From: Sputnik, 12/21/2015 (http://sputniknews.com/politics/20151221/1032079238/why-west-still-reveres-joseph-stalin.html)
by Ekaterina Blinova
There is no doubt that Joseph Stalin was a world class politician, Joseph Hancock, a member of the Party of Communists USA, noted in an exclusive interview with Sputnik; although the Soviet leader was presented as a “backward peasant” by the Western press, Stalin used this to his advantage, Hancock remarked.
On December 21, 1879 Joseph Dzhugashvili, the future Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, was born in the small town of Gori in the Tiflis Governorate (modern Georgia) of the Russian Empire.
Remarkably, Stalin, who had been at the helm of the USSR from the mid-1920s to 1953, still attracts a lot of interest from his supporters and antagonists not only in Russia but also in the West.
Why do Western people, particularly Americans, either criticize Stalin or pay their respect to the prominent Soviet politician?
There are many reasons why Joseph Stalin is the subject of heated debate among Americans.
“Uncle Joe” and the Second World War
“Firstly, Americans know that he is our ‘Uncle Joe,’ because of his friendship with President Roosevelt and their collaboration in defeating the Nazis in WWII. The interest exists because there is a mystique about Stalin. Americans are fascinated by it. Perhaps it is his name, translated to mean, ‘the man of Steel.’ A super hero. Mostly the interest in Stalin comes from the quote by former General and US President Eisenhower that ‘the Soviets will be destroyed in six weeks.’ Of course that did not happen,” Joseph Hancock, a member of Politburo and Central Committee of the Party of Communists USA, elaborated.
However, due to the Cold War propaganda campaign and the rise of the Trotskyist movement Western media sources and US scholars even went so far as to compare Joseph Stalin to Adolf Hitler, the infamous Nazi leader, according to the American political activist.
“Then the question arises, ‘if Stalin was such an evil man, why did all the workers and peasants fight under him to win WWII?” Joseph Hancock asked rhetorically.
“As for the ‘great terror’ or Yezhovshchina we understand that most of this occurred without Stalin’s knowledge, and was carried out in the Moscow oblast by Nikita Khrushchev and those First Secretaries of the CPSU for their own personal reasons… It is our understanding that Stalin and [Lavrentiy] Beria were responsible for bringing the ‘great terror’ to an end,” the American political activist noted.
The “Yezhovshchina” (dubbed after Nikolay Yezhov, the NKVD chief) was the period of the “great terror” of 1937-38 in the Soviet Union. Yezhov organized a series of severe repressions against the Soviet people. In 1939 the infamous NKVD chief was executed for atrocities and anti-government conspiracy.
US soldiers congratulating Soviet officers on the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
According to Hancock, one the most the most controversial political decisions and maneuvers of Stalin’s was the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact inked between the USSR and Nazi Germany on August 23, 1939. It should be noted that the Kremlin’s decision to conclude such a deal with Germany was made after major European powers, most notably Britain and France, signed similar non-aggression agreements with Adolf Hitler.
“This agreement was not well understood by left wing people in the United States. They felt betrayed knowing that the agreement had been signed, but without that agreement, nothing would have been prepared when it came time for the USSR to fight against the fascist menace,” he stressed.
“Signed before Soviet Union was attacked on June 22, 1941, this non-aggression agreement gave the USSR time to set up its defenses and to build necessary weaponry. One of the greatest inventions of the war was the T-34 tank. Tractor factories were turned into T-34 manufacturing assembly lines,” Hancock explained.
Due to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which postponed the German advance against the USSR, the designers of the famous Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik warplane got an opportunity to finalize their work and bring the aircraft into production. By the time of the German Blitzkrieg 249 Russian ground-attack aircraft had already been built. During the Second World War Soviet factories produced almost 42,330 of the Il-2 and the Il-10 military jets.
“Stalin took nothing for granted. He signed the non-aggression pact knowing full well that the Nazis would break it… This is what Stalin was best known for, but there were many other critical political decisions that he made under the most difficult of conditions,” Hancock emphasized.
Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, seated, signs the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in Moscow, August 23, 1939, a few days before the outbreak of World War II.
A World Class Politician
“There is no doubt that Stalin was a world class politician,” the American political activist continued, “But like all communist leaders, he was never seen as such by the bourgeoisie that controlled the media. [Franklin D.] Roosevelt, [Harry S.] Truman, and [Winston] Churchill are seen as sophisticated, while Stalin is presented as a backward peasant. He used this to his advantage.”
Russian historians admit that the Anglo-Saxon nobility had many times dealt a severe blow to Russia’s geopolitical interests. Can we say that Joseph Stalin and his team had repeatedly outmaneuvered wily Western politicians?
“There is no doubt that Joseph Stalin outmaneuvered wily Western politicians, except in one instance,” Hancock told Sputnik.
“In the United Nations, the Soviet delegation walked out of the UN Security Council which allowed the United States to bring in UN Security Forces into the Korean conflict [25 June 1950 — 27 July 1953]. Had the Soviets stayed and argued a little longer, they could have prevented the UN Peace Keeping Forces from entering the conflict, and the North Korean forces could have maintained their position in Korea,” he narrated.
“As things turned out, the UN Peace Keeping forces and United States under the command of General Douglas MacArthur were able to push back the North Korean offensive to the 38th parallel where Korea remains divided to this day. Had the Soviets stayed at the UN Security Council, the situation would have turned out differently, possibly resulting in a united Communist Korea,” Hancock stressed.
‘Stalin’s Nuclear Initiative Was Very Smart’
But what about Stalin’s famous nuclear project? Did this initiative escalate further tensions in the post-WW2 world? Or had it preserved the balance of power in the world for decades?
“Stalin’s nuclear initiative was very smart,” the American political activist believes.
“He [Joseph Stalin] knew that the US was developing nuclear weapons with the help of former Nazi scientists and that the US used them two times on Japan when it was completely unnecessary. Japan was already defeated and prepared to surrender to the Red Army and Navy. So Stalin knew that he had to have parity. The Soviets always sought parity for self-defense. They never had a first strike policy,” he pointed out.
“As for increased tensions, the nuclear arms race actually reduced tensions in my opinion. As long as the USSR had parity with the USA, there would be no conflict,” Hancock stressed.
According to the member of the American Communist party, once the USSR was destroyed the US gained complete hegemony over the entire world and now remains an unchallenged superpower. The national liberation movement promoted by Lenin and Stalin has been thwarted.
“I only hope that Mr. Putin has enough political conviction and gumption to take on the United States and save the world from WWIII!” Hancock remarked.
“Western mainstream historians are still afraid of the return of communism and the USSR. They are still very much afraid of the return of Stalinism (read that Leninism) which is proletarian internationalism. They like things just fine the way that they are. They make millions of dollars writing what amounts to fantasies for television about the bad old Cold War,” the American political activist told Sputnik.
“We don’t bother to watch or read them anymore. We prefer to read the foreign press like RT that doesn’t get so involved in anti-Sovietism (anti-Stalinism). Most Americans are amazingly ignorant about world affairs. Occasionally, an old timer will surface that remembers what it was really like during Stalin’s time,” Joseph Hancock underscored.
A lot of controversy still surrounds the Stalin era and “there are as many opinions as there are experts” as Franklin D. Roosevelt used to say.
“I am not impartial about discussions of Stalin,” Joseph Hancock, a member of the Party of Communists USA, stressed in a conversation with Sputnik.
From: Business Insider, 12/18/2015 (http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-russia-opens-new-stalin-museums-grapples-with-his-legacy-2015-12?IR=T)
KHOROSHEVO, Russia (AP) — A bust of Josef Stalin stands on the front lawn of a house-turned-museum in this small village, where the Soviet leader is said to have stayed the night on his visit to the front during World War II.
Inside, the museum director, a sturdy woman armed with a wooden pointer, takes a group of preteen students around the two-room house where Stalin strategized with his generals in August 1943 as the Red Army battled to drive out the Nazi troops.
