Joseph Stalin: The Short-Statured Weatherman who Killed 9 Million People

Everybody wants to be the Man of Steel.

Who wouldn’t want to be Superman? He’s invincible, he’s handsome, he’s unimaginably strong, and he can fly. There’s some heartache to his backstory, to be sure, but Superman just drips cool. In addition, if the notoriety ever grew cumbersome all he has to do to effectively become incognito is don a pair of glasses. 

In 2014 a vintage copy of this first ten-cent Superman comic sold for $3.2 million. “64 Pages of Action! All In Full Color!”

Superman is the human ideal. When writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Schuster first introduced their indestructible superhero creation in June of 1938 they also penned the perfect tagline. They called him the Man of Steel. That certainly resonated, but it turned out that Siegel and Schuster weren’t the first. A few years prior a short-statured meteorologist from Georgia (the nation, not the state) grabbed that name for himself.


Heinrich Himmler was a near-sighted chicken farmer before World War 2. A friendship with one of history’s most depraved dictators transformed him into a proper villain.

I don’t care much for the Nazis. They are history’s alpha villains. While they were undeniably snappy dressers, Hitler and his minions murdered millions in their diabolical quest for planetary ethnic cleansing. However, Hitler was at best third in the modern pantheon of mass murderers. 

A lot of folks were murdered in the 20th century. Ours was quite the bloody orb.

It is tough to visualize the scope of institutionalized death in the 20th century. Sundry governments took life on a scale previously unimaginable. Democide is the term used to describe government-sanctioned murder. According to R.J. Rummel, during the 20th century, the world’s governments murdered six times more people than died in combat in all wars foreign and domestic. If you assume an average height of five feet and you laid the resulting corpses head to foot they would circle the globe ten times. Wow.

This grandfatherly-looking guy was a paranoid cold-blooded psychopath.

People are innately bad. We come from the factory broken and in need of redemption. Anyone who disagrees with that has clearly never met a human toddler. While the actions of government are by nature collective, certain remarkable individual personalities do inevitably percolate to the fore. One of the most compellingly dark figures in modern history was Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili. The world has come to know this bloodthirsty psychopath as Joseph Stalin.

The Birth of the Monster

People just kind of suck.

Stalin was likely personally responsible for the deaths of around six million people. His lunatic policies claimed another three million innocent lives beyond that. How do you create a man capable of such cold-hearted carnage? As is always the case, you begin with a broken home.

This is Joseph Stalin at age 15.

Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili was born in the Georgian town of Gori in December of 1878. He was his family’s only child to survive infancy. His dad, Besarion, was a shoemaker, and his mom, Ekaterine, cleaned houses. When the bottom fell out of the shoemaking business, young Ioseb’s dad began hitting the bottle. Besarion descended into alcoholism and began beating Ekaterine and their son. In 1883 Ekaterine and Ioseb hit the road. 

Here is Stalin’s school days picture. He’s on the far right.

Over the next ten years, this mom and child burned through nine addresses. In 1884 the young man contracted smallpox. Though he obviously survived, the disease left him badly scarred. At age 12 he was run over by a phaeton, a modest horse-drawn carriage. This injury left him with diminished use of his left arm. 

This is the seminary where Stalin went to school.

Ioseb was a small, somewhat sickly child. He ultimately topped out at around five foot five and supposedly wore lifts in his shoes to make himself appear taller. At five foot seven, it is said that Vladimir Putin does the same thing. Not being tall is not a big deal. Some of my favorite people are vertically challenged. However, in this case, Ioseb’s innate moral defects combined with his habitus and physical limitations to create something truly horrible. Regardless, in 1894 at age sixteen Ioseb enrolled in the Orthodox Spiritual Seminary in Tiflis. This short, scarred, crippled little man aspired to become a priest.

Real monsters aren’t this cute and colorful.

Ioseb was, by all accounts, genuinely smart. While in seminary he began writing poetry, some of which was quite good. Along the way, however, he also started reading. Chernyshevsky, Kazbegi, and Marx all planted ideas in his head that ultimately turned out to be teratogens. Teratogen is a medical term used to describe a foreign substance that causes birth defects. The literal translation is “monster maker”.

Ioseb had a bit of a temper. This came into play in a big way later.

