Among theosophists, persecuted and far from supporting the regime, there was a rumour that Stalin knew something that no one else guessed, that he was the incarnation of the Great Manu of India. - Andrei Sinyavsky1 Stalin was born to be two legends. They created one for him as a living god, flattered by everyone, glorified by everyone. After his death they created another legend, namely that he was Satan. In my opinion he was neither God nor Satan. We can see him best as a strong man of politics. - Akaki Bakradze [Stalin] became the head of the Soviet state when there was only a plow, and he left it when the state had an atomic bomb. Stalin is far from being a simple figure. Believe me, in twenty or thirty years, no matter what we think, Stalin will be referred to as a kind of genius. - General Vladimir Kryuchkov Profound changes have taken place on a world scale in the last ten years. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 'Socialist bloc', the leaders of the United States and the Western powers not only proclaimed the "death of communism" but promised a "new world order" based on universal peace, prosperity and democracy. However, the reality is quite different. The "democracy" of Boris Yeltsin has proven to be a democracy of criminal corruption backed by tanks, while throughout the world the masses of people, including those living in the "advanced Western democracies," feel more alienated than ever from political life. The economic crisis of world capitalism has intensified and a deep class polarisation is taking place. The international situation is increasingly marked by dangerous and growing rivalries between various powers, and new attacks on the freedom and independence of smaller nations. The Western media would like the world to believe that the workers and farmers in the former Soviet Union are eagerly embracing capitalist rule. In the face of spiralling crime and the degradation of "free market" competition, the struggling people of Russia are looking for a way out. As the Russian people experience the full weight of capitalist austerity, there is a revived longing for the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin. Across the lands of the former Soviet Union workers and farmers demanding the most basic rights proudly carry portraits of Joseph Stalin. Stalin, the architect of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the leader of the Great Patriotic War against Nazi invasion, is the preeminent symbol of resistance to Western enslavement. More than forty years after his death the name of Comrade Stalin still inspires devotion among former Soviet peoples. A Moscow lawyer, speaking during the last years of the Soviet Union, explained the view of many of his fellow citizens: The situation is unpredictable. It is explosive. I'm talking about this as a veteran of the Second World War and as a communist with grief in my heart. People are saying that we are like the Fascists. If we are Stalinists it is in the sense that we are very sensitive to the pain which our country is suffering today. We're worried to death because we defended this state and we can see that what we defended is crumbling, and that hurts. Do you understand? That's the sense in which we are Stalinists. We're defending what Stalin made of our people. But we are considered as enemies of the people, and hung with these tags....It's disgraceful and dishonourable, and not a single Stalinist has been given the opportunity in the press to explain what it means to be a Stalinist.2 Another Soviet citizen recalls: After the war ration cards were abolished. Stalin abolished them, and every year the general material welfare of the people got better and better, but now everything's going back. Everyone says this....And the well-ordered state which Stalin built with his own merciless right hand is falling apart. During the quarter of a century preceding his death in 1953, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin instigated the greatest revolutionary transformation in history. Stalin industrialised the USSR, collectivised its agriculture, defeated the fascist powers in 1941-45, and extended Socialism throughout eastern Europe. The chief architect of Socialist construction, he oversaw the creation of a mighty military-industrial complex and led the Soviet Union into the nuclear age. Under Stalin's guidance the lands of the Soviet Union were transformed from backward, feudal societies into an advanced super-power. J.V. Stalin is undeniably one of history's greatest leaders. In his time, Joseph Stalin was hailed, by both friends and foes, as a genius. To the Soviet people, as well as working men and women around the world, Stalin was revered as a "great teacher and friend." His immense popular appeal invariably inspired fanatical devotion. By the time of his death, statues of "Great Comrade Stalin" were erected throughout the Socialist states. His picture appeared everywhere. Recounting a visit to the Soviet Union the American film director John Steinbeck wrote: Nothing in the Soviet Union goes on outside the vision of the plaster, bronze, painted or embroidered eye of Stalin. His portrait hangs not only in every museum, but in every room of every museum. His statue marches in front of all public buildings...We spoke of this to a number of Russians and had several answers. One was that the Russian people had been used to pictures of the czar and the czar's family, and when the czar was removed they needed something to substitute for him. Another was that the icon is a Russian habit of mind, and this was a kind of an icon. A third, that the Russians love Stalin so much that they want him ever present. A fourth, that Stalin himself does not like this and has asked that it be discontinued.3 One standard biography of the time stated: The workers of all countries know that every word