#26 - JRL 2009-169 - JRL Home
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009
From: Patrick Armstrong <gpa@magma.ca>

HISTORY (AGAIN). We are seeing a spate of tendentious pieces trying to make out that “Russia’s traumatic history is being rewritten on a massive scale to rehabilitate Stalin”, to quote a recent example of the genre. They are usually based on misreports about a textbook (actually a teachers’ guide), Contemporary History of Russia 1945-2006: Book for Teachers. There is every indication that none of the writers has actually looked at the book itself. What the book is actually trying to do is not “rehabilitate” Stalin but create the background for a classroom discussion: “For some, he is the hero and orchestrator of Victory in the Great Patriotic War; to others, he is the embodiment of evil itself.” It quotes Winston Churchill (“Stalin came to Russia with a wooden plough and left in it possession of nuclear weapons”) and Antonov-Ovseyenko (“bloody tyrant”). On the one hand; on the other. It concludes: “On the one side, he is regarded as the most successful Soviet leader… But Stalin’s rule had another side… the ruthless exploitation of the population.” But don’t take my word for it: read it yourself (Eng Russ). And, which these writers will never tell you, the Education Ministry has just decreed that sections of the GULag Archipelago will become compulsory, joining One Day in the Life…. This attempt at balance, however poorly it may be done, is better than the wholesale airbrushing that is common in other countries. The past is not just a Russian problem: these pieces never tell you about all the Lenin statues still standing in Kiev; to do so would destroy the simple story they are trying to sell you.

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter