcast/

    Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6N9PS4QXF1D0OWPk0Sxtb4

    Trolled people: https://open.spotify.com/show/0JzjzwJcRqFZ3BcACtahh8?si=MG5HSm1oT0GTNm_r8_HQcg

    Reply

  2. "Gulag" was the acronym for the AGENCY implemented by Lenin to oversee the KATORGA CAMPS which were established in the 17th century by Alexis of Russia in newly conquered, underpopulated areas of Siberia and the Russian Far East. It is not Stalin's invention by a long shot. Please be more accurate. Prof. B.

    Reply

  3. Siberia is the most beautiful place on earth- imho
    Especially if you love col, snow and vodka…. and warm people!
    Great vid

    Reply

  4. People are to stupid to be allowed choice and freedom. Proven throughout history. They simply will not engage and pay attention.

    Reply

  5. All those who decided to support reds before during and after ww2 should be purged. What is worse a Nazi who believes some are born better genetically or those that rule at end of gun. Darn commies.we should have crushed them after ww2.

    Reply

  6. North Korea is a clone of the Stalin's USSR. Even the suit that the Kim's wear is a ripoff.
    What a poor choice for inspiration..

    Reply

  7. Two points to make , one the Allies knew from the start that anyone returned to the Soviet Union faced at the very least a prison sentence and for most of the people who had fled during the revolution and civil war a death sentence even though they had never been soviet citizens. And secondly the estimate you quoted for people sentenced to the gulag is far from accurate.This according to most historiansm and the available records, which are sketchy at best due to their loss and destruction.

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  8. Its pathetic too transform history by missing certain critical points .Stalin beaten only fasists ,kulaks, capitalists who never want abetter society but only their wealth and liberals like you man .Nothing bad at this ,how can you build a better society if guys like this spread their poison for their interest

    Reply

  9. When you base your government on a story book ( in this case the Communist Manifesto ), tyranny is inevitable.

    Reply

  10. Our CIA has adopted the methods of the Soviet state. The inner party was made up of 500 members all of which were Jews. These are the characters who committed genocide on the Russian people.

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  11. The soviet union was mainly run by Jewish Bolsheviks, (85% were Jewish). Stalins real last name means son of a Jew????

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  12. Why anyone cannot see that Socialism (whether in the form of National Socialism aka Nazis or in the form of Communism) is a pathological ideology which tries to build utopia here on earth. It fails and will fail every time. We have over 100 million dead in the 20th century alone. Enough. We can never accept Socialism again.

    Reply

  13. So the movie Death of Stalin was right about Lavrenty Beria, that he was a serial killer and how he would "play" with young girls as well as spitting on Stalin's corpse and hoping he would be the next leader.
    The more you know.

    Reply

  14. It's so similar that in every Communist take over of any government, the first thing that happens is the Purges, shortly after is starvation. It happened in Soviet Russia, the Communist China 🇨🇳, Cambodia 🇰🇭 said more. Yet the Untied States, people may miss a meal or 2, but not massive starvation. The Nazis would blame a certain group of people whereas the Communist blamed people as a whole.

    Reply

  15. Look at the horrible photo altering at @13:26 Also, the term "Gulag" refers to a "System" not a place. Once you were placed into Gulag you could be imprisoned, executed, or sent to a work camp (or all 3). Also remember that the work camps were actually little towns that became larger over time, and a lot of people who lived there refused to leave after they were shut down. The end result is the population of remote areas which would otherwise had been empty.

    Reply

  16. Could be preventable ???? WTF is he talking about? Stalin starved more than 10 million of his own people !!!!!!!

    Reply

  17. I think we fought the wrong dictator.
    Churchill and Roosevelt actually sat next to this creep and shook his hand. EWW.

    Reply

  18. 1. They were mostly normal prisons that often took great pains to rehabilitate the inhabitants and most of the 'information' we in the West have on them comes from a work of fiction called the Gulag archipelago.

    2. That's it really; a poor country had prisons that weren't nearly as vile as the US prison industrial complex and the demonization of the Gulag system serves to blind workers in the capitalist world to the realities of their own barbaric for profit prison system which exists solely to control the surplus labor force that capitalism is inherently unable to employ.

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  19. Left liberals and communists had some how managed to make Hitler a villain and enemy of humanity,whereas the Real monster and barbarian was Stalin himself….

    Reply

  20. Simon i'm disappointed in your Researchers… #10 on this list was better known as the HOLODOMOR, and Stallin did it on purpose to kill of a population that was rebellious to him while selling the grain to pay for the war effort. They did not starve because of slaughtering their own cattle, Stalin did it to kill them.

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  21. Currently in America one can be arrested and detained indefinitely without any recourse to a lawyer or even a phone call if you are thought to be a terrorist. Imagine how alarming this is because that someone also happens to think that there's a omnipotent metaphysical entity living in the sky judging all of us 24-7-365. Moreover, how about killing more than three thousand of your own people to justify moving in to Iraq and Afghanistan to overseer the oil and heroin industry. America's a great place to be. NOT

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  22. That’s a very interesting point. If the Russians had had anyone else or any other kind of government at the time of WW2. I imagine they would’ve ended up surrendering or at the least not putting up such a stalwart do or die mentality.