pronounced by Stalin is the word of the Soviet people, and that his every word is backed by deed. The triumph of the Socialist Revolution, the building of Socialism in the USSR, and the victory of the Soviet people in their Patriotic War have convinced the labouring masses of the world of the deep and vital truth of the cause of Lenin and Stalin. And today all freedom-loving peoples look upon Stalin as a loyal and staunch champion of peace and security and of the democratic liberties....After Lenin, no other leader in the world has been called upon to direct such vast masses of workers and peasants as J.V. Stalin. EARLY YEARS Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (Djugashvili) was born on December 21, 1879, in the town of Gori, Province of Tiflis, Georgia. In the autumn of 1888 Stalin entered the clerical school in Gori, from which in 1894, he passed to the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Tiflis. This was a time when, with the development of industrial capitalism and the growth of the working class movement, Marxism had begun to spread widely through the Russian Empire. The Tiflis Orthodox Seminary became something of a centre from which libertarian ideas of every kind spread among the youth. The jesuitical regime that reigned in the seminary aroused in young Stalin a burning sense of protest and nourished his revolutionary sentiments. At the age of fifteen Stalin became a revolutionary. "I joined the revolutionary movement," Stalin said, "at the age of fifteen, when I established connection with certain underground groups of Russian Marxists then living in Transcaucasia. These groups exerted a great influence on me and instilled in me a taste for illegal Marxian literature." Stalin soon became one of the most active and prominent members in the Tiflis revolutionary Marxist movement. When Vladimir Lenin launched the newspaper Iskra in December 1900, Stalin completely identified himself with its policy. He saw Lenin as the one thinker and leader capable of building a revolutionary Marxist Party and guiding it to ultimate victory. "I first became acquainted with Lenin in 1903," Stalin subsequently related. "True, it was not a personal acquaintance; it was maintained by correspondence. But it made an indelible impression upon me, one which has never left me throughout all my work in the Party. I was in exile in Siberia at the time. Lenin's note was comparatively short, but it contained a bold and fearless criticism of the practical work of our Party, and a remarkably clear and concise account of the entire plan of work of the Party in the immediate future." In the years that followed, Stalin became a fanatical worker in the revolutionary underground, quickly gaining a reputation as a skilled organiser. In August, 1903, without a trial, Stalin was sentenced to exile in Siberia because of his political activities. Sometimes the temperature would reach fifty degrees below zero. A few weeks after his arrival he tried to escape but was slowed down by a blizzard and attacked by wolves. A second escape was successful. Eluding the police he resumed his underground political work. Joseph Stalin began to emerge as a leading Bolshevik. A revolutionary to the marrow of his bones, Stalin had little private or family life. He was a full-time, professional revolutionary, the type of person Lenin saw as vital to the Bolshevik Party's success. Lenin had said: No single class in history has ever attained mastery unless it has produced political leaders...capable of organising the movement and leading it....It is necessary to prepare men who devote to the revolution, not only their free evenings, but their entire lives. Stalin edited a secret Party newspaper, having personally expropriated the printing press in a daring raid. In 1908 he was again arrested and imprisoned. Once, as a punishment, prisoners were forced to run between two lines of guards, who beat them with rifle butts. Stalin, showing scorn for his captors, defiantly walked with a book under his arm between the two lines of soldiers, his head held high. By now Lenin had learned of Stalin's courage and ability. He was just the kind of disciplined, committed revolutionary fighter the Bolshevik leadership needed. At only thirty-three years of age, Stalin had the honour of being personally named by Lenin to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party. In February 1917, Stalin's life changed with explosive suddenness. At the battle front, Russian soldiers suffered defeat after defeat in the war against Germany. As casualties rose into the millions, the cry for peace grew louder. Under the pressures of war and hunger, the Russian Empire began to crumble. The Tsar was forced to abdicate and a new government, composed mostly of bourgeoisie liberals, took power. On October 25, 1917, Bolshevik leader Lenin gave the order for revolt. Red Guards swiftly occupied the key points in the Russian capital. After years of exile, imprisonment, and underground revolutionary activity, the Bolsheviks found themselves in power. Stalin was a widely recognised leader of the Party and in organising the new government, Lenin appointed him to the sensitive post of People's Commissar for Nationalities. Stalin also belonged to the inner circle of seven Party leaders chosen as members of the Political Bureau. Between 1918 and 1921 Stalin worked to consolidate the revolution in a period of civil war. With the defeat of Germany and the end of the first world war, the Western imperialists turned their attention to Russia. British, French and American troops joined the fight against the fledgling Soviet state. Ammunition and supplies poured in to aid the anti-Bolshevik forces. Gradually the Red Army won important victories and the imperialist forces withdrew. By the end of 1921, Russia was securely in the hands of the Soviets. In April, 1922, Stalin was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party (Bolshevik). On January 21, 1924, Lenin, the Party's leader and founder died. The enemies of the Soviet Union took advantage of Lenin's illness and then of his death to try to deflect the Party from the path he had laid out and thereby pave the way for the restoration of capitalism. Foremost in these attacks was Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein). Leon Trotsky, while claiming to be a Marxist revolutionary, enjoyed the support of prominent Western banking families. Chiefly through Trotsky and his agents, the Wall Street cabals poured money into Russia for the purpose of funding future counter-revolutionary uprisings and encouraging "agents of influence". These circles also hoped Trotsky's "ultra-Leftism" would so wreck the Soviet Union from within, capitalism could be easily restored. The biographer of US President Woodrow Wilson, J.C. Wise, wrote: "Historians must never forget that Woodrow Wilson... made it possible for Leon Trotsky to enter Russia with an American passport." Trotsky was never popular with the Bolshevik Party members who saw him as an opportunist. The collapse of the Tsar's regime in March 1917 found Trotsky in New York City. On his return to Russia, he was detained by Canadian authorities, and only allowed to continue his journey after the intervention of the British Government. The notorious British spy Bruce Lockhart, in his memoirs, said the British Intelligence Service believed Trotsky would be more useful to them in Russia. Trotsky at first tried to set up a revolutionary group of his own, but realising Lenin's Bolshevik Party had strong mass support, Trotsky made a sensational political somersault. After years of opposition to Lenin, Trotsky applied for membership in the Bolshevik Party. After his exile from Soviet Russia in 1929, a myth was woven by anti-Soviet elements throughout the world around the name and personality of Leon Trotsky. According to this tale, Trotsky was "the outstanding Bolshevik leader of the Russian Revolution" and "Lenin's inspirer, closest co-worker and logical successor." Now in the 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western Establishment historians no longer need to promote this fiction. They now openly admit Trotsky was an opportunist who actually opposed Lenin. We are told how Trotsky concocted "all kinds of lies and half-truths about his and Stalin's relationship with Lenin." His version of events was reinforced by Deutscher's three-volume adulatory biography of Trotsky which rests on shaky documentary evidence. There are strong indications, however, that, except for the last four months of Lenin's conscious life, prior to March 1923, when he had the final debilitating stroke and lost the power of speech, Lenin was close to Stalin, relied on his judgement, and entrusted him with ever greater responsibilities. At the same time there are no indications in the sources that he ever cared personally for Trotsky.4 Pursuing their inherent anti-Soviet line, the modern followers of Trotsky argue the Soviet Union was an aberration of Marxism-Leninism and that Stalin betrayed the Bolshevik Party of Lenin. When interviewed by the German writer, Emil Ludwig, Stalin paid glowing tribute to Lenin's genius, but of himself he simply said: "As for myself I am merely a pupil of Lenin, and my aim is to be a worthy pupil of his." In a very difficult period, Stalin defended Lenin's central ideas - on the nature of imperialism, on reformism, on the revolutionary struggle for power, on the dictatorship of the proletariat. As Lenin's rightful successor, Joseph Stalin only ever claimed to be his faithful follower. Stalin's doctrine that Socialism had to be constructed in one nation, the Soviet Union, without waiting for revolution to occur in the main capitalist countries was not far removed from the line pursued by Lenin in 1921 when he introduced the New Economic Policy. The doctrine of "Socialism in one country" was simply the application of Socialism in the light of national conditions, something implicit in the Marxist movement since Marx and Engels penned the Communist Manifesto. Both Lenin and Stalin accepted the primary importance of the survival and strengthening of the Soviet state as the main bastion of the future world revolution; both accepted the need for a period of coexistence and trade with the capitalist countries as a means of strengthening Socialism in Soviet Russia. Nor did Stalin's later policy of industrialisation and collectivisation represent a departure from Lenin's doctrine. REVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMATION Not even his most reactionary critics can deny that under Comrade Stalin's guidance the Soviet people achieved incredible successes. When Stalin emerged as the central leader of the Soviet Union in 1926, the country was backward, practically without industry, and militarily weak. It was still at the mercy of the Western capitalist nations who hated the Bolshevik revolutionary government. "We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries," said Stalin. "We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us." To build Soviet industry and still keep up the production of food, Stalin developed the doctrine of Socialist industrialisation of the USSR, as well as the collectivisation of agriculture. We are told: To industrialize in so brief a period of history a country so vast and at the same time so economically backward as was the Soviet Union at that time, was a task of tremendous difficulty. It was necessary to build up a large number of new industries, industries that had been unknown in tsarist Russia. It was necessary to create a defence industry, non-existent in old Russia. It was necessary to build plants for the production of modern agricultural machinery, such as the old