Joseph Stalin died in 1953, but he’s back in the news, proving, that you can’t keep one of the four largest murderers of the 20th Century down, or up.
Somewhere between 10-20 million perished in his purges, famines, Moscow Show trials, assassinations, collectivizations and the slaughter of the kulaks, mass ethnic deportations, the Gulags, and the purge of the Red Army, and this doesn’t include the World War II slaughters or the post-war purges of the eastern European countries overrun by the Red Army.
Some of his victims are illustrious (Kirov and Trotsky), but most all but statistics to history.
Chairman Mao outmurdered Stalin, and Pol Pot with the Khmer Rouge, killed a lot more in Cambodia on a per capita basis. Hitler, of course, fills out the four.
Stalin, in life, exemplified The Cult of Personality. His picture, bust, statue, words were ubiquitous throughout the Red Curtain. Even cities were named for him. Thus, Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad on April 10, 1925, and became the site of the Red Army’s great victory over the Nazis – a victory as great in turning the tide of World War II as the U.S. Navy’s victory at Midway.
Uncle Joe was our good ally in the war.
Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugasivili, Joseph Stalin (The Man of Steel), an ex-seminarian, former bank robber to fund the Bolsheviks, General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922-1953, heir to Lenin, was not even Russian.
Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jughashvili was born on December 18, 1978 in a hut in Gori, Georgia.
Stalin officially died of a cerebral hemorrhage, but may in fact have been poisoned by Beria, his most murderous and cunning apparatchik and also a Georgian. Ironically, the poison used was warfarin, a potent rat poison. Beria, Khrushchev, and several other Politburo members feared they were on Stalin’s next purge list, which was beginning with the (Jewish) Doctors Plot.
Upon his death Stalin was embalmed like Lenin for permanent display and adoration.
Fame is fleeting. Khrushchev in a famous February 1956 speech attacked the Cult of Personification. The de–personification of Stalin began. A cloud lifted over the Russian people. The statues came down. Cities were renamed yet again. Stalingrad, the Stalingrad, became Volgograd in 1961). Stalin, the Man of Steel and formaldehyde, was buried. Stalin was becoming a non-person throughout the former Soviet Union.
But not in Georgia, which worshiped its native son. The Joseph Stalin Museum, centered around his birthplace hut, opened in 1957 in Gori. A 6 meter tall statue of the 5’4” Stalin was erected in the main square of Gori in 1952.
That was then; this is now. Russia invaded Georgia, and heavily bombed Gori, in 2008.
Stalin’s statue was removed during the night of Friday, June 25, 2010 to make room for a memorial to the victims of the dictatorship and those killed in the 2008 war with Russia.
Stalin is down for the count even in Georgia.
But not in Bedford, Virginia. The National D Day Memorial Foundation placed a bust of Stalin next to those of FDR, Truman and Churchill in the National D Day Museum in Bedford.
The Bedford Board of Supervisors has requested the removal of the bust. Groups and newspaper editorials have joined the cry to remove Stalin. Yet, the Foundation refuses, perhaps enjoying its 15 minutes of fame, and hoping to relieve its financial problems with the publicity.
Why a D-Day Museum even commemorates Stalin makes no sense. The Red Army played no role in the invasion, fighting the Nazis on the Eastern front. Stalin’s only role was to demand the invasion in 1943 rather than 1944.
An appropriate choice for the Stalin Bust would be Westminister College in Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill in his famous March 3, 1946 speech denounced the "Iron Curtain" descending upon Eastern Europe.