Translation: The Case of the “Stalinist” Textbook

Ever since the publication of Filippov’s (in)famous textbook A History of Russia 1945-2006 in 2007, the state of Russian history teaching drew a fair degree of negative commentary in the West, some of it reasonably lucid, most of it superficial or hysterical. What the latter have in common is that they almost invariably haven’t read the actual, controversial chapter in question (Debates about Stalin’s Role in History), let alone the textbook itself, and as such can do little more than spout inane rhetoric about the imminent “rehabilitation” of Stalinism. As such I thought it fitting to do what the pundits should have done long ago, but couldn’t be bothered to – actually translate the chapter in question so that Anglophone readers could make up their own minds. Now that I’ve done so (scroll below), and bearing in mind the recent furor over Medvedev’s commission to battle the falsification of Russian history, I would like to make several comments of my own:

First, it is flat-out wrong to say that this textbook is the new standard of history teaching in Russia. It is just one of dozens of merely “approved” history textbooks (whereas the vast majority of Russian schools use a few “recommended” texts), has had only a very limited print run and was being trialled in only a few schools in four Russian regions as of the 2008-2009 academic year. Nor is it true that it received approval from the Presidential administration – in 2007 when it came out, Putin’s aide Dzhokhan Pollyeva criticized it for unprofessionalism (and I quite agree with her – the text is turgid and belabors its points using questionable examples). The most controversial authors, Filippov and Danilin (the latter of whom wrote the chapter on sovereign democracy), were not present at the meeting when Putin aired his views on how Russia was unfairly castigated for its history by professors and Westerners whose heads were filled with “porridge”.

Second, the book’s major sin is one of presentation – not omission. Dark chapters in Russia’s history like collectivization, the Gulag and political repressions are covered in both this chapter, and the preceding ones on Stalin’s postwar rule. As such, it is either dishonest or ignorant to focus on out-of-context sound bites like how Stalin was an “effective manager” or the “greatest Soviet leader”. The main issue the more serious critics have with it, is that instead of issuing blanket condemnations, it seeks to “rationalize” Stalin’s decisions within the as Filippov himself replies to this charge, “I was always annoyed by the belabored moralizing foisted on us in Soviet textbooks. I wanted to avoid this. And it seems I’ve over-succeeded in this, seeing as folks are now accusing me of amorality. I really wanted to avoid phrases like, “and this is the lesson we must take from this episode”, and it seems I may have tried too hard”. Though its inherent patriotic bias and you-can’t-be-neutral-on-a-moving-train-like approach is undeniable (in this respect, Filippov actually jumped Putin’s gun), it constantly urges its readers to make their own conclusions – an attitude far less Stalinist than that of some of his liberast and Western critics. Also, as Sean Guillory pointed out, many of its eyebrow-raising claims can act as good springboards for class discussion.

Third, contrary to Western claims, the fact of the matter is that history is politicized everywhere – and I’m not even talking of Japan’s reluctance to acknowledge its war crimes in the “East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere”, or Turkey’s de facto criminalization of Armenian genocide affirmation. Closer to home, as argued in Patrick Armstrong’s essay Airbrushing History, the Visegrad nations, Ukraine and the Baltics are busy rewriting their histories to create national victimization myths based on Russian occupation – while airbrushing prominent local Communist collaborators and anti-Semitism out of their rosy, kitschy paintings of the past. An example is Latvia calculating a bill of Soviet-incurred losses to present to Russia, while eliding over the contribution of the Latvian Rifles and non-Russian internationalists to the establishment of Communism in Russia; or Ukraine’s criminalization of denying the genocidal nature of the Holodomor, a risible view in light of the fact half its casualties were in non-Ukrainian black earth regions. Even in Western nations there is a strong prevailing belief in the absolute validity of their historical missions that frequently diminishes their less positive manifestations (though it is true that they are modulated by anti-colonialist, Marxist and postmodern views on the part of some of their intelligentsia, they do not present an existential spiritual threat as in Russia).

Since every country needs a national belief to flourish, this (limited) “patriotic reaction” in Russia to fifteen years of liberal indoctrination on the part of Western-funded ideologues, that seeks to deny it an honorable history, foist feelings of guilt on its people and invalidate its geopolitical interests, is completely understandable and to be expected. Despite being a murderous maniac, Stalin did industrialize the country and played an important role in securing Victory in the Great Patriotic War (and thereby saved Europe’s Slavs from extermination and slavery). Contrary to anti-Stalin ideologues, even on purely objective grounds choosing which of these to emphasize is an immensely difficult undertaking in moral terms. Yes, it would be nice if history were to be left to the historians everywhere, but it’s not. The Western-liberals have staked out their position – unambiguous condemnation of Stalinism, while relaying its achievements to the margins, and arrogantly insisting that Russians toe their line, while consigning to oblivion the (more positive) memories and attitudes of their grandparents to Soviet power. In a sense, Russia’s choice was thus forced – narrowed down to participation in the info-war, or spiritual suicide. For better or worse, it has embarked on the former with the mass support of its population.

TRANSLATION: Alexander Filippov on ‘Debates about Stalin’s Role’ in A New History of Russia 1945-2006

(; accessed May 25, 2009)

Information for reflection: Debates about Stalin’s Role in history

Iosif Vissarianovich Stalin (Jughashvili) remains one of the most polarizing figures in the politics and history of our country; it is difficult to find another personality in Russian history who is subjected to so many contradictory interpretations, both during his rule and after. For some, he is the hero and orchestrator of Victory in the Great Patriotic War; to others, he is the embodiment of evil itself.

One of the most famous views on the historical significance of Stalin was held by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War Two, a man hardly known for his pro-Stalin sentiments: “Stalin came to Russia with a wooden plough and left in it possession of nuclear weapons”. The other point of view is represented by Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, the son of a major participant in the 1917 Revolution and Civil War who was repressed under Stalin: “bloody tyrant”.

During Stalin’s life the first view predominated; after his death the second became conventional wisdom, primarily because of revelations about Stalin’s organizational role in the political repressions of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Evaluating Stalin’s historical significance requires looking at him in a wider historical context, beyond just the chronological framework of the Soviet period. This approach reveals many similarities between Stalin’s policies and those of preceding Russian sovereigns.

Analysis of the historical evolution of the Russian state over the past 500 years through three different forms of statehood – Muscovite Tsarism (15th-17th centuries), the Russian Empire (18th century to the start of the 20th century) and the Soviet Union – reveals a certain continuity in political characteristics, albeit with significant changes in external form. The similarities between these states could be explained by the historical constancy of the political-organizational principles on which they were built.

The guiding light of these principles was concentration of authority in one center and strict centralization of the administrative system. The power of Russia’s paramount leader was traditionally absolutist, drawing in all resources and subordinating all political forces to itself.

Adverse conditions for the development of the Russian state required the concentration of resources, including executive, in one center and their centralized distribution in key sectors. As such, people capable of forcing through such centralizations repeatedly came to power. However, it’s necessary to note that these centralizations were inevitably accompanied by distortions, the most important of which was the transformation of the real need for strong authority into a habit for its own sake, and to such an extent as to be beyond all necessity. This interpretation holds equally for the reigns of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Iosif Stalin. Even during the 19th century, the famous Russian thinker Konstantin Kavelin remarked, “Peter’s Tsarism was the continuation of Ivan’s Tsarism”. Stalin saw himself as the heir to his Tsarist forebears on the Russian throne; he knew Russian history well and respected the aforementioned men, regarding them as his teachers and consciously using their ‘historical recipes’.

It is thus erroneous to restrict our search for the causes of power centralization to the characters of Russia’s rulers (though this does not mean we should ignore the influence of their personalities on the formation and function of their states) and to explain the stability of Russian political traditions exclusively in terms of the personal and psychological idiosyncrasies of the Russian princes, Emperors and Secretary-Generals. Or as the famous philosopher Blaise Pascal put it, “Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed”.

One interesting perspective on Stalin’s policies comes from the famous Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin, a convinced opponent of the USSR’s historical continuity from imperial Russia: “The Soviet Union is not Russia…not one achievement of the Soviet state…qualifies as an achievement of the Russian people,” Ilyin wrote. A hard-line opponent of Communism, Ilyin supported the rebirth of the Russian Empire, which he believed possible on the fulfillment of three conditions: Orthodoxy, monarchy and a unitary state guaranteeing the unconditional equality of all peoples within the Empire. Paradoxically this is exactly what Stalin created. He resurrected the monarchy under the guise of his cult of personality. He strengthened belief – not in God, but in a new, red faith: Communism in the early Soviet period became a new religion with its own symbols and martyrs. And it was he, Stalin, who in opposition to the Leninist concept of the right of nations to self-determination instead created a state close to the unitary ideal.

A significant factor behind the strictly centralized nature of the econo-political administrative system during the Soviet period was the already obvious inevitability of a big war with Germany in the 1930’s, the war itself, and the accelerated pace of postwar reconstruction. It is this that defined the forced rates of antebellum industrialization and economic resurgence in the postwar period. No wonder foreign observers labeled the 1930’s as a ‘race against time’. The concept of accelerated modernization amidst a deficit of historical time was voiced by Stalin in February 1931: “We are 50 to 100 years behind the advanced countries. Either we make good the difference in ten years or they crush us”. Events in summer 1941 would confirm his prescience.

The ‘race against time’ in connection with the threat of war not only meant a time deficit as regards carrying through industrialization, but also exacerbated the problem of inadequate existing means of modernization – for that required an exceptionally high share of the national economy be devoted to both capital investment and military spending. Regardless, according to the then People’s Commissar of Finance, Arseny Zverev, even during the Great Patriotic War the USSR continued accumulating gold reserves, refusing to sell a single gram. All this implies that just as with Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century, the state forced development, through the total mobilization of everything at its disposal, while simultaneously shouldering huge military expenditures and refraining from foreign loans.

