Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do [updated 6 January 2019]:

My blogposts are written in English.  I review content mostly from the Russian-language online press, in search of stories which interest me.  From time to time I venture out and review other things, for example, opera or movies!

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

As my blog concept evolved, it contains content divided into the following categories:

  • Animal Rights
  • Art Criticism
  • Ballet
  • Breaking News
  • Cat Fighting
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Friendship of Peoples
  • Human Dignity
  • Humor
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine and Health
  • Military and War
  • Navalniana
  • Opera
  • Popular Culture
  • Religion
  • Russian History
  • Sex and Spy Scandals
  • Space, Science and Technology
  • Sports
  • The Great Game
  • True Crime

I hope you read and enjoy my posts!

Sincerely yours,


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Cultural Genocide And WhatAbout – Part III

Dear Readers:

Continuing to review this piece by Artem Filippov, who is concerned about the Canadian government’s policy of cultural genocide against Canadian Inuits.  Filippov brings an alarming statistic:  at the current rate, by the year 2051 only 4% of the Inuits will be able to speak in their own native language.

To be sure, there is more than one “Inuit language”, as we learn from wiki.  There are several languages and dialects spanning the Bering Strait and linking speakers ranging from the Canadian Northwest, Alaska, and across the Strait into Russia (for example, Russian Chukchi people).

The Bible, translated into Inuktitut

In Canada, the term “Inuktitut” is used to refer to all Canadian dialects of the Inuit language, and is recognized as one of the three official languages of Nunavut.  This is the language that Mr. Filippov is concerned about.  Technically, this language is supposed to be taught in all the schools in Northern Quebec, according to the Charter of the French Language and agreements between the various  aboriginal nations with the Canadian government.  Canadian census reports about 35,000 Inuktitut speakers in Canada, most of them living in traditional Inuit lands.

The catalogue of Inuktitut phonology shows 15 consonants and 3 vowels; which is actually 6 vowels, because each vowel can be long or short.  A fairly simple language, for a fairly simple lifestyle, right?  Wrong!  The phonology may be simple, but the grammar – oi veh!  Inuktitut is catalogued by linguists as an “agglutinative” or “polysynthetic” type language:   Inuktitut, like other Eskimo–Aleut languages, has a very rich morphological system, in which a succession of different morphemes are added to root words to indicate things that, in languages like English, would require several words to express.

In other words, write this down:  Eskimo-Aleut languages have gluten whereas languages like English and Chinese are gluten-free.  Which way is better?  I reckon that depends what you are trying to say.

Reverend James Evans: Would rap the Indians on the knuckles with his ruler if they couldn’t read his writing.

Okay, enough with the Linguistics jokes.  Except I do want to mention that Inuktitut has its own alphabet, or rather, a “syllabary”.  Who invented this syllabary?  Well, a missionary of course.  Just as the Slavic peoples had Father Methodius to devise a great alphabet for them; so too the Canadian Inuits had a Methodist missionary, James Evans.

Reverend Evans was said to be an “amateur” linguist, but even an amateur linguist is better than no linguist at all, assuming the guy knows what he is doing.  Apparently Evans claims to have invented this syllabic writing system for the Ojibwe and Cree Indians, and then adapted for the Inuit.  According to wiki, this may not be technically correct:  perhaps the Cree already had this system of writing, and Evans merely adapted it for print.  Either way, it was said to have worked out pretty well for all concerned.

Evans was ordained a Wesleyan Minister in 1833.  He had picked up some Ojibwe along the way and initially thought he would adapt the Roman script to write it down; but then scrapped that idea.  Later, he modified syllabics slightly and applied it to Cree, a related language. The scripts were based on Devanagari and Pitman Shorthand. They were easy to learn and led to almost universal literacy among the Canadian Ojibwe and Cree within a few years. 

