Joseph Stalin

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Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin (Russian: Иосиф Сталин) was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. His position grew from virtual unimportance to full dictatorship by 1928. He was born in Gori, Georgia in 1878 as Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი; Russian: Ио́сиф Виссарио́нович Джугашви́ли).

Stalin's rule hit Armenia hard when collectivization was forced on its people. Thousands of so-called "kulaks," well-to-do peasants considered class enemies, were arrested, deported, and/or killed. Conditions were especially harsh under Lavrentiy Beria during his tenure as head of the "secret-political division" of the Transcaucasian OGPU (a predecessor of the KGB).

Several Armenian communist leaders and intellectuals were arrested and executed, usually on vague charges of "Trotskyite" or "Dashnak" collaboration against Stalin. Vagarshak Arutyunovich Ter-Vaganyan, an Armenian old Bolshevik, stood as one of sixteen defendants during the August 1936 Moscow Show Trial. After admitting his "guilt" to charges of a "Trotskyite-Zinovievite" conspiracy, he was executed. In 1938, Stalin had His Holiness Catholicos Koren I murdered.

Perhaps Stalin's most infamous gesture towards the Armenians was his 1923 transfer of Karabakh to Soviet Azerbaijan as the acting commissar of Nationalities for the Soviet Union during the early 1920s; the branch of which the Caucasian Bureau (Kavburo) was created under. The present-day conflict over Karabakh has its roots in the decisions made by Stalin and Kavburo during the Sovietization of the Transcaucasus.