How tall was Stalin? The true height of Joseph Stalin is a topic of much debate among historians and scholars. Some reports suggest that he stood at 1.62 m (5’4″), while others (primarily his fellow countrymen) estimate his height to be as high as 1.73 (5’8″) meters. However, this is considered to be an unrealistic estimation; just like some individuals even suggest that Stalin was only 1.50 meters (4’11”) tall. You may think that examining various documents and photographs can help shed some light on Stalin’s actual height. But nothing is as it appears when it comes to how tall Stalin was. Let’s find out why.
The comparison of Stalin’s height in the photo above is particularly striking. It appears that Stalin was at least 6 cm (2.4 inches) shorter than Churchill (1.68 m, 5’6.2″), also suggesting that Stalin’s actual height may have been no more than 162 cm (5’4″).
Official Evidence Regarding Stalin’s Height
A description made by a doctor in Batumi, Georgia, on July 17, 1902, reported Stalin’s height as 2 arshin 4.5 vershkas, which translates to 162.5 cm (5’4″). On the other hand, a registration card (the below image) issued by the St. Petersburg Security Department in 1913 lists Stalin’s height as 1.74 m (5’8.5″), however, there is a possibility of errors in measurement as the metric system was not yet well established in Russia during this time.
It is also worth noting that the U.S. President Harry Truman once referred to Stalin as a “little squirt,” and Truman himself was around 1.75 m (5’9″) tall. However, when some of his photographs are examined, Stalin oddly appears taller than many individuals, such as Sergei Kirov (1.68 m, 5’6″) in every single picture, which suggests that those photographs could be manipulated (more on that later).
In other pictures, Stalin appears taller than Kliment Voroshilov (1.57 m, 5’2″), almost as tall as Nikita Khrushchev (1.60 m, 5’3″), and definitely shorter than Joachim von Ribbentrop (1.78 m, 5’10”). On the other hand, at the Potsdam Conference, Stalin is seen standing next to Truman and Churchill, and he doesn’t look shorter than them.
Based on this evidence, it can be inferred that Stalin’s height was in the range of 1.65 to 1.70 m (5’5″ to 5’7″), as opposed to the 1.50 m (4’11”) claimed by some sources. However, this would be misleading because, just like many other dictators, Stalin did everything to try to look as forbidding as his competitors. When it comes to dictators, maintaining a certain image and perception is crucial.
How Stalin Tried to Appear Taller
The exact height of Joseph Stalin is not known, but he was definitely shorter than Napoleon Bonaparte. Stalin’s height was probably between 1.60 and 1.62 meters. There was inflammation (and maybe deformity) in Stalin’s leg joints, and he wore soft leather military boots that were custom-made for him. But according to speculation, he also often wore those shoes with elevated soles to gain 10 cm (3.94 inches) and appear taller. Allegedly, Vladimir Putin is also using platform shoes to appear taller; his true height is said to be the same as Stalin’s at 5’4″.
Joseph Vissarionovich, who later took the name Stalin, meaning “man of steel,” had a number of physical and psychological insecurities to contend with. Despite his flashy nickname, Stalin was of relatively short stature, standing most likely at 1.62 meters (5 feet, 4 inches), and often wore platform soles to conceal his diminutive height. He was referred to by dissenters as the “Little Father of the Peoples” and stood on a stool or wooden plate during speeches to appear taller than his comrades. Thus, Truman famously referred to him as a “little squirt.”
During his speeches on Red Square, Stalin would sometimes use a small stool to enhance his height and present a better spectacle to the Moscow crowd. In spite of his small stature, Stalin was known for his ruthless and cruel nature, which often led to the execution of thousands of people.
Stalin had to conceal the scars from smallpox that he contracted as a child, using makeup to hide the marks on his face. These insecurities contributed to his tendency to surround himself with shorter men, and to his paranoia and purges of those he perceived as a threat to his rule. He even had to find himself an executioner who was shorter than him. One such example was his right-hand man, Nikolai Yezhov, who was known as the “Bloody Dwarf” in reference to his small stature. Despite standing at only 1.52 meters (4 feet, 12 inches), Yezhov was a willing executioner of Stalin, carrying out his orders to denounce and kill thousands of Russians.
In Jean-Jacques Marie’s book “Stalin,” the cult of Stalin’s personality was so pervasive that it led to the concealment of his true birthdate and the manipulation of photographs to exaggerate his physical size. Determining Stalin’s true height is further complicated by this fact.
Thus, the true height of Stalin is a subject of debate, with estimates ranging from 1.57 meters to 1.64 meters (5’2″ to 5’4.6″). For instance, according to the historian Robert Conquest and his book “The Great Terror: A Reassessment,” Stalin was 1.57 meters (5’2″) tall. Still, the majority of sources place Stalin’s height at between 1.62 and 1.64 meters, with 1.62 meters, or 5 feet, 4 inches, being the most likely answer. This is especially evident in the picture where Stalin and his Bloody Dwarf “Nikolai Yezhov” stand together.
Why Are Most Dictators Short in Stature?
Considering how tall Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar were, is being short a requirement for being a dictator? According to statistics, this is not always the case, as dictators such as Pol Pot and Mao were both of average height. However, many dictators throughout history, including Kim-Jong Il, Lenin, Stalin, Franco, and Mussolini, were relatively short, standing no taller than 1.70 meters.
When it comes to dictators, maintaining a certain image and perception is crucial. This was evident in the case of Mussolini, who put in a lot of effort to project the image of a hardworking leader. For instance, he kept the lights in his office on at night to create the illusion that he was working late into the night for the benefit of the people. This served to reinforce the myth of Mussolini as a tireless leader who was always working for the well-being of the people.
FAQ About How Tall Stalin Was
How tall was Stalin in feet and inches?
According to reports and documents on his height, Joseph Stalin stood 5 feet 4 inches tall.
How tall was Joseph Stalin in meters?
Joseph Stalin was 1.62 meters tall, according to documents regarding his height.
Did Joseph Stalin have a disability?
He had facial scars from a smallpox illness in 1884, and when he was 12 years old, he was hit by a phaeton, which left him with a lifelong handicap in his left arm. Stalin’s leg joints also had inflammation (and perhaps deformity in length).
- The Great Terror: A Reassessment, by Robert Conquest, WorldCat.
- Stalin 1879-1953, by Marie Jean – Jacques, Abebooks.
- Oleg V. Khlevniuk, 2015. Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-16388-9.