Posts tagged Stalin

Heart wrenching news about Ukraine

Difficult to passively sit back and watch the events unfold in Ukraine as they are moving forward. The Ukrainians have taken three steps forward with their newly elected president but several steps back with what is happening in eastern Ukraine. Possibly the separatists are employing terrifying tactics of their own volition but I think the guy in charge in Moscow is not only encouraging it but aiding them. How do you get sophisticated missiles into the country to take down a Ukrainian plane that is landing at the airport, 49 dead as a result? Where do the tanks come from that are infiltrating Ukraine? Why do they not have their insignias on the armored vehicles or why do the agitator men NOT wear symbols on their clothes to show who they represent? This is an undeclared war that is going on and yet supposedly it is NOT happening because they are simply Russians who are dissatisfied with the Ukrainian government and want Russia to take over.

Meanwhile, the tourist trade is not faring very well in Crimea and that is a beautiful place to be at this time. The Tatars were aggressively moved out when Stalin wanted it for his own Soviet headquarters and now people who are catching on are leaving…that is, if they are able to now. I don’t know if they have the electricity or fuel or food they need. I believe they are living on ration cards now. So sad.

What I know from one of my friends currently living in western Ukraine is that some of the far eastern cities in Ukraine are without food, electricity or a means of transportation. Some people are hiding out in basements of apartment complexes because it is not safe for them to be in their homes or apartments. This means dire straits for those who do NOT want to be in this chaos. However, there are heroes who are doing what they can to help these people who want OUT!

My heart goes out to those who ARE helping people who have no means, Ukrainian unfortunates who are caught in the cross fire. I also know of brave, young men who are involved in the fight to help Ukraine return to order and peace. That is all anyone wants who LOVES their own country.

This makes me think of what would happen in the U.S. if it were to happen like that. Would we have people who would cave in and do whatever they are told by the “government?” Probably so, those who watch tv and are passive because they believe everything they are told by the media. Would we have others though, who would fight for our country to become what it used to be? I would hope so…for our grandchildren’s sake.

Freedom is important and so many people do not have that in their lives. That is the heart wrenching news from around the world. I continue to think about Ukraine…and Kazakhstan.

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Be Careful and Be Warned Anti-Abolitionists!!!

I don’t even know where to begin. Why are westerners complacent about human trafficking? Is it because they think slavery has been abolished and totally eradicated with the passing of time since the Civil War in America? Was that not a war worth fighting for? Some people in their ivory towers believe that we should NEVER, ever be in war, no matter what is at stake, even freedom for those less fortunate or less educated.  Apparently these same, self-acclaimed peace-niks believe they are absolved and have moved on to a higher plane with electing a “black” president. All past pain is forgiven and forgotten? But my question is: “Shouldn’t there be an all out war and campaign against human trafficking?”

Instead some “intelligent” people war with their words and put down our best efforts as abolitionists while we try to make others aware of the sin in our fallen world.  However, just because they don’t believe in sin or our fallen natures and they don’t believe in God either, they feel off the hook ethically and morally.  Twisted logic would have them parrot the following questions when they are caught in their painted-in corner, “Why does God allow suffering in the world?  OR Where is YOUR God now?” They have such audacity to ask these type of questions when they have no solution to help those who are not free to help themselves.

Who is morally outraged about the poor people in today’s world who are conscripted to work on ego building projects? Mere statistics who somehow disappear because these people are just numbers and not your own son or daughter, husband or wife.  How can insensitive people continue to laugh at sasha cohen who inflamed the honor and dignity of Kazakh people by filming his movie titled Barot? This despicable movie was actually filmed in Romania and NOT in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the Romanian people continue to suffer (read human trafficking BIG time in that last statement).  Please read this interesting blog about what the Romanians remember of their suffering under communism even 23 years after their “beloved” leader succumbed to the “people’s wishes.”

For now, I would hope that my dear Kazakhstan has not fallen into a similar plight that Romania was led down with all their building projects under a egomaniac. Trafficking has been rampant in both countries.  Yet I’m proud to report that there are some people in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, who are trying to raise awareness, money and donations of clothes for those victims who are in transition in trafficking shelters.  Read the latest upbeat report about what just took place.

