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Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: the Wars of History [1]

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Professor Stephen Blank, the U.S. Army War College, Carlyle Barracks, PA:

While I would not have recommended the OSCE resolution, the issue is not one of equating Nazism with Stalinism. The similarities and the unique aspects of each monstrosity should be studied dispassionately and with true academic rigor.

Nonetheless, Moscow has nobody to blame for this impasse but itself. The Putin regime long ago made a calculated decision to slam the door on a frank study of Soviet history, to glorify Stalin's wartime and imperial policies, and to draw a veil of silence on the horrors of Stalin not to mention Lenin, no mean mass killer himself.

Admittedly the East European states are using history for nationalist purposes, but the success and utility of such calls were first revealed by Moscow. Indeed, the reason for the ever louder invocation of these cards is Moscow's stonewalling on the truth.

The continuing glorification of Stalin, e.g., in refurbished metro stations (can anyone imagine the Germans using Hitler quotes in renovated Berlin buildings?) epitomizes the process. As long as Russia refuses to come clean about its past, it will be a morally perverted and politically dangerous society that cannot be trusted.

Russia should learn from Germany's example (who is Russia's Willy Brandt?) that genuine contrition and acknowledgment of the truth breeds respect, while Japan is still distrusted because, like Russia, it cannot bring itself to open the debate and tell the truth.

Because Russia will not tell the truth and its leaders still want to reap the benefits of associating themselves with Stalin by putting a positive glow on his actions, they must bear the responsibility for the costs that Russia will continue to incur. Indeed, the Russian Federation, because it will not acknowledge the truth, remains the last and by no means least of Stalin's posthumous victims.


[1] Published with permission of Russia Profile.

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The Wars of History


Soviet Russia

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