countryside had never heard of. All this demanded enormous funds. In capitalist countries such funds were obtained by the merciless exploitation of the people, by wars of aggrandizement, by the bloodthirsty plunder of colonies and dependent countries, and by foreign loans. But the Soviet Union could not resort to such infamous means; and as to foreign loans, the capitalists had closed this source to the Soviet Union. The only way was to find these funds at home.5 By the end of 1927 Comrade Stalin's policy of Socialist industrialisation was an unmistakeable success. At the Fifteenth Communist Party Congress in December 1927, Stalin pointed out that agriculture was lagging behind industry and this was jeopardising the national economy as a whole. "The way out," he said, "is to turn the small and scattered peasant farms into large, united farms based on the common cultivation of the soil, to introduce collective cultivation of the soil on the basis of a new and higher technique. The way out is to unite the small and dwarf peasant farms gradually but surely, not by pressure, but by example and persuasion, into large farms based on common, cooperative, collective cultivation of the soil with the use of agricultural machines and tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture. There are no other ways." Comrade Stalin announced the first of the Five-Year Plans. This was a colossal plan for equipping industry and agriculture with modern technology. "The fundamental task of the Five-Year Plan," said Stalin, "was to create such an industry in our country as would be able to re-equip and reorganize, not only the whole of industry, but also transport and agriculture - on the basis of Socialism." Whole new industrial cities were constructed east of the Volga River and the Ural Mountains - beyond the range of bombers which might be sent from the imperialist states of Germany, France or England. Millions of workers and peasants mobilised to achieve the plans of Socialist development. To that time, it was the greatest movement of people in the history of the world. History had never known industrial construction on such a gigantic scale and such popular enthusiasm for new development. This produced many an instance of exemplary labour and of a new attitude to work. In many factories, collective and state farms, the workers and collective farmers drew up their own additional plans for an output exceeding that provided for in the state plans. The attitude to labour had changed. From the involuntary and penal servitude that had existed under capitalism, it was becoming in the words of Stalin "a matter of honour, a matter of glory, a matter of valour and heroism. There is not, nor can there be, anything similar to it in capitalist countries." A new heroic attitude to labour took hold throughout the Soviet Union. One fundamentally different from the servility and selfishness of the capitalist West. "In our country, in the USSR," said Comrade Stalin's close advisor Mikhail Kalinin, "labour - from the simplest to the most skilled - in both city and country has acquired a profound content, has become inspired by the great idea of Socialism, has become the creative principle that regenerates people, trains them in the spirit of Communist ethics." "Our proletarian revolution," said Stalin in 1935, "is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only political results but also material results...Our revolution is the only one which not only smashed the fetters of capitalism and brought the people freedom, but also succeeded in creating the material conditions of a prosperous life for the people. Therein lies the strength and invincibility of our revolution." In January, 1934, Joseph Stalin proudly announced the victory of the first Five-Year Plan. "The USSR," he said, "has cast off the aspect of backwardness and medievalism." He continued: From an agrarian society it has become an industrial country. From a country of small individual agriculture it has become a country of collective, large-scale mechanized agriculture. From an ignorant, illiterate and uncultured country it has become - or rather it is becoming - a literate and cultured country covered by a vast network of higher, secondary and elementary schools teaching in the languages of the nationalities of the USSR...New industries have been created: the production of machine tools, automobiles, tractors, chemicals, motors, aircraft, combine harvesters, powerful turbines and generators, high-grade steel.... By 1937 Stalin's great success in rapidly industrialising a backward country was widely praised by enthusiastic foreign witnesses such as well-known writers H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. These achievements could not even be ignored by the bourgeoisie press. In France, La Temps (January, 1932) said: "The Soviet Union has won the first round by industrialising itself without the aid of foreign capital." The French writer Henri Barbusse, following an extensive visit to the Soviet Union, reported: Now the real facts are these. The most poverty-stricken state in Europe (in spite of its vast size), ignorant, fettered, ill-treated, starved, bleeding and shattered, has, in seventeen years, become the greatest industrial country in Europe, and the second in the world - and the most civilized of all, in every respect. Such progress, which is unequalled in the history of the world, has been achieved - and this too is unequalled - by the sole resources of the country of which every other country has been the enemy. And it has been achieved by the power of an idea, an idea which was directly opposed to the ideas of the rulers of all other national societies. The spartan lifestyle of Comrade Stalin was in sharp contrast to the extravagance of the opportunist bureaucrats who jostled for power and prestige after his death. He liked