Monday, March 05, 2007

Many Happy Returns!

Let me be the first to wish you Happy Stalin death day! The Soviet dictator was(thankfully for many, many people)felled by a stroke 54 years ago today in his dacha outside Moscow.

There are those who miss Stalin, who claim he was the greatest leader of Russia OR the USSR. He WAS a co-architect of the victory over Hitler, I'll give him that. But he did a staggering amount of damage prior to, during and after that episode. A partial listing would include the intentional famine inflicted on the Ukrainian peasantry, the political purges that sent millions to their deaths or long sentences in labor camps, the murder of the Polish intelligentsia at Katyn, Khar'kov and Tver', the ethnic cleansing of the Volga German and Chechen nations, the military occupation of the east European states following "liberation," the notorious population transfer in the Baltic states, guaranteeing it would be impossible for them to separate easily from the USSR, and co-plotting the Korean War, which killed a couple hundred thousand people. He was planning the coup de grace when he finally kicked the bucket: a mass purge of the nation's remaining Jews, to culiminate in a public hanging in Red Square, a la Peter the Great in the late l7th century. His death didn't come a minute too soon.

At the very least, Stalin cast a long, dark shadow over the past century. If you wanted to try for a more incendiary epitaph, it would be hard to disagree with the British historian who called him the "greatest serial killer in modern history."


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