samuleson-bw-2

Illustration Ragni Svensson

Reviews Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds Baltic Worlds 2, 2010, pp 52-59
Published on balticworlds.com on juli 1, 2010

article as pdf 8 kommentarer till Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era Share
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Pusha
  • TwitThis
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
  • Maila artikeln!
  • Skriv ut artikeln!

I.

The 1990s were a golden age for professional historians in Russia. Various “veterans” of the 1960s “thaw” (ottepel’) resurfaced with publications on subjects about which they could not have published anything during the paralyzing “stagnation” (zastoi) ushered in by Brezhnev’s inept re-Stalinization efforts in 1965. Following the primarily journalistic efforts of the glasnost era, archive-based research began to be published on a large scale, and the former historiography was revised in field after field. In contrast to the predictions of some analysts in the West, the historians in post-Soviet Russia demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm as they came to terms with the mythologization of the country’s past. This pertained initially to reassessments of, and new input regarding, the history of Stalinism.

By tradition, most Russian historians are dedicated professional specialists in a single problem area during the bulk of their active research careers. The topic that they defend in their doctoral dissertation (doktorskaia dissertatsia) serves as the basis for further research in the same area. Strictly specialized Russian researchers have gradually begun writing generalizing and synthesizing works as well. Published archive documents in source volumes have expanded the opportunities for basic research. The so-called archive revolution and opening up to the outside world have been significant in helping them acquire new knowledge about the history of tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. It has been customary for the last fifteen years to invite foreign historians to publish in the leading Russian professional journals. Most of the leading historians from Western Europe, Japan and the United States who specialize in Russian history have seen their work translated and included in the Russian historical debate. In the early 1990s, the fundamental works by Edward H. Carr, Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes, to mention only a few eminent scholars, appeared in mass print runs. In recent years, the popular histories on Stalinism, Gulag, and the World War II by Simon Montefiore, Anne Applebaum, and Anthony Beevor have likewise been translated, albeit without making the same impression in Russia as in Western Europe and the US. In the leading Russian publishing companies for historical works, e.g. Rosspen and AIRO-XXI, the renowned scholars Nicolas Werth, Jörg Baberowski, Marc Junge and Andrea Graziosi have regularly published translations of their books. The economic historians Robert W. Davies, Mark Harrison and Paul Gregory have, together with Russians scholars and PhD students, carried out several research projects on the Stalinist command economy and the Gulag camp system.

Agrarian historian Nikolai Ivnitskii (born 1922) offers an illustrative example of what first became possible only under post-Soviet conditions. Only in the wake of glasnost could Ivnitskii resume his research on forced collectivization in the 1930s, a subject he had begun to research back in the 1960s, before being stopped. In his first monograph in 1972 on “class warfare in rural villages and the liquidation of the kulaks as a class”, he succeeded in conveying a more accurate picture of the violent transformation of the rural villages thanks only to his use of Aesopian language. However, the subject was subsequently declared taboo. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ivnitskii resurfaced with no fewer than five works that provide a comprehensive picture of collectivization and dekulakization, of the role of the secret police in the persecution of the “kulaks”, of the “kulak families” who were banished by the thousands to “special towns” in Northern Russia and Siberia and, finally, of the catastrophic famine that struck both Ukraine and large parts of Russia and Kazakhstan in 1932—1933.1

Corresponding renascent basic research was conducted by historians both younger and older into practically every aspect of modern Russian history: political and social life in late-tsarist Russia, the events of 1917, the Civil War from 1918 to 1921, the peasant revolt against the Bolshevik regime, through the entire Soviet period and up to the history of everyday life in the 1960s and the dissent movement that was emerging at that time.2 Conditions, which include opened archives and extensive research using primary sources, are thus favorable for new syntheses of Russian history. At the turn of the millennium, many “veterans” evinced radical new ways of thinking about the entire preceding century, after having seemingly been fettered by the “Communist Party line” up until 1991.3 Every university of note in Russia, including the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian History, has presented editions of new, general handbooks that present the country’s history from the earliest times to the 2000s in customary scientific fashion. Particularly noteworthy is academy member Andrei Nikolaevich Sakharov’s two-volume history, which has been published in several editions in recent years.4

Russian economic historians have, under the editorship of Leonid Abalkin, come together to update the state of research after fifteen years of freedom from the dogmatic Marxist interpretations of the history of Russia’s economy and economic thinking. The result is a substantial and comprehensive encyclopedia that runs to nearly 3,000 pages and tends to offer lengthier articles about Russia’s economic history from the earliest times up until 1917.5 In their foreword, the editors indicate that it is still too soon to write a corresponding reference work about the Soviet period, 1917—1991.

Authors, actors, and journalists have also striven to offer their views on Russian history in ways that are more or less scientifically established, albeit sometimes more in the nature of straightforward popular history. Shining examples of such writers who have become known outside of Russia as well include Edvard Radzinsky and Aleksandr Bushkov, who have compiled countless biographies of various tsars and prominent historical figures, from Ivan the Terrible to the Mad Monk, Rasputin.6

The 1970 Nobel Prize winner in literature, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, considered the task of depicting the historical roots and course of events of the Russian Revolution to be one of his life objectives. Solzhenitsyn continued to collect material on Russia’s past all the way from 1937 when, as a devout Marxist, he wrote the draft of “R-17”, to the 1980s, when he applied the finishing touches to The Red Wheel, while in the 1990s he even went so far as to tackle the sensitive issue of the history of the Jews in Russia from the late 1700s to the late 1970s.7 He viewed the mighty Gulag Archipelago as a preliminary study for other, equally important works.8 At some point in the early 2000s the author gained support for his idea of producing a history textbook about Russia that would clearly tie in to his view of the 1917 revolution as the great watershed in Russian history.

II.

A scholastic textbook must take into account that only 50 class hours are allotted to modern Russian history in the 11th grade (the final year of general education). This imposes heavy pedagogical demands in terms of presentation and choice of subjects and relevant facts, as well as assignments in which the pupils are to conduct individual or group discussions. All textbooks are vetted by the Ministry of Education before being either “approved” or “recommended” (the latter often with reference to pedagogical merits). Within academia there is also a tradition of other evaluative grounds for syntheses, general works about an era, a country, a war or a social change, the authors of which do not build on basic research, but are still assumed to be conversant with current research results.

Solzhenitsyn presented his concept for a new textbook about Russian history to Andrei Zubov, Professor of Religious History at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Zubov brought numerous like-minded people into the project.

Zubov is known for his strong commitment to Russia’s “coming to terms with the past”. When Nikolai II and the royal family were formally acquitted in 2006 of the charges brought against them by the Bolsheviks in July 1918, Zubov demanded that Lenin be posthumously charged as the one ultimately responsible for the murder of the royal family. He had the support of the vice- director of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian History, Vladimir Lavrov, who explained in a letter to the Russian government that not only should Lenin’s mausoleum be torn down and his embalmed corpse removed, but the entire necropolis in Moscow’s Red Square had to be eliminated as an unsuitable relic of a totalitarian regime that had oppressed the people for many decades.9

What neither Zubov nor Lavrov took into account were the sensitive issues concerning descendents’ burial rights to the remains not only of Party leaders but also of the cosmonauts, field marshals and scientists who have been given state burials and laid to rest near the Kremlin Wall. Nor does Zubov’s emotional article indicate what he thinks about descendents’ burial rights to the mass graves in Red Square for the hundreds of members of the Red Guard who fell in the Battle of Moscow during the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917.10

Their pronouncements provide some idea of how Istoriia Rossii XX vek has been presented as a strong anticommunist reaction to the former predominant ideology. The authors who can be identified as professional historians include Aleksei Kara—Murza and Sergei Volkov. The chapter on the atomic weapon project was written by a specialist in nuclear weapons technology, while the chapter on the space program was written by a doctor of technology from Saratov. The art history section of the book was written by the director of the Andrei Rublyov Museum, Gennady Popov. The other coauthors are, however, neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content.

The authors of the book share the belief that “communism was catastrophic for Russia and the entire world”, but they view the causes of communism and its consequences for Russia in different ways, and sometimes portray the Soviet society in terms that indicate that it cannot even be considered to have been socialist in the usual sense of the word. In that regard, Istoriia Rossii XX veka is less sensational for a Western reader, since practically all American textbooks and most other syntheses and instructional materials have been written from roughly the same perspective. In France, a more independent tradition of Slavistics and a Russophilic spirit after the Second World War fostered a tradition which, in the context of post-1945 textbooks, adopted a paradigm that, even if not communist, was pro-Soviet.11

Solzhenitsyn proofread various chapters of the book. Each coauthor was clearly given free rein to write as much or as little as he or she wished, and the number of pages on some subjects piled up far beyond the number to be expected in a textbook. Some eras are given more space than others, with no actual justification being provided by the authors.

Solzhenitsyn was displeased, distanced himself from the book and forbade Zubov from using his name. On May 17, 2008, Solzhenitsyn wrote that he had agreed to support the project of creating a new school textbook about Russia in the 20th century. But when, under your editorship, this project assumed concrete forms that corrupted the original intent, I saw that I could no longer identify with it. Specifically, I do not agree with its unchecked expanded scope, or its structure and form, or with many of the ideas and assessments it contains. I therefore ask that my name not be associated with your work.12

However, at the Moscow presentation of Istoriia Rossii XX vek on November 18, 2009, Zubov took care to point out Solzhenitsyn’s input, stating that the “concept” for the book had been formulated “in close cooperation with Solzhenitsyn”. Although Solzhenitsyn’s and Zubov’s original aim had been to write a new course text for use in schools or universities, the final result became something else entirely. The book has failed as a textbook for the general Russian 11-year school, and so far has only been approved in history courses at the St. Petersburg Spiritual Academy (Dukhovnaia Akademiia).

The size (1,800 pages) and the scope of the content make it impossible for one person to review Istorija Rossii XX vek in the customary way.13 The 50-page introduction, “How Russia came to the 20th century”, that begins in Rus in the 800s and offers a sweeping overview up to the late 1800s, has a peculiarly retrospective character. Given such a compressed format, a plethora of simplifications is unavoidable. The structure and chapterization of the rest of the book differ from the traditional approach in certain respects. It is divided in sections (chasti), chapters (glavy) and numbered sub-chapters. The first section, “The last tsardom”, is divided in three chapters with 69 sub-chapters, leading the narrative up to the February 1917 Revolution (pp. 62—369). The second section, “Russia in revolution 1917—1922”, devotes one chapter to “The provisional government, March—October 1917” (pp. 393—468). The seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in November that same year and the ensuing civil war are covered in a 300-page section entitled “The War for Russia” (I, pp. 469—765) in forty-seven sub-chapters. This is followed by the first book’s third section on “Russia and the establishment of the Communist regime, 1923—1939” with thirty-five sub-chapters. Unfortunately, many specialists will find a lot in every section of the book that seems disputable and relates only one of many historical schools of thought or individual historians.

Volume II is divided into three large blocks. The fourth section is entitled “Russia during the Second World War and the preparatio ns for the Third World War (1939—1953)”. Chapter one discusses the period from September 1939 to June 1941 (II, pp. 3—37), that is, from the negotiations in Moscow between the Soviet Union and Germany up to the annexation of the Baltic states and what is traditionally known as “The Great Patriotic War, 1941—1945”, but which Zubov instead calls “The Soviet-Nazi War 1941—1945 and Russia”, thereby emphasizing that it was supposedly not a war for Russia’s genuine cause but merely that of the communist state, and second, to accommodate the Vlasov Army and others who fought for their Russia while at the same time fighting the Soviet regime (II, pp. 37—187). The post-war reconstruction period is discussed in chapter three under the thought-provoking heading: “Russia and Stalin’s preparations for the Third World War that never came” (II, pp. 188—291). The post-Stalinist society, its ideology, administrative system and crisis economy, as well as the dissolution of and resistance to the regime, are analyzed in the fifth section, “Russia in the degeneration of Communist totalitarianism 1953—1991” (II, pp. 291—510). After a brief description of Gorbachev’s reform attempts, the sixth and final section of the two volumes, entitled “From the Soviet Union to Russia’s rebirth, 1992—2007” (II, pp. 579—810), offers a comprehensive chronicle of the most recent events in Russian history.

III.

The book is written in popular-science style, with only a few references to entire works provided at the end of many, but far from all, of the chapters. Nor are there any indications as to who among the roughly forty collaborators wrote what. The texts are interleaved with “A historian’s perspective” (often quotations from known historians) or “The Editor-in-chief’s view”, in which Zubov addresses the subject just presented in freer terms, often with conclusions that go far beyond those that the author of the section in question was willing to draw. The book also contains a large number of document excerpts, so that readers can form their own opinions of what the historical actors said. Examples include Solzhenitsyn’s famous letter “Live Not By Lies”, which was published in the West the day after his arrest in February 1974 and simultaneously spread via samizdat in the Soviet Union (II, pp. 422—424).

Zubov claims ultimate responsibility for how the texts were written, and for selecting which excerpts from the works of historians and philosophers have been included. Zubov is the target of the criticisms that have been raised (even if he did not write the sections) concerning the factual errors, tendentious presentations of numerical material and downright falsified documents that account for the failure of Istoriia Rossii XX veka to live up to the aspirations entertained by its authors.14

Zubov has shunned “the Soviet spirit” that is said to have permeated earlier attempts at writing textbooks, even after the breakup of the Soviet Union. According to Zubov and his colleagues, a political regime must be judged on the basis of how it makes it possible for individuals to grow spiritually and materially, and whether it enhances the worth of the individual or, conversely, leads to degeneration. All in all, individual growth and development reveal whether the society tends to realize “the good” or “the bad”. This would seem an overly vague goal for anyone wishing to write a “History of 20th Century Russia”.

Zubov generally underestimates the pioneering work that has been done by Russian and other historians over the last 20 years. One looks in vain for any of the path-breaking works of the 1990s concerning the victims and agents of repression during the Red Terror from 1918 to 1921 and more recent contributions on Stalinist repressions in the 1930s. Zubov believes that the news value of the book lies in the fact that it is not interested mainly in the major actors, but also addresses lesser-known individuals who shaped history. The two-volume work is truly overflowing with biographies, excerpts from memoirs, diaries, and other private testimonies. However, as strange as it may seem, Zubov ignores in its entirety the social history research conducted with an emphasis on the history of everyday life (istoriia povsednevnoi zhizni), which was consolidated after 1992, and in which Andrei Sokolov’s Center at the Institute of Russian History occupies a prime position.15

Zubov’s own assessments deviate from what the coauthors in question have written. For instance, the author of the section about the autumn of 1939 and the first months of the Second World War presents Stalin’s considerations in terms of realpolitik. But Zubov, as the person responsible for the final version of the book, claims in an insertion (II, p. 14) that if one views the Communist regime as having been illegitimate right from the start, then it is no longer possible to speak of any legitimate claims on the part of the Soviets in 1939 vis-à-vis western Ukraine or western Belarus, both of which were incorporated into the Soviet Union after the crushing of Poland.

For Zubov, “Russia” refers not only to the geographical/administrative element within the Soviet Union, but also to the entire cultural sphere, including the Russian diaspora. Perhaps one of the best features of the book is that it includes accounts of how the Russian groups in exile not only adapted to life in China, Serbia, Germany, France or elsewhere, but also passed on the Russian cultural heritage and the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. The philosophers, historians and journalists who found themselves on the losing side after the 1917 Revolution and the Russian Civil War and then went into exile were able to get published or even noticed in the Soviet Union only in exceptional cases. But in recent years, much of what was written in exile by Russian thinkers, authors and others has entered the social debate through new editions issued by publishing houses in Russia. The first large emigrant colonies in Berlin and Paris in the 1920s have been the focus of special studies, as have the later waves of Russian exiles that occurred after 1945 and in the 1970s. Correspondence between tsarist Russian diplomats in exile and generals from the White Army has been published in heavily annotated source versions. In Zubov’s work these Russians are placed in their chronological context, and their assessments of the development of the Soviet Union are presented. Of particular interest are the ways in which the various emigrant groups aligned themselves at the outbreak of the Second World War, and in 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

IV.

The question is whether Andrei Zubov and all his coauthors can explain why, in 1917, it was Russia in particular that became the first country in which the originally 19th century socialist ideas were tested.

Zubov’s simplified reconstruction is presented in the section on the World War I. Here we “learn” that Vladimir I. Lenin paid two secret visits to Berlin in June and July of 1914, and reached an agreement with highly placed military officials to undermine the Russian home front during the coming war. The leader of the Bolsheviks allegedly received 70 million German marks in return. The imminent events thus came under the control of Kaiser Wilhelm and the German General Staff. The military in Berlin had prepared a plan to “carry out the Russian Revolution” as far back as 1916! But events forced them to postpone their initiative for one year, until Lenin had returned to Russia. Zubov explains that the spontaneous workers’ revolt in Petrograd in July 1917 was instigated by Lenin on the directives of the German General Staff in order to stem the Russian Army’s summer offensive. Germany had nearly lost patience with Lenin’s party by October 1917, having gotten nothing in return for the millions of marks invested. According to Zubov, this was why Lenin began demanding that the Bolsheviks make a new attempt to seize power in October (Vol. I, pp. 127, 332, 350, 365—366, 404—412, 459—463).

For Zubov, it is completely logical that the regime in the Soviet Union ever since 1917 be characterized as illegitimate (nezakonnyi). The support that Russian socialist revolutionaries, anarchists and Bolsheviks received from Austria and Germany has been the subject of various studies. But no one has distorted the aspirations of the revolutionary movement of the 1910s as Zubov has.16 Istoriia Rossii XX vek explains that Lenin had, by 1914, become a traitor to his country, in the pay of the enemy and working as an agent of German influence. Up until Gorbachev’s “new thinking”, the Communists were driven by their aspiration of subjugating the Russian people and spreading their regime throughout the world.

Among the more peculiar elements in Zubov’s work is the Catholic legend of some children in the Portuguese village Fatima who during 1916 and 1917 received revelations from the Mother of God on a number of occasions. Lucia, who was ten years old at the time, would then recount how the Mother of God had spoken to the children on the 13th of each month in 1917 from March to October and, oddly enough, warned them of what disaster was to befall Russia. Neither the ten-year-old Lucia nor her younger siblings at first understood what the word “Russia” referred to. When they told of their experiences, the press began writing about this unusual occurrence in Fatima. Huge numbers of people gathered to attend what might be the next revelation. Those present even claimed to have observed strange phenomena, such as the sun starting to move back and forth across the heavens. On October 13 the Madonna was said to have explained to the children that the people in Russia had not improved or prayed for the forgiveness of their sins. As a result, the country was now to suffer a major calamity (I, pp. 455—458). The Catholic Church granted the Miracle of Fatima official status in 1967. The reader will no doubt wonder what Zubov and his coauthors intend to explain with regard to Russian history in the 20th century by bringing up the well-known legend of the Madonna at Fatima. Does this open the way to the idea that higher powers somehow “intervened” in the events in Russia? On the other hand, Zubov’s accounts of the Orthodox Church’s relationship with the Tsar and of the Communist regime’s fight against Christianity and other religions during the interwar period are objective and mostly matter-of-fact.

After these different takes on what is traditionally known as the Russian Revolution of 1917, the reader will not be surprised to find that Zubov devotes a 300-page section of the book — “The War for Russia” (Voina za Rossiiu) — to the Russian Civil War and the efforts of foreign interventionist troops to destroy the Bolshevik regime between 1918 and 1921. This section reflects, to a greater extent than most of the others, how the authors have in fact incorporated both the classic accounts written by the White generals in exile and the numerous documents and archival publications in recent years that have shed light on the White Armies and on conditions in the areas that were periodically controlled by the White side.

The execution of the Tsar’s family on 17 July 1918 is described in detail, but approached in an unusual way with respect to German considerations. Because the executed Tsar had not approved the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty of 1918, but rather had clung to his belief that the White forces would retake those areas and continue the war against Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm supposedly gave his consent to allow Lenin to execute Nikolai II and the members of his family. This curious twist of other, usually anti-Semitic, myths surrounding the execution of the Tsar’s family will certainly give rise to doubts on Zubov’s general worldviews.

The authors’ accounts of the various armies on the White side, and their attempts to offer the unwillingness of the Russian people to fight for their country, their lack of any real sense of nationhood and their tendency to think mainly of their own best interests as a comprehensive explanation for why the Red Army was victorious on all fronts will, along with many similar “generalizations” and moralizations, undoubtedly put Zubov’s Istoriia Rossii XX vek in a category all by itself.

Zubov’s lack of elementary source-critical thinking is clearly evident in that he could not bring himself to include even the serious discussions being conducted regarding the Red and White Terror. Zubov has failed to include recent research, e.g. by A. Litvin, I. Ratkovskii and M. Shilovskii, on the campaign of terror engaged in by the Bolshevik regime against resistors. Zubov instead giddily provides, without reservation, old myths and widely inaccurate figures on the extent of repression against priests, teachers, doctors, the military, the police, peasants and workers. The figures were obtained from the November 7, 1923, (sic!) edition of the Edinburgh newspaper The Scotsman, which however “failed to provide any source” (I, pp. 552—553). It is said that “history is written by the winners”, and that historiography is consistently one-sided and tendentious. But what is presented in this work to describe how “the more noble, more honest and more patriotic part” of the Russian population lost the battle for Russia during the Civil War falls into the realm of preconceived notions.

The widespread famine of 1921—1922 is referred to as “the planned famine” or “killing by famine” (pervyi golodomor in Russian). Zubov adopts a controversial interpretation which was originally introduced by nationalist Ukrainian historians in Canada in the 1980s and again in Ukraine after 1991 to paint the famine in Ukraine 1932—1933 (holodomor in Ukrainian) as an act of genocide that was intentionally controlled by the Kremlin in order to exterminate the Ukrainian peasantry. Historians outside of Russia are very divided on this interpretation, although no serious scholar denies the famine of 1932—1933. The documentation at hand hardly lends itself to this genocide thesis. First, the catastrophic famine of 1932—1933 was attributable not only to Stalin’s requisition policies, but also to the reduction in the amount of land under cultivation and a severely dry summer in 1932, which destroyed large parts of the grain crop in Ukraine and southern Russia. In addition, there is no evidence that the famine was especially severe solely in Ukraine. Zubov thus applies the term golodomor to the catastrophic famine of 1921—1922 as well, thereby parting ways with the majority of historians and economic historians, who certainly do accept that the bad conditions in the rural villages were attributable to many years of requisition policies. However, none of them has denied that it was the exceptionally dry summer in 1921 that made the famine a reality, or that the Bolshevik regime did what it could to try and relieve the distress, and accepted foreign aid for those affected. On these grounds, Zubov’s use of the term golodomor would appear to be incorrect.

Zubov’s work is, in certain respects, in line with a neo-patriotic interpretation prevalent among Russian journalists and political scientists, who describe the period immediately following the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks as being significantly bloodier than has been customary in Soviet works. Lenin’s reign from 1917 up to the early 1920s is considered, not only by means of the Red Terror and acts of war, to have imposed a significantly higher cost in terms of human life than did Stalin’s “top-down revolution” of the early 1930s. Zubov’s work is consistent with that of historian Natalia Narotchnitskaïa, who repudiates Lenin and his era in especially strong terms, and is prepared to put forth the most hyperbolic data about the persecutions during the early 1920s.17

The description of the NEP period is comparatively succinct, and addresses only the most important economic debates and the conflicts within the Orthodox Church during the 1920s and up until Stalin’s “top-down revolution” of 1929—1932.

Zubov resurrects the legend, abandoned by scholars, that a group of “clear thinking” communists at the 17th Party Congress in 1934 approached Leningrad Party Secretary Kirov in an attempt to remove Stalin as the Party’s general secretary. This legend was circulated in the Khrushchev era, and may be seen as a fabrication made to legitimize the Communist Party’s struggle to reconnect to the original ideals of the Lenin era, which had implicitly been trampled by Stalin after 1929. Given Zubov’s expressed aim of writing an anti-communist and supposedly truer history, it is remarkable that such tales are found in the book.

