During the early 20th century, the Tsarist secret police, or Okhrana, maintained files on suspected Marxists. This information card on Joseph Stalin was produced by the Okhrana office in St. Petersburg sometime between 1902 and 1912. Stalin was arrested by the Okhrana and exiled to Siberia several times during that ten year span. He repeatedly escaped his captors and resumed his revolutionary work, eventually taking the name “Stalin,” Russian for “Man of Steel,” in 1913.

Born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili on December 21, 1879, in Georgia, Stalin was the only child of poor parents. He attended a seminary in Tblisi, but was expelled in 1899. While he frequently rebelled against the school’s authoritarian administration, records suggest his expulsion was due to unpaid tuition. After leaving the seminary, Stalin became enthralled with the writings of Vladimir Lenin and became a Marxist, following Lenin into the Bolshevik wing of the party in 1903.

As a Bolshevik operative in the Caucasus, Stalin organized fellow revolutionaries, incited labor strikes, produced propaganda, and planned bank robberies, kidnappings, and other criminal activities to raise money to fund the Marxist revolution. Despite his notoriety as a revolutionary, Stalin is remembered far more for his bloody reign as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1922 until 1953.

Bishop, Joseph. “Review: The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II.” Inconvenient History, 2009, vol. 1, no. 2. Retrieved from http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2009/volume_1/number_2/the_chief_culprit.php.

Simkin, John. “Joseph Stalin.” Retrieved from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSstalin.htm.

Author Unknown. “Joseph Stalin: Biography.” Retrieved from http://www.notablebiographies.com/Sc-St/Stalin-Joseph.html.