The more he read, the more rebellious he became. Young Ioseb stopped doffing his hat to the monks at the seminary, and he refused to participate in prayers. He lost interest in his studies, and his grades plummeted. He was repeatedly confined to his cell for behavior infractions. Eventually, he declared himself an atheist and in 1899 left the school in a huff.

The Monster Comes of Age

All proper villains master their craft in jail.

Later that year Ioseb began work as a meteorologist at the Tiflis Observatory. Apparently, it didn’t take a great deal of formal training to be a weatherman back then. While there he studied socialist theory and began organizing workers to protest the government. He eventually authored several workers’ strikes and was soon on the run. In April of 1902, he went to jail. Prison is the finishing school for both career criminals and megalomaniac dictators. Stalin and Hitler each got their start there.

This is a bunkhouse in a Siberian gulag. Who wouldn’t want to spend the winter in this place?

The young man was remanded to Siberia but escaped twice. His first attempt was foiled due to frostbite. On his second try, he made it home to resume his political activism. At some point, he adopted the nom de guerre Joseph Stalin, the Man of Steel.

In his prime Joseph Stalin was a pretty handsome guy.

Stalin married and fathered a son but lost his wife to typhus. He subsequently went full bandit, commanding a guerilla band called the Outfit. The Outfit made money via bank robbery, extortion rackets, and counterfeiting currency. They also had a nasty habit of kidnapping children from wealthy families and holding them for ransom. What followed was prison, uprisings, girlfriends, and paramours.

This intense-looking gentleman is Vladimir Lenin. Stalin rode this guy’s coattails to the very apex of power in the Soviet Union.

World War 1 changed everything, but Stalin was supposedly too crippled to fight. During the 1917 revolution, however, Stalin nonetheless served as Lenin’s bodyguard. He smuggling the man out of the office of Pravda amidst a violent armed raid. Alongside Leon Trotsky, Stalin helped facilitate Lenin’s Bolsheviks when they moved to seize power in October 1917.

The Russian Revolution was a heady time indeed for enthusiastic young communists.

Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Yakov Sverdlov, and Stalin ran this fresh new revolutionary government as a foursome of sorts. When the civil war grew heated Stalin was dispatched to command military forces arrayed against the White armies. He subsequently lost an astronomical number of troops. He also developed a taste for political execution that was to follow him throughout the rest of his dark twisted career.

The Real Face of Power

Towards the end, Lenin was but a shell of his fiery former self.

Lenin had a stroke in 1922 and died two years later. Despite some fairly significant acrimony between the two men toward the end, Stalin still served as one of Lenin’s pallbearers and found himself in the position of General Secretary. At least half a dozen other Russian politicians coveted the job, but Stalin deftly moved to bypass, neutralize, or kill them. By the late 1920’s Stalin was the head enchilada.

Behold the American Communist Party. Apparently, that’s still a thing. The common thread to all communists everywhere is that they believe that the only reason communism has failed every single time it has ever been tried is because everybody else did it wrong.

No offense to my left-wing countrymen, but communism just doesn’t work. It’s as wrong as a football bat. No amount of tinkering or tweaking will ever make it functional. Communism presumes people are selfless and good. They aren’t. As a result, really bad things happen under communist regimes…every single time.

This is Stalin’s mugshot produced by the Tzar’s secret police. What an epic ‘stache.

“We have fallen behind the advanced countries by fifty to a hundred years. We must close that gap in ten years. Either we do this or we’ll be crushed.

This is what our obligations before the workers and peasants of the USSR dictate to us.”

— Stalin, February 1931

While this guy was figuring out a better way to do everything he inadvertently killed off a generation of his countrymen.

They called it, among other things, dekulakization and collectivization. Kulaks were affluent peasants who thrived as small farm owners. Stalin’s programs centralized land ownership and turned kulaks into functionaries of the state. Without any motivation to better themselves, production plummeted. The stage was set for something pretty awful.

This epic old church was demolished to make room for a shrine to communism.

Communism worships the human ideal, something that, in my opinion at least, doesn’t actually exist. They have little use for God. In 1931 the communists demolished the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow to make space for the sparkly new Palace of the Soviets. The Great Depression certainly didn’t help, and in 1932 famine struck.