Pure historical falsifications often diminish the value of Zubov’s committed anti-communism and, in the long term, run the risk of undermining confidence in his purpose, even when his positions are reasonable. Allow me to offer a flagrant example. The millions of street urchins present in the 1920s and early 1930s were a scourge on the society. They had become homeless or lost their parents during the World War, the subsequent Civil War, or the famine of 1921—1922. Various People’s Commissariats took active steps to care for these besprizornye in special orphanages, where they were able to participate in normal schooling and even receive some occupational training. Childrearing methods, radical for the time, were employed at some of these orphanages, drawing interest from far beyond Soviet Russia. The authorities solved the worst aspects of poverty in the postwar years when the rapid industrialization process and collectivization of farming in 1928—1932 re-created a social scourge of more or less criminalized street urchins.18 Under the heading “The liquidated street urchin problem” (likvidirovannaia besprizornost), Zubov conversely and absurdly posits that the disappearance of some five million street urchins who were present in the 1922 statistics but not 10 years later is attributable to repression by the GPU, or security police, and to the great famine of 1932—1933. Zubov attempts to tie the problem to the notorious law passed in April 1935 that lowered the age of criminal liability to 12 and also extended the death penalty to minors. Zubov claims that the purpose of the law was to give the secret police free rein to execute street urchins (I, pp. 927—928). This is, of course, not the case, but rather has been extracted from the most reactionary legends that have circulated about Stalinist terror ever since the Nazis escalated their “Judeo-Bolshevism” propaganda in the 1930s. No historical works are even tied to this section, although there are references to defected agent Walter Krivitsky and his 1939 “memoirs”, co-written with the journalist Isaac don Levine. The reader will no doubt wonder why Zubov indicates that there were hundreds of thousands of such executions, or even more. The well-known Latvian documentary The Soviet Story by Edvins Snore likewise absurdly asserts that the “street urchin problem” of the 1930s was solved through mass executions.19 Other sources must be consulted to see how trade schools and daycare centers gave “society’s unfortunate children” a second chance in life. The theories of Anton Makarenko and others on child-rearing helped tens of thousands of street urchins return to society during the interwar years.

Western and Russian experts have analyzed the actual extent of the criminality of under-age groups in the 1930s. Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk has provided a weighty and thoughtful background to the change in the law, its origins, and its application. Of the roughly 110,000 street urchins arrested, approximately two-thirds were restored to their parents or relatives, some 30,000 were placed in orphanages, and around 10,000 were actually sentenced to lengthy terms in the camps. On the other hand, very few minors were sentenced to death. The new law elicited strong protests in the West at the time, and Stalin tried to persuade French author Romain Rolland that it had been adopted mainly as a scare tactic.20

Stalin’s repression of the cadres in the Party and the Army and the mass operations of 1937—1938 are among the most thoroughly analyzed topics of research in recent decades. One might expect this to be evident in a synthesis such as Zubov’s book. The Great Terror of 1937 can be traced to two initiatives on the part of the top political leadership. First, a series of national operations in which supposedly untrustworthy individuals of the same ethnic origins as were present in the countries neighboring Russia (Poland, Latvia, Finland, Korea, etc.) were subjected to repression, banishment and punishment (Gulag or execution). Second, a mass operation that was somewhat misleadingly named the “anti-kulak operation”. Collectively these NKVD operations accounted for the bulk of the nearly 700,000 executions that were carried out in 1937—1938.21 But Zubov introduces, with regard to the Great Terror, a historical background that is unknown to the research community. The 1937 census revealed that the majority of the Russian people still characterized themselves as believing Christians. Zubov claims, alone among Russian historians, that the Great Terror was focused primarily on the various groups of believers in the Soviet Union.

In the chapter on the years leading up to the Second World War, Zubov buys into the view, commonly held in Eastern Europe, that Stalin sought to provoke a war between Germany and Great Britain. This could have been one of Stalin’s conceivable scenarios in 1939. But Zubov makes the mistake of citing in support of his thesis a speech supposedly given by Stalin to the Politburo on August 19, 1939. No such session was held that day, and the archival document cited is, in fact, a speech in French (!) that was found in the so-called Trophy Archive (now part of the Russian State Military Archives, RGVA) among other documents that the Red Army discovered in corresponding Nazi trophy archives in Berlin. To be sure, the author refers significantly enough to the Russian translation of the text published by historian Tatiana Bushueva in the literature magazine Novyi mir in 1994, without devoting a single word to the provenance of the document. The source-critical review that Sergei Sluch presented in the early 2000s establishes beyond a doubt that the document was drafted by French journalists or intelligence agents purely for propaganda purposes in the autumn of 1939. Also relevant is a similar “speech by Stalin” that enjoyed widespread dissemination in the Western European press back in December of 1939 and which no serious historian viewed as an authentic record of Stalin’s explanation as to why he was prepared to enter into a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.22

V.

Zubov believes that reason becomes superfluous when it comes to the behavior of the Soviet Union in an international context. As a result of this attitude, Istoriia Rossii XX veka provides no assessments of the realpolitik or even geopolitical factors that the Kremlin may have considered at one time or another. The reader is inundated with postulated truths about the regime’s expansionist aspirations rather than references to research on the foreign policy of the Soviet government during the interwar period and the various phases of the Cold War. Zubov’s description of the annexation of Polish, Romanian, and Baltic territories in the first phase of the Second World War 1939—1940 is straightforward and the narrative underlines the crash realpolitik of that epoch. The extent of repression in the sovietized territories is emphasized, as is the fact that several Western powers never recognized the Soviet annexations. According to Zubov some 700,000 inhabitants of the former Baltic states were victims of repression by the NKVD or secret police, by means of elimination of the political elite and mass deportations of whole families to distant settlements in Siberia (II, p. 16—20).

As noted, the authors do not use the term “Great Patriotic War, 1941—1945”, which is the common term, even in modern Russia, but which, for obvious reasons, is called into question by Ukrainian and other nationalists. Zubov also attempts to distinguish Russia from the regime that was established. Because he considers the post-1917 regime to be illegitimate, having established an oppressive state over the Russian people, it could not have fought for the Fatherland in the true sense. Here he differs from Natalia Narotchnitskaia, who conversely believes that, when the existence of the Russian nation was threatened by the Nazis in 1941, Stalin’s regime became the sole guarantor of the survival of the Russian people.23

Zubov aligns himself with a group of military historians in Russia who vigorously defend defected GRU agent Vladimir Rezun’s hypothesis that, in May 1941, Stalin and the General Staff of the Red Army prepared for an attack on the Nazi and other troops concentrated along the borders of the Soviet Union. To date it has not been possible to substantiate this hypothesis, which Rezun (under the pseudonym Viktor Suvorov) has asserted since 1985, with archival documents.24 On the contrary, most of the Red Army’s plans for 1941 indicate that it was prepared only for a defensive war in the event that Nazi Germany should attack. Even on logistical grounds, that is, troop transport capacity by rail, it was clear to the Soviet General Staff that, in 1941, the Red Army could not undertake any major operations for anticipatory or pre-emptive purposes. On the other hand, many hundreds of thousands of men were mobilized during the spring and early summer of 1941, all in hopes of being able to stave off the impending attack from Nazi Germany for a few more years. As is known, Stalin ultimately reasoned that Germany would not repeat previous historical mistakes and start a two-front war, against Great Britain in the west and Russia in the east. Unfortunately, little of the extensive Russian debates since the late 1980s concerning the legacy of the 1937—1938 repressions of thousands of officers, the failure of the Soviet leadership to disentangle intelligence reports from its own agents from smart German disinformation, and eventually Stalin’s guilt in failing to heighten the alert in the final weeks before the Nazi attack on June 22, 1941, is reflected in Zubov’s book. Similar to the versions of some other writers, Zubov’s account of the course of the war from 1941 up until the Battle of Berlin in 1945 has a cut-and-dried character. Like many others who limit their perspective to “history from below”, i.e. that of the individual soldiers, Zubov repeats the descriptions of putatively meaningless tactical battles that demanded the sacrifice of thousands of men. The fact that, in a series of strategic operations (Stalingrad and Kursk in 1943, Belorussia in 1944), the Red Army marshals, generals and colonels outshone the most prominent field commanders in the Wehrmacht should be made clear in any synthesis, and here Zubov could have made significantly better use of the research done by Western and Russian military historians in recent years.

Zubov presents the period after 1953 in a more conventional manner, and his account can be read as a standardized depiction of the Cold War era. Middle-aged and older Russian readers will find isolated deficiencies in Zubov’s multifaceted account of living standards, altered housing conditions and new or elusive career opportunities under Khrushchev and Brezhnev. What is valuable in Zubov’s work are his accounts of how the Russian exile groups (in the US and Western Europe) were able to begin establishing serious contacts with freethinkers and “dissidents” in the Soviet Union, starting in the late 1960s. Both international conflicts and internal Soviet complications, particularly the dissident movement, are described in vibrant and dynamic fashion. On the other hand, a reader will look in vain for connections to the debates that have raged between Russian and Western historians, particularly intense since glasnost in the 1980s and following the opening of the Russian archives in the 1990s.

references

  1. Nikolai Alekseievich Ivnitskii, Klassovaia borba v derevne i likvidatsiia kulachestva kak klassa (1929—1932 gg.) [The class struggle in the countryside and the liquidation of the kulaks as a class, 1929—1932], Moscow 1972; Kollektivizatsiia i raskulachivanie (nachalo 30-kh godov) [Collectivization and dekulakization, 1929—1932], Moscow 1996; Repressivnaia politika sovetskoi vlasti v derevne (1928—1933 gg.) [The repressive policy in the countryside by the Soviet Power, 1928—1933], Moscow 2000; Sudba raskulachennykh v SSSR, Golod 1932—1933 godov v SSSR (Ukraina, Severnyi Kavkaz, Povolzhe, Centralnaia Chernozemnaia oblast, Zapadnyi Sibir, Ural) [The fate of the dekulakized peasants in the USSR]; Golod  ... Ural [The 1932—1933 Famine in the USSR (Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, the Volga Region, the Central Black-Earth Region, Western Siberia, the Urals)], Moscow 2009.
  2. For an overview of the more recent Russian historiography on part of the Soviet epoch, refer to John Keep’s and Alter Litvin’s excellent overviews of the history of Stalinism: Stalinism: Russian and Western Views at the Turn of the Century, London & New York 2005; idem, Epokha Stalina v Rossii: Sovremennaia istoriografiia, Moscow 2009.
  3. See here the radical re-interpretation of the Soviet period by Efim Gimpelson, Rossiia na perelome epokh: Osmyslenie XX stoletiia rossiiskoi istorii [Russia at the turns of epochs: Reflections on the Russia’s 20th century history], Moscow 2006. Among Gimpelson’s earlier publications on the Soviet system of management can be mentioned Velikii Oktiabr i stanovlenie sovetskoi systemy upravleniia narodnym khoziaistvom (oktiabr 1917—1920) [The Great October Revolution and the formation of the Soviet system of management of the people’s economy (October 1917—1920)], Moscow 1977.
  4. Andrei N. Sakharov (red.), Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremën do kontsa XVII veka, [A history of Russia from eldest time to the end of the 17th century], Moscow 2003; idem, Istoriia Rossii s nachala XVIII veka do nachala XXI veka [A history of Russia from the early 18th century to the early 21st century], Moscow 2003 and later editions. See also p. V. Leonov (ed.), Istoriia Rossii s drevenishikh vremën do kontsa XX veka [A history of Russia from eldest times to the end of the 20th century], Moscow 2002, for its discussion of decisive historical turning points.
  5. Ekonomicheskaia istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremën do 1917: Entsiklopediia [Russia’s economic history from eldest times to 1917: An encyclopedia], edited by Leonid Borodkin and others, Moscow 2009.
  6. See for example Edvard Radzinskii, Stalin, Moscow 1997; Alexandr Bushkov, Stalin: Ledianoi tron [Stalin: The ice throne] St. Petersburg 2004.
  7. Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, Dvesti let vmeste (1795—1995) [Two hundred years together, 1795—1995], Moscow 2001; idem, Dvesti let vmeste [Two hundred years together], Moscow 2002.
  8. See for instance Edward E. Ericson Jr. & Alexis Klimoff, The Soul and the Barbed Wire: An Introduction to Solzhenitsyn, Wilmington 2008, pp. 150—161.
  9. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty http://www.rferl.org/content/Tsar_Murder_Probe_Raises_Divisive_Questions_About_Bolshevik_Crimes/1961860.html accessed on 2010-04-18.
  10. Regarding the sensitive issue of burial rights, which is hardly ever discussed in connection with demands from Russian politicians to tear down the Lenin Mausoleum, see Aleksei Abramov, Pravda i vymysel o kremlëvskom nekropole i mavzolee [The truth and lies on the Kremlin Necropolis and Mausoleum], Moscow 2005.
  11. Regarding the French textbooks’ tendencies and connections to the Soviet-Marxist paradigm, see Laurent Jalabert, Le Grand Débat: Les Universitaires francais — historiens et géographes — et les pays communistes de 1945 à 1991, Toulouse 2001.
  12. Solzhenitsyn, facsimile of letter, http://pics.livejournal.com/russia_xx/pic/00005893/ accessed on 2010-02-25.
  13. The Harvard history professor Richard Pipes was among the first to laud Zubov’s book as something radically new in Russian historiography, compare radio RFE/ RL http://www.rferl.org/content/A_New_Russian_History_Thats_Sensational_For_The_Right_Reasons/1895990.html (accessed on 2010-05-25), and as quoted by Sophia Kishovsky, “A history of 20th-century Russia, Warts and All”, New York Times, December 3, 2009. However, the present reviewer seriously doubts that Professor Pipes, on closer inspection of Zubov’s two-volume History, would approve of its presentation of the 1917 Revolution or endorse the explanations on the Stalinist “revolution from above in the 1930s”. Furthermore, Pipes’s sweeping generalizations of an alleged lack of attention by Russia’s professional historians to their Western colleagues bear little resemblance to their interrelation with foreign scholars in the recent two to three decades.
  14. One of MGIMO’s vice rectors has even taken exception to the book as being directly unsuitable for students, based on the excessive number of dubious interpretations and pure factual errors encumbering it.
  15. Cf. Lewis Siegelbaum & Andrei Sokolov, Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents, New Haven & London 2004.
  16. Cf. Stefan T. Possony, Lenin: The Compulsive Revolutionary, Chicago 1964, pp. 151—184, on Lenin’s and the Bolsheviks’ contacts with Russian reform-minded millionaires, with the Austrian and German authorities on matters of financial support for the Party’s newspapers and organization; for a modern account of Lenin that rejects the foreign, and purportedly German, control of the Bolsheviks, see Helène Carrère d’Encausse, Lénine, Paris 1998.
  17. Natalia Narotshnitskaïa, Que reste-t-il de notre victoire? Russie-Occident: Le Malentendu, Paris 2008, pp. 43—60.
  18. See Alan M. Ball, And Now My Soul Is Hardened: Abandoned Children in Soviet Russia, 1918—1930, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London 1994.
  19. Edvins Snore, “The Soviet Story”, DVD, 2008.
  20. Oleg Khlevniuk, Khoziain: Stalin i utverzhdenie stalinskoi diktatury [The boss: Stalin and the consolidation of the Stalinist dictatorship], Moscow 2009, pp. 237—239.
  21. Vladimir Khaustov & Lennart Samuelson, Stalin, NKVD i repressii, 1936—1938 gg. [Stalin, NKVD, and the repressions, 1936—1938], Moscow 2008.
  22. Sergei Sluch, “Rech Stalina, kotoroi ne bylo” [Stalin’s speech that never was held], Otechestvennaia istoriia, 2004:1, pp. 113—139.
  23. Narotchnitskaïa, Que reste-t-il, pp. 129—131.
  24. Viktor Suvorov, The Ice-Breaker: Who Started the Second World War? London 1985. The Russian debate in defense of Rezun-Suvorov’s theses may be found in, for example Pravda Viktora Suvorova: Perepisyvaia istoriiu Vtoroi Mirovoi, [Viktor Suvorov’s truth: to rewrite the history of World War II], Moscow 2006. Arguments against Rezun-Suvorov have been put forward by, among others, Alexander Pomogaibo, Psevdoistorik Suvorov i zagadki Vtoroi Mirovoi Voiny [The pseudo-historian Suvorov and the enigmas of World War II], Moscow 2002, and Aleksei Isaev, Anti-Suvorov: Desiat mifov Vtoroi Mirovoi [Anti-Suvorov: Ten myths about World War II], Moscow 2005.

NOTE

Andrey Zubov has sent a comment to the editors. Here you can read it in Russian. A translation in English will follow.

По поводу рецензии Леннарта Самуэльсона на книгу

«История России. ХХ век» под редакцией А.Б.Зубова

I

Всем, хотя бы немного следящим за общественной жизнью сегодняшней России, хорошо известны споры вокруг национальной истории, принявшие в последние два года особенно острый характер.  Споры эти далеко вышли за пределы чисто научных изысканий и стали фактом политики, о чем наглядно свидетельствует созданная год назад при Президенте Российской Федерации специальная комиссия, призванная бороться с историческими фальсификациями. Подобные споры ведутся и в других обществах, возникших на руинах СССР и, даже шире, на всём пространстве былого коммунистического блока. Причина этих споров более чем понятна. Необычайно высокий интерес к истории в действительности есть интерес к собственной судьбе каждого человека, каждой семьи. А в некотором смысле – и интерес к будущему: что в судьбе нашей страны мы оценим положительно, то и будем стараться продолжать в грядущие десятилетия, что осудим – от того постараемся отказаться. Любой народ гордится какими-то своими сыновьями и дочерями – ставит им памятники на площадях городов, называет их именами улицы и корабли, учит детей походить на прославленных предков. А каких-то предков осуждает и, приводя их в пример юношеству, говорит – нельзя так поступать как они. Они – позор нации. В каждой семье происходит то же самое – одними ее отпрысками гордятся, других – в тайне стыдятся.

Россия и окружающие ее страны, пережившие десятилетия тоталитарной диктатуры, в конце 1980-х гг. совершили исключительно резкий разворот к демократии, гражданским и политическим свободам, открытости в культуре, экономике и общественной жизни. Нигде этот разворот не был единодушным. Совершенно естественно, что многим не захотелось «пить новое вино», и они, совсем как в евангельской притче, сказали и, порой продолжают утверждать, что «старое – лучше». В причинах различия оценок сказывается многое – и личный опыт, и дела родителей и дедов, и образование, и возраст, и место жительства. Те, кто продолжают любить старое коммунистическое вино, и жить хотят в системе старых идей и стереотипов, коммунистическую жизнь обосновывавших. Те, кто осуждают старое, отвергают и былую коммунистическую идеологию, полагая ее лживой. Но практика – проверка теории. Чтобы понять, лжива или правдива коммунистическая идеология, следует внимательно посмотреть, как она воплощалась на практике, то есть от философского рассуждения перейти к историческому анализу. Именно потому и идет в современных послекоммунистических обществах столь ожесточенный спор об истории, что это - спор о лжи и правде, о добре и зле, о чести и бесчестии бесчисленного множества людей живых и уже умерших, или сотрудничавших так ли, иначе ли, с коммунистическим режимом, или в меру сил сопротивлявшихся ему. Что надо было делать – сотрудничать или противостоять – это главный вопрос в той начавшейся общественной дискуссии, которая может исцелить или погубить наши души, и в которой историку отводится весьма значительная, не исключено, даже, что и первенствующая роль. Именно поэтому история из чисто академической науки превратилась ныне в России в область политики. Это и не хорошо и не плохо. Это – факт.

Но, став на какое-то время политикой, история вовсе не освобождается от своих чисто научных обязательств – от точности, честности и беспристрастности, от научной объективности. Без них история просто обессмысливается. Ложь никого не целит и ничему не способна научить, разве что тому, что у самой лжи «короткие ноги». Однако беспристрастность вовсе не есть равнодушие. В гуманитарной сфере ученый не может относиться без сердца к объекту своих исследований. Трудное повсюду в жизни соединение любви с трезвостью воззрения, для историка – необходимое качество.

Следуя этим принципам и памятуя о том особом значении, которое имеет отечественная история в сегодняшней России, мы попытались написать «Историю России ХХ века».  В предисловии мы честно объявили, что предмет нашей любви – человек. Он высшая для нас ценность и мерило в любом историческом событии. Мы также констатировали, что правда исторического факта для нас совершенно обязательна. Историческая правда и судьба человека – вот основания для нашей книги.

Наша «История России» вышла в июле 2009 г. и через несколько месяцев (огромный объем – 1900 страниц – требовал времени на прочтение) стали появляться отзывы. Порой хвалебные, порой отрицательные. Мы были готовы к этой разноголосице мнений – ведь книга наша – факт общественной жизни, а в обществе нашем сейчас глубокий раскол по поводу и прошлого и будущего. Одно мы принимали с одинаковой благодарностью и от хулителей и от хвалителей – указания на фактические ошибки, неточности, опечатки. Мы тут же начали готовить новое издание – «исправленное и дополненное».  Хочется надеяться, что оно выйдет в свет уже в 2011 году.

II

Появление в “Baltic Worlds” рецензии Леннарта Самульсона на нашу книгу было для нас сюрпризом. Мы не предполагали, что известный шведский историк, ассистант-профессор Стокгольмской высшей школы экономики, специалист как раз по нескольким важным аспектам русской истории ХХ века – военной промышленности и репрессиям 1930-х гг.[1], член редакционного совета, от имени которого выходят серьезные источниковедческие работы и сборники документов по новейшей истории России («История сталинизма») - читает нашу «Историю России. ХХ век» и даже следит за ее судьбой в Интернете. Однако внимательное ознакомление с рецензией д-ра Самуэльсона оставило у меня и у моих коллег странное и смешанное чувство. Известный своей скрупулезной точностью и любовью к деталям, Леннарт Самуэльсон на этот раз допустил несколько ошибок там, где, казалось бы, ошибиться вовсе невозможно – в описании структуры рецензируемой работы. Так, он пишет, что первая часть «Последнее царствование» состоит из трех глав, но в действительности она состоит из четырех. Вторая часть состоит не из одной небольшой главы «Временное правительство», но из двух. Вторая обширная глава этой части – «Война за Россию» вовсе не является отдельной частью, как утверждает Самуэльсон. Третья часть книги состоит не из одной, а из двух глав, и, соответственно, не из 35, а из 55 подглав.

По поводу главы «Советско-нацистская война 1941-1945 гг.  и Россия» рецензент почему-то пеняет нам, что в ней война излагается с точки зрения простого человека, с его страданиями, тяготами и жертвами, а стратегическое значение крупнейших военных операций, таких как Сталинградская и Курская битвы 1943 г., бои в Белоруссии в 1944 г. не отражено в достаточной мере. Если  д-р Самуэльсон просмотрел эту главу, он не мог бы не заметить, что всем, названным им, военным операциям посвящены специальные разделы, в которых весьма подробно, на фоне общего хода войны на всех её театрах от Тихого океана до Африки и Атлантики, рассматривается значение этих великих сражений. Рецензент высказывает удивление, что в нашей книге мы игнорируем историю повседневности – описание характера обычной жизни обычных людей. Этот упрек более чем странен. Мы сознательно уделили большее, чем принято в подобных обобщающих исторических работах, место истории повседневности. Читатель должен, чтобы убедиться в этом, просто просмотреть оглавление, а потом, если у него возникнет интерес к этому предмету, прочесть разделы в первой главе первой части со второго по восьмой, одиннадцатый во второй главе, 24 во второй главе второй части, 12 и 14 в первой главе третьей части, 24, 33 и 34 разделы второй главы третьей части и так далее. Раздел 5.1.45 так и назван «Советский быт в 1950-80-е гг.». Существуют в книге и специальные разделы, посвященные жизни российских буддистов и мусульманских народов. Как мог д-р Самуэльсон не заметить всего этого?  Складывается впечатление, что со структурой рецензируемой работы он познакомился не очень внимательно, скорее – наспех.