simple food and was contemptuous of comfort and luxurious living. In a plain office on the third floor of the Communist Central Committee building, Joseph Stalin - the son of Georgian peasants - worked at his desk until 5 a.m. before preparing to sleep through the morning (a habit learned in his days as a revolutionary, when it was safer for him to lie low in the daylight hours). Staring at him from the walls were large pictures of Marx and Lenin. His body guards and personal assistants, those Soviet men and women who saw him everyday, testified to Stalin's innate humility, his concern for others, and his respect for ordinary working people. According to Alex Shelepin, a party functionary who collected Stalin's possessions after his death: There were no valuable objects at the apartment, except for a piano. There was not even a single 'real' painting. The furniture was inexpensive. Chairs with slipcovers. No antiques. On the walls - paper reproductions in plain wood frames. The centrepiece of the room was an enlarged photograph of Lenin and Stalin. Two rugs on the floor. Stalin slept under an army blanket. Other than the marshal's uniform, the only clothes were a pair of simple suits, a pair of lined felt boots, and a peasant sheepskin coat.... The capitalist world was not idle in the face of the Soviet people's colossal achievements. Throughout the 1930s the Western imperialist countries accelerated their secret operations against the Soviet Union. The Great Depression, along with growing mass support for communist and workers' movements in the nations of Europe, prompted Western governments to back numerous covert attempts to wreak havoc in the Soviet Union. And in this secret war they relied on the networks established by Leon Trotsky, who had been deported from the USSR in 1929 for his traitorous activities. Setting up his headquarters outside Russia, Trotsky enjoyed the patronage of capitalist governments, agents of several Intelligence Services, as well as all manner of anti-Soviet elements. "Exile usually means eclipse. The reverse has happened in the case of Trotsky," Isaac F. Marcosson wrote in Turbulent Years: A human hornet while he was within Soviet confines, his sting is scarcely less effective thousands of miles away. Exercising remote control he had become Russia's Public Enemy Number One....Master of propaganda, he has lived in a fantastic atmosphere of national and international conspiracy like a character in an E. Phillips Oppenheim mystery story. Winston Churchill, a spokesman for the Anglo-American ruling circles, immediately realised the value of Trotsky to the worldwide anti-Soviet crusade. Summing up the whole purpose of Trotsky's actions from the moment he left the Soviet Union, Churchill wrote in his Great Contemporaries: "Trotsky...strives to rally the underworld of Europe for the overthrow of the Russian Army." A necessary prelude to a Western imperialist military attack on the USSR. Trotsky issued a stream of orders to his agents and sympathisers within Russia. In many cases the same "ultra Left" elements who had opposed Lenin or were critical of his policies, supported Trotsky's plans to instigate crisis and turmoil. They were later exposed as saboteurs, agents of foreign espionage services, assassins and traitors to the Soviet Union. Outside of Russia, Trotsky's followers, aided by Intelligence Services, set about dividing the workers' movement and spreading hysterical anti-Soviet propaganda. They tried to convince Western "Leftists" that the Soviet Union threatened world peace and its leader Joseph Stalin was a bloodthirsty tyrant. They became capitalism's ideological battering ram against the Soviet Union, an important source of anti-Soviet propaganda, and a very useful fifth column within the worldwide communist movement. Trotsky's friends in the United States arranged for the capitalist press to promote his writings. The book publishing firm, Harper Brothers of New York, agreed to publish Trotsky's tirade against Stalin. GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR On June 22, 1941, the German army invaded the Soviet Union without a declaration of war. The Nazi military machine counted on a lightning victory over the USSR. Hitler had never concealed his intentions toward the East. Russia was to provide "living space" for the German race. Of the Slavic people, Hitler said one third were to be exterminated, one third reduced to serfdom, and the remainder deported for slave labor in the German Reich. This policy was to be implemented by Hitler's spy master SS General Reinhard Gehlen. In the German occupied areas, special mobile killing squads rounded up loyal Bolsheviks and machine-gunned them on the spot. The period of Socialist construction had come to an end, and a period of war began - a Patriotic War of liberation waged by the Soviet people against the German invaders. To ensure the rapid mobilisation of all the forces of the peoples of the USSR for the routing of the enemy, all state power was concentrated in a specially established State Committee of Defence. Joseph Stalin became Chairman of the Committee. On July 3, 1941, Comrade Stalin addressed the Soviet people and the men of the Red Army over the radio. In this historic speech, Stalin told the stern truth about the grave military situation and called upon the Soviet people to appreciate the full immensity of the danger menacing the Motherland. He disclosed Nazi Germany's aims in the war against the Soviet Union: The enemy is cruel and implac ... aims in the war against the Soviet Union: The enemy is cruel and implacable. He is out to seize our lands which have been watered by the sweat of our brow, to seize our grain and oil which have been obtained by the labour of our hands. He is out to restore the rule of the landlords, to restore tsarism, to destroy the national culture and the