Streetwise Professor

May 21, 2009

He Who Controls the Past

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:54 pm

A constant of Russian history has been the effort of the state to control history.  Dmitri Medvedev’s creation of a commission to counter “the falsification of history at the expense of the interests of Russia” is merely the latest endeavor to control the present and future by controlling the narrative of the past.  

This effort is patently illiberal, and as clear an indication as any of the vast gulf that separates the Russian worldview from the Anglo-American-European one.  Not to say that history is never hijacked for political purposes in the US or Europe or Canada, but in none is the power of the state explicitly enlisted to enforce an official historical view, and history is not seen as an instrument of state power and policy:

In a signal that the Kremlin is continuing its assertive foreign policy despite Russia’s weakening economy, Mr. Medvedev, in a decree made public Tuesday, ordered the commission to investigate and counter falsified versions of history that damage Russia’s “international prestige.”

Mr. Medvedev empowered the commission—comprising senior military, government and intelligence officials—to launch inquiries, unearth historical documents, and call government and expert witnesses, as well as formulate possible policy responses for the president to consider.

The ruling United Russia party also has proposed a draft law that would mandate jail terms of three to five years for anyone in the former Soviet Union convicted of rehabilitating Nazism. Analysts say they expect it to become law, though it will only be enforceable in Russia.

Although there is clearly a domestic agenda here, the main thrust seems to be directed at enemies in the near abroad.  Russia has been involved in intense squabbles over history with Poland (Katyn), Estonia (The Bronze Soldier/Tomb of the Unknown Rapist), Ukraine (Holomodor).  In that context, the following is of great interest:

He said grants would be given to pro-Russian historians in other countries to ensure their voices were heard. “We have to choose which history textbooks are telling the truth and which are lying,” he said.

In other words, this is largely an influence operation.  

A couple of things jump out at me when considering this:

  • Russia is clearly identifying itself as the proud successor of the Soviet Union.  Soviet history is Russian history, and a good thing to boot.
  • The Russian government is trying to equate opposition to Soviet occupation and oppression post-WWII with “rehabilitation of Naziism.”  This is deeply dishonest and manipulative.  Both Nazi oppression and Soviet oppression were crimes of epic dimension.  Asserting that Soviet opposition to Naziism justifies that regime’s actions, and absolves it for its crimes, is wrong.  It is incomplete, misleading history.  Moreover, this “truth” commission will forestall any examination of the USSR’s deep culpability in supporting Hitler before 22 June, 1941.  The USSR needs to answer for not only its own crimes, but for some of Nazi Germany’s as well.  

Russia does not need a commission to whitewash Soviet crimes.  It needs a commission to reckon honestly with the Soviet past.  My guess: not in my lifetime, and I’m not that old.

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39 Comments »

  1. So you finally agree that Russia controls the future? 😉

    On a more serious note, you completely misinterpret the situation as usual. Nobody is seeking to “rehabilitate” Stalin; what is sought for is a balance between recognizing the achievements made under him, while acknowledging the abuses of power. This is an essential antidote to 15 years of liberast dominance whose main goal was ideological (to smear the Soviet Union and glorify “democracy”), rather than historical. I am actually currently doing a translation on the infamous chapter from the “Stalinist” textbook the Western MSM loves talking about so much, I hope to have it up in one or two days and will throw you the link.

    Re-there is no official view of history in Western countries. Lol. Which is why you have court historians like Niall Ferguson to glamorize the British Empire (and rationalize neocon imperialism) and why Anglo-Saxon officialdom continues pushing the myth of Soviet-Nazi moral equivalence down the world’s throats.

    Re-Soviet cooperation with Germany. Munich ’38.

    I’ll pass over your despicable besmirching of the heroes who died so as to save the world, including degenerate quackacademics, from Nazism.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 22, 2009 @ 1:41 am

  2. If Russians wanted to save the world from Nazism, they probably shouldn’t have made a secret deal authorizing him to wipe out Western Europe as along as he would share his conquest of Eastern Europe with them.

    Perhaps we should institute a similar measure here in the United States, and send Sublime Moron to jail for five years because of his inane drivel attempting to rewrite Western history? It’s an interesting idea . . .

    But any actual human being, as distinct from the degenerate Russophile rubbish panting like rabid dogs on this blog, would probably see that since the attempt to regulate history in the USSR was followed by its total collapse, and preceded by the murder of more Russians than were killed by Hitler, it might possibly not be a good idea. In fact, such a person might think anyone who advises otherwise simply wants to see Russia destroyed in the same way.

    BTW, SWP: I wouldn’t allow this apelike piece of filth to refer to you as a “degenerate.” He’s worn out his welcome and should be banned for attempting to seize control of your blog like a terrorist.

    Comment by La Russophobe — May 22, 2009 @ 5:56 am

  3. S-O:

    Get a clue. If you can’t tell tell the difference between Niall Ferguson (now at a US university, BTW) and what Medvedev is doing you’re hopeless. And yes, there is no official view. Go to the bookstore sometime. Spend a while in the history section. Or come to my house. Look at my library.

    Re balance. Let’s see. Just exactly how do you balance the murder of 10s of millions of your own people, plus culpability in the deaths of 10s of millions more? Including, I might add, millions of those heroes you mentioned who died because of the war that the Soviet establishment did so much to bring on, and their criminal incompetence in waging it especially in 1941-1942. The USSR survived to prevail eventually because of Hitler’s generalship and the incredible sacrifice of the Soviet servicemen and women.

    Re “acknowledging the abuses of power.” I really have to call bullshit on that, son. The only thing that Putin and others have condemned Stalin for is the 1937 purge of the party. In other words, you can kill as many untermenschen as you want, just don’t kill the party elite.

    And if there’s one way to make me know that your are arguing extremely dishonestly, it is to twist my condemnations of the Soviet regime into a besmirching of the poor bastards who bled and died at the front. That said, it is still true that these same poor bastards did commit rape and pillage on a large scale. Facts are facts. You have to look at all of them. You seem to want to take some Manichean view of history, which is childish. And that’s why Medvedev’s initiative is childish (in an ominous way); it is about hagiography, not history.

    And this is not about 1941, in reality. It is all about 1945 and the years that followed.

