Surprise! Russian schoolbooks say there was no occupation (7)
Archived Articles 09 Nov 2007 Estonian Central Council in CanadaEWR
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The title above is facetious. In fact a new Russian history book now used in Russian schools even presents Joseph Stalin in a favourable light. The book describes Stalin as the most successful Soviet leader who has to be remembered as one able to create and maintain Russia as a major power.

Helsingin Sanomat, in reviewing the book, states that in the book the section on Stalin’s repressions are limited to the 1937-1938 period, with 800,000 dead and 18 million sent to slave labour. No mention of the human losses up until 1950 due to Stalin’s reign of terror.

In focusing on other topics, it leaves the impression that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the Soviet Union uncoerced, of their own free will.

According to Helsingin Sanomat, the text, entitled “Istorija Rossii” (Russian history), written by a team led by historian Nikita Zagladini, treats the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact just in passing. It states that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania voluntarily amalgamated with the USSR.

It totally ignores the fact that the Red Army occupied the three Baltic states, imprisoned the occupied countries’ leadership and held elections that by all existing standards —even of those times — were a mockery. Helsingin Sanomat reported that an earlier textbook, a pre-Putin era book, which had been officially endorsed, had covered the 1939-1940 events more credibly.

The book is not politically consistent throughout. The newspaper mentions the Russian text admitting that Russia initiated the Winter War against Finland because the latter had fired on Russian territory. The authors acknowledge the patriotism and fighting capability of the Finns, the fumbling inability of the Red Army and its tremendous losses.

Recommended by the Ministry of Education, the history text says that Stalin’s era is comparable to those of Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible, which employed repressions and the concentration of power to solve the problems of the modernization of the state. The text states that if such developments were the bases for contemporary industrialization, then changes in the Soviet Union derived from the adoption of democratic values.

The forced collectivization of agriculture was an unavoidable step in the development of a modern state. As expected there is no mention of the liquidation of independent farmers (kulaks), the Ukrainian famine and the resulting millions of victims.

In covering the events of the early 1990’s, the move to independence by the constituent republics of the USSR and Soviet occupied countries is not seen as a wish to leave the Soviet Union. (???)

The textbook also refers to the words of Vladimir Putin, that collapse of the Soviet Union was the most serious geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century.
(Based on a BNS article of November 1.)

It is obvious that Putin’s interpretation of history must be shared early in life, during school age, when the most deeply held beliefs and fundamental opinions are formed.
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