Carnage on a Biblical Scale

During Stalin’s famine, millions of folks literally starved to death because of misguided government policies.

Amidst widespread starvation, a desperate Stalin instigated the Great Purge, itself a smaller subset of the Great Terror. Anyone even remotely suspected of opposing Stalin or his policies was simply killed. Eventually, paranoia ruled the day, and you didn’t have to do anything to be arrested, deported, or murdered. I have a friend whose grandfather fled his Russian home for Germany and escaped Stalin’s purge by a whisker. Along the way, Stalin liquidated most of his competent military leadership as well. Apparently, it can be tough to throttle something like mass murder back once you get tooled up.

Most of WW2’s fighting and dying took place on the Eastern Front. Much of that history is lost to us in the West today.

World War 2 happened, and 15% of the Soviet population became hors de combat. Stalin squandered 800,000 men during his ill-fated attack on Finland alone. Almost 70% of Russian men born in 1923 were dead by the end of WW2.

Stalin, shown here during a confab with Harry Truman and Clement Attlee, was fairly full of himself by the end of World War 2.

Regardless, by 1945 Stalin was at the top of his game. He awarded himself the title of Generalissimus. Throughout it all, however, he grew ever more paranoid. Stalin had half the POWs returning from WW2 imprisoned as traitors. By 1953 fully 3% of the Soviet population had been jailed or deported for political crimes.

Behold the goon platoon. This shot of Stalin standing alongside the clearly constipated Mao Zedong, Nikolai Bulganin, Walter Ulbricht, and Yumjaagiin Tseddenbal was taken three years before he died.

In March of 1953, Stalin suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. He was 74. In the chaos surrounding his funeral, more than 100 people were crushed to death. It seems a fitting tribute to a weatherman who ultimately murdered nine million people.

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About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains. Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

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  • dave danger October 11, 2022, 9:30 pm

    Delivering a toast on the twentieth anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power, Stalin declared: “We will destroy each and every enemy, even if he was an old Bolshevik; we will destroy all his kin, his family. We will mercilessly destroy anyone who, by his deeds or his thoughts—yes, his thoughts!—threatens the unity of the socialist state. To the complete destruction of all enemies, themselves and their kin!” Even when the tsars imprisoned or executed revolutionaries, they never thought of arresting their spouses, children, grandparents, and cousins as well. And note Stalin’s insistence that not just wrong actions but improper thoughts merit “destruction.” Georgy Arbatov, adviser to five general secretaries of the Soviet Communist Party, observed that “the main code of behavior” was “to be afraid of your own thoughts.”

    Yes, it does sound like Biden’s USA.

    • ej harbet October 12, 2022, 12:44 pm

      gladly there’s a good chance that Brandon’s body will get completely revolting and kill him dead as the proverbial hammer before he blooms full Stalin.

      on that day I will hoist a highball glass of good Kentucky whisky in celebration.

  • KuhnKat October 10, 2022, 7:01 pm

    9 Million?? He killed more than 9 million just in Ukraine!!

  • Richard Wayne October 10, 2022, 6:12 pm

    Great article Dr.

  • Lance October 10, 2022, 2:00 pm

    Will, excellent article. I do believe those numbers are low. The Holodomor in Ukraine alone accounts for at least 3.9 million and as much as 7 million killed. I’m sure Stalin is smoking a turd in Hell!

  • Max October 10, 2022, 1:03 pm

    The numbers are really way off.
    It was easily 25+ mil killed by Stalin’s regime.
    Regional NKVD (later KGB) had to come up with certain number of discovered “enemy spies” or else they themselves were considered “enemies of the state” with all the consequences. So concept “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” has become very popular.
    Another count that put a lot of folks into Siberian labor camps was “Traitor family member”, so if a man was convicted on some bogus espionage charges all his family was going to GULAG as well. Typical sentence for this article 58-1a was from 10 to 15 years of hard labor. Considering climate, inhumane living condition, absence of medical care and such, very few came back alive and those who did, haven’t lasted long afterwards.
    My grandmother was lucky – got 12 years and lived to her nineties..
    Only silver lining was that most involved in Stalin’s terror, including heads of NKVD (Yagoda, Ezhov, Beriya) have not escaped the fate of millions, who lost their lives during these times and were executed as well.

