Gulag history demands more attention

Anne Applebaum’s “Gulag: A History” is an extremely important book of 20th century history that all freedom loving people should read. I’m old enough to remember the end of Yuri Andropov’s term as leader of the USSR. I remember surprise at the extent of Glasnost under Gorbachev, and surprise again when our Country didn’t offer the former Soviet Union an analog to the Marshall Plan after the Cold War. Fast forward to today’s Nashi youth movement, and Putin’s steady departure from democratic principles. Now that I’ve read Applebaum’s book, I find the Russian history that didn’t happen in the last 20 years to be conspicuous.

The absence of a public and worldwide Russian atonement for Gulag sins (akin to that in Germany following the Holocaust) is quite troubling. Especially if the Russians continue the path of muffling or revising the history of the Soviet years, the rest of us must encourage them to remember.

2 comments so far

  1. avi on

    Hi, a Marshall Plan for the collapsing USSR is a very interesting idea, especially when we know what is the fate of Russia today.
    However, unlike Japan and Germany, the USSR didn’t offer the US full subordination, so no one could grant the money would go where the US wants it to go.
    Moreover, after WWII, Churchill had suggested to leave Germany at its ruins. Churchill failed to pass this idea, but the 1990s US succeeded. Maybe this is just the right thing to do.
    As for the missing Russian atonement, I totally agree.

  2. Dave Smith on

    avi – I wasn’t aware of Churchill’s stance on Germany after WWII. The recent Churchill book I read (“The Second World War: Milestones to Disaster [Unabridged]”) ended soon after he accepted the Prime Minister role early in Britain’s involvement in the War, so it gave no insight into the period you mention. Given my near total ignorance on the subject, I’ll offer a wild guess that the steady diet of Hitler’s V-2s was enough to warrant a Churchill grudge right after the War.

    Difference after the Cold War was that Russia had nukes which clearly fell under the US’s umbrella of national security concerns. Perhaps Russian pride prevented the possibility of an overt Marshall Plan analog? Again, I’m totally speculating.

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