Это впечатление ещё более усиливается, когда рецензент от анализа структуры работы переходит к характеристике авторского коллектива. Книгу нашу писали более сорока авторов, имена и ученые звания которых, равно и место работы перечислены в длинном списке, которым открывается первый том «Истории России». Однако только четырем из них  д-р Самуэльсон присваивает звание «профессиональных историков» и экспертов. Эти счастливцы – профессор русской философии Алексей Кара-Мурза, крупнейший специалист по Гражданской войне доктор исторических наук Сергей Волков, директор музея Андрея Рублева доктор искусствоведения Геннадий Попов и безымянный в рецензии Самуэльсона доктор технических наук, «специалист по ядерной и ракетной технике из Саратова» Дмитрий Калихман. «Другие соавторы, - безапелляционно объявляет ассистант-профессор Самуэльсон, - не являются ни историками, ни специалистами, как явствует и из их положения и из того, что они написали» (“The other coauthors are, however, neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content”).

Это заявление не просто неточность или случайная ошибка – это или намеренное введение читателя в заблуждение, или свидетельство полной профессиональной некомпетентности д-ра Самуэльсона, которому, как специалисту по русской истории, следует знать имена коллег, а в случае сомнения уметь навести справки в Интернете. Он должен был бы знать, что академик РАН Юрий Пивоваров является не только ведущим специалистом в области русской истории и общественного сознания, но председателем экспертного совета Высшей государственной аттестационной комиссии, присуждающей звание доктора исторических наук. Д-р Самуэльсон не может не знать профессора Париж-10 Никиту Струве – прекрасного специалиста по русской эмиграции, профессора университета Темпл (Филадельфия) Владислава Зубока, книги которого по истории Холодной войны переизданы на многих языках и широко отрецензированы, профессора Санкт-Петербургского университета Сергея Фирсова, издавшего несколько монографий по истории Русской церкви в предреволюционный период и только что опубликовавшего двухтомное научное исследование жизни Императора Николая II, профессора русской истории Капиталийского университета (Колумбус, Огайо) Александра Панцова, который занимается тем же периодом, что и сам рецензент, только несколько иными его аспектами – Коминтерн, советско-китайские отношения. Безусловно, Самуэльсону знакомо имя британского ученого, графа Николая Толстого-Милославского и его книга «Жертвы Ялты», и уж наверняка он знает сотрудников института Российской истории РАН – заместителя директора по науке Владимира Лаврова, ученого секретаря Института, доктора исторических наук Владимира Шестакова, возможно, и молодых талантливых историков – супругов Лобановых, защитивших несколько лет назад кандидатские диссертации под руководством Лаврова. Трудно представить, что Самуэльсону вовсе не известен ученый русист с мировым именем – профессор Венецианского университета – Витторио Страда.   Примеры можно продолжать еще долго. Написав столь несправедливые и оскорбительные слова в адрес этих и иных авторов «Истории России. ХХ век» д-р Самуэльсон сказал заведомую неправду и грубо нарушил правила нравственного поведения.

Но и этого мало, д-р Самуэльсон на страницах своей рецензии позволяет совершенно бездоказательно обвинять авторов в полном неумении вести научное исследование: «Ясно видно полное отсутствие у Зубова умения критически исследовать источники» (“Zubov's lack of elementary source-critical thinking is clearly evident”). Понятно, что речь идет не о Зубове. Я, как неумелый ответственный редактор мог пропустить ошибки авторов, но ошибки в анализе источников всё же делал не я, а те, кто писали разделы. Не стыдно ли сравнительно молодому русисту обвинять такое собрание своих коллег в отсутствии навыков, которым учат на историческом факультете любого университета? Что же касается меня лично, то мне д-р Самуэльсон присвоил какое-то странное научное звание «Professor of Religious History». Что такое «религиозная история» я не знаю, и такого предмета вообще нет в списке предметов, преподаваемых в МГИМО. Это опять неправда. В МГИМО я преподаю «Историю религиозных идей» и историю философии. Историю религиозных идей с некоторыми оговорками можно назвать историей религий (The History of Religions), но религиозной историей назвать ее никак нельзя. Кстати, понятно, что Александр Солженицын обратился ко мне в 2006 г. с предложением написать учебник по русской истории вовсе не потому, что я преподаю историю религиозных идей. Он читал главы из моей последней книги (ныне готовится к печати) «Размышления над причинами революции в России», которые в 2004-2006 году публиковал журнал «Новый мир», и на основании этих глав сделал свой выбор. Д-р Самуэльсон мог бы поинтересоваться, какие исследования в области русистики опубликовал ответственный редактор рецензируемой им книги. Он бы нашел несколько десятков наименований, изданных на многих языках. Но то ли д-р Самуэльсон поленился, то ли решил, что ему выгодней представить А.Зубова «не историком и не экспертом», но преподавателем таинственной «религиозной истории», напоминающей по названию не научную дисциплину, но религиозное движение «Christian science», основанное Mary Baker Eddy в последней трети XIX века и с академической наукой не имеющее ничего общего.

Ещё одним странным, приемом д-ра Самуэльсона стало отношение его к другим рецензентам нашей книги. В 13 примечании он совершенно справедливо указывает, что один из первых публичных отзывов на «Историю России. ХХ век» последовал от гарвардского профессора Ричарда Пайпса, и что отзыв этот был весьма положительным. Но, не ограничиваясь этой констатацией, д-р Самуэльсон продолжает: «However, the present reviewer (i.e. Dr. Samuelson’s – A.Z.) seriously doubts that Professor Pipes on closer inspection of Zubov’s two volume History would approve of its presentation of the 1917 Revolution or endorse the explanations on the Stalinist “revolution from above” in the 1930s”. Должен заметить,  что, в отличие от д-ра Самуэльсона, профессор Пайпс внимательнейшим образом прочел оба тома, прежде чем давать по поводу нашей книги какие бы то ни было публичные отзывы. Он прислал мне множество замечаний, указаний на неточности, вплоть до мельчайших, важные предложения и пожелания (все они были с благодарностью приняты) и, наконец, блестяще написал психологический портрет В.Ленина в его биографии для нового издания нашей книги, фактически став, таким образом, из рецензента соавтором. Высказывать предположение, что прославленный историк поспешил одобрить книгу, которую сам же, после внимательного прочтения, раскритикует вслед за Самуэльсоном – не менее странно, чем объявлять четыре десятка известных ученых «не историками и не специалистами».

А вот по поводу другого рецензента, одного из проректоров МГИМО, который, по верному замечанию рецензента (примечание 14), не рекомендовал студентам МГИМО  читать нашу книгу, д-р Самуэльсон забыл уточнить, что этот проректор - Алексей Подберезкин, был членом фракции Коммунистической партии России в Государственной Думе (1995-99 гг.) и выступал от лево-радикального Патриотического фронта соперником Владимира Путина на президентских выборах 2000 г. (собрав 0,13% голосов). Его соавтор отзыва на книгу – Александр Сергеев несколько дней был министром печати в правительстве Янаева во время неудачной попытки свержения Горбачева в августе 1991 г. Для таких людей отрицательное отношение к нашей «Истории» понятно. Не понятно только, почему об этих важных деталях  решил не упоминать д-р Самуэльсон, как и о том, что предложение г-на Подберезкина не читать книгу вызвало множество возмущенных реплик студентов в Интернете.

Все эти моменты позволяют считать рецензию д-ра Самуэльсона предвзятой и тенденциозной. Но в чем же суть предвзятости и какова тенденция?

III

Для того, что бы понять это, следует проанализировать конкретные замечания рецензента. Впрочем, их не так уж и много. Д-р Самуэльсон на этот раз вполне в духе научной точности объявляет: “The size (1,800 pages) and the scope of the content make it impossible for one person to review Istorija Rossii XX vek in the customary way”. Правда, на этом честном заявлении рецензент не смог устоять и все же то хвалит, то поругивает разделы, которые выходят за пределы его профессиональной компетентности. Похвалы удостоились разделы, связанные с историей эмиграции, историей Русской церкви, церковно-государственных отношений, историей Белого движения. История России после 1953 признана написанной “in more conventional manner… as a standardized depiction of the Cold War era”, “Международные конфликты и внутренние сложности советского режима, особенно диссидентское движение are described  in vibrant and dynamic fashion”. Вступительная глава «Как шла Россия к ХХ веку», кратко описывающая тысячелетний период русской истории от сложения славянской общности до царствования Александра III, оценена более сдержано, но с пониманием сложности задачи: «Given such a compressed format, a plethora of simplifications is unavoidable”.

Многие разделы и главы рецензент полностью исключил из своего анализа. Это и вся дореволюционная часть книги (за исключением деятельности В.Ленина), и состояние культуры, образования, науки, межнациональные отношения и жизнь нерусских и не православных сообществ. Ни слова не говорит д-р Самуэльсон и о главах посвященных Перестройке, а также современной истории России.

Внимание рецензента сосредоточено на темах ему хорошо знакомых – это революция, большевицкие репрессии, голод, раскулачивание, борьба за власть в большевицкой верхушке в 1930-е годы. Можно только приветствовать замечания профессионала. К настоящему времени благодаря подобным замечаниям мы исправили множество неточностей и ошибок в книге, но рецензия д-ра Самуэльсона не принесла нам ожидаемого плода. По ее результатам оказалось невозможно ничего добавить и ничего исправить в книге. Замечания д-ра Самуэльсона носят не конкретный, но общий и оценочный характер. Чаще всего это просто иная позиция, аргументированная, как правило, только тем, что «многие историки думают также».

Нередко шведский историк обвиняет нас в «фальсификации». Термин, надо признаться, очень редко употребляемый среди ученых-историков и явно заимствованный д-ром Самуэльсоном из политического лексикона сегодняшней России, с ее президентской комиссией по историческим фальсификациям. Респектабельному западноевропейскому историку почему-то очень хочется использовать формулы, принятые среди российских коллег. Может быть потому, что он связан с ними многими общими исследовательскими и издательскими проектами? «С кем поведешься – от того и наберешься» - есть, ведь, такая русская поговорка.

«Удалось ли Андрею Зубову и его соавторам объяснить, почему именно Россия в начале ХХ века стала первой  страной, в которой были на практике испытаны социалистические идеи, сформировавшиеся в XIX столетии?» Ответ Леннарт Самуэльсон дает отрицательный – нет, не удалось, так как авторы всё крайне упрощают, сводя революцию к проискам Кайзера Вильгельма против России, а Ленина – до положения платного агента Германии. Это утверждение рецензента – абсурдно. Если бы он внимательно читал книгу, он бы увидел, что множество раз по самым различным поводам от экономических до религиозно исповедных, мы объясняем, как те или иные явления русской жизни прокладывали дорогу революции. И Кайзер и Ленин были поздними и далеко не главными виновниками нашей национальной трагедии. Они воспользовались (Ленин гениально воспользовался) обстоятельствами, сложившимися помимо них и задолго до них. Как мог рецензент не заметить всего этого, читая книгу?

Но д-ра Самуэльсона поразило только одно, что мы в разделе «Идеологическая война» (1.4.12) повествуем о сотрудничестве Ленина с Германией непосредственно перед  Мировой войной и во время войны. Все факты, которые мы приводим, имеют точные отсылки. Если в них и можно сомневаться, то только аргументировано, и уж тем более нельзя искажать в рецензии ради красного словца наши доводы. Мы пишем: «Жандармский генерал А.И.Спиридович сообщает, что в июне и июле 1914 г. Ленин дважды ездил в Берлин для выработки совместно с немецкой разведкой плана подрывной деятельности в тылах русской армии. За эту работу ему было обещано 70 млн. марок. В МИД Германии имелась написанная Лениным программа тех действий, которые он предполагал осуществить после захвата власти в России. Программу эту Ленин передал в германский МИД через немецкого агента эстонца Александра Кескула в сентябре 1915 г.» Эти фразы превращаются у рецензента в следующее изложение: «Zubov's simplified reconstruction is presented in the section on the World War I. Here we “learn” that Vladimir I. Lenin paid to secret visits to Berlin in June and July of 1914, and reached an agreement with highly placed military officials to undermine Russian home front during the coming war. The leader of the Bolsheviks allegedly received 70 million German marks in return. The imminent events thus came under the control of Kaiser  Wilhelm and the German General Staff”. Главные искажения здесь следующие. Мы не «учим», а приводим свидетельства очевидцев и документы, надежность которых можно оспорить, но нельзя приписывать авторам то, что дано как документальная ссылка. Во-вторых, генерал Спиридович пишет, что Ленину в Берлине были обещаны 70 миллионов марок (невероятно громадная сумма!), а отнюдь не даны. В-третьих, и это самое главное, из эпизода сотрудничества Ленина с Германией мы вовсе не делаем вывод, что революция проходила под контролем Кайзера. У революции была тысяча причин, и главные из них мы рассматриваем. Упрощаем реконструкцию не мы, ее упрощает автор рецензии, а свои упрощения и искажения приписывает книге. Вряд ли такой путь можно назвать добропорядочной критикой. Однако он вполне естественен для тех отечественных историков, которые, ностальгически вспоминая «коммунистическое вино», продолжают защищать миф о великом русском патриоте Владимире Ленине, пущенный в оборот в годы сталинского соцпатриотизма. Позиция нынешних российских эпигонов большевизма понятна, непонятно, почему ей следует шведский историк.

«Зубов объясняет, - пишет далее рецензент, - что спонтанное восстание рабочих в июле 1917 г. было инспирировано (was instigated) Лениным по указанию германской Ставки дабы остановить наступление русской армии».  Спонтанное выступление рабочих против помещиков и капиталистов в июле 1917 г. – это взято из краткого курса истории ВКП(б). К настоящему времени имеется множество доказательств инспирированного характера выступления, кстати говоря, не рабочих, а кронштадтских матросов. Мы в книге приводим некоторые из этих доводов, свидетельства очевидцев, а вот в защиту старого большевицкого мифа Самуэльсон не приводит ни одного доказательства, он просто декларирует несостоятельность рецензируемого текста тем, что взгляд авторов расходится с тем, чему нас учили в советской школе.

Вообще какое-то странное стремление оправдать Ленина, методы захвата и удержания им государственной власти постоянно ощутимо в рецензии. Д-р Самуэльсон  даже упрекает нас в том, что мы завышаем в книге число жертв ленинского периода коммунистического режима.  Очень характерен выбор терминов. Самуэльсон говорит о том, что мы не учли последние исследования, в которых содержатся подсчеты числа жертв террора, осуществлявшегося большевиками в отношении тех, кто боролись (resisters) с их властью. То есть красный террор 1918-22 гг. рецензент полагает одной из форм борьбы против активных врагов режим. Так опять же писали советские учебники, но теперь все знают, что эти писания лживы. Самым страшным в красном терроре было заложничество, то есть взятие под стражу и последующее уничтожение обычных людей из «враждебных классов», простых мужчин, женщин и детей, тех самых священников, учителей, врачей, торговцев, бывших чиновников, гимназистов и студентов, которые и составляли ведущий слой российского общества. В деревне заложниками очень часто становились (и погибали) трудолюбивые, зажиточные земледельцы. Красный террор был кошмаром для тогдашнего русского общества, его последствия мы ощущаем до сего дня. Великий социолог Питирим Сорокин, сам в те годы чудом избежавший расстрела, позднее писал: «Не разрушение нашего хозяйства, не количественная убыль населения (21 миллион), не расстройство духовной жизни и даже не общее «одичание и озверение» народа являются главным ущербом, причинен­ным нам войной и революцией (все это поправимо и возместимо), а истощение нашего «биологического фонда», в форме убийства его лучших носителей…Если население России с 1914 по 1920 г. уменьшилось на 13,6 %, то наиболее здоровые и трудоспособные слои от 16 до 50 лет потеряли 20 %, а мужчи­ны — 28 %... Если общая смертность населения в Петрограде и Москве поднялась в 3 раза по сравнению с нормальным временем, то смертность ученых поднялась в 5-6 раз. Если у нас лиц с университетским образовани­ем приходилось едва ли не более 200-300 на 1 миллион населения, то погибло их не 200 х 21= 4200, а в пять-шесть раз больше. «Уникумов» же нации, выда­ющихся ученых, поэтов, мыслителей, мы потеряли в громадном масштабе (А.С. Лаппо-Данилевский, Шахматов, Тураев, Ковалевский, Овсянико-Куликовский, Блок, Л. Андреев, Туган-Барановский, Марков, Хвостов, Иностранцев, Е. Трубецкой и т. д., и т. д.). Словом, данные годы «обескровили» нас самым кардинальным образом в отношении наших «лучших» людей»[1]. Уместна ли здесь ирония? Попытка Самуэльсона сказать читателям Baltic Worlds, что жертвами красного террора становились главным образом активные борцы с большевизмом – есть не просто тысячекратно опровергнутая ложь, но и более чем двусмысленная позиция в отношении народов России так пострадавших от большевицкого произвола. Что же касается статистики, то она, как мы и отмечаем в книге, не может быть полной, но в любом случае она свидетельствует об ужасных масштабах преступлений Ленина и его большевиков против человечности. Впрочем, подсчеты исторической демографии сделаны у нас высоким профессионалом, и если с ними спорить, то по существу. Свидетельство газеты «Скотсмэн» приведено нами только потому, что оно показывает знание европейским обществом верных масштабов большевицкого террора уже в начале 1920–х гг. Масштабов, которые, по всей вероятности не хочется признавать д-ру Самуэльсону, потому что по его мнению в России в те годы  «на практике испытывались социалистические идеи, сформировавшиеся в XIX столетии». Я, в отличие от уважаемого рецензента, думаю, что социалистические идеи испытывались в ХХ веке лейбористами в Великобритании, Франклином Рузвельтом в США, социал-демократами в Швеции и Дании. Поскольку социализм – это учение, имеющее  целью благо общества. Лениным испытывалось в России иное – метод захвата и удержания власти небольшой группой заговорщиков «любой ценой». И цена этого ленинского эксперимента оказалась для России невероятно высокой.

IV

Однако с необычной для европейского историка, живущего в гуманистическом и демократическом обществе, настойчивостью, Леннарт Самуэльсон продолжает на протяжении всей своей рецензии оправдывать преступления большевицкого режима или преуменьшать их масштаб.

Он не соглашается с тем, что голод 1921-22 гг. и 1932-33 гг. был инспирирован большевицкой властью, как о том со множеством доказательств говорится в нашей книге. Напротив, в отношении голодомора 1932-33 гг. д-р Самуэльсон говорит, что мы продолжаем линию украинских эмигрантов-националистов, поднявших  вопрос об умышленном истреблении народа Украины Сталиным, а в отношении голода 1921-22 гг. не признаем, что «the Bolshevik regime did what it could to try and relieve the distress”. Поэтому, описание нами двух голодоморов он признает «incorrect». Но факты, приведенные  в «Истории России», не оставляют сомнения в искусственных причинах двух этих трагедий. Кстати, название раздела 2.2.43 «Спланированный голодомор 1921-22 гг. Его формы и цели», вызвало полное одобрение А.И.Солженицына, когда он писал отзыв на вторую часть книги – «Да, да, именно так – «спланированный голодомор» - подчеркнул мыслитель. Но, опять же, советский миф о заботе советской власти о трудящемся народе – крестьянах и рабочих, не позволяет сегодняшним эпигонам большевизма признать спланированный коммунистической властью характер этих гуманитарных трагедий. Отсюда бесконечные споры, исследования уровня засухи в те годы и забвение простых фактов, что у крестьян по решению политбюро было конфисковано всё зерно и это зерно продавалось заграницу, в то время, когда миллионы людей умирали от голода, деградируя до людоедства и трупоедства. И в этом вопросе наша книга развенчивает большевицкий миф, а не вступает в противоречие с научными фактами, которые, понятно, можно уточнять и о деталях которых можно вести дискуссию. Но почему д-р Самуэльсон вместо обсуждения фактов и тут защищает большевицкий миф о заботливой к голодным крестьянам советской власти – непонятно.

Непонятно и возмущение д-ра Самуэльсона нашим разделом 3.2.14 « «Ликвидированная» беспризорность».  Он не жалеет бранных слов для характеристики этого раздела, называя его flagrant example «чистой исторической фальсификации». Между тем, в этом разделе мы рассказываем об одном из самых страшных проявлений тоталитарного коммунизма – об отношении его к детям. Беспризорничество было порождением большевицкой политики красного террора и организованного голода. Рецензент совершенно неправ, полагая, что одной из его причин стала Первая мировая война. Гибель многих молодых мужчин во время войны не вызвала беспризорничества по той простой причине, что у осиротевших детей оставались матери, бабушки и дедушки, сохранялся сельский мир и система общественного призрения. Только избиение и гибель всех взрослых во многих семьях в красном терроре 1918-21 гг. и во время голодомора 1921-22 гг. и сопутствовавших ему эпидемий, привели к тому, что миллионы детей остались вовсе без взрослых родственников. Это, кстати, косвенное свидетельство масштаба большевицких злодеяний. Трагедия повторилась во время голодомора 1932-33 гг. Вовсе не быстрая индустриализация и коллективизация, а страшная социальная политика большевиков вызвала новую волну беспризорничества в середине 1930-х гг. Ведь быстрая индустриализация в США или предреволюционной России вовсе не сопровождалась подобными явлениями в соизмеримых масштабах. Но если в эпоху НЭПа беспризорничество действительно во многом преодолевалось гуманистическими методами, деятельностью таких педагогов энтузиастов как Антоний Макаренко, то через десять лет всё было иначе (а именно об этом периоде речь идет в разделе 3.2.14). Страшный закон о полной правовой ответственности детей с 12 лет вплоть до применения к ним смертной казни – тому явное и неотменное свидетельство. Бежавшие на запад очевидцы оставили ужасные описания порядков в детских колониях лагерного типа. И совершенно зря д-р Самуэльсон скептически отзывается о записках Вальтера Кривицкого. Это – герой, не только отказавшийся служить сталинскому режиму, но и ценой жизни своей разоблачивший многие его преступления, которым он был не только свидетелем, но и в которых в свое время соучаствовал. Некоторые невероятно ужасные сведения Кривицкого получили подтверждения через иные независимые источники (например, о судьбе испанского республиканского золота или о наличии пыточных казематов в советском посольстве в Париже). Когда д-р Самуэльсон пытается уменьшить страшный эффект от сталинского закона 1935 г., говоря, что «очень немного из несовершеннолетних было приговорено к смерти» и как доказательство, приводя в пример слова Сталина Ромен Роллану, что закон этот объявлен не для применения, а для устрашения, он вновь оказывается в плену (и это еще самое мягкое определение) советской пропаганды. Безусловно, немалая часть беспризорников выросла и вошла во взрослую жизнь. Другое дело, чему они были научены в советских детских домах, и какой была та жизнь, которая им предлагалась. Нигде в книге не говорится, что все беспризорники пали жертвой репрессий. Мы остановились на этой теме и на самых страшных ее аспектах, совершенно не известных обычному россиянину, что бы развеять миф о    добреньких большевиках, любивших детей и своих и чужих. Это предание – ложь. Большевизм был не менее безжалостен к детям, чем ко взрослым. Он творил беспризорность и он же ее ликвидировал, навсегда калеча души детей в детских домах и колониях с их обязательным атеизмом и воспитанием классовой ненависти, и не останавливаясь перед изнурением несовершеннолетних в ссылках и лагерях, а нередко и перед убийством их «именем закона». Так что, если уж использовать любимый д-ром Самуэльсоном термин, «чудовищной фальсификацией» является не наша глава в книге, а утверждение ученого из благополучной Швеции, что в СССР 1930-х гг. «trade schools and daycare centers gave society’s unfortunate children a second chance in life… and helped tens of thousands of street urchins return to society during the interwar years”.  Зачем понадобилось ассистант-профессору Стокгольмской высшей школы экономики повторять аргументы русских историков-коммунистов, стремящихся не обличить большевизм за его преступления в отношении несовершеннолетних, но спрятать подальше от глаз общества страшные факты?

