He was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili,
in Gori, which is now in the Republic of Georgia, in 1879, but in 1910
adopted the pseudonym Josef Stalin, Staling meaning "a man of steel."
Both his parents were
Georgian peasants neither of whom spoke Russian. Stalin however
was forced to learn the language of instruction during his school life
at the Gori church school which he attended between 1888 until 1894. Suposedly
the best pupil in the school, "Soso" as his friends referred to him earned
a full scholarship to the Tbilisi Theological Seminary and later became
leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Between 1922 and
1953 he was the secretary general of Communist party.
He was the longtime ruler who more than any other individual molded
the features that characterized the Soviet regime and shaped the direction
of Europe following the end of World War II in 1945.
At one point he studied for priesthood, and during this time read forbidden
literature, including the works of German political philosopher Karl Marx,
but prior to his graduation, he quit to become a full-time revolutionary.
In 1899 he began a career in the Social-Democratic party (Marxist revolutionary
group) as a propagandist among T'bilisi railroad workers.