Memorial: On Portraits of Stalin for the anniversary of Victory Day
Officials from the Moscow Mayor’s Office have stated their intention to put up portraits of Stalin in the city for the 65th anniversary of Victory Day. As usual, it is not known who exactly, and at what level, took this decision, however it is clear that the portraits will be paid for out of the pockets of taxpayers, including those who lost their relatives because of the dictator. Yet it is not a question of money nor is it that some of those invited to the festivities will not wish to come to a city decorated in such dubious fashion.
The appearance of portraits of Stalin on Victory Day is an insult to the memory of the fallen.
Soviet soldiers went into battle not because they were ordered to by the country’s leader, and not in order to defend the Politburo with its General Secretary in the Kremlin. They defended their homeland from a foreign invader, defended the country which the communist leaders had brought to the brink of catastrophe.
The fortitude, courage and valiant deeds of people defending their country in the years of War have been and remain a spiritual legacy for the entire nation, and nobody has the right to make use of this legacy at their will. Any attempt to rewrite this legacy in Stalin’s name is nothing more than pillage and blasphemy.
What is doubly blasphemous is the intention to hang portraits of Stalin at Home Guard assembly points. The history of these Home Guard units, civilians, virtually unarmed and mercilessly hurled into the killing machine outside Moscow, Kyiv, Leningrad, almost all of whom died, is in itself another indictment of the “great military commander of all time and peoples”. Are the apologists for Stalin in the Moscow Mayor’s Office seriously assuming that Muscovites don’t remember how it was that their fathers and grandfathers died?
Thanks to the efforts of Moscow officialdom, Stalin’s name already adorns the Kurskaya Metro Station. None of the officials remembered, of course, either about the fate of the First Head of the Metro, Petrikovsky, shot with Stalin’s sanction, or about the fate of hundreds of those who built the metro, executed or sent to the camps.
This portrait undertaking is a continuation of the insidious rehabilitation of Stalinism.
Those in the advertising committee who came up with it have no intention of remembering what truly was entirely Stalin’s doing – the mass terror in the army in 1937-1938, which killed tens of thousands of military men, from rank and file soldiers to marshals, or the pre-War union with Hitler, directly resulting in the tragedy of summer and autumn 1941, or the millions of lives sacrificed for the crimes and mistakes of the Leader.
The people won the War despite Stalin’s crimes.
Victory was achieved at an incredible price which to this day has never been fully calculated.
The main sense behind celebration of Victory Day is to express words of gratitude to those who really achieved this Victory. Very few of them unfortunately remain. They and only they must be the centre of attention on this day.
If the portraits of Stalin really do appear on the streets of Moscow, we will do all in our power to make sure that at the same time other posters, stands and placards appear, recounting the crimes of the tyrant and his real place in the history of the Great Patriotic War. We are convinced that hundreds of Muscovites – the children and grandchildren of those who fought on the Front, those to whom we really owe Victory - will help us in this.
The International Memorial Society
2 March 2010