Но, наверное, высшей точкой той тенденции, которой верен д-р Самуэльсон на протяжении всей рецензии, стало оправдание действий Сталина и Молотова в 1939-41 гг. в международной политике. Заключение пакта с Гитлером, захват Восточной Польши, Балтийских государств, Бесарабии и попытка захвата Финляндии, равно как и торговля за Балканы в Берлине осенью 1940 г. Молотова с Гитлером – всё это в двух местах рецензии, в начале и в конце её,  именуется д-ром Самуэльсоном realpolitik и  объявляется нормой для той эпохи. А если норма, то ее и надо принимать без критики, как объективный факт. Это странное заявление оправдывает не только советскую экспансию. Тогда и действия нацистской Германии в отношении Рурской области в 1936, Австрии – в 1937, Чехословакии – в 1938, Польши – в 1939, Франции, Голландии, Бельгии, Норвегии и Дании – в 1940, Югославии и самого СССР – в 1941 г. также можно считать проявлениями характерной для той эпохи realpolitik. Но вряд ли такое утверждение понравится кому-либо кроме неонацистов. За что тогда осудили на смерть Геринга, Кейтеля и Рибентроппа в Нюренберге, если то, что они делали в конце 1930-х, было просто realpolitik?  А чем действия Сталина и Молотова отличаются от практики их нацистских друзей?

Сейчас, пожалуй, никто уже не станет писать о миролюбивой политике советского правительства в 1939-40 годах. Этот лозунг не вспоминают даже коммунисты. Но чтобы не признавать агрессивный характер большевицкого режима, современные российские коммунисты любят рассуждать в категориях геополитики и Realpolitik. «Как Илья, так и я» - звучит старая русская поговорка. Теперь в ней Илью меняют на Адольфа и Бенито. Но то, что понятно для коммунистов становится непонятным в рецензии историка, живущего в стране, уже двести лет не участвующей в войнах и не изводящей ни своих, ни чужих граждан в геополитических устремлениях и в безумствах Realpolitik. Да и просто будучи историком ХХ века, д-р Самуэльсон разве не знает, что идея мировой революции обуревала Ленина и вместе с Коминтерном была им завещана Сталину? А от Сталина и до Горбачева советские коммунисты всеми силами пытались расширить свою империю, начав пустынной Монголией и горной Тувой и закончив, вместе с концом режима, Афганистаном? Какой же нормальный человек будет сомневаться в агрессивности коммунистического режима? Достаточно прочесть дневники А.С.Черняева (3), чтобы понять, что до последних лет своей власти кремлевские старцы бредили идеей мировой пролетарской революции и распространением социализма (то есть власти СССР) на весь мир. Сам Черняев пишет об этом с раздражением и отвращением, но переубедить своих начальников в политбюро, он, понятно, не мог, да и не пытался. Только миф об извечном советском миролюбии – «СССР – не агрессор» - мешает увидеть эту реальность советской агрессивности.

V

Наконец, о законности режима. Рецензент иронизирует надо мной из-за того, что мы в книге последовательно именуем большевицкий режим незаконным. Но разве он законен с точки зрения современных правовых реальностей? Захватив власть силой, разогнав Учредительное собрание, развязав террор против всех, кто не соглашался их поддерживать, коммунисты-большевики так и продолжали править завоеванным им народом. Разве хоть единожды они провели честные соревновательные выборы, хоть на местном, хоть на национальном уровне? Разве с 1917 года и до конца своей власти они хотя бы на день отменили цензуру? Разве их органы «государственной безопасности» защищали народ от шпионов и диверсантов, а не партийную верхушку от всех недовольных властью ВКП(б)-КПСС? Беда в том, что многие русские люди свыклись с этим режимом, стали считать его своим и до сих пор не избавились от этого «стокгольмского синдрома». Кажется, ассистант-профессор Стокгольмской Высшей школы экономики, специалист по русской истории самого страшного времени должен был помочь им в освобождении от морока большевизма, но нет. Он считает свободу и достоинство человека «слишком эфемерной целью» (a vague goal), чтобы руководствоваться ею в Realpolitik. Он критикует нашу книгу с позиций, построенных советскими мифами, он считает СССР социалистическим государством, воплотившим учения социалистов XIX века, государством миролюбивым, законным, основанным непреклонным русским патриотом Владимиром Лениным. Государством, в котором коммунисты заботятся о детях и отдают последний кусок хлеба голодающим  крестьянам.

Потому-то из рецензии д-ра Самуэльсона нам и не удалось почерпнуть ничего полезного для нашей книги. Ведь именно для замены правдивой и человечной историей тех мифов, в плену которых остается уважаемый шведский коллега,  и была написана «История России. ХХ век».

Ответственный редактор «Истории России. ХХ век»

Доктор исторических наук, профессор МГИМО (У)

Андрей Зубов

[1] L.Samuelson. Plans for Stalin’s War Machine. Basingstoke: MacMillan, 2000. Его же, совместно с Владимиром Хаустовым – Сталин, НКВД и репрессии 1936-1938 гг. М.: РОССПЭН, 2008. Д-р Самуэльсон также собрал и издал в Швеции в 2007 г. антологию научных исследований по истории сельской России первых четырех десятилетий ХХ века.

2. Питирим Сорокин. Социология революции. - М.: Астрель, 2008, с. 410-411.

3. А.Черняев. Совместный исход. Дневник двух эпох. 1972-1991 годы. М.: РОССПЭН,  2010.

In English

Comment by Andrei Zubov to a review by Prof. Lennart Samuelson of A History of 20th Century Russia, (ed. Andrei B. Zubov)

I.

Anyone who is trying to stay even somewhat abreast of public life in Russia today is well aware of the arguments around national history which have grown particularly vehement in the last two years. Such arguments have gone far beyond purely scientific studies and have become highly politicized, as graphically shown by the establishment of an ad hoc committee under the President of the Russian Federation for the purpose of fighting against historical falsifications. Similar arguments are also underway in the other communities emerging from the ruins of the Soviet Union, and even more broadly, within the whole former communist bloc. The reason for the arguments is more than clear. An extraordinary interest in history is, in fact, an interest in one’s own destiny and the destiny of one’s family. In a way, it is also an interest in the future, as those aspects of our country’s fate that we assess positively we will try to perpetuate in the decades to come, while those that we condemn, we will endeavour to reject. Every nation is proud of some of its sons and daughters and erects monuments to them in city squares, names streets and ships after them, and teaches children to take after their glorious predecessors. Others are condemned by the nation, held up as examples to young people, who are told, “You must not act like them. They are a disgrace to the nation.” Every family will be proud of some of its offsprings, and secretly ashamed of others.

In the late 1980s, Russia and its adjoining countries, which had lived through decades of totalitarian dictatorship, took a sharp turn towards democracy, civil and political freedoms, and openness in culture, the economy, and public life. People in these countries were not of one mind about this transition. It is only natural that many people hated “drinking a new wine” so, as in the biblical parable, they said—and sometimes continue to insist—that  “the wine old is better”. The differences in people’s assessments are due to many factors, including personal experience, the background of parents and grandparents, education, age, and place of residence. Those who still prefer the old communist wine also want to live in a system of the old ideas and stereotypes underpinning communist life. Those who condemn the past also reject the past communist ideology, and consider it a fiction. But a theory is proven by how it is practised. To understand whether the communist ideology is false or true, one needs to thoroughly review its practical implementation, that is, to move from philosophical reasoning to historical evaluation. The reason the controversy about history is so heated in post-communist societies is that it is an argument about truth and falsehood, right and wrong, honour and dishonesty. It involves an endless number of people, living and dead, including those who collaborated in one way or another with the communist regime, and those who resisted it to the extent they were able. What were people to do: collaborate or resist? That is the main point of the ongoing public discussion that may heal or kill our souls, and in which a historian has an important, if not leading, role. That is why history in today’s Russia has moved from a purely academic science into the arena of politics. This is neither good nor bad; it is simply a fact.

But having entered, for the time being, the arena of politics, history is by no means freed from obligations to conduct research in ways that ensure accuracy, honesty, impartiality, and scientific objectivity. Without these, history would make no sense. Lies will not cure or teach anyone anything other than, perhaps, that “lies are short-lived”. However, impartiality does not mean indifference. In the domain of the humanities, the scholar must not treat the object of his or her research in a heartless way. A true historian must combine sober detachment with love—something that is always difficult to achieve.

In writing A History of 20th Century Russia, we endeavoured to be faithful to the above principles and to bear in mind the special meaning that national history has in today’s Russia. In the introduction to the work, we stated honestly that the object of our love is humanity, who has the highest value and serves as the true measure of any historical event. We also stated that the truth of historical fact is absolutely indispensable. Historical truth and human destiny: this is the rationale for our book.

Our book was published in July 2009, and a few months later—the weighty tomes totalling 1900 pages took time to read—commentaries started to come in, some with fulsome praise, others critical. We were prepared for such a diversity of opinion, because our book is a fact of public life, and there is currently a profound split in society regarding both the past and the future. However, there was one thing that we accepted with equal gratitude both from critics and fans, and that was suggestions concerning factual mistakes, inaccuracies, and misprints. We immediately started preparing a new revised and updated edition, which we hope will come off the press as early as 2011.

II.

The publication of Lennart Samuelson’s review of our book in The Baltic Worlds came as a surprise. We could not have supposed that a well-known Swedish historian, Associate Professor of the Stockholm Higher School of Economics, a specialist in a number of important aspects of Russian 20th century history (the military industry and the reprisals of the 1930s[1]) and member of the editorial board endorsing serious source-based papers and history dockets on Russia’s contemporary history (The History of Stalinism) would read our History of 20th Century Russia and even track it on the Internet. However, when my colleagues and I read through Dr. Samuelson’s review carefully, we had mixed feelings.

Distinguished for his scrupulous accuracy and attention to detail, Dr. Samuelson this time made a number of mistakes in the description of the structure itself of the work under review, mistakes which, it would seem to us, should have been impossible to make. For example, according to him, Part 1 of “The Last Tsardom” consists of three chapters; but in fact it has four chapters. Part 2 contains not only one short chapter (“The Provisional Government”) but two. The second, extensive chapter of the book, “A War for Russia”, is not a separate section, as claimed by Dr. Samuelson. Part 3 of the book contains not one, but two chapters, and, correspondingly, not 35 but 55 subchapters.

Regarding the chapter entitled “The Soviet-Nazi War of 1941–1945 and Russia” the reviewer for some reason criticizes us for recounting the war from the perspective of an ordinary man, with his sufferings, hardships, and victims, while the strategic importance of the major military operations such as the Stalingrad and Kursk battles of 1943 and the fighting in Belorussia are not fully covered. If Dr. Samuelson had looked through the aforesaid chapter, he could not have failed to notice that all of the military operations he mentioned have special sections devoted to each, describing in close detail the importance of these great battles against the general background of the war in all of its theatres, from the Pacific, to Africa, and the Atlantic. The reviewer expressed his surprise that in our book we ignore the history of ordinariness, descriptions of the everyday life of ordinary people. This criticism is more than strange, as we deliberately set out to focus more closely on the history of the ordinary than is normally the case with such generalizing treatments of history. To see it for him/herself, the reader need only look at the Table of Contents, and thereafter, should he/she take interest in this subject, read Sections 2 to 8 in Chapter 1, Part 1; Section 11 in Chapter 2; Section 24 in Chapter 2, Part 2; Sections 12 and 14 in Chapter 1, Part 3; Sections 24, 33, and 34 in Chapter 2, Part 3; and so on. Section 5.1.45 is even entitled exactly the same: “Soviet Life between the 1950s and 1980s”. There are also special sections in the book devoted to the life of Soviet Buddhists and Muslim groups. How could Dr. Samuelson not have noticed this? One gets the distinct impression that he was in a hurry and did not familiarize himself very thoroughly with the structure of the book he was reviewing.

This impression becomes even stronger when he moves from the structural analysis to the characterization of the team of authors. Our book was written by more than 40 authors, with their names and academic degrees listed in a long compendium opening Volume 1 of the work.  However, Dr. Samuelson describes only four of them as “professional historians” and experts. The fortunate few are Professor of Russian Philosophy, Alexei Kara-Murza, a leading specialist on the Civil War; Doctor of History, Sergey Volkov, Director of the Andrei Rublev Museum; Doctor of Art History, Gennady Popov; and Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Dmitry Kalikhman, who is referred to in Dr. Samuelson’s review not by name, but as a “specialist in nuclear weapons technology from Saratov”. “The other co-authors,” Samuelson categorically announces, “are neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content.”

The above statement is not just ambiguous or erroneous;  it is either deliberately misleading the reader or is proof of the complete professional incompetence of Dr. Samuelson who, being a specialist in Russian history, should know his colleagues’ names, and, in case of doubt, should know how to make inquiries on the Internet. He should have known that Yuri Pivovarov, an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is not only a leading specialist in Russian history and public attitudes but also the Chairman of the Expert Board of the Higher State Academic Awards Commission,[2] responsible for granting the title of Doctor of History. Dr. Samuelson may not be aware, but Professor Nikita Struve of Paris is an excellent specialist on Russian emigration; Vladislav Zubok is a professor at Temple University, Philadelphia, whose books on the history of the Cold War have been republished in many languages and reviewed extensively; Sergei Firsov is a professor at St. Petersburg University, who published several monographs on the history of the Russian Church during the pre-Revolutionary period, and has just published a two-volume scholarly work on the life of Emperor Nikolas II; Alexandr Pantsov is a professor of Russian History at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, who specializes in the same period as the reviewer himself, with a slightly different focus, the Komintern and Soviet-Chinese relations. No doubt, Samuelson is aware of the name of the British scholar Count Nikolai Tolstoy-Miloslavsky and his book The Yalta Victims, and he most certainly knows the names of researchers at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, such as the Deputy Director (Research) Vladimir Lavrov; Academic Secretary and Doctor of History, Vladimir Shestakov; and, possibly, also the two young and gifted historians, the Lobanov husband and wife, who defended their Candidate theses under the direction of V. Lavrov. It is hard to imagine that Samuelson is completely unaware of the world-renowned Russianist, professor at the University of Venice Vittorio Strada. Many more examples could be cited. Having used such unfair and offensive language with respect to the above-named individuals and other authors of A History of 20th Century Russia, Dr. Samuelson made an obviously false statement and grossly violated the rules of ethical conduct.

Moreover, in his review Dr. Samuelson, without any proof whatsoever, takes the liberty of accusing the authors of being completely incapable of conducting scholarly research: “Zubov's lack of elementary source-critical thinking is clearly evident.” Evidently, it is not Zubov that he means. If I were an inept editor-in-chief, I might have missed a particular author’s mistakes; but any mistakes in the source analysis would have been made by those who wrote the section, not by me. Is it not shameful that a comparatively young Russianist should accuse such a body of his colleagues of lacking the skills taught at the history department of any university? As far as I am personally concerned, Dr. Samuelson conferred on me the strange degree of “Professor of Religious History”. I do not know what “Religious History” means, exactly, as there is no such subject in the list of disciplines taught at MGIMO. Untrue again. I teach the History of Religious Ideas and the History of Philosophy at MGIMO. With certain reservations, the history of religious ideas could be termed the history of religions, but on no account could it be called religious history. Incidentally, it is clear that when Alexandr Solzhenitsyn contacted me in 2006, suggesting that I write a textbook on Russian history, it was not because I teach the History of Religious Ideas. He had read some chapters from my latest book (to be published shortly), “Pondering the Reasons for the Revolution in Russia”, which appeared in 2004–2006 in the magazine Novy Mir, and based his choice on those chapters. Dr. Samuelson might have wondered what other research in Russian studies the editor-in-chief of the book under review had published. Had he checked, he would have found scores of titles published in many languages. But Dr. Samuelson was either lazy or decided that it would serve him best to present A. Zubov neither as a “historian” nor as an “expert”, but rather, as a lecturer of some mysterious “Religious History”, not of a scientific discipline, but of something vaguely reminiscent of the Christian Science movement founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the last third of the 19th century—in other words, something that had nothing in common with an academic discipline.

Another strange  feature of  Dr. Samuelson’s review was his attitude to the other reviewers of our book. In his Reference 13, he quite rightly states that one of the first public comments regarding A History of 20th Century Russia came from Harvard’s Professor of History, Richard Pipes, and that the comment was quite positive. But, instead of limiting himself to such a statement, Dr. Samuelson goes on to write: “However, the present reviewer [Dr. Samuelson] seriously doubts that Professor Pipes on closer inspection of Zubov’s two volume History would approve of its presentation of the 1917 Revolution or endorse the explanations on the Stalinist ‘revolution from above’ in the 1930s.” It may be noted that, unlike Dr. Samuelson, Professor Pipes read both volumes thoroughly before making any public comments about our book. He sent me numerous remarks; tips about inaccuracies, including the most minute, essential suggestions; and points—all of them accepted with gratitude—and ended up writing a brilliant psychological profile of Vladimir Lenin in his biography for the new edition of our book, thus actually moving from reviewer to co-author. For Samuelson to suggest that a renowned historian was too hasty in approving a book which Samuelson himself, upon only a brief perusal, proceeded to batter is no less strange than calling forty well-known scholars “neither historians nor experts.”.

As for another reviewer, a MGIMO Vice-Rector, who, as the reviewer correctly stated (Reference 14), took exception to the book—finding it unsuitable for MGIMO students to read—Dr. Samuelson forgot to indicate that the said Vice-Rector is Alexei Podberyozkin, who was a member of the Russian Communist Party faction at the State Duma (1995–1999), and who, on behalf of the left radical Patriotic Front competed with Vladimir Putin for the presidency in 2000 (receiving 0.13 percent of the vote). His co-author in preparing a comment on our book is Alexandr Sergeev, who for a few days was Minister of the Press with the Yanayev government, during the abortive attempt to overthrow Gorbachev in August 1991. It is obvious why such people would hold a negative view of our History . What is not clear, however, is why Dr. Samuelson chose not to include such important details, nor to include the fact that Mr. Podberyozkin’s proposal that the book not be read prompted a great many indignant comments from students on the Internet.

All of the above points make it possible to consider Dr. Samuelson’s article to be both biased and tendentious. But what is the gist of the bias, and what is the tendency?

III.

To understand this, certain specific remarks by Dr. Samuelson should be analysed. They are not many in number. Dr. Samuelson states, consistent with the spirit of scholarly accuracy: “The size (1,800 pages) and the scope of the content make it impossible for one person to review Istorija Rossii XX veka in the customary way.” While failing to adhere to the above honest statement, [Dr. Samuelson] at one and the same time praises and then denigrates sections [of the book] which are beyond his professional competence. He would heap praise on the sections dealing with the history of emigration, of the Russian Orthodox Church, of church–government relations, or the history of the White movement, but writes that Russia’s history after 1953 was written “in a more conventional manner… as a standardized depiction of the Cold War era.” “The international conflicts and internal difficulties of the Russian regime, particularly the dissident movement, are described in vibrant and dynamic fashion.” The introductory chapter, “How Russia Came to the 20th Century”, briefly outlining the 1000-year-long period of Russian history from the formation of the Slavonic communion up to the tsardom of Alexander III, is assessed more moderately but with an understanding of the challenge faced: “Given such a compressed format, a plethora of simplifications is unavoidable.”

Dr. Samuelson completely excluded many sections and chapters from his analysis. This applies to the whole pre-Revolutionary portion of the book (except V. Lenin’s activities) and the status of culture, education, science, interethnic relations, and the life of non-Russian and non-Orthodox communities. Neither does he say a word about the chapters devoted to Perestroika, or to the modern history of Russia.

Samuelson focuses on the subjects that he knows well, such as the Revolution, Bolshevik repressions, famine, dekulakization, and the struggle for power among the members of the Bolshevik establishment in the 1930s. Comments by a professional are welcome. By now, thanks to such comments, we have corrected many inaccuracies and errors in the book. But Dr. Samuelson’s review did not bear the anticipated fruit. It proved impossible to add or correct anything in the book based on the results of his review, for Dr. Samuelson’s remarks are general and evaluative rather than specific. Most often he is simply stating a different position, based solely on the fact that “many historians think the same”.

The Swedish historian not infrequently accuses us of “falsification”. It should be noted that this is a term very seldom used by scholars of history, and Dr. Samuelson apparently borrowed it from the political lexicon of today’s Russia, with its Presidential Commission on the falsification of history. For some reason, this respectable Western European historian is fond of using wordings typical of his Russian colleagues. Could it be because he is linked to them in many research and publishing projects? As the saying goes: “Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl.”

The question is whether Andrei Zubov and his coauthors can explain why, in 1917, it was Russia in particular that became the first country in which the originally 19th century socialist ideas were tested?

Dr. Samuelson answers in the negative: no, they cannot, because the authors simplify everything drastically, reducing the Revolution to Kaiser Wilhelm’s scheming against Russia, and Lenin to the status of Germany’s paid spy. Samuelson’s statement is absurd. If he had read the book more closely, he would have seen that on numerous occasions, and for very different reasons—from economic to religiously confessional—we explain how one or another phenomenon of Russian life paved the way towards revolution. Both the Kaiser and Lenin were latecomers on the scene and were far from being the main begetters of our national tragedy. With complete disregard for the circumstances, they made use—Lenin ingeniously—of what had already developed long before their time. How could Samuelson have failed to notice all that while reading the book?

Only one thing surprised him: that, in the section entitled “Ideological War” (1.4.12), we discuss Lenin’s cooperation with Germany right before and during the World War. All the facts that we cited have precise references. Therefore, if they are doubted at all, it should be for good reason. But our arguments should not be distorted in a review for the sake of a witty remark. We write: “Gendarme General A.I. Spiridonovich reports that in June and July 1914 Lenin went to Berlin twice to elaborate a plan of subversive activities in the Russian army rear in cooperation with the German intelligence service. He was promised 70 million Deutschmarks for the job. The German Foreign Ministry had a program of activities written by Lenin that he proposed to implement after seizing power in Russia. Lenin transferred the program to the German Foreign Ministry through a German agent, Estonian Alexander Keskula, in September 1915.” The above phrases are transformed by the reviewer as follows: “Zubov's simplified reconstruction is presented in the section on World War I. Here we “learn” that Vladimir I. Lenin paid two secret visits to Berlin in June and July of 1914, and reached an agreement with highly placed military officials to undermine the Russian home front during the coming war. The leader of the Bolsheviks allegedly received 70 million German marks in return. The imminent events thus came under the control of Kaiser Wilhelm and the German General Staff.”

Here the chief distortions are as follows: we do not “teach”, but, rather, provide the evidence of witnesses and documents whose own reliability might be called into question, but it is not permissible to attribute to the authors what is included as a documentary reference. Second, General Spiridonovich writes that Berlin promised Lenin 70 million marks (an enormous sum of money!) but did not give it to him. Third—and this is crucial—we do not conclude that the Revolution was controlled by the Kaiser. There were a thousand reasons for the Revolution, so we discuss the key ones. It is not we who simplify the reconstruction, it is the reviewer who simplifies it, all the while ascribing his own simplifications and distortions to the book. Such an approach could hardly be called fair criticism. However, it is quite natural for those domestic historians who, remembering with nostalgia “the communist wine”, keep defending the myth about the great Russian patriot Vladimir Lenin launched during the years of Stalin's socialist patriotism. The position of contemporary Russian imitators of Bolshevism is clear, but what is unclear is why the Swedish historian should adhere to it.

“Zubov explains,” Dr. Samuelson continues, “that the spontaneous workers’ revolt in July 1917 was instigated by Lenin on the directives of the German General Staff in order to stem the Russian Army’s offensive.” The spontaneous revolt of workers against landlords and capitalists in July 1917 is a statement from The Brief Course of VCP(b) History. By now, there is plenty of evidence confirming the instigated nature of the uprising on the part of what were actually Kronstadt seamen, and not workers. In our book, we cite some of these arguments and witnesses’ testimony, but Samuelson does not cite a single proof to support the old Bolshevik myth; he simply declares the invalidity of the text reviewed on the basis of the fact that the authors’ view differs from what we were taught in Soviet schools.

