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The information from the "Caucasian Knot" talks about the most famous myths and reliable information related to the role of Joseph Stalin in the events of the Great Patriotic War, the most popular misconceptions based on his actions before the start of the war and during the fighting, as well as attempts to perpetuate Stalin in the Caucasus.
Myth No. 1: “ Stalin did not know that there would be a German attack”
“Now there are different versions about whether or not we knew the specific start date and plan of the war. The General Staff learned about the day of the attack by German troops from a defector only on June 21, which we immediately reported to I.V. Stalin. He is here "he agreed to put the troops on combat readiness. Apparently, he had previously received such important information through other channels...", wrote Marshal Georgy Zhukov in his memoirs, fully published in 2002 1 .
Myth No. 2: “ The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact delayed the start of the war”
“This is a widely held point of view, but it is deeply wrong. Firstly, because it is immoral: the Soviet Union entered into a conspiracy with Nazi Germany - this is an immoral fact. This conspiracy implied the division of the territories of other states. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland found itself divided between the USSR and Germany - this is also a deeply immoral fact. Secondly, by signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, we turned out to be allies of Germany, and it was because of this that Germany started the war in Poland. If we had announced that we - allies of England, France, Poland and in the event of an attack on Poland we would provide assistance to it, then Germany would never dare to attack Poland. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is not only a crime of the Stalinist regime, but also one of the reasons for the outbreak of the Second World War, an episode of which the Great Patriotic War appeared,” says Soviet and Russian historian, religious scholar and political scientist, Doctor of Historical Sciences, former MGIMO professor Andrei Zubov 2 .
Myth No. 3: “ Stalin himself wanted to attack Hitler”
“This is the most malicious falsification about the war. Even from German documents it follows that those close to Hitler reported to him: the USSR still complies with all the terms of the non-aggression pact, and aggression should not be expected in the coming months,” notes the head of the Center for Military History of Russia at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences Georgy Kumanev 3 .
However, historian and researcher of the Second World War Mark Solonin is sure of the exact opposite. He claims that there were at least 13 plans for the USSR to attack Germany, and in May-June 1941 the “hidden strategic deployment” of Soviet troops began 4 .
Myth No. 4: “ Stalin personally won the war”
“It was not Stalin, but the party as a whole, the Soviet government, our heroic army, its talented commanders and valiant warriors, the entire Soviet people - that’s who ensured victory in the Great Patriotic War,” declared First Secretary of the Central Committee Nikita Khrushchev at a historic closed meeting of the 20th Congress CPSU February 25, 1956 5 . An open letter from 25 figures of Soviet science, literature and art (1966) expressed the opinion that Stalin was responsible for his unpreparedness for war 6 . Likewise, some veterans are of the opinion that the victory took place not thanks to, but in spite of Stalin 7 .
Myth No. 5: “ Stalin preferred not to talk about his role in the war”
“In general, it would be nice to know that the myth about Stalin’s irreplaceable role in our Victory, about his “genius” that crushed the enemy, was created... by Stalin himself. In 1948, a short biography of the leader was published, the text of which he himself edited. Moreover , it was he who wrote there passages praising his own military merits. And it’s clear why - he had to justify himself for the mediocre, and even criminal decisions that he made, and which he himself knew well about. As millions of people knew, who themselves experienced the consequences of Stalin’s “military genius,” notes Vitaly Dymarsky, editor-in-chief of the historical magazine “Diletant,” professor at MGIMO and the National Research University Higher School of Economics 8 .
Myth No. 6: “ Purges at the top of the army did not have an impact on its combat effectiveness”
“Comrade Stalin is significantly to blame for the extermination of military personnel before the war, which affected the combat effectiveness of the army. That is why, before he began to listen to the plan for the upcoming operation, he turned the conversation to the topic of personnel in order to test me... During this conversation, Comrade Stalin repeatedly spoke about many generals who were released from prison just before the war and fought well. “And who is to blame,” I timidly asked Stalin, “that these poor, innocent people were imprisoned?” - “Who, who ... - Stalin said irritably. “Those who gave sanctions for their arrest are those who stood at the head of the army at that time,” from the memoirs of Marshal of the Soviet Union Andrei Ivanovich Eremenko 9 .
Myth No. 7: “ The soldiers went on the attack shouting: “For the Motherland!” For Stalin!"
“This is an absolute myth, which was already being propagated back then. “For the Motherland!” For Stalin!” the political commissars shouted. They were obliged to shout it. It’s just that if the political commissar had not shouted this, then there would have been very serious consequences for him. Everyone else, privates and even commanders, when they went on the attack, did not remember any Stalin... Therefore, they shouted: “Mom!”, shouted something obscene, just shouted something to drown out the fear, but of course, there was no “Motherland and Stalin”, ask any front-line soldier, of whom, however, there are already few left,” - notes historian and journalist Nikolai Svanidze 10 .
Myth No. 8: “ Under Stalin there were no ethnic conflicts”
“Many people do not know or do not want to know that under Stalin, mass arrests, deportations and executions were carried out on ethnic grounds, that entire nations were declared “hostile”. Did this really contribute to interethnic cohesion? We have many documents about acute conflicts on ethnic grounds. Stalin left a very complex legacy in this matter,” says Oleg Khlevnyuk, a researcher at the International Center for History and Sociology of the Second World War at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, and the author of the biography “Stalin. The Life of a Leader . ”
Myth No. 9: “ They tried to keep quiet about Stalin’s role in the Second World War”
“No one has ever erased Stalin from history and is erasing him, unlike himself, who easily erased his opponents and the people he destroyed from encyclopedias and erased them from all books. Stalin remained in the Great Soviet, and in all other encyclopedias, and in textbooks school history in an even more glamorous form than he deserved,” notes Jan Rachinsky, a member of the board of the Russian Memorial Society 12 .
