Skip to comments.The Devil Comes Back From Georgia (Stalin's resurgence in Russia - God help us!)
Posted on 02/28/2006 9:47:56 AM PST by neverdem
Stalin's resurgence in Russia
Two events last week starkly illustrate the dilemmas of countries grappling with a terrible past. In Austria, Holocaust denier David Irving received a three-year jail sentence for his public assertions that the Nazis did not carry out a systematic extermination of the Jews during World War II. Meanwhile, in Russia, as the country marked the 50th anniversary of its official turn away from Stalinism under Nikita Khrushchev, many people regard the late dictator's legacy as mostly positiveand a new museum celebrating that legacy is about to open.
Irving's sentence reflects Europe's hard-line approach to its Nazi past. Laws prohibiting Holocaust denial and pro-Nazi propaganda are stringent in Germany and Austria, the countries most directly implicated in Nazi crimes against humanity; but they exist in many other countries on the European continent as well. Such laws are troubling to most Americans.
To some, the issue is not clear-cut. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that "while Irving's rants would not have led to legal action in the United States, it is important that we recognize and respect Austria's commitment to fighting Holocaust denial...as part of its historic responsibility to its Nazi past."
While I have no sympathy for Irving (who, faced with jail, tried to weasel out of his position with the ludicrous claim that new evidence has led him to believe people were slaughtered at Auschwitz after all), I still think that the law used against him is a bad idea. The state of Austria can own up to its responsibility to its past without criminalizing even the worst of speech. In the United States, even without legal sanctions, Holocaust denial is effectively marginalized by public opinion.
Meanwhile, the criminalization of Holocaust denial may perversely strengthen the hand of the deniers, leading some to argue that the defenders of Holocaust history must have little confidence in their facts if they feel they must silence challengers. Historian Deborah Lipstadt is concerned that the jail sentence could give Irving publicity and martyrdom instead of the obscurity he deserves.
On to Russia, where from the early 1930s until his death in 1953 Stalin slaughtered his own people on a Holocaust-like scale. It is estimated that at least 20 million died. The extermination was not as systematically deliberate as the Nazis', but the victims, in the end, were just as dead.
Fifty years ago at a secret Communist Party meeting, Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, gave a speech denouncing Stalin's "personality cult" and the repressions under his rule. This speech began the process of the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, Most political prisoners were released, and many of the dead posthumously exonerated. Yet neither the Soviet Union nor, in later years, post-Soviet Russia fully repudiated Stalin, or fully came to terms with his crimes. In recent years, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been advocating a more positive view of the country's Soviet past. Cities have erected monuments to Stalin.
A Stalin museum is scheduled to open in March in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad.
Polls show that 30 to 40 percent of Russians now regard Stalin's role in history as mostly "positive," crediting him with turning the Soviet Union into a superpower and defeating Hitler.
Compared with this amnesia about state crimes against humanity, the German experience is certainly a good modelwhatever one thinks of Germany's Holocaust denial laws. Sadly, amnesia about the crimes of communism is common in the West as well; historians who have downplayed and minimized those crimes, such as Miami University of Ohio historian Robert W. Thurston (who argues that there was no "mass terror...extensive fear did not exist...[and] Stalin was not guilty of mass first-degree murder"), have not been ostracized the way David Irving has been for a long time.
The resurgence of the Stalin cult in Russia shows the danger of such amnesia. Holocaust denial and Gulag denial should be finally seen as the twin evils they are.
Cathy Young is a Reason contributing editor. This column originally appeared in the Boston Globe.
I lived through those years. I know quite a few who did.
They supported the corporate fascist state. I see it happening here and it is revolting.
How do you say No NAIS in Japanese?
See info added to thread also.
By the way, it is rather a myth that Ms.Rice speaks Russian. When she was in Moscow, journalists felt very enthusiastic about it and tried to speak in Russian to her several times, but she looked confused and needed interpreter's help every time. In the end she managed saying couple of common words. She definitely coudn't speak or understand Russian, may be she can read a little bit.
Probably, she studed the language long time ago but likely never used/exercised afterwards.
It is not that it changes anything in an attidute towards her, it's just interesting fact.
Well, a lot of folks in this country are still worshipping someone who's been dead for 2000 years +/-.
Is that a comparison of Stalin to Jesus Christ????
They, each staring in his time, placed pretty similar claims on what could be poetically called human souls. Thus a comparison is both warranted, illustrative and necessary.
"You kill one man and it is a tragedy; you kill a million men and it is merely a statistic."
Thanks for the toon! How did you find it?
I'm not saying every teenager is running around Moscow wearing CCCP clothing, but I've heard that their is throwback clothing and shirts that sports CCCP being sold right now.
But I'm sure there are many Russians whos wouldn't be caught dead wearing a jacket or any clothing with CCCP on.
A few weeks ago, I was over at a friends house and she turned on "Dancing with the Stars". Jerry Rice's dancing partner was a Russian bombshell, named Anna Trebunskaya, and she was wearing a white workout shirt with CCCP in big red letters when they were practicing.
Then again, this could be just a trend for dancing primadonnas with few braincells to speak off. :)
Not really. Just an observation.
Various estimated of Soviet deaths under Stalin:
Soviet Union, Stalin's regime (1924-53): 20 000 000
There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to the number who died at Stalin's hands. There's the "Why doesn't anyone realize that communism is the absolutely worst thing ever to hit the human race, without exception, even worse than both world wars, the slave trade and bubonic plague all put together?" school, and there's the "Come on, stop exaggerating.
The truth is horrifying enough without you pulling numbers out of thin air" school. The two schools are generally associated with the right and left wings of the political spectrum, and they often accuse each other of being blinded by prejudice, stubbornly refusing to admit the truth, and maybe even having a hidden agenda. Also, both sides claim that recent access to former Soviet archives has proven that their side is right.
Here are a few illustrative estimates from the Big Numbers school:
Adler, N., Victims of Soviet Terror, 1993 cites these:
Rummel, 1990: 61,911,000 democides in the USSR 1917-87, of which 51,755,000 occurred during the Stalin years.
Chistyakovoy, V. (Neva, no.10): 20 million killed during the 1930s.
Dyadkin, I.G. (Demograficheskaya statistika neyestestvennoy smertnosti v SSSR 1918-1956 ): 56 to 62 million "unnatural deaths" for the USSR overall, with 34 to 49 million under Stalin.
Gold, John.: 50-60 million.
Davies, Norman (Europe A History, 1998): c. 50 million killed 1924-53, excluding WW2 war losses. This would divide (more or less) into 33M pre-war and 17M after 1939.
I would not be surprised if such things sell better here than in Russia.
Thanks for the link. Twentieth Century Hemoclysm bookmarked!
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