Ultimate Soviet Henchman Returns to His Pedestal
Fourteen years ago, Moscow's summer was filled with sheer exuberance. The Soviet Union was suddenly gone, separated into 15 different states and a thousand pieces. People were afraid, but many believed Russia would turn democratic naturally, like a whole nation taking a sudden breath of fresh, free air after being too long underwater.
On the night of Aug. 22, 1991, several construction cranes and a crowd of about 50,000 determined people gathered in central Moscow to seal that promise of something better than Soviet misery. In front of the sinister K.G.B. building, workers rocked, cracked and then toppled the formidable statue of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the father of the secret police, the founder of the gulag, the man whose people tortured and killed millions to create Lenin's dream state. It was not broken into pieces by protesters but relegated instead to an undistinguished patch of land behind the New Tretyakov Gallery.
Earlier this month, with little fanfare but plenty of dreary symbolism, Mr. Dzerzhinsky was returned to a position of honor in central Moscow. It is not the same statue, and it is not on the same plinth, in the center of a major traffic circle near the place where the K.G.B. tortured its many victims.
Instead, Iron Feliks is a few blocks away at the Interior Ministry, his bronze bust back on a pedestal in the new Russian society. This is the man who in 1917 founded the Cheka, the Extraordinary Commission, which terrorized the nation with the arrests and brutal executions that became known as the Red Terror. This invention was the precursor of the secret police and spy network, the K.G.B., that stood as a symbol of barbarism in the 20th century.
comments powered by Disqus
- New Hampshire professors at odds with library over discarded books
- Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
- Independent Scotland's last gasp forgotten in Panama jungle
- LBJ was the ‘most-threatened president in American history’
- New exhibit at the World War I Museum ... Over by Christmas: August-December 1914
- Ken Burns on Colbert to promote his new documentary, "The Address"
- UC Santa Barbara History Department featuring a series on the Great Society at 50
- Historians are trying to recover censored texts from World War I poets
- Diane Ravitch blasts the NYT for failing to understand the controversy over Common Core
- Mormon history professors debate atheists in bid to foster greater understanding