The Mysterious Nature of Joseph Stalin’s Death

Last updated on January 27th, 2023 at 11:19 pm

Before Joseph Stalin passed away on March 5, 1953, his health had already been wavering over the last few years. After suffering from long-term dizzy spells and raised blood pressure, the various doctors who regularly checked on him would have assumed natural causes.

But is there more to this story than a simple health problem?

According to the official statements recorded during this time, Stalin suffered a massive stroke and perished from complications related to the stroke. But some historians and medical experts suspect that his passing occurred under much murkier circumstances.

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How Did Joseph Stalin Die and What Circumstances Leading to His Death?

Joseph Stalin’s death brought about the end of his brutal reign as a Soviet dictator. In the many decades that he ruled the Soviet Union, Stalin made many enemies and was estimated to have taken the lives of between 10 to 20 million people.

He brought death and destruction to citizens of the Soviet Union and his enemies, but what were the circumstances of his death, and what led to this event?

Stalin was not in the best mental and physical health by the end of his life. He was paranoid, reclusive, and suspicious of everyone around him.

This included his doctors, inner circle, and the staff working for him. In the past, Stalin had a few small strokes and received regular medical checkups to deal with the complications.

However, despite recommendations from his doctor to rest and step down from power, Stalin continued ruling the Soviet Party with an iron fist.

1937 Propaganda poster of Stalin

Unhappy with one doctor’s medical conclusions, he then had him imprisoned and charged with spying for suggesting that Stalin’s health was in danger.

On March 1, 1953, days before he passed, the dictator was said to have suffered a major stroke. Before his stroke, he called in four of his closest political advisors to his home. This was routine for Stalin as he often had people in his inner circle over at his house so he could keep an eye on them.

He typically watched a movie with them and discussed matters of state. His group of close advisors left at around 4 am that night. 

There was no indication that anything was wrong with Stalin. He said goodbye as he usually did and went off to bed. When interviewed later, those who saw Stalin for the last time said he was in good spirits and seemed perfectly fine. But, the following day, Stalin did not leave his room. 

Usually, he would leave his quarters at 10:00 am and have his guards get him his morning tea and breakfast. Stalin did not make this request that morning, which was unusual.

His guards were concerned and wanted to check on him, but they weren’t allowed into Stalin’s room without his permission.

His guards and other staff were terrified that they would upset Stalin. So, they waited for him to come out of the room. This never happened as Stalin had suffered a stroke. 

The Mysterious Nature of Stalin’s Death

At around 10:30 am on March 1, one of Stalin’s guards finally checked on the dictator and found him on the ground, covered in his urine. Stalin was brought out of his room, and his advisors were called.

A doctor was needed to treat Stalin, but no one could decide what to do. After imprisoning his last doctor, his inner circle was reluctant to call a new doctor to Stalin’s home. 

His advisors went back to his house to check on Stalin. They saw him snoring, and Beria, the chief of Stalin’s secret police, said Stalin seemed perfectly fine and that he was sleeping.

Of course, this could have just been medical inexperience. But, some claim that his advisors knew that Stalin was on his deathbed after the stroke and purposely delayed treatment to speed up the dictator’s death.

We don’t know what happened between the time Stalin’s guards called them and when the doctor was called to check on him. However, Stalin did have a rocky relationship with Beria and other party members. His constant paranoia and controlling behavior created tension and fear in the inner circle. 

Regardless, the circumstances leading to his death were certainly suspicious. And the doctor was not brought in till 7 in the morning the next day. This delay in treatment was the final nail in the coffin. 

Mourning parade for Stalin in Dresden, Germany

While a doctor was eventually selected and treated Stalin with leeches and a cold compress, nothing could be done to save him.

He was unresponsive. His right side was completely paralyzed from the stroke, his blood pressure was astronomically high, and he would not wake up or respond. 

For two more days, Stalin was treated with no improvements. Finally, on March 5, Stalin had hemorrhaging in his stomach and vomited up blood. Those with him watched as he choked on his blood and died. 

Was Stalin Murdered?

The timing of Stalin’s death is suspicious, and missing medical reports and the lack of timely medical treatment further pushed rumors that the dictator was murdered by his own party.

However, nothing can be known for sure. Some people believed that Stalin was murdered by his inner circle the night before his stroke. He drank wine that could have easily been poisoned. 

The hemorrhaging of Stalin’s stomach also lends some credibility to this theory. 

Still, no one knows what happened for sure. Historians often mention the poison theory, and doctors are still trying to figure out what happened today. But unless we find more medical records or secret reports, we are unlikely to know the true nature of Stalin’s mysterious death.

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