    Re quackademics. . . I actually have more academic accomplishments than you could even dream of achieving. “Degenerate quackademic”–well, that rolls off me like, well, water off a duck’s back (quack, quack) LOL–because I consider the source.

    Son, I learned a long time ago if you’re going to talk smack like that you better be able to back it up. Maybe someday. But not today.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 22, 2009 @ 9:50 am

  4. How about going away for good, S. O., really, we are all sick of you landing here with your inane and offensive nonsense.

    It’s time for you to find another playground.

    Comment by penny — May 22, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  5. Considering the myths SWP continues to propagate (and deny the existence of them as myths). For instance, the Soviet Communism as responsible for tens of millions of deaths spiel (in reality maximum 10mn, and probably well below that). And accusing the USSR of “bringing on” the war is laughable, considering how France / Britain rejected Soviet entreaties to join in an alliance against Germany to support Czechoslovakia (hence the reference to Munich). Also ignores the fact that no nation prior to 1941-42 knew how to respond to the new German operational methods of encirclement and combined arms. The myth that it was Hitler’s generalship that lost the Wehrmacht the war… please. All this does say quite a lot about your home library, however.

    Re-acknowledgement. Russia already acknowledged (and profusely apologized) from late 1980’s to late 1990’s, I don’t see why one-sided condemnation should continue indefinitely. Only condemned Stalin for the “purge of the party”? What? The purges were hardly limited to party workers.

    Quite frankly it is your view of history that is Manichean. Nazis bad. Soviets equally bad. Allies good.

    And this is precisely why this commission was created, I believe. Because of increasing anti-Soviet propaganda of this type, which is conducted for ideological reasons. To create an antithesis to the thesis, so to speak – a bit like DR, in that sense.

    You besmirched them by labeling the unknown soldier as a rapist, implying that the general Red Army soldier was the drunken rapacious beast of post-war German propaganda (which was later taken up by the US). As such I stick by the “degenerate” description. And really the ridiculous one-sidedness of your views serve to cast some doubt on the real value of your academic credentials, whatever they might be.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 22, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  6. PS. Yes, and as a matter of fact I totally don’t mind being banned. If he can’t take the heat, couldn’t care less.

    And in other news the demographic pessimists continue being confounded.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 22, 2009 @ 11:26 am

  7. Read the Black Book of Communism, and get back to me

    Heat? Don’t make me laugh.

    And don’t worry about getting banned. That would deprive me of the opportunity to watch you make an ass of yourself, and make clear the pretzel logic that latter-day fellow travelers must deploy in order to defend Putin/Medvedev/Stalin/USSR/Russia.

    Re Unknown Rapist. That is how the statue was/is routinely referred to in Estonia. I used that description to describe the “intense squabble” b/t Estonia and Russia. That’s a fair statement of one side of the debate. Note I also referred to it as the “Bronze Soldier” which is the way that the issue is framed on the other side.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 22, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  8. S-O:

    More evidence of your dishonesty on these issues. You say: ” Russia already acknowledged (and profusely apologized) from late 1980’s to late 1990’s, I don’t see why one-sided condemnation should continue indefinitely.” It is clear that my criticism of Russia’s hitting the reset button on history relates to the Putin-era, starting in the late 1990s, and especially from the mid-2000s on. And rehabilitation of mass murderers, and rationalization of their myriad crimes, is hardly a proper way to redress any alleged “one sided condemnation.” And is the state theft of hard drives containing evidence about these crimes from Memorial a legitimate way to redress one-sidedness? Furthermore, the 1937 purge was a purge of the Party. Putin has made it quite clear that his condemnation of the 37 purge relates primarily to its victims in the Party.

    And I say alleged quite deliberately, I remember the 80s and 90s vividly. How old were you? And one thing I don’t remember (and my memory is scary, believe me) is any outpouring of mea culpas from Russia about the Soviet past. There were tenuous moves to acknowledge the past. The contrast between Germany and Russia is quite striking.

    Re operational methods. Are you suggesting that anyone in his right mind, post France-1940, would think it rational to mass right on the border, with massive ammo and supply dumps hard on the front lines? No, that was criminally stupid. Unless, as has been suggested by Victor Suvorov, Stalin was planning his own assault but Hitler beat him to the punch. Also criminally stupid–dismissing completely British warnings about an impending attack.

    Re bringing on the war. Ever heard of the Molotov-Ribbentropp pact? Think that was completely immaterial to the coming of WWII? Moreover, the invasion of the Low Countries and France was fueled by Soviet oil and fed by Soviet grain. No, Soviet complicity was not a sufficient condition, but it arguably was a necessary one for the War.

    Re Czechoslovakia. Yeah, the Russians were so trustworthy.

    Re 10 million. That’s 1.6 Holocausts. Not bad enough for you? I’ve mentioned before that your callous attitude towards mass death is highly disturbing. You squeal like a stuck pig at the accusation. But you provide evidence in support of it again and again.

    You don’t know jack about my home library, so I suggest you STFU about things you know nothing about.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 22, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  9. Who is this idiot,Sublime, does anyone know? Could he think for himself and not repeat the idiotic propaganda of Putler and Co.?

    Comment by voroBey — May 22, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

  10. Now you’ve gone and done it, Professor, no signed advanced copy of the coming blockbuster “Green Communism” for you!

    Hey, S. O., your idiocy is tolerable up to the point when it crosses into sociopathic games playing. Anyone minimizing or excusing the death of millions isn’t a nice guy. That’s my problem with you. Sociopaths have a habit of miscalculating when they push the envelope which usually result is prison time or p*ssing people off.

    And, I don’t see you being “banned” as it appears the Professor is committed to First Amendment principles, nice hyperbole on your part though. Your fate is more like the site pest that decent people vacillate between ignoring and smacking down.

    I’d find a more friendly playground if I was you.

    Comment by penny — May 22, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

  11. Not much time atm so I’ll reply briefly to some select points.

    1) I don’t seek to “rehabilitate” Stalin (neither does the Russian government for that matter). And I don’t see what is gained from fantasizing up astronomic body counts for Soviet Communism (I’ve seen “estimates” of up to 62mn) and passing over the real achievements of Stalinist industrialization, when the reality according to the archives (700,000 executed, around 2mn deaths in the Gulag and 3.5-5mn deaths in the collectivization famines – and it is still a subject of debate even in Western academia as to the extent that famine constituted democide, let alone genocide) is bad enough.