Scholars estimate that under Stalin more than 1 million people were executed in political purges. Millions more died of harsh labor and cruel treatment in the vast gulag prison camp system, mass starvation in Ukraine and southern Russia and deportations of ethnic minorities.
But as Russia faces isolation abroad and deepening economic troubles at home, retelling an abridged account of triumphs past has become increasingly fashionable. President Vladimir Putin frequently cites the Soviet victory in World War II — Stalin’s most touted achievement — in vowing to stand up to the West and defend Russia’s interests.
“Of course, we have started to look at Stalin in a more favorable light,” said Sergei Zaborovsky, a tour operator with the Military Historical Society. “Why now? Maybe it’s because the situation in the world isn’t the best. We need strength. We need something to unite us.”
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Stalin’s legacy was kept alive by the Communist Party, whose members carried his portrait to rallies, extolled his modernization policies and faithfully celebrated his birthday on Dec. 21. His real birth date is now believed to be Dec. 18, but the Communists will still wait until Monday to place flowers at his grave on Red Square. After Stalin’s death in 1953, his body was placed in the Lenin Mausoleum, but in 1961 it was moved to a graveyard behind it after his successor denounced Stalin’s cult of personality.
While the aging Communists are photogenic but largely ignored, their airbrushed version of Stalin has gone from fringe to increasingly mainstream. The number of Russians who say they have a negative view of Stalin has steadily declined, from 43 percent in 2001 to 20 percent today; a growing majority reports that they cannot properly judge the leader’s time in office.
Museums and busts honoring Stalin have been sprouting up around Russia with an increasing regularity, especially this year as the nation commemorates the 70th anniversary of victory in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War.
The museum in Khoroshevo, about a three-hour drive from Moscow, is among those opened this year in the Tver region by the Military Historical Society, which is under the direction of Russia’s culture minister. It is part of a “Path to Victory” tour, which also includes war monuments and a burned-out building destroyed during the war.
The museum focuses on Stalin’s military and economic triumphs. It does not mention any military shortcomings or any other negative aspect of the war or Stalin’s three decades in power.
The director of the Khoroshevo museum, Lydia Kozlova, responds curtly to the idea that the museum gives a one-sided impression to visitors. She is equally terse when discussing “Western” historical interpretations that write off Stalin as a dictator. “This is not a Stalin Museum,” she repeats throughout trip arrangements and throughout the tour.
“Stalin wasn’t an angel — far from it — but he looked after the safety of his citizens,” said Kozlova, surrounded by placards with the leader’s picture and glowing reviews of his military prowess. “The point of this museum is to guard our history, to protect the facts.”
Recasting Stalin as a great leader who made Machiavellian calculations is worrying at best, says Memorial, a Russian human rights organization that has gathered historical records about Soviet political repressions and works to perpetuate the memory of the victims.
Memorial has called for Stalin’s image to be banned. “Of course we don’t like that this museum was opened,” said Yelena Zhemkova, a historian with the organization.
While the Kremlin has shied away from either categorically condemning or condoning Stalin, there has been a crescendo in efforts to muzzle individuals, museums and non-government organizations that do not “properly” interpret history and to bring the historical narrative under government control.
Memorial this year was declared a “foreign agent,” a label that brings stigma and slows the group’s work. The respected Perm-36 gulag museum was also labeled a foreign agent earlier this year and was forced to close under pressure from local authorities who claimed the museum did not adequately show the flourishing cultural life in the labor camps. A new museum later reopened under the same Perm-36 name and with exhibits described as more “historically accurate.”
A large, state-run gulag museum opened in the center of Moscow on the eve of the Oct. 30 day of remembrance of the victims of political repressions. While Memorial takes this as a positive sign, “it is still government owned,” cautions Zhemkova. The museum exhibits avoid a critique of the Soviet system, but provide an accurate depiction of the gulag system.
