On this day in history, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, who later took the nom de guerre of Joseph Stalin, was born as in Gori, Georgia. Stalin was appointed general secretary of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee in 1922. Following Lenin’s death in 1924 Stalin consolidated his power and became the unchallenged leader of the USSR from the late 1920‘s until his death in 1953 at age 73.
Although it is often said that Stalin was responsible for more deaths than any man in history, Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, argues convincingly that the Germans killed more people than the Soviets did. This does not mean, however, that Stalin was a nice guy. Millions lost their lives because of Stalin. Millions more died because of Hitler. But the Grand Winner of Most Victims was neither one of them. Rather it was Mao Zedong in China.