Twists & Turns of Soviet Life in 1950’s
12 May, 2011
Twists & Turns of Soviet Life in 1950’s

The victory of Stalin and the USSR in World War II had a magic effect – the impression was that it had written off Stalin’s responsibility for the death of millions around the world.  Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The victory in the Second World War added unbelievable glory and radiance to Stalin’s already existing fame. The Soviet people attached the victory in the War directly to the Great Leader’s name, hav

ing forgotten every crime perpetrated by him in the past. What was funny though is that the selfsame glorified and venerated Stalin gave impetus to a new wave of repressions all over the Soviet Union against his own people, who had won the victory for him in the War. How about the public reaction to the new wave of purges? Did the public react adequately? Had the people started waking up somehow? 
SM – As weird and funny as it might sound, the Stalinist repressions of 1950-1952 were not followed by any waking-up of the public. When the Soviet government embarked on arresting the former prisoners of war, the Soviet people’s attitude towards their apprehended fellow-citizens was not at all tolerant. If in 1937, even in 1920’s, the Soviet people who had witnessed the total injustice on part of their rulers felt terribly hurt and offended, in 1950’s the situation had radically changed – those who were punished by the Stalinist regime no longer enjoyed any sense of tolerance and sympathy from the Soviet people.
GJ – This must have been perfectly compatible with the myth about Stalin’s ‘greatness’ and ‘brilliance’. Is this true?
SM – Yes, it is! The victory of Stalin and the USSR in World War II had a magic effect – the impression was that it had written off Stalin’s responsibility for the death of millions around the world. One would often hear in public that Stalin had no idea what was going on, or he let the prisoner go free once he had learnt about him, or something like this: ‘Stalin was really angry when he had heard about this . . .’, etc. 
GJ – Which means that people were trying real hard to elevate Stalin to the rank of a genius and noble leader, weren’t they?
SM – That was a very funny naivete. You see, Stalin was considered by the Soviet people an omniscient genius in just about every walk of life, but when it came to repressions, his brilliance was reduced by the same people to a simple stupidity. I mentioned the so called ‘Mingrelian Affair’ in our previous conversation as you might remember. Notwithstanding the fact that almost all Georgia was hit by the wave of purges based on that case, people had not reacted to it accordingly. Lot of anecdotes was told on the topic too, deriding those who had suffered. Criticism against Stalin became practically impossible in Georgia and elsewhere.
GJ – In 1953, the Great Leader (Stalin) passed away. This had closed one of the biggest epochs of the Soviet people’s life.
SM – Yes, he died on the 5th of March of 1953, and certain new processes started with his death in the Soviet country. Here, I think we should make a brief pause to look back and analyze the pre-Stalin’s-death period, which must be very interesting as it was a prerequisite for all the events that took place after his demise.  
GJ – Do you mean the political analyses of the situation before Stalin’s death?
SM – Yes! As I said, a new wave of repressions rose in the 1950’s. One of the cases was named as ‘The Leningrad Affair’.
GJ – What was it about?
SM – The case was about the young Russians like Voznesenski, Kuznetsov and others, who were promoted from Leningrad to a federal level of service. During the Second World War they were brought closer and closer to Stalin’s immediate entourage, but eventually they were accused of treason and executed.
GJ – All right, that was the official version of the story. What had happened in reality?
SM – It was Stalin’s habit and tool to be permanently testing his entourage for fidelity. For example, he would tell one of them that he had already gotten old and was ready to retire and be substituted by the person he was talking to at that moment. Stalin expected a quick negative reaction and a verbal assurance that he was immortal. Otherwise . . .  (Continued in the next article on the same page)

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