Category Archives: History

Lys Mykyta Journals

I just finished facilitating a donation to the Ukrainian Diaspora Museum (http://www.kyivhistorymuseum.org/en/museum-affiliates/museum-of-the-diaspora) in Kyiv.

My mother donated a collection of about 120 Lys Mykyta journals which were popular in the diaspora in the US and Canada, and consisted of political and societal commentary, always including cartoons and caricatures by the very talented E. Kozak.

Before sending them, I had them all scanned, and will be posting them soon.

Why Was There No Nuremberg for Communism?

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Bukovsky, a former dissident from Russia, decided to attempt the impossible: to convene a trial that would sue not the individuals as was the case in Nuremberg but rather the system of the communist regime. “For me, it seems like we have a moral responsibility to humanity,” he remarks in the documentary Le Nuremberg du communisme.

When Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost were introduced in the mid-1980s, people started to believe that the crimes of the communist regime would be punished someday and that justice would prevail. With communism on its way out, anything seemed possible. But sooner or later, that hope vanished from their minds. Historians have noted that while the Soviet regime had failed, the KGB were still active and the former nomenklatura, the communist-era elite, still retained power and influence, making it impossible to achieve justice for the victims of Soviet communism. Vladimir Bukovsky wanted to force the country to deal with its communist past and prevent the regime from gaining power again.

Born 1942, Bukovsky was a prominent activist whose fight against the Soviet regime earned him a total of twelve years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric prison hospitals. In 1976 he was released in a swap for the imprisoned General Secretary of the Communist Party of Chile at the Zürich airport. Once free, Bukovsky felt like he had experienced a second birth. He settled in Cambridge and finished his studies in biology, but he never stopped fighting to free the Soviet Union from the grip of communism.

https://www.victimsofcommunism.org/witnessblog/2018/3/23/why-was-there-no-nuremburg-for-communism

The last days of Lieutenant Jakov Stalin (Stalin’s Son)

Jakov had been a lieutenant in the Russian army. All Stalin knew was that he had been captured by the Germans at the Siege of Smolensk in 1941, and held in a prisoner of war camp. . . . Sachsenhausen Camp.

Jakov Djugashvili Stalin arrived in this compound towards the end of 1942, a shattered man. Not only had he been taken prisoner but by surrendering at the siege of Smolensk he had directly disobeyed his father’s commands – Stalin had issued orders that Russian soldiers should defend the city to the last man.

The Germans tried hard to win over the young Stalin – including a personal introduction to Field Marshal Goring – but he determinedly refused to co-operate.

At Sachsenhausen, Jakov was expected to work but was still accorded certain privileges. He was billeted in Hut A, inside the special compound, with five others. The hut was spacious. It had a communal eating area and two lavatories. There were two bedrooms. Jakov shared one with Wasili Kokorin, a nephew of the Soviet Foreign Minister, Molotov; in the other were four British prisoners-of-war, Staff Sergeant Cushing, William Murphy, Andrew Walsh and Patrick O’Brien. Cushing is the only member of the British party still alive today. . . .

The British suspected Kokorin, a small self-centred man anxious to curry favour with the German guards, of passing information to the Gestapo. They were equally contemptuous of Jakov. Unlike Kokorin, he became increasingly aggressive in his defence of Russian communism, continually ‘shouting bolshevist propaganda’, according to a statement Cushing made.

There was a constant barrage of accusations between the two sides: the British felt the Russians were always seeking personal meetings with the camp commandant to obtain special favours – cigarettes, clean clothes.

For their part, the Russians goaded the British about their wealth, in particular over an expensive watch one of the Irishmen was wearing. They attacked the calibre of British troops in general, and criticised the soldiers for standing to attention when spoken to by the German officers in charge of the camp – the implication being that the British were cowards.

According to the documents we have scrutinised Stalin’s son became particularly provocative. He said that when the war was over, the Red Army would drive through to Spain, English dukes, earls, barons and landowners – according to Jakov they were

‘Hitler’s puppets’ – would all be murdered.

