Weekly Experts Panel: the Wars of History
Professor Stephen Blank, the U.S. Army War
College, Carlyle Barracks, PA:
While I would not have recommended the OSCE resolution, the issue is
not one of equating Nazism with Stalinism. The similarities and the
unique aspects of each monstrosity should be studied dispassionately
and with true academic rigor.
Nonetheless, Moscow has nobody to blame for this impasse but itself.
The Putin regime long ago made a calculated decision to slam the
door on a frank study of Soviet history, to glorify Stalin's wartime
and imperial policies, and to draw a veil of silence on the horrors
of Stalin not to mention Lenin, no mean mass killer himself.
Admittedly the East European states are using history for
nationalist purposes, but the success and utility of such calls were
first revealed by Moscow. Indeed, the reason for the ever louder
invocation of these cards is Moscow's stonewalling on the truth.
The continuing glorification of Stalin, e.g., in refurbished metro
stations (can anyone imagine the Germans using Hitler quotes in
renovated Berlin buildings?) epitomizes the process. As long as
Russia refuses to come clean about its past, it will be a morally
perverted and politically dangerous society that cannot be trusted.
Russia should learn from Germany's example (who is Russia's Willy
Brandt?) that genuine contrition and acknowledgment of the truth
breeds respect, while Japan is still distrusted because, like
Russia, it cannot bring itself to open the debate and tell the
Because Russia will not tell the truth and its leaders still want to
reap the benefits of associating themselves with Stalin by putting a
positive glow on his actions, they must bear the responsibility for
the costs that Russia will continue to incur. Indeed, the Russian
Federation, because it will not acknowledge the truth, remains the
last and by no means least of Stalin's posthumous victims.
with permission of