The modern form of the Inuktitut syllabary is similar to the Cree one and was adopted by the Inuit Cultural Institute in Canada in the 1970’s.  It looks something like this:

I count 64 groups of characters in this syllabary.  Sixty-four things to memorize.  Since there are technically 21 phonemes in the catalogue, then, er, why not just create 21 letters, what am I missing here?  Did Reverend James not understand universal concepts of phonology?  Did he get distracted by the elaborate morphology and forget about the underlying layer?  Well, granted, I only speak and read gluten-free languages; so perhaps I am judging with too much inflection or totally out of turn here.  Anyhow, the important point is what was said above, about the universal literacy.  That’s the key point, and an important goal for any society:  Get your children reading quickly and early.  If they have to learn a syllabary, then so be it.  At least Inuit children would not have to waste their precious time studying for spelling bees, God help them!  Oh wait, they have to learn English too, as well as French!

[to be continued]

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Cultural Genocide And WhatAbout – Part II

Dear Readers:

Continuing to review this piece by Artem Filippov, concerning the cultural genocide of Canadian Inuits.

Where we left off, Filippov was admirably candid about his purpose of using the Inuit issue as a “WhatAbout” for Westie attempts to stir up Finno-Ugric resentment within the Russian Federation.  For starters, Russia’s aborigenal peoples are not oppressed by the Great Russian majority.  Secondly, even if they were, the West has no right to point out the speck of sawdust in another’s eyeball.  Westies claim they are champions of “Universal Human Rights”, and yet the very notion of (the descendants of Western European colonists) lecturing somebody else about treatment of aborigenes… well, that’s the dictionary definition of HYPOCRISY.

The border between Finland and Russia

Okay, so it isn’t just Western Europeans stirring this up.  Hungary and Finland currently pose as the European champions of Russia’s Finno-Ugric minorities.  Huns, as the descendants of Atilla, perhaps have a right to deem themselves the “elder brothers” of the other Finno-Ugrics.  Since Atilla was a fairly competent nation-builder in his own right.  Finnish pretensions are more hypocritical, since the Finns have territorial claims on the Russian Federation; namely, they would like to get their hands on the Karelian Isthmus and Vyborg.  In other words, if one looks at the map on the left, the Finns would like to move the border down further, past Vyborg.  Looking at the other map, on the right, one sees more of the area that goes from the White Sea down to Lake Onega and further to Lake Ladoga.  This whole area is populated by a mixture of ethnic Russians (around 80%), Finno-Ugric peoples (around 10%), and others (10%).  The lifestyle is rural and sometimes old-fashioned.  From all accounts, these people live together peacefully and intermarry, as humans are wont to do, when left to their own devices.

But What About the Eskimos?

Leaving Atilla and the Karelians behind:  In our mind’s eye let us migrate East East East all the way across Siberia, then walk across the ice of the Bering Strait, into Alaska, and then continue migrating all the way down to the Canadian Northwest.  All those centuries of ice and snow taught us how to survive here!  And life is pretty good … until Mr. Whitey shows up.

Most people are aware of the centuries-old history of colonialism and genocide in the Americas; but they may not be aware that the cultural genocide continues to take place.  In the highly civilized country of Canada, which likes to pass itself off as the model of “good people”.  These are the people, after all, who say “please” and “thank you” and obey all the traffic rules.

[And, just for the record, I personally don’t like the use of the word “genocide” in this context.  It’s a very strong word and should be reserved for physical extermination, like what the Nazis did.  But I don’t really have a better word to offer, just yet, for this type of situation.  Maybe “forced assimilation” or something like that?]

Anyhow, when Filippov talks about cultural genocide, he is  talking about the Inuit people.  These people go way back to the ancient migrations and inhabit at least one third of the territory of modern Canada.  The Inuits are a grouping of some type under the species homo sapiens.  In the race-obsessed United States, they fall under the (census) category of “American Indian or Alaska Native”.  A very broad category which probably covers hundreds, if not thousands, of unrelated groups.  Another categorizer you will see for the Inuits is the term “Eskimo-Aleut”.  More than half of the Inuits live in the Arctic territory of Nunavut.  According to wiki travel:

Karelian girls: “We share certain features with the Inuits…”

Until the end of World War II The Canadian far north was seen as a barren and desolate place, inhabited by indigenous peoples and containing vast mineral resources that have yet to be exploited. At the end the Canadian government began to realize its strategic importance. In 1982, after much debate and arguement it was decided to divide the Northwest territories into Nunavut and the former. On April 1, 1999 Nunavut came into existence.  Nunavut means our land in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit.

