World's Greatest Mass Murderer... Honoured

When Sherry Keller sent me this, at first, I admit, I thought it had to be a joke.

It isn't. A statue devoted to Josef Stalin is being erected in Russia:
Jan 19, 2005 — MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow plans to erect a new statue of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, returning his once-ubiquitous image to its streets after an absence of four decades, a top city official said Wednesday.

Since President Vladimir Putin was elected in 2000, a number of Soviet symbols — including the national anthem and an army flag — have been restored to use, reflecting widespread nostalgia for Russia's communist years.

But rehabilitation of Stalin, who was denounced after his death in 1953 by the Soviet leadership for encouraging a cult of personality and killing millions of real and imagined opponents, has previously been out of bounds. Statues of Stalin were removed from Moscow's public spaces in the 1960s.

"A monument will be erected to those who took part in (leading the war against Adolf Hitler), including Stalin," Oleg Tolkachev, Moscow's senator in the upper house of parliament, told Ekho Moskvy radio.

In another sign of Stalin's growing appeal, state television channels have shown a number of prime-time television shows in recent months depicting him in a positive light.
I remember, a few years ago, a bunch of ideologically-driven American historians wrote a book on Russian History that advanced the remarkably insidious claim that Stalin had been "misunderstood", and that he had "only" killed around 1-2 million people in the great purges, and not the 18-20 million that so many other, saner historians believe.

This latest attempt to rehabilitate a mass murderer (however you slice it, he was) is especially dangerous to my mind, as there are a sufficient number of people ignorant of the details of the Second World War to believe that Stalin played a vital role in its winning.

Stalin didn't. For the first month of the war, he was so shocked and depressed that he confined himself to his quarters and stayed there, wallowing in despair, ignoring the pleas of his marshals. He did finally re-emerge, and against the advice of his marshals ordered immediate counter-strikes against the rapidly advancing German forces which led to yet greater encirclements and annihilations of large sections of the Red Army.

It was the Russian people, especially that part of the Officer Corps which had survived Stalin's purges, who won the war in the east. They did so despite hideous losses which Stalin's abyssmal pre-war military and foreign policies had helped make possible. They did so despite having massive problems relocating their industrial base to the Ural Mountains (out of the range of German bombers) and finally, it cannot be denied that they did so in spite of their leader, whose only real imput was the occasional radio broadcast.

Millions of people are dead because of Stalin's insecurities, because of his inadequacies, and because of his murderous brutality. This is a man rightly scorned, and any attempts to rehabilitate his image should be treated with scorn and disgust equal to any attempt made to do the same for Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot.

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