The prominent Yugoslav dissident writer, Milovan Djilas, wrote in his book, Conversations with Stalin:
Every crime was possible to Stalin, for there was not one he had not committed. Whatever standards we use to take his measure, in any event – let us hope for all time to come – to him falls the ‘glory’ of being the greatest criminal in history. For in him was joined the criminal senselessness of a Caligula with the refinement of a Borgia and the brutality of the Czar Ivan the Terrible.
These words came to my mind immediately upon reading an article in a Seattle online newspaper about the demolition of the statue of Stalin in the Republic of Georgia. The author of the article recounted:
Authorities in Georgia tore down a [6-feet high] monument to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in his birthplace of Gori to make way for a memorial to the fallen in the Russian-Georgian war of 2008.
“A memorial to Stalin has no place in the Georgia of the 21st Century,” President Mikhail Saakashvili said in his televised comments.
There had been literally tens of thousands of Stalin’s monuments erected across the Soviet Union. When I lived in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Lithuania, I saw dozens of those grandiose sculptures towering above the central squares of Moscow, Kiev, Vladivostok, Kazan, Tashkent, Leningrad, Minsk, Vilnius, etcetera, etcetera. Alexander Solzhenitsyn vividly described that bacchanalia of the Stalin’s cult of personality in his famous novel, The First Circle:
[Stalin’s] likeness had been sculpted in stone; painted in oil, water colors, gouache, sepia; drawn in charcoal and chalk; formed out of wayside pebbles, sea shells, glazed tiles, grains of wheat and soy beans; carved from ivory, grown in grass, woven into rugs, pictured in the sky by squadrons of planes in formation, and photographed on motion picture film… like no other likeness during the three billion years of the earth’s crust.
The article in the Seattle paper went on:
Communists and other older generation residents share a nostalgia for their man who [brutally] dragged the Soviet Union into the industrial age.
Well, I am afraid not only Communists share that peculiar sort of nostalgia for Stalin the Murderer; many American liberals of older generations (or, as they now prefer to be called, progressives) probably recall with affection the Old Joe, as the hopelessly naïve President Roosevelt used to call tenderly that greatest butcher in human history.
Liberals’ record of defending each and every crime of Stalin is just appalling. The New York Times, Life, Newsweek, Washington Post, Time, and a multitude of other liberal media outlets had tried to convince their readers in the 1930 and 4os that the notorious Moscow show trials were examples of legal integrity, that no starvation in Ukraine was taken place, that Stalin was leading Russia into the age of liberte, egalite, and fraternite.