3 Stalin’s Last Purge One of the things that I had really liked over the years was the possibility of giving documentary workshops in different countries. And the longer the period the better. So when I was invited by Ngee Ann Poly in Singapore to be a guest lecturer there for six months I was absolutely delighted. On arrival I was even more delighted to find that I only had to teach one and a half days a week. In addition I had a few hours of consulting, but nothing serious. As a result of these arrangements I had a lot of time on my hands. The only problem was
Epiphany Sheila Fitzpatrick was a geeky ten-year-old Melbournian when, on a Saturday afternoon in 1951, Robert C. Tucker had an epiphany. He was in Moscow. I had been browsing in the Academy of Sciences bookstore and was walking down Gorky Street toward the U.S. embassy on Mokhovaia. In full view below was the Red Square and, off to its right, the Kremlin. … Suddenly I had … a momentous thought …: What if the idealized image of Stalin, appearing day after day in the party-controlled, party-supervised Soviet press, were an
Debates on Stalinism gives an up-to-date, concise overview of major debates in the history of Stalinism. It introduces readers to changing approaches since the 1950s, and more broadly to scholarly views on this society reaching back to the 1930s. It argues that writing the history of Stalinism is not only about the Soviet past. It is also centrally shaped by current anxieties and concerns of the scholars studying it. In short, there is a politics of writing the history of Stalinism. Combining biographical investigation of leading historians with thematic and chronological analysis of major topics of study, Debates on Stalinism uncovers the history of these politics. The book provides a snapshot of the state of the field and suggests possible future avenues of further research.
Stalinism The historiography of the Soviet Union contains three major fields of contention. The first is the Revolution of 1917, a debate about origins and legitimacy. Why did the Revolution happen? Who supported it? Could it have been avoided? Was it a legitimate revolution or an illegitimate coup? 1 The Soviet Union's end is also controversial, a debate about the future of socialism as much as its history. Was the Soviet Union reformable? Could 1991 have been avoided? Was it doomed from the start, or could it have developed into a more
5 Stalin and the housewife The socially minded woman A young mother lays in an iron bed, her head on her elbow and a smile on her face, the picture of a happy mother. She reaches across her newborn baby to hand the viewer an envelope (Figure 5.1). A framed photograph of Stalin rests on the bed stand, next to a bouquet of fresh flowers. The caption to this image explains that the woman is voting for the person in the photograph, who is her and the child’s “best friend.” This is an image of a Soviet labour ward of 1938. Here, the father of the child is replaced by
When it started to get dark on 1 March 1953, the guards at Stalin's country residence not far from Moscow began to worry: he still had not emerged from his room and was unusually silent. Having summoned their courage, one of the guards and a maid ventured into the room to meet with a shocking scene: Stalin was lying on the floor of his bedroom, conscious but making incoherent noises. He had also wet himself. Members of the Politburo – Stalin's main associates – quickly arrived but were told the leader was in an “unpresentable state” and was
1 The aesthetic turn after Stalin In October 1967 readers of the journal Dekorativnoe Iskusstvo SSSR were probably surprised to find that the latest issue lacked its usual table of contents and was mostly devoid of text. Instead, they were confronted with forty-five pages of high-quality colour and black-and-white images of objects produced in the Soviet Union over the past five decades since its founding. This is how the journal’s editors – made up of decorative artists, designers, critics and philosophers – chose to celebrate the jubilee of the October
A loud silence One voice was conspicuously absent from the 1986–87 debate on Stalinism: Moshe Lewin, then at the University of Pennsylvania. An unorthodox Marxist scholar of the Soviet experience, a social historian well before ‘revisionism’ emerged, Lewin had become a mentor to many who thought of themselves as ‘socialist historians’, and ‘Marxist–Lewinists’. 1 Sheila Fitzpatrick was neither, and Lewin had never been very impressed by the Australian. In 1979, after he had read her nearly decade-old volume, The Commissariat of Enlightenment
Joseph Stalin and his cronies hated homosexuals. In fact, they never called them homosexuals – instead they called them “pederasts” – a crude and vulgar Russian counterpart of the English word “queer”. The ruthless Soviet leader, responsible for the death and suffering of millions of Soviet people, was unconcerned with political correctness. The Soviet Union, the largest communist state in the world, over which Stalin presided, was slightly over a decade old when he came to power. In 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir
This book begins in 1934, when the brutal Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin enacts sodomy laws, unleashing a wave of brutal detentions of homosexual men in large Soviet cities. It then recounts the individual stories of people whose lives were directly affected by Stalin’s decision to outlaw male homosexuality. This varied cast includes a naive Scottish journalist based in Moscow who dares to write to Stalin attempting to free his lover from detention, and a homosexual theatre student who comes to Moscow in pursuit of his dreams amid Stalin’s harsh repressions and mass arrests. A fearless doctor in Siberia provides medical treatment for gay men at his own peril, while a much-loved Soviet singer hides his homosexuality from the secret police. A polarising and wily KGB officer goes on the run, in pursuit of sex with men, yet willing to betray them if it helps to resurrect his career. The book also paints the poignant picture of a young returning Soviet diplomat who has contracted a strange new immune disease in Tanzania and his journey to discover the truth. All these stories are true, based on real people and carefully researched. Each vignette helps paint the hitherto unknown picture of how Soviet oppression of gay people actually originated and was perpetuated, from Stalin’s rule until the demise of the USSR. And again recently, under Putin’s rule, homophobia is again on the rise."