ONE MAN’S TERRORIST IS ANOTHER MAN’S FREEDOM FIGHTER: Reuters: 70 years after death, Stalin’s polarizing legacy looms large.
On the eve of the 70th anniversary of Josef Stalin’s death, attitudes to the Soviet Union’s wartime leader remain mixed in the nations he once ruled with an iron fist.
During three decades of dictatorial rule, Stalin oversaw rapid industrialisation and victory over the Nazis but also the deaths of millions in purges, Gulag labour camps and famine.
With Russia embroiled in conflict again in Ukraine, in what the Kremlin says is a fresh existential battle for national survival, memories of the Soviet dictator loom large.“Firstly, thank you for the victory (in World War Two),” said 21-year-old Madina in a typically mixed view of Stalin’s legacy among people on the streets of Moscow.
“Secondly, he is a negative person for me because there were a lot of deaths. A lot of executions, shootings, expulsions, arts were banned, etc. So it’s impossible to have a clear position one way or the other,” she added, declining to give her second name.
Stalin died on March 5, 1953, aged 74.
Though public commemorations remain largely taboo and streets no longer bear his name, his reputation has in recent years undergone something of a renaissance.
To boldly go where the New York Times went in 1953: “Stalin Rose From Czarist Oppression to Transform Russia Into Mighty Socialist State.”
(Classical reference in headline.)