Originally published 06/19/2013
...[New Russian history] guidelines [proposed by Vladimir Putin] ... attempt to paint a “balanced” picture of Stalin’s rule. They describe Stalin as a modernizer who brought about Russia’s ultra-fast industrialization, laid the foundation for the Soviet Union’s scientific achievements and its victory in World War II, but also orchestrated mass purges “to liquidate a potential fifth column” and used forced labor to achieve an economic breakthrough.The soft-lens picture of Stalin is consistent with some of Putin’s utterances on the tyrant. “I very much doubt that had Stalin had the atomic bomb in the spring of 1945, he would have used it on Germany,” Putin said during a recent visit to the state-owned Russia Today TV station.
Originally published 05/21/2013
Masha Gessen is a journalist in Moscow and the author of “The Man Without a Face,” a biography of Vladimir Putin.MOSCOW — Just saying that a Jew should have been made into a lampshade does not make you an anti-Semite, or so a prominent columnist asserted recently. And just because both Nazism and Soviet Communism were totalitarian regimes does not mean they are comparable. Such arguments, counterarguments and variations of them have dominated Russian blogs, social networks and some of the traditional media for the last week.
Originally published 02/26/2013
Benjamin Schwarz is The Atlantic’s literary editor and national editor.In this dazzling 650-page feat of historical reconstruction, Karl Schlögel, a professor at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), has summoned up a great city—what was once the New Jerusalem for much of the world’s intelligentsia and downtrodden—as it consumed itself in an orgy of fear, paranoia, denunciations, mass arrests, suicides, and executions.Schlögel’s book is a fragmentary yet meticulous social history of Moscow in the grip of the Great Terror—the period from the summer of 1936 to the end of 1938, when the already sanguinary Bolshevik regime let loose on itself its apparatus of suppression, purging, in waves, all Soviet institutions and at all levels of society, from the nomenklatura, the highest echelons of administrative, cultural, and scientific life, through the high command of the Red Army, to the engineers and apparatchiks, down to the factory workers and peasants. It is an almost impossibly rich masterpiece.
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