Josef Stalin rose from obscure origins in Georgia to rule the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. RFE/RL takes a look at some images from his early life. (11 PHOTOS)
Ioseb Besarionis dze Dzhugashvili (Josef Stalin) (1879-1953) in 1894, during his studies at the Georgian Orthodox Seminary in Tbilisi, Georgia.
A portrait of Josef Stalin's mother, Ketevan Gheladze Dzhugashvili (1858-1937), a housewife, seamstress, and laundress. Photo probably from the 1930s.
Stalin's father, Besarion Vanovis Dzhugashvili (1849/1850-1909), a cobbler. Photo undated.
Shown here in 1902, Dzhugashvili was already a professional revolutionary and a member of the Bolshevik group Iskra (Spark). He began using the name Stalin in 1912.
Stalin's first wife, Yekaterina "Kato" Svanidze (1885-1907), shown in a 1904 portrait. They were married in Tbilisi in 1906. She and Stalin had one son, Yakov Dzhugashvili, who was born in 1907. Yekaterina died of tuberculosis in 1907. Much of her family, including a sister and brother, were executed during the Great Terror. Yakov Dzhugashvili was a Soviet artillery officer during World War II. He was captured by the Germans in 1941. After Stalin refused a prisoner exchange for him, Yakov died in captivity under unknown circumstances in April 1943.
Josef Stalin in 1918, as a member of the Southern Front Revolutionary Military Council during the Russian Civil War. During this period Stalin was based in the city of Tsaritsyn, which was named Stalingrad in his honor in 1925.
Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin's second wife, shown here with their son, Vasily, in 1922. The daughter of a revolutionary railroad worker, Alliluyeva met Stalin while he hid in her family's house in 1911. They married in 1919, when Stalin was 41 and Nadezhda was 18. Nadezhda died in 1932, officially of appendicitis. Some believe she committed suicide, while others contend that Stalin killed her. Vasily was born in 1921. He was a Soviet pilot during World War II and was made a general after the war. After Stalin died, Vasily was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in 1960. He was allowed to wear his uniform and medals. He died of alcholism in 1962 and was partially rehabilitated in 1999.
Josef Stalin, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, and Kliment Voroshilov (from left to right) on a picnic with friends in the early 1920s.
Josef Stalin relaxing with a newspaper on July 2, 1920.
Josef Stalin and his daughter, Svetlana, in 1935. Svetlana was born in 1926, the daughter of Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva. She defected to the United States in 1967, leaving two adult children in the Soviet Union. She returned to the USSR and lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 1984-86. She then returned to the United States, where she died of cancer in 2011.