“By Keith Wagstaff | The Week – Tue, Mar 5, 2013
To the bafflement of the world, Stalin is remembered quite fondly by millions upon millions of Russians
To most of the world, Joseph Stalin, who died 60 years ago today, is a monster — the architect of violent purges and labor camps that killed millions of Russians during his reign over the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953. So why is Stalin actually more popular in Russia today than he was during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991?
It’s complicated. Make no mistake; most Russians aren’t ignorant of Stalin’s crimes. In a recent poll conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 65 percent of Russians agreed that “Stalin was a cruel, inhuman tyrant, responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people.” Yet in 2011, 45 percent of Russians also had a “generally positive” view of Stalin.
A lot of that discrepancy has to do with World War II, or as the Russians call it, the Great Patriotic War. At a recent conference held by the Russian Orthodox Church, which was persecuted by Stalin’s government, one speaker told an audience that “the nation must be grateful to Stalin for the ‘sacred victory’ over Nazi Germany,” according to Reuters.
. . . .
In Georgia, they have a more traditional reason for liking Stalin: He was born there. The Carnegie poll found that 68 percent of Georgians agreed that “Stalin was a wise leader who brought the Soviet Union to might and prosperity.” According to the BBC, his birthplace of Gori features a Stalin museum and has voted to erect a huge statue of the dictator. One tour guide summed up the country’s feelings towards the man.” (more)
1. “War is the health of the state.”
2. I wonder what a survey of the opinions of American academics would reveal.