Joseph Stalin was premier of the Soviet Union from 1941 until his death in 1953. He was General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee from 1922.
Born in 1878, Stalin was a member of the Bolshevik group responsible for the October Revolution of 1917. He was ruthless in crushing opposition, systematically murdering or exiling anyone who opposed or challenged him. Under his leadership, millions died of starvation. However he also conducted a successful if bloody defence against Nazi invasion, and built the USSR into the world's 2nd largest economy following WWII. To this day, Russians have mixed feelings about him: some consider him a tyrant, others a visionary leader.