While last week we brought you National Holodomor Awareness week, disturbing news of history repeating comes out of Russia, courtesy the Times Online:
In Russian schools, something even more troubling appears to be happening. They call it “positive history” and the man behind it is Putin. In 2007, the former secret police chief told a conference of Russian educationists that the country needed a more patriotic history. Putin condemned teachers for having “porridge in their heads”, attacked some history textbook authors for taking foreign money — “naturally they are dancing the polka ordered by those who pay them” — and announced that new history textbooks were on their way. Within weeks, a new law was passed giving the state powers to approve and to disallow history textbooks for schools.
What does Igor Dolutsky, the author of a history textbook that has been dropped by the Kremlin, make of “positive history”? “It’s an appalling idea which hinders proper teaching in schools. School history should not create patriots, it should teach children to think. Putin’s task is to rule a state edging towards totalitarianism.”
Aleksandr Filippov is the Positive History Man. He has a long, mournful face and the air of a defrocked Orthodox priest. His voice is sorrowful but the message is upbeat: “It is wrong to write a textbook that will fill the children who learn from it with horror and disgust about their past and their people. A generally positive tone for the teaching of history will build optimism and self-assurance in the growing young generation and make them feel as if they are part of their country’s bright future. A history in which there is good and bad, things to be proud of and things that are regrettable. But the general tone for a school textbook should still be positive.”
It is when you analyse the Kremlinapproved “positive history” book in detail that the clock chimes 13. In March 1933 a fearless reporter and fluent Russian speaker, Gareth Jones, evaded the Moscow censors and went to the Soviet Ukraine and southern Russia, from where he reported that “millions are dying in the villages”. The “Great Famine” deaths were caused by Stalin’s forced collectivisation, grain seizures and mass deportations of peasant farmers. Malcolm Muggeridge declared it a man-made famine and Arthur Koestler wrote of seeing “horrible infants with enormous, wobbling heads, stick-like limbs, swollen, pointed bellies . . .”
Back in Moscow, the Great Famine was denied by Stalin’s stooge on The New York Times, Walter Duranty. Two years later, Jones was shot dead in China, some say by Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD.
One estimate is that four million died in Ukraine and southern Russia during the Great Famine, another puts the figure at ten million. No one counted. The unnecessary deaths of millions were airbrushed from history. So how does the 2009 “positive history” textbook cover this? It dedicates 83 pages to Stalin’s industrialisation — and one paragraph to the famine. The scales are loaded one way, to the benefit of Stalin’s reputation.
Read the rest of the article
It’s a very worth-reading article and goes on with other horrific examples – lies about the Soviets not starting World War 2 with the Nazis, minimalizing the Great Terror and more.
[The Times Online]
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