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.
My pleasure. No one should ever forget what a monster Satlin was and Communism is.
Those who have not learned the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
Forgot to thank YOU for this good thread.
Thank you, Calpernia.
Some of that is the reason why this family goes to enormous lengths to purchase direct from those who raise the foods or to fund/foster the raising of it.
We know, by sad experience, that it is worthwhile.
Monsanto is a peeve, FDA more and USDA not much less.
From time to time, Ill ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list. Check out the link in comment 58 of this Reason thread.
Thanks for putting me on your list. I'm going to check out your links.
Putin I don't trust at all. Former KGB, sly and cunning.
The marines used to have a bunch of guys called RECON. Pretty elite in their own right. Wonder what happened to them?
Status: presently we have six full platoons.
A guy I used to work with was a RECON in Nam. He told me they would set up ambushes and kill 20 or so of the enemy in a matter of a few seconds.
He also told me of operations in Cambodia. On one trip, one of the guys in his outfit was attacked by a tiger during the night when most of them were sleeping. They killed the tiger.
His brother was also in Nam and had half of the cheek of his ass blown off by a captured .50 that went through a palm tree before it got him.
Great points, but I'm a numbers guy.
Rummel has the numbers.
Stalin was worse.
No less significant is the intellectual outlook of the rank and file in the communist and fascist movements in Germany before 1933. The relative ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or vice versa was well known, best of all to the propagandists of the two parties. The communists and Nazis clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties simply because they competed for the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic. Their practice showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy, the man with whom they had nothing in common, was the liberal of the old type. While to the Nazi the communist and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits made of the right timber, they both know that there can be no compromise between them and those who really believe in individual freedom.
Thanks for the pic and links.
Thanks for the ping.
It's too bad that Putin is not selling them anymore. He wants to keep the remaining Lenin and Stalin statues as "Historical Landmarks".
"(Numbers wise Stalin and Hitler about tie, and Mao beats them both)"
Wrong again... Stalin killed 20-30 million people.
I didn't think Jesus was dead.