After reading part of the first chapter “Apples are from Kazakhstan” by Christopher Robbins to my class, I quizzed my students on vocabulary words such as arable, detractors, diatribe, eradicate, nemesis, ostentatious, sacrosanct, protégé, etc. Another part of the quiz I got responses to the question: What are your thoughts on Joseph Stalin and whether he was generally good for the citizens of Kazakhstan or bad. If he had not been ruler for 30 years in the Soviet Union, how do you think you and your family’s life would be different now?
A. E. Joseph Stalin was such kind of man who was not interested in other people’s lives. He was very selfish one. Only what he said must be true. The same was in the case of Vavilov. Stalin just destroyed him. Vavilov was very good agriculturist, he knew a lot about Kazakhstan, about Kazakh land, but what he knew didn’t make sense to Stalin.
By the way, I think that politics of Joseph Stalin wasn’t good for Kazakh people because he destroyed the culture of this nation. As we all know, Kazakh have a very strong culture and destroying was very critical for Kazakh people.
And what about living conditions, if he [Stalin] had not been ruling for 30 years, in my point of view, the living conditions would be better. Because the time of Stalin control stopped the spread of globalization in USSR, which is not very good for people as for economy of the country.
In conclusion, I want to say that life could be better.
R. A. – There are a lot of contradictable opinions about Joseph Stalin. Some people would say that he was very cruel leader and that his regime killed too many innocent people. But we the citizens of post-Soviet countries shouldn’t forget about Great Patriotic War and his contribution to victory of Soviet people over Fascist invaders. Maybe, if he [Stalin] hadn’t such an enormous power, Soviet people wouldn’t be so united and wouldn’t have won the war.
A. I. In the totalitarian world, of course, he was the best as the ruler. But he was like an Evil for the people. He had an absolutely power in that regime and all Soviet people had to some kind of worship him. Anyway everybody thought that they couldn’t survive without him. He was like a God in USSR.
A. B: I think Joseph Stalin was brutal tyrant. He had only military ideas in his mind and he would stop at nothing in order to reach his goal. He was rather bad for KZ. We would have a better life.
Z. S. My personal opinion about Stalin changed when I was 17. Before that I always thought that he was a very strong, powerful and just leader, during whose ruling life in the USSR was controlled but calm, people were not afraid of robbery or murder, everyone could get a job and etc. Only when I was 17 and I was in the U.S. and further when I came back and talked to many historians both at our university and other KZ universities, I found out the truth. The fact that at those times life was calm and determined it was the consequences of all the horrible things he had done like collectivization, famine, repressions and many more things. Only he himself killed so many people which only a war could do.
I understand older people still wish he was alive and we were living under communist regime, but this is only one side looking to issue, maybe because they haven’t seen another style of living and even if they did (current KZ, where everything such as wealth is in the hands of a few people), they did not like it.
A. T: Generally Stalin was not as perfect for KZ citizens, on the other hand, the policy which was provided was not so bad, I mean the policy of concentration citizens of cities or “auls” (villages). It is not a secret that Kazakhs at the beginning of the century was without any education and towns and villages make the education possible. But the ideas of the policy was “killed” by their realization. Repressions killed a lot of Kazakh peoples, who can’t live in an urban area. I think that without Soviet policy, it was a chance that KZ now could be like a Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan, fully nomadic or non developed or even developing country. Soviet policy make a good base of developing for KZ now.
K. V. I think that Stalin was strictive man. All those bad things that he did were done by thinking. He killed many people that did not deserve death. And without Stalin and his strong character USSR wouldn’t won the WWII. As someone said in the class, when Stalin died, many people were crying, because they felt strength of Stalin, and when he gone they frightened, because they didn’t imagine life without “this cruel man.” There are many people who hate Stalin and they have their own reasons.
Y. K. – Joseph Stalin was not the best ruler of people, USSR, he made a lot of bad things, killed a lot of people, however, USSR won the World War II, and one of the main reason of that was that the ruler was Stalin, psychologists think that only he could win Hitler. So if Stalin had not been a ruler, we might not sit in this class now. Sure, after the war, it was really hard to rebirth the country, all economy production, and a lot of people died as victims, but who knows, if it was another ruler would it be better or not?
Stalin was very smart, but as we know, authority spoils everyone. People loved him, they were really happy that they were ruled by him. So I cannot say whether my life could be better or worse, it is simply could be no me and not my family now.