SOCIETY
Stalin’s Cult in Georgia
28 April, 2011

Stalin became a cult figure for those who had returned safe from the Second World War and their delighted families. Stalin was a winner. He was a generalissimo. Stalinism was born in Georgia in 1941 and was completely formed into a rigid ideology by 1945.  Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – How can you then explain the fact that the Soviet citizens committed amazing acts of heroism and self-sacrifice in the War, and they did all that in the name

of Stain and Motherland? 
SM – The Second World War acts and episodes are abundantly described by writers and media. And answering your question, I would like to touch upon a couple of global issues. To cut a long story short, the strongest point of the Soviet regime was an utterly perfected and very subtle propaganda machine. As long as Georgians are concerned in particular, they really found themselves faced with genocide. And the situation still needs improvement after more than six and a half decades since the end of World War II. The reproduction process dramatically slowed down as a result of the War. If not for that immense human sacrifice, Georgia should have at least 15 million people today.  The second worst thing that had happened was that Stalin became a real idol for those who had returned from war and for the bereft families too. As the saying goes, the winners would never be judged. Stalin was a winner and he was a generalissimo. An overwhelming psychological approach was formed about Stalin’s figure. The word went around that he actually was a great leader, especially in the eyes and hearts of those who for four years fought shoulder to shoulder with him against fascism. Stalinism was born in Georgia in 1941 and was completely molded into a rigid ideology by 1945.
GJ – Had people forgotten so quickly the 1937 purges and atrocities?
SM – Everything was overshadowed by the victory. Nobody wanted to remember the terrible years of 1921, 1924 and 1937. At the first glance, it was not too long between those years and the end of the War. The impression was that Georgians got afflicted with overwhelming amnesia. Even the families who had lost their dear ones in those years of the Stalinist depression had no desire to remember neither the past nor the relatives. Actually, the surviving members of those families were treated with such mistrust on part of the Soviet government that they were not even recruited to fight in the War. The parental memory was substituted by Stalin’s invincible and glorious image. The victory over fascism had put Stalin and Russia next to America and Britain and gave them the face of a progressive power. From psychological and moral stand, this was even more destructive than the physical sacrifice itself which the Georgian society had suffered not only in the War but also between the years of 1921 and 1945. The nation was left without scientists, artists, writers, public figures – they were just shot and gone. But the nation kept their memory forever. Ironically, Stalin became their mother, father and son, their writer, their scientist, public figure and all. Writing Stalin’s name like Jugashvili (his family name) was commonplace. Saying that Stalin was Georgian was a matter of pride.   
GJ – Georgians somehow stayed proud of Stalin for quite long, didn’t they?
SM – Yes, there definitely was sense of identification with Stalin – the guy together with whom you fought the War and won something very significant...
GJ – Shall we describe the feeling like an enchantment with the fact of participation in the process?
SM – Maybe! When nothing is left, when all is taken away – the motherland, the progeny, the gene-pool, and when the nation’s fathers have long been dead, the only real thing that was left for Georgians to be proud of was the victorious generalissimo – an ethnic Georgian. This psychological turnaround had completely ruined the Georgian national cause. And this had continued all the way until the 9th of March of 1956. That was the day when the young defenders of Stalin’s name in Georgia were slaughtered by the death machine created by Stalin and shored up by the Soviet Army. In the years between 1945 and 1956 the Georgian national idea and cause was hopelessly defunct.

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