5 Reasons to Sympathize with Stalin Sort Of

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Joseph Stalin was responsible for millions of deaths during his time as the head of the Soviet Union. And most of those dead were his ostensible countrymen themselves; the rest were largely Germans, with some Finns and a few Poles thrown in. While Stalin is widely (and rightly) considered one of the most tyrannical, ruthless and murderous dictators of recent history, we went to great lengths to dig up five reasons you just might sympathize with him. Alright, no one’s going to feel too bad for the guy, but at least we gave it a shot.

5 Stalin’s “friend” Broke a Promise and Attacked Him

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Sure, Joseph Stalin might seem like a huge, imposing presence, and metaphysically speaking, he was. But in fact, Joe was only 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and had a huge Napoleon Complex about it. His lush, manly mustache was in place not to enhance his sense of manliness, but primarily to hide those smallpox scars he got when he was a kid. He was so embarrassed about his uneven arms and his weak, partially withered left hand that he frequently kept it gloved or out of sight altogether.

4 Stalin’s “friend” Broke a Promise and Attacked Him

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In August of 1939, the Germans and the Soviets signed the aptly named German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, and it seemed like everything would be keen between the two great friends from then on. Germany went on to invade Poland, the USSR grabbed a nice chunk of Finland and everything was going fine. But a little less than two years later, Hitler, jerk that he was, went and attacked his “friend” Stalin’s homeland, launching the largest invasion in human history, Operation Barbarossa.

3 The Poor Guy Had to Bury Two Wives and a Son

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His first wife died tragically young at the age of 22, shortly after their son Yakov was born. They had not been married for two full years. His second wife and that first son are both suspected of having killed themselves, though the second wife, Nadezhda, may have been killed by Joseph S. himself. His son had tried to off himself after arguing with his pops over the girl he wanted to marry, and then succeeded in killing himself while in a POW camp during WWII, after Stalin had refused a prisoner exchange that would have freed the lad.

2 Young Stalin Was Plagued with Health Problems

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He was born with deformed toes, he suffered a bad bout of smallpox before his tenth birthday that left permanent scarring on his face and body and he once broke an arm that never healed properly, leaving his left arm shorter than his right and permanently weaker.

1 Stalin Had a Harsh Childhood at the Hands of a Terribly Abusive Father

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His dad, whose name was Besarion Jughashvili (the surname “Stalin” was a later acquisition for J.S., meaning “Steel” in Russian), was a cobbler who hardly ever managed to make ends meet. The father tried to escape the sorrows of his hard-knock life through heavy drinking and by abusing the hell out of his family. His drunken rampages were so violent that Besarion was ultimately banished from his home town, never to play a role in the family’s life again.

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