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Tales From Under the Iron Fist of STALIN!


Content Warnings: Violence, death, suicide, language, crude humor, etc (Note: First written in 2013)

Joseph Stalin, Premier of the USSR 1878-1953

a colored portrait of stalin, with a Soviet flag behind him

”The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” – Stalin

STALIN was a monster, pure and simple. This ruthless Russian despot manipulated his way to the top through cunning political skills and even more tactful methods of assassination, often incited by sheer paranoia. As the Premiere of Soviet Russia, Joseph Stalin brutally murdered approximately 60 million of his own people and a fraction of the world suffered under his sociopathic tyranny.

While his name became synonymous with communism in the 20th century, it’s worth pointing out that the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes were a far cry from the socialist philosophy first espoused by Karl Marx (or Universal Healthcare for that matter, despite what some politicians may want you to think).

In Soviet Russia, party has fun with you!

In Soviet Russia, party has fun with you!

Joe Stalin is considered to be so evil in fact, that he’s easily in the running for worst human of all time, right alongside the likes of other notorious dictators, like Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and our ‘ole pal Adolf. Oddly enough, both Hitler and Stalin had a lot in common. Both failed at their initial careers, both rose to power in their respective countries during times of upheaval, and both murdered incalculable numbers of their own citizens, all whilst leading propaganda campaigns that put Golden-Age comic books to shame.

Hitler was of course the Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, a fascist state, while Stalin would become the all-powerful supreme ruler of the Russian Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), a communist dictatorship. Stalin didn’t just single out a single religious minority, he outlawed any practice of religion, and punished perceived dissent without hesitation. These dictators might’ve been best buds, if they hadn’t been on opposing teams; the Dick and Jane of global-scale homicide, if you will.

a photograph of Josef Stalin as a young adult



As with many aspiring dictators / part-time mass-murderers, Stalin had a rather dubious origin. Joseph Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili to a poor family.  The only surviving child of his household (coincidence?), he grew up under the abusive lashings of his alcoholic father until his mother sent him away to the somewhat ironically named Gori Spiritual School (in 1888) to become a priest. It would seem that fate had other plans in store for Lil’ Stalin.

One day, while studying in theological seminary, Josef came across the passionate works of censored authors: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin (not to be confused with John Lennon of The Beatles). Marxism was essentially a government structure which would obliterate capitalism and classism: Everyone gets a fair share of work, food, and stuff. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” – Karl Marx (1875). That might sound good on paper, but unfortunately it’s not that simple in practice, and it turns out that some people are just inherently greedy / lazy bastards. An early attempt at communism was actually attempted way back in 1621 when the Mayflower Pilgrims tried to start over from scratch in the New World, and it failed miserably. That’s not to say that it couldn’t work in theory, but (like most things) the real answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, between the two extremes of totalitarian communist dictatorships and the late-stage capitalist dystopia we currently find ourselves in today…

Vladimir LeninThe Marxist philosophers sparked a spiritual fire inside young Joseph in a way other holy texts never did, setting him off on a roadway to hell, paved with good intentions. In 1899 Joseph dropped seminary like a bad habit, and pursued a career in politics – unquestionably a worse habit. Within a couple of years, Joe was passing out communist manifestos, organizing protests, and working with the Bolshevik party to overthrow the status quo.

During this time he married Ketevan Svanidze who gave birth to his son Yakob, before her untimely demise from typhus, in 1907. At her funeral, Young Stalin proclaimed: “This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.” His comrades had the sense to take away his revolver, but not the foresight to schedule some much needed psychiatric help.

Over the next 9 years (1908 to 1917), Stalin was arrested a whopping 7 times and managed to escape a total of 5 times! Joe’s “activist years” eventually led to his final arrest and subsequent exile to a Siberia in 1913. By 1917, Josef was still serving out his sentence in a Siberian prison when the long-anticipated communist revolution kicked off without him – Phase One of the Russian Revolution: the aptly titled ‘February Revolution’. 


