Author Topic: Stalin's Legacy  (Read 35756 times)

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Offline TimM

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2010, 04:45:47 PM »
 
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there was also a realization that the Soviet Union had suffered by far the most fatalities (23,000,000) and that the Soviet Union had absorbed much of the Nazi military brunt and that if the Soviets hadn't done that then it is quite possible that Britain would have been invaded sooner or later or at least a reconquest of the European mainland would not have been possible.  So the Soviets were given a bit more leeway than they normally would have.

Yeah, but that still does not justify them conquering Eastern Europe the way they did.  They were doing the same thing the Nazis did.


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Because the USSR had absorbed the 3 Baltic countries in 1940, they were not up for discussion either.

However, the U.S. never offically recognized those countries as part of the Soviet Union, they saw it for what it was, an illegel annexation.
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Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2010, 04:49:31 PM »
Well considering the alternative was to declare war on the Soviet Union, what would you have done?

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2010, 05:15:43 PM »
A little off topic, but about statues to those who are considered heroes or non heroes.  In Saratoga, New York, there is a monument to Benedict Arnold (who is, of course, known in the US as a traitor during the US Revolution.)  Arnold was the commander of West Point at one time during the war and turned it over to the British.

However at the battle of Saratoga, he was still on the US side and he was wounded in the leg.  So there is a monument to his leg - boot and all - at the Saratoga Battle site.  I have seen it and it seems sort of eerie to put up a monument to the man's leg because that wound was taken during a battle while he was on the side of the Revolution.

But people do strange things to honor war heroes, dictators or others as the public deems necessary.

People do indeed do strange things. Hi, Alixz! When I read your post it was so interesting and amusing that it made me laugh out loud and so I shared it with my husband, who in turn immediately shared with me a similar story. He told me about the famous wooden hand of Captain Danjou of the 19th-century French campaign in Mexico. This wooden hand (Danjou's actual prosthesis!) has been preserved and is now revered as one of the holiest relics of the French Foreign Legion. It is regarded as a veritable talisman of loyalty to the Legion. Don't believe me? I checked it out on the internet, see this Wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Foreign_Legion

And yes, it's true that some Bulgarians sell busts of Hitler in their second-hand and antique shops, but however distasteful this is, we have to give them a break, I think, because 1) Bulgarians traditionally, since the 19th century, have practically worshipped Germany and almost everything German (even though, to their immense credit, they wouldn't have anything to do with the Final Solution, and rescued literally all of their fellow Jewish citizens from Bulgaria proper); and 2) because "thanks" mainly to Hitler, they got back valuable territories from Romania - which they had lost to that country after World War I - because they had sided with Germany in World War I as in World War II. Or as my husband puts it, given any major world conflict, "Bulgaria always chooses the losing side. So if they choose you, you know you're going to lose."

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2010, 05:36:10 PM »
Alix, I'm with you, I'm not an expert on the genesis of the Cold War, and have read very little about it, a situation I hope soon to correct, once I tackle Tony Judt's Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945.

But even speaking as a relative ignoramus, I have to say that in my opinion one of the worst outcomes of the Yalta agreement was the decision to send back to the Soviet Union, by force if necessary (and indeed it usually proved to be necessary) all Soviet prisoners of war formerly held in Nazi-conquered territory. Worse yet, local British authorities interpreted this directive to mean that all Russian émigrés, even White Russians who had emigrated during the Civil War almost thirty years before, were to be subjected to forcible repatriation. Most of these people either landed in Soviet concentration camps or received a bullet in the back of the neck the minute they touched Soviet soil.

Nikolai Tolstoy has written about all of this in his book, Victims of Yalta, which I would advise everybody here to read, if they haven't done so already.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2010, 05:39:29 PM by Elisabeth »

Offline TimM

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2010, 08:16:02 PM »
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Nikolai Tolstoy has written about all of this in his book, Victims of Yalta, which I would advise everybody here to read, if they haven't done so already.

Sounds like an interesting read.  I'll see if I can get  a copy.
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Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2010, 03:58:37 AM »
Try Amazon because this book might be out of print, it was originally published back in the late 1970s. The author Nikolai Tolstoy (yes, he's a not-so-distant relative of Leo Tolstoy) was actually sued in a British court by one of the more obnoxious British officials he had named in his book as being responsible for the forced repatriation of Russians to Stalin's Soviet Union after WWII. Unbelievably, NT lost this lawsuit, although maybe not so unbelievably since British libel laws are so much more stringent and encompassing than anywhere else. Of course, the real problem with Tolstoy's book was that he actually named names. And back in the 1970s lots of the guilty parties were still alive. So in fact Nikolai Tolstoy was tremendously brave to have gone forward, written and published this account, and to this day I think he is very much respected in Russian émigré circles for that very reason.

