HOT TOPIC: Joseph Stalin
Volume 2, Issue 29 - April 9, 2006

"While the notion of the “Big 3” inspires notions of prominence and confidence, the image of Joseph Stalin sitting astride Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta is as ominous as it is assuring. Succeeding Lenin to lead the Soviet Union, Stalin formed collectives and moved his nation forward as an industrial and military power through a series of five year plans and his own sheer will to transform a backward nation into a superpower. In my own life’s time, the legacy of Stalin has loomed large as the world waited out the Cold War. Indeed, only since the reforms of glasnost and perestroika have we been able to put the seventy year reign of the Soviets into some objective perspective.

In the Second World War, Stalin’s eastern front fight against the Germans proved to be the difference, culminating in the battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-1943. As Time magazine described it, “The man whose name means steel in Russian, whose few words of English include the American expression “tough guy” was the man of 1942. Only Joseph Stalin fully knew how close Russia stood to defeat in 1942, and only Joseph Stalin fully knew how he brought Russia through. But the whole world knew what the alternative would have been. The man who knew it best of all was Adolf Hitler, who found his past accomplishments turning into dust.”
(see,16641,19400101,00.html for his man of the year cover).

Stalin’s legacy is a mixture of progress and purges, triumph and terror. This week’s newsletter is a combination of Russian and western sources combined to offer your students a multi-faceted look at this feared, ruthless leader."


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