In the midst of the (First) World War (1914-1918), Germany had a devious plan to remove their Russian enemy from the conflict by simply buying Lenin a one-way ticket to Saint Petersburg, and it worked. Vladimir Lenin, the outspoken extremist was practically a biological weapon in the form of a guy who couldn’t shut up about how great socialism was. The Germans loaded him onto a train, enabling him to infiltrate Russia, and they let him do the rest for them.

Taking advantage of the social unrest that had permeated Russian society, from the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1905 to their involvement in the increasingly unpopular war in Europe, Lenin and his supporters rallied the Russian people behind their Marxist philosophy. Within months, the Bolsheviks had overthrown both the Russian monarchy, and the provincial democratic government that had followed, leaving only a handful of extremists in charge to reshape the Russian government from scratch, to their wills.

Czar Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs, had stepped down from the throne during the early days of the 1917 (February) Revolution, in hopes of alleviating the violence. The Czar and his family were then placed under house arrest as the Russian leadership debated what to do about them. Some argued that they should go into exile in Europe, but neither Great Britain or France wanted to offer them asylum.

On October 25th, 1917, a mob of Bolsheviks angrily stormed the Winter Palace – to little resistance, and seized symbolic control of the government. This would come to be known as ‘The October Revolution’ – although, it was technically November 7th according to the old Julian Calendar, because Russia was a little late adopting the Gregorian edition the following year. (Yup, that’s not confusing at all, said every historian student, ever.)

With growing opposition to Lenin’s regime mounting, the communist leadership decided to get rid of any and all loose ends. In the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918, the Czar and his entire family (including his wife, young son, and all four of their daughters, along with their maids, and even the family cook) were rounded up, lead into a basement under false pretenses, where they were then lined up against a wall, and tragically executed by a cold-blooded firing squad…

a portrait of the Romanovs, including Czar Nicholas II and Anastasia

The Last of the Romanov Dynasty

After taking control of the entire country, Lenin announced the way things were going to work from now on: “All citizens are here transformed into hired employees of the state, which is made up of the armed workers… All that is required is that they should work equally, should regularly do their share of the work, and should receive equal pay.” The irony was that things got even worse than before, while the unequal divide between those in power and the working class became more unbalanced than ever before. The good news is, they also decided to update that outdated calendar, so… pros and cons.

Unfortunately for the people of Russia, despite espousing such high utopian ideals, Lenin didn’t really give a shit about anyone but himself, and often referred to his followers as ‘useful idiots’. Communism under Lenin had mutated into something horrifically different from what Marx had originally intended. Marx envisioned a world of peaceful anarchy. Lenin adapted and twisted his meaning to suit his needs. He and his party were exempt from the system, because as it turned out communism wouldn’t work without people (themselves of course) behind the scenes, running the show.

Lenin would later explain the true purpose of the communist revolution, “The point of the uprising is the seizure of power; afterwards we will see what we can do with it.” 

a hand pulling a curtain away

Pay no attention to the man behind the Iron Curtain…

Meanwhile, among the ranks of the Bolsheviks, a young man named Josef Stalin quietly made plans to turn the Communist Empire into a one man show…


Joseph officially renamed himself ‘Stalin’ in 1912 – which in Russian means ‘Man of Steel’ (in English it means ‘Full of Shit’) – and just like the building-leaping Superman of DC Comics, he thought he was invincible. Returning from exile in Siberia (in March, 1917), Stalin was a changed man. He arrived with nothing but a typewriter in a wicker suitcase and the a tattered suit that he’d had on him when he was arrested all those years earlier.


Upon rejoining his comrades, Stalin worked as a publicist, gaining the respect and admiration of many in the party, and even once helped Vladimir Lenin to evade capture a number of times – disguising him by shaving his iconic beard, while smuggling him out of the country, to lay low in Finland. After the insurrectionists stormed the winter palace during the October Revolution later that year, Stalin became a leading member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and was instrumental in establishing the new government.

