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Stalin Portraits & Victory Day

Portraits of Stalin and the Anniversary Victory Day. Statement by the International and Moscow Memorial Societies

Source: hro.org, 03/03/10

· Human Rights Defenders

· Human Rights Education

· Victims of Repressions

· Moscow City and Region

Officials from the Moscow Mayor’s Office have stated that portraits of Stalin are to be put up in the city for the 65th Anniversary of Victory Day. As is usual, it is not known by whom and at what level this decision was taken, but it is clear that the portraits will be produced at the expense of the taxpayers, who include those who lost their relatives through the fault of the dictator. But it is not a question of money, and nor is it that some of those invited to the celebrations will probably not wish to come to a city, decorated in such a dubious manner. The appearance of portraits of Stalin on Victory Day is an insult to the memory of the fallen.

Soviet soldiers went to fight, not because the leader ordered them to, and not in order to defend the Politburo and its General Secretary in the Kremlin. They were defending the Motherland from a foreign invasion. They were defending a country whose communist leaders had brought to the verge of a catastrophe.

The resistance, bravery, and exploits of those who defended the Motherland during the war were and remain the spiritual legacy of the people as a whole, and no one has the right to dispose of this legacy at his own discretion. The attempt to ascribe this legacy to Stalin is nothing other than looting and blasphemy.

The intention to hang portraits of Stalin at the assembly points for the divisions of the People’s Volunteer Corps is doubly blasphemous. The history of the People’s Volunteer Corps – of civilians, largely unarmed, thrown pitilessly into the meat grinders outside Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad, where almost all died – is in itself a bill of indictment of “the great commander of all times and peoples”. Do the apologists for Stalin in the Moscow Mayor’s office really, seriously, think that Muscovites do not remember how their fathers and grandfathers died?

The arches of the Kursk metro station already flaunt Stalin’s name, thanks to the efforts of Moscow officials. Not one of them, of course, has remembered either the fate of the first head of the Metro, Petrikovskii, shot on Stalin’s orders, or that of hundreds of metro employees, shot or sent to the camps.

The proposed portraits are part of the creeping rehabilitation of Stalinism.

The schemers in the advertising committee are not prepared to remember what Stalin in reality was wholly responsible for – the mass terror in the army in 1937-1938, which wiped out tens of thousands of soldiers from the non-commissioned to marshals; the pre-war pact with Hitler, which led directly to the tragedy of the summer-autumn of 1941; the millions of lives with which, throughout the war, the people paid for the crimes and mistakes of the leader.

The people won the war, despite all of Stalin’s crimes.

Victory was achieved at a monstrous price, which has still not been fully calculated.

The principal purpose of celebrating Victory day is to voice our gratitude to those who actually achieved the Victory. Alas, very few of them remain. They, and only they, should be the centre of attention on that day.

If portraits of Stalin do indeed appear on the streets of Moscow, we shall do all within our power to ensure that, simultaneously, they will be accompanied by other placards, stands, and posters which tell of the tyrant’s crimes and of his true place in the history of the Great War for the Fatherland. We are convinced that hundreds of Muscovites – the children and grandchildren of the front-line soldiers, of those to whom Victory really belongs – will help us in this.

2 March 2010
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