The main myths about the “Leader of the Nations”
The leader of the USSR keeps his life a secret, and this gives rise to many legends about him
Yosif Dzhugashvili uses more than two dozen nicknames and names
On December 21, 1879 (actually December 18, 1878, but for some reason he later changed his date of birth, removing one year), Joseph Stalin was born. He has been in power for almost 30 years and there is hardly a figure in Russian history more mythologized than him. It is generally accepted that Stalin, as a young man, chose a biting last name and began to use it as a revolutionary pseudonym. But in fact he became Stalin at the age of 35. And before that he used over two dozen nicknames and names. There are many legends around his figures that are still popular today. Some appear in life, and others – in the post-Soviet period.
Ascetic / rich man
There are two opposing legends about Stalin’s finances. According to the first, Stalin was the greatest poor and ascetic of all rulers in history and had nothing but a tattered overcoat and pipe. According to another, Stalin is an Epicurean who organizes grand feasts, and the total value of the property he has is estimated at billions by today’s standards. As Secretary General, Stalin earned (by 1952) not much money – only 10 thousand rubles. And that’s all we know for sure about his finances.
It is true that his articles and books have been published in millions of copies in many languages around the world, from which he receives significant royalties. However, he has nothing to spend on them. Since 1917 it has been entirely state-supported.
Of course, Stalin was the richest man in the USSR. Even high-ranking nomenklatura figures, with the exception of members of the Politburo, are legally allowed to have no more than one dacha. Stalin has at least 12, not counting office apartments. In addition, each is equipped with the latest technology: refrigerators, swimming pools, cinemas and more, plus a huge staff of security guards and servants.
Stalin’s garage was full of luxury vehicles.
Stalin does not have a personal car, but he has a garage full of luxury models from abroad. For a long time his favorite was the elite Rolls-Royce Phantom II. In the late 1930s, he switched to the armored Packard Twelve. In recent years, Stalin has traveled in a custom-made armored ZIS-115. At the same time, he is extremely indifferent to the external attributes of prosperity – expensive clothes, jewelry.
There is a widespread legend that Stalin was recruited by the Security Department before the revolution and collaborated with him as a secret informant. In fact, the Bolsheviks regularly suspect each other of “provocation,” but there are no facts in favor of Stalin’s work for the security department.
After the death of the Secretary General, this legend was circulated by Orlov-Feldbin, a former high-ranking NKVD officer who fled to America in the late 1930s. In one of the articles, Orlov wrote that Stalin organized repression against a number of old Bolsheviks, who learned about his sins as a young man, trying to use this fact in the struggle for power. However, almost all researchers and biographers of Stalin consider this a lie.
After the collapse of the USSR, the legends of Stalin’s secret religiosity became extremely popular. According to rumors, during the war the Secretary General ordered a special plane to fly around Moscow with the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God on board, and that Stalin personally went to the prophetess Matron of Moscow (later canonized) to ask her for advice.
Both legends appeared in the early 1990s and have no reliable evidence, let alone the fact that such actions are not entirely in the spirit of Stalin. The official church also denies these legends, despite their widespread popularity. Stalin himself publicly stated that it was the seminary that made him a staunch revolutionary. In his time, not under Lenin’s, most churches were closed, and the ringing of bells was legally banned in cities on the pretext that it hindered workers.
During his lifetime, the legend of Stalin’s princely origins was extremely popular in Georgia. It is said that the real father of the Secretary General is not the drunken shoemaker Visarion Dzhugashvili, but Prince Yakov Egnatashvili, whom his relatives call Koba. As if in honor of him, Stalin took him as his underground pseudonym.
Unlike most Stalinist legends, this one cannot be unequivocally refuted. True, Egnatashvili is not a prince, but only a rich merchant and owner of vineyards. Stalin’s mother Catherine worked for some time as a laundress in his house and they have a very close relationship. For example, Koba is the godfather of Stalin’s two older brothers, who died in infancy. Later, when Joseph left his family and went wandering, Egnatashvili helped Ekaterina with money, and thanks to his help, she paid for Stalin’s education.
In many sources one can read claims that Stalin had six toes on one foot. This legend is so widespread that it is found even in some serious research. However, none of those who know him and observe him in everyday life mentions this feature. And most importantly, the doctors who performed the autopsy on Stalin’s body after his death also did not reflect this fact in a very detailed forensic report.