    Incidentally, I happen to believe it is this relentless and pointless smearing of Stalin that partially contributes to his high current popularity amongst Russians.

    I also don’t see how pointing these things out qualifies as being “callous”, or “minimizing or excusing the death of millions”. That said, I proudly plead guilty to SWP’s charge of “rationalization of their myriad crimes”. Indeed I think history should be looked at rationally, in the sense that the situation should not be misrepresented and that emphasis should be put on analyzing causes and effects, rather than hyperbole and self-righteous “moral” condemnation.

    2) I’ve heard of the Black Book of Communism but haven’t bothered acquainting myself with it because of the amount of criticism directed against it portraying it as an ideological rather than historical work. Even the name kind of makes it suspect. And life is short. But if you insist I’ll have a look at it, meanwhile you could dig yourself into the Black Book of Capitalism.

    3) Re-Memorial. Investigation found unlawful by Russian court and materials returned. http://seansrussiablog.org/2009/05/07/memorials-winchesters-returned/comment-page-1/

    4) Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact can’t be viewed in isolation from Munich, snide comments on Russian trustworthiness regardless. Stalin got the distinct (and actually quite accurate) idea that the West wanted to play off Germany against him.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 22, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

  12. I’ve seen “estimates” of up to 62mn) and passing over the real achievements of Stalinist industrialization…..

    Hey, S. O., you really need some help with boundaries as in mentally learning when to STOP. Possibly 62 million innocent souls sent to mass graves and whatever bridge or dam Stalin built with slave labor only an idiot would credit him with.

    Get a life and get some ethics. You are disgusting.

    Comment by penny — May 22, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

  13. @penny,

    Try to improve your reading comprehension. I quoted the 62mn figure as an example of anti-Communist absurdism. It is demographically implausible.

    @SWP,

    Re-condemnation. “is any outpouring of mea culpas from Russia about the Soviet past”. In that case I can only assume your memory is very selective. Here’s just one example (of many – I don’t bother to keep track, of course) that I found through random Googling: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/76400/limit

    “When President Yeltsin visited the Czech Republic in 1993 he was not speaking just for himself, he was speaking for the Russian Federation and for the Russian people. Today, not only do we respect all agreements signed previously – we also share all the evaluations that were made at the beginning of the 1990s…I must tell you with absolute frankness – we do not, of course, bear any legal responsibility. But the moral responsibility is there, of course.”

    Putin called it a “tragedy” on his visit there.

    And finally, there’s also the question of why Russia should strive to be like Germany at all, when Germany is pretty exceptional (at least from around 1970-2000). Britain doesn’t indulge in constant apologies about the British Empire, despite the number of clusterf-s it left behind. Japan, which ran an extremely brutal empire in WW2, practically doesn’t talk about it at all. Turkey actually criminalizes talking of an Armenian genocide. You are again singling Russia out like a fanatical Russophobe.

    Re-operational methods. Again, repetition of simple, outdated myths. Encirclements were inevitable because the German Panzer divisions were quicker than Soviet rifle divisions, and stopping them was hopeless (no country had managed that before, and it was not until 1943 that the Soviets first managed to contain a German armored assault). The idea rather was to launch constant counter-offensives to blunt and divert the overall German attack, which though a failure at tactical and operational levels succeeded at the strategic level.

    Ignored British warnings? Why should British warnings have been given much credence, when Soviet intelligence reports on German preparations for assault were so contradictory? (Germany mounted a good disinformation campaign). Remember that Stalin believed, quite rightly, that the West would love nothing better than to have Germany and the USSR destroy each other.

    Suvorov? Lol, please. Your credibility has taken yet a further blow.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 23, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  14. S-O/DR or whatever:

    “passing over the real achievements of Stalinist industrialization, when the reality according to the archives (700,000 executed, around 2mn deaths in the Gulag and 3.5-5mn deaths in the collectivization famines – and it is still a subject of debate even in Western academia as to the extent that famine constituted democide, let alone genocide) is bad enough.” Forced industrialization built on the corpses of millions is no achievement. I see you are from the truly Stalinist “to make an omelette it is necessary to break some eggs” school of ethics. Not to mention that you are parroting that neo-Stalinist tome you are translating. From your body count, you also omit millions killed in the Red Terror, the Civil War and its aftermath–something for which Lenin, Dzerzhinsky, Trotsky, Latsis, and the rest of the Bolsheviks are primarily, if not exclusively, responsible.

    All in all, though, you seem to take another Stalinist attitude: “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”

    Re “subject of debate even in Western academia”–not much of one, to be honest.

    And wouldn’t all of this be so much easier to resolve if Russia threw open the Soviet archives? Wonder why that is. (And isn’t that essentially what began this discussion in the first place?)

    Re smearing of Stalin contributing to his popularity in Russia. Truth=smear. Very Orwellian. And, so much the worse for Russians, and another illustration of their unresolved complexes (too many to list).

    Stalin, you might note, was also (a) quite fearful of the British and French until the Germans attacked in 41, (b) was quite happy to see the Western powers go to war in 1939, and (c) arguably was working to that very end. That is, who was playing the Germans off whom? Would Hitler have dared to invade West in 1940 if he hadn’t secured his rear by his deal with Stalin? There are two interpretations of what happened. Either Stalin was quite happy to be an ally with Hitler (some evidence for this), or he was a fool for trusting Hitler. Either way, his complicity was essential for the War to begin, to expand–and to nearly cause the destruction of his own country.

    Also note that you elide over any discussion of Soviet economic support for Nazis post Molotov-Ribbentropp.

    I never said that the Russians never acknowledged the crimes of the Soviet era. There are individual Russians who did so, and Yeltsin did so on some occasions. And on a visit to CZ, well, to do anything else would be unpardonable given what transpired in 1948 and 1968. But it is clear that there was never a thoroughgoing, honest reckoning with the past. And that’s true in spades today. Again apropos the whole subject of the post which generated these comments.

    Re operational methods. No doubt the Germans were operationally superior to any army in the world in 1940-1941. But, 22 June 1941 is 13 months after May, 1940. And in the interim, German prowess had been demonstrated in the Balkans and North Africa. Yet Stalin and the Soviet high command STILL positioned their troops in a way that was most vulnerable to German methods. That is incompetence.

