The Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non- Russian Nationalities

By Lowell Tillett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8.
CONSOLIDATING THE BAGIROV LINE

"Guided by Comrade Stalin's statements on the role of the great Russian people in the fraternal family of Soviet peoples, we must tirelessly educate our people, our youth, in the spirit of respect and love for our elder brother, the great Russian people. The work of elucidation and education on this question ought not to be done in trite phrases, such as fill many articles in certain of our journals, but must be based on historical documents, on concrete facts and examples from the common life and struggle of the peoples of our country under the leadership of our elder brother." M. D. Bagirovin Kommunist, No. 3, 1953, p.66.

Once the party had made its position clear on Shamil and Muridism, and had put its machinery in motion to impose the new view, Soviet historians were faced with a great deal of repair work. Not only did the Shamil case have numerous applications in the history of the other non-Russian peoples, but many long-held views on tsarist colonialism, foreign policy, and cultural history now stood in such stark contradiction to the new central themes of the party arguments that they had to be painstakingly re-examined. The task was further complicated by the fact that the party line was changing-pushed to greater extremes by party spokesmen and the more compliant historians. The Soviet historian was trying to measure an object that was itself in rather erratic motion. Between the spring of 1950 and Stalin's death in March, 1953 (and more important to our study, the fall of Bagirov a month later), the main preoccupation of Soviet historians concerned with the history of the non-Russian peoples was the frustrating task of bringing some semblance of order to this confused picture.

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