What if Germans Said Hitler was…

What if Germans Said Hitler was most ‘Outstanding’ Person of all Times?

The mere thought of that happening pierces the body with electrical shocks. The global response to such a declaration would bring all other discussions to a sudden halt.

Hitler and outstanding are mutually exclusive. They could not be considered or happen simultaneously. Murdering 7 million Jews and millions of others, including Ukrainians, would unequivocally send his soul directly to hell without any chance of exoneration.

Well, the Germans didn’t express that outlandish opinion but the Russians did about their bloody leader Stalin.

According to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, citing the Levada Center, Russians would not be discomfited to name as one of the “ten most outstanding figures of all times and nations” the murderous dictator Stalin.

Both institutions point out that while nobody received an absolute majority, Stalin was very clearly ahead, being named by 39% of the respondents. This is not surprising given The Kremlin’s increasing rehabilitation of Stalin since Vladimir Putin first came to power and increasingly repressive measures to muffle Stalin’s crimes and those of the Soviet regime.

It was pointed out that the Levada Center has been taking these polls since 1989 as part of its study of the so-called Soviet person.  In general, the results make for very disturbing reading, the two groups noted. In 1989, Vladimir Leninwas named by 71%; Peter I by 38% and Stalin by a mere 12% – less than the 17% who named Mikhail Gorbachev. The latter had disappeared altogether by 1994. By 2021, Lenin was behind Stalin (on 30%) and Peter I was named by a mere 19%.  Essentially no liberal personalities since the collapse of the USSR even get a mention, while Andrei Sakharov (who died in December 1989) went from no mention in 1989 to 17% in 1994 and only 7% in 2021, the centenary of his birth.  Although respondents are asked to name people “of all times and nations,” there were relatively few non-Russian / non-Soviet figures even in 1989, and only three in 2021 (Albert Einstein, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler). The fact that Hitler is mentioned probably suggests that many respondents were searching for prominent figures, without this necessarily having the positive connotations that the word ‘outstanding’ normally has in both Russian and English, the Levada Center explained.

Levada Centre Director Lev Gudkov points out that the people named are essentially from the pantheon of typical Soviet name-symbols, beginning with Lenin and Stalin. Although the collective memory of others is fading, new names are not emerging.  Each such survey in the past has had around 300 names mentioned, however there was no noticeable consensus on other figures. Gudkov also notes that since 2008, the general number of names mentioned has fallen by 1.6 times.

“This is possibly a result of escalating censorship and the foisting of ‘traditional values,’ which are in fact of little importance for the public. It is, however, possible that this is also a reaction of the primitivization of mass consciousness, which is typical of all authoritarian regimes, and the stifling of immanent mechanisms of innovation,” he said.

In May 2020, following controversy over frescos for the new Russian Defense Ministry Cathedraldepicting, among others, Stalin, Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kartapolov asked rhetorically what they had to be ashamed of.  Stalin, he boasted, was a man who “took upon himself all the burden of the war, made the most important decisions.  Yes, and in general reinstated religion. Why should we be ashamed of him?  Because some people from abroad tell us to?  We will decide ourselves who to honor, who to portray on frescos.”

Surprisingly, a Levada Centre poll of young people published in June 2020 found that 41% knew little or nothing about Stalin’s repression (and murder of millions). But they knew of his alleged greatness. More than 70% of Russians have a positive attitude about Stalin’s role in their country’s history, with just over half the population saying that they view a dictator responsible for the death of millions “with respect.”

In March 2019, the Levada Centre reported a record level of approval for Stalin.  While the number of those who spoke of ‘admiration’ for Stalin had remained stable at 4%, there had been a huge increase (from 27% in 2001 to 41% in 2019) in the numbers who ‘respected’ Stalin. 

For the record, Stalin was personally responsible for the murder by starvation of 7 million Ukrainian men, women and children, the murders in the Bykivnia forest, the murder of 22,000 Polish officers in Katyn, the execution of thousands at Sandarmokh, the mass execution of 9,000-11,000 people in the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia in 1937-38, and so on and so forth.

Stalin is outstanding in terms of the amount of blood of innocent people that he shed.