Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rehabilitating Uncle Joe Stalin [and even Adolf Hitler]: Is it actually possible to slander a mass murderer?

Stalinism is on the rise again in Russia, which should give our State Department pause.

This week Vlad Putin in Poland, dodged a question about the Stalin-ordered Katyn Massacre, in which roughly 22,000 Polish Army officers were slaughtered by the the NKVD [predecessor to the KGB that Putin used to direct] and buried in secret mass graves at the outset of World War Two. Instead, Putin and his surrogates think the world should concentrate on [I'm not kidding] the guilt of the Polish government for starting a war in which Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin dismembered the country and executed six million of its citizens:

"The destruction of Poland as a sovereign nation by the Nazis was payback for the short-sightedness of some Polish politicians," said Lev Sotskov, a major-general of the SVR, Russia's elite foreign intelligence agency. "Without a doubt, some of the guilt for the start of the Second World War lies with Poland, which is why they are now trying to falsify historical facts."

This, strangely enough, puts Putin in company with none other than J. Patrick Buchanan, who thinks that poor much-maligned Adolf Hitler was also hoodwinked into war by Poland:

The German-Polish war had come out of a quarrel over a town the size of Ocean City, Md., in summer. Danzig, 95 percent German, had been severed from Germany at Versailles in violation of Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination. Even British leaders thought Danzig should be returned.

Why did Warsaw not negotiate with Berlin, which was hinting at an offer of compensatory territory in Slovakia? Because the Poles had a war guarantee from Britain that, should Germany attack, Britain and her empire would come to Poland’s rescue.

But why would Britain hand an unsolicited war guarantee to a junta of Polish colonels, giving them the power to drag Britain into a second war with the most powerful nation in Europe?...

Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Miklos Horthy’s Hungary, and Father Jozef Tiso’s Slovakia.

But back to Russia, where now come two other interesting tidbits:

Josef Stalin's grandson is suing to protect the dictator's reputation:

The grandson of Joseph Stalin has launched a libel suit against one of Russia's leading liberal newspapers, accusing it of lying in an article which stated Stalin had killed Soviet citizens.

As the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, defended the reputation of the wartime leader in Poland, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, the dictator's grandson, began his quest to claim nearly £200,000 from Novaya Gazeta.

"Half a century of lies have been poured over Stalin's reputation and he cannot defend himself from the grave, so this case is essential to put the record straight," Mr Dzhugashvili's lawyer, Leonid Zhura, told Reuters.

Liberal critics say that the drive to rehabilitate Stalin has official backing, with the Kremlin keen to glorify Russia's Soviet past and make Russians proud of their history, while glossing over Stalin's crimes.

Meanwhile, Putin's government is quietly returning the emblems of Stalinism to the public scene:

Last week, a Moscow metro station reopened after renovations, and horrified liberals found that an inscription lauding Stalin, which had been removed from the station after his death in the 1950s, had been restored.

"Stalin raised us to be loyal to the nation, inspired us to labour and great deeds," says the inscription, which is taken from an early version of the Soviet national anthem.

This overt attempt to rehabilitate two of the greatest genocidal mass murderers in the 20th Century if not in history is a disturbing consequence of a new march toward authoritarian Statism around the world. The concepts of individual liberty, political dissent, and republican government are, frankly, going to be quite challenged to make it through the next century intact.

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