Picture Section - Young Stalin

Biographies & Memoirs

Picture Section


Stalin, the merciless, paranoid dictator in training. Here is the supreme secret operator, vigilant arch - conspirator, consummate politician, mastermind of criminal and political violence, Marxist fanatic in a fedora, stiff collar and silk cravat. A police mug shot from 1912.

Already a charismatic leader, the schoolboy Soso Djugashvili, the future Stalin, about ten years old. Smaller than his contemporaries, overcoming a series of illnesses and accidents to become an outstanding student and star choirboy, he suggested the taking of this photograph, ordered the photographer, arranged the sitting and placed himself in his favourite commanding position: back centre.

Soso became a streetfighter, gang leader and charismatic manipulator in the rough streets of Gori, one of the most violent towns in the Tsar’s empire: Religious holidays were celebrated with organized brawls involving the entire population, from toddlers to greybeards. Stalin’s birthplace is the house is on the left.

Left: Dubious parent—the official image of “Crazy Beso” Djugashvili, cobbler, alcoholic, wife - and child - beater. Stalin refused to confirm this was his father. Jealousy drove Beso mad. Right: Keke Djugashvili, Stalin’s remarkable mother, in old age. In youth she was pretty and intelligent, but forceful, sarcastic and outspoken—like her son. Powerful men protected her from Beso.

Stalin’s real father? Koba Egnatashvili, a wrestler and rich innkeeper, was a local hero who loved, funded and protected Soso.

Stalins half brother? Soso grew up with the dashing Egnatashvilis, including another wrestler and entrepreneur, Sasha, whom he later promoted to Kremlin courtier, NKVD General and trusted food taster. Sasha was nicknamed “the Rabbit.”

Gori police chief Damian Davrichewy so flirted with Keke that Beso tried to kill him. His son, Josef (above), was Stalin’s childhood friend and claimed to be his half brother. He and Stalin became the most notorious (and successful) bank robbers and terrorists in the Caucasus.

Above left: His mother’s delight. In 1893, Soso Djugashvili, scholar and chief chorister, studied for the priesthood at the Tiflis seminary, which resembled a Victorian English public school run by priests. Adolescent Soso (late 1890s, above right) soon caused havoc in the seminary (above, in his priestly robes, back row, second from left) by embracing Marxism and running an outrageous duel of wits with the priest he nicknamed “the Black Spot.”

Batumi, 1902: “I got a job with the Rothschilds!” crowed Stalin. Next day, the Rothschild refinery (above) was on fire (top: a similar blaze at another refinery). Stalin, aged twenty - four, unleashed mayhem in the oil port of Batumi: He ordered his first killings of traitors, embarked on love affairs, provoked a massacre and printed his writings with the help of a friendly Muslim highwayman, Hashimi Smirba (right).

Above: On his first arrest, Stalin dominated the prison, killing enemies and defying the authorities. In Kutaisi Prison, the long - haired Marxist arranged this photograph before his comrades were sent to Siberian exile, placing himself centre top (number 4). Below left: In Novaya Uda, his first exile, he caroused with his criminal friends—and prepared to escape. Bottom left and right: Kutaisi Prison—outside and Stalin’s cell.

Even as an obscure penniless revolutionary, Stalin was never without a string of girlfriends: married, unmarried, young, old, peasants, intellectuals and noblewomen. One of the first was a beautiful married woman, Natasha Kirtava (top left), but he was furious when she refused to move in with him. Half Gypsy Olga Alliluyeva (top right), wife of Stalin’s Bolshevik comrade Sergei, was notoriously promiscuous and probably had an affair with Stalin, to whom she remained devoted. Olga was also his future mother - in - law—seen below with her children, Pavel, Fyodor, Anna—and Nadya.


Two Caucasian rogues: Stalin (right) with his best friend, Suren Spandarian, a well - educated Armenian playboy, merciless Bolshevik and ally in Baku—where Spandarian was said to have fathered half the children under three years old. Here the friends meet up in Siberia, 1915.

Astonishingly promiscuous in exile, Stalin seduced women and planned escapes. Top left: The happiest affair was with saucy schoolgirl Pelageya (code - named Glamourpuss by the Okhrana). He sent her passionate postcards illustrated with lovemaking couples (top right). Middle left: His postcard to another mistress, the teacher Tatiana Sukhova.Below: His landlady - cum - mistress Maria Kuzakova in old age during the 1950s with Constantine, her son by Stalin, and his baby.

Stalin, now rising to the top of the Bolshevik Party, arrested again in 1911.

Left: Vienna, 1913—Stalin, Hitler, Trotsky and Tito lived in the same city. Stalin’s luxurious apartment block, now a boardinghouse, bearing his plaque. Right: Cracow, 1912–13—Stalin stayed in Lenin’s flat.

Betrayal, 1913: Roman Malinovsky, ex - burglar - cum - rapist and star Bolshevik was the Okhrana’s highly paid double - agent. Neither Stalin nor Lenin believed he was a traitor. But he arranged Stalin’s arrest by luring him to a fund - raising party.

Left: Stalin, Central Committee member, refused to go to the cocktail party but Malinovsky persuaded him, lending him this silk tie. He was arrested in it. Right: Tatiana Slavatinskaya, Stalin’s mistress, and his date at the party where he was betrayed. Stalin tried to escape in drag.

Arctic sex comedy. Escape from Kureika (above) on the Arctic Circle was impossible. Stalin loved hunting and living with Ostyak tribesmen and their reindeer (left).

In 1914, he consoled himself by seducing the thirteen - year - old Lidia Pereprygina with whom he was surprised by the local policeman wielding a sabre. Stalin was so outraged he chased the policeman around the village. above right: Middle - aged Lidia after the Second World War. Below left: Stalin and Lidia’s illegitimate son, Alexander.

Siberian summer, 1915: Bolshevik exiles meet up to drink, picnic and hold trials of their comrades. Top: At the back, standing, Stalin in his fedora (third from the left) is between Spandarian in cloth cap (second from left), and Kamenev with moustache (fourth from left), while Sverdlov in a white shirt and glasses is third from right. Spandarian’s partner Vera Shveitzer sits in front. The child is Sverdlov’s son Andrei, one of Stalin’s future secret - police torturers.

Stalin met most of the Soviet grandees during his youth and he never forgot any slights or rows. During the 1930s, he unleashed the Great Terror to liquidate many of them, having so many of his companions killed that the picture had to be culled too. First, in 1936, Kamenev was shot and his place next to Stalin was blanked out (above left). In 1937–38, Stalin had approximately 1.5 million people shot. The group in the picture was savagely cut too: another five people have vanished (above right).

Top: Vera Shveitzer was Spandarian’s girlfriend. After his death, she moved in with Stalin. After the fall of the Tsar, they caught the train together for Petrograd. Left: Stalin’s seduction and impregnation of thirteen - year - old Lidia Pereprygina seemed so outrageous as to be legendary. In 1956, Khrushchev ordered KGB boss Serov to investigate: Here is his top secret memo that proves it all, signed by Khrushchev, Voroshilov and the Politburo. (Serov was also ordered to investigate Stalin’s links to the Okhrana and the Eremin Letter, which he covers in the memo’s first pages before moving on to the underaged affair.)

Revolution, February–March 1917: When Stalin arrived from Siberia in Petrograd, he walked excitedly to Potemkin’s Taurida Palace (top), the seethingly chaotic political centre, home of Soviet, Duma, government—and marauding soldiers (bottom).

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