“NU hosted a concert in aid of human trafficking awareness on May 4 in the Atrium. NU has been active in collecting clothes for victims who have been rescued or escaped from conditions of sex or labour servitude which has been much appreciated by the organisations active in this area.  Adila and Medina, who are well known to many in NU, opened the concert before a short speech from Olga, the local organiser for the International Organisation for Migration thanking NU for its continuing assistance and interest, then Serik & Kana performed Russian Bard music   The evening finished with a collection in aid of a legal aid fund for rescued victims of trafficking in north Kazakhstan currently involved in a court case to which participants responded generously!”

My last plea would be to those smart, but godless, people who think they know so much about how to solve the world’s problems without God. They seem to believe that certain leaders in our world can save us from ourselves, but just look at the recent history of Mao Tse Tung, Lenin, Stalin AND of course Hitler.  We, as Christians, understand that the Bible has valuable lessons recorded from ancient history so we can learn about what effective leaders and selfish leaders did.  King David was a man after God’s own heart but he eventually sinned, he fell from God’s grace and paid for the consequences.

Hopefully our nation of the U.S. will not have to pay similar penalties for its willful ignorance about slavery (sex trafficking) going on in the rest of the world and in our own country.  I challenge the agnostics and atheists who read my blog to give me an answer to why they do NOTHING to help others out of slavery while blaming God (who they don’t believe in) for the problem. Spit in the eye of freedom because Someone else died for you so that you can be hasty in your judgment of me as a Christian abolitionist.  Be careful and be warned.

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Media doesn’t get it…personal testimony does

Today I’ll deviate from what I’ve been blogging about lately on human trafficking, I’ll take my readers to Iraq.  I have two American friends who are working in Baghdad right now. They are friends of mine since we lived in Kyiv, Ukraine. I’m not sure they have connected with each other yet but we have mutual friends, it’s a small world after all.  I’m glad we are Facebook friends because when I see their status updates, I know they are okay.  When I don’t, I worry that something may have gone very wrong with security. Baghdad has had several explosions lately.

All that above as an introduction to our speaker we heard today at our Rotary meeting. A retired army officer talked for a half hour about his military experiences in Iraq from 2005-2008, almost three years.  Col. Martin Breaker was in charge of detainee operations after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. He showed the four photos that went viral on the Internet and had more to do with putting Americans in harms way.  He in fact,  during his tenure as commanding officer, lost 17 soldiers under him. Always very sad.

I did not know, and maybe it was because I lived in Ukraine and never got the straight scoop, that it was American soldiers who had taken pictures of themselves in jail cells looking as if they were being tortured by Americans soldiers.  The Abu Ghraib abuse scandal the media took to the extreme and didn’t give out the true facts. Two photos were made to look like Iraqi “victims” with their arms extended as if hanging on a cross (black mask over the head and in a black gown) The other two photos had threatening black dogs snarling fiercely at frightened supposed “detainees.”

How did these photos appear to the insurgency in Iraq who were being propagandized to hate Americans?  Those two photos with extended arms were perceived as detainees being held at Abu Ghraib and tortured to become Christian. Anathema for those in this Muslim land of Iraq.  Did these American “jokers” also know how lethal the symbolic meaning of having black dogs as attack dogs?  We have our own superstitions about black cats but this was 100 times worse for any Iraqi civilian to see these photos.  Because Mohammed’s son was killed by a black wolf, the Iraqis are terrified of black dogs. It goes far beyond superstition but a real phobia.

In any case, the usual suspects (Americans who posted these photos on the Internet) were rounded up and sent off to serve their own time in prison back in the U.S.  I’m not sure that the media is ever penalized for aiding and abetting in not getting the accurate story out.  What I found out from personal testimony of Martin Breaker was these errant soldiers did not have good leadership at this detention camp. Also they had been trained to be M.P.s and not simply guards for detainees.  (the guards have non-lethal weapons with rubber bullets) Martin had to go in and clean up the mess and help befriend the Iraqi people who were scooped up for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. If there had been a bombing or a blast, all in the area were considered suspects.

Who were these detainees at Abu Ghraib? Often the insurgents would find those who are extremely poor and offer them $300 to do the dirty work for them.  Anything from digging ditches to setting off bombs.  In some cases, they had no choice. Marty gave one example where the terrorists came to a home packed with Iraqi people. When they refused to comply, they took the youngest girl outside and shot her dead. Then the terrorists came back into the house to get the expected cooperation they had been initially looking for.  Another case where there was a farmer living close to the 12 foot cement barriers surrounding the camp, he had a 16 year old daughter. The soldiers who were patrolling the camp would often throw over the wall some bottled water to give to the family.  Turns out the insurgents killed the daughter because she had talked to Americans.  Such is the hate of the terrorists for their own Iraqi people, think how much more they must hate the American soliders?