Like the Finno-Ugric peoples, the Inuit seem to have acquired the bad habit of inhabiting areas rich in mineral wealth.  What are the odds?  Travel-wiki goes on to educate us about the speech of these hardy indigenous peoples:

A textbook of the Inuktitut language.

The official languages of Nunavut are Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French.  Inuktitut is the first official language, and is spoken by nearly 70% of the population as a first language. Inuktitut is the traditional language spoken by the Inuit people…  English is widely spoken; around 25% of the population speak English as their native language, and most of the rest speak it as their second or third. (…)  Around 8% of the population of Nunavut do not speak English or French, hence in the more remote places an Inuktitut phrasebook may be necessary.

The language issue is important, as we shall see later, in Filippov’s accusation of cultural genocide.  It would not be cultural genocide to simply educate all children in the use of several languages other than their native one.  What Filippov means by “cultural genocide” is the deliberate attempt to force children to lose ties with their native tongue.  When this happens, then another human language just dies out.  And with the language, dies the culture.  Hence, cultural genocide.  QED.

[to be continued]

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Cultural Genocide And WhatAbout – Part I

Dear Readers:

It is common on the internet for blog pundits to decry the use of “Whataboutism” as a valid debating tool.  Personally, I think Whataboutism is not only valid, but also a wonderful way to point out the sheer hypocrisy of one’s opponent.  We saw, a few posts back, that American think-tanks have worked out a very elaborate scheme to destroy and dismember the Russian Federation.  One of the arrows in their quiver, so to speak, is the national question.  They poke around, see what ethnic groups they can stir up against the Russians; for example the Finno-Ugrics:

A Soviet propaganda cartoon showing a lynching in the U.S.

The Northwestern Federal District. The goal was to instigate regional nationalism among Finno-Ugric ethnic groups. Another point of pressure was to create nationalism tendencies among ethnic Russian population in the Republic of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Oblast in order to form a new large ethnosocial group. For example, in April, the city of Arkhangelsk experienced a series of rallies held in breach of law. This situation happened under the passive eye of regional authorities. Furthermore, initial reactions and attitude of the regional authorities played a notable role in fueling the protest moods. These protests, caused by a project of landfill site in the nearby area, is being actively exploited by the so-called non-system opposition and “liberal media” to fuel tensions between the different groups of local population as well as the regional government.

Given this, I think it is perfectly valid for Russophiles to, not simply deny that Finno-Ugrics are being oppressed in Russia, but shoot back with examples, of which there are legion, of how the “civilized Western democracies” treat their indigenous groups.

Canada, for example.  And thus we have this piece from  May 11, by analyst Artem Filippov.  The headline reads:

Canadian Indians Are Being Exterminated Directly In The Schools

An alarming headline, designed to catch clicks, but don’t worry:  When we read a little further we discover that Filippov is talking more about cultural than physical genocide.  Although there is a bit of both, where American Indians are concerned.

Filippov is open about his motive for raising this unpleasant topic, as he begins his essay thusly:


Western countries, deeming themselves to be the paragon of preserving minority rights, in reality are destroying small nations with the help of the so-called cultural genocide.  A very clear example of this is Canadian policy regarding the aboriginal Inuits.  Canada’s monstrous social statistics proves this point.

A Canadian Inuit family

From time to time imprecations are hurled at Russia from the West in regard to the rights of native and small [in numbers] people.  The American State Department, by tradition, continuously raises the issue of the Crimean Tatars.  Finland, Estonia, Hungary and even the Euro-Parliament keep reminding us of the Finno-Ugric peoples who dwell on the territory of the Russian Federation; by some strange coincidence they tend to inhabit important areas which are rich in natural resources.


I hope I do not need to explain to my readers the hidden irony of that last sentence:  I believe that Mr. Filippov is hinting that the Westies are only pretending (gasp!) to care about the rights of certain human beings, but in actuality just dream of getting their paws on Russia’s natural resources.  In the same way, perhaps, that the American thirst for “democracy and human rights” so often coincides with their thirst for crude oil!

And thus the polemic begins; but along the way we are going to learn some interesting facts about these Inuits, and how their lives fare in the civilized West.