Not only was the savings rate extremely high, but so was the pressure on labor and the exploitation of human resources, which were impelled to remain in a state of permanent mobilization.

How things were…

Every director of an enterprise had a package with five wax seals. That in turn was enclosed in another sealed package. This was the so-called ‘mobilization package’. The director was only allowed to open it up during a state of emergency. And inside, there were instructions for what to do in the case of war… These packages detailed where to make your new base: some were to be sent off to the Volga, some to the Urals, some beyond the Urals, as well as who would be producing what during the war,” – remembers A.F. Sergeev, the son of the famous Bolshevik, F. A. Sergeev (Artem). His mother, E. L. Seergeva, a director of a textile factory, had such a packet from as early as 1937.

There is political and historical evidence that when faced with serious threats even ‘soft’ and ‘flexible’ political systems will, as a rule, evolve towards a harsher form of political organization, including towards the restriction of the rights of citizens vis-à-vis the state, just as happened, for instance, in the US after the events of September 11th, 2001.

Therefore, this analysis of external and internal factors allows us to ascertain that the Soviet period saw a recurrence of an older state of affairs that cropped up frequently in Russian history – the necessity of survival and development while in the situation of a ‘besieged fortress’ (threat of foreign invasion coupled with temporal and means-of-development deficits). In these conditions the formation of a harsh, militarized political system emerged as a solution to extreme problems and extreme circumstances, and this system itself was but a modification of those which existed under Muscovite Tsarism and the Russian Empire.

This allowed the renowned Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev to tie up the sources and spirit of Russian Communism with the Russian national idea. In his 1937 book The Origin of Russian Communism, Berdyaev wrote that instead of “the Third Rome, Russia managed to bring about the Third International, on which were imprinted many of the features of the Third Rome… The Third International is not an International, but the Russian national idea”. Therefore the Soviet state represents a transformation of the “ideas of Ivan the Terrible, a new form of the old hypertrophied state of Russian history…Russian Communism is more traditional than people usually think, and is nothing more than a transformation and distortion of the old Russian messianic idea”.

This view was shared by many thinkers in the Russian diaspora. The philosopher Georgy Fedotov, characterizing the rise of the Soviet system, wrote about the similarity of the Soviet and Petrine states, “…the new Russian regime in many ways takes us back” to the 18th century, and viewed the transfer of the capital from Petrograd to Moscow and the government’s relocation to Moscow as a “symbolic act”.

At this point it would be fitting to quote the poets:

What really changed? Just signs and symbols,

Same storms sweep all our myriad paths:

The commissars succumb to fell autocracy,

And fires of revolution consume the Tsarist heart.

– Maximilian Voloshin

Lenin has the spirit of an Old Believer,

Proclaims decrees with abbatial gravitas,

As if the causes of our ruin and collapse

He seeks within the “Pomorian Answers”.

– Nikolai Kluyev

Of course Stalin’s personal qualities informed the intense drama and stresses of the Soviet period. Contemporary accounts and later psychological investigations show that the defining feature of Stalin’s personality was his black and white worldview (which explains his perception of the people around him as either friends and enemies), a perception that he was in a permanently hostile environment, cruelty, and a drive to dominate.

However, the influence of Stalin’s psychological idiosyncrasies was most likely of secondary importance relative to the role of objective factors. Carrying through a program of accelerated modernization required a certain system of power and the creation of an administrative apparatus up to the task. In many ways these reasons explain the scale and spirit of Stalin’s ‘revolution from above’. In their recognition of the Stalinist revolution, authors as different as Leon Trotsky and Georgy Fedotov, or the American political scientists Stephen Cohen and Robert Tucker, were at one despite approaching this subject from highly divergent positions. They noted that though the first decade of Stalinist transformations had historical precedents and roots in Leninist Bolshevism, it was “not its continuation to a predetermined outcome, but a revolution with its own specific features and dynamic”.

In many ways this revolution substantially repeated the political experience of the Petrine reforms. One of the main goals of Peter the Great, together with the development of domestic industry, the Army and Navy, and the attainment of recognized imperial status, was to draw members from all social groups into state service, including the hereditary nobility (i.e. securing ouniversal social obligations before the state), and the maintenance of meritocratic criteria in the formation of the new administrative system.

The realization of universal social obligations before the state in the Soviet period is evidenced, for example, by the fact that not only the offspring of simple families directly participated in military operations during the Great Patriotic War, but also those whom we today would call the ‘golden youth’. Many of them who went off to the front never came back. Stalin’s eldest son Jacob Jughashvili, Mikhail Frunze’s son Timur, one of Anastas Mikoyan’s sons Vladimir, Kliment Voroshilov’s nephew Nikolai Scherbakov died on the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War, just like many other sons of high-placed functionaries. “Many families then living on Rublyovka had funerals,” A. F. Sergeev writes.

As for the measures of control undertaken in relation to the ruling nomenclature, their aim was to mobilize the administrative apparatus so as to guarantee its effectiveness both during the industrialization process and during postwar economic reconstruction. This problem was partially resolved through political repressions, which not only used normal citizens for mobilization, but also the bureaucratic elites.

A good example of elite mobilization can be found in the memoirs of Nikolai Baibakov, Forty Years in Government. In 1942, during his spell as Deputy People’s Commissar of the Oil Industry, he received orders from Stalin instructing him to leave for the North Caucasus, to be ready to blow up Soviet oil installations if the Soviet armies failed to stand fast. Stalin’s framing of the problem is remarkable – he said, “We have to do everything to make sure Germans don’t get a drop of our oil…So I warn you, if you leave the Germans even a single ton of oil, we will shoot you. But if you destroy the oil installations, but the Germans don’t come and we end up without fuel, we will also shoot you…”

The drive to squeeze out maximum effectiveness from the administrative apparatus is further evidenced by the fact that the upper and middle levels of the bureaucracy were one of the groups subjected to repressions.

Practically all members and candidates for membership of the Politburo, selected after the XVII Party Congress, suffered to some extent in the ‘Great Purge’ of the late 1930’s. That the strike was carried out against the nucleus of the Bolshevik Party – the old Leninist vanguard, is confirmed by a multitude of historical sources: “The first to be destroyed were the old Bolsheviks of Lenin’s generation,” Khrushchev recalled. According to the writer Yevgenia Ginzburg, who spent many years in prison, membership of the Communist Party was a “burdening condition”, a point of view that by 1937 had “already firmly seeped into everyone’s consciousness”. Ginzburg’s prison neighbor, the young post-graduate student Ira, firmly insisted on her lack of affiliations, which she thought gave her a colossal advantage relative to Party members.

The political repressions of the postwar era had a similar character. Those swept up in the ‘Leningrad Affair’ at the end of the 1940’s included Second Secretary of the All-Union Communist (Bolshevik) Party and Chairman of Gosplan Aleksei Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Nikolai Voznesensky, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR Mikhail Rodionov; ministers, secretaries of big Party organizations, other influential managers. There were almost 2,000 victims of the ‘Leningrad Affair’, many of whom were shot. Domestic and international research confirms that the foremost victim of the 1930-1950’s repressions was indeed the ruling class.

How things were…

The historian Roy Medvedev wrote on the following point: “It’s no secret that in the 1940’s many feared promotion to high government posts. Itjustseemeddangerous. Of course…nobody was safe from the Terror during the Stalin years, and it was particularly the upper echelons of the Party apparatus who were subjected to the harshest purges…It was obvious even to the majority of non-Party folks, who in those years slept much better at night than the Communists, that the ‘Great Terror’ was for the most part directed against the Party itself”.

We should also note it was Khruschev’s report to the XX Party Congress which laid the foundations for the interpretation of the Great Terror as an exclusively Stalin-inspired phenomenon, due to his cruelty, arbitrariness, intolerance of other opinions, and so on. Meanwhile, the famous poet David Samoylov wrote: “One would have to be a complete indeterminist to believe that the strengthening of Stalin’s power was the sole historical purpose of 1937, that with the sole force of his ambition, vanity, harshness, he could turn history where he wanted, to individually will through the monstrous happenings of that year”.

Contemporary researchers tend to see rational causes behind the use of violence to ensure the effectiveness of the ruling class, as a means of social mobilization for the fulfillment of impossible tasks. Stalin followed the logic of Peter I: demand the impossible from your subordinates, to get the maximum possible. It was no accident that physical health and the ability to handle high workloads was one of the key things required of People’s Commissars. According to Nikolai Baibakov, prior to his appointment as head of the oil industry, Stalin told him of his requirements of People’s Commissars, the most important of which were – a “bull’s nerves”, optimism and physical health.

The result of Stalin’s purges was the formation of a new administrative class, adequate to the tasks of modernization in conditions of resource deficits – unconditionally loyal to Soviet power and irreproachable in their executive discipline. This was achieved through a tariff-qualification system (a descendant of the Petrine Table of Ranks), which offered significantly differentiated labor compensation levels corresponding to differences in qualifications.

Georgy Fedotov wrote about the importance Stalin staked on quality: “Stalin’s real support came from that class, which calls itself ‘distinguished persons’. They are those who made their careers by their own talent, energy or lack of scruples, rising to the crest of the revolutionary wave. Party membership and past achievements now mean little; personal usefulness coupled with political reliability is all important. This new ruling class is populated with the crème de la crème of the Party, weeded out for their unscrupulousness, commanders of the Red Army, the best engineers, scientists and artists of the country. The Stakhanovite movement aims to draw into this new aristocracy the upper layers of the worker and peasant masses, to declass them, to seduce their most energetic and vigorous with high salaries and place them on a pedestal inaccessible to their former comrades. Stalin tentatively, instinctively repeats Stolypin’s bet on the strong. But since it is no longer private, but state business that is the new arena of competition, Stalin creates a new service class, a class subsumed to the people, thus reliving even the more remote experience of the Muscovite state. Life experience showed him the weak side of serf socialism – the lack of personal, egoistic incentives to work. Stalin searches for socialist stimuli for competition, corresponding to bourgeois profits. He finds them in a monstrously differentiated compensation scale, in material inequality, in personal ambition, in orders and distinctions of merit – ultimately, in the elements of a new class system. The word ‘distinguished persons’ is already a whole class program by itself”.

