Our Secret Allies: The Peoples of Russia

Our Secret Allies: The Peoples of Russia

Our Secret Allies: The Peoples of Russia

Our Secret Allies: The Peoples of Russia

Excerpt

The collapse and death of Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvilli, self- styled Stalin, in the first week of March, 1953, touched off prodigious discussions of Soviet affairs the world over. Anyone with a claim to special knowledge on matters Russian, however tenuous, was invited to speculate aloud on the succession and its likely effects on Soviet policies. On the odd supposition that one of Stalin's creatures could have voiced private opinions, past speeches of Georgi M. Malenkov were analyzed for clues to his views, and the folds of his physiognomy were searched for clues to his character.

But in the torrents of words poured forth on the occasion, lamentably few were devoted to the people of the Soviet Union. The outside world, as usual, seemed too preoccupied with the rulers, dead and alive, to spare much thought for those over whom they ruled.

In general the assorted experts were content to treat the Russian masses as extras in the drama, leaving them undisturbed and unanalyzed in the passive role of "mourners" assigned to them in the censored Moscow dispatches. The whole stage-managed spectacle of boundless grief -- "tear-stained faces," the procession past the catafalque in the Hall of Columns, memorial meetings and obituary poems -- was swallowed abroad uncritically.

Without doubt there was a lot of genuine sorrow. Particularly in Moscow, large numbers of people owe their special status and privi-

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