From there, Stalin quickly rose through the ranks, manipulating his way, and out-maneuvering his rivals with ease, eventually landing a sweet gig as General Secretary of the communist party in 1922. That year, an aging Lenin wrote a letter to many of the prominent members of the party cautioning them against the ever-ambitious Stalin, warning that he had “concentrated boundless power in his hands and I am not convinced that he will always manage to use this power with adequate care.” Also worth noting: Stalin often cited Ivan the Terrible as one of his role models, and when asked about how they should deal with their political opponents, he said “the idea of a concentration camp is excellent” – which right there should have sent off at least some red flags.

Vladimir Lenin passed away in 1924, leaving the communist party scrambling for an heir. Unfortunately for them, none of them heeded Lenin’s suggestion to remove Stalin before it was too late. By 1928 Stalin had emerged as the supreme ruler of the USSR, and everyone in all of Russia was about to regret it.


Meanwhile, Joseph Stalin married Nadya Allilueva and had two more kids: Vasili and Svetlana. Stalin, like his own father, was often distant, but harsh when his family didn’t live up to his high standards. His abusive treatment eventually led to Nadya’s suicide in 1932…

Stalin from the Epic Rap Battles of History skit (Stalin vs Rasputin)

He also had a mustache that would make Super Mario jealous.

Whatever happened to the Sons of Stalin? Glad you asked, anonymous internet user who thinks they may have took a wrong turn at Google! – As for Stalin’s first son, Yakov, (or “Yakov the Jackov” as he was affectionately known to his father), there was always a strained relationship. Stalin is remembered for treating his son with an air of mistrust that was matched only by the totalitarian police state of the USSR. This eventually culminated in Yakov’s own attempted suicide. After learning of his son’s unsuccessful plot to off himself, Stalin responded only by dismissively saying that his son was such a failure that he couldn’t even shoot straight. (Yikes)

Later on, during WWII, Yakov enlisted in the Red Army in a futile attempt to make his father proud, who lovingly encouraged him to get out of his sight, stating simply, “Go and fight”. When Yakov was captured by the Nazis, and sent to a concentration camp, Stalin was furious that his own son had surrendered to the enemy, that he had Yakov’s wife arrested, (his own daughter-in-law) separated from her daughter (his granddaughter), and sent to the Gulag. When the Red Army captured German Field Marshal, Friedrich von Paulus, Stalin had a chance to negotiate and get his son back alive. Instead he coldly stated, “I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant.” Yakov died while attempting to escape a Nazi death camp, throwing himself at an electric fence while being riddled with bullets.

Vasily Dzhugashvili on the other hand constantly used his father’s name for personal gain, eventually driving his career into the side of a mountain after his father’s passing, and later died of alcoholism. His daughter however eventually escaped to the US and lived a long happy life far from Mother Russia and her grandfather (aka the angry Russian dude pictured above). Suffice it to say, Stalin somehow manages to make Darth Vader look like a loving and supportive dad who never missed a single baseball game.

Darth Vader cooking breakfast for little Luke and Lea, with an apron claiming: "World's Greatest Dad"


Throughout his entire reign as Premier of the USSR, Stalin maintained unlimited power through the utilization of totalitarian tactics and the manipulation of fear. He became extremely paranoid and his mistrust in the motives of others grew like a cancer within him as the tidal wave of communism spread like an alien invasion from a 50’s B-movie across the Eastern hemisphere.

A propaganda poster of Stalin holding a baby with a Soviet flag

STALIN: A Gentle Soul.

It was in the 1930’s when Stalin really began to show his true colors, a prosperous time affectionately known to the Russian people as THE GREAT TERROR! This was marked by a series of purges targeting potential enemies within their ranks, including, but not limited to: party rivals, religious leaders, those critical of his regime, suspicious ethnic minorities, ‘potentially dangerous individuals’, or anyone who looked at him the wrong way.

He even questioned and eliminated many of his closest associates and advisors. These extreme measures decimated the Red Army’s military leadership, and led to the imprisonment and executions of THOUSANDS of citizens. This power tripping sociopath was just getting warmed up.

Stalin established his own private secret police that answered only to him: The NKVD. He met any show of independence or initiative with unforgiving force. Whether or not there was a legitimate threat to his power, Stalin erred on the side of caution. Anyone Stalin classified as ‘Anti-Soviet’ or ‘Enemies of the People’, the NKVD would take them out without question. It was completely reasonable to persecute and eliminate entire groups of people, under the guise that it was for the greater good. Show trials and torture were commonplace under the direction of Stalin, Nikolai Yezhov, and Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria.

