Stalin in an Off-Record Photo Captured by His Bodyguard Vlasik, Showing How Human This “Monster” Was

Stalin in an Off-Record Photo Captured by His Bodyguard Vlasik, Showing How Human This “Monster” Was

Joseph Stalin liked to keep his private life private, and so it remained when he was alive. Having the bad luck to live in an age obsessed with information storage, in the early 1960s an enterprising Soviet journalist spirited out some off-the-record photos of Stalin, selling them to newspapers and magazines worldwide.

This mass murderer, in private, enjoyed billiards, liked playing games with children, drank too much, had a weakness for bananas and was an avid gardener, proud of his roses and lemons.

But even his sense of humor smelt of tyranny. When Stalin incorrectly pronounced a word, everyone who spoke after him took great care to make the same mistake. He transformed his colleagues into frightened toadies, then amused himself by ridiculing their eagerness to please.