We can find an example of this set-up for support of the ‘strong’ in the memoirs of Andrei Gromyko, who managed Soviet foreign policy over the course of several postwar decades. Gromyko remembered how he, a commoner from a Gomel village and a graduate of a Minsk agricultural institute and post-graduate study in Moscow, came to work in the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How things were…

I never got an ‘understanding’ hand from anyone in the capital; I achieved everything on my own. They harp on about how I was Molotov’s protégé. Sure, I was, since he nominated me for diplomatic work. Itwouldbestupidtodenythat. But it’s important to understand why it was me, along with a few other people, whom the commission picked. Remembering that interview, I am of the firm opinion that it was not my social origin that played the decisive role, but my answer to the question: “What were the last books you read in the English language?” After I casually replied, “Rich Man, Poor Man”, I felt, that they would take me in.

Thus in this fashion, similar to how Chancellor Bismarck through ‘blood and iron’ consolidated the German lands into a united state in the 19th century, Stalin harshly and mercilessly reinforced the Soviet state. He viewed the strengthening of the state, which encompassed the strengthening of its military-industrial potential, as one of the principles of his politics. This attitude is indirectly evidenced in the memoirs of his daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, who wrote about how her father, looking over her dress and frowning, always asked her the question: “Is it foreign what you have on?” – and lightened up, when she answered, “No, it’s ours, domestic make”.

One of the most prominent manifestations of the highly-centralized nature of Stalin’s power became his cult of personality. The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger, visiting Moscow in 1937, was struck by the ubiquity of Stalin’s portraits. That said, according to both L. Feuchtwanger, and S. Alliluyeva, these displays of reverence irritated Stalin.

How things were…

Father couldn’t bear the view of the crowds, applauding him and shouting, Urrah!” – his face warped from annoyance… “They just open their traps and holler, like idiots!” he said angrily… When I have to…read and hear, that during his life my father considered himself as something like God, – I find it weird, that people who knew him well could insist on this,” wrote Svetlana Alliluyeva.

And indeed, at the start it is likely Stalin’s relation to his cult was shaped by utilitarian concerns, in that he viewed this mass support as a useful asset in the political struggle. “Bear in mind…that the Russian people spent centuries under a Tsar. The Russian people – they’re Tsarist. The Russians, Russian folks, they’ve gotten used to there being one person in charge,” he said. However, as is well known, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are many examples in Russian history of how degraded a personality could become given a long enough spell at the reins of power. This is partially evidenced by the biographies of rulers even as distinguished as Peter I or Catherine II. Though initially irritated by his cult, in time Stalin became accustomed to it. The Leader’s closest comrade-in-arms, Vyacheslav Molotov, admitted that although at first Stalin battled his own cult, he eventually came to like it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then…it all got to him”.

We can judge how Stalin remained in people’s memories by consulting a Public Opinion Foundation poll from February 2006: Everything considered, do you think Stalin played a positive or negative role in Russia’s history?

In conclusion, it’s obvious why views on Stalin’s historical role are so contradictory. On the one side, he is regarded as the most successful Soviet leader. It was during his rule that the country expanded its territory, reaching the borders of the former Russian Empire (and sometimes exceeding them), achieved Victory in the greatest of wars – the Great Patriotic War, accomplished industrialization of the economy and brought forth a cultural revolution, as a result of which the percentage of people with higher education soared and the country acquired the world’s best education system. The USSR entered the league of advanced states in the sphere of scientific progress and eliminated almost all unemployment.

But Stalin’s rule had another side. His successes – and they are acknowledged by many of the Leader’s opponents – were achieved through the ruthless exploitation of the population. During Stalin’s rule the country went through several waves of large-scale repressions. The initiator and theorist behind this ‘heightened class struggle’ was Stalin himself. Entire social classes like the landed peasantry, the urban petit-bourgeoisie, the priesthood and the old intelligentsia were liquidated. Furthermore, on occasion many people completely loyal to power suffered from the harsh laws. It is not even worth going into the safety of life during the Stalin years. Quality of life remained low, especially in the villages. All this did not promote the strengthening of the country’s moral climate.

This is the most controversial chapter of the most controversial history textbook in Russia, which critics have accused of trying to rehabilitate Stalinism and justify Russia’s (alleged) drift into authoritarianism. Read and decide for yourself. It should be noted that, to date, it is just one of dozens of “approved” history textbooks (whereas the vast majority of Russian schools use a few “recommended” texts) and has had only a very limited print run.

His other big idea is the concept of “conscience of law” (правосознание), which is a key theme of Medvedev’s thinking.

“новую, красную веру” – lit, “new, red faith”. In Russia, “red” also has connotations of beauty (красота)

керженский дух” – lit, “spirit of a Kerzhak”; refers to a tributory of the Volga traditionally settled by Old Believers, dissenters from mainstream Orthodoxy.

Поморские ответы” – lit., “Pomorian Answers”, a key Old Believer religious text from 1723.

“золотой молодежью” – lit., “golden youth”, referring to the gilded youth / frequently pampered children of the elite.

“знатными людьми”

“мохнатой руки” – lit., “furry arm”, signifying a friendly, helping hand offering to pull you up to higher places.

An oft-quoted phrase typically taken out of context to condemn this textbook.


  1. THIS is that infamous chapter I’ve been hearing about? You’ve got to be kidding! The Russophobes have seriously, officially gone crazy. There’s really only one thing I would take exception with (the statement about the aftermath of September 11). Overall, I don’t find it to be horrendously bad or historically inaccurate. Sure, the author, in my opinion, could have emphasized how many people died under Stalin a tad more, but I certainly would not call this a glorification of Stalin. It’s more trying to present facts and have the reader make up his or her own mind, at least from what I can see.

    Another troubling thing were the results of that poll. That was slightly disappointing, too. But as I said, the whole chapter was not nearly as horrendous or terrible as I thought it would be.

  2. I wouldn’t say they are particularly troubling – I for one would probably answer “struggle to answer” to such a question (two years back it would have been an unanimous “negative”). And much of that is indeed tied up with WW2… If the USSR hadn’t focused on heavy industrialization (especially beyond the Volga regions) and militarization during the 1930’s, then the question of whether it could have held in 1941-42 against the German assault becomes very uncertain. And being conquered by Hitler would have been objectively far worse than anything done by Stalin.

    Speaking of which, Stalin, as the chapter rightly points out, went way out of line in his centralizing tendencies – to the extent that collectivization and the Gulag system, quite apart from their moral failings, metastasized to such an extent as to become a burden on Soviet national power. And for those reasons I cannot view him in a positive light.

    One thing I’m sure on, however – my evaluation of Lenin and the old Bolsheviks in general is highly negative. They interrupted the development of a great civilization (the Russian Empire), locking it into decades of relative economic decline; placed internationalist ideology (much like today’s liberasts) above the wellbeing of the nation; and their own excesses paved the way for those of Stalin.

    Fedia Kriukov (a commenter on this blog) said this about Stalin, which I also happen to agree with after some reflection:

    “In short, Stalin has enough real crimes and mistakes to condemn him, I don’t see the need to blame him for what he wasn’t responsible for. I am also convinced that the mostly positive evaluation that modern Russians give to Stalin (according to opinion polls) is a form of protest against the tremendous number of false accusations leveled against him. Had anti-Stalin propaganda been truthful from the start, today’s Stalinism would not exist.”

    It should be noted that he was genuinely popular during his rule amongst Soviet citizens and hundreds of mourners were crushed to death during his funeral procession. Even Gulag inmates wept. One could dismiss it as a “national psychosis”, as I arrogantly did some time ago. Or one could realize that maybe Russia’s grandfathers and grandmothers have a point.

    My main issue with the textbook is that…it is not well written. Turgid and repetitive, though that is a failing of most Russian history textbooks I’ve leafed through. And as you say it makes some pretty questionable, or downright ridiculous, analogies. That is the criticism people free of ideological blinkers should be making.

  3. Yes, I think I agree with you overall, especially about Lenin. In many ways, I think I hate him more than Stalin. He pretty much took a country that was a tad backwards but had the potential to evolve and ruined it for the next seven decades or so.

  4. The effects of WW I greatly influenced what came about.

    Change was inevitable. It didn’t have to come about in the way that it did.

  5. In case you missed it…

    WASHINGTON – Nearly one-third of the natural gas yet to be discovered in the world is north of the Arctic Circle and most of it is in Russian territory, according to a new analysis led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey.

    “These findings suggest that in the future the … pre-eminence of Russian strategic control of gas resources in particular is likely to be accentuated and extended,” said Donald L. Gautier, lead author of the study published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

    . . .

    Arctic oil reserves are much smaller than those of natural gas and are unlikely to lead to any shift in world oil balance, Gautier said in a recorded briefing provided by Science.

    But they could be of importance locally if developed by individual countries, he said, citing in particular the United States and Greenland, which is governed by Denmark.

    However, Gautier added, the study looked only at the geological setting and the chance that energy resources are present.

    “If these resources were to be found they would not be found all at once, they would be found incrementally and they would be produced incrementally,” he said, urging caution about assuming that the oil might extend world production significantly.


  6. Thank you for this Anatole. It makes me understand how blinkered we are when we are fed soundbytes that are filtered through our Russophobe media. The number of times Putin’s quote about ‘the geatest geo-political catastrophe’ is given out of context is quite astounding.

