As a dictator of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin took Russia from an agricultural economy to an industrial economic power, and helped the Allies to defeat Nazi Germany in WWII with his Red Army. He was an active member in the Cold War, and was a violent dictator who left a legacy of death behind him.
Stalin was born on December 18, 1879 to a cobbler and washerwoman, both peasants. He was a weak child, and was bullied by the local children. Growing up poor and with an inferiority complex from bullying, Stalin was determined to find greatness and be revered by his peers. Many suspect that this is where he first developed his mean tendencies to physically torture and kill those who disobeyed him later in his dictatorship.
When the Russian Revolution began in February 1917, Lenin took control of the Soviet Union and put the Bolsheviks in control. Lenin died in 1924, and Stalin set out immediately to remove the old party leadership and assume control of the country. He did this by exiling and executing people. Stalin decided to work with the Allies in World War II after Hitler betrayed him by attacking the Soviet Union. Stalin was still suspicious of the West, however. Stalin's health began to fail in the 1950s, and he died in March, 1953. While he will always be remembered for his reign of terror, he also helped take Russia from an unknown entity into a world superpower.