Myth No. 10 " Stalin's Order No. 227 turned the tide of the war"
"The significance of order No. 227 (Not a step back!) was twofold. On the one hand, it strengthened the resilience of the troops and reduced the number of cases when they retreated without an order. On the other hand, the commanders, fearing to give the order to withdraw without sanction from above, were often late with the retreat , and the troops were surrounded. Stalin hoped that, under the threat of executions and penal battalions, the Red Army soldiers would fight harder and inflict more damage on the enemy. In reality, sometimes the opposite happened. Fearing reprisals, commanders at all levels were sometimes late in withdrawing, and this only led to additional losses ", - from the book of historian Boris Sokolov "Mythical War. Mirages of the Second World War" 13 .
According to Levada Center polls, in 2017 the number of people with a positive view of Joseph Stalin seemed to reach a historic high in 16 years. If in March 2016 37% of respondents treated Stalin with “admiration”, “respect” and “sympathy”, then in January 2017 this number increased to 46%. However, the number of people dissatisfied with Stalin also increased. At the beginning of 2016, 17% regarded him with “dislike,” “fear,” “disgust,” and “hatred,” and in 2017 – already 21% 14 . In 2020, sociologists noted that already 70 percent of Russian residents assess his role in the country’s history as positive, and those who condemn the repressions, in general, are becoming fewer and fewer every year 15 .
Attempts to immortalize Stalin in the Caucasus
Today in the North Caucasus there are several dozen monuments to Stalin, both preserved from Soviet times and newly installed. Most of them are located in North Ossetia. In particular, busts of Stalin stand in Beslan and Vladikavkaz. Monuments stand in Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Stavropol and Kuban. There are streets named after Stalin in Makhachkala, Tskhinvali and several other settlements. There are a lot of monuments in Georgia and South Ossetia, and in two Azerbaijani villages there are full-length monuments.
More than 20 different monuments were installed in North Ossetia, 8 in Dagestan, four sculptures in the Stavropol Territory, two in Kabardino-Balkaria. There are three sculptures in the Krasnodar region, including a memorial composition to Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill in Sochi. Two monuments are located in the Rostov and one in the Volgograd regions.
Among residents of the republics of the North Caucasus, Joseph Stalin is revered by those who mistakenly associate with him the concept of “social justice,” which they despaired of achieving from modern authorities, noted historians interviewed by the Caucasian Knot. They believe that “Stalinophiles” need a “master”, compare the reason for interest in Stalin with the “Weimar syndrome” and hope that among the repressed peoples, in particular in the Caucasus, there is not and will not be a trend in support of Stalin.
On April 29, 2021, a bust of Joseph Stalin was installed on a pedestal in Dagestan Lights. The communists who erected this bust showed disrespect for the repressed peoples of the Caucasus, Internet users said, and their opponents recalled Stalin’s role during the war. On May 2, it became known that the bust along with the plaque had been dismantled - only an empty pedestal remained in the place where the monument was erected.
The mayor of the city, Jalalutdin Alirzaev, cited the lack of permission for its installation as the reason for the dismantling, he told the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent. “There was no agreement with the administration about the installation of the bust. Apparently, the communists took responsibility and decided to erect a monument on the street, which is named after Stalin,” said the head of the city. According to him, the initiators of the installation of the monument to Stalin should have first consulted with the townspeople, and first of all, with the residents of this particular street. “Then, after this discussion, the city architect should go to the site to see how it all fits in with the appearance of the city. But nothing of this was done,” the mayor explained.
In March 2015, the authorities of Dagestan Lights already refused to erect a monument to Stalin , including due to an ambiguous attitude towards his figure. “Most of the residents of Dagestan became victims of repression under him, and they still perceive any positive attitude towards Stalin as an insult to the memory of their ancestors. Deported Chechens, Ingush and other peoples live in Dagestan. Therefore, we decided to settle on the fact that there is already a street in honor of him, but a monument would be too much,” said the then mayor of Dagogney, Galim Galimov.
At the end of April 2019, the head of South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilov, decided to use the name “Stalinir” to designate the capital of the republic during festivities dedicated to the Great Patriotic War.
In May 2019, the third monument to Joseph Stalin was erected in the Stavropol region in four years . And on May 8, 2017, a monument to Stalin was erected and opened in the village of Trunovsky, Stavropol Territory 16 . In December 2019, a bust of Stalin appeared in Volgograd, which sparked protests from citizens .
In 2015-2017, new monuments to Joseph Stalin were erected in a number of Russian cities. Thus, on May 9, 2016, a bust of Joseph Stalin was unveiled in the village of Ozrek, Leskensky district, Kabardino-Balkaria . The decision to install the monument was made at a village meeting, where 70% of residents supported this initiative. A session of local government deputies gave permission to install the bust.
On February 1, 2023, busts of Stalin, Zhukov and Vasilevsky were unveiled in Volgograd on the occasion of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad . This happened against the backdrop of another round of discussion about the advisability of renaming Volgograd to Stalingrad. According to the results of a survey by VTsIOM, 67% of citizens are against the renaming.
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