    Its technically possible that the ruthlessness of the leadership actually helped defeat the Nazis. Irony.

    Reply

  23. soyuz nerushimy respublik svododnykh splotila naveki velikaya rus da zravstuvyet sozdanny voley narodov yedini mogouhci sovietski suyoz

    Reply

  24. Soviets did not cried for his death but they actually cried in joy for that cunt's death.
    May Stalin boil in hell

    Reply

  25. Once again a half assed socialist system ruining the life’s of millions all while living large. Vote republican or youll find yourself with nothing.

    Reply

  26. It amazes me that Stalin's inner circle didn't revolt, knowing they could be purged at any moment. Why would anyone want to be close to a paranoid murderer?

    Reply

  27. Starting from Stalin, commies have succeeded in brainwashing Russian, Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese and some Latinos to be fools. Most of these people are still vouching for their commie "father figures". You can see lots of these fools everyday praising the commies and blasting people who are against commies, even in Youtube you can find a lot of proof; meanwhile they prevail in the lands of nowadays Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam and some Latin America countries, where you can be in big trouble if you show any sign that can be interpreted as "non-respectful". Otto Warmbier was a recent real example.

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  28. Stalin jailed or killed lots of intelligent Russians and left a Russia teemed with low-IQ idiots. There is a worse example: China. The same thing happened to China three times: 1. Kublai's Mongol conquer of China killed as many as 60% Chinese, likely the better 60%. 2. Manchu's conquer of China killed as many as 30% Chinese, likely the better 30% of the descendants of those worse 40% left by Mongols. 3. Stalinist's conquer of China jailed or killed as many as 20% Chinese, the best 20% of the descendants of those worse 70% left by Manchus. Now you know the reason why it is so difficult to make Russia and China a sane civilized member of the human society.

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  29. Any human who would let their sons and daughters be taken by the phaggot government, deserves it. Any government official that allows this to happen, WILL and DESERVES a violent and brutal death.

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  30. Stalin was definitely one of the worst human beings to ever walk the face of the earth far worse than Hitler.

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  31. How can you blame Hitler for attacking such a man. With a neighbor like Soviet Union and a leader like Stalin you are never safe.

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  32. Beria was also a Georgian like Stalin and Yagoda and Trotsky were Jewish. Surprising how few ethnic Russians there were in the Soviet hierarchy.

    Reply

  33. They are talking about me, always remember I destroy Nazi Germany, transform Russia from minor regional power to global superpower

    Reply

  34. You forgot to mention the purge of the "lesser citizens" – particularly the Jewish population and the non-Russian born soldiers in the Red Army who, like my grandfather, who was a German Jew who had emigrated to Russia with his parents in the mid-30's, fought against their own original nation just to fight off the Nazis. After the end of the war, my grandfather, who had been wounded during the fighting and was sent back to my birth-town of Leningrad (nowadays St. Petersburg) to recuperate and live through the siege, was abducted by the NKVD from in front of his house and sent on a "tour" of the Gulag archipelago: First to Archangelsk, then somewhere just North of Vladivostok (near the present-day North Korean border), and finally to Kamchatka (that volcanic peninsula just North-East of Japan, across the Bering Strait from Alaska), where, after three years of searching for him and being stonewalled by the authorities, my grandmother finally found him and joined him, and where, less than a year after Stalin's death, my mother was born.

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  35. Portion #5 (shoot all who retreat). Very erroneous statement, ignorant of history. It was never the common Russian soldiers who retreated that were shot. It pertained to enlisted Officers who fled, or ordered the soldiers to retreat without prior authorization. Learn the facts, not half truths.

    Reply

  36. Dude I can never watch any of your videos even though they look really interesting your voice hurts my ears sorry bud

    Reply

  37. I have another detail about Stalin, and correct me If I'm wrong. To me this man was only a psycological liar, and a serial killer too (not a real socialist/communist. Even Marx himself thought that this ideology wasn't applicable in a society like Russia). But the real amazing thing is that he was a former Christian Orthodox monk, back in his native, ultraconservative Georgia. His rule was based upon two factors: Doctrine and Inquisition.
    Communist ideology despises religion, calling it "Opium for People". And he acted just like any other ultrareligious twat 🤣

    Reply

  38. It's funny how according to Stalin's 5 year plan, he had to defeat the Trotsky and the left wing. When it is Stains policies that are left wing. Write history in a way that blames your opponent for what you are doing.

    Reply

  39. A main no explain n Russia S U or USSR it's freeworld civilization all hand n logic n answers that's for n a mass is product n Stalin Russia respects to many gulags starvation n population note that s no broke n brutal or horror international law all world answer

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  40. Horrible situation of humanity. Dictatorship has being going on before and after B.C. Without death on earth these tyrants will still be torturing people. These dictators will live on in Hell and Lake of Fire. These slave camps continue to today in North Korea, China and Russia, and others.

    Reply

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