Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian-born Soviet revolutionary and political leader. Governing the Soviet Union as its dictator from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953, he served as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1952 and as Premier of the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1953. Ideologically a Marxist and a Leninist, Stalin helped to formalise these ideas as Marxism–Leninism while his own policies became known as Stalinism.
Raised into a poor family in Gori, Russian Empire, as a youth Stalin joined the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He edited the party newspaper Pravda and raised funds for Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik faction via robberies, kidnappings, and protection rackets. Repeatedly arrested, he underwent several internal exiles. After the Bolsheviks gained power in the October Revolution of 1917 and established the Russian Soviet Republic, Stalin sat on the governing Politburo during the Russian Civil War and helped form the Soviet Union in 1922. Despite Lenin's opposition, Stalin consolidated power following the former's death in 1924. During Stalin's tenure, "Socialism in One Country" became a central concept in Soviet society, and Lenin's New Economic Policy was replaced with a centralised command economy, industrialisation and collectivisation. These rapidly transformed the country into an industrial power, but disrupted food production and contributed to the famine of 1932–33, particularly affecting Ukraine. To eradicate those regarded as "enemies of the working class", from 1934 to 1939 Stalin organised the "Great Purge" in which hundreds of thousands—including senior political and military figures—were interned in prison camps, exiled, or executed.