national existence as states of the Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Uzbeks, Tatars, Moldavians, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanians and other free peoples of the Soviet Union, to Germanize them, to convert them into slaves of German princes and barons. Thus, the issue is one of life and death for the Soviet State, of life and death for the peoples of the USSR, of whether the peoples of the Soviet Union shall be free or fall into slavery. Stalin called upon the Soviet people to reorganise all their work on a war footing and to subordinate everything to the needs of the front and the task of defeating the enemy. The Red Army and all the citizens of the Soviet Union, he said, must defend every inch of Soviet soil, must fight to the last drop of blood for every town and village. He gave orders that in the case of Red Army units having to make a forced retreat, the earth itself must be scorched by fire, so that the German invaders would inherit a desolate land. "The enemy," declared Stalin, "must not be left a single engine, a single railway car, a single pound of grain or gallon of fuel....In areas occupied by the enemy, guerrilla units must be formed; sabotage groups must be organised...to blow up bridges and roads, damage telephone and telegraph lines, set fire to forests, stores, and transport." With the same courage, persistence, and iron will he displayed as a Bolshevik revolutionary, J.V. Stalin, the People's Commissar of Defence, rallied the Soviet people: "The German invaders want a war of extermination against the peoples of the USSR. Well, if the Germans want a war of extermination, they will get it." "Let the heroic images of our great forebears," Comrade Stalin told the Red Army, "inspire you in this war!" When the German invaders entered the suburbs of Moscow, Stalin assumed personal command of the Red Army. He sent most of the government officials east of the Urals to carry on the fight in case Moscow fell. But, defiantly, he stayed on in the besieged city to lead its defense himself. On December 6, 1941, on Comrade Stalin's orders, several Soviet armies which had been concentrated around Moscow suddenly struck at the enemy. After heavy fighting, the Germans collapsed under the assault and retreated. The Soviet troops drove the routed Germans before them and during that winter advanced westward, in places over 400 kilometres. Hitler's plan for the encirclement and capture of Moscow ended in a bloody fiasco. The rout of the German armies at Moscow was a decisive military event and the first big defeat the Germans had sustained in World War II. It dispelled once and for all the Nazi myth that the German army was invincible. In the spring of 1942, the Nazis again rushed to the attack. They threatened Leningrad in the north, drove toward Moscow in the central sector, and appeared certain to capture the Caucasus oilfields in the south. But their main objective was Stalingrad, the "city of Stalin." Comrade Stalin gave instructions that Stalingrad should be held at all costs. The Battle of Stalingrad, the biggest military engagement in history, began. The Red Army heroically defended the famous city on the Volga. Between August 1942 and January 1943 the battle raged from house to house, cellar to cellar, room to room. With no way to bring in supplies to the besieged city, thousands of Russians died of starvation. Addressing the Soviet people, Stalin said: I think that no other country and no other army could have withstood this onslaught of the savage gangs of German fascist brigands and their allies. Only our Soviet country and only our Red Army are capable of withstanding such an onslaught. And not only withstanding it, but also overpowering it. On November 19, 1942, acting on Stalin's orders, the Soviet troops at the approaches to Stalingrad went on the offensive. They struck at the German's flanks, and then in their rear. This strategic plan of flank attacks ensured a resounding victory for the Red Army. Very soon, a German army of 300,000 strong found itself surrounded in the Stalingrad area.. This was the most outstanding victory in all the great wars of history. Stalin later wrote of the significance of Stalingrad: "Stalingrad marked the beginning of the decline of the German fascist army. It is common knowledge that the Germans never recovered from the Stalingrad slaughter." Having seized the initiative in the Stalingrad battle, the Soviet Army continued to press its offensive. The wholesale expulsion of the enemy from Soviet soil was underway. The year 1944 was one of decisive victories for the Soviet forces. On the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Comrade Stalin expressed his confidence that the Red Army, having accomplished its patriotic task of liberating the Motherland, would fulfil its historic mission to the end and hoist the red flag of victory over Berlin. On May 2, 1945, the Soviet forces took the German capital. The Red Army had obeyed Stalin's call! On June 24, 1945, by order of Supreme Commander-in-Chief Stalin, a Victory Parade was held in Moscow. To the Red Square Soviet troops brought the standards of the German fascist armies and divisions they had vanquished and demolished. These were cast at the feet of the victorious Soviet people, at the foot of the Lenin Mausoleum, on the rostrum of which stood, Comrade J.V. Stalin. In On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, Stalin wrote: The strength of Soviet patriotism lies in the fact that it is based not on racial or nationalistic prejudices, but on the profound devotion and loyalty of the people to their Soviet Motherland, on the fraternal cooperation of the working people of all the nations inhabiting our country. Soviet patriotism is a harmonious blend of the national traditions of the peoples and the common vital interests of all the working people of the Soviet Union... At the same time, the people of the USSR respect the rights and independence of the peoples of foreign countries and have always shown their readiness to live in peace and friendship with neighbouring countries. This should be regarded as the basis upon which the ties between our country and other freedom-loving peoples are expanding and growing stronger. The Soviet Union suffered tremendous devastation during the German invasion. In Soviet Russia 1,700 towns, 70,000 villages, 6 million houses, and 31,000 factories were destroyed. 8.6 million Soviet soldiers were killed and at least 17 million men, women and children murdered in this war which British historian A.J.P. Taylor described as "the most destructive of all time." Some Western leaders believed it would take decades for the Soviet Union to recover. Others thought such catastrophic losses would bring the USSR to its knees. They were wrong. J.V. Stalin, the man who for Soviet citizens embodied the spirit of resistance and symbolised heroic sacrifices, inspired the people to further victories. SOVIET SUPERPOWER The end of World War II saw the Soviet people embark on massive reconstruction and even greater development programmes. Following the example set by Stalin, Soviet workers, through heroic effort, realised great achievements. Soviet industry grew rapidly and began to compete with the advanced capitalist states of the West. Winston Churchill, a rabid anti-Russian and anti-communist, alarmed by the rapid pace of development in the USSR, spoke of Stalin's threat to Western capitalist "civilisation". Using the terminology of Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels, Churchill described the Soviet Union as being behind an "Iron Curtain". He called for an Anglo-American crusade against the USSR to halt the advance of Socialism and restore capitalism in the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe. World capitalism could not tolerate a revitalised Soviet Union. Stalin, once a much needed ally of the West in the war against fascism, was now portrayed as world capitalism's chief nemesis. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was created in 1947. The CIA's primary purpose being to gather intelligence on Socialist states, principally the USSR, and act as a private police force to protect US multinational corporations. In their anti-Soviet drive, the newly constituted CIA recruited to its ranks leading Nazi operatives, in particular German SS General Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's Eastern Front espionage chief. This is the same Gehlen who was going to turn 50 million Russians into slaves, while some "forty million Soviet citizens would be eliminated by natural means, namely famine." The US provided Gehlen with a budget of $200 million to carry out anti-Soviet activities.6 Gehlen's anti-Soviet Nazi espionage network was transferred virtually undisturbed to the CIA. "He's on our side," said CIA director and former Rockefeller lawyer Allen Dulles. "That's all that matters." Gehlen and other top Nazi agents continued to practice their black arts against the USSR. They set to work devising new strategies to destroy the Soviet Union. Gehlen's intelligence reports systematically exaggerated the Soviet "threat," fuelling American paranoia about communist "subversion." Joseph Stalin was now vilified as a "tyrant" and "mass murderer". All the old Nazi black propaganda about the "communist menace" and the "Soviet beast" was now directly taken up by the CIA. Nazi agents and collaborators inside the Soviet bureaucracy and the KGB now became trusted assets of the CIA. "The only intelligence provided by the Gehlen net to the United States," asserts researcher and activist Carl Oglesby, "was intelligence selected specifically to worsen East-West relations and increase the possibility of military conflict between the US and the Soviet Union." The CIA was, in Carl Oglesby's words, "a front for a house of Nazi spies." These very elements shaped the Western world's image of Stalin and the Soviets. The "Cold War" had begun. By 1950 the Soviet Union was in the front rank of the world's industrial nations. National liberation struggles were intensifying and newly independent nations were choosing the road of Socialism pioneered by Stalin. Great panic swept the boardrooms of London, Paris and New York. All kinds of espionage, political intrigue and dark conspiracy would be needed to crush the world revolutionary movement and isolate the Soviet Union. Aware that the imperialist states of Britain and the USA, through their respective intelligence services and agents of influence, were trying to destroy the USSR, Stalin ordered the arrest - announced in January 1953 - of certain Kremlin doctors on charges of medically murdering various loyal Soviet leaders. Stalin had uncovered a nest of traitors, opportunists and spies among his senior associates. Before all the evidence could be assembled to put them on trial, Joseph Stalin 'died' suddenly on March 5, 1953. His sudden and unexpected death ensured none of the traitorous gang ever faced a People's Court. The writer Abdulakhman Avtorkhanov, in his book The Death of Stalin, argues that KGB chief Beria planned Stalin's murder. He had been laying the groundwork for some time by getting rid of all those in Stalin's personal guard who were particularly loyal to him. The Indian ambassador, who met Stalin two weeks before his death, did not detect any signs of deteriorating health. According to a doctor who claimed to have attended Stalin in his last years, the Soviet leader had no health complaints. Stalin's son, Vasily, had no doubt he was murdered. "They killed him!" he shouted over the body of his dead father. In his memoirs, Lev Kopelev, himself a prisoner of a Siberian gulag, wrote of the pain he experienced on hearing the