Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Oops, I did it again

Although several decades younger than most of those around him, Yuri Vassilyev, 33, was happy to admit to their common cause: a fondness for Joseph Stalin, the dictator whose purges are blamed by Western historians for the deaths of up to 20 million Soviet citizens.

"Look, everyone makes mistakes," Mr Vassilyev said. "Stalin wasn't a saint, but he was a great man who built up a strong state.

"After years of lies about him, the truth is coming out. We owe a lot to him. He turned the Soviet Union into a superpower that was feared and respected. A man like Stalin is what Russia needs now."

Increasing numbers of Mr Vassilyev's countrymen are taking a similarly sepia-tinged view of the dictator in the run-up to May's 60th anniversary of his finest moment, the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Once dismissed as the rabid opinions of a few eccentrics and elderly nostalgics, statements glorifying Stalin can now be heard among those born long after his death in 1953.

At least three Russian cities have announced plans to erect monuments marking his war record – almost half a century since they were torn down in a program of de-Stalinisation initiated by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev.

A recent poll found that 50per cent of Russians consider Stalin a "wise leader", while one in four say they would vote for him if he were standing for office today...

Another, Generalissimus, claims fewer than 2.5 million were killed during the more than two decades of Stalin's rule, and only on the orders of his political rivals.

The tone was set at a ceremony in December marking the 125th anniversary of Stalin's birth. Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of parliament and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, admitted "the deaths Stalin had ordered did not make him look good" but praised him "as a leader who had done much for his nation".

Mikhail Gorbachev, who as Soviet leader from 1985-91 did much to demolish Stalin's legacy, declared himself "shocked" by such an assessment.

But such views are finding an appreciative audience among poverty-stricken Russians disillusioned by market reforms and Western values.

Seasoned Russia-watchers are worried by the latest bout of revisionism. British historian Norman Davies, author of Europe: A History, said people were falling into a propaganda trap of which Stalin would have been proud.

"The war is the only good thing the Russians have to report after 75 years of communism," he said. "It's the only source of self-respect left. I don't think you can expect the Russians to be objective about their history. It's a weapon. It's about not feeling humiliated about the collapse of communism."

Unlike in Germany, where the struggle to come to terms with Hitler's legacy still haunts public debate, in Russia there has never been a clean break with the evils of the past.

This may be one of the scariest articles i have read in a long time. What's worse, propaganda saying that Stalin was great or propaganada saying that what they are experiancing is a real market economy?

Whole thing here, but i basically included all of it.

[Hat Tip: FND]

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In Moscow, August 1942, Stalin told Churchill that "tens of millions of peasants have been dealt with." Ten million more were transported to Siberia and Central Asia; of these, one-third went into concentration camps, one-third went into internal exile, and one-third were executed or died in transit. The remaining peasants were not allowed passports, to prevent them from fleeing their feudal serfdom. Any change of domicile without official permission was punished by imprisonment. Ten million peasants died from "purely man-made famine" when Russian peasants burnt their grain rather than allow the Soviet government to expropriate it for exportation. The feudal rigidity of the system was not relaxed until the 1970s.

During the Great Terror, Stalin ordered the execution of one million members of the Party. Nothing of this is in doubt: Stalin's signature is appended to lists, from 1937-1939, bearing the names of 44,000 people. Approximately 10% of Russia's vast population passed through Stalin's penitential machinery during those years. The torture chambers rivaled the brutalities that Hitler instituted in his workcamps and deathcamps.

Ahhh said...

"Than Stalin I have never met a man more candid, fair and honest."
--H.G.Wells

"Stalin is a good-natured man of principle."
--Pablo Neruda

"Whereas in Britain, a man enters prison a human being and emerges a criminal type, in Soviet Russia he enters a criminal type and would come out an ordinary man but for the difficulty of inducing him to come out at all. As far as I could make out they can stay as long as they like."
--George Bernard Shaw

"It is unthinkable that Stalin could have sentenced his friends to death unless the proofs of guilt were overwhelming."
--Walter Duranty,The New York TImes

Anonymous said...

How about Lillian Hellman & Dashiell Hammett, infamously slobby American lovers: the only real loyalty they possessed was for Stalin. As unregenerate Stalinists, they publicly endorsed the verdicts in the Moscow purge trials and never recanted their oft-stated belief that the Soviet Union under Stalin was, "the ideal democratic state."

marco said...

How about what the man said himself, "Death solves all problems - no man, no problem."

Anonymous said...

stalin killed 4million by gulags, 7.5million by famine, and such, this means he killwed, less people than the kaiser,