In general, when reading the review, one has the persistent impression that there is a strange attempt to justify Lenin and his methods of seizing and holding on to power. Dr. Samuelson even reproaches us for exaggerating in the book the number of victims during Lenin’s period of the communist regime. His choice of terminology is characteristic. Samuelson claims that we disregarded the latest studies containing calculations of the number of victims of the terror employed by the Bolsheviks against those who fought against their power (the resisters); that is, the reviewer considers the Red Terror of 1918–1922 as a form of struggle against the active enemies of the regime. Again, this is what was written in Soviet textbooks, but now everyone knows that those were false statements. Most terrifying about the Red Terror was the taking as hostages and subsequently exterminating common people who were seen as “class enemies”, that is, ordinary men, women, and children, and those priests, teachers, doctors, merchants, former public servants, and high school and university students who constituted the leading segments of Russian society. In villages, hard-working and well-off farmers were very often taken hostage (and they perished). The Red Terror was a nightmare for Russian society at that time and we can feel its consequences in the present. The great sociologist Pitirim Sorokin—who miraculously escaped being shot—wrote later:

It is not the destruction of our economy, nor the loss of population (21 million), nor the disruption of spiritual life, and not even the general process of ‘people going wild and turning into beasts’ that constitute the principal damage caused to us by the war and the revolution—all of it is reparable and recoverable—but the attrition of our “gene pool” through killing off its best carriers… If between 1914 and 1920 Russia’s population decreased by 13.6 percent, then 20 percent of the healthiest and most able-bodied (those 16 to 50 years of age) were lost, as were 28 percent of the men... If the general death rate in Petrograd and Moscow tripled as compared with normal times, then for scholars it multiplied by five or six. If in this country the number of people with a university education was hardly more than 200–300 per million of population, then the number of those among them who died was not 200 x 21 = 4,200, but five or six times higher. And the number of unique and outstanding scholars, poets and thinkers that we lost was huge (Lappo-Danilevsky, Shakhmatov, Turaev, Kovalevsky, Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky, Blok, Andreev, Tugan-Baranovsky, Markov, Khvostov, Inostrantsev, Trubetskoy, and so on). In short, those years “bled us white” of our best people.

Is any irony relevant here? Samuelson’s attempt to tell the readers of The Baltic Worlds that it was mainly active fighters against Bolshevism who became victims of the Red Terror is not only a lie, rebutted a thousand times, but a more than ambiguous attitude to Russia’s people who suffered so much from Bolshevik lawlessness. As for the statistics, they cannot be complete as we stress in the book, but they testify to the horrific scope of the crimes committed by Lenin and his Bolsheviks against humanity. However, in our case the historical demographic calculations were made by a highly qualified professional, so if they are to be challenged, it should only be on the basis of points of fact. We cited the testimony of The Scotsman daily only because it shows that European society was aware of the real scope of the Bolshevik terror as early as the beginning of the 1920s. In all probability, Dr. Samuelson is reluctant to admit the scope of the horror, because, in his opinion, in those years Russia became the country in which “the original 19th century socialist ideas were tested”. Unlike the respected reviewer, I believe that in the 20th century socialist ideas were tested by labour sympathizers in the United Kingdom, by Franklin Roosevelt in the USA, and by social democrats in Sweden and Denmark. Socialism is a teaching whose objective is the good of the community. What Lenin tested in Russia was something quite different: how a small group of conspirators could seize and hold power “at any cost”. The price of Lenin’s experiment proved unimaginably high for Russia.

IV.

Nevertheless, with an insistence unusual for a European historian living in a humanistic and democratic society, Lennart Samuelson, throughout his review, insists on justifying the Bolshevik regime’s crimes or belittling their scope.

He does not believe that the famines of 1921–1922 and 1932–1933 were instigated by the Bolshevik powers, as stated in our book based on extensive proof. On the contrary, referring to the Holodomor [Hunger Plague] of 1932–1933, Dr. Samuelson contends that we are carrying on with the same line used by Ukrainian nationalist émigrés who raised the issue of deliberate extermination of Ukraine’s people by Stalin, and that, with respect to the famine of 1921–1922, we do not admit that “the Bolshevik regime did what it could to try and relieve the distress”. That is why he finds our description of the two Holodomors to be “incorrect”. But the facts cited in “History of Russia” leave no doubt regarding the artificial reasons for both tragedies. Incidentally, the title of Section 2.2.43, “The Planned Holodomor of 1921–1922: Its Forms and Objectives”, was fully approved by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn when he wrote a comment regarding the second part of the book: “Yes, yes, exactly ‘the planned Holodomor’,” he emphasized. Yet the Soviet myth that Soviet power was taking care of the working people, peasants and workers would not allow today’s imitators of Bolshevism to admit that the humanitarian tragedies were planned by communist authorities. Hence, endless arguments, studies of the drought level during those years, and the obliviousness to the simple facts that, by a decision of the Politbureau, all of the grain was confiscated from the peasants to be sold abroad, while millions of people were dying of hunger and degenerating to the level of cannibalism. In this area, too, our book aims to dethrone a Bolshevik myth, rather than calling into question scientific facts, however clearly those facts still need to be refined, and whose details can still be argued. But why, instead of discussing facts, Dr. Samuelson once again advocates the old Bolshevik myth that the Soviet authorities took care of the hungry peasants, is not clear.

We also fail to understand Dr. Samuelson’s indignation at our section 3.2.14, “The Problem of Homeless Children Solved”. He spares no strong language to characterize the above section, calling it a flagrant example of “pure historical falsification”. Meanwhile, this section discusses one of the most frightening manifestations of totalitarian communism: its attitude towards children. The street urchin problem was created by the Bolshevik policy of Red Terror and organized famine. The reviewer is absolutely wrong when he alleges that World War I was one of its causes. The death of many young men in the war did not result in the problem of homeless children, for the simple reason that the bereaved children still had their mothers and grandparents, and the village community and systems of social charity remained intact. It was only the slaughter and death of all the adults in many families during the Red Terror of 1918–1921 and during the Holodomor of 1921–1922—with their ensuing epidemics—that resulted in millions of children being bereft of any adult relatives at all. Incidentally, it is an indirect proof of the scope of Bolshevik misdeeds. The tragedy was repeated during the Holodomor of 1932–1933. It was not rapid industrialization and collectivization but the ghastly social policy of the Bolsheviks that caused a new surge of homeless children in the mid-1930s. As a matter of fact, rapid industrialization in the United States, or pre-Revolutionary Russia, was not accompanied by similar phenomena on a comparable scale.

By the time of the New Economic Policy the problem of homeless children was really resolved through the humanistic methods and the activities of such devoted educators as Anton Makarenko. But ten years later, everything was different; this is the period discussed in Section 3.2.14. The dreadful 1935 law giving full legal responsibility to 12-year-old children, including making them liable to the death penalty, is an explicit and irrefutable proof thereof. The witnesses who escaped to the West left horrifying descriptions of the conditions prevailing in children's penal colonies. It is pointless for Samuelson to be so sceptical of the memoirs of Walter Krivitsky. Krivitsky was a hero, who not only refused to serve Stalin’s regime, but, at the price of his own life, unmasked many of its crimes, crimes which he had not only witnessed himself, but in which had once been an accomplice. Some of the horrific details provided by Krivitsky were confirmed by other independent sources (e.g., regarding the destiny of the Spanish Republic’s gold and the existence of underground torture chambers in the Soviet Embassy in Paris). When Dr. Samuelson tries to minimize the terrifying effect of Stalin’s law of 1935 by saying that “very few minors were sentenced to death”, citing as proof Stalin’s words to Romain Rolland that the law had been adopted not for application but as a scare tactic, he once again becomes a captive—surely the gentlest possible definition—of Soviet propaganda. It goes without saying that a considerable number of homeless children did grow up to become functioning adults. The book never states that all homeless children became victims of the repression. But it is quite another matter to consider what they were taught in Soviet orphanages, and what kind of life was offered to them. We focused on this subject and on its most repugnant aspects—unknown to ordinary Russians—in order to dispel the myth about the “kind-hearted” Bolsheviks who adored children, both their own and those of other people. This legend is a lie. Bolshevism was no less cruel towards children than it was towards adults. It kept generating and then eliminating the problem of homeless children and forever crippled their souls in orphanages and residential colonies with their compulsory atheism and training in class hatred. It even went as far as working minors to a state of exhaustion, in exile and in camps, and every so often killing them “in the name of law”. So if we are to apply Dr. Samuelson’s favourite term, then the “monstrous falsification” is not our chapter in the book, but the statement by the scholar from successful Sweden that in the 1930s, Soviet “trade schools and daycare centres gave society’s unfortunate children a second chance in life… and helped tens of thousands of street urchins return to society during the interwar years”. Why should an Associate Professor from the Stockholm Higher School of Economics repeat the arguments of Russian communist historians whose purpose, far from condemning Bolshevism for its crimes against underage children, has been to conceal objectionable facts from the community?

But, possibly, the climax of the trend that Dr. Samuelson is loyal to throughout the review is his justification of the actions of Stalin and Molotov in international politics in 1939–1941. The signing of a treaty with Hitler, the taking of eastern Poland, the Baltic States, and Bessarabia, and the attempt to seize Finland, as well as the haggling over the Balkans between Molotov and Hitler in Berlin in the autumn of 1940—all of it is referred to by Dr. Samuelson twice in the review, at the beginning and at the end, as realpolitik and is characterized as the norm of the time. And if it is the norm, it should be accepted without criticism, as an objective fact. This strange statement does not justify Soviet expansionism alone. The actions of Nazi Germany in respect of the Ruhr region in 1936; Austria in 1937; Czechoslovakia in 1938; Poland in 1939; France, Holland, Belgium, Norway, and Denmark in 1940; and Yugoslavia and the USSR itself in 1941, may also be considered manifestations of realpolitik typical of the time. However, virtually no one but a neo-Nazi would endorse such a statement. Why were Goering, Keitel, and Ribbentrop sentenced to death in Nuremberg if what they were doing at the end of the 1930s was mere realpolitik? Then what is the difference between the actions of Stalin and Molotov and the practices of their Nazi friends?

Today, most probably, no one would dare write about the peace-loving policies of the Soviet government in 1939–1940. Even Communists would not trot out this cliché. But to avoid recognizing the aggressive nature of the Bolshevik regime, today’s Russian Communists are fond of discoursing in terms of geopolitics and realpolitik. As the old Russian proverb puts it: “If Ilya does it, I will do it too.” Now they insert Adolf and Benito instead of Ilya. But what is easy to understand when stated by Communists ceases to be understandable in a review by a historian living in a country which has not seen war for 200 years, and which has not harassed either its own or other subjects through geopolitical aspirations and frenzied realpolitik. Is it not evident to Dr. Samuelson, as a historian of the 20th century, that Lenin was possessed by the idea of a global revolution and bequeathed it to Stalin along with the Komintern? And that, from Stalin till Gorbachev, Soviet communists fought tooth and nail to expand their empire, beginning with the Mongolian desert and mountainous Tuva, and ending with Afghanistan, coinciding with the end of the regime? Who in his right mind would doubt the aggressiveness of the Communist regime? It is enough to read the diaries of A.S. Chernyaev[3] to understand that, up until the last years in power, the Kremlin old guard continued to be infatuated with the idea of a global proletarian revolution and the spread of socialism—that is, the power of the USSR—to the whole world. Chernyaev himself writes about it with irritation and disgust but, clearly, he could not convince his bosses in the Politburo, nor did he try. It is only the myth about the age-old Soviet peacefulness—“the USSR is no aggressor”—that prevents one from perceiving this reality of Soviet aggression.

V.

Finally, about the regime’s legitimacy. The reviewer mocks me because in our book we keep calling the Bolshevik regime illegitimate. But is it legitimate from the perspective of modern legal realities? After forcing their way to power, dispersing the Constituent Assembly, unleashing terror against all those who refused to support them, the Bolshevik Communists kept ruling the people they conquered. Did they even once hold an honest competitive election, be it local or national? Did they even for a day abolish censorship from 1917 until the end of their power? Were their “state security” agencies really protecting people from spies and saboteurs, and not the party elite from all those who were discontented with the power of the VCP(b) and the CPSS?[4] The trouble is that many Russian people became accustomed to the regime, began regarding it as their own, and have not yet got over this “Stockholm syndrome”. Rather, the Associate Professor of the Stockholm Higher School of Economics, a specialist himself in the most dreadful period in Russian history, should have helped them break free of Morok,[5] of Bolshevism; but nothing of the kind has happened: he rather considers human freedom and dignity an “overly vague goal”, to be guided by realpolitik. He criticizes our book from the positions formed by Soviet myths; he considers the USSR a Socialist state that implemented the teachings of 19th century socialists, a peace-loving and legitimate state, founded by that zealous Russian patriot, Vladimir Lenin; a state in which communists take care of children and give the last piece of bread to starving peasants.

This is why we did not succeed in finding anything useful for our book in Dr. Samuelson’s review. It was with precisely the aim of replacing with a true and human history the very myths in which our distinguished Swedish colleague remains imprisoned that we wrote A History of 20th Century Russia.

/Andrei Zubov (Ph.D.) Professor, (MGIMO), Editor-in-Chief, A History of 20th Century Russia.


[1] L. Samuelson. Plans for Stalin’s War Machine. Basingstoke: MacMillan, 2000. Also by L. Samuelson and Vladimir Khaustov, Сталин, НКВД и репрессии 1936–1938 гг. [Stalin and the Repressions of 1936–1938] Мoscow: Rosspen, 2008. Dr. Samuelson also edited and published an anthology of research on the history of rural Russia in the first three decades of the 20th century: Bönder och bolsjeviker. Den ryska landsbygdens historia 1902–1939 [Farmers and the Bolsheviks: The History of Rural Russia, 1902–1939], Sweden, 2007.

[2] Trans. Высшей государственной аттестационной комиссии.

[3] A. Chernyaev, Совместный исход: Дневник двух эпох [Collective Exodus: a Diary of Two Periods] 1972–1991, Moscow Rosspen, 2010.

[4] VCP(b) refers to the All-States Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the CPSS to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

[5] Trans. note: “Morok” is the name given in Slavic lore to a sorcerer of deception, darkness, and black magic.

Samuleson comments on Zubov's comment:

Further reflections on the historiography in a reactionary epoch

Introductory remarks concerning the 2009 – 2010 launch of a new history textbook

In Spring 2010, I was invited to write an article for Baltic Worlds on the two-volume “A History of Russia in the 20th century” (Istoriia Rossii XX vek). Already in Autumn 2009, representatives of Swedish mass media and the Swedish History Teachers’ Association’s Yearbook had approached me for commentaries on this book, which was then advertised as the first serious history book to come from Putin’s Russia. During a month-long stay in December 2009 in the Southern Urals I had the opportunity to read through these two volumes. Even skipping a few parts of the book, e.g. those that take the story up to the turn of the 19th century (historical eras of which I am not familiar), it was evident that many of the chapters and sections that treated the Soviet period in Russia’s history were not up to par. It was obvious that the media hypes of a “first true history of Russia’s 20th century” were not in all respects reflecting the character of the books.

I was very much in agreement with the authors’ collective ambitious attempt to broaden the framework of the presentation, for example, to see ‘Russia’ not only as the geographical entity but as a broader ethnic, political and cultural entity, and thus to treat the interaction between the Soviet regime and the Russian diasporas from the 1920s onward. As noted in my article, it should be emphasized that the book contains little that has not already been treated in recent Russian historiography. However, there were every now and then in so many chapters, very puzzling narratives, easily recognized stereotypes from generally neglected historiography of the Cold War epoch and a puzzling reliance on doubtful sources.

In winter 2009-2010, I therefore refrained from reviewing the book in the traditional, academic sense, or even from commenting on this book, as it would have been an incomprehensible long list of remarks to the authors’ collective, and of limited interest to Swedish historians. My general impression was confirmed in discussions with my colleagues in France, Italy and Russia who had studied “A History of Russia’s 20th Century”. It seemed obvious that the book might have been hastened to appear before it was scrutinized in a regular, editorial way, and that even if many apparent tendentious selections of data, misleading terminology used on occasions and outright mistakes had thus been eliminated, the two volumes stand out – in comparison with other manuals and syntheses of Russia’s modern history, by other Russian scholars in particular that I mentioned in my review essay – as indeed more of a political project with moralizing ambitions for the present-day readers, rather than as a real effort to bring forward a new way to grasp the many hard questions of why things happened as they did.

It is striking, that although many of the Russian participants in the authors group around professor Andrei Borisovich Zubov have been members of both the Communist Youth organization and even the Communist party of the Soviet Union, their experiences as former Communists who have become democrats in the more recent decades, has not brought forward that inside understanding of why the Socialists in Tsarist Russia in general, and the Bolsheviks in particular, at the turn of the 19th century, during World War One and in 1917 acted as they did.

Since the late 1980s, most of the formerly censored literature and the archives for that period have been open for studies and research. We in the West who took an interest in the Bolshevik party history could always read, not only “bourgeois distortions” of the Great October Revolution, so often summarily despised in a certain current of Soviet historiography, but also the works of Communist leaders like Nikolai Bukharin and Leo Trotsky that since the 1930s were out of reach for all but a privileged small elite in the Soviet Communist party. We were also free to read, digest and discuss much of the so-called “anti-Soviet slanderous“ works by Soviet dissidents and by Russian, Ukrainian or Jewish personalities in the diasporas outside the USSR.

From my narrow observation point, as a minor scholar in this domain, the new start for Russia’s historiography since the 1990s has been a most encouraging experience. Without going into details, suffice it to say that from my privileged position as a Swedish Ph.D. student in the early 1970s, I could only lament in silence on how even then the best Soviet economic historians were forced to keep up with the dogmatic stereotypes of the party-line hagiography on their country’s recent history. At international meetings, it was therefore my choice not to confront representatives of the USSR on the ideological level, but always to keep matter-of-fact discussions on topics that would not lead to predictable, and thus meaningless political confrontations. Alas, “A History of Russia’s 20th Century” seems to haul the readers back into an ideological confrontation instead of encouraging towards a deeper explanation of the Soviet epoch 1917-1991!

After the great changes in the new Russia, scholars in the historical community who had a solid training and a sincere striving to explain, rather than merely to expose, have substantially contributed to a renaissance of historiography. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of others who seem merely to have changed their way of presentation 180 degrees, still using the simplified discourse that was current in the Soviet days. We have encountered many publicists who identified their Soviet Union with “advanced socialism” in the 1970s, and who still think of that society as “communism”, with the slight difference that in the old days they held that illusion of living in a progressive system and now their conviction being that they had been duped by a group of demons all since 1917.

Others like me, even in those days when, as mentioned, I was a Ph.D. student in Moscow, had no illusions on the non-socialist and non-communist nature of the Soviet society, and no reverence for the official Party-line-dictated literature on Soviet Russia’s history. Suffice it to say, that I found the Lenin Mausoleum in the centre of the Red Square to be a symbol of the early deformation from anything that was related to the original strivings of the European socialism, and as a monument symbolized the canonization of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) that was a great hinder to understand his time and his work. Consequently, and this might surprise the commentator of my article in Baltic Worlds, Professor Zubov, I declined all suggestions in the 1970s and 1980s even to visit the Lenin mausoleum! Only in the last year of the Soviet Union did I accompany tourists to this place. On the other hand, it was natural for me to study the writings of Lenin in the original language, at least all that concerned the period 1917-1922. However, against this background, one might ask why I referred to the question of Lenin’s mausoleum in the review essay in Baltic Worlds? This is of course totally an internal affair for Russians, whether or not the Lenin relic or remains should be removed, or reburied for example next to his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya in the alley along the Kremlin Wall or anywhere else. However, it is striking that in the Russian debates that I have followed since the mid-1990s concerning the Lenin mausoleum, only a few participants have stated with due reverance to the seriousness of the complex question how they consider the other graves and urns in the State Necropol to be handled: Is it these politicians’ and others’ opinion that the graves of Russia’s first president Yakov Sverdlov, the Cheka’s founder Feliks Dzerzhinskii, Iosif Stalin and other should not have their place of final rest in this honoured place in Moscow’s centre? Otherwise, what has changed from the political-ideological point of view, if the Lenin mausoleum would be removed, but most of the other communist leaders still remain there? As said in my review essay, I consider these proposals made time after time on the Lenin mausoleum to be both superficial and politically meaningless, and that if I were a Russian, I would try to form a more comprehensive, more respectful solution than those so far advanced. The reader is referred to Professor Zubov’s explanation on this matter in a recent TV program ( http://video.mail.ru/mail/mama-an/1831/4681.html )

These personal remarks on my background are mentioned here as the comments by professor Zubov on my review essay include strange allegations that I would be duped by Soviet historiography or even being more or less unaware of the actual situation for ordinary citizens, peasants as well as intellectuals, in the mid-20th century. He attributes to me, (as remarkably enough a Swedish commentator has also echoed him concerning my review essay!), not only a naïve unawareness of the actual historical processes but an alleged sympathy for a certain political party. This happens to be far from my attitude when dealing with the past of Russia and in particular with the history of the USSR!

Professor Andrei Zubov’s comments of my essay

In 2009–10, the book “A History of Russia’s 20th century” by the Zubov team had been widely praised in Russian mass media, commented on in the newspapers as well as in TV, and most of these were laudatory and full of praise for the work. Professor Zubov consequently in his comments on the internet site of Baltic Worlds mentions that the team of over forty historians had graciously received comments on how to improve the book. There is no reason to doubt that the authors’ team indeed had reason to appreciate such comments for a planned, second (enlarged and revised) edition of the book. On the other hand, it might also be mentioned here, that after a critical review appeared in the Russian journal Ekspert, in which the reviewer referred to inter alia Zubov’s political belongings and to how the second volume was dealing with the complicated history of General Vlasov’s army and its fights in the latter part of the war on the Eastern Front, professor Zubov not only sharply commented on this reviewer’s alleged and actual mistakes, but also sued the journal for its defamatory and libelous article, and eventually won the case in court. (Compare http://expert.ru/expert/2010/16/istoriya_falsifikatora  and Zubov’s complaint / http://russia-xx.livejournal.com/92427.html , and the court’s decision http://www.npolyakov.ru/zubov-vs-ekspert/ )

Only a few weeks after my review essay was published, the editor of Baltic Worlds received a letter from a barrister in Moscow by the name of Gleb Glinka. The original letter from Mr. Glinka to Baltic Worlds has regrettably been lost, but his second letter was published on the commentator’s place in the internet version of the journal. I have now decided to write my remarks to Mr Glinka separately (see below!).

Then, professor Zubov himself decided to rejoinder to my article, and his reply was instantly published in its Russian version and as soon as conditions permitted, so was its translation into English. As many readers of my article directly noted, Zubov did not in essence answer to any single of my concrete criticisms on a few items. Besides correctly indicating that in the published version of my article, pagination in the book had been incorrectly referred to, he very much lamented that I had missed to mention that indeed many more in the authors’ group had a doctor’s degree in history, that some were members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, however as political scientists. Of course, much more would had been written on each and every one of these historians had the editor cared to indicate, who wrote what chapter or section. My commenting on the striking lack of akribeia in many chapters of the history textbook – as testimony of a non-professional approach – could evidently have been translated so as to exclude any misunderstanding of who the historians and other scholars were.

On the other hand, since I had already clearly stated my main points of view in writing, with references to the recent Russian historiography, and many other historians mentioned in the article and the footnotes, it seemed superfluous last year to engage in a dialogue, or even to refute some of the more puzzling statements in professor Zubov’s protracted commentary. However, let me merely clear up some of the more blatant misinterpretations by him and to set matters correctly on a few important questions concerning the historical drama that the book in question is treating.

Was the Soviet Union an illegitimate state ?

