Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stuff that matters

Staff makes absolutely all the difference. Stalin
G. Klutsis, 1935

This is a quote from the speech delivered by Joseph Stalin for the military academies graduates in the Grand Kremlin Palace on the 4th of May 1935. During this event he also uttered another famous phrase: “This is the people, who are the most valuable asset”.

Like may other well known quotes this one has several meanings. First of all the thirties were a time of the Great Purge, when Stalin was getting rid of all his political rivals and of those, who might be untrustworthy. Due to these ruthless measures a great many of Soviet people were arrested, convicted and eliminated. Yes, the staff did matter: people should have been absolutely loyal to Stalin.

Another thing was obvious enough: the country was right in the middle of the Second Five Year Plan and the rapid industrial development required as many specialists as possible. The country was craving for skilled labor force.

Finally, this poster was a part of the Stalin’s Personality Cult which started in 1929, after the Stalin’s fiftieth birthday. Actually it was Stalin who was the most valuable asset of the Soviet Union and the one, who was absolutely impeccable.

Buy Stalin posters at


Anonymous said...

It was also Stalin who slaughtered millions of people- in fact, it is beginning to be called genocide in some places. I could agree that Stalin was the driving force behind the momentum of the Soviet Union in his day (obviously) but to say "Actually it was Stalin who was the most valuable asset of the Soviet Union and the one, who was absolutely impeccable."- No, sorry, I don't agree. Ultimately, Stalin helped the Soviet Union eventually implode because of his extreme intolerance. And, today's former Soviet states would be in much better shape if Stalin had not been so bent on killing anyone who dared exhibit brain power that didn't exactly suit him. He was a tyrant and a butcher and that kind of person is never an asset to a state- not if that state hopes to survive for any significant length of time.

Anonymous said...

I am in favor of remembering history and studying it and learning from it- but the continued 'elevation' of Stalin, especially when so many are still alive who remember his terror, is disturbing. I find it amazing that Hitler is almost universally regarded as what he was- evil- while Stalin- who was responsible for far more deaths than Hitler- sleeps fairly quietly in the conscience of most Russian and Georgian people. I call that a shame.

I do enjoy your blog- these posters are very interesting.

chinmoy said...

well, lets read the history the way it is: history and not get too emotional about it all.although stalin was a cult figure in his initial days but was a hated figure in his last days.brought up under another staunch communist :lenin, stalin had all that it took to be a dominant power in the eastern hemisphere.ann is right when she says that stalin is a far bigger murderer than hitler.but his genius was in deploying the stealth of the murder operations.

Anonymous said...

I remember the quote this way: "Why should we stop at Berlin. Let's go all the way to Moscow!"
Yes I agree, Ann; Hitler and Stalin were hideous. There are more examples of genocide and murder today: Pol Pot, the Contras,"Black Widows", Lt. Calley. I've already served my watch.

Alexander Zakharov said...


Thanks for the elaborate comment ;) In the last paragraph I have mentioned the Stalin’s Personality Cult, so the next phrase about “the most valuable asset” has some irony in it.

Here is the official data of Stalin repressions of 1930-1953: convicted 3 778 234, including 786 098 capital punishments. In the nineties some historians on the tide of anti-communist opinions declared various figures ranging between 5 and 20 millions of executed alone. “He who controls the past, controls the future; and he who controls the present, controls the past” – George Orwell is always relevant, he definitely is. So I try to keep to document-based figures.

And I should not be measuring the amount of Evilness according to death toll. Mongol’s raids started by Genghis Khan cost half of Russian population and resulted in 200 years of occupation and decline. Mongol Invasion took 30-60 mln of lives, becoming the next most deadly event in human history after WW2.
I think that deciding what’s good and what’s evil is the most ungrateful task in the world. So I stick to the posters and their historical background, that’s it. ;)

Anonymous said...

ok! I enjoyed reading the rest of these comments. It seems that the more recent history is, the worse it seems to us- I suppose because we're supposed to have more enlightened consciences and all... for instance, the blatant slaughter of American Indians was also genocide as were many other things. In fact, that is how one country conquered another. I will admit that I have a particular revulsion to Stalin- because of the amount of support he still has.

I live in Ukraine, which helps explain my feelings, too... don't worry, I'm not on a crusade nor am I out to start a fight!

I do enjoy your blog- a lot. The posters are very interesting. I have a friend who collects old Soviet posters- or replicas, at any rate. That's what alerted me to them.

LB said...

Hi, is it a wordplay or a misspelling in your title?

Alexander Zakharov said...

A wordplay, indeed. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an interesting blog. I enjoy the artwork as separate from the era that produced it. This might seem intellectually risky, but to try to tie all human thought and experience under the umbrella of intellectual history is just too involved. Never would able to specialize in any discipline. My comments today are confined to that "evil won't go away"...and I'm sure somebody could come up with the politically correct "take" on who's "evil" in Darfur as an example. I enjoy this blog because I learn things; and it's only a blog, albeit a great one, but it's a teaching tool.

neil said...

Great post...and great comments. I think its a very good and healthy thing that despite not agreeing with each other...that you can still have an intelligent discourse with each other on the subject of Stalin. No doubt Stalin was a very cold and calculating leader…but history is littered with empires/nations/dictators who’s decisions in the name of either greed, bloodlust or the ‘advancement’ of ones country resulted in death, enslavement and misery for many, many millions of people. While Hitler killed simply out of hatred for a particular community of people (while maintaining it was for the good of the nation), Stalin’s methods, while equally as barbaric, seem to be rooted more in social and political ideology. That may be shortsighted on my part…and by no means am I an expert on the subject…but I think this may explain why Stalin is not seen in quite the same light as Hitler.

Very enlightening stuff guys (and girls)

Cavall de Quer said...

Makes me laugh - don't all personnel departments - sorry, Human resources", say "our people are our greatest asset" just before screwing the workers? I always run for cover when I hear that phrase. Didn't know it originated with Stalin, tho'.

kalashnikov said...

Viva Trotsky