Monday, January 4, 2016

Will Stalin be Remembered ? How Will Posterity Look at Him

The Place of Stalin in Russian History

Stalin seized power after the death of Lenin in 1924 and ruled Russia with an Iron hand till his death in 1953. His climb to power in 1924 was marked by a lot of blood shed. Most of his opponents were executed and some like Leon Trotsky who was exiled, was done to death by killers with his sanction in far away Mexico in 1930.
Stalin and the Totaltorian StateStalin and the Great War
Stalin is blamed as a double crosser for his signing the no aggression pact with Hitler, but the western powers themselves made a sell out deal with Hitler at the famous Munich conference. But the German attack in 1941 brought out the finest in Stalin. We cannot overlook his contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. His mettle was seen as with the Germans barely 30 miles from Moscow; he refused to abandon the city and stayed put there. This was a great morale boost for the Russian troops who were into a bitter battle with the Germans.
Stalin and the Rise of the Soviet Union
The end of the war saw the Soviet Union emerge as a super power. With England and France the colonial powers on the wane, the void was filled by the Soviet Union, which now emerged as a power to challenge the United States. One thing that cannot be denied is that the Stalin era ushered in a period when the Mafia and related crimes were non existent. Russia also moved ahead in Industry and the quest for Nuclear weapons. But all this was at a terrible price. Individual liberty and rights of the citizens were trampled and the mid night knock of the KGB became the most dreaded experience to savor.
Stalin died in 1953 and a succession of rulers who followed him did not have his iron will and Charisma with the result that in just about 3 decades of his death the Soviet empire broke up into a number of states. Perhaps we can blame Stalin for this as he failed in establishing a permanent state and conventions that could stand the test of time. But it cannot be his fault only as his successors perhaps were not men with his caliber and efficiency.
Stalin’s Place in Russian History
Where do we place Stalin now? Russia is a democracy and is still a powerful nation that packs a mighty punch. But Crime is on the upswing and it is not safe to venture out unescorted in Moscow after dark. One of my friends who visited Russia recently told me that he had met a lot many Russians, who were nostalgic of the past and Stalin when peace and order was the watchword.
Another point that must never be forgotten is that the basis of the present Russian state can be traced to Stalin. To deny him a role in the build up of Russia as a world power would be a travesty of history. It is fashionable to condemn Stalin, yet his contribution to the development of Russia as a super power cannot be brushed away. Perhaps Stalin was a necessary episode in Russian history. Maybe a hundred years down the line, he may be equated with Ivan the terrible and other greats of Russian history.