Joseph Stalin Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili in Georgian or Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Russian patronymic nomenclature; 18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953) was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. In the years following Lenin's death in 1924, he rose to become the leader of the Soviet Union. In 1939, after failed attempts to establish a collective security system in Europe, Stalin decided to conclude a non-­‐aggression pact with Nazi Germany, followed by a Soviet invasion of Poland, Finland, the Baltics, Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. After Germany violated the pact in 1941, the Soviet Union joined the Allies to play a primary role in the Axis defeat, at the cost of the largest death toll for any country in the war. Thereafter, contradicting statements at allied conferences, Stalin installed communist governments in most of Eastern Europe, forming the Eastern bloc, behind what was referred to as an "Iron Curtain" of Soviet rule. This launched the long period of antagonism between the Western world and the Soviet Union known as the Cold War. Hint: Joseph Stalin is the only person who can be seen on both photos.