Ok, this ties in with the last post. After talking with my wife about Solzhenitsyn’s call for public repentance for past crimes of communist leaders, she told me about an article that appeared yesterday about the attitudes of Russian youth. What is notable, and even appalling, is that 46% of Russian youth ages 16 to 19 disagreed that Josef Stalin was a cruel tyrant, and 54% thought he did more good than bad. This is evidence that Russia needs to heed Solzhenitsyn’s call for public ownership of the crimes of communism and follow it with repentance.
Stalin is a man who “built a system of terror and repression in which tens millions of people died or were killed.” He imprisoned, tortured, and killed millions of innocent people. Without dispute, Stalin is on the top 10 list of the world’s worst mass-murderers. He survived in power through bloody terror!
“What we find troubling is that there is a substantial proportion of young people in Russia today who hold positive or ambivalent views on Stalin and his legacy,” Theodore Gerber, a sociologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. “We think it would probably be more appropriate if there was more condemnation of the Stalin era.”
Again, I mention that Germany is a good example for them in this. They have owned up to Germany’s culpability for the Nazis. They recognize the evils against humanity, and particularly the Jews, that the Nazis committed and they roundly condemn those crimes and those who perpetrated them. Nazi groups are banned there. It’s against the law to deny it happened. In fact, America has more modern Nazi sympathizers than anywhere else in the world.
Again, Solzhenitsyn speaks to this:
“Every people must answer morally for all of its past — including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? By attempting to comprehend: How could such a thing have been allowed? Where in all this is our error? And could it happen again?…we Russians must answer — for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors.”
The personal lesson in this is as clear as the national one. When we ignore the sins of our past, we may very well end up defending them and justifying them and set ourselves up to repeat them.