In early 1943, the atmosphere was poisonous. Small events sparked off violent quarrels. There were rows over the distribution of Red Cross parcels, and petty disputes about national habits. The incident that triggered off the final tragedy of Jakov Stalin was typical: it concerned the latrines.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 14, 1943, in a particularly heated exchange, Cushing accused Stalin’s son of refusing to flush the lavatory and of deliberately fouling the wooden seat. If true, it was an offence calculated to enrage Cushing, who, as a British POW did not have to work, and saw himself as the hut ‘housekeeper’ keeping the quarters clean.

The row spread quickly to the other prisoners. Murphy accused Jakov of the same behaviour. Outside the hut, O’Brien confronted Kokorin with the allegation that he defecated on the ground and fouled the latrine used by the British soldiers. O’Brien called Kokorin ‘a bolshevist shit’; Kokorin called O’Brien ‘an English shit.’ A fight broke out and O’Brien hit Kokorin.

The precise role-played in these exchanges by Jakov Stalin, and indeed his responsibility for them, remains unclear. What does seem certain, however, is that the accumulated effect of constant bickering, rows, accusations – and finally the fight – broke the spirit of a man already suffering from confused emotions about his loyalties, his background and his future.

That evening, at curfew, Jakov refused to go back into the hut. He demanded to see the camp commandant, claiming he was being insulted by the British prisoners, and when his request was turned down, he appears to have gone berserk.

Wildly waving a piece of wood, he ran about the area of the camp, shouting in broken German, to the SS guards on duty, ‘shoot me, shoot me’. Then, in what appears to have been a clear desire to kill himself, he turned and ran towards the three-stage electrified fencing-surrounding perimeter.

Cushing himself saw what happened. He had placed the blackout sheeting on the eight windows of Hut A a few minutes earlier, when he heard the commotion in the yard and peered out.

Talking to the Sunday Times at his home in County Cork last week, he described what followed: “I saw Jakov running about as if he were insane. He just ran straight onto the wire. There was a huge flash and all the searchlights suddenly went on. I knew that was the end of him.”

The final moments of the tragedy were graphically related in a statement we have examined that is made by SS officer Konrad Hartich, who was on duty at the fence.

“He (Jakov) put one leg over the trip-wire, crossed the neutral zone and put one foot into the barbed wire entanglement. At the same time, he grabbed an insulator with his left hand. Then he left go of it and grabbed the electrified fence.

“He stood still for a moment with his right leg back and his chest pushed out and shouted to me ‘Guard, you are a soldier, don’t be a coward, shoot me.’ ”

Harfich fired a single shot. The bullet entered Stalin’s head four centimetres in front of his right ear. Death was instantaneous.

“Afterwards the Germans tried to make me take him off the wire and wrap his body in a blanket,” said Cushing. “It was the first time I felt sorry for the poor bastard.”

The death of Jakov Stalin was a grave embarrassment to the German high command who feared that the Russians would discover what had happened and exact retribution on German prisoners. But early in July 1945 an Anglo-American team sifting through German archives in Berlin unearthed the full details of the story.

Realising the implications the British Foreign Office reacted quickly, and on July 27, 1945, Michael Vyyyan, a senior Foreign Office official, wrote to his opposite number in the American State Department.

“Our own inclination here is to recommend that the idea of communicating to Marshal Stalin should be dropped…It would naturally be distasteful to draw attention to the Anglo-Russian quarrels which preceded the death of his son.”

http://irelandscw.com/ibvol-CushingStalin.htm

“A Specter Haunting Europe The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism” by Paul Hanebrink

Paul Hanebrink, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, takes on a controversial topic:

Blurb:

For much of the twentieth century, Europe was haunted by a threat of its own imagining: Judeo-Bolshevism. This myth―that Communism was a Jewish plot to destroy the nations of Europe―was a paranoid fantasy, and yet fears of a Jewish Bolshevik conspiracy took hold during the Russian Revolution and spread across Europe. During World War II, these fears sparked genocide.

Paul Hanebrink’s history begins with the counterrevolutionary movements that roiled Europe at the end of World War I. Fascists, Nazis, conservative Christians, and other Europeans, terrified by Communism, imagined Jewish Bolsheviks as enemies who crossed borders to subvert order from within and bring destructive ideas from abroad. In the years that followed, Judeo-Bolshevism was an accessible and potent political weapon.

