Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia, Transcaucasia. He attended the parish school in Gori, and entered the seminary of Tiflis in 1894. There he demonstrated himself to be an able student and ambitious leader. In 1898 he joined a Georgian socialist organization and came under the influence of Marxism. In 1899, just prior to graduation, he was expelled from the seminary because of his "disloyal" views.
He was arrested in 1902 and remained in prison until 1903. While in prison he was elected a member of the Social Democratic committee. He was deported to Siberia, escaped, and returned to Tiflis in 1904 shortly after the Social Democratic Party had split into bolsheviks and mensheviks. At this point he was under the influence of Lenin's writings, and in underground publications he translated Lenin's ideas into Georgian from the Russian.
He played no real part in the revolution of 1905, but advocated a policy of agrarian revolution identical to that adopted by the party in 1917.
Although Stalin did not play an important role in the 1917 revolution, he did lay groundwork behind the scenes. He was an editor of "Pravda", and helped organize Lenin's escape from Petrograd in July.
After the Bolshevik victory he was named comissar of the nationalities, a post he held for 5 years.
In April 1922 he moved to consolidate his power as Lenin's ill health became obvious. He was appointed secretary general of the party, and in this post soon gained control over the whole machinery of the party and the government.
In 1923 Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev joined forced to keep Trotski out of power. After the defeat of Trotski in 1925, Stalin openly broke from Zinoviev and Kamenev, and embraced Bukharin and his associates.
At the height of the drive to industrialize Russia, Stalin introduced the constitution of 1936. At this point he staged purge trials in which the old bolsheviks and military leaders were charged with treason, terrorism and espionage. They were brought to prisons to "confess" their guilt and were either exiled or executed.
Born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, he was the founder of Bolshevik communism, and the greatest single driving force in the 1917 Revolution.
His older brother, Aleksandr, took part in a plot to assassinate Alexander III and was executed in 1887. It is believed by some that this may have been a turning point in Vladimir's decision to embrace revolution.
He entered Kazan University as a law student in 1887, but was expelled for taking part in a student gathering. He received his law degree in 1891 from St. Petersburg University.
By 1893 he had moved to St. Petersburg and had become an expert on Marxism.
In 1895 he went abroad to make contacts and learn firsthand about European socialism. On his return to Russia, he began organizing the Union for the Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class in St. Petersburg. He was arrested on December 20, and spent 14 months in prison. In 1897 he was exiled to Siberia for three years.
In the following years, he steadily built his influence through publications and contacts.
The revolution of 1905 fell short of Lenin's expectations, and did not offer him the opportunity to effect his plans for Russia. The 1917 revolution, however, did provide him what he wanted. The peasantry rushed for land regardless of law, and Lenin came out with the idea of a soviet constitution based on seizures by mobs wherever they might be. This served the purpose of encouraging the peasantry to push forward, and silenced those who wanted to wait for the passing of land reforms.
Lenin believed that only force could produce serious social change. "Not a single problem of the class struggle has ever been solved in history except by violence" he said.
Symptoms of serious illness began to manifest themselves in 1918, and Lenin died at Gorki near Moscow January 21, 1924.
Kamenev received a technical education in Moscow in his youth, but in 1901 joined the Russian Social Democratic Party and became a "professional revolutionary". He went aboard in 1908 following Lenin, and assisted in the struggle against other factions of the party. He was sent to St. Petersburg in 1914 to direct party activities in Russia.
In 1915 he was arrested and sent into banishment in Siberia for his adherence to Lenin's revolutionary policies on the question of World War I. He returned at the outbreak of the Revolution in 1917, and was principal Bolshevik leader in Petrograd until Lenin's arrival.
After Lenin's arrival, Kamenev opposed the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks alone, and advocated a coalition formed of all the socialist parties.
He was elected to the Politburo in 1917.
In 1923 he joined with Zinoviev and Stalin against Trotski but went over to the opposition in 1926 and lost his leading posts.
He was expelled from the communist party in 1927, 1932, and 1934 for counter-revolutionary activities. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in 1935, but was retried and shot on August 24, 1936.
Born at Elisavetgrad (Zinovievsk), he studied chemistry and law at Berne. He was a revolutionary by the time he met Lenin in 1903. He was head of the Bolshevik party in Berne 1903-4, and published propaganda in southern Russia. He came into prominence in 1906 as a member of the Bolshevik St. Petersburg committee of the Russian Social Democratic Party.
He was editor of "Vpered" and "The Social Democrat".
In 1908 he was arrested, imprisoned, and released. He then went aboard until the revolution in 1917.
During his absence he worked hard for the party. He was a member of the central committee, and was co-editor of several publications. He represented the party in Copenhagen.
In 1912 he and Lenin went to Galica to oversee the growth of the labor movement in Russia. There he founded the foreign bureau of the central committee.
With Lenin, he edited "Against the Tide", a propaganda publication against World War I. At the Zimmerwald Conference in 1915 he worked with Lenin to establish toe Communist International.
After the Revolution in 1917, he was co-editor of "Pravda", "The Proletarian" and "The Worker". In 1919 he was elected president of the Communist International. After Lenin's death in 1924 he was one of Russia's most zealous upholders of "Leninism".
In 1926 he was expelled from the political bureau, and from the Communist Party in 1927. He was readmitted in 1929, but in January 1935 he and Kamenev were exiled for counter-revolutionary activities. He was convicted of high treason, and shot on August 25, 1936.
Lenin called Bukharin "the most valuable and greatest theoretician of the party". He joined the All-Russian Social Democratic Labor Party at the age of 18. In 1908 he entered the Moscow Bolshevik Committee.
Bukharin was imprisoned in 1911 and deported to Onega, but he fled to Germany. He met Lenin in Poland in 1912.
He returned to Russia after the Revolution in 1917 and was elected to the central committee. At that time he was also editor of "Pravda".
In 1920 he published "The Economy of the Transitional Period", in which he maintained that once the proletariat had been firmly established the revolution would be complete, class struggle exhausted, and communism would thrive by natural evolution.
In 1924 he became a member of the Politburo. Although he distrusted Stalin he supported his campaign against Trotski, Zinoviev and Kamenev in support of the policies of Lenin regarding the alliance between the peasants and the proletariat. However, when Stalin reversed himself in 1928 Bukharin opposed him. His article "Notes of an Economist", in the September 30, 1928 edition of "Pravda" was the only reasoned case against Stalin's forced capitalization of industry ever to be published in Russia.
Bukharin was stripped of his party appointments and expelled from the Politburo in 1929. Although he recanted his views under pressure, and had a major part in the drafting of the constitution, he never held an influential post again.
In 1937 he was arrested and charged with counter-revolutionary activities. He was convicted and shot on March 14, 1938.