Martin’s job was to not only clean up the mess created by the Abu Ghraib photos that were used against Americans but to also get information from the Iraqis once they were befriended.  He wanted to marginalize their effectiveness as terrorists by showing that they cared about them. The average time spent at the camp was 18 months and at one point there were 60,000 people, mostly young men between the ages of 18-29. To adhere to Geneva Convention protocol, millions of dollars were spent to make sure they had three meals a day and clean water and also shoes on their feet.  Many Iraqis had never owned a pair of shoes before.  Their tents were air conditioned which was especially helpful when the temps in the summer would shoot up to 127 F degrees. Each person was provided a prayer mat and also a Koran if they could read it.  Some of them realized that they had been lied to about the good will of Americans.

Many of these poor people who had been abused by their own Iraqi government before and then were being terrorized by the insurgents, when they were processed into the detention camps some had very severe health issues.  Saddam Hussein had not helped his people and those considered wealthy were people who could afford medicine.  One problem when administering remedies for the high frequency of diabetes and T.B. was that people would hoard their medication and not take it.  Those in charge with the diagnosis had to make sure they would make themselves better and not try to sell the medication once released.  Those with T.B. were isolated for about six weeks from the rest of the camp.

What was their favorite thing to watch on t.v. or watching movies?  Mickey Mouse cartoons.  Were there women?  Yes there were some.  Also families were allowed to visit which boosted the morale of those detained.  Martin talked of one man who was being interrogated for information that might lead to better intelligence (no waterboarding was used). There was one old man for six months who would not talk, they dubbed him Mr. Mute. Once they got a woman officer who was 30 years younger to come in to ask him questions, all of a sudden he started talking and giving valuable info.  He continually asked her to marry him.  She, of course, had no interest but hey, whatever works.

I had asked if there were some who did NOT want to leave the detention centers.  Afterall, for some of the Iraqis, they had never been treated better or fed so well.  Martin had an answer where an older gentleman didn’t want to go back home because he had four wives that would be nagging him.

Martin also talked about the trial for Saddam Hussien which could take a whole ‘nother blog but suffice it to say that being in this madman’s presence was enough to know he was a psychopath.  Martin said it would be easy to imagine Saddam talking to two people, shoot the one person dead and continue to talk to the fortunate living person as if nothing had happened.  He complained of many things and once the verdict was found he was guilty, Saddam was released by Martin and the U.S. military into the hands of the Iraqi people. You know the rest of the story…

Martin ended his slide show with “Freedom is Never Free.” That can be true for any country, any time period.  Our American freedom was bought with a price, maintaining our freedom from two world wars meant great sacrifice.  I fear that we trivialize our freedoms and the Arab world is preying upon what we have. The use of terror was something that Stalin was adept at.  Btw, Saddam had his library full of books about Stalin, so he was taking his marching orders from a fellow madman.  I hope that my American friends stay safe in an environment that is very volatile.  I’m glad that Martin shared from his perspective what it was like to be in a place where he was shot at and threatened with mortars on a daily basis.

We have SOOO much to be thankful for and I believe we need to personally thank our servicemen and women who give up their family life and comfortable homes to do the dirty work for us, making our lives free and secure.

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1930s photos from Central Asia

Rare to have any photos from the 1930s in Central Asia, rarer still to see what kind of Soviet education was going on in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  A Kazakh friend of mine (she has an interest in history as an economist) sent me these photos and an explanation about what these pictures of Central Asians were about.

“Rabochiy Fakultet (Workers’ Faculty) though was quite an important part of education policy of early Soviet Union.. According to Russian census in 1897 there were only about 5-6% of literate people in Central Asia. So this institution was supposed to bring the illiterate peasants and workers up to speed in a very short time to enter higher educational institutions. In spite of all the horrors of Stalin’s time, there were still something positive in educational sector (especially for Central Asia). “

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“The Way Back” or “The Long Walk” of 4,000 miles out of Siberia’s prison

Last night we watched “The Way Back” starring Ed Harris and a superb cast of actors (including one 16 year old girl). The movie is based on a true story of an original group of 7-8 men who walked away from an Siberian prison camp in 1941.  My husband, as a young boy, had read the book that was first published in 1955 titled “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom” written by Ronald Downing.  That alone clinched our decision to experience this epic journey through cold, mountain passes and thirsty, Mongolian deserts. My husband wanted to see how close the movie fit to his recollection of reading this book 45-50 years ago.

Interestingly enough, Ronald Downing had started his own quest in Tibet of the legendary abominable snowman. However, he instead started gathering information about a Polish man, Slavomir Rawicz, who had walked across eastern Siberia to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, through China, Tibet and the Himalayans to finally gain his freedom in India. That was more compelling to write about than a snowman.

No doubt the film’s director Peter Weir had some parts of Downing’s book “Hollywood-ized”  However, the main meaning comes across in the special features after the movie.  That is, the inhumanity present in 100s of concentration camps throughout the Soviet Union is little known by people from the West.  I’m guessing for every 100 movies about Nazi atrocities in concentration camps, you have one movie about what Stalin did to his own people of the U.S.S.R. with the Siberian gulags. (That would also include Kazakhstan’s KARLAG system too)

The Soviet system was extremely brutal to their political prisoners who were imprisoned alongside REAL criminals of thieves and murderers.  There is one character, Valka, in this story who owned a knife, he called it “the wolf.” He also had tatooed on his chest the faces of Lenin and Stalin.  Though he believed in communism, he actually helped the other “politicals” survive in the wilds with the use of his knife. Yet he turned back once they got to the Trans-Siberian railway which they thought was the end of the Soviet Union and walking into freedom…sadly Mongolia had been taken over by USSR and so their trek to freedom continued.

The movie skipped over the Himalayans since the over two hour long movie had already shown its audience enough of the bitter cold of Siberia and reaching Lake Baikal and then the dry desert scenes. Also, I don’t think the actors or camera and production crews could fathom doing more marathon type survivalist living in the mountains.

The real hero of this story (played by Jim Sturgess) in both the movie and the book was Slavomir Rawicz, this Polish army officer who had been captured by the Red Army and accused of being a Nazi. His wife had been tortured to create a false testimony against him and Slavomir was summarily imprisoned by the Communists out to Siberia. He successfully trekked 4,000 miles after escaping from a Siberian prisoner of war camp. He survived the ordeal which lasted about a year because he knew how to live in the outdoors and survive on nature’s food and water.  He was accused by the Ed Harris character, known only as “Mr. Smith” of not being able to survive in the prisoner’s camp because he was too kind and helped other prisoners.  Perhaps his kindness and knowledge of how to survive is what eventually prevailed and got the two other men out alive with him.

Apparently, the older American, dubbed “Mr. Smith” had earlier watched his 17 year old son die at the mercy of communists then he was sent to the gulag and once “free” went on the Lhasa, Tibet. We don’t know if he survived once he parted ways with Slavomir and the others.  Also, I’m not sure if the movie ended accurately which showed how Slavomir had waited until Poland was free from the bonds of communist oppression to see his wife again after being separated for almost 50 years.  I would like to get a copy of the old book titled “The Long Walk” to read what my husband had read 50 years ago.  Such a remarkable story had a great impact on him.  The movie may have a profound impact on many other westerners as well.

Why don’t more people in the West know about the gulag system that happened throughout Russia and Kazakhstan?  Little is written because few people survived the cruel brutalities!  I would highly recommend watching this movie “The Way Back.”

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“One death is a tragedy…”

I believe it was Stalin (or was it Hitler) who is quoted as saying: “One death is a tragedy, a thousand deaths are merely a statistic.”  One can get hardened after being around so much death, I suppose Duranty had reached that point.  As I’ve posted earlier while focusing on Walter Duranty’s book “I Write as I Please” the past week, I’ve been reading John Noble’s book “I was a slave in Russia.”

This American survivor, who was trapped in Dresden at the end of WWII, saw MUCH death during his enslavement.  Naturally he tried to make sense of it and I thought I wouldn’t take any notes from this book because it is so dire but I am anyway.

p. 30 “I knew little about theoretical Marxism at that time, but in this attitude toward death I sensed the gulf that separated these MVD officers from the Christian civilization that man is an animal, no more.  To kill a man is no more significant than to kill a highly trained horse or a cow.  If the beast becomes unmanageable, it is killed.  If the man-beast becomes unmanageable, he is killed.”

p. 31 “In that joking [Red Army and Soviet guards about their political prisoners at Dresden] was summed up a startling different between these guards and the Nazi death squads about which those prisoners who had known both sometimes spoke.  The Nazis, they said, killed viciously, because they were convinced that the people being killed were actually their enemies.  The Russians killed because, almost literally, a number had been drawn from a hat, because some meaningless document in some meaningless proceedings had said to snuff out the candle. No ferocity attended the executions.  The reasons for the killings were as remote and irrelevant to the Russian guards as was the concept of death itself.  Their joking, then, was not forced.  When they patted a prisoner’s shoulder, the action came easily.  Life had to end for certain integers in the sate table of statistics. That’s all, comrade.  Nothing personal, comrade.”

