On January 1, 1928, Bazhanov escaped from the Soviet Union and became for many years the most important member of a new breed—the Soviet defector. At the age of 28, he had become an invaluable aid to Stalin and the Politburo, and had he stayed in Stalin’s service, Bazhanov might well have enjoyed the same meteoric careers as the man who replaced him when he left, Georgy Malenkov. However, Bazhanov came to despise the unethical and brutal regime he served. One he decided to become anti–communist, he sought to bring down the regime. Planning his departure carefully, he brought with him documentation which revealed some of the innermost secrets of the Kremlin. Despite being pursued by the OGPU (an earlier incarnation of the KGB), he arrived eventually in Paris, and Bazhanov set to work writing his message to the West. While Bazhanov did successfully escape to the West, Stalin had Bazhanov watched and several attempts were made to assassinate him. Bazhanov may have been fearful for his life much of the time, but he was a man of courage and conviction, and he damned Stalin as often and as publicly as he could.
In this riveting and illuminating book, Bazhanov provides an eyewitness account of the inner workings and personalities of the Soviet Central Committee and the Politburo in the 1920s. Bazhanov clearly details how Stalin invaded the communications of his opponents, rigged votes, built up his own constituency, and maneuvered to achieve his coup d’etat despite formidable odds. he also provides a better understanding of the curiously vapid way in which he other revolutionary leaders, most notably Trotsky, failed to appreciate the threat and let Stalin override them. He reveals how those Soviets with a sense of fairness, justice, and ethics were extinguished by Stalin and his minions, and how the self–centered, protective bureaucratic machine was first built. Bazhanov’s view, at the right hand of Stalin, is unique and chilling.
Bazhanov’s post–defection prediction of Stalin’s continuing and fatal danger to Trotsky shows how well Bazhanov understood the dictator. His formation, in 1940, of an armed force recruited from Soviet Army prisoners to help Mannerheim defend Finland from Stalin’s forces and his 1941 decision to decline the position of Hitler’s Gauleiter of German–occupied Russia are fascinating. But perhaps the most interesting facet to Bazhanov’s tale is the fact that almost no Soviets—even today—know the real story of the Communist party’s criminal acquiescence in Stalin’s rise to, and abuse of, power.
Perlmutter's hard-hitting, revisionist history of Roosevelt's foreign policy explores FDR's not-so-grand alliance with the ruthless Soviet leader. As the first Western scholar granted access to key foreign ministry documents recently declassified in the former Soviet Union, Perlmutter provides a provocative portrait of a popular leader whose failure to comprehend Stalin's long-range goals had devastating results for the postwar world.
Moscow, the Fourth Rome
Katerina Clark Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress DK601.2.C55 2011 | Dewey Decimal 947.310842
The sixteenth-century monk Filofei proclaimed Moscow the Third Rome. By the 1930s, intellectuals and artists all over the world thought of Moscow as a mecca of secular enlightenment. Clark shows how Soviet officials and intellectuals sought to establish their capital as the Fourth Rome—a cosmopolitan post-Christian beacon for the rest of the world.
During Stalin’s lifetime the crimes of his regime were literally unspeakable. More than fifty years after his death, Russia is still coming to terms with Stalinism and the people’s own role in the abuses of the era. During the decades of official silence that preceded the advent of glasnost, Russian writers raised troubling questions about guilt, responsibility, and the possibility of absolution. Through the subtle vehicle of satire, they explored the roots and legacy of Stalinism in forms ranging from humorous mockery to vitriolic diatribe.
Examining works from the 1917 Revolution to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Karen L. Ryan reveals how satirical treatments of Stalin often emphasize his otherness, distancing him from Russian culture. Some satirists portray Stalin as a madman. Others show him as feminized, animal-like, monstrous, or diabolical. Stalin has also appeared as the unquiet dead, a spirit that keeps returning to haunt the collective memory of the nation. While many writers seem anxious to exorcise Stalin from the body politic, for others he illuminates the self in disturbing ways. To what degree Stalin was and is “in us” is a central question of all these works. Although less visible than public trials, policy shifts, or statements of apology, Russian satire has subtly yet insistently participated in the protracted process of de-Stalinization.
During Stalin's Great Terror, accusations of treason struck fear in the hearts of Soviet citizens-and lengthy imprisonment or firing squads often followed. Many of the accused sealed their fates by agreeing to confessions after torture or interrogation by the NKVD. Some, however, gave up without a fight.
In Stalinist Confessions, Igal Halfin investigates the phenomenon of a mass surrender to the will of the state. He deciphers the skillfully rendered discourse through which Stalin defined his cult of personality and consolidated his power by building a grassroots base of support and instilling a collective psyche in every citizen. By rooting out evil (opposition) wherever it hid, good communists could realize purity, morality, and their place in the greatest society in history. Confessing to trumped-up charges, comrades made willing sacrifices to their belief in socialism and the necessity of finding and making examples of its enemies.
Halfin focuses his study on Leningrad Communist University as a microcosm of Soviet society. Here, eager students proved their loyalty to the new socialism by uncovering opposition within the University. Through their meetings and self-reports, students sought to become Stalin's New Man.
Using his exhaustive research in Soviet archives including NKVD records, party materials, student and instructor journals, letters, and newspapers, Halfin examines the transformation in the language of Stalinist socialism. From an initial attitude that dismissed dissent as an error in judgment and redeemable through contrition to a doctrine where members of the opposition became innately wicked and their reform impossible, Stalin's socialism now defined loyalty in strictly black and white terms. Collusion or allegiance (real or contrived, now or in the past) with “enemies of the people” (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Germans, capitalists) was unforgivable. The party now took to the task of purging itself with ever-increasing zeal.
The Turkestano-Siberian Railroad, or Turksib, was one of the great construction projects of the Soviet Union’s First Five-Year Plan. As the major icon to ending the economic "backwardness" of the USSR’s minority republics, it stood apart from similar efforts as one of the most potent metaphors for the creation of a unified socialist nation.
Built between December 1926 and January 1931 by nearly 50,000 workers and at a cost of more 161 million rubles, Turksib embodied the Bolsheviks’ commitment to end ethnic inequality and promote cultural revolution in one the far-flung corners of the old Tsarist Empire, Kazakhstan. Trumpeted as the "forge of the Kazakh proletariat," the railroad was to create a native working class, bringing not only trains to the steppes, but also the Revolution.
In the first in-depth study of this grand project, Matthew Payne explores the transformation of its builders in Turksib’s crucible of class war, race riots, state purges, and the brutal struggle of everyday life. In the battle for the souls of the nation’s engineers, as well as the racial and ethnic conflicts that swirled, far from Moscow, around Stalin’s vast campaign of industrialization, he finds a microcosm of the early Soviet Union.
Among the least-chronicled aspects of post-World War II European intellectual and cultural history is the story of the Russian intelligentsia after Stalin. Vladislav Zubok turns a compelling subject into a portrait as intimate as it is provocative. Zhivago's children, the spiritual heirs of Boris Pasternak's noble doctor, were the last of their kind - an intellectual and artistic community committed to a civic, cultural, and moral mission.