Brutal Realities of Life in Stalin’s Soviet Union

When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, his charismatic henchman Leon Trotsky seemed to be his most obvious successor. Instead it was Joseph Stalin, a man once described by Trotsky as a “dull grey blur” and a “nonentity” who had, by 1929, vanquished his political rivals and seized power for himself.

The self-proclaimed man of steel would rule over the Soviet Union until his death in 1953. Over the course of a little more than two decades he transformed the Soviet Union from a technologically backwards agricultural society into a nuclear-armed superpower.

Remarkable as this feat was, it was achieved through suffering on a colossal scale. Stalin’s Soviet Union was billed as a workers’ paradise, instead it was a terrifying police state presided over by one of history’s most brutal dictators.