    And there is an independent data point on Russian operational prowess at this time: Finland, 1940. A series of Soviet blunders against a tiny, outgunned, and outmanned force led to massive casualties.

    Here’s my assessment: the results of 1941 derived from a lethal combination of German operational skill, Russian operational weakness, and a near fatal error by Stalin in positioning his forces.

    Glantz in his numerous books on the Eastern Front arrives at a similar conclusion.

    Re singling out. For some bizarre reason, I take an interest in Russia. Go figure. And, putting Russia in the company of Turkey, and its shameful treatment of the Armenian genocide, is hardly a compliment to those whom you express such ardent admiration. And if you don’t think that the Empire has not been subjected to scathing treatment by myriad British historians, as well as many politicians (going back to Gladstone, if not earlier), your education is lacking. Similarly, there has been a longstanding criticism of American imperialism, treatment of Native Americans, etc. The contrast between the degree of self-criticism in Russia on the one hand and most Western nations is starkly obvious.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 23, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

  15. My question is this – which “falsified version” of history would Medvedev be countering?

    Russia itself has falsified history countless times, and on a huge scale.

    The altered photos, and even movies, where people mysteriously disappeared, or, in Stalin’s case, appeared as Stalin (Stalin said after one movie showing him heroically arriving somewhere – “I wish I had been there”) are well known.

    Rasha has not opened its archives, for example, in the case of the Holodomor records, so that scholars and historians have free access to them.

    Orlando Figues points out, among many others, the many journalists who were hired to tout the exploits of Stalin and Russia, while ignoring the forced labor and death costs.

    As pointed out in this article, “Russia’s past is unpredictable.”

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Medvedevs_Terrifying_Order/1736554.html

    Comment by elmer — May 24, 2009 @ 10:56 am

  16. SWP, your point that the government should not be controlling, inventing, or falsifying or whitewashing history is taken up in the article linked to below, in which the author points out:

    – in Russia, facts are not necessarily facts

    – Medvedev’s commission smacks of the Ideological Commission of the sovok era

    – the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

    – the 1951 “Falsifiers of History” handbook

    – that the Russian Constitution bans state ideology

    – that there were 3 wars, stemming from the fact that Stalin and his army were woefully incompetent and unprepared, and drained resources from the civilian sector

    – that there is no escaping the Stalinist past of Russia

    http://www.rferl.org/content/On_Useful_And_Harmful_Falsifications/1738506.html

    Comment by elmer — May 24, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  17. 1. “Not to mention that you are parroting that neo-Stalinist tome you are translating.”

    Lol. I’m not parroting it (I haven’t even read it beyond the two controversial chapters, i.e. the Stalin one and the contemporary one). Most of the arguments I’m making aren’t even included there, which makes the claim that it is “neo-Stalinist” laughable. Why don’t you f-ing read it?

    2. Stalinist industrialization was largely independent of political repression. And no, I don’t see where I am espousing a ““to make an omelette it is necessary to break some eggs” school of ethics”. I am making historical clarifications and questioning why the entire Soviet or even Stalinist legacy must be condemned because of their (unsavory) political repressions. The US had a brutal slavery system until 1865 but that doesn’t stop us from lauding the progressive actions and ideas of the Founding Fathers, most of whom happened to be slave-owners themselves. It is becoming fashionable to laud the achievements of the British Empire (led by aforementioned N. Ferguson), despite the fact that their attitudes to the Victorian-era Indian famines and the Irish Famine were eerily similar to that of the USSR during the Holodomor. Now if the rest of the world’s nation’s were to constantly apologize for their histories and refused to use Russia’s history against it for political reasons, I’d be totally cool with leaving Russian history to the historians. Since that is patently not the case and crypto-fascists like yourself use it as an info-weapon, I support the work of Medvedev’s Commission (though I nonetheless disagree with the criminalization law).

    3. “From your body count, you also omit millions killed in the Red Terror…” That’s because we’re discussing Stalinism.

    4. “Also note that you elide over any discussion of Soviet economic support for Nazis post Molotov-Ribbentropp.”

    Which proves I am not a “neo-Stalinist propagandist”. That was pretty dumb in hindsight since those strategic stocks were later used against the Soviet Union.

    5. “And on a visit to CZ, well, to do anything else would be unpardonable given what transpired in 1948 and 1968. But it is clear that there was never a thoroughgoing, honest reckoning with the past. And that’s true in spades today.”

    I wouldn’t have, because as a Russian (who was born well after 1968) I don’t see myself in any way responsible and wouldn’t want the President apologizing for me. And I disagree – I think the reckoning with the past was very thoroughgoing starting from the mid 1990’s.

    6. Re-Soviet arms. I agree that the Red Army was woefully unprepared for a real war in 1941. I’m aware of the (common) arguments for its errors in positioning, but I hold to the view its defense choices were limited. Like all armies it had no experience or idea of how to defend against German armored assaults, and though costly and tactically disastrous its policy of constant counter-attacks were a strategic victory by distorting and dissipating Barbarossa. It should be also noted that the bulk of encirclements took closer to the Russian heartlands (from Minsk / Kiev on), not on the Polish border as such; and providing some level of resistance by that point was necessary at that stage if the USSR wanted to buy enough time for Rasputitsa to set in.

    7. Re-singling out. Actually I think Turkey is quite a lot worse than what Russia is doing because the Armenian killings would almost certainly be genocide, whereas Soviet victory in WW2 is definitely true (as is the Holocaust).

    I’m aware of the history debates in the US and UK, thank you. But there is a key difference. With the exception of a few folks like Zinn or Mike David who are pretty thoroughgoing in their condemnation of the entire history of the US / the British Empire, most historians argue from reality and pepper their interpretations with varying degrees of criticism. Translated to the US, what you are in effect arguing re-Russia is to replace all American textbooks with the likes of The People’s History of the US and extracts from Chomsky.

    PS. Just as you find my social liberalism / Russian patriotism unfathomable, I find your neoconservatism / Russian liberasm equally amusing.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 24, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

  18. “I support the work of Medvedev’s Commission”

    That is precisely the point – government writing history books to suit its own power aims.

    Russia has had a consistent pattern of falsifying history, under government tutelage.

    And pushing propaganda out to the West with its own version of history.

