Joseph Stalin was essentially the Littlefinger of world history. The Soviet dictator was a two-faced machinator who turned on and/or exiled his friends, and generally made life miserable and confusing for everyone. Also like Littlefinger, he kept his enemies close to him -- and made sure they spent most of their time spectacularly drunk.
German Federal Archive
"Next, comrades, we touch tips."
Having secured office through a lot of scheme-hatchery and emotional blackmail, Stalin was forever on the lookout for karma's inevitable bid to bite him in the ass by sending out another guy just like him to infiltrate his circle of advisors. Not one to hedge on a bet, he did the simple thing and forced everyone around him to get blackout drunk, because it's really, really hard to plan a coup when regularly getting alcohol poisoning becomes part of your job description. Consequently, being sent to a gulag was only slightly worse than getting called to dinner at Stalin's house. Future Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev described meals peppered with vomiting and terror, where comrades/rivals were encouraged by Stalin to set themselves against one another "to [strengthen our] baser inclinations" (and to keep them from doing it to him, of course). The festivities routinely lasted until dawn, at which point everyone still had to go into the office the next day. So if they weren't falling-down-drunk, they were plagued with insomnia and the mother(land) of all hangovers.
This kind of diplomacy wasn't reserved only for his own ministers, either. Foreign dignitaries got the same treatment (that's communism for you). It didn't matter if you were a Nazi delegation or Winston Churchill; you couldn't leave Stalin's dacha without having gone on a horrible bender ... unless, of course, you were Stalin. He famously tricked a swarm of Nazis into getting wasted on bad vodka while making them believe he was simply the Superman of liver functionality, when in fact he was only drinking a light wine which happened to be the same color. He later cemented relations that would destroy said Nazis by getting loaded with Churchill at 1 a.m. in the Kremlin.
Joseph "doesn't trust any of you sons of bitches" Stalin.
Another regular fixture at these parties was bullying the shit out of Khrushchev. He was good at staying out of the way whenever Stalin was in a "Let's throw more people into Siberian death-jail" mood, but was apparently terrible at avoiding embarrassing pranks. Stalin himself once tapped his pipe out on Khrushchev's bald head, and then made him drink and dance like a pledge in Hell Week. It was not uncommon to see "prick" attached to the back of his coat, courtesy of the Chief of the KGB, or for him to find ripe tomatoes being used as whoopee cushions in his chair. The Kremlin had a distinctly slapstick sense of humor, which makes sense when everyone is too drunk to think of anything more complicated than "Let's all gang up on Nikitushka and see if we can make him cry!"
They couldn't, by the way. Khrushchev cared way less about his pride than he did about not getting murdered by Stalin, so he showed up night after night to get hammered and ridiculed. "As awful as these sessions were," his biographers would go on to say, "it was better to be there than not, better to be humiliated than annihilated." We're assuming that pun was unintentional.
When they aren't spending their time dishing out vigilante justice and cheap puns, Marina and Adam can found on Twitter.
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