Both Stalin and Russian Orthodox church are glorified in an interesting exhibit of icons and pictures:
How can this paradox be explained? Stalin's ideology was diametrically opposite to the ideology of the church. His was responsible for killing and deportation of clergy, destruction of churches, confiscation of church properties, and for aggressive propaganda against religion. According to wikipedia, "by 1939, active parishes numbered in the low hundreds (down from 54,000 in 1917), many churches had been leveled, and tens of thousands of priests, monks and nuns were persecuted and killed. Over 100,000 were shot during the purges of 1937–1938." How can Stalin and religion be glorified at the same time?
The title of the exhibit is "Russian Victories in the World's history." Beautiful pictures and icons are certainly worth admiring. Here is the essential message of the entire display:
"REMEMBER: TO BE A RUSSIAN MEANS TO BE AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN. WE RUSSIANS ARE ONE GREAT FAMILY OF THE WHITE CHRISTIAN PEOPLE. ALL OF US ARE KITH AND KIN. WE HAVE PRESERVED OUR ORTHODOX FAITH AND BEEN LIVING FOR THE LAST MILLENNIUM IN HOLY RUSSIA. OUR SACRED HOME ON EARTH THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. ONE FOLK, ONE FAITH, ONE COUNTRY!"
On another page one reads: "Thus, it is quite obvious that we, the Russian people are not, have never been, nor ever shall be, a part of the West. Thank God – we are Russians! We can well coexist with the West peacefully and profitably. We can even make friends with you, but please do neither lecture us, nor interfere with our affairs. Amen."
Three dignified portraits of Joseph Stalin are shown, intermixed with the WWII photos. In a comment posted at click here M. K. wrote: "Nikita Khruschev against Marshal Stalin in 1956 appeared to be all dirty lies, lies, and lies!" This prompted me to post the following reply:
"Suppose a hypothetical western journalist, in 1940, asks Stalin about the source of his wisdom. On the basis of what I know, the answer would probably be as follows.
'I am not a genius; what I think and what I do is based on general ideas formulated by Marx and Engels. And I am a faithful follower of Lenin, who applied Marxism to specific Russian conditions. My wisdom, if you wish to use this term, is the collective wisdom of our ideology. A brief summary of that ideology can be found in my 1938 book entitled Dialectical and Historical Materialism.'
Everything that Stalin did was justified by him in terms of Marxist-Leninist ideology. How is this ideology presented to Russian students today? Describing Stalin without the ideology he served would not be fair. To understand Stalin one must understand ideas that motivated him. How can his historical significance be separated from the ideology imposed by Bolsheviks on generations of Russian people (to replace their earlier beliefs)? . . . "
M.K. also wrote:
"1. Stalin could by no means rule so successfully for so many years without full people's support of his actions.
"2. To understand Stalin's actions you should first understand the Russians.
"3. The matter is that we, the Westerners and the Russians have been 'playing different games.' Suppose, you play poker, while we Russians play chess (or vice versa). You've been trying to regard us from the poker player's point of view. But this is a futile attempt.
"4. You should try to look at us with our Russian eyes, and everything will be understood."
What can I say about this poker/chess [metaphor]? Unfortunately, this does not address the issue. Bolshevik ideology was an essential part of Soviet education, when Stalin was alive. As far as I know, it would not have been possible to graduate from a university without taking a "diamat" course. Stalin's 1938 book, and "The History of VKPB," were required readings. What one learned in these ideological courses was dramatically different from some of the ideas formulated in the above-mentioned display of pictures and icons. That is why I was surprised to see three dignified portraits of Stalin at that display.