Why do I bring up these quotes?  Because I believe as an educator here in Astana, we need to teach the Kazakh children to know logical fallacies from truth.  There also needs to be a rule of law and respecting of those laws in order for a civil society to flourish in our places of academia, especially here in Astana.  Students need to know that human life is important and that they are not part of the cogwheel that might be spinning uncontrollably at times. They need to be valued as individuals and not made to be a part of a conformist mold.

However, this group of people in Kazakhstan and also in Ukraine have gone through much brutality, which is what Duranty wrote about.  There was a manual written by an ardent communist about how to terrorize people and those under him followed it to the letter of the law.  The following what John Noble wrote is exactly what had been going on in Kazakhstan back in the 1920s and 1930s.  There is a reason why the Ukrainians call their dark period of “Holodomor” as Terror Famine in 1932-33.

“The very system of Communist arrests inevitably led to a system of torture that was as much mental as physical. Arrests were made to terrorize the citizens, in sweeping, indiscriminate raids.  Men were arrested as they walked the streets, as they dined or sat in the homes of friends.  They were arrested anywhere, anytime, without explanation.  Everyone in the city was kept poised on the edge of terror.  There was a plan to it all, and it was remarkably effective even beyond its terrorizing results.  When a load of prisoners newly yanked from home and street were thrown into cells, the first topic of speculation naturally was, “Why was I arrested?”

Tomorrow I will show much happier photos of Kazakh babies and students and my new office.  Things are actually looking UP for me!!!

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“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part VIII – final)

This book by Walter Duranty has certainly created a life of its own with my blogging about some of his more “radical” statements that are out there for the whole world to see (except for those six pages that the scanner didn’t scan and make available on the Web)  Finding those pages might yield a sequel of this series of posts once I get my hands on a real copy of this 1935 book with the above title.  Difficult to do right now as I live and teach in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Libraries brimming with books in English, especially OLD books, are a next to rare sight in this part of the world.

Yes, page 333 is missing and it is getting to the juiciest parts where Duranty really does write the way he wants, no holds barred.

Missing page 333???

p. 334 Lenin thought his body would be burned instead it was embalmed and placed in a 1 million dollar mausoleum [WD leaves out the fact that Stalin had created this hero worship. Stalin knew that the Russian people needed someone or something to worship besides God, might as well be a dead man. I saw Lenin’s waxened body when I toured Moscow in the summer of 1976]

Steamer Chelyuskin was caught in the Arctic ice just north of Behring straits

p. 336 – Soviet stratosphere flight

p. 337 – fighting plane across Front in 1918 taking greater risks than Lindbergh, Miss Earheart, Admiral Byrd or Amy Johnson.  [WD doesn’t understand the competition of trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flights, apparently Stalin had gotten involved in the competition by supporting the best pilots experimenting with faster planes]

great airplane Maxim Gorky crashed in spring of 1935

“Rodina” – birthplace or homeland  – of USSR, used to be called “Socialist Fatherland”

p. 339 the thing that distinguishs a real working Socialist system from a pseudo-Socialist system is the abolition of the power of money and the profit motive and of the possibility for any individual or group of individuals to gain surplus value from the work of others.

David Lawrence in July 20, 1935 Sat. Evening Post

p. 340 – not a question of “I do on what I get but of what we do and what we get – definite of the difference between Socialism and individualism

WD asked “Am I wrong in believing that Stalin is the greatest living statesman and that Litvinov is the ablest foreign minister?” [K.N. answer to W.D. “YES!”]

W.D. relates a Russian folklore of Koshchei Bea smetny Koshchei the Deathless revived smiling after decapitation, life was found in the duck’s egg, but Hero crushed egg and giant died. Where is life found for the young Soviet nation? Worth as a diamond “Not mine for me but ours for us.” [K.N. what I want to know is did W.D. share the profits of this book with other people or did he have a little nestegg to retire with on his own?]

Deathless life of USSR.

The end!!!

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