Posts tagged Stalin

“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part IV)

If you look at the index of Walter Duranty’s book, it is chock full of names and places, five pages worth.  As a journalist Duranty knew to include as many people as possible which may have brought this book up on the charts of the New York Times bestseller list, if they kept track of such things back then.  People like to see their names in print whether in a newspaper article or in a book, so he knew that all who were “readers” would like to buy a copy of this book which was published so long ago.  Yet, there are many things that remain the same or history definitely repeats itself.  I’ll continue where I left off with what I think are interesting quotes:

p. 212 – Liatsis theory of Red Terror and warning and example [other references to who wrote the manual on terror and how to get people to do what the communist regime wanted them to do]

“His Majesty’s Opposition” – English phrase – W.D. learned to read between the lines of the Soviet Press. “Bewildering difference between Russian and non-Russian and Bolshevik and non-Bolshevik mentality.” [I have the same problem here in Astana, what is Kazakh and not Kazakh, what is post-Soviet and what is just human nature?]

In the spring of 1930, Walter Duranty went to Alma Ata where Trotsky was first exiled to do an interview.  So few references to Central Asia so to me this is interesting.  Christopher Robbins, in his book “Apples are from Kazakhstan” writes about Trotsky’s exile to Kazakhstan.

I like the following poem that Duranty quoted, it fits with living here in Kazakhstan, especially in the capital city of Astana:

p. 240

There was an owl who in an oak

The more he heard the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard

Soldiers, imitate that wise bird

p. 247 – “The tempo of life by which the Bolsheviks /////[can’t read my writing] the rush of their progress, the haste of their desire to catch up and surpass the capitalist world in material achievement, has been too swift to allow any of them to pause awhile by the wayside, and think.”

p. 249 Three old enemies of newspaper:  time, space and selection

How to handle news in Russia – 1st rule – believe nothing that I hear, little of what I read and not at all of what I see

p. 278 – “I had no intention of being an apologist for the Stalin administration” [whether he intended or not, he was the mouthpiece that many people listened to, especially Governor Roosevelt from New York, who later opened up relations with U.S.S.R. in 1933 when he became President.]

(to be continued)

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“I Write as I Please” 1935 book by Walter Duranty

Anyone who has followed me and my blog for any length of time starting in 2006 in Kyiv, Ukraine knows that I am NO FAN of Walter Duranty. As many of my readers might or might not know, he was a British man who wrote articles about Russia for the New York Times.  I downloaded off the Internet [must be public domain by now] the book Duranty had written that was published by Simon and Schuster in 1935 in New York titled “I Write as I Please.”  Dedicated to Duranty’s friend and mentor, Bill Ryall, who later was known as William Bolitho, it was an interesting read for me just looking at the chapter titles.

I need to look up and order the book written about Duranty titled “Stalin’s Apologist.” In one of the last chapters of his own book, where he wrote the way he wanted to, Duranty claimed he was not Stalin’s apologist. “I had no intention of being an apologist for the Stalin administration” [p. 278]  That may be true at the beginning of his journalist career in Moscow but after each progressive year he became more PINK!  The more recent book about Duranty should shed some more light as to what he was doing in the pocket of Joseph Stalin.  Thought the chapter titles were enlightening:

Ch. 1 – Baptism of Blood

Ch. 2 – News Not Fit to Print

Ch. 3 – Enter Litvinov

Ch. 4 – White Front!

Ch. 5 – Balts, Barons and Bolsheviks

Ch. 6 – “The Poor do Stink”

Ch. 7 – Exclusive

Ch. 8 – The Brave Man Dies But Once

Ch. 9 – From Bolitho to Lenin

Ch. 10 – “The Bad Years”

Ch. 11 – Volga Famine

Ch. 12 – From A.R.A. to N.E.P.

Ch. 13 – Love Among the Ruined

Ch. 14 – Red Star

Ch. 15 – Lenin and Stalin

Ch. 16 – The Founding Fathers

Ch. 17 – A Prophet with Honor

Ch. 18 – Lenin’s Funeral and Trotsky’s

Ch. 19 – A Cantor with Pegasus

Ch. 20 – I Write as I Please

Ch. 21 – Retreat from Moscow

Ch. 22 – War of the Titans

Ch. 23 – Collectives Spell Civilization

Ch. 24 – I Re-Write as I Please

Ch. 25 – Moscow Re-visited

Ch. 26 – Time Forward

More quotes from this book from the notes I took after I read through the downloaded version.  Who needs a Kindle? You may be wondering what this has to do with Kazakhstan. I’m glad you asked. I am trying to get to the bottom of this mystery of cover-up and what was REALLY happening in Russia, Ukraine AND Kazakhstan during these trying years of the 1920s and 1930s leading up to WWII.  Unfortunately, Duranty was a Russophile and there is not much he wrote about Ukraine or Kazakhstan.

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Blog Tired and Wish Bone Tired

Were you surprised by the link at the end of yesterday’s blog? I think I have created a monster with asking my students to write blogs, that means I, as their diligent teacher, must read what they write.  They only have to read mine but I WANT to read their 10, each day. That is, if they write that often, most do not.  I’m not tired of blogs….ooooohhhh nnoooooo!  When I stop writing every day, then you will know I’m fed up with keeping this daily diary online for others to read.  Today was about as action packed as yesterday, I’m bone tired.

I went to hear a speaker at the international women’s club, she is connected to the United Nations and has special projects throughout the country of Kazakhstan.  It was helpful to hear all the programs that are meant to help the Kazakhs.  Then I got more books for the upcoming book fair and got a ride back to campus with a woman from Georgia. (the country and not the state). Then, I showed her around after she helped me to bring books to store in my office.

On the ride out to campus she told me an amazing thing. Her husband’s grandmother had been at ALZHIR for 8 years.  She was arrested in Georgia and brought up to Kazakhstan to work in this concentration camp that is about 10 miles away from Astana.  What is incredible is that she was in the middle of teaching her class when they came in to arrest her in front of her students and all.  She had four children and the youngest baby died in her absence.  Tamara’s husband was the youngest of the four then and they were brought up by relatives.  Ironic that they have a posting here in Kazakhstan where his grandmother had broken health and yet she did survive and was rehabilitated.  She had come from a wealthy family and her husband had been beaten and murdered for being a so-called “Enemy of the People.”  This was back in 1937 when purges were routine and Stalin seemed to pick on his own country of Georgia a little more rigorously.

Then I taught a one hour lesson to the employees and we talked about different professions. After that I was ready to do “battle” with the security guards anticipating a hold up with my six students from the outside and our guests from the U.S. embassy.  That went without a hitch and my students enjoyed finding out more about the different exchange programs and other English programs throughout Kazakhstan.  Great opportunities.

Finally, someone called about bringing more books to me for the charity bazaar sale.  I’m sure I’ll be getting more but today was the deadline because next week will begin the lock down of transportation of the big summit meeting where Kazakhstan will be hosting 55 different countries.  Oh, what will we do?

I’m hearing different stories that in order to cover for the Dec. 1 and 2 summit meeting when things will be closed down, we will get the days off.  However, I’m told also that we have to make it up this Sat. and Sun.  That means we would not have American corner movie because the Sat. would be a Wed. and I wouldn’t show the last movie on campus on Sunday because that would be the Thursday.

I don’t think it will happen that way because I’m also told that “the show must go on…” that we will be the only university functioning.  The rest of the universities throughout the city of Astana will close and students will go home for a week.  Okay, which is it?  In any case, I need a rest from this very busy but productive semester.  I’m bone tired but looking forward to tomorrow when we will celebrate Thanksgiving day at two different places for me.  I should enjoy turkey at both places but right now I’m wish-bone tired.

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“Great Followers Make the Best Leaders” – Yes, that’s right!

Today I’ll continue with some more education quotes in what I started in yesterday’s blog.  I agree with “Great Followers Make the Best Leaders.” Why is that true, I may continue blogging tomorrow on that theme. For now, I keep grappling with the erroneous phrase that I read which smacks of  Soviet mentality: “Great Leaders Create Great Followers.” I know this must be Soviet thinking because it was written by a 49 year old Kazakh female teacher from Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan who was trained in communist thinking.  You may have a “great” leader who creates many followers but if they are blindly following him, as they did with Hitler and Stalin, the masses will eventually suffer.

However, a truly great leader effectively grooms the next leader  to take his place.  In some sense according to the following Kazakh saying, mothers are the great leaders of any nation: “The country is ruled by mothers sitting beside cradles.” Servant leadership in doing the menial tasks, the giving up of one self to help those who will come after you.