Professor Zubov’s misunderstandings concern, first, what I wrote on his comments in the book to the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in light of the “illegitimate” character of the Soviet regime, and second, relate to his consternation concerning my use of the term “falsification”.

Of course, everyone is free to consider the Bolshevik regime as illegitimate from whatever time period he or she choses! Depending on the criteria chosen, the writer might take the closing of the Constituent Assembly in 1918, the storming of the Kronstadt fortress in 1921, or other events earlier or later, as a reference point, to whatever general interpretation is strived for. There was up to the Cold War era a plethora of literature in the West that precisely characterized the Soviet system as an illegitimate, as a “bandit state” that would better be understood by comparing it with the Sicilian Maffia.

In my essay, I just noted that it seemed superfluous to add this term, or etiquette, to a chapter on the probable reasoning of the Stalinist leadership in 1938-39 as the international situation had changed drastically to the worse for the USSR. The foreign policy of the Soviet Union would not be better explained, from the days of NKID people’s commissars Chicherin and Litvinov up to foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, if the editor would alert the reader on each and every Soviet initiative or reaction in the foreign policy arena of the” illegitimate” Soviet regime.

Second, the term falsification in my review has obviously puzzled professor Zubov since this word was used in particular contexts in Soviet propaganda, and in the popular press in today’s Russia. We were all trained even as young students to grasp Soviet historians who seemingly pulverized “bourgeois falsifications” of events in Russia, on anything from the early 1900s up to the 1980s. On the past battlefields in the ideological confrontation of the 20th century, the term “falsification” could be said to be a synonym for tendentious, skewed or superficial interpretations, and, of course, the ongoing debates between more serious scholars concerning Soviet history refrained from use of this term. However, as the alert reader of my article in Baltic Review could see, I used the term in particular were the word forgery (podlog, in Russian) might have been more appropriate. The most blatant example is the use in “A History of Russia’s 20th century” of a French Military Intelligence document, that in the 1990s was found in the Special Archive’s trophy collections (today RGVA on Vyborgskaia street in Moscow). This type-written, six pages long text in French has been shown beyond reasonable doubt to have been written, i.e. forged, in France in 1939, and it bears no relation whatsoever to a speech by Stalin that it is stated to be a “translation” of.

What was the extent of the Red Terror? “Istochnik ne ukazan…”

As is all too obvious for anyone familiar with Russia’s history, its 20th century was one of the more tragic and dramatic in its history and the lives of millions of people were shattered during the violent transformations. There is no doubt that precise records might not be kept by state or other authorities during times of revolution and civil war, and that the rulers on both sides of the conflicts may have vested interests not to disclose their actual knowledge of terror and repressive actions undertaken in the areas controlled by them. This background puts an extra responsibility on today’s researchers to achieve an as objective and truthful as possible estimate of the human sufferings. It is therefore striking that the History professor in Zubov’s team who wrote on the Bolshevik terror during the Civil War 1918-21 referred to a newspaper published in Edinburgh in 1923. And professor Zubov’s defence of this historian’s reference merely confirmed by first impression that neither of them had even consulted the source for their table (on pp. I: 552-3).

In his reply, professor Zubov states that this would only be included to show that there was an awareness in the West of the Red terror. This is not a serious argument since it is more than well known that the Western press, in particular British conservative newspapers, was literally filled with stories on the horrors in Soviet Russia all since 1917! That Historian (as yet unknown to us readers), who wrote the chapter on the Red Terror, attributes these estimate to the “British intelligence”, allegedly more informed on what happened in Soviet Russia in 1918 and afterwards than are today’s scholars in post-Soviet Russia! And the Historian refers to:

“The Scotsman, 7 November 1923”, for which I just in passing criticized the book.

I surmise that professor Zubov and his team have a different approach on moralistic or other grounds for how references can be made in history textbooks; however, in my view in this case it would be preferable to write in the habitual scholarly way:

Charles Sarolea, “Terrorism - The Red Harvest of Marxism”, The Scotsman, 7 November 1923, also published in Impressions from Soviet Russia , London 1923.

But evidently neither the main editor of the Istoriia Rossii XX vek, i.e. professor Zubov, nor the history professor who happened to write this chapter on the Civil War period care very much for source analysis, not even when their book attempts to summarize such an important period as the Civil War and the Red Terror! To give the readers a full picture of this remarkable lack of source criticism in many other parts of their work, I permit a slight digression on this and a related matter. Just as an example that could be multiplied for other questions in the book.

It is most likely that the Historian in question has just seen these figures in a populistic publication, since he writes: “The source is not indicated(“Istochnik ne ukazan”); possibly, these data come from the British Intelligence Services, since the Russian might approach the British authorities with complaints against the Bolsheviks” (I: p. 552). This is mere fantasy and indicates that the History Professor has not used the source, but merely grapped the figures from another, sloppily compiled book.

For this lack of akribeia on figures, and too many similar faults concering the scope of terror and repression, famines and economic development, in the Zubov Team’s ambitious book, I had every reason to inform readers of in my review essay for Baltic Worlds. As a matter of fact, it is my firm conviction that only the most scrupulous test of each and every source in a historical narrative can give modern readers, be it in Russia or elsewhere, that solid foundation, without which no rational grasping of the past is possible, and without which any ethical lessons that are drawn can be said to be based on imagined, not real events in the past.

Charles Sarolea was since 1918 full professor in the French language and literature at Edinburg University. During 1917 and later, he had written several articles on the ongoing Russian revolution for British, and in particular Scottish newspapers, and was also an engaged citizen in the public debates in 1919 concerning the war indemnities to be paid by Germany. After several applications to the Soviet Russian authorities in 1922-23, Sarolea was allowed to travel not only to Latvia, as he had done on earlier occasions, but also to Moscow and Petrograd. He then published a very interesting series of articles in The Scotsman. His first articles described what he had seen in these two cities, and how he had come to understand the politics of the Communist party and the shift to the New Economic Policy. His sixth article was titled “The Kingdom of Anti-Christ” (3 November 1923), in which Sarolea summarizes how Soviet communism “to the average Russian […] is primarily a demoniac and Satanic conspiracy”. He describes visits to churches in Petrograd with a young Jewish guide who defamates the few relics left, and notices the slight change in Bolshevik policy against the Orthodox Church with its support for the “Living Church”. Finally, Sarolea discusses whether or not the Russo-Orthodox church will be able to withstand and triumph over the Bolshevik or whether some kind of Reformation be needed.

On the 7th of November, Sarolea published his article on the Bolshevik terror, under the title “Terrorism - The Red Harvest of Marxism“. In this article, the “istochnik“ makes a historical analysis of how the founders, Marx and Engels had considered the use of violence as a means towards the achievement of a socialist state power. Sarolea wrote:

"This power of life and death which in 1848 was only an idle boast on the part of Marx, was made by Lenin into a hideous reality. By virtue of this power he sent one million seven hundred thousand Russian victims to their doom, in addition to the twenty millions who died from starvation. Karl Marx, the grandson of the Rabbi of Treves (my italics LS), did not himself enter the Promised Land. But his commands and his creed have become the law of the new Russia. Bolshevist terrorism is the red harvest of scientific Marxism.

[...]

De Quincey and Oscar Wilde have written two of the most ingenious essays on ‘Murder as one of the Fine Arts.’ With the Bolshevist dictators collective slaughter is something more than a fine art: it has become an exact science. Professor Bergson described Prussian militarism as scientific barbarism. Even more aptly we might describe Marxism as scientific terrorism.

COLLECTIVE MURDER AS CALCULATED BUSINESS

When we contemplate the appalling deeds perpetrated by the Bolshevists, when we consider how they turned the Russian continent into a vast lunatic asylum, we may have some justification for looking upon them as homicidal maniacs. […]

STATISTICS OF MASSACRES

That system, those tactics, and that business-like character of Soviet terrorism are reflected in the very statistics of Bolshevist massacres. In those statistics of a novel kind we find that the dictators killed 23 bishops, 1219 priests, 6000 professors and teachers, 9000 doctors, 54,000 officers, 260,000 soldiers, 70,000 policemen, 12,950 landowners, 355,250 intellectuals and professional men, 193,290 workers, 815,000 peasants.”

Such are the data that Professor Zubov, in his eager striving to refute my essay, claims were included in the book merely to show that there was an awareness in the West of how widespread knowledge of the Bolshevik terror had been. As the reader can see, this was precisely the opposite of what Zubov states, in other words a fairly typical blend of the bourgeois press horror stories and of various publications on the scale of the “Che-Ka in action”. Still less did these figures emanate from the British Intelligence but from a respected scholar at Edinburgh university, who, however, had no expertise whatsoever in Russian history and current affairs. Given that several of the Russian scholars whom I referred to in my essay have since 1992 given much better analyses of both the Red and the White terror, it is not obvious why the Zubov team continue to spread data from the most hysterical circles among the British elites of the 1920s!

In the final section of his article (The Scotsman, 7 November 1923), Sarolea wrote:

”As was said by Lenin himself, ‘What does it matter if 90 per cent. of the Russian people perish, provided the surviving 10 per cent. be converted to the Communist Faith.’ And it is because from the very beginning the Bolshevists were the devotees of an inhuman creed and the slaves of a machine that we are fully justified in our conclusion that their crimes are the logical outcome of their principles…”

This quotation is added to show professor Zubov and others, what kind of “istochnik” (source) this Professor Sarolea actually was. While few would argue against the thesis that Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders wholeheartedly endorsed violence and terror from 1918 onwards, I consider it my duty as a student of Soviet interwar history to add some remarks concerning Sarolea’s reference to Lenin in this section. The allegation that Lenin should have said that the Bolsheviks were prepared to kill ninety per cent of Russia’s population (90%), provided that the remaining ten percent (10%) be converted to the Communist faith is quite false. There exist no such statement in even similar form in any of Lenin’s many speeches and articles from these years. Still, even in the early 2000’s, this alleged Lenin statement lives on and thrives in the political debates even in Sweden.

The true story is that this statement comes from a distortion of what Petrograd’s Communist leader Grigorii Zinovev-Apfelbaum might have stated in a speech in September 1918. I emphasis this might, because in the recent literature on the Russian Revolution, these statements have been transformed into a direct quotation of what Zinoviev said on that occasion. As a matter of fact, the source for this statement that the reader can find in George Leggett’s classic work Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police (1981), as well as in Richard Pipes’ history of Russia under the Bolshevik rule, and in many textbooks in the West, is an article in the Petrograd newspaper Severnaia Kommuna from September 1918, the month when the Red Terror was launched. However, this is not the speech by Zinoviev-Apfelbaum that lasted for more that an hour. It is only a short article with a briefing of that speech. The journalist wrote that Zinoviev had stated that the Soviet republic was still weak, need to develop a ”Red militarism” and that ”of Russia’s one hundred million inhabitants, ninety million people are with us, the remaining ten millions are against us. There can be not deliberations with them, they have to be annihilated.” The exact formulations of Zinoviev-Apfelbaum are thus definitely unknown, although it is possible that his words fell like that. However, my own scrutiny of the newspaper text indicates that this must have been stated in a figurative sence, not that Zinoviev-Apfelbaum was arguing for a mass murder of up to 10,000,000 persons. It is a fact that Zinoviev one year before was the most hesitant of the Bolsheviks concerning a coup-like takeover of power. So, first, the reader is hereby alerted to the distortion of a speech by Zinoviev in September 1918 that has crept into the academic literature in the United States and elsewhere. Second, the reader is alerted to that infamous statement alleged made by Lenin on killing off up to 90,000,000 Russians just to achieve his goals that is found widespread in the Western press in the 1920s.

Third, as authors of a textbook on Russia’s turbulent, tragic and controversial history during these years, one has a responsibility also for those who can be expected to use it in their more popular, rather than academic pursuits. So has been the case already with the pages I: 552-553 in the Zubov team’s book. In his recent book,” Russia, Washed in blood. The most terrible Russian tragedy” (Rossiia, umytaia kroviu, Moscow 2011, pp. 584-585), Andrei Burovskii verbatim quotes your book professor Zubov, albeit without any reference to the Zubov team’s text on ”the source not being indicated but that the informed Russians might have given the British Intelligence these data [etcetera].” It is not a far-fetched guess that there will come more quotations of that table, and of likewise other doubtful data found in “A History of Russia’s 20th century”, in similar publicistic works.

To get a clearer picture of just how professor Sarolea was ”interesting”, I just mention the headings of the following articles in The Scotsman:

"How the Bolshevists are engineering the World Revolution"

"Preaching the Holy War against Britain"

"The Red Trail of Bolshevism in Europe"

"Russian Bolshevism and the British Labour Party"

"The Bolshevist Empire and its Slave States"

"Bolshevism and the Jews"

"How Long?"

"The Future of Russia"

With such thrilling themes behind the chapter headlines, professor Charles Sarolea’s Impressions from Soviet Russia (1924) would be an interesting starting-point for an analysis of Western opinion-makers in the first decade of the Soviet Union, to be compared to other items in the British press. But in no way would it be recommendabe to use Sarolea’s reports as a reliable source on Russia, except for possibly his own observations on the streets of Moscow and Petrograd.

Did Lenin and the Bolsheviks intentionally plan  the famine in 1921-22?

Whether Lenin was a “German spy” and “an agent of influence” may be the personal opinion that anybody has the right to hold, so I won’t comment more on how the authors in these chapters reinterpreted the rather well-known interconnections between the Kaiser’s Germans and the Bolsheviks from 1914 to 1918. Suffice it to mention that professor Zubov obviously failed to notice that my reference in this matter was to the biographer Stefan Possony, Lenin. The compulsive revolutionary (1964), and that even Possony, who was closely linked to the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), would not use such reports by the Tsarist Okhrana concerning Lenin’s going to Berlin in June and July 1914, and his there being promised millions of Deutsche Marks to undermine the coming Russian war effort. Possony opted, as did other scholars more recently, for more reliable data, although he too tried to delve on the legend on the “German Gold” as an essential factor for the Bolsheviks’ takeover of power in 1917. (pp. I: 746-752)

My remarks in the article to the Historian who wrote on the famine 1921-22 in huge areas of Soviet Russia remains as stated: Was this famine an act of genocide, that is a planned action by Lenin and intentionally carried out by the Bolsheviks in order to starve the peasantry? Or was it a famine with initially weather conditions in the summer of 1921 as primary causes, that were enormously aggravated by the policy of requistions of grain during 1917-1920? It is by now fairly well-known how the term Holodomor come into use in Ukrainian diaspora circles in the 1980s, and how it is derived from the verb morit’ = to kill (not from umirat= to die) and holod = hunger (in Russian the term is golodomor). Since the late 1990s, even more scholars outside the Ukraine have come to consider Holodomor as befitting the precise concept genocide as defined by the United Nations Convention of 1948, albeit this interpretation being refused by most Russian experts on agrarian history. (Russian-speaking readers are referred to the anthology Sovremennaia rossiisko-ukrainskaia istoriografiia goloda 1932-1933 gg. v SSSR, Moscow: Rosspen 2011, in which both Ukrainian and Russian specialists like Stanislav Kulchitsky and Viktor Kondrashin and others state their arguments and explain their interpretations of the events leading up to the famine.) Still, none of those conditions and actions that might be taken for calling Holodomor in the Ukraine a genocide, were present in Soviet Russia in 1921. The introduction of the concept “Golodomor I“ in the Zubov team’s book thus only further attenuates the precise concept of genocide (in the international law), but it also adds a mystification to the actual economic policy of the Bolsheviks throughout these two years 1921-22.

How was the problem of the homeless and orphan children in Soviet Russia “liquidated”? – Among the literary sources that embellish “A History of Russia’s 20th century” are such books by ex-Soviets that would rather be treated by scholars with due scepticism. Up to the mid-1970s several Western scholars could widely base their narratives on the well-known memoirs of Soviet defectors such as Alexander Orlov, Walter Krivitsky and Viktor Kravchenko, to mention only of few of that category. Likewise, students in the West had a handful of memoirs from survivors from the Gulag camp system that testified to the horrible conditions for political and other prisoners in the USSR. However, even in those Cold War days, it was evident that in many respects these literary sources were deficient for an historical investigation of the kind that could be made of open societies. Criticisms that were made then of books that relied on such sources were not seldom refuted as being pro-Soviet or worse. Since 1992, the situation has changed in a qualitative way: the opening of archives and the possibility to do oral history in Russia and the former Soviet republics have given scholars a chance to evaluate these defector’s and Gulag survivors’ literary sources.

We know today that these memoirs mentioned of Orlov, Krivitsky and Kravchenko were in actual fact ghost-written in companionship with well-known American ex-Communists, but we are still in the sphere of uncertainty as to how much Eugene Lyons, Isaac don Levine and other “editors” added to the manuscripts of the former Soviet persons’ manuscripts. Therefore, I objected to the reference to Krivitsky’s well-known I was Stalin’s Agent (1939) concerning the problem of youth criminals and homeless orphans. We can indeed have serious doubts on the validity of Walter Krivitsky’s articles and his book from the late 1930s concerning conditions in the USSR and in particular on political decisions in Moscow. To use the memoirs of defectors was the plight of many Western observers during the Soviet era; however, many attempts to write the history of Stalin’s regime in general, and his terror-system in particular, with such writings by former diplomats and intelligence officers from the USSR, have turned out to be failures.

Professor Zubov derides me however, not for my criticism of the book mentioned, but for my alleged characterization of the ex-military intelligence officer Walter Krivitsky (born Samuel Ginsburg). When he feared that he would become the next victim of the Great Terror, Krivitsky defected and received political asylum in the United States, where he not only published several articles in leading newspapers on the Moscow show trials and Soviet foreign policy, but also informed the U.S. intelligence service on his own widespread net of Soviet agents in Western Europe. Krivitsky thereafter travelled to London to brief the MI5 on the Soviet intelligence activities in Britain and other Western states. For reasons that are still a riddle to his biographer, Krivitsky was found murdered or having committed suicide in a hotel room in Washington in 1941. However, none of his many noble or pitiable actions against the Stalin leadership in those years can imply relief from the troubles to compare his discourse on Kremlin’s policies as perceived from afar by Krivitsky with the documentary knowledge availabe today.

Did Stalin speak French in 1939 to his Politburo comrades?

The second volume of ”A History of Russia’s 20th century” starts with a long excerpt (II: p. 9) from an alleged speech made by Stalin to the Politburo on Saturday 19 August 1939. Even the inclusion of that speech shows that the History Professors do not agree with those scholars who consider this speech to be a forgery. Let me repeat the background briefly to once and for all clear me from professor Zubov’s accusations of my using the term falsification in an improper way.

Already in Winter 1939, the French press spread an alleged speech by Stalin from the date mentioned, and the text was then referred to even by French ministers. Some scholars in Western Europe were confounded about the character of the ”Stalin’s 19 August 1939 speech”, but the matter can be said to have come to rest with Eberhard Jäckel’s close analysis of the matter in a German scholarly journal in the late 1950s. However, in the early 1990s, the alleged speech was again introduced in a Russian context after another version of the ”Stalin speech” had been found in the so-called Trophy Archive (or Special Archives, today in the RGVA) in Moscow. The document in question is a type-written text in French that could be studied in the archive on Vyborgskaia ulitsa (as your humble servant actually did some ten years ago!). Even a cursory reading of the French will cast doubt on this text as even being a transcript of what Stalin might have said on any occasion, still less at such a rare occasion as a Politburo meeting with representatives of the Communist International present. In my review essay, I agreed with those who consider this to be a document fabricated in France by personalities very far from the Communist movement, i.e. a falsification in one sense of this term.

It is still puzzling to me that not only a well-known British scholar in a program for the BBC on the 70th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact could refer to ”what Stalin said” in the days prior to the conclusion of the non-aggression pact. But even more confusing was to listen to a Russian radio program from that same year, in which professor Zubov and his co-author Aleksandr Pantsov declared: ”At the meeting of the Politburo on 19 August, the question was discussed whether to conclude a pact with Germany or conclude a pact with France and Great Britian that would be directed against Germany. Comrade Stalin then said… (На заседании Политбюро 19 августа 1939 года, когда обсуждался вопрос, заключать ли пакт с Германией либо заключать пакт с Францией и Великобританией, направленный против Германии. Товарищ Сталин тогда сказал… http://www.radiorus.ru/audio.html?id=933300&doc_type=rnews&doc_id=397862 ). From a historian’s point of view, and contrary to what the well-known British historian and professor Pantsov claims, we do not yet know ”what Stalin said”, and indeed if there ever was a Politburo meeting on that day.

Final reflection

I am indeed both surprised and grateful to professor Andrei Zubov and his teammates for having devoted so much verbosity on my humble attempt in an article for Baltic Worlds in 2010 to set their grandiose, two-volume history into an historiographical context. In the present comments, I have tried to be as accurate as possible on a few questions, on which Zubov devoted so many words and tried to reject my critique. I have intentionally refrained from stating a list of many other doubtful or incorrect statements in the history textbook, on which either a correction should be done on factual matters (e.g. the passage on Sweden’s alleged secret help to Hitler in the German invasion of Norway in 1940 or Sweden’s shameful repatriation after World War Two of Baltic refugees that was allegedly done in order to be allowed to import coal from Soviet-controlled Poland (II: p. 179)), or on other chapters in which a number of clarifications would be appropriate.

The interested reader, as well as any specialist on any other aspect of the history of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, may for himself or herself take my remarks and reflections as just another approach to different interpretations and generalizations.

Lennart Samuelson

Associate Professor

SITE, Stockholm

Samuelson comment on Glinka's comment:

A Review in Five Acts: Lennart Samuelson on Istoriya Rossii XX vek

Comments by the reviewer Lennart Samuelson, 2011 between quotations marks.

It is not an easy task to comment on this review in Baltic Worlds because its author has some difficulty expressing himself in English and is not always able to state his meaning clearly. If this review is in fact a translation, there is nowhere any mention of this fact. Take the title, for example, “Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era.” Does he have in mind historians of the Soviet period (the “reactionary era”) generally? Or Soviet historians, those who were engaged in reactionary historiography during this period? And what does “reactionary” mean in this context? The one example the author provides in his review is a reference to reactionary Nazi legends about “Judeo-Bolshevism,” which hardly squares with the title.

“The title was chosen exactly to characterize our own era, the time which we have been living in since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Almost everyone who wrote on the past events in the USSR have reacted against one or several aspects of that Soviet state, society and in particular its dominat Communist ideology. When you as a historian look over the vast and flourishing popular history that has lightened up bookshops all over Russia – the general line is a reaction against the dominant, tendentious Soviet myth-making.

Suffice it to mention the reaction of former Communists such as Aleksandr Yakovlev and Vladimir Volkogonov, who used their new-found ideological and ethical sources in the late 1980s and 1990s to try to give another presentation of the Soviet period in general, (and the Cold War in particular for Academician Yakovlev; and the Bolshevik leaders Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin for the former head of the Soviet Army’s Political Directorate Volkogonov).

Contrary to all these history-writing personalities who react against some version or other of the Russian 20th century, there also existed and flourished a sober scientific history-writing which did not set as it prime task to reconvince their readers, but to give them a better comprehension of ”the whys” of the turbulent, tragic and heroic past century.”

Take another example at random—the reviewer writes that most of the “coauthors are, however, neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content.” This, alas, is not idiomatic English. The form and content of what (of their degrees? reputation? contributions?) or whose form and whose content (the historians’ or experts’? the book as a whole?)? What is more, this statement is not factually accurate, overlooking, at a minimum, Sergei Firsov, Boris Ilizarov, Vladimir Lavrov, Aleksandr Pantsov, Iurii Pivovarov (Academy of Sciences), Vladimir Shestakov, and Natalya Zhukovskaya, all of whom are full-fledged doktora istoricheskix nauk, to say nothing of the impressive roster of well-known experts in other fields among the authors.

“Please note, that I wrote that judging by how the historical material is presented and the many dubious sources referred to (and not commented on by Professor Zubov), many of the authors are not familiar with recent research in their fields. On others parts of the book, the presentation is, as I stated in my review, fairly commonplace and mainstream.”
It is a bit ironic for such an awkward “(sic! LS)” writer to find apparent fault with the volumes under review as written in “popular-science style.”