During ‘The Great Purge of 1937’, Stalin eliminated anyone and everyone he saw as a potential threat. Of the 103 highest-ranking members of the Communist Party, 81 were executed. In fact, more than a third of the Communist Party died during the Great Purge! Stalin wouldn’t just kill you either, he would erase you from history! In fact, Stalin’s regime is often credited for inventing the concept of ‘photoshop’, because his propaganda team would literally remove people from photographs!

When all was said and done, MILLIONS were sent to slave labor camps under Stalin’s progressive program known as ‘the Gulag system’ which forcibly collectivized agriculture and deported wealthy peasants. These rapid industrialization initiatives boosted productivity and economic growth in an effort to compete with the United States, but did so at the cost of countless lives, many of whom died of starvation… In fact, 14.5 million died during ‘the Great Famine’, primarily in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

And then World War II happened.


Hitler vs Stalin

HvS – Hitler vs Stalin: Whoever wins, we lose…

Hitler and his Nazi thugs were spreading across Europe like a pandemic. The Soviet Union could care less… that is until Germany began infringing on Stalin’s blood-stained territory. Back in 1939, Stalin signed a secret Soviet-Nazi non-aggression treaty, but knew that it was doomed from the start, saying, “For many years now, we have been pouring buckets of shit on each other’s heads, and our propaganda boys could not do enough in that direction. And now, all of a sudden, are we to make our peoples believe that all is forgotten and forgiven? Things don’t work that fast.” But it was Hitler who betrayed the agreement, when he launched “Operation Barbarossa” on June 22nd, 1941 – a massive attack against the Soviet Union, leading to a staggering 4.3 million in casualties.

The USSR quickly changed it’s tune and joined with America and Great Britain as they squared off against ‘the Axis of Evil’ (Germany, Italy, and Japan), presumably under the motto of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” 

a picture from the Tehran conference (1943)

Allies at the Tehran Conference (1943) -From right to left: Churchill (UK), FDR (USA), and STALIN? (USSR) Wait, what’s he doing there?!

So when the Nazis began goose-stepping towards Stalingrad, Stalin answered with an immense force of drafted soldiers motivated by NKVD agents behind them – with orders to shoot deserters who attempted a retreat! (Order No. 227: “panic-makers and cowards are to be liquidated on the spot.”) Stalin’s support would prove to be instrumental in the defeat of Germany, but at the cost of 27 million Soviet citizens.

Stalin PropagandaThanks to Russian General Georgy Zhukov (with a little help from an unforgiving Russian winter), the Soviet Union utterly annihilated the Nazis at nearly every major battle between the two evil dictators. Ultimately, Hitler’s invasion of Russia *in the winter* was one of the biggest FAILURES of the Fuhrer’s full-time career as an irredeemable piece of petrified shit. Rookie mistake. (see: Napoleon)

Unfortunately for General Zhukov, when he refused an order from Stalin to arrest soldiers within the ranks of his army for alleged dissent, this war hero was exiled to the Ural Mountain district! To add even further insult to injury, Zhukov later died after being unjustly implicated in a plot against Premiere Khrushchev in 1955.

If all of that isn’t bad enough, Stalin also punished Russian prisoners of war, sending thousands of his own soldiers to their deaths saying, “We have no prisoners of war, only traitors to the motherland!” while then giving a pass to reported war crimes, as long as they won battles.