That’s what a great teacher does, like a self-sacrificing mother, according to this quote: “A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.” However, what I found in one of the applications I read is more Soviet thinking in the teacher-centered approach with this quote: “The teacher who knows less, can’t give much.” A good spin on that last quote is a saying attributed to John Cotton Dana (1856-1929) “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

I found several good quotes by John F. Kennedy who is known to have said: “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.  The human mind is our fundamental resource.” I think the president of this country of Kazakhstan said something similar with this quote I pulled out from an app: “Education is a crucial device to develop human capital.  That is why our primary challenge is to put in place an efficient educational system able to meet the economic needs.”

Another quote by JFK was the following: “A child miseducated is a child lost.” Or in other words not as eloquent: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Finally, Civil War General Robert E. Lee had this to say: “The education of a man is never completed until he dies.”

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Three More Kazakh Teachers Write About Grandparents’ Past

The other day I met nine Kazakh teachers and asked them to choose between two questions and answer in only one half hour’s time.  I was happy to see the quality of their writing. I hope to take them a step further with working on different kinds of essays, portfolios, action research all the while using research databases and other academic material.  An exciting time for all of us as we launch into these educational waters that might get choppy if the Internet doesn’t work or if we can’t tap into the databases.  All these things take time and a sense of humor.  I look forward to getting to know more about these Kazakh teacher who have been entrusted to me.  As a student-centered teacher, I will learn much from these teacher-centered teachers turned student.

“Write about your grand grandparents or grandparents past, what did they do, what are/were their thoughts about the Soviet Union?”

Teacher #4 – “My grandparents were teachers, who devoted their whole life for teaching.  In fact, they lived during the Soviet Union and their thoughts about it had never changed, especially about the education system.

Well, in terms of their thoughts education was free for everybody and everyone could have an opportunity to get free and qualitative education.  In this way CIC (Soviet Union countries) developed their own curriculum, which was accessible for all countries mentioned above. Actually, my grandparents have another negative thoughts about educational system, particularly, equipments namely, CDs, IT-boards, computers which did not exist during the Soviet Union.

They compare the educational system of that period with nowadays, when all that equipment above has been facilitating teachers’ work.

In my opinion, I agree with them, notwithstanding, that I’m a teacher.  And educational system has grown up in Kazakhstan more and has become better than in the years of the Soviet Union and accordingly teaching techniques and methods, which are considered to be the main factors to contribute in education.” Word Count: 169

Teacher #5 – I would like to write about my grandparents.  Telling the truth, I don’t really remember them because my grandfather had died before my birth and my grandmother died when I was 5 years old.  So I can say that I know my grandmother better than my grandfather, but I heard a lot about him.

My mom told me that my grandfather, his name was Joldybek, participated in World War II and even he was honored as one of the heroes of that war.

Now it is hard for me to say if I am proud or not of my grandfather because even if he hadn’t died during the war, his life had been changed a lot after he came back from the war.  He started drinking alcohol a lot and he didn’t know what to do and even he didn’t take proper care of his children, there were eight of them.

I think the reason it happened so that the war stole his life, his aim, his dreams and his thoughts, as he was always thinking of the war.  And I can say that he can be related to the lost generation.  My grandmother had to work hard to supply the children with food and clothes.

I am not really sure what their thoughts were about Soviet Union. To my mind they didn’t think of it anything, as it was the world where they had to live and accept it the way it is.  It’s laws, its rules and its leader.

Being a pupil of the 2nd grade, I remember when the Soviet Union was knocked down.  My mother and other people surrounding me were lost.  They said, “How will we live now, what should we do?” And I am sure if my grandparents are alive at that time, they would have had the same reaction to it.” Word Count: 308

 Teacher #6 – “My grandparents lived during the Soviet Union time.  They thought it was a good time because they lived in a peace time.  My grandfather was a veteran of the WWII.  He participated in a war, he lost a lot of his friends.  He valued life which was after war.  He was a communist, he appreciated the Soviet Union leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev.  My grandparents had 10 children.  My grandmother was a housewife.  They had a very happy life, they respected each other.  Their grandchildren made them happy too.  I remember how my grandparents gave me their suggestions, supported me, waited for me…and were very happy when I visited them.  I think their life was short but very bright.  I am proud of them.  They had 19 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t see their four more great grandchildren.  My grandfather was the head of a milk factory.  He liked his job.  Every time he taught me to be honest with people, respect them and not to be afraid to start to do something.” Word Count: 176

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Kazakh Students’ Random Stories of Yesteryear

I am not quite finished with my survey about “Education in a Modernizing Society.” For now I’ll turn to some conversations Ken and I had with Kazakh students this past weekend.  Invariably, I ask young people about their grandparents and great grandparents, it seemed this group was not shy to tell us what they knew.

