The Real Stalin

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This funeral is an outstanding production, a grandiose spectacle. Nowadays, we would say it is an immersive experience. The audience of the funeral in fact consists of fully-fledged participants in the spectacle; without them, this act could not take place. Stalin has been turned into an artifact, on the verge of becoming mummified, soon becoming impossible to think of as a physical object, increasingly only imaginable as a symbol.

Still, the people looking ardently at him are very much alive. We know nothing about them, but historical experience tells us there is no reason to doubt their existence.

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Their motives, however, remain enchantingly nebulous: What if they are not as a matter of fact grieving but rather rejoicing internally? And what if they bid farewell not to a beloved tyrant but to an epoch of tyranny that is finally fading away? Ultimately, we, too, are hypnotized by this unhurried action, this sacred ritual.

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We watch the watchers going, in the end, to stand in line. This is it, the Soviet rite of lining up one after another that Sorokin so glorified in his books, to wait on and on until we receive access to the thing we desire: from clothes, sausages, and Bogorodits belts to nourishment whether earthy or spiritual , to a glimpse of the body of our deceased leader. One of the central special effects in State Funeral is color; it turns out that official videographers captured a lot of color footage of the funeral.

Especially impressive are the crimson drapery, banners, and arm bands alongside the innumerable crimson carnations.

Lenin vs Stalin: Their Showdown Over the Birth of the USSR

And inasmuch as the color film is interspersed with black and white, an uncomfortable feeling arises. As in horror films, blood appears on screen in bright and indelible spots, reminding one about the unstated, concealed foundation of these events. But the scent of blood is in the air, and its color sets the tone for the audience. Something else is in the air, too — the scent of rotting flowers, in which the corpse of the generalissimo drowns.

Stalin's Final Speech 1952 [Subtitled]

They are carried on and on to the coffin of this illustrious citizen of the Soviet Union. In that moment, people vanish entirely from the screen, and the surrealist landscape of Red Square consists totally of funeral wreaths. Here, the paintings of the Dutch masters involuntarily come to mind one of the producing countries of State Funeral is the Netherlands. In their paintings, floral still lifes remind one about the transience of existence, about the inevitability of decay and death. Stalin, like those wreaths, will never tarnish.

The announcers appearing at the funeral repeat incantations about the immortality of the untimely deceased. In the west, the speech has mostly been interpreted as a brave and moral step that changed the fate of the country. Earlier this month Khrushchev's granddaughter Nina, a lecturer who lives in the US, lauded him in the Washington Post for "outing Stalin as a monster". Yet in Russia , amid muted celebrations of the anniversary, there is growing evidence that Khrushchev's speech was a cynical ploy to save his skin and that of his party cronies. The re-evaluation comes as critics accuse President Vladimir Putin of leading a drift towards an authoritarianism that resembles the rule of the communist strongmen who dominated the 20th century.

New measures have included increased state control over broadcast media and the replacement of elected governors by appointees.

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While he is not actively promoted by the Kremlin, Stalin remains hugely popular, with higher approval ratings than Khrushchev. Few politicians dare criticise his legacy despite pleas to do so from victims of his oppression. In Khrushchev's speech was certainly a rent with the past.


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Stalin, he said, had committed "serious and grave perversions of party principles" and triggered the "cruellest repression" by inventing the concept of the "enemy of the people". In and , 98 of the members of the central committee had been shot on Stalin's orders, Khrushchev revealed.


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Many of the 1, people at the congress had only heard innuendo about such events and their shock was real; as was the fury of Stalin's supporters. Compared to Stalin, Khrushchev was a zero.

The Real Stalin - Yves Delbars - Google книги

No debate was allowed, however, and the delegates went home in awe. Many were sunk in depression; two committed suicide within weeks. Almost immediately, changes began. Although the full text of the speech was not published in the Soviet Union until the late 80s, excerpts were passed to local party officials and read at meetings.

Political prisoners were rehabilitated, the press was given limited freedom and ties were re-established with foreign powers such as France and the US. Khrushchev's political enemies were sidelined, but they escaped the death sentence that would have been automatic under Stalin.

Abroad, the speech sparked intense interest after it was leaked by foreign communists. The Observer devoted an entire issue to the 26,word text. But while Khrushchev set unstoppable changes in motion, experts say he concealed his own role in bloody repressions. Only in the past five years has the full extent of his complicity in Stalin's terror become evident.

A telegram discovered in Politburo archives by Mr Zhukov shows that Khrushchev sent a request to Moscow to kill or imprison 30, people when he took over the leadership of Ukraine in A brutal purge of intellectuals and "hostile elements" was soon under way. The year before, when he was party chief in the Moscow region, documents show Khrushchev asked permission to shoot 8, anti-Soviet "traitors" and dispatch almost 33, to camps.

Dima Bykov, a young Russian intellectual, says Khrushchev was a willing servant of Stalin. The limits of Khrushchev's thaw were evident a few months after the speech when he sent Soviet tanks to crush the Hungarian uprising. And while he allowed Alexander Solzhenitsyn to publish a novel about the gulags, he banned Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago for its unsympathetic portrait of the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution.