History

Made It, Ma! Top of the World!

|

Little Joe Stalin, boy of steel:

flowerboy

Josef Stalin, the monstrous Soviet dictator responsible for the deaths of millions, was a "sensitive child" with a love of flowers, his mother's memoirs have revealed.

Stalin was born in Georgia in 1878, the only child of a cobbler, Beso Djugashvili and his wife, Keke. In her memoirs, released from a secret Soviet archive, she detailed how a series of illnesses and accidents left "Soso"—her nickname for Josef—partially crippled, and how he coped with a violent alcoholic father.

"My Soso was a very sensitive child," said Keke. "As soon as he heard the sound of his father singing balaam-balaam from the street, he'd immediately run to me asking if he could go to our neighbours' until his father fell asleep."

Keke recounted how she used her child's love of flowers to encourage him to walk. Holding out a camomile, she would entice him to move towards her.

She also wrote about her son's struggle to win a scholarship to the seminary of the Georgian capital, Tiflis, now Tbilisi, to become a student priest.

stalincasket

To read some of young Soso's poetry, go here.

To see some of young Hitler's paintings, go here.

I wanted to wrap this up with a link to the classic Saturday Night Live sketch "Attila the Hun: The Early Years," but I can't find any traces of it online. Anybody out there have a line on a copy?

NEXT: Tim Cavanaugh: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Nice photo of So and So lying in his coffin; why in hell isn’t there a stake sticking out of his chest?

  2. Fuckin’ hippie.

  3. No doubt some hack screenwriter is just now putting finger to keyboard to write the untold, sweet and uplifting story of Josef Stalin’s early years.

    I’d say the odds are good that there’ll be a scene where ol’ Joe Stalin’s daddy is stilled in the middle of a drunken rage by Soso’s petals.

  4. In Russia, flowers pick you.

  5. A couple of years ago a pretty definitive biography of Stalin came out called “The Court of the Red Tsar”. It is pretty long and detailed. Talks about his childhood, drunken father and his wife who committed suicide. Whatever flicker of humanity he had pretty much ended with her suicide in the early 30s. Leftists like to portray Stalin as kind of an ignorant thug who corrupted Lenin’s revolution. The Stalin that comes out of that book is anything but. He was in fact very smart and extremly charming. He really did charm people into committing monstrous acts of evil. You get the feeling from reading that book that if Satan were walking the earth he would be pretty close to Stalin.

  6. Looks like another project for Walter Salles!

  7. Or Walter Duranty. He needs a do-over.

  8. Laddie, just what conclusions should we come to when Stalin was a flower child and Hitler was a bohemian artist, eh?

    I’d have slapped the little brats silly.

  9. John,

    Well, some speculate that she was murdered.

    Anyway, state terror was part of the regime almost from its inception. It was certainly not something that neither Lenin or even figures like Bukharin shied away from.

  10. Glad to have some more commentary to use for stop number 2 on my World Grave Urination Tour.

  11. “Anyway, state terror was part of the regime almost from its inception. It was certainly not something that neither Lenin or even figures like Bukharin shied away from.”

    Very true.

  12. Don’t ask me why, but I suddenly have this feeling that Stalin and Jim Morrison were the same person. I’m creeped out.

  13. John,

    You may wish to check out Bukharin’s death cell letter.

    At one time I had, hmm, some measure of admiration for Bukharin, though not complete by any means. I thought of him as a moderate and deeply intellectual force amongst the Old Bolsheviks. And to some extent he was.

    Then I compare the way that he died, his statements at his trial, etc. with that of Sophie Scholl her brother and I find him severely wanting.

  14. I remember hearing a story where, at a state party, Stalin was given an hour-long round of appluse, with everyone too afraid to stop clapping. The first guy to stop clapping was killed the next day. This probally goes without saying, but that story is fake, right?

    No doubt some hack screenwriter is just now putting finger to keyboard to write the untold, sweet and uplifting story of Josef Stalin’s early years.

    Using the Eminem-patened technique of using parental abuse as a way to generate sympathy.

  15. Anyone here about the two movies about Che that Steven Soderbergh is doing? I’m going into deep denile that, for Soderbergh’s sake, that he is protrayed in an unflattering light.

  16. Jonathan Hohensee,

    This probally goes without saying, but that story is fake, right?

    Fake or not those were the sort of rumors which circulated during Stalin various reigns of terror. Indeed, one of the most chilling aspects of the NKVD’s, etc. efforts was how arbitrary they often were.

  17. This exchange make me laugh;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Joseph_Stalin#Neutrality_in_dispute.3F

    -Why is the neutrality of this article disputed? I can’t see a disscussion on it. –Floormatster 23:23, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    -I second that! There is speak of refferential bias but not of neutrality. At least, not clearly.

    -Maybe because this is one huge piece of anti-communist propaganda that uses sources that are/were paid by some of the most hostile forces to the former Soviet Union and Ioseph Stalin? Redflagflying 05:56, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

  18. Jesse,

    You might also want to check out that sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, where Atilla the Hun stars in his own treacly sitcom. It’s complete with laugh track, awful puns, and obligatory black butler (Eric Idle in blackface, something I wish never to see again).

  19. ProGLib,

    I have no idea why, but I got the exact same vibe. Eerie.