One girl when challenged was able to name her ancestors seven back.  She did so using her fingers to help remember where she was.  She was applauded by her fellow English learners.  Another fellow who seemed shy finally did talk about his grandparents but sad are those whose grandparents were orphaned during the Great Patriotic War.  In this one case the grandfather’s name of his father was found out but that is rare.

Another girl told of her grandparents being rich and able to go to Mecca but then when the collectivization started the grandfather buried all his treasure.   Her relatives talk about how they sure could use the treasure now and speculate where it could be hidden. That led us down a discussion of getting into business of selling metal detectors and finding the spoils.  The saying “Finders Keepers; Losers Weepers” came up and that had to be explained.

One girl said she didn’t have any grandparents but she still had a 94 year old grand, grandfather.  I thought and said “Wow, what a treasure.”  She didn’t seem so happy about it because he lives in her home and constantly wants to do “remont” in their home.  The only trouble is that he is nearly blind so we joked that if he were using a hammer and nails he might bang his fingers by trying to do reconstruction.  She actually took my admonition seriously about sitting down with her great grandpa to ask him questions about the past.  Maybe he wouldn’t be so eager to re-do their home if he had some attention paid to him.

Another girl talked about her grandparents who had many children in the village and about how the grandfather repaired radios and other electronic things but never charged anyone anything.  Her grandmother was a good seamstress. Yet another girl related that her grandfather had been in prison for 50 years, he was released at age 75 and had many more children after that.  He got his name cleared of whatever he was guilty of.  He had a wife before he was in prison and one afterwards, as I understood it.  Seems the visits by the wife meant that she would go home pregnant.  I think there were 14 in that family.

Several students that talked about their grandmothers getting “Hero Mother” awards for having 10 children.  In some cases the children may have died in infancy but it was encouraged back in the old days to have big families.

One guy named Ruslan said that his grandfather was working in the mines near Karaganda and he LOVED to play cards. One day he lost his horse in a game and had to walk home. He later told me about a Russian documentary titled “Wait for Me” but for the life of me, I can’t remember what that is about.  I think about the reuniting of families.  Oy, that is why it is important to write things down right away.

Finally, one girl who was part Tatar and Kazakh told of how her Tatar ancestors were from the Crimea region but were forcibly moved out by Stalin and some went on their own to Iran and then ended up in Uzbekistan.  She said she had visited Ukraine to see where her roots had come from.  She did say that her grandfather also fought in WWII and that he hated the Germans, he died in Berlin.

So, there was an interesting mix of students that gathered at American Corner this past weekend.  We will start up the films again and it was agreed that we would have tea and snacks before that and discussion of the film afterwards.  Meeting these Kazakh students is one of the perks of living in Kazakhstan.

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“Global ignorance” about ALZHIR in Astana, Kazakhstan

Many grand openings are happening all over Astana, Kazakhstan but I should have mentioned this memorial celebration about ALZHIR almost a month ago now.  A topic that is close to my heart, just not enough literature out there for western people to read and know about the atrocities visited upon the Kazakhs and other nationalities throughout the former Soviet Union. We are not getting as much news as I would like about what is happening in southern Kyrgyzstan either. A dearth of information makes for a global ignorance.  It saddens me that people in the U.S. and U.K. don’t seem to care about Central Asia. Is it because people can’t pronounce the names of these Central Asian countries? The following is from the Kazakhstan/USA embassy website.

On Eve of Memorial Day, Kazakhstan  Pays Tribute to Victims of Great Purge

Kazakh Foreign Ministry, june 1, 2010

May 31 is commemorated in Kazakhstan as a Memorial Day for the Victims of Political Repressions, which had a ravaging effect on the Kazakhs and other peoples of the Soviet Union under Stalin’s rule, inflicting deep scars on those who suffered and the society as a whole.

On the eve of the date, on May 26, President Nursultan Nazarbayev met the descendants of those subjected to Stalinist repressions in the Akorda presidential residence. Guests came from Switzerland, Israel, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, as well as from different parts of Kazakhstan.

Addressing the participants, Nazarbayev said: “We have gathered today to remember those years, to pay tribute to our ancestors who were repressed during the time of Great Purge. We have the same history and the only thing we want is to get to the bottom of it objectively. Our children and grandchildren should keep in memory those events and never repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Among guests were the descendants of the victims of political repressions and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin and those deported to Kazakhstan from the 1930s through 1950s.

Those who came to meet President Nazarbayev included Rozetta Aitmatova, whose father Torekul Aitmatov was killed in 1937 and whose brother Chingiz later became the most prominent Kyrgyz and arguably Central Asia’s writer of the 20th century, Azariy Plisetsky, whose mother Rahil Plisetskaya was a prisoner ALZHIR (“Akmola camp for wives of traitors of the Motherland”) and whose sister Maja became a world-famous ballerina, Salman Geroyev, chairman of the Chechen-Ingush ethnic cultural centre, and the Paata Kalandadze, Georgia’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan, whose grandmother was also imprisoned in ALZHIR.

In Nazarbayev’s words, 1.5 million people of different ethnicities were deported to Kazakhstan. Remembering the tragic legacy of this land’s history, from the first days of its independence Kazakhstan has adhered to the ideas of tolerance, equality and friendship of all nations.

“Due to this our country enjoys respect and trust in the world; due to tolerance we host the Congress of the World and Traditional Religions Leaders in Astana. We have initiated integration processes not only on the territory of the Soviet Union but also in the world,” Nazarbayev noted.

According to official statistics, from 1924 to 1954 almost 100,000 citizens of Kazakhstan were subjected to repressions, the quarter of them were killed. Among them were outstanding public figures, representatives of creative and scientific intelligentsia, namely, Turar Ryskulov, Alikhan Bokeikhanov, Beimbet Mailin, Magzhan Zhumabayev, Akhmet Baitursynov, Myrzhakyp Dulatov, and many others.

Eleven GULAG camps across the USSR, including three in Kazakhstan, housed hundreds of thousands of prisoners. Almost 3.8 million Soviet people underwent Stalinist repressions, 642,000 of them were sentenced to capital punishment. Millions of families suffered from cruel and violent repressions, leaving no space to mercy or understanding. Around one million, or 42% of the Kazakh people of that time, died as a result of political repressions, and hunger caused by forced collectivization and sedentarisation of nomads. The same number of people had to leave their homeland.

ALZHIR was once one of those places of punishment for at least 20,000 women from 1937 to 1946 and beyond. According to the wall that surrounds the museum at the site now, located 25 km from Astana, at least 7,620 women are known to have perished at this camp.

The Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp was another among largest of the notorious labour camps of the Soviet era, founded in 1931 in central Kazakhstan. About 800,000 inmates were interned in Karlag over its history, most of them political prisoners.

Since 1997, May 31 is the Memorial Day of the Victims of Political Repression in Kazakhstan. The nation never forgets those times, handing down from generation to generation the testimony of predecessors’ history.

These days, Kazakhstan works to restore the historical justice in order to show respect to all victims’ families and relatives. Several decrees by President Nazarbayev ruled that everyone who was imprisoned during the time of Stalin’s reforms was rehabilitated, and the country witnessed the unveiling of museums and memorials at the sites of former prisons and forced labour camps.

At the meeting in Akorda, Nazarbayev said the government will undertake every effort to prevent the repetition of such mistakes from the past. The president asked all residents of the country to appreciate what the independent and free development of a multi-ethnic country provides for in terms of proper protection of inalienable rights and liberties of the citizens.

A number of other events are taking place in Kazakhstan these days commemorating the Memorial Day. On May 27-30, the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan in cooperation with the CIS Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation is holding a series of events within the international project “Memory for the Sake of the Future”, dedicated to the memory of victims of political repression. In addition, on May 28 the first international forum “From old times to the modern age”, involving historians from the CIS region, took place at the Gumilev Eurasian National University in Astana.

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