Technological and scientific advances rose rapidly during the late 19th and early 20th century, prompting a worldwide interest in all the new - and sometimes very strange - possibilities science had to offer. Humanzees, man-ape hybrid soldiers, presented one such possibility.
This was the age of steel, the railroad, the factory system, and even eugenics. But before Europe fully moved towards extreme nationalism and surprising figures campaigned for breeding a master race, a lone Russian scientist who had successfully crossbred a variety of mammals - including zebras and donkeys - got the idea to try and breed humans with apes. But his name was not Josef Stalin; it was Ilya Ivanov, and he was exploring the human-ape hybrid possibility long before Stalin ever succeeded in politics.
Over the years, and thanks to articles published by creationist organizations, Ivanov's weird experiments were conflated with Stalin, who supposedly asked scientists to breed a race of man-ape hybrid soldiers who would be super strong and serve in an enormous Soviet army. Such plans were never on Stalin's radar; indeed, such a fighting force was never even of interest to Ivanov. All he wanted to do was prove the creation of a humanzee was possible.
The real story of how Ivanov managed to secure a small amount of funding from the Soviet government to conduct artificial insemination experiments on both humans and chimpanzees is far more intriguing than the rumors - but just as despicable.
Josef Stalin is an easy mark upon which to place blame for a multitude of evils because - in many cases - he actually was guilty. But the suggestion that he encouraged, funded, or otherwise directed a project to create a hybrid race of human-ape people who would serve as super warriors in the Soviet Army is not only patently absurd, but also false.
Certainly, the scientific advances of the 19th and early 20th century proved fertile ground for even the wildest, most unethical experiments and programs. One only has to consider the corruption of eugenics to understand that the scientifically learned and the politically and financially powerful people of the world were keen to use "science" to further subjugate and control populations. The creation of ape-men, however, wasn't even on the Soviet radar. It was 20th century creationists who began promoting the false story as a means of strengthening their arguments against evolution.
Creationist publications based their claims of Stalin's culpability on a single journal article written by Russian scientist, Kirill Rossiianov. Since academic journals are typically peer-reviewed, the source seemed legitimate, until one read the original article and realized Rossiianov was writing about the earlier Russian scientist, Ilya Ivanov, who had indeed conducted - or attempted to conduct - some experiments on artificially inseminating female chimpanzees with human sperm, as well as inseminating human women with chimpanzee sperm.
Stalin's name, influence, or approval are nowhere to be found in the Ivanov case or the Rossiianov article. It is quite likely that Stalin either knew nothing about it or read about it in the newspapers, just like everyone else.
Ilya Ivanov was a highly respected scientist with a keen dedication to the wild and wonderful new world of scientific possibilities brought on at the turn of the 20th century. Despite - or perhaps because of - his passion, Ivanov didn't necessarily ask if something should be done, even if it was technically possible. So, he had a bit of a problem with ethics.
Most of his career was spent working with livestock to improve horse breeding, however, and he became known across the world for his studies and successes with artificial insemination. Indeed, he was able to produce hybrids in livestock, including a zebra/donkey mix known as the "zeedonk."
Moreover, anyone who thinks Soviet leadership convinced Ivanov to explore the possibilities of human-ape hybrids needs to look further back in Ivanov's past, since he was talking, writing, and lecturing about a possible human-ape crossbreed as early as 1910.
During the years following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Ivanov thought the time might be right to approach the new regime for funding. This was not to develop super-warriors, however, but to conduct general artificial insemination procedures similar to those he had already done; though, of course, this time it would be far more controversial since humans were involved. But he didn't gain much support, and none of it came from Stalin.
In 1924, the Soviet government, specifically the Soviet Financial Commission, along with approval from the Soviet Academy of Sciences, awarded Ivanov the equivalent of $10,000 to explore the human-ape hybrid possibilities. So prestigious was the event, famed scientist Ivan Pavlov was present for the occasion.