    Including that it was solely “Russia” that won WWII.

    And that people throughout Europe “welcomed” and preferred the jack boots of the Sovok thugs on their necks, as opposed to the jack boots of the Nazis.

    The truth is that throughout Europe, today, people don’t want Nazi jack boots or Russian jack boots anywhere.

    The problem is that Rasha still pushes the propaganda of “sphere of influence” and “near abroad” and “Stalin was Georgian” to try to justify that, oh, yes, people are pleading for Rasha’s jack boots to step on their necks.

    Germany came to terms with its past. Russia hasn’t – obviously, because there is a Medvedev commission re-inventing the past, falsifying the past, as is the custom and habit in Russia.

    Europe is no longer fighting WWII.

    Russia is still re-inventing and re-fighting WWII, as a means toward continued subjugation of Russians, and as many others as it can
    fool.

    So – which false history is Medvedev going to “un-falsify”?

    “Russia’s past is unpredictable.”

    And –

    In Rasha, facts are not facts.

    Comment by elmer — May 24, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  19. S/O-DR-

    1. I’ve seen several of the arguments you made (esp. re Stalinist industrialization) in excerpts of the textbook.

    2. There is no way that Stalinist industrialization was independent of political repression. Collectivization–the acme of repression–was an essential component of industrialization. Collectivization was effectively a taxation scheme, designed to extract as much resources from the peasants as possible, for export to pay for machinery, and to feed an urban labor force necessary to industrialize. I also suggest you read Mancur Olsen’s analysis of the economics of Stalinism (in his “Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships”) to get a better understanding of how repression was an essential part of the incentive mechanism by which surplus was extracted from workers in order to fund state investment projects. Lastly, many of the Gulag projects were directly related to industrialization. For instance, Kolyma–to obtain gold to help fund the industrialization. The White Sea canal, the vast hydro projects. There were of course multiple objectives here, but they were part and parcel of the industrialization drive.

    Industrialization and repression were complementary. The industrialization would not have been possible without it. Impossible.

    3. I was discussing the USSR, not Stalinism exclusively.

    4. Incomprehensible. I take your inability to make a coherent response as a concession of the point.

    5. There is a difference between apologizing (which implies personal responsibility) and acknowledging/judging. The reckoning began in the 1990s. Began. It was hardly widespread. And the point is–the backsliding began under Putin, and has accelerated since. The Medvedev commission is just another step towards a denial of the past, and the substitution of a crypto-Soviet official version. This refusal to condemn, and what is worse, at times to celebrate, the Soviet legacy, raises serious concerns about the mindset and motivations of the current leadership.

    6. Defense options were well known. The Anglo-French armies made a critical error by advancing to the Dyle and making themselves vulnerable to an encircling maneuver through the Ardennes. Stalin effectively did the same thing by massing near the border. It was necessary to trade space for time. Space was what the USSR had in abundance. Hell, a lot of the space wasn’t even Soviet–it was Polish. This was a classic Russian stratagem–used against both Charles XII and Napoleon.

    You also exaggerate the novelty of German operational art. Ironically, given your earlier comments, you basically bought into the Guderian/Manstein/Liddell-Hart/J.F.C. Fuller interpretation; all involving a major element of self-promotion (with Liddell-Hart and Fuller wanting to convince the world that the Germans adopted the strategies and tactics that they had advocated from 1917 through the 1930s). You should read John Mosier’s The Blitzkrieg Myth for an alternative view (although it has its weaknesses too). The German Army was still inordinately dependent on horse transport and foot slogging infantry. The proportion of mechanized troops in the Wehrmacht was very small. Against such an army, trading space, defending in depth, was the appropriate method. Eventually the Soviets learned this, and implemented it at Kursk in 1943. Sure, the Russian Army was different then, but so was the German. Russia almost surely would have escaped the myriad disasters of 1941 had it utilized the classic methods available to a defender of a vast area.

    There’s an old expression: amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics. The German army faced daunting logistical difficulties as a horse-and-foot powered army trying to invade an immense land. The Soviets defended in a way that greatly ameliorated the German’s logistical vulnerability, and maximized the effectiveness of their limited armor and mechanized forces.

    7. Yes. There is a difference. In Russia there is an attempt to promote an officially acceptable view of the past to serve the interests of the state. There is no such effort in the West. Period.

    I am not arguing at all that Russia replace all textbooks with knee jerk, Chomskyesque anti-Russian screeds. Myriad logical fallacies in your argument here. False dichotomy. Straw man. And also completely off point. The key issue addressed in my post is methodological. How should history be done? My criticism is of the state being the ultimate arbiter of historical truth, backed with threats of prosecution and incarceration, and using history for state ends.

    Re your P.S. I am not a neoconservative. And your contrast of “Russian patriotism” and “Russian libera[l]ism” is quite illuminating. Quite. You insinuate that Russian liberals are not patriots. This seems to bring us back to what originally brought you to SWP–the definition of what constitutes Russophobia and Russophilia. The various earlier incarnations of what you characterize Russian patriotism are exactly what has brought upon Russia immense suffering over centuries. Didn’t Michel refer to you as Sisyphus? Or was it me? Regardless, another illustration of your–and Russia’s–Sisyphus-like tendencies.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 24, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

  20. Arguments go on about interpreting who was the “bad guy” in history. But more importantly, and more effecting all of us today is: who is the “bad guy” TODAY? What country has been most noticed as aggressive, hostile to neighbors, imperialistic-sounding and chauvinistic in say just the past year??

    Japan?

    Germany?

    Britain?

    Let us guess.

    BTW, Did anyone hear what Putin said just yesterday (Sunday, May 24th) at a monestary in Moscow? Basically, it was that the Ukraine is ours and no one should interfere with that.

    Incredible.

    Comment by Ray — May 25, 2009 @ 5:01 am

  21. “Russia does not need a commission to whitewash Soviet crimes. It needs a commission to reckon honestly with the Soviet past.”

    Not only that! Russia also needs to reckon honestly with its PRESENT. The Kremlin now admits that Russia’s recession will be FOUR TIMES WORSE than it predicted just a few months ago, yet it does not take responsibility for its prior error or even remember it. Not even and “oops” do we get out of the Kremlin, and the year isn’t even half over yet. Heaven only knows what horror we shall see by December, but we won’t hear the truth about it from the Kremlin.

