Most of us reading on the blue lived through at least a portion of it. Forty-plus years of tension between the world's two superpowers and their allies. That's right: The Cold War. Then, they made a documentary. Aired on CNN in 1998, and never released on DVD, the 24 episode, 20 hour series features tons of archival footage, along with many interviews with individuals directly involved at some of the highest levels. You might not be able to see it on DVD, but you can watch the full series on Youtube, starting with Part 1: Comrades (1917-1945).
Growing up, she was a beloved celebrity in her home country. Thousands of girls were named after her. So was a bestselling perfume. But Josef Stalin's "Little Sparrow," his only daughter, (born Svetlana Stalina) defected to the United States in 1967. Upon arriving in New York, she promptly held a press conference that surprised the world, denouncing her father's regime. Svetlana became a naturalized US citizen, moved to Taliesin West, married an American, changed her name to Lana Peters, then returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, declaring that she had not been free "for one single day" in the U.S., only to once again return to America in 1986. She lived out her remaining days in a small town in Wisconsin. Mrs. Peters passed away from colon cancer on November 22nd, at the age of 85. [more inside]
The funny thing about the National Anthem of the Soviet Union is that through the sixty-so years of its existence the lyrics were written all by one man. [more inside]
'Priceless collection' in Russia was never registered so is therefore worthless and does not officially exist, say developers
In 1926, Nikolai Vavilov founded the world's first modern seedbank, and amassed a collection which today contains over 90% unique varieties of plant, contained in no other collection in existence. For his opposition to Lysenkoism he died in prison, and several of his colleagues famously starved to death instead of eating their specimens during the Siege of Leningrad. Now the Pavlovsk seedbank facility has been seized by the Federal Agency for Public Estate Management, and pending a court ruling will be demolished - contents and all - to build a housing development. The collection cannot be moved in time because it is a working seedbank of living plants.
Suvorov’s argument is simple. Stalin cleverly lured Hitler into war by offering to divide Poland. This act, Stalin knew, would prompt Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Stalin expected to pick up the pieces. - Eric Margolis [more inside]
Animatsiya in English is weblog (warning: livejournal) with a narrow focus: tracking the production of Russian animated feature films. Russian animation has a long history with output both abstract and obstructed; from the early influence of the Russian avant-garde and the work of small groups of enthusiasts, through Stalin-era Socialist realism and a style known as Éclair that was marked by the use of extensive rotoscoping, to the 1960's and beyond when surreal and politically charged (and unfortunately, in this case, anti-Semitic) as well as unconventionally structured, emotionally fueled films found release. Fortunately, when Pilot Studio—the Soviet Union's first private animation studio—decided to relegate parts of that history to the dumpsters out back, the people were ready to sift through the mess. [more inside]
After 60 years of separation due to her family being marked as an enemy of the people, and sent off to internal exile a couple who spent only three days together after their marriage have reunited, in an amazing stroke of luck. [more inside]
"Trotsky lived on after Stalin, and to some extent is still alive today, not because young people want the world he wanted: a phantasm that not even he could define. What they want is to be him."
Dead Road - Museum of Communism in the Open. "It was one of the most ambitious projects of the Stalin era, known as the 'railway of bones'. At least 10 people a day died during the four years of its construction [actually 1947-1953], but unlike most of Uncle Joe's grand designs it was never completed and now sits unfinished in the tundra, an icy road to nowhere." The transpolar railway was built by labour camps^ 501 and 503 and construction was stopped after the amnesty following Stalin's death in 1953; 800km, about half, was built. Some sections are currently in operation, but much is abandoned: depot and locomotives in Dolgoe, Dolgoe itself, labour camps, more spectacular decay. (Previously: Norilsk, which was supposed to see an extension of the line.)
Stalin's Funeral "The crowds were so dense and chaotic outside that some people were trampled underfoot, others rammed against traffic lights, and some others choked to death. It is estimated that 500 people lost their lives while trying to get a glimpse of Stalin's corpse." The string quartet playing at Stalin's graveside wept openly - for Sergei Prokofiev, who died the same day and hour as Stalin. Stalin was first interred next to Lenin, under glass. But five years later, it was time to physically remove Stalin from a place of honor. "Stalin had been a dictator and a tyrant. Yet he presented himself as the Father of Peoples, a wise leader, and the continuer of Lenin's cause. After his death, people began to acknowledge that he was responsible for the deaths of millions of their own countrymen."
Was Stalin assassinated to prevent him from launching a nuclear attack on the United States? "'The circumstantial evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of non-fortuitous death,' said Jonathan Brent, a professor of Russian history at Yale University. 'And to support this further, we now have solid evidence, non-circumstantial evidence, of a cover-up at the highest level.'"