  20. No doubt some hack screenwriter is just now putting finger to keyboard to write the untold, sweet and uplifting story of Josef Stalin’s early years.

    i don’t have a problem with a film maker depicting the childhood of an adult monster in a sympathetic light. i don’t think child-stalin is culpable for the acts of adult-stalin. if he really was a sweet kid who liked flowers – why not show it? to me it’s more interesting than depicting him dismembering squirrels or dolls or some other strange behavior – just to reinforce his adult evilness.

    it’s much more interesting to see how an innocent child becomes a man like stalin. and much more useful for understanding than just writing him off as SATAN.

  21. ‘cept they were reincarnated as Billy Joel.

  22. Oh yeah, and if anyone wants something for contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s extremely emo poetry:

    http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/poetry.htm
    http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/06/14/040614ta_talk_shenk
    (The New Yorker one has an excerpt of his maudlin suicide poem)

  23. Abe’s poetry looks like it would fit right in among the bad poetry you find in myspace blogs.

  24. “it’s much more interesting to see how an innocent child becomes a man like stalin.”

    I already saw that movie. It was called “Star Wars Episodes I-III” and it kinda sucked.

    /yay for Smarm?

  25. mediageek,

    inapt analogy. that kid in star wars was an annoying turd from the beginning. there was no doubt that he would become evil and attempt to rule the universe.

  26. This probally goes without saying, but that story is fake, right?

    Well, Solzhenitsyn wrote about that story, so it was at least a current rumor in the camps.

    Speaking of Saddam, I once watched a documentary on him that showed footage of a similar incident in the 70s. He gave his speech, and the members of the Baath party were too terrified to sit down and stop clapping. It’s pretty amazing video.

  27. At least Stalin provided free healthcare to the Soviets.

    We still haven’t done that in America.

  28. At least Stalin provided free healthcare to the Soviets.

    We still haven’t done that in America.

    Now why on Earth should we in America wish to provide free healthcare to the Soviets? 😉

  29. highnumber,

    The time to exterminate ain’t through. . . .

  30. Yeah, I was thinking of Anakin Skywalker also.

    Maybe the movie can be done better. With the kid really a sweet heart, and show the transformatin better.

    Might make for a good movie. Star Wars the true story of Stalin.

  31. t least Stalin provided free healthcare to the Soviets.

    We still haven’t done that in America.
    I was watching Real Time with Bill Mahar this weekend and, in a about a 10-minuet span Mahar proudly proclaimed himself to be a liberterian (greated with scattered applause) and went on to declare French as having the greatest health care in America, and stated that we are all slowly dying of “food poisioning” thanks to all of the nasty oils and fats that are in our food.

    I found myself wishing to be in the panel to point out that food, uh, sustains life.

  32. I was watching Real Time with Bill Mahar this weekend and, in a about a 10-minuet span Mahar proudly proclaimed himself to be a liberterian (greated with scattered applause) and went on to declare French as having the greatest health care in America, and stated that we are all slowly dying of “food poisioning” thanks to all of the nasty oils and fats that are in our food.

    More brilliant ideas from Bill Maher…

    1) Its reasonable to think that the government blew up the levies in New Orleans

    2) Ralph Nader is right about everything

    3) Global warming will destroy civillization

    4) No one has ever been brave or smart enough before him to question religion, although there is still some sort of “higher power.”

  33. A couple of years ago a pretty definitive biography of Stalin came out called “The Court of the Red Tsar”.

    That book was by Simon Sebag Montefiore, whose new book, Young Stalin, is mentioned in the Telegraph article that is the subject of this post.

    BTW, “In the Court of the Red Tsar” recounts how Stalin’s mother once asked him what kind of a job he’d been holding down lately, to which Stalin replied, “You remember the tsar? Well, I’m doing what he used to do.”

  34. I’m sorry, mamaaa
    I never meant to hurt yoo-oou
    I never meant to make you cry
    But tonight
    I’m cleanin’ out the Uuuu-kraine …

  35. That book was by Simon Sebag Montefiore, whose new book, Young Stalin, is mentioned in the Telegraph article that is the subject of this post.

    He also wrote an incredibly awesome book called “My Affair with Stalin,” about a young boy attending a British boarding school who decides to improve his life by patterning himself after Stalin, complete with speeches stolen directly from the man himself and a soundtrack provided by glam-rock. It’s hilarious, and an education about Stalin all at the same time, which just makes it worse that the book is practically impossible to get a hold of anymore. Maybe they’ll reprint it some day…

    I remember hearing a story where, at a state party, Stalin was given an hour-long round of appluse, with everyone too afraid to stop clapping. The first guy to stop clapping was killed the next day. This probally goes without saying, but that story is fake, right?

    Well, not quite as bad but definitely true is the following story related by Isaiah Berlin; in the early 30s, the head of the Moscow theater finally got permission to put on Hamlet. Well, he found himself at a party with the Stalin himself, and, hoping to curry favor, he asked “Do you have any advice on how Hamlet should be performed?” Stalin took a long drink, and said. “This is a question that should be addressed to the Chairman of the Committee on the Arts.” He paused, and then continued; “It should be addressed to the Chairman, but since you have asked me, I will tell you; Hamlet is a decadent Western, Capitalist play, and should not be performed under any circumstances.” He took another drink, then walked away, leaving the head of the theater deflated. When Berlin related the story in the early 60s, Hamlet apparently still hadn’t been performed in Moscow.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.