After the Holocaust, the specter of Judeo-Bolshevism did not die. Instead, it adapted to, and became a part of, the Cold War world. Transformed yet again, it persists today on both sides of the Atlantic in the toxic politics of revitalized right-wing nationalism. Drawing a worrisome parallel across one hundred years, Hanebrink argues that Europeans and Americans continue to imagine a transnational ethno-religious threat to national ways of life, this time from Muslims rather than Jews.

High Praise from the NY Review of Books: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/02/21/fake-threat-of-jewish-communism/

Harsh Criticism from the Occidental Observer: https://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2019/03/02/lying-about-judeo-bolshevism/

The Nazino Affair: The Tragedy of Cannibal Island

On March 11, 1933, a plan for a very different kind of gulag was presented to Joseph Stalin. Devised by Genrikh Yagoda, Stalin’s head of the Secret Service and Matvei Berman, the head of the Soviet Gulag system, the scheme proposed that the government resettle 2,000,000 political undesirables in self-sufficient settlements in Siberia and Kazakhstan. The idea was that the “settlers” would work to bring a million hectares of untouched land into agricultural production, thus helping famine struck Russia- and sustaining themselves. So, in May 1933 the first assortment of 6,000 political dissidents and petty criminals were loaded up into trains. Their destination was the isolated Western Siberian Island of Nazino.

The Nazino colony was meant to achieve self-sufficiency in two years. However, thirteen weeks after its conception, the project had failed spectacularly. For the settlers were abandoned in a hostile Siberian wilderness, under-resourced and unprepared. All too soon, anarchy, violence, and disease became rife in the community. When the authorities finally intervened, after the rejection of the plan by Stalin, they discovered that 4,000 of the original deportees were either dead or missing. Most disturbingly of all, however, was the number of survivors who had turned to cannibalism. Until Glasnost, the Nazino Affair remained buried. Since then, historians have revealed what happened on that remote Siberian Island. . . .

As a result, the original target of 2,000,000 deportees over ten years was halved. However, worries about costs did not stop the deportations beginning immediately- even before Stalin had given his official approval. . . .

. . . by the time the barges reached Nazino on May 18th, twenty-seven people were already dead. . . .

On board the barges, the deportees had been issued with 200grams of bread a day. Now, they had nothing but 20 tonnes of flour- around 4 tons per person. For the first four days, even this was denied them. In these conditions, it is hardly surprising that in the initial twenty-four hours, a further 295 people died. . . .

When the guards finally attempted to distribute the flour, there were riots as the hungry settlers began to fight for rations. Unable to restore order, the guards fired shots and moved the flour to the shore opposite the island while the settlers calmed down. The guards tried to distribute the supplies again the next day. However, once more fights broke out. Finally, it was decided to split the settlers into brigades of 150 people, each represented by a leader or Brigadier. These brigadiers were responsible for collecting the flour and distributing it. Unfortunately, many of these leaders were self-nominated criminals appropriated all the flour for themselves. This inauspicious beginning was only the prelude for the horrors to come. . . .

Apart from the imprisonment of several of the surviving guards, the authorities swept the whole matter under the carpet. However, with the advent of Glasnost in 1988, the details of the tragedy became publicly available for the first time. However, the Ostyak people around Nazino never forgot the terrible events of summer 1933. To them, Nazino was and always will be Death Island.

https://historycollection.co/the-nazino-affair-the-tragedy-of-cannibal-island/

World’s oldest intact shipwreck discovered in Black Sea

Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appears to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.

The 23-metre (75ft) vessel, thought to be ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders and rowing benches all present and correct just over a mile below the surface. A lack of oxygen at that depth preserved it, the researchers said.

“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” said Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), the team that made the find. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”

The ship is believed to have been a trading vessel of a type that researchers say has only previously been seen “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum”.

. . . .

It was among more than 60 shipwrecks found by the international team of maritime archaeologists, scientists and marine surveyors, which has been on a three-year mission to explore the depths of the Black Sea to gain a greater understanding of the impact of prehistoric sea-level changes.

They said the finds varied in age from a “17th-century Cossack raiding fleet, through Roman trading vessels, complete with amphorae, to a complete ship from the classical period”.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/oct/23/oldest-intact-shipwreck-thought-to-be-ancient-greek-discovered-at-bottom-of-black-sea