A far-reaching de-Stalinization campaign is unlikely to take place anytime soon, says Lev Gudkov, the director of the independent Levada Center, who has conducted extensive polling on public perception of Stalin. Acknowledging that the Soviet system was criminal and that the entire Soviet system was criminal would lead to a “complete collapse of identity” for many Russians, Gudkov said. “They don’t deny what Stalin did, but they prefer to look at him as the majestic sovereign, rather than the controversial ruler.”
Leonid Kavtza, a history teacher at Gymnasium 1543 in Moscow, says Russians still harbor ideas of imperial greatness.
“They’re harkening back on something great that can never be recreated. Even when I was a young child under (Soviet leader Leonid) Brezhnev, I remember hearing ‘If only Stalin was here.’ If the director of the shop sold spoiled produce ‘If only Stalin was here,’ If there was a line at the clinic, ‘If only Stalin was here,'” Kavtza said. “But there was no such person who did this. They’re thinking of a mythical Stalin.”
And thus far, the federal history curriculum has done nothing to counter these assumptions of Stalin’s greatness. In the wake of the Kremlin’s hands-off approach toward Stalin and exaltation of World War II, a growing group of people have filled the silence with measured praise.
“It’s important not to forget those who helped create the peaceful environment we live in today,” Irina Mikhailova, who teaches at a school in Khoroshevo. “The Stalin museum is very important to us. We’re proud to have it here.”
In this Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 photo, a bust of Soviet leader Josef Stalin stands on the front lawn of a house-turned-museum in the village of Khoroshevo, west of Moscow, Russia. The Stalin museum was opened this year in this small village where the Soviet leader is said to have stayed the night on his visit to the front during World War II. The sign on the monument reads “Chairman of the State Defense Committee, Supreme Commander in Chief Josef Stalin.” (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
“Stalin’s Constitution will be 80 in 2016,” said Georgiy Kamenev, head of the Penza regional branch of the Communist Party, told local news website PenzaNews. “We have decided to celebrate the coming year as Stalin’s Year.”
He added: “This is necessary also because currently there are a lot of attacks on Stalin and on his period in Soviet history. Attack is the best defense. We will actively promote historical facts about this time and about Joseph Stalin’s personality.”
The politician also announced that in the coming year the city will see the opening of a Stalin Center, a museum and meeting place used for events from cinema screenings to public discussions. The events will include “Stalin’s Readings,” a large-scale conference attended by prominent researchers and journalists, scheduled for early March.
In its statement dedicated to the initiative, the press service of the Penza branch of the Communist Party noted that city residents had received the idea to immortalize Stalin with great enthusiasm. It also wrote that people in Penza were putting fresh flowers on Stalin’s monument “practically every day.”
The Communist Party often uses Stalin’s name and image to promote itself, and almost every time such steps are met with opposition from liberals, prompting heated discussions in the media.
In February 2015, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov appealed to President Vladimir Putin to rename the city of Volgograd as “Stalingrad,” and also to give Stalin’s name and a monument to a square in Moscow.
When a similar proposal was made in 2013, polls showed that 60 percent of Russians were against the renaming. Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said at the time that Kremlin officials had never considered renaming Volgograd as Stalingrad – and did not plan to put this issue on the agenda in the future.
The only concession made in 2013 was the decision of the Volgograd City legislature to have the city renamed as “Stalingrad” for just a few days each year – on the dates of major holidays and commemorative dates. On these days, regional officials and media are officially required to use the name “Stalingrad” in documents and reports.
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“On the contrary, defeat transformed Lenin into a spring of compressed energy which inspired his supporters for new battles and for future victory. I said that Lenin was defeated. But what sort of defeat was it? You had only to look at his opponents, the victors at the Stockholm Congress—Plekhanov, Axelrod, Martov and the rest. They had little of the appearance of real victors, for Lenin’s merciless criticism of Menshevism had not left one whole bone in their body, so to speak.”
J. Stalin, “Lenin: A Speech Delivered at a Memorial Meeting of the Kremlin Military School, January 28, 1924.” Works, Vol. 6, January-November, 1924, pp. 54-66.
The Stalin Society of North America affirms it’s solidarity with the working people and revolutionary and progressive forces of Venezuela.