Biography27 May 2010 10:18 pm
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on Biographies, will be available online and in stores on May 11. (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As the release date approaches, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from that book. Today’s entry on “Joseph Stalin” draws from the “Leaders” section of the Biographies edition.
While the exact numbers may never be known with complete certainty, it is estimated that the various terror campaigns launched by Joseph Stalin claimed no fewer than 15 million Russian lives. Unsurprisingly, Stalin’s sadism knew no exceptions, even with respect to his family: His son Yakov (whom he fathered with his first wife Ekaterina Svanidze) first attempted suicide as a young man, in an attempt to escape from his father’s unrelenting scorn and cruelty. Sadly, when Stalin learned that his son had survived his self-inflicted injury, he responded with his characteristic cruelty, reportedly jeering “he can’t even shoot straight.”
Still pathetically committed to winning his father’s approval, Yakov subsequently served in the Red Army during World War II, and was eventually captured by the Germans. Stalin was offered the opportunity to exchange Yakov for Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, who was captured by the Russians after surrendering at Stalingrad. True to form, Stalin turned the offer down without a moment’s hesitation, stating “You have in your hands not only my son Yakov but millions of my sons. Either you free them all or my son will share their fate.” It is believed that Yakov was so crushed by his father’s indifference to his plight that he ran into the electric fence that encircled his prison camp, killing him immediately.
Stalin’s cruelty towards his “loved” ones did not end with his son. His second wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva also was driven to suicide by the anti-Christlike cruelty of her husband. On November 9, 1932, after enduring an impressive thirteen years of marriage to evil incarnate, Nadezhda was found dead in her bedroom, a revolver by her side. Allegedly, her spirit was broken for the last time after suffering a humiliating public spat with her husband the night before, where he reportedly belittled his wife mercilessly while throwing orange peels at her. Of course, the official announcement claimed that she died of appendicitis. Two doctors who refused to sign a certificate stating false conclusions about the cause of her death were later convicted during the Trial of the Twenty-One and executed.
Some people believe that Stalin killed her himself, and that he covered up the murder by making it look like a suicide. However, this seems unlikely in light of his modus operandi, which seem to suggest that he ultimately enjoyed humiliating and terrorizing her too much to do away with her. Accounts of contemporaries and Stalin’s letters to his “friends” indicate that he was deeply disturbed by his wife’s suicide. In fact, many histories of Stalin even claimed that he retreated into all-male society after her death. However, the truth is far less flattering; soon after Nadezhda’s suicide, Stalin actually struck up a torrid affair with….. her sister!
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