    In other words, Russia is no better dealing with its present than with its past. The only response its government can make to failure is to cover it up and kill its critics. That response destroyed the USSR, and it will destroy Russia just as surely.

    Comment by La Russophobe — May 25, 2009 @ 5:18 am

  22. Ray-

    Interesting re Putin’s remark in the monastery about Ukraine. Do you have a link?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 25, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  23. Ray–

    Found coverage of the story on WindowOnEurasia. Wow. Quoting Denikin re “big and little Russia.”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 25, 2009 @ 8:01 am

  24. SWP writes: “Industrialization and repression were complementary. The industrialization would not have been possible without it. Impossible.”

    You accurately hit the nail on the head. Russian industrialization during the 30s was made possible by slave labor. You have countless cases of how GULAG labor was used to build the industrial infrastructure. The railway to the northern city of Vorkuta was built on the bones of the dead, for example, because as the GULAG workers died building the railway their corpses were thrown in the fill under the tracks being laid. The coal mines being dug in the city of Vorkuta were being dug with GULAG labor. This is just one example, but if you look across the Soviet Union in this period, you will find countless examples of how GULAG labor was being used to push the drive to industrialization.

    Also, if you speak to those living on the collective and state farms and you will discover that they were in many ways not really better off than those working in the GULAGs. They will tell you how they worked every day without reprieve from sunup until sunset. They could not leave the collective farm and they were faced with punitive taxes: they had to pay for the “privilege” of having their own cow by providing a set amount of meat or milk to the state. If the calf died or the cow stopped producing milk, they still had to pay their taxes. In the winter, both men and women were often sent to work camps in the forest working under horrid conditions to cut down trees for timber. In other words, like those in the GULAG, they were used as free labor to produce what the state needed to industrialize.

    Comment by Michel — May 25, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  25. A few quick thoughts…

    I have read the Black Book of Communism and own it.

    No one in their right mind should get into the “who is less evil, Stalin or Hitler?” sweepstakes. They both were evil. Mao’s bodycount probably rivalled that of Hitler, with Stalin no. 3, but who is really counting historic Chinese deaths these days? And who cares about the failure to come to grips with Mao’s legacy in China either officially or unofficially so long as they keep lending the U.S. money? The enormous double standard vis a vis Russia and China is probably one of the biggest elephants in the room when it comes to Washington’s media and bureaucratic establishment. Sinophobia on the scale of the Russophobia that currently exists, whatever the intellectual justifications/rationalizations for it, would rightly be called racist and deterministic.

    I don’t think any nation in the world can be compared to Germany in terms of a thoroughgoing evaluation of its past. Definitely NOT Japan or Turkey. That said, there have been attempts in recent years to equate the Allied bombing campaign with Nazi atrocities, which have been rejected by most German historians. I think probably the most underappreciated book in the whole subject of German history in WWI-WWII was Fritz Fischer’s Griff Nach Der Weltmacht (The Grasp for World Power) which was published in the late 60s, and argued that German war aims in the First World War became in 1915-18 essentially what they were in WWII, minus the genocidal element.

    Professor, if you claim to adhere to the Western tradition, then one of the most basic principles is that we do not condemn people for the crimes of their parents or grandparents. I do not joke about the Tomb of the Unknown Estonian SS soldier or Ukrainian villager who volunteered to lead his Jewish neighbors to their deaths at Babi Yar. Why? Because those people by and large are dead, and we cannot judge a country today by what happened sixty years ago, and this “Stalinist-Nazi” argument between Russian and Baltic nationalists is useless and irrelevant to the present.

    I don’t believe in using the decades old (not recent) past, whether it is always officially acknowledged or not, as a stick to beat current governments and nations over the head with when it becomes ideologically convenient.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 25, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  26. But we do condemn people for the CONTINUATION of the crimes of their parents. And we are required to beat current governments and nations over the head when those governments and nations simply continue what was done in the past.

    Putin’s remards are hideous. Russian’s current actions to rehabilitate Stalin, and to try to re-build a Russian empire, for example, by invading Georgia, and by cutting off gas to Ukraine and Europe are mind-boggling and psychotic.

    Putin’s repeated remarks about how Ukraine is not really a nation, employing the oily Russian Orthodox Church this time for the purpose, are atrocious.

    In other words, Ukrainians and other non-Russians are supposed to love, appreciate and long for Putin’s and Russia’s jack boots to be on their throats. Complete with the Halloween costumes of the political appendage – the oily Russian Orthodox “church.”

    Here is the link and an excerpt:

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/05/window-on-eurasia-putin-praises-denikin.html

    According to Tikhon, Putin “recalled how he had read the memoirs of Denikin in which the latter said that despite his hostility to Soviet power, even to think about the dismemberment of Russia was a crime, … especially when one is talking about the Little Russian land – Ukraine” (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/Cabinet/m.151488.html).

    Comment by elmer — May 25, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  27. Here’s the differene, Ganske.

    Ukraine has a memorial to Babi Yar.

    Russia has Stalin’s green corpse still in the Kremlin, with icons of Stalin all over the place.

    Ukraine has opened up its archives.

    Russia has not (archives were opened up only partially, and then shut down again).

    There is freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Ukraine.

    No such thing in Russia, except to a rare and limited extent.

    Comment by elmer — May 25, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  28. Charles–

    You accuse me of things that I do not do. I do not condemn people for the actions of their forebears. That’s one reason I draw the distinction between an apology (which implies responsibility) and a reckoning/acknowledgement. But the failure to acknowledge, or reckon with, the actions of ones forebears is deeply troubling, and suggests at the very least a sympathy for such actions. This has consequences for the here and now. And it is particularly troublesome when those currently in power in a particular government, and not just fringe nationalist nutjobs, endorse–nay, embrace and celebrate–the actions, motivations, and justifications of mass murdering predecessors. That much of the Russian outrage over Eastern European treatments of history is directly related to the interpretation of USSR actions after the destruction of Nazi Germany is very troubling in light of myriad demonstrations of a resurgence of Russian imperial ambitions.

    Falkner once said something to the effect that in the South, the past isn’t even past. That’s true in spades with Russia, and given its past there is considerable room for concern. The Orwellian commission only feeds that concern.

