Stalin in an off-record photo captured by his bodyguard Vlasik

Vlasik's off-the-record photographs of Stalin caused a sensation in the early 1960s, when an enterprising Soviet journalist excited some people, selling them to newspapers and magazines around the world. This picture shows how human this "monster" was, like Hitler smiling with his German Shepherd or with his crazy companions.

How was Stalin in personal life? According to eyewitnesses, he liked billiards, liked to play games with children, flirted with co-workers' wives, had a lot of alcohol, had a banana weakness.

He was an avid gardener, proud of his roses and lemons. He loved to screen John Ford Westerns and especially the movie "It Happened One Night". And when he wanted to charm, he would be charmed. When Stalin spelled a word incorrectly, everyone who spoke after him took great care not to make the same mistake.

Even his sense of humor smelled of torture. He turned his colleagues into fearful toddy, then amused himself by ridiculing their eagerness to please. And later during the Great Terror of the 1930s he found it amusing that people often under torture admitted to crimes they could not commit.

Sebag Montefiore tells an anti-Stalin joke: the leader loses his trademark pipe, complains about losing it, then finds it under a couch. "It's impossible! Three people have already confessed to the crime!" says Lavrenty Beria, the head of the police force and the chief liquidator. What makes it more funny than a joke is that Stalin liked to tell.

Starting in 1931, Vlasik was the head of Stalin's personal security service in the Kremlin. He also became, in short, a member of the family. But this did not save him from Stalin's purge in connection with the 1952 doctors conspiracy. After Stalin's death in 1953, he was released from a Gulag.

In the memoirs of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Allilueva, she portrays Vlasik as "uneducated, foolish, rude and extremely impudent autocrat". As he said he was so corrupt with authority, that "he began to dictate the tastes of art workers and the arts, Com. Stalin", and "...the figures listened to and obeyed their councils. Big No festive concerts in the theater or in the halls of Georgia took place without Vlasik's approval.

In his memoirs, Vlasik wrote: “I was deeply offended by Stalin. For 25 years of doing an outstanding job, receiving nothing but incentives and rewards, I was thrown out of the party and thrown in jail. For the sake of my infinite loyalty, he subjected me to my enemies. But anytime, for any minute of the situation I was in, whatever mockery I was made of while in prison, was there any hatred in my soul for Stalin.

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