“Mr Glinka, as the Istoriia Rossii XX vek has been advertised in Autumn 2009 in Russia and in an American newspaper as the first textbook of its kind and thus as a light on the dark Russian sky, it was surprising for me to see that hardly any of the many chapters and sub-chapters contain any of the usual parts in a textbook for university students (historiographical notes, comprehensive literature advice that must be up-to-date and state-of-the-art, source criticism). As I underlined, when a scholar writes for his peers he can assume a lot to be already known. On the other hand, when you address the broad student auditorium your obligation is to steer them through a huge mass of knowledge, hint as to where they can look for the many controversies that have divided the historical scholarly community as well as the public. Instead, the literature referred to at the end (of most sub-chapters, but not all!) does indeed give the impression of a hasty namesdropping of mostly outdated literature of little relevance for the present (2010s).”

I.

Associate Professor Samuelson’s review is organized in five haphazard sections: The first section presents an overview of historiography during the late Soviet period and more recently, throwing out, as our reviewer would say, a “plethora” of names. He includes the sensationalist Simon Montefiore and the strident and tendentious Anne Applebaum, bemoaning (bold here and elsewhere =my emphasis LS) that they have not made “the same impression in Russia as in Western Europe and the U.S.”

“Here, dear Mister Glinka, I must correct your mis-interpretation, or that of your client!! The ironic point is on the contrary directed at all Western reviewers, and these two authors themselves, who claim that the first ”real histories” of Joseph Stalin respective the Gulag camps were allegedly written by these two Westeners. In conjunction with these preposterous claims by Anglo-Saxon historians, I try to emphasize that more solid works on Stalin, for example, was already written by Oleg Khlevniuk and others, and that the Gulag camp system was indeed much more profoundly analyzed in numerous Russian books and articles.

What I have ”bemoaned” for more than fifteen years is, on the contrary, that however many books on the Gulag were written in Moscow, Perm, Nizhnii Tagil, Petrozavodsk and elsewhere, our Swedish and Western journalists and ”Russia experts” will still refer to any PR statement by Ms. Applebaum that her book was ”not wished to be published” in Moscow, as the Gulag was allegedly a ”taboo subject”. “

Among Russian writers of history whose views “are more or less scientifically established,” presumably unlike Professor Zubov and his co-authors, Samuelson identifies the pop-author Edvard Radzinsky and refers to recent biographies of prominent historical figures like “the Mad Monk, Rasputin” (capitalization in original). Aside from such praise for works presenting “the country’s history ... in customary scientific fashion,” there is no reference in this first section to the volumes being reviewed.

“Again, dear Mister Glinka, I can understand your emotions over my criticism on several sections on Istoriia Rossii XX vek, but not your references to my essay. If you and your client had undertaken a sober reading you would have understood, quite on the contrary!, that I lament the fact that Swedish publishing companies have not looked out for solid Russian contributions on that country’s history in the last twenty years. Not even the publishing companies in Sweden with academic credentials have any clue to which old or new Russian historians’ works would be suitable to translate for a Scandinavian market. I refer to the fact that the situation is better, albeit only slightly, in countries like France, Germany and Italy, where dozens of scholarly works by Russian historians have appeared in translation all since the early 1990s. Alas, in my country, only best-selling ”history novels” like Edvard Radzinsky’s biographies and thrillers like Arkadii Waksberg’s NKVD-KGB stories are likely to find profit-minded publishers.”

II.

In the second section, Samuelson for some reason delves into the history of the original project in which Solzhenitsyn was involved for the purpose of producing a history textbook consistent with his views. He then points out that such a textbook must take into account that in the final year of school “only” 50 class hours are devoted to modern Russian history. It is difficult to say what the point here is—that the project was doomed from the start? That it got out of hand, expanding to 1,850 pages, and departing from Solzhenitsyn’s conception of the textbook? Why is this important for our understanding and evaluation of Istoriya Rossii XX vek?

This is followed by a curious intermezzo in which Associate Professor Samuelson takes issue with views he attributes to Professor Zubov with the “support of the vice-director of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian History, Vladimir Lavrov” based on a letter the latter purportedly wrote “to the Russian government” suggesting that the Lenin mausoleum and the necropolis in Red Square should be removed as an unsuitable legacy of a totalitarian regime that for decades oppressed its own people.

“I refer interested readers to a statement by Professor Zubov concerning Lenin as responsible for the murder of the Tsar Family and the removal of the Lenin Mausoleum from the Red Square in Moscow: ( http://video.mail.ru/mail/mama-an/1831/4681.html )”

Characteristically, our “scientific” historian-reviewer does not, despite attaching 24 footnotes to his review, see any need to cite any source for this letter (though he does cite a news report on Radio Free Europe about an upcoming trial probing the last Tsar’s murder in which Professor Lavrov is nowhere mentioned), nor any need to quote the text he is taking issue with. Rather comically, Samuelson suggests in his rebuttal that neither Zubov nor Lavrov have taken into consideration the “sensitive issues concerning descendents’ burial rights to the remains” of those buried behind the mausoleum under the Kremlin wall. What is the relation of all this to Istoriya Rossii XX vek? According to the reviewer, it sheds light on “a strong anticommunist reaction to the former[ly] predominant ideology” presented in these volumes.

“The question of the Lenin mausoleum in the Red Square is not at all ”comical”. It is in my view an internal affair for the Russian people. I thus merely state my few reflections as an outsider. Although I had ample opportunities all since 1970, when I first arrived in Moscow as an exchange student, I never visited the Lenin sarcophage until the very last years of the Soviet empire. When my Soviet student friends, Communist Youth activists as well as other Soviet citizens used to ask me why I had not visited the Lenin Mausoleum, I usually tried to explain that I found the embalment in 1924 of Lenin preposterous and that already then, in the mid-1920s, it was a testimony to the regression of the socialist visions and a sign of the beginning deification of Lenin. Later, as Ph.D. student on visits to Moscow and Leningrad, I had ample opportunities to see the petrifying influence of the Leninist cult on Russian economic historians who did research on the NEP period.

However, after walking through the whole necropolis a couple of times after 1991, I have the same contempt for those public figures who today loudly advocate the removal of the Mausoleum, and some ordinary burial of Lenin. To make a long story short on a serious matter: Why has not anyone of the Russian discussants suggested that Lenin be re-buried alongside with his wife Nadezhda Krupskaia (now a few meters behind the Mausoleum)? And why these claims that Lenin allegedly wanted to be buried in Petrograd where his mother’s grave is? Further, if you hypothetically imagine the Lenin Mausoleum removed from the Red Square, you are – as a responsible Russian citizen – faced with the question whether or not to keep all the other graves and urns from state burials of leading Communists, marshals, scholars, and cosmonauts. In due time, one may surmise that a more dispassionate solution to these many questions will be found.

In the meantime, I will just notice how superficial and squarely ideological any claim is that merely focuses on the Mausoleum and the Lenin reburial question.”

and

Finally, the reviewer concludes this second section by furnishing a prolonged synopsis of the contents of the two volumes, identifying the sections, chapters, and sub-chapters, the subjects covered, the pages where they appear, and the number of sub-chapters. For the common reader, this could have been one of the more objective and informative parts of this review. Yet, unaccountably, even this bare outline in the review is erroneous, as a simple comparison with the published table of contents will confirm (e.g., the first section has four not three chapters found on pp. 62-392, not 62-369; the third section has 55, not 35 sub-chapters).

III.

In the third section, Samuelson actually begins to discuss the history book he is reviewing, though—remarkably for an author who is conspicuously concerned about “the scientific fashion” (meaning, presumably, academic rigor)—still with few citations to the text and no quotations from it in support of the views attributed to its authors. Here he accuses these authors and Professor Zubov in the first instance of factual errors, misrepresentation of “numerical” material, and use of ““downright” falsified documents”. I am not competent to pass judgment on these charges, which will need to await the reply of the authors, but the reviewer’s criticism of the volumes’

“overflowing with biographies, excerpts from memoirs, diaries, and other private testimonies” because “strange as it may seem, Zubov ignores in its entirety the social history research conducted with an emphasis on everyday life ... consolidated after 1992" is itself odd.”

The practice of quoting from first-hand, eyewitness accounts will probably strike most educated readers as more valuable and (pardon me) more engrossing than their subsequent consolidation in social history research.

“This shows that Mr. Glinka takes any eye-witness, diary, letter as ”source”, while historians try to generalize and have established sociological and other criteria for evaluating such artefacts and witnesses’ reports. As for ”downright” falsified documents; see on the forgeries (fabrikatsiia in Russian) referred to by the Historians in Zubov’s team, in my reflections on his commentary.”

It is in this third section, too, that the reviewer perhaps discloses what sticks in his craw the most. He writes, as usual without citing to or quoting from the text, that:

According to Zubov and his colleagues, a political regime must be judged on the basis of how it makes it possible for individuals to grow spiritually and materially, and whether it enhances the worth of the individual or, conversely, leads to [his] degeneration.

These reveal, according to Samuelson paraphrasing Zubov and his colleagues, whether the society is oriented toward the positive or the negative. Samuelson concludes that this seems “an overly vague goal for anyone wishing to write a “History of 20th Century Russia.” Yet it is precisely the introduction of this ethical dimension that is one of the major contributions of this new History of Russia in the Twentieth Century. At this juncture it is not merely the establishment of the historical facts but the evaluation of these facts of recent history that ultimately concerns the Russian reader coming to terms with his past. It is in this regard, admittedly overflowing the customary bounds of academic historical scholarship, that this new history book enters the debate and proposes its own antidotal reading of Russian history in the preceding suffering century.

“This is maybe new to post-Soviet Russian textbooks, but an age-old controversy dividing the scholarly historians’ communities in all countries. Whether or not the book ”A History of Russia’s 20th Century” will indeed fulfil that aim of the Editor in his country’s coming to terms with its past is of course left to be judged in the future. In the meantime, I restate my modest, but sincere doubt of the non-operationability of the criterions mentioned in Professor Zubov’s introduction, as well as the criteria for choices of moral standards (whose ethics shall be referred to during a transformation that does not augment ”spiritually and materially” the conditions for every one individual, or not even every group in society?). As soon as the bold statements are disaggregated from Zubov’s laudable and ambitious introduction, the historian is related back to the age-old attempts and evalutions already made by previous generations on the development paths in Russia actually followed – from the late 1800s onwards – in contrast to their proclaimed strivings and goals, on the one hand, and to the hypothetical outcomes, had conditions and events unfoulded differently from what they did, on the other hand.”

IV.

Section IV of the review, besides specifying the allegations of “historical falsifications” that I am not qualified to address, moves more openly to discredit Professor Zubov. Yet here too there are certain obviously confused statements. For example, Samuelson conflates the argument of the Istoriya that, climactic (sic! LS) conditions aside, the famine of 1932-33 was a deliberate effort of the soviet regime to bring the peasantry as a class to heel and the argument of Ukrainian nationalists that this famine constituted genocide against Ukrainian peasants specifically.

“Let it be quite clear, that if the book had been edited in a normal way so that the name of each author to a certain chapter (or part thereof) had been indicated in the contents, I would of course have referred to that scholar. As mentioned in passing, the strange omission of who was the author made it possible to comment on ”Professor Zubov”, although I am fully aware of the fact that he – as is stated in my review – only wrote a certain number of chapters, but added comments on many others. If it had been indicated, which parts were written by Yurii Pivovarov, Vittorio Strada, Aleksandr Pantsov, Nikolai Tolstoy, Nikita Struve, etcetera, I would, of course, had referred to them.”

In response to the view that the new regime welcomed the famine of 1921-22 as making the despised peasants more docile, the reviewer springs to the defense, suggesting that, “the Bolshevik regime did what it could to try and relieve the distress, and accepted foreign aid for those afflicted.” As a matter of fact, the Bolsheviks accepted this aid grudgingly (refusing it, for example, from the Russian Orthodox Church, which they tried to characterize as indifferent to the misery of the starving population in order, according to Lenin, to provide a pretext to liquidate as much of the clergy as possible) and hampered foreign and native non-governmental humanitarian efforts. There is also a serious question about how much of this aid did not actually reach the intended victims. While the soviet government was accepting contributions from relief agencies, it was continuing to sell grain abroad to attract hard currency.

“Dear Mr. Glinka, again I must disgress a bit since you do not even understand my most clearly intended allusions. Suffice it to say that the (nowadays generally used) term Holodomor in Ukrainian, Golodomor in Russian can be derived from morit’ golodom, i.e. intentionally to kill persons by causing a famine. It is not the case that any famine in history that can be so characterized, and to this day, it is a question of scholarly debate whether or not there was an intention in 1932-33 in Moscow (in the Kremlin, by Stalin and Kaganovich, etcetera) to implement a mass destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry. Against this background, it is even more questionable whether the concept ”golodomor” can also be applied to the mass famine in Soviet Russia in 1921-22; Istoriia Rossii XX vek introduces the term ”Golodomor I”. Not that we doubt that there was a famine then, and that it was due to draught that was aggravated, inter alia, by the Bolshevik requisition policies in 1918-1921. I leave it to Russian specialists on the NEP period to decide whether or not there was an genocidal intention from Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1921, i.e. to kill peasants by starvation, thus whether or not the concept ”Golodomor I” is appropriate for explaining that famine in the early 1920s.”

Samuelson takes issue with a number of other “claims,” for example, that “the Great Terror was focused primarily on the various groups of believers in the Soviet Union,” which he attributes to Zubov without, however, providing any citation to where this claim occurs in the Istoriya.

“Dear Mr. Glinka, your phrase makes me think once again that you had not yet read Istoriia Rossii XX vek, but that you make your comments on matters that puzzles you! Please look up in the book’s contents, if you had not done so when you sent this letter to Baltic Worlds.

Please compare also how the 1937 Great Terror has been analyzed in other Russian works by a plethora of scholars since the late 1980s, and how the so-called mass operations against the ”former Kulaks”, ”anti-soviet elements” and many ethnical groups were decided in the second half of 1937. In the documents made available from the 1937 census and in the reports from the secret police (the GUGB NKVD in that year), there are of course, numerous reflections on the character of religious attitudes among the population. However, these in themselves had not before been ascribed a prime role in the launching of the mass terror 1937-38, which claimed the lives of at least 700,000 persons and as many as that sentenced to long terms in the Gulag.”

Moreover, in an apparent effort to discredit the chief editor as beyond the pale of acceptable academic discourse, he characterizes the account of the children at Fatima in 1917 who reported that they had received revelations concerning the catastrophe shortly to befall Russia, which the Roman Catholic Church after 50 years acknowledged as a miracle, as among “the more peculiar elements in Zubov’s work.” Samuelson then asks sardonically whether this suggests “that higher powers somehow ‘intervened’ in the events in Russia?” Here again the reviewer misreads the text, which does no more than relate this famous phenomenon supposedly foretelling—not “intervening” in—subsequent events.

“This matter is indeed among the more confusing to a Protestant-Lutheran reader in the 21st century, as the chief editor here does not make his usual comments. However, if this Catholic myth is part of some new eucumenism or merely something that slipped in can be left to the authors to answer. The myth of God’s Mother Maria foretelling children in Portugal all through the summer of 1917, that if the Russian people do not start to pray, there will come great disaster to the country, is to my mind something that must not be left without analysis and comments in a history text book, however inspiring the story in itself may have been to the author! “

Along these lines, in describing the butchery of the Tsar, his family, and his immediate entourage, the review addresses the assertion, as usual without quoting or citing the authors, that Germany consented to this decision. Samuelson then writes: “This curious twist of other, usually anti-Semitic, myths surrounding the execution of the Tsar’s family will certainly give rise to doubts on Zubov’s general worldviews (sic).” This curious twist of language hardly qualifies as comprehensible English, but does seem to accuse Professor Zubov of upholding anti-Semitic myths in his world view.

“Quite the contrary! To anyone familiar with the numerous, popular historical works that have seen the day since 1991 on the brutal regicide, suffice it to mention Oleg Sokolov’s infamous works, there is usually a mentioning of the Jewish commissars among the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg, as well as the role of Yakov Sverdlov (Epstein), and some remarks on the meaning of the executioners having allegedly left an inscription on the wall in the Ipatiev basement that is said to be a quote from the German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine.

In Istoriia Rossii XX vek, I do not find this enumeration of ”Jewish Bolsheviks”, but on the other hand, just as confusing another twist of the story how ”others” than Russians, are implicated in its description of the secondary ”culprits” behind the regicide, namely European monarchies that throughout March 1917-June 1918 supposedly had not done what they were obliged to by sending the Bolsheviks demands to let the former Tsar and his family leave the country and receive asylum in any of their countries.”

To drive this point home, Samuelson takes up Zubov’s alleged contention that “the purpose of the law [enacted in 1935 to extend the death penalty to children beginning at age 12] was to give the secret police free rein to execute street urchins” (my italics). Remarkably, he cites to the text (p. 928), where only the factually accurate statement that, “the OGPU [secret police] was granted the option to destroy the street urchins physically” is to be found. There is no mention of the “purpose” of this law, which misrepresentation is gratuitously added by the reviewer. In refuting the statement, the reviewer insists that it was “extracted from the most reactionary legends that have circulated about Stalinist terror ever since the Nazis escalated their ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’ propaganda in the 1930s.”

“Dear Mr. Glinka, I take for granted that you as a lawyer never had reason to read any of the Nazi-era writings on the Soviet Union. At least judging by your comment, you are not at all familiar with the many publications from, e.g., Niebelungen Verlag in Berlin in the 1930s that was close to the Propaganda ministry led by Dr. Goebbels. Of course, this literature has today only historiographical value (to understand the mindset of German Nazists, their impact on the German public) and not as depictions of the real situation in Stalin’s USSR.

If you had read books like the anthology Und Du siehst die Sowjets Richtig: Berichte von deutschen und ausländischen “Spezialisten” aus der Sowjet-Union (1935), Karl Albrecht’s Der verratene Sozialismus (1938 and later), and Wolfgang Mund’s Die GPU: Angriff auf das Abendland (1942), or if you had studied the exhibition materials from the widely distributed exposition Das Sowjet-Paradies (Berlin 1937, Wien 1938 and so on), then you would have known, that precisely the above-mentioned change in the criminal law was referred to in the Nazi propaganda as yet another example of the Soviet despotism. You would also be struck by how close those German descriptions actually came to the harsh realities in the shanty towns outside new industries, and of daily life in the countryside. You would be surprised to find that the German readers were very well informed on the dire conditions for Soviet workers in the reports German engineers who had come to the USSR in the early 1930s, and returned with their eye-witness accounts to baffle their countrymen.

However, when their, in essence, truthful stories were used by Nazi propaganda, many of the current dramatic changes and conditions in the USSR could be described as consequences of the Jewish dominance of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. This mythmaking of a ”Jewish-Bolshevik” state aspiring for world dominance is mostly known from references; alas, few historians have bothered to disentangle the racist worldviews of Nazism from the descriptions of Soviet realities by German writers.

The main problem with the whole sub-chapter in Istoriia Rossii XX vek is, however, its sloppy heading ”Likvidirovannaia” besprizornost: (The ”liquidated” [problem of] the homeless and orphanaged children) and its reference to the memoirs of the Soviet military intelligence officer Walter Krivitskii (I was Stalin’s agent, 1939). It would have been befitting for a history book written in 2007-2008 to refer to the solid scholarly work done by outstanding new Russian historians on this sad chapter in the 1930s drama.”

When I was a student in graduate school, there was an unwritten rule that the first person who accuses his opponent of being a Nazi automatically loses the argument.

“Dear Mr. Barrister, if you wrestle with words, let me finally do the same!! That chapter on the homeless children and orphans is only one of dozens that by a rude mix of emotionally-laden descriptions and superficial ”analyses” tries to ”endict the communist regime”. For all those readers that have not read the Zubov’s team’s work – let me summarize: First, you get the description of the situation in the mid-1920s with hundreds of thousands of orphans in Soviet Russia. This is a well-known effect of the First World War, the Civil War, the Red terror and the famine of 1921-22, as well as of the dire conditions in the 1920s for the broad masses in the Soviet cities. However, already at that time, there were serious studies made and quite a few initiatives made – not only by the political police OGPU – to lead the most destitute parts of the youngster away from criminality, prostitution, and idleness. One must also be careful to refer to exact years (early, mid or late 1920s), and sceptically to analyze the reports from the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment, of Industry or of Internal Affairs.

Not only in Krivitsky’s memoar, but also in the afore-mentioned Nazi propaganda is the lowering of the age of responsibility for crimes to young teenagers referred to as a means by the murderous ”Jewish-Bolshevik leaders” to solve the problem of the homeless and orphan children. In his reply to my review essay, Professor Zubov implicitly admits that it was unfortunately sloppy writing that can give the impression that the Historian in question had found the death penalty for 12-year old children as a major solution to the dire problem with the street children. In my answer to Professor Zubov, I again refer the Historian in question not to use the dubitable long quote from Krivitsky but to use instead the most updated research on the Soviet childhood in the interwar period.

Your proposition that I had implied that the Zubov team is tainted by Nazism is totally of the mark. What I have underlined is quite the contrary, that such a tendentious collective work as Istoriia Rossii XX vek, in the striving to describe all disasters and tragedies of the country’s the interwar period, end up with subjective, debatable and occaionally unfounded narratives that have some traits in common with the shrewd propaganda coming from the above-mentioned German propaganda of the 1930s.”

V.
After the high drama of the preceding section, this last act seems anticlimactic. It is noteworthy for two intertwined propositions that seem to gravel the reviewer: The legitimacy of the Soviet regime—that, distinguishing Russia and this regime, held its own people in thrall—is doubtful.

“On this final point, I am puzzled by how Barrister Glinka had read the book that I reviewed, and therefore not paid attention to what I actually wrote concerning ”the legitimacy” of the Soviet regime. So let me make it clear to him and his client on this point too.

In one of his many ”kommentarii”, Professor Zubov adds a full page to the chapter on the reasons why the Stalin regime in August 1939 opted for a non-aggression agreement with Germany. That chapter actually gives the student a lot to think about, as to the turmoil in Europe after the 1938 Munich agreement and the changing geopolitical and strategic situation of Soviet Russia, threatened as it was from the East by Japan and from the West by (at least) Nazi Germany (and possibly Italy and Hungary). After presenting a lot of data on the unpreparedness of the Soviet industry for a total war as a further reason for Stalin to conclude the pact, the author of this chapter is ”taken to task” by Professor Zubov, who magistrically lectures that ”since the Soviet regime had always been an illegitimate one” it is of no value to formulate arguments that can describe the doings and goings of its leadership in rationalizing, read alleiviating terms.

If one would follow Professor Zubov along this trail, one could add a comment on the ”bandit regime” on all aspects of Soviet foreign policy, starting with the irrelevance of Chicherin’s and Litvinov’s strivings in the 1920s and 1930s, and ending with the likewise ”illegitimate doings” by Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko from the 1960s onwards. Little is won by over and over ascribing an etiquette like that – once you have decided that Lenin’s government was ”illegimate”, be it from November 1917 or Winter 1918.”

In light of what we now know, in 2010, it is frankly puzzling that this overarching conclusion about the catastrophic, bloody, tragic, heroic, deformed twentieth century in the U.S.S.R. should be so offensive to a professional economic historian.

Gleb Glinka
Moscow, Russia

“Lennart Samuelson wishes to refer all interested to check his own positions on these and related matters either in the Russian translation of his recent book Tankograd: Skrytaia istoriia rossiiskogo tyla, 1917 – 1953 (Moscow 2010), or in its English translation Tankograd: the Formation of a Soviet Company Town. Cheliabinsk, 1900s – 1950s (London 2011).”