    However, I do think that before World War I, the Russian Empire was heading for industrialisation. Agree with you about Lenin, but the point is that he was a religious ideologue with a narrow economical view rather than an Ataturk style Machiavellian strongman.

    Your comment about ‘Lithuanian Rifles’ reminds me of a remark approvingly quoted by Donald Rayfield: that the Red Army success was a combination of ‘Lithuanian rifles, Jewish brains and Russian stupidity’. Of course some would say that’s racist towards Russians (incidentally, the events were largely contemporary to that demonstration of British genius, The Somme), but the British media’s nationalism and racism are fairly deeply ingrained beneath the smiley clown mask.

  7. Hehe people who cannot tell Lithuania from Latvia talk about stupidity…

  8. I probably did misquote an irrelevant part of a formulation that I hastily wrote down from memory. So Rayfield is innocent on that count; so if misremembering an irrelevant part of a quote hastily typed down on the comments section is ‘stupid’ (despite my high IQ) then I suppose I am the guilty one. Sorry.

  9. Gregor

    Offhand, I’d have to research the specfics further. If I correctly recall, Lenin (in one of his works) emphasizes Russian pre-WW I industrial development. Offhand, perhaps he was doing this to offset Marx’s notion that the revolution wasn’t as likely in Russia as some other places. As you might know, KM didn’t seem to be particularly fond of Russia.

    Blasted WW I.

  10. Gregor,

    I am sorry, I didn’t suggest that either Rayfield or you are stupid. But whatever “racist” attitude “towards Russians” Britons have Russians have all sorts of chauvinistic stuff as well. So we would out of hand dismiss any such statement regardless of having or not having easy to spot factual errors. Therefore, an admittance like “it might be a bit racist” is likely to work less perfectly than “it might be a bit of a typical arrogant and ignorant British crap”.

  11. Hi Folks,

    I agree completely with your negative attitude toward Lenin, expressed hereabove.

    Yet, please don’t forget that it was actually NOT Lenin who began the revolution.

    The plot against the Tsar devised by the upper classes (including even the members of the very Imperial Family) and the high treason committed by the Commanders of the General Staff during the wartime (!), that what a real initial blow that triggered the national calamity.

    So, Stalin was wise and lucky enough in having got rid of (almost) all the traitors like Tukhachevsky and Co. BEFORE the Hitler’s onslaught.

    Special kudos to AK for the excellent translation!

  12. Hi Michael

    I agree with the idea that Russia was bound for some kind of change. Heck, even the manner of governance in Frasnce, Britian and the US changed over the decades since 1913.

    Was Tukhachevsky really a traitor?

    Offhand, some historiography suggests that the Germans were involved in intelligence efforts to release faulty documentation with the aim of having folks like Tukhachevsky eliminated. In addition, Stalin felt that there were enemies from within. Would you not agree that some of the designated enemies were more perceived than actual?

    I’m suddenly reminded of Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun.

  13. Tried writing a comment yesterday, which seems to have vanished (incidentally, it says that there are 14 responses to this article though I counted 12, which might imply a glitch or something).

    AK responds: I’m sorry Gregor, but there was nothing of yours in the Spam folder – I suspect the connection was interrupted? Or did it actually appear within the comments before vanishing?
    The reason there’s a difference of 2 between comments and responses, is that 2 of the responses are pingbacks.

    @Michael A

    I am very ignorant about this, but I thought most Bolsheviks were industrial workers led by middle classes. Don’t know if there were any quantitative figures about this. The rural population was stereotypically devout and monarchist at this time. Still, almost everything about the Russian Revolution was counter-intuitive. Whilst you mention Burnt by the Sun, in this film Kotov was supposed to be a man of the people who was promoted. Tukhachevsky was from a noble background but joined the Soviets. It is strange that so many people who should have known better and had little motivation were taken in by the Soviets.

    I feel daft writing being so defensive in my last post, but I don’t get your point. I do not deny that many Russians are nationalistic/ chauvinistic, but they are fairly upfront about it. In Britain there is little patriotism and generally the flag is only flown by neo-nazis, but whilst our media likes to lecture the world about liberal values, they are often racist towards Arabs and East Europeans. It’s their snide hypocrisy that gets to me.

  14. Gregor

    Appreciate the erudite follow-up.

    Vis-a-vis Tukhachevsky, what reminded me of Burnt by the Sun was the connection of a once popular military figuire suddenly becoming uncool.

    A number of Whites and folks who were on the apolitical side remained in Russia after the civil war for the same reason that many anti-Communist citizens in Yugoslavia and other parts of eastern/central Europe stayed put. Call it a love of their country and/or not wanting to pack up and start somewhere under unfamiliar surroundings.

  15. Gordon Hahn @ Russia Other Points of View – Response to Associated Press “Russian Commission to Guard Against False History” by Steve Gutterman, May 19, 2009

    Western media’s double standards on covering manipulation of history in Russia, and other countries.

  16. Look how there’s a Ukrainain holiday honoring Bandera and Petliura. Likewise, with the historical propping of Mazepa there.

    Unlike Yushchenko, a good number of others in Ukraine aren’t so enthusiastic about such an honoring.

    This is in line with his enthusiansm for Ukrainian entry into NATO against the majority of Ukrainian citizens.

    Who would win a Putin versus Yushchenko election in Ukraine? The kind of question that’s very much downplayed in the free (for those who can afford to influence it) press.

  17. Treason is a relative term. Lenin was obviously a traitor to Russia. Vlasov was a traitor to the Soviet Union but a Russian patriot. The brave Germans involved in the 20 July 1944 plot were traitors with respect to Nazi Germany,while at the same time they were true German patriots. (And no, I didn’t see the Tom Cruise movie–I heard it was bad. To get a sense of the feelings of many principled WWII Germans read Berlin Diaries by White Russian emigre Marie Vassiltchikov.)

  18. @Kolya,

    “Vlasov was a traitor to the Soviet Union but a Russian patriot.”

    It is impossible to regard him as a Russian patriot bearing in mind whom he allied with for removing Stalin – a movement that explicitly admitted to harboring genocidal intentions towards Russians, and did a great deal to put them into effect in the occupied territories. A Russian patriot in his position would have shot himself. The most charitable possible characterization of him is as a man of naiveté and conflicted values.

    “The brave Germans involved in the 20 July 1944 plot were traitors with respect to Nazi Germany, while at the same time they were true German patriots.”

    Agreed – though by true German patriots I presume you mean those concerned about Germany’s national interests. Hitler appeared good for those from 1938-till around late 1943, thus explaining their timidity up till that point – when it started becoming increasingly obvious the war was being lost. Hence Hitler was no longer useful and it would have been a good idea for those patriots to depose him and try to secure a peace that at least preserved the status of the Army and some semblance of German geopolitical power.


    There is a page on the Russian Defense Ministry with links to articles uncovering the lies and falsifications prevalent in Western historiography on the Soviet Union.

    История: против лжи и фальсификаций

    It would be a good idea to translate some of them, though I don’t have the time.

    Another interesting tidbit – Polish formin Sikorski [yes, the Russophobic one] says Poland hadn’t occupied Vilnius region during interwar period‏. No outcry in the Western media whatsoever.

  19. AK

    Vlasov’s army was kept in the dock by the Nazis for much of the war on account of his principled stand, that didn’t put him on good terms with the likes of Himmler and Rosenberg. In captivity, Vlasov openly stated support for a strong Russia, which went contrary to Nazis like Himmler and Rosenberg. (In reply, one or both of them openly blasted Vlasov. I can check on the specifics.) On the other hand, there were other Germans who were more sympathetic to Vlasov’s views. These particulars are pretty well documented.

    Vlasov’s army and himself were let loose when the Nazis became desperate as the war came to a close. Upon their release, Vlasov and his army fought the Nazis and contributed to the liberation of Prague – the last scene of European WW II fighting.

    You can say that at that juncture it appears opportunistic for Vlasov’s army to fight the Nazis. At the same time, they didn’t like the way they were treated when the going was good for the Nazis.

    I don’t see how Bandera and his group come out looking better. The UPA/OUN were involved in some violently vile actions. This wasn’t true of Vlasov’s army which shouldn’t be confused with the smaller SS Kaminski Brigade.

    Regarding Sikorski, He will cite previous demographics and history to support his comments on Poland’s relationship with Vilnius.

    Using the same method, this can be applied elsewhere.

    Over the years, Sikorski has said things which have (comparatively speaking) nevertheless exempted him from being labeled with the N word (nationalist), when compared to a number of Russians – who are no more and arguably less “nationalist.” (In modern day usage, nationalist has been suggestively used as a negative form of patriotism.)

  20. I actually agree with Averko on Vlasov. On principled (and patriotic) Germans, I didn’t mean only those who turned against Hitler during WWII. A number of them were against them right from the beginning. Interesting, not all them were lefties or liberals, several of them were conservative Germans. Even among the military, a number of highly placed officers were strongly opposed to Hitler from even before 1939. Ironically, some of these Germans (including in the military) warned the English that Hitler is bad news and were hoping for some sort of support from England (that was before England and Germany were at war), but the English did not trust them. True enough, many German officers who were initially elated by the victories in Poland, France and elsewhere only turned against Hitler later on. Many of them were from old military families and were appalled by the treatment of Soviet prisoners and Jews.

    A great documentary on Germans who opposed Hitler is “The Restless Conscience”. Once again, “Berlin Diaries” of Marie Vassiltchikov is truly fascinating. A book by a German officer who served as some sort of liaison between Vlasov and the Germans is also extremely interesting. Unfortunately I forgot the title and author’s name. The author’s name is something like Strick-…. I do think that Vlasov was a tragic figure and a Russian patriot. And Averko is correct in pointing out that many of his German supporters were people involved in the July 20 plot.