[to be continued]

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Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part VII

Dear Readers:

Today we will finish  our review of this piece, a transcript of an interview with Jared McBride, Lecturer in Russian and East European History at UCLA.   Where we left off, Professor McBride had discussed the volumes and volumes of police reports compiled by the Soviet NKVD, even when the war was still ongoing.  Collaborators in the occupied territories might have thought of themselves as having complete impunity, and they certainly didn’t count on the Soviets winning the war.  But thus fate decreed.

McBride discusses the earlier cases, from 1944-45, the war was still going on and was not completely won yet, but the Red Army was slowly liberating territories.  McBride calls this early police work “sloppy” and unreliable:  “You’ll see two or three witness statements. The most obvious sign that you’re not reading a particularly solid case is when witness statements tend to resemble each other. So, you’ll see two or three witness statements, and then a sentence is handed out. Often they’re shot or sent to Siberia. And that’s all.”

It goes without saying that when witness statements resemble each other too much, this is a sign that the police are coercing the witnesses.

Fortunately, with the end of the war, better and more experienced Soviet police are relieved from the front lines and brought in to the investigations; and then the work gets better and more professional: “Then the trials become more extensive. The number of cases against local collaborators are in the hundreds of thousands by the Stalin’s death in 1953. Then there’s a pause in these trials. And many of the local collaborators who were sentenced to Siberia come back during Khrushchev’s Thaw.”

Starting in the 1960’s and 1970’s, some of those “pardoned” collaborators and nationalists were re-arrested and re-tried, even at risk of double jeapardy.  In some cases the Soviet prosecution claimed that new evidence had been uncovered, or new victims accounted for.  “They’ll use this as a premise to reopen trials. Then the police will re-interview witnesses from 20 years prior. In some of these cases, the police will interview every single person in a county, or even in multiple counties, who was alive during the Second World War. Every single person.”

In France, local bullies shaved women’s heads after the war, to punish them for collaborating with Germans.

These war crimes trials continued in the Soviet Union on and off, right up until the 1980’s.  Again, this aspect of McBride’s research comes as a complete surprise, and eye-opener to me.  Fortunately, Professor McBride tosses people like me a bone to explain our ignorance in this matter:  “The trials immediately after the war or even towards the end of the war are not necessarily public. You could read about them in local newspapers. But they’re not necessarily going to harp on the fact of local collaboration because revealing all of the people who were not loyal during the war is not really the message they want to send to the Soviet public. You will not see the focus of that in the postwar trials or that there was any sort of public event. People are typically tried privately and then they’re sentenced.”  This quote actually restores my sense of sanity and confirms a hunch I have often expressed:  about the Soviet government not wanting to air all that dirty laundry in public.  It might have raised questions about “Why so many collaborators in a happy workers state?”

Which, actually, I do not believe is a question that should shame any government under attack from without.  Just as a woman should not have to apologize for being raped, so too I do not believe a government should be ashamed if a large number of its citizens were organized (by occupiers) into a collaborationist structure.  Especially when recruited by master organizers such as the Germans.  The miracle is not that so many collaborated, but that so many resisted.  In reality, although the “French Resistance” is a bit of a myth, the Soviet Resistance is not.  On reading about these heroes, I have often looked into my own soul, and I know that I am not brave enough to have done what they did.

Collaborators vs Noble Nationalists?

Again taking the bull by the horns, McBride squarely takes on the issue of who was a low-life Nazi collaborator, and who was just an honest nationalist guerrilla fighter against Soviet tyranny (which is what all the collaborators claim to be).  You know the old saying, one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero.  I reckon the moral dividing line would be, somebody who only fought against the Red Army and/or partisans and never touched the hair on a Soviet civilian’s head.  Is there such a person on the planet?

Inspector Gamache: “I am here to investigate zee brutal crime, while also enjoying a delicious 7-course meal…”

McBride:  “If you’re looking at local collaborators, the irony is most of these cases, and I would say this in terms of my research, the overwhelming majority of these people participated in the crimes that they were accused of.”  In other words, murdering Jews or helping to murder Jews, not to mention other types of Soviet civilians.  But mostly Jews.

