I am reading the works of the Chechen historian Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov (1908-1997) and stumbled upon his obituary on the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. At the time of Stalin’s death (1953) a lot of reasonable people in the West either paid tribute to Uncle Joe or gave what they saw as a balanced view of the life and work of the Soviet dictator. How wrong they were.
Avtorkhanov would have none of it. He spend five years in Stalin’s jails from 1937 until 1942, was tortured, witnessed a mock execution and then fled to Nazi Germany, where he spend the rest of the war writing about his experience in the Soviet Union.
A Russian proverb says: About the dead you either speak well or you keep silent. Well, Avtorkhanov didn’t exactly follow that advice. Here is his obituary published in the magazine Free Caucasus in March 1953:
“Stalin has finally died. His wolfish heart has stopped beating, his diabolical mind has stopped operating. A man has passed away who had nothing human about him what so ever, no soul, no love, no compassion. A professionel tormentor’s cold hearted brutality and a bestial instinct for survival put him closer to the species of beasts than to mankind.
A man has passed away who immortalized himself through the killing of millions of human beings in the basements of the secret police, in the Siberian woods, the coalmines of Kolyma, the sands of Central Asia and the mountains of the Caucasus.
A man has passed away who created, consolidated and expanded the most reactionary and unprecedented system of state slavery.
A man has passed away who in his own image raised legions of greedy tormentors, that grabbed the fatherless throne.
A man has passed away who created and raised a first class army of international experts on rebellion, revolution and war who were ready to pull mankind into a new disaster for the ideas behind the system created by the dead demigod.
A man has passed away who for thirty years withou any punishment had been swimming in a sea of blood from our fathers and brothers, and rivers of tears from our mothers and sisters.
The most damned of all damned people who ever sat foot on this earth has passed away.
He doesn’t deserve a grave!
May his memory be damned forever!
A war of destruction on his legacy! That’s the verdict of our people. And that verdict will live on with future generations.”