Joseph Stalin

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Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed

Joseph Stalin (21 December {9 December Old Style} 1879 - 5 March 1953) was Leader of the Soviet Union from 1927 to 1953.


History shows that there are no invincible armies and that there never have been.
Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.
  • We think that powerful and lifeful movement is impossible without differences — "true conformity" is possible only in the cemetery.
    • Stalin's article "Our purposes" Pravda #1, (22 January 1912)
  • We disagreed with Zinoviev and Kamenev because we knew that the policy of amputation was fraught with great dangers for the Party, that the method of amputation, the method of blood-letting — and they demanded blood — was dangerous, infectious: today you amputate one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third — what will we have left in the Party?
  • What would happen if capital succeeded in smashing the Republic of Soviets? There would set in an era of the blackest reaction in all the capitalist and colonial countries, the working class and the oppressed peoples would be seized by the throat, the positions of international communism would be lost.
  • We do not want a single foot of foreign territory; but of our territory we shall not surrender a single inch to anyone.
  • Anti-Semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.
    • "Anti-Semitism: Reply to an inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States" (12 January 1931)
  • We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they will crush us.
  • The writer is the engineer of the human soul.
    • Said by Stalin at a meeting of fifty top Soviet writers at Maxim Gorky's house in Moscow (26 October 1932), as quoted in Simon Sebag Montefiore's Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar, p. 85, and Edvard Radzinsky's Stalin, pp. 259-63. Primary source: K. Zelinsky's contemporary record of the event. It was published in English in Stalin and the Literary Intelligentsia,. (1991) by А. Kemp-Welch, Basingstoke and London, pp. 12-31.
  • Life has improved, comrades. Life has become more joyous.
  • Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division; and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.
  • Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.
  • This war is not as in the past; whoever occupies a territory also imposes on it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach. It cannot be otherwise. If now there is no a communist government in Paris, cause of this is Russia has no an army which can reach to Paris in 1945.
    • Said in April, 1945, as quoted in Conversations with Stalin (1963) by Milovan Djilas
  • I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.
    • In Russian: Я считаю, что совершенно неважно, кто и как будет в партии голосовать; но вот что чрезвычайно важно, это - кто и как будет считать голоса.
    • Said in 1923, as quoted in The Memoirs of Stalin's Former Secretary (1992) by Boris Bazhanov [Saint Petersburg] (Борис Бажанов. Воспоминания бывшего секретаря Сталина). (Text online in Russian).
    • Variant (loose) translation: The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
  • Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.
    • As quoted in The Memoirs of former Stalin's secretary (1992) by Boris Bazhanov [Saint Petersburg] (in Russian)
  • The Pope! How many divisions has he got?
    • Said sarcastically to Pierre Laval when urged to tolerate Catholicism in the Soviet Union to appease the Pope (13 May 1935); as quoted in The Second World War (1948) by Winston Churchill vol. 1, ch. 8,
  • Beat, beat and beat again!
    • When asked how to treat political prisoners and get information out of them, as quoted in Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech "On the Personality Cult and its Consequences" (25 February 1956).
  • Tsar Alexander reached Paris.
    • Said to an American diplomat who remarked how grateful it must be to see Russian troops in Berlin. Quoted in Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger
  • I know that after my death a pile of rubbish will be heaped on my grave, but the wind of History will sooner or later sweep it away without mercy.
    • Said to Molotov in 1943, as quoted in Felix Chuev's 140 Conversations with Molotov Moscow, 1991.


  • The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.[1]
    • Variants: One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic.
      When one dies, it is a tragedy. When a million die, it is a statistic.
      A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic
    • This quotation probably was originated from the novel "Der schwarze Obelisk" by Erich Maria Remarque (1956): "Aber das ist wohl so, weil ein einzelner immer der Tod ist — und zwei Millionen immer nur eine Statistik."
  • A Lieutenant is not worth a General!
    • [after Kurt Daluege offered Stalin back his son if Paulus was returned to the Germans. This is Stalin's refusal]
  • When I am gone, the capitalists will drown you like blind kittens.
    • Many variants; from a speech apparently made to the Politburo in 1950.
  • Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?
  • What shall we do? We shall envy!
    • Что делать будем? Завидовать будем!
    • Rumored to be said after receiving a report about Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky's inappropriately large number of female lovers.
  • Quantity is quality
    • Variant: Quantity has a quality all its own
    • This quote is reminiscent of the Marxist theoretical principle that steady quantitative changes can lead to a sudden qualitative leap. It is therefore likely that Stalin may have said something like this. However, in the variant "Quantity is quality", there is an undialectical equation of the two. Stalin is therefore unlikely to have used this variant; the variant "Quantity has a quality all its own" is therefore more likely.
    • This quote is often tied to a commentary on Russian tank and troop production
  • You cannot make a revolution with silk gloves.
    • Variant: You cannot make a revolution with white gloves.
  • He can't even do that right.
    • All Stalin said when he found out about Yakov Stalin's failed suicide.
  • I do not change the soldier for the marshal.
    • In response to the German offer to change a Marshal for Stalin's captured son Yakov.
  • I have no son named Yakov.
    • Also in response to the German offer to swap Stalin's oldest son Yakov for their captured marshal.
  • Then Devil is with us, and together we will win.
    • In response to Churchill's "God is with us", during WW2.
  • For some people, four walls are three too many.


  • Death solves all problems — no man, no problem.

Quotations about Stalin

  • Stalin was a guy like we are, not only that he considered himself a revolutionary and lived like one, but he was a character in the truest sense of the word.
  • Apparently, father was a Georgian when he was younger.
    • Stalin's second son Vasily to his sister Svetlana, showing just how little the general secretary spent with his children.
  • There were those on the right who argued that only a unilateral foreign policy and an immediate invasion of the Soviet Union could disable the emerging communist threat. And although isolationism of the sort that prevailed in the thirties was now thoroughly discredited, there were those on the left who downplayed Soviet aggression, arguing that given Soviet losses and the country's critical role in the Allied victory, Stalin should be accommodated.
    • Barack Obama. Quoted in "The Audacity of Hope" - Page 284 - by Barack Obama


  1. Solovyova, Julia (October 28, 1997) Mustering Most Memorable Quips, The Moscow Times States: Russian historians have no record of the lines, "Death of one man is a tragedy. Death of a million is a statistic," commonly attributed by English-language dictionaries to Josef Stalin. Discussing the book by Konstantin Dushenko (Константин Душенко) Dictionary of Modern Quotations (Словарь современных цитат: 4300 ходячих цитат и выражений ХХ века, их источники, авторы, датировка).

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