What Really Killed Joseph Stalin?

On March 5th, 1953, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin died in his country home near Kuntsevo.

And if you were looking for a satisfying explanation of the details surrounding his passing, that's as good a place as any to stop reading, because heads up, the rest of the story just sort of keeps getting weirder and weirder until eventually you're making your own hats out of metal colanders so that satellites can't smell your dreams.

Here are the facts, or in any case, here are the stories that come within spitting distance of the facts: After a long night of drinks and shenanigans with his subordinates, the second leader of the Soviet Union adjourned to his bedroom around five in the morning on March 1st and promptly suffered a massive stroke. Either out of fear or on orders not to disturb him (that part is sticky) Stalin's staff didn't knock or enter his room all day. It took until 10:30 in the evening before someone thought "Joseph Stalin's been awfully quiet this evening" and peeked their head through the door to find him on the floor, still in his jammies, steeping in a pool of his own urine.

Stallin' the callin' of doctors

Hypothetically, what do you do in this situation? Probably call a doctor, right? As fast as you can? Or wait until seven o'clock the next morning? Stalin's friends and employees went with the latter. Maybe it was due to Stalin's paranoia about medical professionals, which had recently led to his government rounding many of them up and putting them in prison to stem an alleged plot to overthrow the Soviet Union. Or maybe, and get your spaghetti strainer hats ready, it was part of their own power move to seize control of the country.

Whatever the case, when he was finally examined, Joseph Stalin was partially paralyzed, largely unresponsive, and had blood pressure so high that you could technically have used his arteries as bike tire tubes. Sticking leeches behind his ears apparently didn't fix anything. By the end of the business day on March 5th, Stalin was out.

Straightforward enough, sure. But then, according to Smithsonian, it was discovered in 2013 that aspects of Uncle Joe's death were left out of the medical report. Shortly before his passing, Stalin apparently vomited blood. What caused this? One possible explanation is that someone slipped him blood thinners to ease him on his way across that Marxist rainbow bridge.

We'll probably never know for certain what killed Joseph Stalin, or whether he could've been saved by quicker medical attention. All we know for sure is that he went out the way we hope to go: in pee pee jammies.