Stalinization and de-Stalinization of Moldovan society. IPN debate

Portraits the tyrant of the 20th century Joseph Stalin were carried this year again at marches staged on the occasion of Victory Day to render homage to the one who committed crimes against humanity in many parts of the world, including against the population of the current Republic of Moldova. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Stalinization and de-Stalinization of Moldovan society” discussed the reasons for such developments and what steps should be taken and also the main elements of the paradigm “Stalinization - de-Stalinization – semi-de-Stalinization – re-Stalinization” with regard to Moldovan society.

The permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan explained that Joseph Stalin was a Marxist revolutionary, a Bolshevik revolutionary since 1903, who started his diversionist activity by robbing banks to finance the Bolshevik party. He formed part of the first Bolshevik government after the putsch of November 7, 1917, serving as commissar for nationality affairs and then for state control. During April 1922 – February 1934, he held the post of secretary general of the Central Committee (CC) of the Bolshevik Communist Party and then secretary of the CC until 1952. In 1941 – 1947, he served as the supreme commander of the armed forces. Since 1941 until March 1953, he headed the council of ministers of the USSR. He was the initiator of collectivization in 1927, of industrialization in 1928, of the mass terror after the murder of Kirov in 1934.

According to the expert, millions of people were destroyed during those events. “Stalinism was an authoritarian political system that lasted in the USSR since the end of the 1920s until the star of the 1950s and its ideology. Stalinism was characterized by an absolutist regime of personal power of Joseph Stalin, the domination of authoritarian-bureaucratic methods of management (administrative command system), excessive strengthening of the repressive functions of the state, merger of party and state bodies, strict ideological control over all the aspects of society, violation of the basic human rights and freedoms. Stalinism is one of the main forms of totalitarianism. It is examined together with another form of totalitarianism – Hitlerism, which is the Nazi dictatorship in Germany led by Hitler (1933-1945) and the ideology of this dictatorship, in whose name the regime of Hitler committed crimes,” stated Igor Boțan.

University lecturer Florin Abraham, doctor habilitate of history, director of the National Institute for the Study of Totalitarian of the Romanian Academy, said the origins of Stalinism in literature are the subject of huge controversy as the question is if Stalinism is actually only a political regime form of 1927, 1928-1953 or it is much more profoundly connected with Russian society and its origins. “There are not few interpretations saying that Stalinism is actually another facet, in the conditions of the 20th century, of the industrialization of mass communications of radical forms of tsarism. Other historiographical discussions, particularly in Soviet ideology, in North-American research, show that Stalinism cannot be reduced to a simple political form, either we refer to a political system or to a political regime. In fact, it created a form of civilization sui generis, in the conditions of the Soviet Union. If we follow the formula to understand Stalinism as a form of civilization, we can explain the post-Stalinism forms and its remains in collective memory,” stated Florin Abraham.

According to the historian, it is also important to realize Stalinism from the perspective of the so-called “political religion”. “The fervor with which a cult of Stalin was constituted derived not only from the intentions of the propaganda apparatus, but also from the way in which adherence, acceptance of this propaganda were ensured at societal level. Then, the approach by which Stalinism can also be perceived from the viewpoint of a political religion doesn’t lack interest. Stalinization is the process by which societies are transformed for the purpose of building a hypothetically new “homo sovieticus”. For the purpose, ownership is put to stages. Absolute control is instituted over ideas through censorship, on the educational system. The unique Marxist, Stalinist or Leninist ideology was imposed as the only truth. Also, Stalinism means control over the army and the forms of pressure and a generalized system of terror by which society is controlled,” said Florin Abraham.

Doctor of history Ludmila Cojocaru, university lecturer who heads the Museum of Victims of Deportations and Political Representation, which is a branch of the National Museum of History, said the Stalinization process in Bessarabia meant terror, destruction of elites, massacring of free people, marginalization of values. “First of all, it goes to the Russification, a process that was advanced on all dimensions. Immediately after June 28, 1940, the population of Bessarabia had to interact with people who talked a foreign language and there are multiple proofs of this in archive or oral history documents. Usually, testimonies show that people brought from Ukraine, who spoke the Moldovan language with an accent and deformed it, were named to posts in the local administration. They insisted on the erasing of the memory of elites and their presence and contribution to the cultural, ethnic and political identity of the region. There was erased a lifestyle that was typical for the largest part of the people of Bessarabia – the peasantry. It comes to processes and crimes against humanity in the form of the organized famine of 1946-1947. In the context of forced collectivization, of multiple waves of deportations, there are also hundreds of cases of arrest and mass execution of the population,” stated the doctor of history.

According to her, the impact of these repressive policies on the local population was manifested not only on the peasantry and the largest part of the Romanian population. There were also affected the ethnic communities that lived on this territory, following the forced, Soviet-type industrialization, by annulling private property, by building an industry based on military areas with enormous state costs to the detriment of local wellbeing. “The crimes of the Stalinist occupation regime significantly affected the whole society, including at the level of generations, in particular the generation that was able to work, to create, to manage the economy, and also the older generation and that with children. The impact is still present in Moldovan society due to the traumatized and traumatizing memory. Memory can and should be kept so as to maintain the ties between generations,” noted Ludmila Cojocaru.

The public debate titled “Stalinization and de-Stalinization of Moldovan society” was held by IPN News Agency in the framework of the project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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