    There’s also a lot of multiple-wrongs make a right “reasoning” ricocheting around here. Failures to come to grips with collaboration with the Nazis and the Holocaust among many Eastern Europeans is indeed troubling. But that does not justify Russia’s current campaign of revisionism endorsed by the state and backed by threats of criminal sanctions, especially inasmuch as there is clearly a geopolitical angle to the Russian use of history that is absent in Ukraine or the Baltics.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 25, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  29. If I look at the case of Canada, the state has apologized for the internment of Japanese-Canadians (and they did provide some financial compensation); the state has apologized to First Nations for the residential schools and has paid out large sums to compensate victims; the Canadian state has apologized for a number of other grievous past actions. Sure, injustices continue and some would say more should be done, but the Canadian state has nonetheless acknowledged past wrongs done by parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents.

    Comment by Michel — May 25, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  30. “Same goes for the political repressions / sabotage accusations in the 1936-38 period, which in the end had more of a paralyzing rather than enervating effect on industrial development, which explains why it was relaxed from around 1939.”

    I was enervated when I wrote this. I meant energizing, of course.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 25, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  31. “That is not the case with Russia, because falsifying the history of Stalinism / painting it in uniformly dark colors will be used by the West to reject its ideas on international relations and by the Near Abroad nations to oppress their Russian minorities, reject Russian cultural influence and become slaves of the West.”

    I actually did a double-take when I saw this.

    1) Is “falsifying the history of Stalinism” the same as “painting it in dark color”? Without a doubt – no.

    But it seems that our Kremlin/Stalin lover believes that the West is stupid, is unfamiliar with Stalin, has no idea of what Stalin did, AND if Russia finally fesses up to an accurate history and acknowledgment of Stalin’s crimes and terrors, that “the West” will “reject Russia’s ideas on international relations.”

    Is this kind of tripe even sane? What “ideas on international relations” does Russia even have except “empire,” and “defend oily orthodox moozer rasha”?

    2) The it is – the big Rashan whine. Estonia moves a Soviet monument = “oppression” of Russian minorities.

    Ukraine allows people to freely speak their language, and a significant number speak Russian in Ukraine = “oppression” of Russian minorities.

    Over and over and over again, Russians whine constantly about how they’re being “oppressed,” when what they are really whining about is that, with the sovok union gone, people no longer are forced to speak solely in Russian, and Russian no longer has its artificial “superior” status, as during the sovok union.

    3) Slaves of “the West” – there it is. How many times have I seen this? It’s “The World According to Russian Garp” – you are either a slave of Rasha, or a slave of (gasp) “the West.”

    Well, it’s true that people haven’t wanted to be slaves of Russia for a long, long time, and thank God they no longer are, with the downfall of the sovok union.

    But neither are they slaves of “the West” – except that it seems that pesky neo-sovok rhetoric and phraseology die hard.

    Comment by elmer — May 25, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  32. “there is clearly a geopolitical angle to the Russian use of history that is absent in Ukraine or the Baltics.” Professor, I can’t entirely agree with this statement, though I don’t have the time or inclination to go into a lengthy explanation as to why.

    As E. Wayne Merry pointed out in his New York Times op-ed last week (‘Reset’ is Not Enough) the hallmark of a Russophobic mindset is that it does not allow for reciprocity. That is, if Russia were seeking a military alliance with Mexico, a country that obviously has very close ties to the U.S. and millions of citizens in this country and millions more with ethnic ties, we’d be mad as hell. I predict your response will be that the U.S. is the more powerful country and we’re the liberal democracy, so we have the right to do it, while Russia is an authoritarian kleptocracy that has no right to meddle in our hemisphere. Nonetheless, however we view ourselves, it is not how we are viewed by others — and that is not some Commie idea, it’s the old school realism of George Schultz and others around Reagan.

    Someday soon when a shaky Pakistani government is overthrown and people like Bzerzinski say we should supply our boys in Afghanistan via Iran, you may want to start patching things up with Moscow. But by then it may be too late. I think it’s time for us to set our priorities right.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 25, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

  33. Ganske, you can’t see the geopolitical angle of the Russian use of history?

    Try this on for size: excerpt from AP news article about Pootler’s newly-found fascination with cemeteries –

    http://blog.kievukraine.info/2009/05/putin-warns-outsiders-over-ukraine.html

    Denikin, who died in exile in the United States in 1947, was reburied in 2005 in the cemetery Moscow’s historic Donskoy Monastery.

    Putin’s visit to his grave was a reflection of how the prime minister, a longtime KGB officer who was president from 2000-2008, has celebrated individuals and images from both the Soviet era and czarist times in a drive to instill pride in Russians.

    Comment by elmer — May 26, 2009 @ 8:54 am

  34. Ganske, let me give you another example, so that even a high-fallutin’ intellickchewall like you and your buddy, SO, can understand.

    http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/1016/42/377426.htm

    Excerpt:

    One of the first attacks in this new ideological campaign was the revision of teaching manuals to correct passages in textbooks that had tarnished the country’s “glorious past.” Schoolchildren were told that Soviet leader Josef Stalin was an “effective manager” whose mass murders, forced hunger and state terror were “justified.”

    Medvedev’s latest move, on May 19, was the creation of a presidential commission “for counteracting attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests.” This opens the door to deprive Russians the freedom to know the truth about their own history. Now, state bureaucrats will decide which interpretation of history should be considered “falsified” and which is “true.”

    Playing with history is frightfully familiar. Under Stalin, the regime’s mistakes and crimes were whitewashed or completely expunged from the public record.

    During Leonid Brezhnev’s years, history books were revised to turn a relatively small military operation in 1943 at Cape Myskhako, near Novorossiisk, into a epochal battle of Stalingrad-like proportions. The Cape Myskhako battle became the subject of Brezhnev’s bombastic autobiographical novel, “Malaya Zemlya,” which was an attempt to inflate Brezhnev’s role in World War II and to help improve his public image.

    Now, it seems that the Kremlin is determined to distort global affairs and rewrite history to fit the Kremlin’s paranoid worldview. It will be filled with enemies and Russophobes, plots and secret operations against Russia requiring that the new dictator mobilize all of his forces in the fight against internal and external enemies.