  21. Wilfried Strik-Strikfeldt, whose book I’ve along with some others on the subject:

    Hitler era Germany included a number of ethnic Germans from the Russian Empire. A number of them had a soft spot for Russia along anti-Communist lines. Rosenberg was an exception (he was neither a fan of Russia or Communism).

  22. > Vlasov’s army was kept in the dock by the Nazis for much of the war on account of his principled stand

    This is absolutely false, at least because ROA (Vlasov’s army) was created only in the summer of 1944. Before that there were plenty of other formations of Russian and non-Russian collaborators, which had to be kept away from the Ostfront not because of any mythical “principled stand” on the part of Vlasov, but because they defected back to the Red Army en masse. Most of them had ended up in collaborator formations not because of any principles, but because that was their only chance of survival. Incidentally, many of such formations fought on the Western front without any problems.

    And what kind of a principled stand was it to swear personal fealty to Adolf Hitler, as every member of ROA was required to do?

    >Upon their release, Vlasov and his army fought the Nazis and contributed to the liberation of Prague

    This is utterly ludicrous. It just demonstrates that whoever remained in ROA in 1945 were traitors through and through. They had betrayed their country, and then they betrayed their new masters. “Liberation” my ass. They were trying to buy their hides with the last minute betrayal, fortunately without much luck:

    As for Lenin and the allegedly “brave and patriotic” Germans of the 20 July 1944 fame, they were not traitors, even if for different reasons. Lenin wasn’t a traitor because there was nothing left to betray after his party and their allies came to power. Stauffenberg et al were not traitors to even Nazi Germany. They were the same kind of scumbags, only more realistic about the prospects — their idea was to make peace with western Allies and then jointly wage war on the USSR. Their real intentions have been mostly written out of history because Germany needs its heroes too.

  23. You don’t have a good grasp of the subject matter. This is said to match the tone of your reply. There’s something to be said about a Sovok approach to looking at certain aspects of history. Soviet historiography on Vlasov was far from complete.

    Vlasov didn’t have complete control of all Russian POWs. This is a FACT. The ones fighting on the Western Front weren’t doing so with his approval. The Nazis treated Russian POWs worse than Western ones. Out of desperation, many fought on the Western Front when considering the limited options accorded to them. That they wore patches of Vlasov’s army didn’t make them Vlasov approved.

    Vlaaov’s army contributed to the liberation of Prague. This point is acknowledged by historians like AJP Taylor.

    Vlasov’s army was pretty much kept in the dock by the Nazis for much of the war on account of his principled stand, that didn’t put him on good terms with the likes of Himmler and Rosenberg.

    As previously stated and repeated again so that there’s no misunderstanding:

    In captivity, Vlasov openly stated support for a strong Russia, which went contrary to Nazis like Himmler and Rosenberg. (In reply, one or both of them openly blasted Vlasov. I can check on the specifics.) On the other hand, there were other Germans who were more sympathetic to Vlasov’s views. These particulars are pretty well documented.

    Vlasov’s army and himself were let loose when the Nazis became desperate as the war came to a close. Upon their release, Vlasov and his army fought the Nazis and contributed to the liberation of Prague – the last scene of European WW II fighting.

    You can say that at that juncture it appears opportunistic for Vlasov’s army to fight the Nazis. At the same time, they didn’t like the way they were treated when the going was good for the Nazis.

    I don’t see how Bandera and his group come out looking better. The UPA/OUN were involved in some violently vile actions. This wasn’t true of Vlasov’s army which shouldn’t be confused with the smaller SS Kaminski Brigade.

    Post 2

    Without looking back and without quoting verbatim, I seem to recall someone saying that opposition to Stalin shouldn’t (for accuracy sake) include distortions.

    This approach should be applied across the board.

  24. Mike, before you accuse anyone of not having a grasp of the subject matter, it wouldn’t hurt to demonstrate yours. As in, you need to operate with facts. So which exact facts did you manage to bring up?

    1. Germans supposedly kept Vlasov’s army “in the dock” for much of the war because they doubted their loyalty. This is false, because Vlasov’s army did not exist for much of the war. It was formed less than one year before the war ended, when Germany was already losing spectacularly.

    2. Vlasov allegedly said something about “strong Russia”. In reality, Vlasov said many things to many people. Even the details of his biography changed depending on who he was talking to. But what he definitely did say was swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler personally.

    3. “Vlaaov’s army contributed to the liberation of Prague”. First of all, Vlasov wasn’t even there. It was Buniachenko’s 1st Division, out of touch with Vlasov, that cleared Germans out of Prague. After which the Czechs asked them to get the hell out before they turned them over to the Red Army. Does that justify this whole sad circus named ROA in any way, shape or form? Of course not. They captured Prague not because they wanted to fight the Germans, but because they wanted to demonstrate to the Americans that they are not German flunkies and they should be saved from the Red Army. Didn’t quite work out, fortunately.

    So out of the above three facts, one is false and two are irrelevant.

    You still have to demonstrate how Vlasov was not a traitor…

    I don’t really know why you chose to bring up Bandera and OUN/UPA. They’re a different kind of scumbag. That doesn’t justify Vlasov.

  25. Fedia

    You’re the one who is showing less of a knowledge on this matter.

    Does your “different kind of scumbag” comment apply to Stalin? Was it not you who called for a balanced overview of what can and can’t be reasonably said of him?

    I bring up Bandera because I don’t see why he sould be more positively viewed than Vlasov. IMO, it’s flawed to take a comparitively more open-mided approach on Stalin, while clinging to questionable biases on other matter.

    There was valid reason to oppose Stalin. Likewise, Russians in Nazi captivity had reason to become disgusted with how they were treated. Vlasov and his army knew why the Nazis changed their attitude on them. As you point out, this included the projected outcome of the war. Besides some others, I offer a balanced perspective on this point, which took into consideration these two facets.

    On another point of yours, Vlasov’s army was in a kind of blueprint form. Hence, my in the dock comment. The reasons for this had to do with what was previously communicated.

    A quick offhand question (I can check on the specifics), didn’t General B confer with Vlasov on Prague?

    I can also specifically check back on your “allegedly” point on what Vlasov said about wanting a strong Russia and how Himmler and/or Rosenberg responded. Offhand, I recall the available historiography being clear enough on this point.

    Post 2

    A bit of an edit to a previous paragraph:

    There was valid reason to oppose Stalin. Likewise, Russians in Nazi captivity had reason to become disgusted with how they were treated. Vlasov and his army knew why the Nazis changed their attitude on them. As you point out, this primarily related to the projected outcome of the war. Besides some others, I offer a balanced perspective on this point, which took into consideration these two facets (Russian POW disgust with how they were treated and how the projected war outcome changed).

  26. Mike, I am actually puzzled about how you manage to judge our relative level of knowledge on the subject considering that you’ve yet to bring up a single fact that I didn’t know and that was relevant. (Or that you thought for some reason that Vlasov was responsible for Prague — in reality, there are even claims that Buniachenko moved on Prague against Vlasov’s orders.)

    As for your balanced perspective, I don’t really see how everything that you brings up balances out what Vlasov and his cronies really committed. Not even close.

    Let’s see. On the one hand we have:
    1) Betrayal of their own oath as military offers.
    2) New oath to someone who has unleashed genocidal war against their own people.

    But to “balance” that and “prove” that they weren’t traitors you offer the following:
    1) New masters didn’t trust them. (So what?)
    2) They betrayed their new masters too. (That doesn’t balance their first betrayal, it makes them traitors for the second time.)
    3) Bandera was worse. (Like anyone cares.)
    4) Stalin was a bad guy. (This flawed logic can be used to justify any betrayal — “gee, I’m just against the government, but I’m still for my country”. In fact, I think every single traitor in history has used just this justification.)

    Really, is this a matter of facts or knowledge? No, the facts are all known. What is problematic is your bizarre interpretation of these facts. And the fact that you keep dragging irrelevant figures into the argument, like Bandera or Stalin.

    I’m sorry, but when Vlasov surrendered, there weren’t any doubts about the nature of the German invasion left. Vlasov, with his own eyes, saw everything that the Germans had done on Soviet territory. He saw looted and burned villages, tortured and murdered civilians and POWs. And after seeing all that he went ahead and swore an oath to the fuehrer and agreed to lead troops against his own country? In what bizarre world do you manage to justify something like that? And oh yeah, they managed to save Prague (not really, because the Red Army was about two days away anyway, but let’s for the sake of argument acknowledge this point). Well, that’s great for Czechs. But tell me, how many RUSSIANS did those “non-traitors” save? Did they care about anyone at all except their own hides?

    Honestly, Mike, has Vlasov or anyone of that sad company ever done anything at all that could be construed as altruistic? They were pissed at Stalin, so they betrayed their country. They thought Germans didn’t treat them well enough so they betrayed the Germans (but first they waited until Germany was sure to lose the war). They thought Americans would save their hides so they captured Prague. Wow, what an impressive track record! How’s that for balance?

  27. Fedia

    You haven’t successfully debunked any of my core points.

    Have you read any or all of these books on the subject?

    Reitlinger, Gerald – THE HOUSE BUILT ON SAND- Viking Press, New York, 1960

    Steenberg, Sven – VLASOV – Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1970

    Strik-Strikfeldt, Wilfried – AGAINST STALIN & HITLER – The John Day Company, New York, 1973

    Thorwald, Jurgen – THE ILLUSION- Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, New York, 1975

    There’re others as well, which I’ve read in addition to coming across Czech, Red Army and Vlasov Army affiliated folks who were in Prague at the end of the war. As an undergrad I came across a politically left of center German military historian, who shares my views on Vlasov. There’re others sharing my opinions on this subject as well.

