Staunton, February 7 – Many believe that the attachment of Russians to Stalin is based primarily on his role during World War II, historian Pavel Puchkov says; but in fact, it is much deeper than that and reflects the fact that it emerged alongside urbanization and the transformation of Russia from a peasant to an industrial society.
“De-Stalinization has not happened and will not happen in the foreseeable future not only because he ‘won the war’ but because for real de-Stalinization, people need to learn to view that experience in a completely different way, the historian says (facebook.com/putchkovpa/posts/2660856300616182, reposted at newizv.ru/article/general/07-02-2020/istorik-stalinizm-proros-slishkom-gluboko-i-bolshinstvu-kazhetsya-estestvennym).
Indeed, it will happen only “when a majority considers that there must be a court convened to judge the CPSU and Stalin.” But if and when that happens, Puchkov says, “it already won’t be needed” because Russia will have regained its health. If there isn’t that kind of recovery, then “any court would be useless.”
According to the historian, the country is nowhere near being able to judge Stalin adequately: “Our present quite pathetic moral, civic and economic position is rooted in the Bolshevik past, the parameters of which to a significant degree were set by Comrade Stalin.” Consequently, there is no reason to think that Russians will adequately judge him soon.
“With us, Stalinism happened at the time of urbanization and more broadly at a critically important stage of transition to the contemporary world.” Thus it became part of Russian life. East Europeans who viewed it as the imposition of foreign rule have had an easier time of it: they can and have rejected it as something alien. Russians don’t see it that way.