Lennart Samuelson

Associate Professor

SITE, Stockholm

  • Lennart Samuelson

    A Review in Five Acts: Lennart Samuelson on Istoriya Rossii XX vek Comments by the reviewer Lennart Samuelson, 2011 are all in red print.It is not an easy task to comment on this review in Baltic Worlds because its author has some difficulty expressing himself in English and is not always able to state his meaning clearly. If this review is in fact a translation, there is nowhere any mention of this fact. Take the title, for example, “Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era.” Does he have in mind historians of the Soviet period (the “reactionary era”) generally? Or Soviet historians, those who were engaged in reactionary historiography during this period? And what does “reactionary” mean in this context? The one example the author provides in his review is a reference to reactionary Nazi legends about “Judeo-Bolshevism,” which hardly squares with the title. The title was chosen exactly to characterize our own era, the time which we have been living in since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Almost everyone who wrote on the past events in the USSR have reacted against one or several aspects of that Soviet state, society and in particular its dominat Communist ideology. When you as a historian look over the vast and flourishing popular history that has lightened up bookshops all over Russia – the general line is a reaction against the dominant, tendentious Soviet myth-making.
    Suffice it to mention the reaction of former Communists such as Aleksandr Yakovlev and Vladimir Volkogonov, who used their new-found ideological and ethical sources in the late 1980s and 1990s to try to give another presentation of the Soviet period in general, (and the Cold War in particular for Academician Yakovlev; and the Bolshevik leaders Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin for the former head of the Soviet Army’s Political Directorate Volkogonov).
    Contrary to all these history-writing personalities who react against some version or other of the Russian 20th century, there also existed and flourished a sober scientific history-writing which did not set as it prime task to reconvince their readers, but to give them a better comprehension of ”the whys” of the turbulent, tragic and heroic past century.
    Take another example at random—the reviewer writes that most of the “coauthors are, however, neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content.” This, alas, is not idiomatic English. The form and content of what (of their degrees? reputation? contributions?) or whose form and whose content (the historians’ or experts’? the book as a whole?)? What is more, this statement is not factually accurate, overlooking, at a minimum, Sergei Firsov, Boris Ilizarov, Vladimir Lavrov, Aleksandr Pantsov, Iurii Pivovarov (Academy of Sciences), Vladimir Shestakov, and Natalya Zhukovskaya, all of whom are full-fledged doktora istoricheskix nauk, to say nothing of the impressive roster of well-known experts in other fields among the authors. Please note, that I wrote that judging by how the historical material is presented and the many dubious sources referred to (and not commented on by Professor Zubov), many of the authors are not familiar with recent research in their fields. On others parts of the book, the presentation is, as I stated in my review, fairly commonplace and mainstream.
    It is a bit ironic for such an awkward (sic! LS) writer to find apparent fault with the volumes under review as written in “popular-science style.”
    Mr Glinka, as the Istoriia Rossii XX vek has been advertised in Autumn 2009 in Russia and in an American newspaper as the first textbook of its kind and thus as a light on the dark Russian sky, it was surprising for me to see that hardly any of the many chapters and sub-chapters contain any of the usual parts in a textbook for university students (historiographical notes, comprehensive literature advice that must be up-to-date and state-of-the-art, source criticism). As I underlined, when a scholar writes for his peers he can assume a lot to be already known. On the other hand, when you address the broad student auditorium your obligation is to steer them through a huge mass of knowledge, hint as to where they can look for the many controversies that have divided the historical scholarly community as well as the public. Instead, the literature referred to at the end (of most sub-chapters, but not all!) does indeed give the impression of a hasty namesdropping of mostly outdated literature of little relevance for the present (2010s).I. Associate Professor Samuelson’s review is organized in five haphazard sections: The first section presents an overview of historiography during the late Soviet period and more recently, throwing out, as our reviewer would say, a “plethora” of names. He includes the sensationalist Simon Montefiore and the strident and tendentious Anne Applebaum, bemoaning  (bold here and elsewhere =my emphasis LS) that they have not made “the same impression in Russia as in Western Europe and the U.S.”
    Here, dear Mister Glinka, I must correct your mis-interpretation, or that of your client!! The ironic point is on the contrary directed at all Western reviewers, and these two authors themselves, who claim that the first ”real histories” of Joseph Stalin respective the Gulag camps were allegedly written by these two Westeners. In conjunction with these preposterous claims by Anglo-Saxon historians, I try to emphasize that more solid works on Stalin, for example, was already written by Oleg Khlevniuk and others, and that the Gulag camp system was indeed much more profoundly analyzed in numerous Russian books and articles.
    What I have ”bemoaned” for more than fifteen years is, on the contrary, that however many books on the Gulag were written in Moscow, Perm, Nizhnii Tagil, Petrozavodsk and elsewhere, our Swedish and Western journalists and ”Russia experts” will still refer to any PR statement by Ms. Applebaum that her book was ”not wished to be published” in Moscow, as the Gulag was allegedly a ”taboo subject”.
     Among Russian writers of history whose views “are more or less scientifically established,” presumably unlike Professor Zubov and his co-authors, Samuelson identifies the pop-author Edvard Radzinsky and refers to recent biographies of prominent historical figures like “the Mad Monk, Rasputin” (capitalization in original). Aside from such praise for works presenting “the country’s history … in customary scientific fashion,” there is no reference in this first section to the volumes being reviewed.
    Again, dear Mister Glinka, I can understand your emotions over my criticism on several sections on Istoriia Rossii XX vek, but not your references to my essay. If you and your client had undertaken a sober reading you would have understood, quite on the contrary!, that I lament the fact that Swedish publishing companies have not looked out for solid Russian contributions on that country’s history in the last twenty years. Not even the publishing companies in Sweden with academic credentials have any clue to which old or new Russian historians’ works would be suitable to translate for a Scandinavian market. I refer to the fact that the situation is better, albeit only slightly, in countries like France, Germany and Italy, where dozens of scholarly works by Russian historians have appeared in translation all since the early 1990s. Alas, in my country, only best-selling ”history novels” like Edvard Radzinsky’s biographies and thrillers like Arkadii Waksberg’s NKVD-KGB stories are likely to find profit-minded publishers.II. In the second section, Samuelson for some reason delves into the history of the original project in which Solzhenitsyn was involved for the purpose of producing a history textbook consistent with his views. He then points out that such a textbook must take into account that in the final year of school “only” 50 class hours are devoted to modern Russian history. It is difficult to say what the point here is—that the project was doomed from the start? That it got out of hand, expanding to 1,850 pages, and departing from Solzhenitsyn’s conception of the textbook? Why is this important for our understanding and evaluation of Istoriya Rossii XX vek? This is followed by a curious intermezzo in which Associate Professor Samuelson takes issue with views he attributes to Professor Zubov with the “support of the vice-director of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian History, Vladimir Lavrov” based on a letter the latter purportedly wrote “to the Russian government” suggesting that the Lenin mausoleum and the necropolis in Red Square should be removed as an unsuitable legacy of a totalitarian regime that for decades oppressed its own people.
    I refer interested readers to a statement by Professor Zubov concerning Lenin as responsible for the murder of the Tsar Family and the removal of the Lenin Mausoleum from the Red Square in Moscow: ( http://video.mail.ru/mail/mama… )
    Characteristically, our “scientific” historian-reviewer does not, despite attaching 24 footnotes to his review, see any need to cite any source for this letter (though he does cite a news report on Radio Free Europe about an upcoming trial probing the last Tsar’s murder in which Professor Lavrov is nowhere mentioned), nor any need to quote the text he is taking issue with. Rather comically, Samuelson suggests in his rebuttal that neither Zubov nor Lavrov have taken into consideration the “sensitive issues concerning descendents’ burial rights to the remains” of those buried behind the mausoleum under the Kremlin wall. What is the relation of all this to Istoriya Rossii XX vek? According to the reviewer, it sheds light on “a strong anticommunist reaction to the former[ly] predominant ideology” presented in these volumes.
    The question of the Lenin mausoleum in the Red Square is not at all ”comical”. It is in my view an internal affair for the Russian people. I thus merely state my few reflections as an outsider. Although I had ample opportunities all since 1970, when I first arrived in Moscow as an exchange student, I never visited the Lenin sarcophage until the very last years of the Soviet empire. When my Soviet student friends, Communist Youth activists as well as other Soviet citizens used to ask me why I had not visited the Lenin Mausoleum, I usually tried to explain that I found the embalment in 1924 of Lenin preposterous and that already then, in the mid-1920s, it was a testimony to the regression of the socialist visions and a sign of the beginning deification of Lenin. Later, as Ph.D. student on visits to Moscow and Leningrad, I had ample opportunities to see the petrifying influence of the Leninist cult on Russian economic historians who did research on the NEP period.
    However, after walking through the whole necropolis a couple of times after 1991, I have the same contempt for those public figures who today loudly advocate the removal of the Mausoleum, and some ordinary burial of Lenin. To make a long story short on a serious matter: Why has not anyone of the Russian discussants suggested that Lenin be re-buried alongside with his wife Nadezhda Krupskaia (now a few meters behind the Mausoleum)? And why these claims that Lenin allegedly wanted to be buried in Petrograd where his mother’s grave is? Further, if you hypothetically imagine the Lenin Mausoleum removed from the Red Square, you are – as a responsible Russian citizen – faced with the question whether or not to keep all the other graves and urns from state burials of leading Communists, marshals, scholars, and cosmonauts. In due time, one may surmise that a more dispassionate solution to these many questions will be found.
    In the meantime, I will just notice how superficial and squarely ideological any claim is that merely focuses on the Mausoleum and the Lenin reburial question.
     andFinally, the reviewer concludes this second section by furnishing a prolonged synopsis of the contents of the two volumes, identifying the sections, chapters, and sub-chapters, the subjects covered, the pages where they appear, and the number of sub-chapters. For the common reader, this could have been one of the more objective and informative parts of this review. Yet, unaccountably, even this bare outline in the review is erroneous, as a simple comparison with the published table of contents will confirm (e.g., the first section has four not three chapters found on pp. 62-392, not 62-369; the third section has 55, not 35 sub-chapters). III. In the third section, Samuelson actually begins to discuss the history book he is reviewing, though—remarkably for an author who is conspicuously concerned about “the scientific fashion” (meaning, presumably, academic rigor)—still with few citations to the text and no quotations from it in support of the views attributed to its authors. Here he accuses these authors and Professor Zubov in the first instance of factual errors, misrepresentation of “numerical” material, and use of “downright” falsified documents. I am not competent to pass judgment on these charges, which will need to await the reply of the authors, but the reviewer’s criticism of the volumes’ “overflowing with biographies, excerpts from memoirs, diaries, and other private testimonies” because “strange as it may seem, Zubov ignores in its entirety the social history research conducted with an emphasis on everyday life … consolidated after 1992″ is itself odd. The practice of quoting from first-hand, eyewitness accounts will probably strike most educated readers as more valuable and (pardon me) more engrossing than their subsequent consolidation in social history research.
    This shows that Mr. Glinka takes any eye-witness, diary, letter as ”source”, while historians try to generalize and have established sociological and other criteria for evaluating such artefacts and witnesses’ reports. As for ”downright” falsified documents; see on the forgeries (fabrikatsiia in Russian) referred to by the Historians in Zubov’s team, in my reflections on his commentary.

    It is in this third section, too, that the reviewer perhaps discloses what sticks in his craw the most. He writes, as usual without citing to or quoting from the text, that: “According to Zubov and his colleagues, a political regime must be judged on the basis of how it makes it possible for individuals to grow spiritually and materially, and whether it enhances the worth of the individual or, conversely, leads to [his] degeneration.” These reveal, according to Samuelson paraphrasing Zubov and his colleagues, whether the society is oriented toward the positive or the negative. Samuelson concludes that this seems “an overly vague goal for anyone wishing to write a “History of 20th Century Russia.” Yet it is precisely the introduction of this ethical dimension that is one of the major contributions of this new History of Russia in the Twentieth Century. At this juncture it is not merely the establishment of the historical facts but the evaluation of these facts of recent history that ultimately concerns the Russian reader coming to terms with his past. It is in this regard, admittedly overflowing the customary bounds of academic historical scholarship, that this new history book enters the debate and proposes its own antidotal reading of Russian history in the preceding suffering century. This is maybe new to post-Soviet Russian textbooks, but an age-old controversy dividing the scholarly historians’ communities in all countries. Whether or not the book ”A History of Russia’s 20th Century” will indeed fulfil that aim of the Editor in his country’s coming to terms with its past is of course left to be judged in the future. In the meantime, I restate my modest, but sincere doubt of the non-operationability of the criterions mentioned in Professor Zubov’s introduction, as well as the criteria for choices of moral standards (whose ethics shall be referred to during a transformation that does not augment ”spiritually and materially” the conditions for every one individual, or not even every group in society?). As soon as the bold statements are disaggregated from Zubov’s laudable and ambitious introduction, the historian is related back to the age-old attempts and evalutions already made by previous generations on the development paths in Russia actually followed – from the late 1800s onwards – in contrast to their proclaimed strivings and goals, on the one hand, and to the hypothetical outcomes, had conditions and events unfoulded differently from what they did, on the other hand.To be continued. Each comment only allow the use of 3500 words

  • Pingback: петербургская тетрадь « Эхо блогосферы()

  • Pingback: АС гоал « Эхо блогосферы()

  • Bw Editor

    Professor Samuelson’s review essay was written in Swedish, his native language. It was translated into English by a professional translator and the translation was then proof-read and edited; both the translation and the proof-reading were done by native English speakers. The editorial board, and not the author, is fully responsible for whatever linguistic imperfections and inadvertences might still be present in the published text. The same holds for the title of the essay.

    The editors of Baltic Worlds

  • Gleb Glinka

    A Review in Five Acts: Lennart Samuelson on Istoriya Rossii XX vek

    It is not an easy task to comment on this review in Baltic Worlds because its author has some difficulty expressing himself in English and is not always able to state his meaning clearly. If this review is in fact a translation, there is nowhere any mention of this fact. Take the title, for example, “Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era.” Does he have in mind historians of the Soviet period (the “reactionary era”) generally? Or Soviet historians, those who were engaged in reactionary historiography during this period? And what does “reactionary” mean in this context? The one example the author provides in his review is a reference to reactionary Nazi legends about “Judeo-Bolshevism,” which hardly squares with the title.

    Take another example at random—the reviewer writes that most of the “coauthors are, however, neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content.” This, alas, is not idiomatic English. The form and content of what (of their degrees? reputation? contributions?) or whose form and whose content (the historians’ or experts’? the book as a whole?)? What is more, this statement is not factually accurate, overlooking, at a minimum, Sergei Firsov, Boris Ilizarov, Vladimir Lavrov, Aleksandr Pantsov, Iurii Pivovarov (Academy of Sciences), Vladimir Shestakov, and Natalya Zhukovskaya, all of whom are full-fledged doktora istoricheskix nauk, to say nothing of the impressive roster of well-known experts in other fields among the authors.

    It is a bit ironic for such an awkward writer to find apparent fault with the volumes under review as written in “popular-science style.”

    I.

    Associate Professor Samuelson’s review is organized in five haphazard sections: The first section presents an overview of historiography during the late Soviet period and more recently, throwing out, as our reviewer would say, a “plethora” of names. He includes the sensationalist Simon Montefiore and the strident and tendentious Anne Applebaum, bemoaning that they have not made “the same impression in Russia as in Western Europe and the U.S.” Among Russian writers of history whose views “are more or less scientifically established,” presumably unlike Professor Zubov and his co-authors, Samuelson identifies the pop-author Edvard Radzinsky and refers to recent biographies of prominent historical figures like “the Mad Monk, Rasputin” (capitalization in original). Aside from such praise for works presenting “the country’s history … in customary scientific fashion,” there is no reference in this first section to the volumes being reviewed.

    II.

    In the second section, Samuelson for some reason delves into the history of the original project in which Solzhenitsyn was involved for the purpose of producing a history textbook consistent with his views. He then points out that such a textbook must take into account that in the final year of school “only” 50 class hours are devoted to modern Russian history. It is difficult to say what the point here is—that the project was doomed from the start? That it got out of hand, expanding to 1,850 pages, and departing from Solzhenitsyn’s conception of the textbook? Why is this important for our understanding and evaluation of Istoriya Rossii XX vek?

    This is followed by a curious intermezzo in which Associate Professor Samuelson takes issue with views he attributes to Professor Zubov with the “support of the vice-director of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian History, Vladimir Lavrov” based on a letter the latter purportedly wrote “to the Russian government” suggesting that the Lenin mausoleum and the necropolis in Red Square should be removed as an unsuitable legacy of a totalitarian regime that for decades oppressed its own people. Characteristically, our “scientific” historian-reviewer does not, despite attaching 24 footnotes to his review, see any need to cite any source for this letter (though he does cite a news report on Radio Free Europe about an upcoming trial probing the last Tsar’s murder in which Professor Lavrov is nowhere mentioned), nor any need to quote the text he is taking issue with. Rather comically, Samuelson suggests in his rebuttal that neither Zubov nor Lavrov have taken into consideration the “sensitive issues concerning descendents’ burial rights to the remains” of those buried behind the mausoleum under the Kremlin wall. What is the relation of all this to Istoriya Rossii XX vek? According to the reviewer, it sheds light on “a strong anticommunist reaction to the former[ly] predominant ideology” presented in these volumes.

    Finally, the reviewer concludes this second section by furnishing a prolonged synopsis of the contents of the two volumes, identifying the sections, chapters, and sub-chapters, the subjects covered, the pages where they appear, and the number of sub-chapters. For the common reader, this could have been one of the more objective and informative parts of this review. Yet, unaccountably, even this bare outline in the review is erroneous, as a simple comparison with the published table of contents will confirm (e.g., the first section has four not three chapters found on pp. 62-392, not 62-369; the third section has 55, not 35 sub-chapters).

    III.

    In the third section, Samuelson actually begins to discuss the history book he is reviewing, though—remarkably for an author who is conspicuously concerned about “the scientific fashion” (meaning, presumably, academic rigor)—still with few citations to the text and no quotations from it in support of the views attributed to its authors. Here he accuses these authors and Professor Zubov in the first instance of factual errors, misrepresentation of “numerical” material, and use of “downright” falsified documents. I am not competent to pass judgment on these charges, which will need to await the reply of the authors, but the reviewer’s criticism of the volumes’ “overflowing with biographies, excerpts from memoirs, diaries, and other private testimonies” because “strange as it may seem, Zubov ignores in its entirety the social history research conducted with an emphasis on everyday life … consolidated after 1992″ is itself odd. The practice of quoting from first-hand, eyewitness accounts will probably strike most educated readers as more valuable and (pardon me) more engrossing than their subsequent consolidation in social history research.

    It is in this third section, too, that the reviewer perhaps discloses what sticks in his craw the most. He writes, as usual without citing to or quoting from the text, that: “According to Zubov and his colleagues, a political regime must be judged on the basis of how it makes it possible for individuals to grow spiritually and materially, and whether it enhances the worth of the individual or, conversely, leads to [his] degeneration.” These reveal, according to Samuelson paraphrasing Zubov and his colleagues, whether the society is oriented toward the positive or the negative. Samuelson concludes that this seems “an overly vague goal for anyone wishing to write a “History of 20th Century Russia.” Yet it is precisely the introduction of this ethical dimension that is one of the major contributions of this new History of Russia in the Twentieth Century. At this juncture it is not merely the establishment of the historical facts but the evaluation of these facts of recent history that ultimately concerns the Russian reader coming to terms with his past. It is in this regard, admittedly overflowing the customary bounds of academic historical scholarship, that this new history book enters the debate and proposes its own antidotal reading of Russian history in the preceding suffering century.

    IV.

    Section IV of the review, besides specifying the allegations of “historical falsifications” that I am not qualified to address, moves more openly to discredit Professor Zubov. Yet here too there are certain obviously confused statements. For example, Samuelson conflates the argument of the Istoriya that, climactic conditions aside, the famine of 1932-33 was a deliberate effort of the soviet regime to bring the peasantry as a class to heel and the argument of Ukrainian nationalists that this famine constituted genocide against Ukrainian peasants specifically.

    In response to the view that the new regime welcomed the famine of 1921-22 as making the despised peasants more docile, the reviewer springs to the defense, suggesting that, “the Bolshevik regime did what it could to try and relieve the distress, and accepted foreign aid for those afflicted.” As a matter of fact, the Bolsheviks accepted this aid grudgingly (refusing it, for example, from the Russian Orthodox Church, which they tried to characterize as indifferent to the misery of the starving population in order, according to Lenin, to provide a pretext to liquidate as much of the clergy as possible) and hampered foreign and native non-governmental humanitarian efforts. There is also a serious question about how much of this aid did not actually reach the intended victims. While the soviet government was accepting contributions from relief agencies, it was continuing to sell grain abroad to attract hard currency.

    Samuelson takes issue with a number of other “claims,” for example, that “the Great Terror was focused primarily on the various groups of believers in the Soviet Union,” which he attributes to Zubov without, however, providing any citation to where this claim occurs in the Istoriya. Moreover, in an apparent effort to discredit the chief editor as beyond the pale of acceptable academic discourse, he characterizes the account of the children at Fatima in 1917 who reported that they had received revelations concerning the catastrophe shortly to befall Russia, which the Roman Catholic Church after 50 years acknowledged as a miracle, as among “the more peculiar elements in Zubov’s work.” Samuelson then asks sardonically whether this suggests “that higher powers somehow ‘intervened’ in the events in Russia?” Here again the reviewer misreads the text, which does no more than relate this famous phenomenon supposedly foretelling—not “intervening” in—subsequent events.

    Along these lines, in describing the butchery of the Tsar, his family, and his immediate entourage, the review addresses the assertion, as usual without quoting or citing the authors, that Germany consented to this decision. Samuelson then writes: “This curious twist of other, usually anti-Semitic, myths surrounding the execution of the Tsar’s family will certainly give rise to doubts on Zubov’s general worldviews (sic).” This curious twist of language hardly qualifies as comprehensible English, but does seem to accuse Professor Zubov of upholding anti-Semitic myths in his world view.

    To drive this point home, Samuelson takes up Zubov’s alleged contention that “the purpose of the law [enacted in 1935 to extend the death penalty to children beginning at age 12] was to give the secret police free rein to execute street urchins” (my italics). Remarkably, he cites to the text (p. 928), where only the factually accurate statement that, “the OGPU [secret police] was granted the option to destroy the street urchins physically” is to be found. There is no mention of the “purpose” of this law, which misrepresentation is gratuitously added by the reviewer. In refuting the statement, the reviewer insists that it was “extracted from the most reactionary legends that have circulated about Stalinist terror ever since the Nazis escalated their ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’ propaganda in the 1930s.” When I was a student in graduate school, there was an unwritten rule that the first person who accuses his opponent of being a Nazi automatically loses the argument.

    V.

    After the high drama of the preceding section, this last act seems anticlimactic. It is noteworthy for two intertwined propositions that seem to gravel the reviewer: The legitimacy of the Soviet regime—that, distinguishing Russia and this regime, held its own people in thrall—is doubtful. In light of what we now know, in 2010, it is frankly puzzling that this overarching conclusion about the catastrophic, bloody, tragic, heroic, deformed twentieth century in the U.S.S.R. should be so offensive to a professional economic historian.

    Gleb Glinka
    Moscow, Russia

  • Nikolai

    ”The other coauthors are, however, neither historians nor experts, as is reflected in both form and content”.

    This phrase is quite strange. Among the ”other authors” there are near twenty ”doctora nauk” (Doctors of Sciences), most of them of ”historical sciences”. Many of them are distinguished historians, known both in Russia and in the West. Take, for example, Vladoslav Zubok, specialist in Cold War, Alexander Pantsov, who wrote several books on the history of Comintern and Soviet-Chinese relations, Yurii Pivovarov, the researcher of the history of Russian political ideas. IMHO, the characteristic of these and most of the other authors of Zubov's textbook is at least unfounded.
    Has Mr. Samuelson

  • Pingback: Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era … Map university()

  • Pingback: Reflections on the historiography of a reactionary era …()