    Vladimir Ryzhkov, a State Duma deputy from 1993 to 2007, hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy

    Comment by elmer — May 26, 2009 @ 9:20 am

  35. Charles–

    There was a Navy CPO I knew who said, with typical Chief bluntness: “If frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump along on their asses.” IF Russia formed an alliance with Mexico. That’s not happening, so it’s about as relevant as conjecturing about the locomotion of winged frogs.

    And why not? Because, despite a history of “So close to the US, so far from God,” Mexico feels no need to seek protection against the US.

    Now, ask yourself why the Baltics and Ukraine and Georgia are so intent on getting protection from Russia. As I’ve said more times than I care to count, like the Czechs and Poles and Hungarians before them, the Balts, Ukrainians and Georgians are actively seeking US/NATO protection. From Russia. Just why is that? If you can’t answer that question honestly, there is not point in carrying on this discussion.

    Indeed, the E. Europeans and the FSRs are far more interested in the US than the US is interested in them, to be quite honest. US/NATO/EU expansion into this area is not part of some grand imperialist scheme. Contra Dugin, the US is not some modern-day Athens extending its imperial influence, its empire of tribute, over a reluctant Eastern Europe. We are not uninvited guests. Indeed, the invitations are frequent and quite intense. The imbalance of desire is quite palpable. That is very, very revealing.

    And just who courts Russia in the Western Hemisphere? Chavez. And little Danny Ortega. That tells you all you should need to know.

    Apropos your hypothesis of “mad as hell”, well we have a ready-made test that rejects it: compare the US reaction to Russia playing footsie with Chavez (even during the Bush administration) to Russian histrionics over Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltics. Well, you can’t, because there is no comparison. Despite the fact that Chavez has made it quite clear that he is intent on creating an anti-US movement in the Americas, whereas in contrast the Balts, Georgians, and Ukrainians continually disavow any anti-Russian intentions, stating merely that they want to preserve their own autonomy and speed their integration into the world economy. They objectively threaten Russian interests only to the extent that Russia defines its interests as requiring it to have control over its former possessions. And that is truly the rub, because Russia does define its interests that way. That, in turn, is why the potential for any kind of deal is non-existent.

    In sum. Reciprocity: You must be kidding.

    And realism. More kidding. Self-styled “realists” are typically unrealistic. Brezinski is a moron. I stopped listening to him in 1978. And that was too late. These “realists” constantly indulge in these fantasies of grand geopolitical bargains. And, although you invoke Reagan’s name (in typical Ganske style), you have to know that Reagan constantly fought against the realists, and would do so today. He fought against the realists because he understood that their grand bargain proposals were fantastic because they were (a) unenforceable, particularly given the nature of the Soviet regime, and (b) they were immoral, again given the nature of the Soviet regime.

    “Realism” has a core insight that is useful, namely that interests are a key driver of national behavior. But given the immense transactions costs of making and enforcing bargains that mutually advance interests, its recommendations are typically quite unrealistic. In the end, it appeals largely to people who played too much Risk in college, and confused the game for reality.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 26, 2009 @ 11:15 am

  36. […] the Soviet Union invaded Poland in September 1939.) They were held captive at the monastery He Who Controls the Past – streetwiseprofessor.com 05/22/2009 A constant of Russian history has been the effort of the state […]

    Pingback by Ладушки.Net » Blog Archive » Posts about Russia as of 26/05/2009 — May 26, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  37. SWP, the way I heard it was:

    “If frogs had wings, they wouldn’t whomp their ass each time they jumped.”

    Either way, makes the point.

    Comment by elmer — May 28, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  38. Translation: The Case of the “Stalinist” Textbook

    Ever since the publication of Filippov’s (in)famous textbook A History of Russia 1945-2006 in 2007, the state of Russian history teaching drew a fair degree of negative commentary in the West, some of it reasonably lucid, most of it superficial or hysterical. What the latter have in common is that they almost invariably haven’t read the actual, controversial chapter in question (Debates about Stalin’s Role in History), let alone the textbook itself, and as such can do little more than spout inane rhetoric about the imminent “rehabilitation” of Stalinism. As such I thought it fitting to do what the pundits should have done long ago, but couldn’t be bothered to – actually translate the chapter in question so that Anglophone readers could make up their own minds. Now that I’ve done so (scroll below), and bearing in mind the recent furor over Medvedev’s commission to battle the falsification of Russian history, I would like to make several comments of my own.

    ———–

    TRANSLATION: Alexander Filippov on ‘Debates about Stalin’s Role’ in A New History of Russia 1945-2006

    Information for reflection
    Debates about Stalin’s Role in history1

    Iosif Vissarianovich Stalin (Jughashvili) remains one of the most polarizing figures in the politics and history of our country; it is difficult to find another personality in Russian history who is subjected to so many contradictory interpretations, both during his rule and after. For some, he is the hero and orchestrator of Victory in the Great Patriotic War; to others, he is the embodiment of evil itself.

    One of the most famous views on the historical significance of Stalin was held by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War Two, a man hardly known for his pro-Stalin sentiments: “Stalin came to Russia with a wooden plough and left in it possession of nuclear weapons”. The other point of view is represented by Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, the son of a major participant in the 1917 Revolution and Civil War who was repressed under Stalin: “bloody tyrant”.

    During Stalin’s life the first view predominated; after his death the second became conventional wisdom, primarily because of revelations about the Stalin’s organizational role in the political repressions of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Evaluating Stalin’s historical significance requires looking at him in a wider historical context, beyond just the chronological framework of the Soviet period. This approach reveals many similarities between Stalin’s policies and those of preceding Russian sovereigns…

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 28, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  39. Oh, give me a break.

    Hitler left Germany in possession of V2 rockets.

    And concentration camps.

    Stalin left Russia, and the rest of the sovok union, in possession of gulags.

    Stupid rooskies screamed all over the Internet in connection with the Holodomor (death by starvation) in Ukraine – “it wasn’t us, blame Georgia, Stalin was Georgian”

    Now, stalin, a psychotic killer if there ever was one is – “controversial.”

    And “royal” to boot – oh, gee whiz, look at how he is similar to preceding Russian sovereigns.

    Yeah, like Ivan the Terrible, and Catherine the Murderess.

    Stalin is “controversial” only for stupid moronic rooskies and useful idiots.

    Comment by elmer — May 28, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

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