While Stalin was smiling shaking hands with President Roosevelt at the Tehran Conference (in 1943), his KGB operatives were stealing key secrets from America’s secret weapon, code-named – ‘The Manhattan Project’: an elaborate program that developed the world’s first Atomic Bomb – two of which were eventually dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, at the close of WWII in 1945. Just a few years later, in 1949, the Soviet Union had a nuclear bomb of their own…


Soon after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the US and Russia quickly found themselves at odds, and in the midst of a Cold War that would last for decades, under the ever-present threat of thermonuclear war…



Once Stalin’s forces leveled Berlin, the Russians quickly began establishing an occupation, spreading communism further across Europe and instantly sparking a conflict with their former capitalistic allies. What was left of Berlin was split into two (West and East) like a city run by Two-Face – which lasted until 1989, when the Soviet Union (and the Berlin Wall) crumbled like a stale saltine cracker under a sledge hammer.

an image from the game "Fallout" - duck and cover

… because Nuclear blasts won’t find you hiding under a desk…

When Stalin proudly boasted of Russia’s brand-new nuclear arsenal under development, American President Truman (and much of Western Civilization) shat his pants at the thought of such an unfathomable destructive force under the complete control of a totally unstable tyrant with a very clear agenda for world domination by any means necessary.

The response (of course) was to build more and more weapons of mass destruction, on each side. These two Super-Powered arsenals quadrupled every year as the rest of the world watched in silent horror as the Doomsday Clock ticked ever closer to the midnight apocalypse. The Cold War was basically a long-standing staring contest between the USA and the USSR, both competing over the size of their missiles. Although neither country ever ended up directly attacking the other (thank god!), this period was marked by a series of smaller conflicts between their allies.

Many around the world had figured out that by the time the 50’s rolled around, if a full-on world-wide nuclear-driven conflict was indeed on the horizon, the effects would be so devastating that it might mean the complete extinction of our species. Luckily for us (the human race as a whole), the only thing that seemed to keep Stalin from slamming his fist down on that ominous red button was his ever-increasing, debilitating paranoia.

A red Chinese stamp showing Stalin and Mao shaking hands.

Stalin congratulating Mao on his new record for mass genocide.

Following WWII, China was seized by Civil War and a communist uprising headed by Mao Zedong gained traction. Mao met up with his best bud Stalin in Moscow where he then dictated how things were going to run. Mao was another self-centered prick known for demanding people to live by his little Red Book, and place a portrait of himself in every house in China. With Stalin’s help, Mao established the Peoples Republic of China, which he reigned over as its President from 1949-1954 before changing his title to Chairman Mao.

And if that’s not enough, Stalin also gave Kim Il-Sung his start-up with North Korea (a dictator who based his image off of his idol), and eventually gave him his blessing to start the Korea War in 1950…


Under Stalin, the Soviet Union continued to grow like a ravenous Pac-Man, absorbing smaller defenseless countries under the Red Iron Curtain. America meanwhile attempted to counter by supplying many a third world country with weapons in an attempt to establish a border of capitalism and democracy to stop the flood of communism. Many of these attempts at doing so backfired horrifically. (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc…)

Prior to World War II, most people outside of Russia didn’t realize just how bad things were under Stalin’s rule, but many of the stats we have now didn’t become available till after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90’s. To further his agenda of complete control, the guy was so full of himself that he plastered his fugly mustachioed face all over the place! If you lived in Moscow, you could not avoid being bombarded by 60 foot tall red and black posters of Stalin’s mug staring you down. The gaze of Stalin’s mustache saw all – this unnerving feeling was only reinforced by the ever present fear of the NKVD: Stalin’s omniscient eyes and ears.

Stalin was so paranoid that he gave everyone else a good reason to be paranoid of him. In fact, one of his most outspoken supporters, Leon Trotsky – one of the original revolutionaries who helped to build the Red Army – was accused of treason during Stalin’s Great Purge, and spent the next few years in exile in Mexico, where he was later assassinated by Soviet agents in 1940. This really set the tone for those in Stalin’s inner circle, fall in line or else. In 1951, when a concerned doctor recommended that he take it easy, Stalin had him arrested and charged as a spy.

Isolated with only his paranoid thoughts to keep him company, Stalin died of a stroke in 1953 at the age of 74, and even those closest to him let out a sigh of relief. Interestingly enough, it took several hours before anyone found him, because no one wanted to bother him and incur his wrath. Stalin’s sudden demise left behind a power vacuum of utter confusion and brutal in-fighting, because there was no clear hierarchy within the Kremlin.

