Stalin Early Life
Stalin was born on 18 December 1878, and baptised on 29 December.
His parents, Besarion Jughashvili and Ekaterine Geladze, were ethnically Georgian.
He was actually Beso and Keke’s third son, which by Georgian and Eastern Orthodox tradition was viewed as a special gift of God.
But their prior children had not survived.
The three-person family rented a small timber-and-brick, single-room house from an Ossetian artisan.
It was located in Gori’s Russian Quarter, near the barracks of the imperial troops whose footwear Beso made.
Whatever Beso’s role as a father, and the original promise of his union with Keke, the marriage disintegrated.
Keke’s attribute the breakdown to Beso’s alcoholism and inner demons,
By 1883, Keke and young Stalin began a vagabond existence, moving house at least nine times over the next decade.
The same year his father left, little stalin contracted smallpox during an epidemic that ravaged many a Gori household.
Three of their neighbor Egnatashvili’s six children perished.
Keke appealed to a female faith healer. He survived the fevers.
Young Stalin Education
In September 1888, nearing the age of ten, he joined some 150 boys in the parish school’s mandatory preparatory program.
He sang Russian and Georgian folk songs, along with Tchaikovsky songs. Young Stalin studied Church Slavonic and Greek.
His teacher chosen him to read out the liturgy and sing the hymns at church.
Soon Stalin might well have lost his interest in holy matters as a matter of course, but the seminary’s policies and the monks’ behavior accelerated his disenchantment.
In August 1898, young stalin join the Third Group of Georgian Marxists.
More consequentially, following the Easter break, he failed to sit his year-end exams.
A May 29, 1899, seminary dismissed stalin seminary for failure to appear at the examination for unknown reason.
Stalin Revolutionary Activity
He threw himself into conspiratorial activities, like establishing safe houses and opening illegal presses to help strikes and May Day marches.
He remained a book person, and more and more imagined himself in the role of teacher.
Stalin—who had distributed incendiary leaflets—it brought arrest on April 5, 1902.
It was during this imprisonment that stalin began regularly using the pseudonym Koba, “avenger of injustice.”
Fifteen months after his arrest, in July 1903, he was sentenced by administrative fiat to three years’ exile in the Mongol-speaking Buryat lands of Eastern Siberia.
As a Georgian in Siberia, he the avenger nearly froze to death on his first escape attempt.
But already by January 1904, he had managed to elude the village police chief, make it forty miles to the railhead, and arrive illegally all the way back in Tiflis.
He also got married Ketevan Svanidze, then twenty-six.
In the hideaway, he wrote articles, regaled his wife with talk of books and revolution.
On March 18, 1907, some eight months after her wedding, Kato gave birth to a son.
The future Stalin was said to be over the moon. But if so, he continued to be rarely home.
Like other revolutionaries—at least those still at large—he was constantly on the run, rotating living quarters and battling his leftist rivals.
On the eve of Yakov’s birth, Stalin, together with Suren Spandaryan, established the newspaper Baku Proletarian.
From June 1906 to January 1907, Young Stalin published his own articles under a nearly identical rubric as Teliya, “Anarchism or Socialism?,” and for the very same Georgian periodicals.
Soon, Stalin stole across the border to attend the 5th Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party Congress, held between April 30 and May 19, 1907, in north London’s Brotherhood Church.
Soon he arrived back in Baku, in May 1907.
Later Stalin reported on the 5th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party in the pages of the Bolshevik-faction underground newspaper Baku Proletarian.
Stalin Underground Activity
On June 13, 1907, in broad daylight in the heart of Tiflis, on Yerevan Square, two mail coaches delivering cash to the Tiflis branch of the State Bank were attacked with at least eight homemade bombs and gunfire.
The thieves’ take amounted to around 250,000 rubles.
Young Stalin did not risk coming out onto the square himself. Nonetheless, he was instrumental in plotting the heist.
His rival obtained the testimony of a bribed tsarist postal clerk who had provided inside information on the mail coach schedule and fingered Stalin.
The future Stalin may have been expelled temporarily from the party.
Exile to Baku
Whatever the outcome of the purported party disciplinary hearing, Stalin would never reside in Tiflis again.
He decamped to Baku, with his wife, Kato Svanidze, and infant son, Yakov.
Stalin’s Baku exploits included not just propagandizing and political organizing, but also hostage taking for ransom, protection rackets and piracy.
He ordered a few assassinations of suspected provocateurs and turncoats.
Baku’s toxic environment, meanwhile, exacerbated his young wife Kato’s frailty.
She died a frightful death in December 1907 from typhus or tuberculosis, hemorrhaging blood from her bowels.
As for his exhilarating revolutionary banditry, it was over, quickly.
Back to Jail
Already by March 1908, Stalin was back in a tsarist jail, in Baku, where he studied Esperanto—one fellow inmate recalled him “always with a book”—but was again dogged by accusations of betraying comrades
Stalin seems to have been prone to outbursts of anger, and many contemporaries found him enigmatic, although none (at the time) deemed him a sociopath.
But brooding, touchy, and enigmatic though the future Stalin might have been, his life was unenviable.
Not long after his escape, on August 12, 1909, his father, Beso, died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Young Stalin Experience with Poverty
Just as the older vagrant Beso Stalin passed unnoticed from the world, his son, the fugitive vagrant Stalin made for St. Petersburg.
He took refuge that fall of 1909 in the safe-house apartment of Sergei Alliluyev, the machinist who had been exiled to Tiflis but then returned to the capital where he would often shelter Stalin.
From there, Stalin soon returned to Baku, where the okhranka tailed him for months—evidently to trace his underground network—before rearresting him in March 1910.
Prison, exile, poverty: this had been his life since that day in March 1901 when he had had to flee the Tiflis Meteorological Observatory and go underground.
It would remain this way right through 1917.