Because of his single-mindedness and brutality, Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin is responsible for the deaths of an estimated 20 million people. The casualties began early in his reign during the 1920s.
Stalin's goal was to move the Soviet Union to the top of industrialized nations. An early step was for the government to seize control of the agriculture business. Farmers who objected were killed or banished. This government takeover resulted in a devastating famine. As a result of Stalin's farm policy, millions died. The secret police sought out people who opposed Stalin's rule, and millions more were killed or sent to prison camps. During World War II, Stalin initially sided with Germany but later supported the Allied troops. After the war, Stalin continued to single out and execute dissenters until his death in 1953.