    AJP Taylor is a respected historian, who along with others noted the Vlasov army’s role in liberating Prague.

    The Soviet historiography on Vlasov is simplistically one-sided. I’m not into a hypocritically selective morality which seems to be comparatively soft on Lenin and Stalin. Did Vlasov contribute to the deaths of more Russians than Lenin and Stalin?

    Bandera’s forces and those of the Croat Ustasha and some Balts have been linked to violent crimes against civilians in a way that Vlasov’s forces haven’t. I recall that in the Demyanyuk trial of a number of years ago, his defense was that he was in Vlasov’s army.

    You write off the Stalin and Bandera references as “irrelevant.” Stalin’s manner served to enhance an opposition to him. The point on Bandera, Ustasha and some Balts relates to realities going against a cookie cutter like imagery. Not ally WW II Allies were Communists. Not all Soviets were brutish thugs. Conversely, not all Germans and nominally allied to the Nazi non-Germans were the same in behavior.

    Whether you sympathize with Vlasov or not, there was an idealistic factor to his support base. Pardon my reliance on Wiki:

    In your recent set of comments, you overlook the point about Vlasov’s stated RUSSIAN (not German or Nazi) patriotism, which when said in captivity put him in conflict with the Nazi ideologues. There’s enough credible historiography out there to conclude that he wasn’t a stooge of the Nazis.

    Post 2

    Upon a quick follow-up perusal, Buniachenko initiated the discussed military action in Prague. This had to do with his being situated in that area unlike Vlasov. Offhand, I don’t recall seeing any conclusive evidence of Vlasov opposing that move.

    I’m fully aware that the subject of Vlasov is a touchy matter. This perhaps explains his not getting a show trial, which however spun, would’ve highlighted a Russian opposition to the USSR under Stalin.

    In some (stress some) instances words like “traitor” and “genocide” can be simplistically used in a way that diverts attention away from more complex realities.

    Among others, Lenin can be written off as a “traitor” for the German support he received. Lenin prevailed unlike Vlasov – which leads to the point about how the winners in history get a greater placement of their views. Well, pardon me for digging a bit deeper. History is subject to changed perceptions. To a degree, this has been evident in the former USSR.

  28. As I said, in my view Vlasov was a Russian patriot and a tragic figure. Was he a traitor to Stalin? Yes, he was. Was he traitor to Russia. No, he wasn’t.

    It’s interesting to note that during WWII no other country had as many “traitors” as the Soviet Union. Compare the number of Soviet citizens who fought against the Soviet Union during WWII with the number of Russian citizens who fought against Russia during WWI.

    Fedia shows his ignorance about the brave and principled Germans who resisted Hitler. Let me recommend, once again, “The Restlesss Conscience” which among other things covers some of the opposition to Hitler and Nazism (even within the military) that predates WWII. Although not specifically on the anti-Hitler plotters, “Berlin Diaries” by Vassilktchikov (can be downloaded gratis in Russian) is very good at describing some of them as well as describing what some of these Germans were thinking during the war (even while fighting bravely on the German side.)

    Lenin was a traitor to Russia. It’s preposterous to maintain otherwise. For Lenin, though, that was irrelevant since he was an internationalist. Nobody can deny that Lenin got support from Germany at the time when Russia and Germany were at war. At that time there was still a Russian state and a Russian army.

  29. Mike, you haven’t written a single new thing and haven’t addressed any of my points. Honestly, I don’t care what books you’ve read and who agrees with you. What matters is FACTS and their honest interpretation. Please use facts in a discussion, not titles of books which might or might not support your view.

    The only new fact you decided to bring up is apparently that “there was an idealistic factor to [Vlasov’s] support base”. However, we are discussing Vlasov (and ROA leadership in general), not the support base. I am still waiting for you to demonstrate a single instance, just one, of Vlasov doing something altruistic for the benefit of Russia. Not his words, which are worthless. A single action whose aim was to benefit Russia, not save Vlasov’s hide.

    Lenin is another fine addition to your list of irrelevant examples, along with Bandera and Stalin.

    Now, Kolya, Kolya, Kolya… Let’s examine your claims in more detail:

    “As I said, in my view Vlasov was a Russian patriot and a tragic figure. Was he a traitor to Stalin? Yes, he was. Was he traitor to Russia. No, he wasn’t.” — your view would have more value if it were backed up by concrete facts. Somehow, I fail to see Russian patriotism in someone who chose to swear allegiance to the person waging a genocidal campaign against the Russian nation. And, incidentally, Vlasov’s oath as a Soviet officer was to the Soviet people, not Stalin personally. He betrayed his country, and it doesn’t make one bit of difference who was running it at the time. Not to mention the fact that there is an implied duty for any citizen to defend his country against external aggression, regardless of whether he swore an oath or not.

    “It’s interesting to note that during WWII no other country had as many “traitors” as the Soviet Union. Compare the number of Soviet citizens who fought against the Soviet Union during WWII with the number of Russian citizens who fought against Russia during WWI.” — and this is where Kolya shows his ignorance. Any country that was occupied by Germans had a greater percentage of true collaborators than USSR ever had. Add to it the simple fact that most Soviet collaborators were driven to it in order to survive because of the inhumane conditions in which they found themselves (and which wasn’t the case in other countries or in WW1), and it all becomes quite clear. Why do you think Germans had to withdraw most collaborator formations from the Ostfront? Do you know about the case of a whole brigade that went over to the side of the partisans in Belorussia in 1943? Not even to the Red Army, but the partisans, who were barely surviving. That’s because most of these collaborators were not fighting for any ideological anti-Soviet reasons. Once they killed the officers, they were glad to go back where they belonged. Those formations that were withdrawn proved to be quite reliable on the Western Front, though. This is a very different case from Vlasov. So those you call traitors were in fact not, and Vlasov, whom you are trying to justify, was. Rather inverted logic on your part. Or simple ignorance of basic facts.

    For another comparison with WW1, I would recommend reading Svechin’s “Iskusstvo vozhedniya polka”. As a rifle regiment commander in 1915, Svechin saw with his own eyes how Russian servicemen were surrendering en masse for no particular reason, just because they did not want to fight. This is in stark contrast to GPW’s “umirayu, no ne sdayus'”. There wasn’t a single case of a single unit capitulating in GPW. In order for the Germans to capture Soviet POWs, they had to spend weeks combing the areas of major encirclements, capturing exhausted and starved Red Army servicemen singly or in small groups.

    “Fedia shows his ignorance about the brave and principled Germans who resisted Hitler.” — Kolya shows his inability to read. I wrote specifically about von Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters, not German resistance in general. I’m sure there were some good and honest Germans. Von Stauffenberg, however, was not one of them, regardless of how modern German historiography tries to portray him.

    “Lenin was a traitor to Russia. It’s preposterous to maintain otherwise.” — what did he betray, exactly? Thanks to the best efforts of the Provisional government, the Russian army was already in a state of collapse. Lenin did not have to do a single thing for the army to fall apart. The treaty the Bolsheviks signed was not a betrayal because the Bolsheviks did not have an army left to fight with. That army had simply deserted en masse. There wasn’t any significant number of individuals willing to fight for Russia in 1917. I would say that in 1917 Russia unfortunately betrayed itself, much like in 1991.

    As for the German support, this topic has already been discussed to death in Russian military history forums. The Bolsheviks did not actually know that one of their funding sources was Germany. When they found out, they stopped taking money from that source. And even tried to return some. You need to study history a bit more.

  30. @Kolya,

    Compare the number of Soviet citizens who fought against the Soviet Union during WWII with the number of Russian citizens who fought against Russia during WWI.

    In addition to Fedia’s excellent points, it would be well to also provide some statistics. According to the aggregated figures in The Pity of War (N. Ferguson), as a proportion of total casualties, POWs constituted 7% for Britain, 9% for Germany, 12% for France, 17% for Turkey, 26% for Italy, 32% for Austria-Hungary and 52% for Russia. Analysis shows that these numbers are excellent proxies for military morale, since big rises in them were typically followed by partial or full collapse of the armed forces.

    Using POWs for military-related purposes was generally regarded as unacceptable in WW1, under the influence of the Hague Conventions. As such it is not at all surprising that few Russians, if any, fought against Russia with the Central Powers. Strawman.

    In contrast, according to Krivosheev, out of the 34.5mn who passed through the Soviet armed forces in the GPW – 8.7mn were killed, 14.7mn were wounded and 4.1mn taken prisoner. This means that the POW-casualty ratio for the USSR was at 15%, the vast bulk of it concentrated during Operation Barbarossa – when the military was least prepared and Soviet citizens did not yet fully comprehend the true nature of the Nazi regime.


    Re-Russia betrayed itself. Excellent characterization.

    Still, for once here I agree with Kolya. I don’t remember the source, but I came across an account of how he actually sent off congratulations to the Japanese after their victory over Russia at Tsushima (for which he later got to cool down in Siberia).

    He later wrote of it, delightedly, as a victory of “progressive, advanced Asia” against “backward and reactionary Europe”, for it was “Russian autocracy that started the colonial war”; “The Russian people gained from that defeat”. “The great armada, huge and clumsy, senseless, helpless, monstrous like the Russian Empire…like a mob of savages, the Russian Armada fell upon the Japanese fleet…The autocracy plunged the people into a senseless, shameful war…it now faces a well-deserved demise”.

    Not treasonous in substance, but certainly in spirit.

  31. AK, if such quotes are what makes one treasonous, then we might as well call modern Russian liberasts traitors. I wouldn’t go that far. The term should be “unfortunately misguided fools”, which is quite applicable to pre-revolutionary Bolsheviks and fellow travelers as well.

