I have already introduced Soso, and those familiar with Russian history probably already know who he is. But for those who do not, it may come as a shock that I am painting this man as a victim in history, and not the super villain. And so I must pause the tale to give some reasoning behind this. First of all, in the U.S.A. especially, there has been a fear of communism since the end of World War II. I recently helped my wife(yes, this has taken me so long to write that I am now married) apply for a Permanent Residency visa, and one of the questions she had to answer tucked away amidst questions of whether or not she was a terrorist was whether or not she had ever been affiliated with a communist organization or had leanings towards one. The question blankly states that if you are a communist, you’re not welcome in the country that is supposed to be a shining representative of political freedom.
But the U.S.A. isn’t alone in its distrust of communism. My new father-in-law(who happens to be French) had no reason to dislike me until he found out that I had studied in Russia, and spoke Russian. And wouldn’t you know it, because he grew up during the Cold War he, being French, hates the Russians more than the Germans, which quite frankly, is saying something.
I bring this up because there seems to be this blanket of distrust and hate of the communists in the west. It seems we have tried to eliminate the good done by the communists and the bad done by the west. But just as Crabites view of Hitler in 1935 is different than ours, so was the west’s view of Joseph Stalin. Yes, our little Soso is Ioseb Stalin.
One example of this comes from Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, something that one encyclopedia says is an honor, but sometimes it is chosen more for the influence of the man than his mark of humanity. It then cites Hitler being chosen in 1938, and Stalin being chosen in 1939 and 1942 as proof that sometimes it could be a pejorative award. But what it doesn’t say is that when Stalin was chosen in 1942 the appellation Time Magazine gave him was Uncle Joe, an obvious comparison to Uncle Sam. Why? Because the Soviets were fighting with the U.S.A. They were our ally. Three years and 21-28 million men, women, and children later the Soviets were still our allies. We let them march into Berlin first because their country bled and died to stop the Nazis, so that my grandfather and countless millions of others in the west didn’t have to.
I bring this up because history has a tendency to be one-sided. While I will not focus on Stalin, whenever I do write of him, I will present him as a man, not as the super villain he is normally portrayed as. Just a man…and a victim. And who knows, in real life maybe he was just a victim, a victim of history.