news of Stalin's death: "....he was the last Communist in the Politburo - he really wanted something good - and I even cried in secret. I'm not ashamed to admit it, but when they were burying him and the horns were blowing I went into an empty hut where there was nobody, so that I shouldn't be seen either by my comrade prisoners or by the guards, and I cried, because I knew that when my brother had perished he was shouting for the Motherland and for Stalin." Molotov, the distinguished Soviet Foreign Minister, whose own wife had been arrested for her involvement with anti-Soviet elements abroad, never denied Stalin's greatness. Speaking of Stalin's death, Molotov recalled: "I think that if he [Stalin] had lived another year or so, I might not have survived, but in spite of that, I have believed and believe that he carried out tasks so colossal and difficult that no one of us then in the Party could have fulfilled them." The current Russian communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov, holds the view that Stalin was a wise ideologist, who "understood the urgent necessity of harmonising new realities with a centuries-long Russian tradition. " Stalin is revered as a great "patriot", who, says Zyuganov, if he had only lived "a few more years, " would have saved Russia from betrayers. Stalin's death signalled the commencement of the steady decline of the mighty Soviet Union. Opportunist bureaucrats took control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Old Bolshevik comrades of Stalin with a distinguished record of revolutionary struggle were condemned. Three years after Stalin's death the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) violently attacked him at their 20th Congress, and then again at the 22nd Congress. In these denunciations, the leaders of the CPSU aimed at erasing Stalin's indelible influence among the Soviet people and throughout the world. They also paved the way for negating the very revolutionary principles Stalin had developed and defended. The revision of the Marxist-Leninist theories on imperialism, war and peace, revolution, the vanguard party, etc., is inseparably connected to the CPSU's complete negation of J.V. Stalin. Under the cover of "combating the personality cult," the corrupt leadership of the CPSU tried to negate everything Stalin worked for and symbolised. This process of revisionism eventually led to the rise of such betrayers as Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Significantly, the heirs of Trotsky praised Gorbachev and the very forces that led to the collapse of the USSR. The Trotskyists of the late 1980s made no secret of their joy, declaring that the undermining of the Soviet Union had "opened the door for Trotskyism" and "greatly helped the advance of Trotskyism". At the end of the twentieth century, in the post-Soviet, post-Cold War world, global capitalism is said to have triumphed over Socialism. Working people are under increased attack. The Establishment tells us there is no alternative to the sham New World Order. No world leader is more vilified and demonised in capitalist culture than Joseph Stalin. We are told by the monopolised capitalist press that Stalin is responsible for the "deaths of millions". Well, the research of contemporary scholars has disproved this. J.A. Getty, who wrote Origins of the Great Purges, is just one of several academics who challenge the Establishment view. As to the number of people arrested and executed in the upheavals of the 1930s, "research by Russian and Western scholars in recent years has produced estimates that are considerably lower than those previously posited."7 But, whatever the mistakes, whatever the casualties laid at Stalin's door, it can hardly be because of them that he is so violently attacked. Many imperialist countries have supported and rewarded mass murderers. J.V. Stalin is vilified because, in his day at the helm of the Soviet Union, the exploiters all over the world had something to worry about! The mighty Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin was a bastion against exploitation, against capitalism, against selfishness and greed, an inspiration to millions of ordinary people all over the world. Yes, it had weaknesses and was beset by enemies both within and without. But while it existed, no exploiter could feel safe. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union embodied values and practices of a higher type, and pioneered a path different from and superior to the liberal capitalist West. For millions of men and women the USSR represented a new civilisation directly challenging world capitalism. Stalin, the "man of steel", rallied them to great heroic achievements. Above all, Joseph Stalin was a true revolutionary and for this reason he will always be vilified by the forces of imperialism. As one Soviet citizen said: We are sometimes called Stalinists, but we don't see anything to be ashamed of in that. I am a Stalinist because the name of Stalin is linked with the victories of our people in the years of collectivisation and industrialisation. I am a Stalinist because the name of Stalin is linked with the victories of our people in the Great Patriotic War. I am a Stalinist because the name of Stalin is linked with the victories of our people in the postwar reconstruction of our economy. FOOTNOTES 1. Andrei Sinyavsky, Soviet Civilization: A Cultural History (New York: Little, Brown, 1990) 2. Ivan Shekhovtsov, quoted in Stalin: A Time for Judgement, J. Lewis and P. Whitehead, Methuen, 1990) 3. John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal 4. Richard Pipes, Three Whys of the Russian Revolution 5. Stalin: A Short Biography 6. Gehlen, Spy of the Century 7. Lewis Siegelbaum, Russia: A History Copyright New Dawn Magazine, http://www.newdawnmagazine.com. 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