    Interesting to note is that no matter how they started, they became naturally patriotic once they gained power. The transformation was quite fast, too. In my opinion, the one event that solidified the Bolsheviks’ grip on power and gained them wide acceptance in Russian society was their defense of the country against the Polish invasion in 1919-20. Contrast that with Wrangel’s actions, which were responsible for the eventual loss to Poland of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia by distracting significant Red Army forces from the Western Front. Who was more patriotic in light of that?

    I am quite certain that if Garry Kasparov became Russia’s leader, he’d become a true patriot as well. Of course, Russia would lose much between his inauguration and the moment he finally turned his brain on and realized that his true interests are in Moscow and not Washington. Fortunately, this scenario is unlikely to be tested in reality. The freak is unelectable.

  32. Mike, I feel I should apologize for my overly aggressive response on Vlasov. I don’t know what your family background is, but my entire family lived in the USSR in 1941-45, most of them on Nazi occupied territories, and many of them did not survive to the end of the war. Vlasov was supposed to defend them. But instead Vlasov did not just betray Stalin, Vlasov betrayed my ancestors, and therefore he betrayed me. He swore allegiance to someone who is responsible for many deaths in my family. Thus, when I see that you try to justify him in a way that doesn’t really justify him, I cannot calmly argue and explain to you why you are wrong. This is very personal to me.

    So I apologize for the tone. Not for the content.

  33. @Fedia,

    Re-treason. I gave a caveat that it is not treasonous in substance (i.e. in modern democracies it is protected under free speech – and rightly so), but is treasonous in spirit. That is my opinion on the old Bolsheviks and today’s liberasts, anyway.

    I completely agree with your scenario of what will happen once Kasparov comes to power. A period of weakening and stupid concessions; no equivalent Western reciprocity; disillusionment and move back towards sovereignty – quite possibly, one that is actually more authoritarian than Putinism.

    I’m sorry to hear about your family. I had relatives in Volokolamsk near Moscow, which was occupied for a couple of months in late 1941. Apparently the German soldiers were quite polite when they came, but retreated in a foul mood, looting valuables and destroying property as they went. If they hadn’t successfully hidden away caches of essentials, they may not have survived.

  34. Fedia

    Your recent reply has changed what I was going to post.

    You touch on an aspect of political commentary relating to how one’s background can influence their view of things. From your comments, I kind of sense where we’re more in agreement with each other. I’ve my own ancestral links to Russia/USSR/Russian Empire. These ties aren’t lacking in ethics or a constructive affinity for Russia. For the moment, I’ll leave it at that (perhaps this can be discussed offline). There’re trolls out there looking to seize on any point, with the ill intent to distort (a search of my name will confirm this).

    I’m not looking to fight WW II or the Russian Civil War all over again. I approvingly note a special bond I feel when meeting a good number of folks from the former USSR. This extends to some other places like Montenegro, Serbia and Bulgaria.

    Going to your most recent set of comments, the Reds and Whites opposed each other. I don’t see how the Reds were more patriotically Russian than the Whites. The Whites weren’t so politically backwards as caricatured in anti-Russian and/or left of center depictions. They recognized Polish independence and if anything were more reluctant than the Reds to cede more territory to Poland. The Whites sought an alliance with Poland, but were refused because of Pilsudksi’s anti-Russoism, mixed in with the Whites’ not willing to put up with a Polish puppet (which Petliura essentially became) in charge of former Russian Empire land in Ukraine – as western Ukraine and western Belarus were slated to be under Polish rule. Pilsudski sought to weaken Russia with the desire of seeking a prolonged Russian Civil War. FYI, Tukhachevsky openly stated that the outcome of the Russian Civil War might’ve changed had there been a White-Polish alliance.

    As for Vlasov, there’s ample evidence showing that he wasn’t the unethical opportunist as portrayed in some circles. He expressed patriotically Russian views as a captive of the Nazis. In contrast, note some present day Russians who say generally hostile things about Russia, with the gloating approval of folks not sympathetic to that country.

    In reply to your point about Russian soldiers with the Nazis fighting on the Western Front, I correctly noted that they shouldn’t be confused with Vlasov’s army and what Vlasov sought (To reiterate: Russian POWS were treated miserably. It has been concluded that this served to coerce many of them to take the Western Front option when offered). Denikin who was in Western Europe during the war is among a good number of folks confirming this obvious (when studied in detail) point. The USSR gave kudos to Denikin (refer to his biography in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia) for issuing a decree asking that Russians not support Nazi war aims. Besides myself, Kolya and others correctly note what Vlasov was actually seeking. In addition, I linked a Wiki piece on an org. thinking along such lines. You can very reasonably disagree with whether Vlasov took the right course – especially given the end result for him. There was a patriotically Russian basis for supporting him.

    As a student of history/historian (however you refer to yourself), refer to Lenin. He wanted Russia out of WW I and got German backing. Had the Whites won, with Lenin captured would he be portrayed differently?

    Stalin’s domestic brutality, purging of the Red Army officer corps, non-preparation of what should’ve been seen as an impending Nazi assault stood out for some when the USSRs’ prospect for an eventual victory didn’t look so good. With this in mind, how would the general perspective change had the Nazis won, with a different leader from Hitler succeeding in Germany? Without hindsight, there was no way of knowing for sure what was to become.

    In closing, I’ll touch on a point Kolya made. Years ago, I recall an anti-Communist noting the reason why a good umber of prominent Russians lived outside Russia in the post-Stalin Soviet era years. These included such Russian patriots as Rostropovich and Solzhenitsyn. This point has a relationship to the subject of Vlasov.

    I sincerely hope that post-Soviet Russia continues a spirit of taking a closer look at its past.

  35. Pardon the digression, which nevertheless relates to this thread on the issue of how a topic (be it Vlasov’s army, the Whites or others) is covered.

    I’ve submitted it by recalling a reference to what Radek Sikorski said about Lithuania at this thread.

    I find RFE/RL to be rather heavy-handed and misleading in its negative coverage of Serbia/Serbs.

    A recent RFE/RL article perturbed me. On one of my email lists, I highlighted the article in question (the treatment of Roma in Serbia) to a number of folks sharing my views.

    Despite its one-sided selection of commentary and reports on the subject, RFE/RL is good at moderating and posting opposing comments. Here’re the involved links:

    With pleasure, I recognize some of the commenters.

    Some years back, I recall Jim Jatras (at a Harriman Institute gathering of the Njegos Foundation at Columbia University) observe what I’ve periodically noticed. The issue of how many Russia bashers are also Serb bashers. This kind of “culture war” for lack of a better term doesn’t get as much play in terms of media review.

    On such matter as well as some others, I’ll close with an ongoing mantra of mine about how Russian government funded English language PR/media efforts can significantly improve by putting the best available go to sources in place. 😉

    Post 2

    Re: http://www.edwardlucas.blogspot.com


    “Tens of thousands of Russians fought alongside the Nazis, with mixed motives: deluded, desperate and despicable. How might they be compared with the Estonians and Latvians who fought the Soviet advance in 1944?”


    Is this another way of suggesting that the Russians who were (for the most part) nominally allied (at best) with the Nazis more on the low life side than the mentioned non-Russians?

    Note how the above linked piece mentions Krasnov and Vlasov while omitting Bandera. During WW II, Krasnov wasn’t as much a factor as the other two.

    Among other things, as indicated earlier at this thread: on the treatment of civilians, Bandera’s forces behaved disreputably in way that wasn’t attributed to Vlasov’s army. Perhaps this is why Bandera isn’t mentioned in the above linked piece. In addition to the historiography on Bandera’s forces, the point on that group’s manner has been personally expressed to me by Poles, Ukrainians and Jews who were situated in western Ukraine during WW II.

  36. Interesting debate. I don’t have much opinion or knowledge about WWII in general, or this in particular, but I would debate if we can judge the Russian collaborators based on what Hitler WANTED to happen. By 1943 at the latest, Hitler was probably clinically insane and physically dying. Heinrich Himmler seemed most likely to succeed him, and whilst Himmler was immensely evil, he was comparatively rational, valuing survival over victory. If the Nazis took Moscow, and destroyed the Soviet leadership then the collaborators COULD BE in the right place at the right time to change regime. With Nazi Germany at war with America, the Commonwealth and numerous European resistance groups, it may have looked like a re-run of WWI where the German Empire destroyed the Tsar before collapsing itself.

    Or to see it another way, Lenin did not have vast public support but because he was ‘at the right place at the right time’, if I can phrase it like that, he filled the power vacuum. Maybe the collaborators hoped to do the same.

    But this is all conjecture to demonstrate a minor point (that Hitler’s intentions were hampered by his own madness and stupidity). It is a very difficult question. As a Christian I would probably have been murdered if I had lived in Stalin’s USSR; certainly I would have seen him as the primary enemy. But Hitler was also immensely evil. I am just grateful I will hopefully never have to make such a choice.

  37. AK, Fedia’s comments were not excellent. He is a sovok and you are close to one too. If you read back, I acknowledged that with respect to the Soviet Union Vlasov was a traitor. With respect to Russia he was a patriot. I certainly respect him more than Stalin or Zhukov. The Soviet Union had millions of “traitors” even before Nazi Germany was able to show it’s true face. By traitors I mean Soviet citizens willing to take up arms against the Soviet Union. There is no comparison with Russia during World War I. Many Russians surrendered (but fewer in comparison to Soviet soldiers) but they didn’t fight against Russia. Lenin was traitor to Russia. The whole point is that for Lenin, a Marxist internationalist, to be a traitor to Russia (or any other country) was an irrelevance. When Lenin entered Russia, Russia was still a viable state. Battered and in bad shape, but still viable. As a principled patriot the brave Stauffenberger was head-and-shoulders above the vast majority of Germans, Russians, Brits, and others who fought during WWII. And yes, I’m well informed on all of the above topics.

