Original Photograph of Stalin at 18th Soviet Congress, 1939

The Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: съезд КПСС) was the gathering of the delegates of the Communist Party and its predecessors. According to the party statute, it was the supreme ruling body of the entire Communist Party. Between the congresses the party was ruled by the Central Committee. Over the course of the party's history, the name was changed in accordance with the current name of the party at the time. The frequency of party congresses varied with the meetings being annual events in the 1920s while no congress was held at all between 1939 and 1952. After the death of Joseph Stalin, the congresses were held every five years. This official photograph, which hung in Soviet government offices, shows Stalin with the delegates to the 1939 congress, the first held following the "Great Purge" of 1938.  By the time this meeting was held, Stalin had already ordered the deaths of Leon Trotsky, founder of the Red Army, all of Lenin's Politburo, a quarter of Soviet senior military officers, 1,108 of the 1,996 delegates to the 17th Party Congress, 90% of Soviet Ambassadors, and two secret police chiefs. In addition he had signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. In the photographStalin is seated between Foreign Minister Molotov and Marshal of the Soviet Union Klimenti Voroshilov. Others seen in the front row include Andrei Zhdanov, Nikita Kruschev, Lazar Kaganovich, Georgi Molotov, and Stalin's "favorite peasant", Mikhail Kalinin.

Front Row: Kalinin, Voroshilov, Stalin, Molotov  Zhdanov

Khruschev and Malenkov, both of who would succeed Stalin after his death in 1953.

Molotov & Von Ribbentrip Sign 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact As Stalin Looks On