Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Soviets Considered Renaming Moscow a Minimum of Four Times

Paul Goble
            Staunton, September 3 – Three times, Soviet officials wanted to rename Moscow in honor of USSR leaders. Twice, Stalin personally intervened to prevent that from happening; and once, after his death, his successors intervened to block the idea given the historical importance of the name.

            The first time occurred in February 1927 when 200 party leaders asked the government to rename Moscow “Lenin” because of what they said was the Bolshevik leader’s role in “founding “free Rus.”  But St. Petersburg already bore his name, and Stalin declared a second “Lenin” city excessive (weekend.rambler.ru/read/40704233-stalinodar-kak-esche-hoteli-pereimenovat-moskvu/).

            The second attempt came in 1938 when NKVD chief Nikolay Yezhov had his subordinates prepare a plan for renaming Moscow “Stalinodar.” Stalin apparently was both amused and angered and declared that he would never allow the Soviet capital to be renamed. Two years later, Yezhov was shot, although not primarily because of this proposal.

            There were two additional efforts to rename the capital in honor of Stalin, first, after World War II in honor of the victory and then after Stalin’s death. In 1945, Stalin again rejected the idea, although the archives lack details on just who made this proposal or whether it was ever a formal one, and the second after Stalin’s death.

            After his passing, many Soviet officials called for renaming Moscow in his honor. Some went even further and suggested that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics should be renamed the Union of Soviet Stalinist republics -- which would have had the advantage of being more honest -- and that the Georgian SSR should henceforth be called the Stalin SSR.

            As a result of Nikita Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization campaign, however, none of these ideas came to fruition. Instead, the renaming process went in the opposite direction with Stalin’s name being taken off streets, cities and other locations.  However, the process isn’t over: his name still graces more than two dozen streets and some want to bring it back to others (meduza.io/news/2018/09/02/ne-nravitsya-pereezzhay-na-obschestvennyh-slushaniyah-v-kaspiyske-reshili-pereimenovat-ulitsu-mira-v-chest-stalina).

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