    This is my last here. You are a smart man and some of your posts are interesting, AK. Hopefully you will become more objective as you mature. I have to say, though, that there is a bit too much of a sovok whiff in your writings (not as much as in Fedia’s.) Many sovoks suffer from an inferiority complex that is often manifested by suspecting others of Russophobia–the equivalent of those ridiculous Rush Limbaugh fans who suspect that any criticism of “America” constitutes anti-Americanism.

    And then of course, there is also yours and Fedia’s absurd and uninformed defense of Hugo Chavez, that buffoonish demagogue.

    Okay, I better quit.

  38. Kolya, you are hysterical. What’s a “sovok”?

  39. @Gregor,

    Himmler was a deluded sociopath who seriously thought even up until 1945 that the Western Allies would condescend to negotiate with him. He was a simple man and very far from rational.

    First, he was fully committed to the “Teutonic Crusader” vision of the war to East, far more so than the majority of senior Nazis. He would never, I think, have pursued the Vichy route with Russia – even if the Nazis had somehow took Moscow, which was probably near impossible by 1943.

    Second, IIRC the man in succession was in any case Göring (though granted the despotic nature of the Nazi regime, it is far from certain whether he’d have managed to realize that succession).


    There is no comparison with Russia during World War I. Many Russians surrendered (but fewer in comparison to Soviet soldiers) but they didn’t fight against Russia.

    Yes there is a comparison. As a percentage of all casualties POW’s in WW1 constituted more than 50%…showing the degradation and eventual utter collapse of morale in the Tsarist armies. And Russia was facing less than half the attention of the Central Powers, which also had a full-scale front in France and a significant one in Italy on their hands.

    During WW2, that figure fell to just 15%. Absolute numbers don’t matter, because the Red Army called up 35mn soldiers during the GPW, in contrast to Tsarist Russia which called up 13mn. And your argument that no Russians fought for Germany during WW1 is a strawman, because at the time Germany (usually) followed international laws of war and refrained from using POW’s for military duties or physical labor. This is in stark contrast to WW2, when Germany flouted all the laws of war on the Eastern Front, meaning that a Soviet POW’s best chance of survival often lay in becoming a Hiwi (and as Fedia pointed out, they were furthermore very unreliable and hence unwilling fighters).

    Re-“sovok”. Let’s look at Wiki, Fedia.

    * Любовь к Родине; yes
    * Уверенность в завтрашнем дне; probably
    * Стремление к светлому будущему, оптимизм, но в то же время и реализм; working on it
    * Ощущение принадлежности к великой общине подобных людей; not really
    * Справедливость, честность, человечность; I like to think so
    * Мужество, храбрость, непокоримая сила; I like to think so
    * Толерантность к согражданам и иностранцам. yes

    And I think even some of the “negative” qualities are in fact good.

    * opposition to идолопоклонничество перед Западом? = the right attitude – this kind of stupidity and weakness was well-demonstrated in the 1990’s.
    * Некоторый пессимизм в отношении власти – a healthy degree of skepticism, as opposed to paranoia, is a good relation to have to government IMO.
    * Осознание некоторых ограничений свобод советским режимом, стремление от этих ограничений избавиться, но в то же время неспособность появившимися после распада СССР свободами воспользоваться; n/a
    * Безразличие к результатам своего труда (об этом говорится в поговорке «Они притворяются, что платят нам, а мы делаем вид, что работаем»), и отсутствие инициативы; quite obviously not – for a start, would such a type even have a blog? (as both Fedia and I have).
    * Безразличие к общей собственности, кражи на предприятиях, как для персонального пользования, так и с целью извлечения выгоды; not good, but I think this describes much of Western as well as late and post-Soviet society nowadays.
    * Нерелигиозность, часто полный атеизм, послуживший главной причиной вышеописанных и других бед; Barracking folks for their non-religiosity or atheism is so old-school, lol.

    So I would like to thank you for the compliments, Kolya, and I’m sure Fedia will get round to doing so too. 😉

    PS. @Kolya. I appreciate having different viewpoints here, it livens the place up and occasionally forces us to challenge some of our beliefs – so please don’t think I want you out. If it’s because you don’t feel comfortable here or because you have too little time, however, that’s another matter.

  40. ‘Second, IIRC the man in succession was in any case Göring (though granted the despotic nature of the Nazi regime, it is far from certain whether he’d have managed to realize that succession).’

    Ah, shows how much I know about the subject. Still, as a wise man said,’ when you are in three holes you don’t stop digging but find another shovel’. 😉

    ‘Himmler was a deluded sociopath who seriously thought even up until 1945 that the Western Allies would condescend to negotiate with him. He was a simple man and very far from rational.’

    Sociopath, yes. Deluded… General Paton wanted a truce with the Nazis. Even Truman said he supported an on-going war of attrition between the Nazis and Soviets. Whether or not forcing unconditional surrender was a logical move for the West is open to debate.

    ‘First, he was fully committed to the “Teutonic Crusader” vision of the war to East, far more so than the majority of senior Nazis. He would never, I think, have pursued the Vichy route with Russia – even if the Nazis had somehow took Moscow, which was probably near impossible by 1943.’

    Probably not, but that wasn’t what I said. I was just making a wild conjecture, that it could have seemed to the collaborators that (like Imperial Germany) the Nazis could destroy the ruling regime before collapsing. Not saying it would be wise or ethical; just a hypothesis.

  41. What’s a “sovok”?

    Совками обычно называют три совершенно разных категории населения: коммуняк, ымперцев и собственно совков……

    Post 2

    Oops, where’s my comment gone?

    AK responds: Akismet can be a bitch at times (anti-spam thingie). But it’s still indispensable.

  42. Sorry, I don’t have time right now to continue this discussion, I just wanted to point something out. Many posters here make a false assumption that ideology preceded collaboration. I think it’s the opposite. First came collaboration, then an ideological underpinning was created post factum to justify the betrayal.

    Here’s how one Soviet POW described the process (sorry, don’t have time to translate, maybe someone could help?):

    В лагере образовывался полицейский просто. Начинает человек, только что такой же, как все, кричать и устанавливать очередь, начинает бить, все уклоняются или уступают. Он наглеет. И уже чувствуя, что заработал, берет лишнюю баланду. В следующий раз он уже распоряжается, и у него, показавшего преданность и старание, появляется желание узаконить свои льготы, а может, и получить новые. Тогда он идет в полицию. Потом, будучи полицейским, он постепенно привыкает быть царьком и отказаться от сладострастия вселять страх уже не может. Встречая осуждение других, испытывая укоры совести, начинает придумывать себе оправдание, и вдруг оказывается, что [130] он с советской властью не согласен, выкапывается в памяти, когда его обидели или его родственников, что другие говорили. Еще шаг, и он начинает искать благородную миссию в своем новом существовании — оказывается, он борец за национальную независимость. Это уже знамя. Так появлялись националисты. А тут еще почва — враг, готовый под свое крыло взять, оправдать его изуверское поведение.

    In general, I highly recommend this memoir. I believe it’s been translated to English.

  43. Akismet can be a bitch at times…

    Looks like Akismet doesn’t like links to the .ru domain. Isn’t that russophobic?

  44. … I believe it’s been translated to English.

  45. Re: Some Recent Comments

    I respectfully suggest as broad a study as possible on the subject. On this point, an informal bibliography of sorts was posted at this thread. At times, it seems that further study is geared to find additional support to one’s existing opinion – versus seeking opposing views and directly replying to them – with the idea that there might be a valid counterpoint.

    From a patriotic Russian view as well as others, there was a basis to oppose much of what was going on in the USSR during the Stalin era. There was expat opposition for sure in support of this stance. Whether exap or not, there was no 100% uniform way in how these views developed.

    Once again, noticeably emphasized words like “betray” and “opportunist” can be selectively applied in a way that conform to a given bias. Although not necessarily inaccurate from a technical standpoint, the emphasis on such words can at times serve to oversimplify the subject, in a way that downplays other variables. To one degree or another, we all seem to have a given set of biases. For accuracy sake, the idea is to try to level this feeling as much as possible.

    The personal side of reviewing history was earlier noted to explain how the discussed topic is approached. When discussing such matter, there is perhaps a non-recognition of the experiences that others holding different views have faced.

    The family who loses a son who was suddenly drafted to fight in Finland with no formal military training – in a compaign that wasn’t so well planned. The father of that family who is arrested on a bogus charge having to do with someone else needing to name names for lesser punishment – as part of a conspiracy, which otherwise didn’t exist.

    On Patton, the movie about him starring George C. Scott had much of the unchallenged bluster about how the politicians kept him from liberating more of Europe – a point that I agree is lacking in accuracy. One thing I’ll partially put in Patton’s favor had to do with his treatment of Soviet citizens who his forces came across. Compared to his peers, Patton showed more of an effort to not automatically have them turned back over to the USSR. At the same time, he also appeared to be more willing to overlook some of those who committed ghastly acts.

  46. For whatever reason, some comments have been removed from this thread.

    As of this posting, Fedia starts of by addressing what I said – minus what he replies to.

    So that there’s no misunderstanding, I dealt with facts which included my stating opinions based on facts – utilizing some primary source material. It’s therefore wrong to claim otherwise.

    None of my points were disproven on subject matter which has aspects to it that are perhaps more of a matter of opinion than a clear case of one view being completely right over the other. Some of the issues involve more than two opinions.

    In any event, I appreciate a resonably respectful interaction of different opinions.

    As a foot note to my last set of comments, Soviet citizens were limited in their criticism of Stalin. It therefore stands to reason that once away from Stalin’s grasp, there would be more criticism of Stalin from Soviet citizens.

    IMO, the mentioned opportunism or idealism issue is one having evidence of both elements.

    So that there’s no misunderstanding, I don’t belittle the deaths resulting from the Nazi attack on the USSR. In addition to what some others said about their families, I lost a family member in an air raid.