March 01, 1998

Why Should I Love Boris Nikolayevich?



Walking down a long Moscow metro corridor after a late night working on Russian Life, I spotted a Muscovite in her late 50s selling a newspaper called Za Rodinu, Za Stalina  (For the Homeland, For Stalin). This phrase caught my eye because it is laced with historical meaning — it was the battle cry of Soviet soldiers attacking the Nazis during WWII. What further piqued my interest was an article in the paper by one such WWII veteran, A. G. Soboleva. Its title was “Why I Love Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin.” It was written forty-five years after Stalin’s death ...

Veteran Soboleva’s letter sounded sincere. And I — certainly no Stalinist — was forced to admit that some of her arguments gave food for thought: (1) Under Stalin, Russia was a force to be reckoned with in the world; even Churchill admitted that “Stalin received Russia with a wooden plow and left her fitted out with nuclear weapons.” (2) “The soldiers were dying with Stalin’s name on their lips. With whose name on their lips will our soldiers attack the enemy now?”

No matter how charismatic and great a leader Stalin — “father of the people” — is claimed to be by his present day apologists, one cannot avoid the simple fact that he was a paranoic criminal. Fathers of the people don’t send millions of their “children” to the camps or execute them in prison cellars. To say nothing of controlling every conceivable aspect of social, economic and political life. (Stalin even wrote an article on the “issue of linguistics”; even my harmless Survival Russian column would have been a ticket to the camps 45 years ago...)


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