  • Don October 10, 2022, 11:47 am

    This article about Stalin is very timely. Today’s communist/socialist movement understands exactly what has to happen to make it happen. And they are willing with their supporters in various positions of power within the government. Soros, Obama and others are cultivating as much propaganda as possible. Biden is a puppet and he and his minions are being controlled by Soros and Obama. They are still trying to “fundamentally change” the US.

  • D.J. October 10, 2022, 11:26 am

    Thanks , again Will for an insightful article .
    I fear the memory of despots like Stalin , Mao ,
    Castro , Pol Pot ,& etc. ( communists in general ) has been
    washed , pressed , folded & hung up with a new
    face to enchant people of the new breed of the
    world .
    Hopefully , younger readers will happen upon this
    and stop for a minute and realize something . I’ve
    lost much of my optimism with passing age , but not
    enough to completely give up hope .
    Keep ‘em coming , my friend .

  • jerry October 10, 2022, 11:12 am

    I know a young man with a bachelor degree in history. He was taught that WWII was not that big of a deal. This was at a reputable small college (with a German heritage, though). I’m sure he doesn’t know much about this important era either. He’s kind of stuck on U.S. expansionism prior to WWII.

  • Russell D October 10, 2022, 10:55 am

    I can think of another person whose policies will KILL THOUSANDS if he is not removed from office. His name is BIDEN!

    • ej harbet October 12, 2022, 12:49 pm

      a argument could be made that 1000s of afghanis and Ukrainians are already dead because of that foolish cretin

  • Dr Don October 10, 2022, 10:29 am

    How about that Walter Duranty and the Pulitzer from his NYT article that got him a Pulitzer Prize? (Which to this day they won’t rescind). I can’t fathom why people who disapprove of Hitler embrace Stalin so wholeheartedly.

    • ej harbet October 12, 2022, 12:54 pm

      it’s simple really!
      nazis were reduced to a few random idiots in remote areas trying not to be infiltrated by alphabet boys.

      and communism is the primary ideology of a large number of true enemies of America who control the mass media amongst other powerful institutions of modern American civilization and government

  • Cz October 10, 2022, 10:04 am

    ……and the President of the United States and Prime Minister of Britain (1944) were also complicit with that animal-Stalin. Not too many government leaders (ours, theirs, all of them) are free from having innocent blood on their hands. Trump and the current imbecile in the WH along with most recent presidents are guilty of that same complicetness with the animals in charge of China-all for cheap Chinese goods. Will, you are so correct in calling out man’s inhumanity to man. Evil behavior is man’s destiny since “the great fall” at the Garden of Eden. Hard for me to understand how we can call modern Homo Sapiens “civilized”.

    • KuhnKat October 10, 2022, 7:03 pm

      …and Trump put on all those tariffs to be more complicit, RIGHT?!?!?!

  • Frank October 10, 2022, 10:01 am

    Though we have (presumably) elected officials in our own country who worship at the same altar as this hell-spawned, servant of Satan, the ballot box offers little hope of dealing with them. Instead, these enemies of Liberty often require a pine box.

  • Nicholas October 10, 2022, 9:47 am

    Several years back, I was having a conversation with a former KGB agent about Stalin and genocide. When I brought up the number of 20 Million dead, he laughed and said, “Nicholas, if it wasn’t at least 30 Million, I’d be surprised.”
    In this community, we seem to downplay the horror’s that took place. While there is substantial evidence that the genocide under Mao was at least 90 Million, we look toward much lower numbers.
    Why is it that this community, those who think we have a RKBA for a reason, don’t ever fight as if we mean it.

    • KuhnKat October 10, 2022, 7:05 pm

      The Ukrainian Holodomor was up to 20 million on its own. Hard to say what an upper total would be for Stalin and his killers.

    • AK October 10, 2022, 11:18 pm

      One dead man is a tragedy…a million is a statistic. – Uncle Joe (Stalin, not the one in the White House)

  • STAN October 10, 2022, 9:13 am

    Thank you again for a great article. I always enjoy your articles.

  • Leonard A. Baize October 10, 2022, 9:03 am

    good artical,

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