It seems to me that a good historian must share some traits with a good detective.  In other words, to collate data from multiple sources, not take everything at face value, etc.  According to McBride he does not necessarily blindly believe everything in the Soviet archives, but also compares this data with other sources, such as eye-witness testimony and memoirs:  “You’re able to bring together a hybridity between police documents and testimony of people often taken 40, 50, or 60 years later in a different country at a different time.”  McBride has also dipped into the Shoah Foundation Archives, which should verily shock the Jew-haters and Holocaust Deniers.  Who, unfortunately, are legion nowadays, even in the Russophile blogosphere.

McBride:  “I will show a testimony taken in the 1990s of a Ukrainian or a Jew from a village in western Ukraine describing the local policemen or describing events during the war. And then I’ll pull up a testimony from Soviet police archives describing the same exact events.”

As to the issue of Nationalists and members of Nationalist organizations, that complicates the issue, of course, because in the Soviet Union, just being a member of one of these organizations was also a crime, whether or not one had actually killed anyone.  Here it is a case of delicately separating the cutlets from the flies.

The Holocaust As Cold War Instrument

Towards the end of his interview, Professor McBride takes on the big-ticket item of the Holocaust and develops a theory of why the Soviets re-tried so many collaborators in the two decades after the Khrushchev thaw.  “Holocaust” is a term used by professional Jews and Westies, but not by the Soviets.  Here again, ideology as well as terminology, splits the sides.  McBride doesn’t talk about Israel, but everybody knows how the Zionists used this genocide for their own ends.  In the West, the Holocaust has been built up as a unique event in human history.

McBride on the later re-trials: “The goal of Soviet justice, and especially in these later trials, but also earlier trials too, when it came to the Holocaust wasn’t to right wrongs. It wasn’t to remember the Holocaust as a unique event.”  Here is the development of McBride’s theory:

As the Nazis retreated, many of the collaborators left with them, seeking better lives where they wouldn’t be shot.  In other materials that I have read, it seems the Nazis had one good feature:  They were loyal to those who had served them.  It seems they did as best they could, even in these stressful times, to save their minions.  Quite a few of those minions fled via rat-lines to Western nations, including the U.S.  According to McBride, this was especially true for heads of local police.  “Even if you’re in a village of middle of nowhere, the heads of the local collaborationist police would leave with their German bosses, end up in displaced persons camps, claim that they were forced laborers, and then come to the United States after the war.”

No shame: Latvian SS legion celebrated in annual parade

In the 1970’s, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union realized it could use this issue against the United States, namely that it was harboring so many Nazi collaborators.  This is possibly the reason, or one reason, why all these people were re-arrested and trials re-opened against them in the Soviet Union; namely, using these ex-collaborators as instruments to put the Americans to shame:  “The Soviets are largely driving this narrative. They’re using this as a weapon against the west. They’re making an ethical or moral argument against the west, that the west doesn’t care that there were Holocaust perpetrators in their midst. That they’ve done nothing to root them out or punish them. Whereas we, the Soviet Union, have punished everybody who committed crimes during the Second World War.”

This theory sounds plausible, but I would note a logical contradiction with McBride’s earlier statements that these trials were not widely publicized within the Soviet Union.  I suppose there is a way to square this circle:  The Soviet government felt embarrassed at the number of collaborators and would prefer not to air this dirty laundry to high heaven; but still wanted the West to sit up and take notice.  (?)

And thus ends Professor McBride’s interview.  One almost feels a nostalgia for those “good old days” of the Cold War, when one could shame one’s geopolitical enemy by calling him a Nazi-loving nogoodnik.  Today we live in a world where Ukrainian streets and cities are named after Nazi collaborators; where men in Nazi SS uniforms march through the streets of Ukrainian and Baltic cities, and nobody in the West even blinks an eye!  In fact, lauds these monstrosities as the signs and portents of a “fledgling” democracy at work.

THE END (of humanity as we know it)

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Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part VI

Dear Readers:

Continuing to review this piece, which is a transcript of an interview with Professor Jared McBride, Lecturer in Russian and East European History at UCLA.  I have not read McBride’s thesis, but, based on the things he says in this interview, I very much like his approach.  Which appears to be one of calm rationality, de-emotionalizing such big-ticket concepts as the “Holocaust” or “Totalitarianism”, and just focusing, instead, on the ordinary sociological aspects of why ordinary people do what they do.  Like, why did people enlist in the Hitlerite police units and set off to kill their neighbors?

