Stalin Nostalgia

Jaroslaw Anders reviews Monumental Propaganda by Vladimir Voinovich, translated by Andrew Bromfield, in The New Republic:

Stalinface In 1999, in the Siberian town of Ishin, some 1,250 miles southeast of Moscow, a three-foot-tall bust of Stalin was discovered buried in a local garden. Apparently, it was hidden there by an anonymous idolater at the time of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization campaign. For years the tyrant’s name was unmentionable, and his effigies were scrupulously removed from public view. Under Brezhnev, he enjoyed a partial comeback as the nation’s great war leader, but it was only in the new and supposedly free post-communist Russia that Stalin’s likeness could be displayed once more. In Ishin, the local “Committee to Study Stalinist Heritage,” led by a feisty pensioner named Tamara Sazhina, had the miraculously recovered bust mounted in a city square as part of a monument to the heroes of World War II. 

This true story illustrates a phenomenon that the Russian commentator Eugenie Ikhlov calls Stalinshchina, “Stalin fashion” or “Stalin nostalgia.” It can be seen in the growing popularity of Stalin memorabilia and repeated calls to restore Stalin’s name to various monuments and public facilities. Groups of World War II veterans have been demanding for some time that the city of Volgograd restore its wartime name of Stalingrad. That has not happened yet, but the appellation was recently placed on a plaque in the Kremlin commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of what was possibly the bloodiest battle in the history of humanity.

More here.

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