At the same time, I have to say that some Russians in the Third Reich, for example some of the Cossacks, did not behave at all well, in fact, abominably. Of course, the vast majority of Russians who "collaborated" with the Nazis were Soviet POWs who were acting only under extreme duress, since they faced starvation in the holding camps the Nazis had set up for them, or worse, (if they were Jews or Communists or both) extermination in Nazi death and/or labor camps. On the other hand, there were some elements of the Cossack population, who I am told (just as an example) actually conducted a reign of terror against civilians in Italy during the Nazi occupation of that country. Which leads me once again to the conclusion that the Cossacks are generally romanticized not only in popular literature but also even in some scholarly works. I ask you, precisely how many examples of Cossack cruelty and outrages against civilians do we need to conclude that twentieth-century Cossacks were not romantic figures at all, but exemplars of not much else but brute force and prejudice? As anti-Semites they certainly made a name for themselves.

Offline TimM

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2010, 11:13:53 AM »
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The author Nikolai Tolstoy (yes, he's a not-so-distant relative of Leo Tolstoy)

Yeah, I was wondering about that.

I agree that it was brave of him to name names, but I guess he guilt those whom he felt were guilty should answer for what they did.  I guess a book like that now wouldn't have any legal issues, since the guilty parties are all dead now.
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Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2010, 12:15:42 PM »
the families of a deceased person can still sue as we are talkiing about reputation.  The ability of the case to be heard would depend on whether there was loss involved by the impugningof the character.

By the way, Nikolai Tolstoy was not a descendant of Leo Tolstoy and is not actually a count.  He is from a different wing of the family and distantly but still related to the writer.  His great grandfather was Pavel Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, who was chamberlain to Nicholas ll.  Pavel Tolstoy-Miloslavsky was enobled by Grand Duke Kiril and this was approved by the Dowager Empress but as Grand Duke Kiril was not on the throne of Russia at the time, his ability to appoint anyone a Count is highly contentious. 

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2010, 03:02:33 PM »
Yeah, Constantinople, I wrote that Nikolai Tolstoy is a "not-so-distant relative" of Count Tolstoy, but nowhere did I claim that he was a descendant of the great writer himself. I am very much aware (as I am sure the majority of our members here are) that the Tolstoy family is, shall we say, VAST and encompasses many branches (well, at the very least they have superb genes). I guess in referring to NT as Leo Tolstoy's not-so-distant relative I was thinking of the writer Aleksei Tolstoi, who made quite a name for himself in Stalin's Russia, and unlike Nikolai Tolstoy always played up his connection to the Count - laughable in his case, as I recall, because that connection truly was pretty distant (although granted, it still existed).

I've been rereading - actually skimming - Victims of Yalta and I have to admit I can't recommend it very highly now, decades after first reading it. No, unless one is willing to read it with a huge grain of salt, a skeptical mind, it gives rather a misleading picture of the postwar scene. Don't get me wrong, the forced repatriation of most of these poor "Soviets," including White Russians, was a horrible thing. But at the same time, Tolstoy doesn't even mention the Cossacks' many less than savory activities in occupied Europe. There are glaring omissions when it comes to the exploits of General Krasnov, a real bastard if ever there was one, but who NT makes out as some kind of innocent martyr to the British and Soviets. I used to believe that the British official who sued NT was utterly in the wrong, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe he had something of a case, after all?
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 03:12:00 PM by Elisabeth »

Offline TimM

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2010, 03:20:10 PM »
Well, the Western Allies should have known what would happen to those poor Russians they sent back.  They are just as culpable in my eyes.
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Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #40 on: August 22, 2010, 04:19:40 PM »
That is a different matter but I agree with you.

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #41 on: September 01, 2010, 08:22:26 PM »
I'm currently reading the historian Tony Judt's book Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. He makes the point that largely because of Hitler and Stalin and their mutual social engineering projects, whereby entire peoples were deported (Poles, Germans, etc.) or outright exterminated (the Jews and Romani), postwar Europe - with the exception of a few outposts of multiculturalism like Yugoslavia - had actually been rendered pretty homogeneous, ethnically speaking. All the old ethnic conflicts had more or less been solved by the use of force, whether Nazi or communist. This is one of the many dark legacies of World War II, Judt believes, that has made it so hard for postwar Europe to deal with its past honestly and openly. Fascinating book.

Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #42 on: September 02, 2010, 03:30:24 AM »
In terms of Yugoslavia, it wasn't so much Stalin and Hitler that kept the lid on Yugoslavia, it was Tito.  And there wasn't a decline in ethnic diversity as the wars in Yugoslavia attested to.  The divides are not not just ethnic but religious and political and the term Balkanization, which refers to the geographic division of a region creating political instability, was derrived from this region.  As for other areas, in central Europe, Hitler and Stalin actually exsaserbated the ethnic divisions between Czechs and Slovaks and Hungarians but the manifestation of those divisions was delayed until the break up of Commecon.

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #43 on: September 02, 2010, 09:29:34 AM »
In terms of Yugoslavia, it wasn't so much Stalin and Hitler that kept the lid on Yugoslavia, it was Tito.  And there wasn't a decline in ethnic diversity as the wars in Yugoslavia attested to.  The divides are not not just ethnic but religious and political and the term Balkanization, which refers to the geographic division of a region creating political instability, was derrived from this region.  As for other areas, in central Europe, Hitler and Stalin actually exsaserbated the ethnic divisions between Czechs and Slovaks and Hungarians but the manifestation of those divisions was delayed until the break up of Commecon.

As regards Yugoslavia, this is precisely what Judt is saying - despite all appearances to the contrary, it remained a powder keg of potential ethnic conflict, because the various ethnic peoples had not been forcibly relocated, nor otherwise migrated, to their own "countries" of origin, during or immediately after World War II. As Judt points out, this was not the case in most of Europe.

Judt writes, "Czechoslovakia, whose population before Munich was 22 percent German, 5 percent Hungarian, 3 percent Carpathian Ukrainians and 1.5 percent Jewish, was now [after WWII] almost exclusively Czech and Slovak: of the 55,000 Czechoslovak Jews who survived the war, all but 16,000 would leave by 1950" (Judt, Postwar, p. 28). In the aftermath of the war Czechoslovakia had forcibly deported almost 3 million ethnic Germans from its borders; over 250,000 died in being transferred to Germany. The same pattern was repeated with little variation in Poland and Hungary.

"Some Western observers were shocked at the treatment of the German communities [in Central and Eastern Europe]. Anne O'Hare McCormick, a New York Times correspondent, recorded her impressions on October 23rd, 1946: "The scale of this resettlement, and the conditions in which it takes place, is without precedent in history [sic, sic, sic, as Judt points out repeatedly, both Stalin and Hitler had certainly set plenty of precedents for the forcible relocation of entire populations - E.] No one seeing its horrors first hand can doubt that it is a crime against humanity for which history will exact a terrible retribution" (Judt. p. 26).

The subsequent lessening of ethnic tension in Czechoslovakia is testified to by the fact that in the early 1990s, with the breakup of the former Soviet bloc, this country divided peacefully, without bloodshed, into the newly independent Czech Republic and the republic of Slovakia. This political accomplishment was made easier because the ethnic populations in question were roughly grouped together and roughly located within specific territorial boundaries. This was in total contrast to Yugoslavia, where different ethnic and religious populations were spread out and overlapped virtually everywhere. As a result, as we all know, with the collapse of communism Yugoslavia dissolved into civil war and "ethnic cleansing."


« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 09:34:42 AM by Elisabeth »

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #44 on: September 02, 2010, 10:32:08 AM »
Forgot to mention that, as one of my Soviet history professors told me, Stalin was apparently quite devious when it came to drawing up territorial boundaries within the Soviet Union itself. According to this theory he deliberately drew the boundaries of the Soviet republics with an eye to keeping ethnic conflict in these regions alive, well, and kicking, up to the present day. So, for example, lots of Uzbeks even now, in the 21st century, find themselves in Kyrgyzstan (yes, a source of continuing ethnic conflict). Ossetia was divided in half by Stalin, the northern part going to Russia, the southern one to Georgia (hence the recent Russo-Georgian War). The Karabakh region, mainly Armenian-inhabited, was deliberately placed in Azerbaijan. And so on and so forth.  

But as my professor put it, this was smart policy from the point of a ruler of the Soviet empire because it kept the local governments of the various republics of the USSR on tenterhooks, completely dependent on the central government (i.e., Moscow, i.e., Stalin) in case ethnic conflict should break out, as conceivably it could at any moment.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 10:34:54 AM by Elisabeth »