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Joseph Stalin: Rise in Russia 70 Years After His Death

In Moscow on March 9, 1953, seventy years after his shocking death four days before, Joseph Stalin put to rest. Joseph Stalin, who was known for being cruel, has become more popular in Russia again recently. What is the reason for this revival?

After having a stroke, Joseph Stalin died on March 5, 1953. He was 74 years old. There was a four-day national grief time after his state funeral on March 9, 1953, even though it was very cold outside—as low as -18 degrees Celsius. A huge number of people braved the cold to pay their respects.

A lot of Russians still think of him as the “Father of the Nation.” At the moment, President Vladimir Putin is working hard to show that Stalin beat Hitler in World War II.

The Effects of Joseph Stalin Tough Rule

The cruel rule of Joseph Stalin is a stain on history. It took the Soviet leaders that came after Stalin a few years to break away from the “cult of Stalin’s personality.” It wasn’t until the 1960s that he was publicly named a very bad killer.

The man known as “the steel” was born in Georgia as Iosif Dzhugashvili and took over as leader of the Soviet Union in 1923. Historians say that during Stalin’s 30 years in power, up to 40 million people killed by his reign of evil. For political reasons, people were put to death, put in camps where they had to work, or killed. People were sent away in large groups, and many thinkers, including famous writers, singers, artists, scientists, and directors, were called “enemies of the people” and tortured or killed.

From less Stalinism to more Stalinism

“Maybe it sounds strange, but the death of Stalin is the first thing I remember from my childhood,” says Irina Sherbakova, co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Memorial. The researcher, now 72 years old, recalls vividly learning about Stalin’s demise in 1953: “I was only a toddler at the time.” “I felt like a child, especially when I felt how cold it was and how much fear there was—those last few months of Stalin’s rule were very oppressive.”

At first, Joseph Stalin’s body put in a tomb next to Lenin’s in Moscow’s Red Square after it embalmed. But in 1961, it buried outside the walls of the Kremlin so that no one could see it.

After that, the Soviet Union started a process called “de-Stalinization.” A huge number of statues and shrines to Stalin destroyed, melted down, hidden, or thrown into rivers in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc country.

“Russia’s Last Trump Card for Propaganda”

It seemed impossible for a long time that Stalin’s cult would come back to life. But this trend has come back, starting with the taking over of Crimea in 2014. “Monuments to Stalin put up since about 2014, when Crimea annexed,” says Irina Rastorgueva, a culture writer and Russian author who lives in Berlin with Sherbakova.

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, the newest statue to Stalin revealed on February 1, 2023. These statue take a place in Volgograd, which use to be Stalingrad.

They will not let “certain countries today want to erase the memory of the great victory of the Soviet army,” said the mayor of Volgograd during the opening event.

According to Irina Rastorgueva, the new Stalin statue shows how the government “interprets history from the top down.”

Vladimir Putin is trying to recover Joseph Stalin’s reputation as a leader who stood up to Nazi Germany and made the Soviet Union a world power.

Irina Rastorgueva says, “The victory in World War II is the last thing that brings people together; it is Russia’s last propaganda trump card.”

She thinks that neo-Stalinist groups will keep going as long as Vladimir Putin is in charge. She predicts that eventually “Stalinism” and “Putinism” will be cover in Russian textbooks.

However, we must accept blame for the current situation in Ukraine first. If we don’t, we will pay a heavy price. It will cost a lot.