The Sochi Winter Olympics have come to a close. I watched some of the events each day, and rejoiced that no terrorists disrupted them. I loved the gorgeous closing ceremonies.
But somewhere ,on one of the newscasts, it was mentioned that Stalin's summer residence was close by Sochi, and tourists were visiting it. There's even a YouTube film of this. The blurb from that states:
Tourists flocked to the summer house of late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin near Sochi Wednesday, where the former Soviet leader's residence has come to be a main side attraction for people attending this year's Winter Olympics.
Zelenaya Rosha, or the 'Green Grove,' was a vacation home Stalin built in 1936 that he used for three to four months every year. Rumours of the residence include enormous couches allegedly stuffed with horsehair to stop bullets, wood floors so that Stalin could always hear intruders, and a pool table at which he supposedly would only play against staff members he knew he could beat.
I read that and thought about what I had learned about Stalin when I taught Mod Civ. This was a course I taught in the Spring semesters of 2010, 2011, and 2012. It was the history and poetry of Europe ( including Russia and Eastern Europe) of the twentieth century. The course has now been eliminated in the reshuffling of our Core Curriculum. It will be replaced by one called "Modernity," in which History will be taught as a separate course from sections of Literature and Fine Arts.
I loved teaching that course. I may have learned more than the students. In my own education, "World History" never reached beyond 1945... so when I taught Mod Civ, I learned about Post WWII Europe and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union, and, ultimately, the fall of the Soviet Union.
In learning about those times, I learned how truly terrible Stalin was. I think he was worse than Hitler because he had more time to enact his murderous plans.
While educating myself about this, I purchased and listened to four podcasts by Dan Carlin of Hardcore History. It was a four part series called "Ghosts of the Ostfront." These detailed the War in the East , particularly Hitler's invasion of Russia and all that came after. I hadn't known any of that.
I really don't want to go into any more detail today - maybe I'll return to this topic another day.
It just really appalled me when I saw photos of Stalin's summer home - a palace in itself. What he put his people through, and he wanted for nothing.