The height of Joseph Stalin is often open to conjecture and looking into this question in greater detail will usually lead to a range of conflicting results. Reports vary between heights of 5 foot 4 and 5 foot 6 and a half inches so what was the true stature of the infamous Soviet leader?
A diminutive presence
Its probably fair to say that in contrast to how Stalin would have wanted to be portrayed, he was of below average height and above average weight. There is no documentary evidence with regards to his exact height and if there is such documentation, it hasnt been made public.
Many who met Stalin in their lifetime were said to have been shocked by his diminutive, real-life presence and Harry S Trumans personal physician Wallace H Graham was one man who was surprised at the Soviet leaders stature.
“Before I met him, I had thought he was a large man, Graham is quoted as saying. I thought he would be a great big huge person, but no, he wasn’t at all. He and Hitler were about the same height, approximately five feet, eight. I saw Hitler many, many times, and Goering and Goebbels. Stalin was a broad fellow, with a very heavily pock-marked face”
With Graham judging Stalin as a full two inches taller than most estimates, he could have simply been mistaken or he could have been duped by the man himself.
Those that knew Stalin were aware that he did not want to be portrayed to anyone in this way and he went to great lengths in convincing his people and those from other countries that he was much taller.
One of the reasons why Wallace H Graham may have felt that Stalin was 5 foot 8 could have been down to the leader wearing special elevated shoes. Even a basic platform heal could increase a mans height by a couple of inches and although there are no confirmed stories that Stalin resorted to this, its a commonly held belief. Maybe he even used his heritage in this respect, (his father and grandfather were both shoemakers) to decide which shoes would have been most useful.
Statues and Monuments
Another clue as to how Stalin wished to be portrayed came in the form of the many statues that he had commissioned in his lifetime. It is claimed that he wanted to be shown as being the same height as the lofty Tsar Alexander III who was believed to be around 6 foot 4 inches tall.
All of these actions rather go against Stalins own claims and in particular, a quote remembered by Nikita Krushchev in which it was said that the leader wanted to be remembered for possessing, “the extraordinary modesty, characteristic of truly great people.”
As for an official version of Stalins height, general acceptance today puts this in the region of 5 foot 6.