Stalin’s secret police was quickly reorganized as the KGB under Nikita Khrushchëv, who ultimately replaced Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev wrote, “All of us around Stalin were temporary people. As long as he trusted us to a certain degree, we were allowed to go on living and working. But the moment he stopped trusting you, Stalin would start to scrutinize you until the cup of his distrust overflowed.” Khrushchev officially denounced Stalin and his ‘cult of personality’ in 1956, during a closed session of the Russian Congress, where he called him out for the dozens of crimes he’d perpetrated against his own people, blamed him for their country’s devastating agriculture failures, his numerous foreign policy errors, and for sponsoring terror campaigns against loyal citizens. His rant went on for four hours straight to a room of stunned silence. In 1961, the Soviet Premier would later denounce Stalin publicly, in an open session, for his various crimes against humanity.

Just how many people did Stalin brutally murder and/or assassinate during his political career? Estimates range from somewhere between 20 and 60 million. Hitler ranks right behind him with a silver medal at a whopping 11 million. That said, Mao Zedong would go on to beat out both of them with a body count of 78-100 million people! (Which you could argue is also Stalin’s fault… just saying.)

The nuclear-fueled tensions that followed Stalin’s demise, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to CHERNOBYL were resounding echoes of Stalin’s relentless legacy of sociopathic terror. But of all the atrocities that Stalin committed in his lengthy career was leading millions of loyal citizens to their deaths for believing in the false promises of a utopian future, all for his own selfish gain.

Evil individuals should not be feared, instead they need to be made fun of, that’s how they lose their power over us.

                                                                                                                                        Erik Slader

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one of the covers of the Superman Elseworlds tale: "Red Son" about Superman as a Soviet hero

CLICK HERE for Y2K: A Day That Shall Live In Mockery!

Hope you enjoyed this edition of “Epik Fails!”, if you liked it let me know in the comments below! Also, be sure to ’Like’ EPiK FAILs on Facebook! (www.Facebook.com/EpikFails), and SHARE IT with your friends! (You can also subscribe to updates) If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions say so below…

————————————————–Click for a Complete List of Essays on Historical Failure!!


“Stalin: Russia’s Man of Steel” by: Albert Marrin

“Stalin’s Curse” by Robert Gellately

“A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev” by Vladislav Zubok

“Superman: Red Son” by Mark Millar.











Erik Slader
Erik Slader
Erik Slader is the creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails… of history. With Ben Thompson, Erik is the co-author of the Epic Fails book series. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media, once managed a comic book shop, has a weakness for fancy coffee and currently lives in Green Cove Springs, Florida with too many cats.


  1. […] during the Russian Civil War of 1918, after which communism took hold of the nation and STALIN […]

  2. […] “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”, which, just like Communism 400 years later, was a complete and total FAIL. It’s too bad Karl Marx didn’t read up on his […]


  4. […] On the East Side of Europe, there was a less formal, yet equally barbaric conflict brewing between Russia and Austria. This quickly fell apart when Germany unleashed their secret weapon on Russia: communism. They essentially aimed Vladimir Lenin towards Russia, and let him off the leash, or you know bought him a train ticket to Moscow. Thanks to a little party called the Bolsheviks Revolution, Germany’s plan succeeded, and Russia, one of the key players in the war, dropped out, without a notice (more on that here: Tales from under the Iron Fist of STALIN). […]

  5. […] Tales From Under the Iron Fist of STALIN […]

  6. […] STALIN – the Dick-tator behind the Stache […]


  8. […] patients. Kim based his style of government on one of the worst role models history as to offer: Stalin, a man known for murdering a large fraction of his country’s […]

  9. Half of this article is just “Stalin was so bad guyz, he killed 9 billion russians.”, the other half is quarter-baked rumours about him. Maybe get some proved backup before calling him a devil? Dipshits like you make the world hate US for its brainwashing and propaganda. You are a tool, not more not less.

  10. […] Republic of North Korea was anything but democratic. Inspired by stellar role models like Stalin and Mao Zedong, Kim Il-Sung created a cult of personality, formed around… […]

  11. Sustain the remarkable job !! Lovin’ it!

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