For example, the children’s way of looking at the Holocaust might be to read Anne Frank’s diary and wonder:  “Had I been there, would I have had the moral grit to hide this lovely young child in my attic?”  Seeing everything as a personal, moral choice:  Do I kill my neighbors, or do I hide them in my attic?

LIfe is good on the UCLA campus!

The grown-up, sociological approach, while not ignoring personal choices, puts such horrendous events in a broader context; as McBride has said, he looks at groups of people and studies factors such as past inter-ethnic conflicts, peer pressure, economic incentives, and the like, which might induce ordinary people, not necessarily evil at first, to enlist in the Schutzmannschaften units.

McBride’s more “controversial” approach (well, controversial only from the POV of the Academic Cold Warrior caste) is to root through Soviet police archives in search of research material.  Encouraged by his thesis advisor; perhaps somebody forgot to tell them that they are only supposed to consider “facts” produced by the other side, namely the collaborationists themselves!  Somebody forgot to tell them that everything ever said or written down by Soviets/Russians is just a pack of lies.  Even down to the count of missing chickens.

One recalls the sad fate of our previous interlocutor, Alexander Reshideovich Dyukov, a Russian historian who is banned in all the Schengen countries.  What was his crime?  Having the wrong opinions, based on the “wrong” facts.  American wiki explains his incorrect approach:

While Dyukov employs open archives such as from the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) and the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (RGANI), he also cites the archives of the FSB, to which access by researchers is limited. It is these FSB archives which Dyukov uses, for example, to claim in his recent book, The Genocide Myth, that Estonia’s recollection of Soviet repressions including deportations is exaggerated. In regard to the June 1941 deportations, that took place before German invasion of June 22, 1941, Dyukov contends that deported Estonians were mostly German collaborators or were linked to them.

Allow me to explain:  One of the Estonian Articles of Faith is that (a) they never collaborated with the Nazis; or (b) if they did, it was only as payback for the Soviet crimes against them, such as the deportations.

The Estonian view of the deportations

Dyukov clipped the Estonian wings and relieved them of one of their key dogmas, when he dissed their talking point about the “cattle cars”, “each car stuffed to 40-50 people, including women, children and the elderly.”  And the massive number of deaths that ensued inside these reeking cars.  According to Dyukov, based on his research in the NKVD archives, (a) the deportees were herded into regular passenger cars, not cattle cars; (b) each railroad car contained about 30 people, not 50; (c) an ambulance railroad car was on hand, containing a doctor, a paramedic, and two nurses; in case anybody got sick; and (d) most likely, not one single person died en route.

See, Dyukov is not denying that the deportations took place; he is only arguing that the Estonians exaggerate how horrific they were.  And also questions the lamb-like innocence of the deportees.  Well, one can stipulate that the Estonian children were innocent lambs.  But this was the type of unpleasant affair where the children have to go with their parents.

Estonian Legion recruits democratically-minded people to fight against Soviet totalitarianism.

The Estonian “cattle-car” myth is typical of the collaborationist mind-set.  When their side lost the war; and upset by all the attention and sympathy the Jews were getting for their Holocaust, they feel the need to punch their own chests:  “I was a victim too!”  We see this in the Ukrainian Banderite myth of the famine or “Holodomor”  Again, a famine did take place, nobody denies that, but (a) it wasn’t directed against Ukrainians specifically; and (b) there was no famine in Galicia, the font of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement.  The brunt of the famine was actually way out there in Kazakhstan.  We see the same illogic in play with the Estonian myth of the cattle cars, ’cause, see, Jews were transported in cattle cars, and they got a lot of sympathy for that, so Estonians had to claim they were deported in cattle cars as well.  Another major difference:  Jews in cattle cars were taken away to be exterminated.  Estonians in railroad cars were taken away to serve a term of exile.  Sort of different things.  Different degrees of unpleasantness.

Anyhow, my major point, which is sort of a warning to McBride:  the Estonians, horrified by Dyukov’s puncturing of their bubble, retaliated by banning him from Estonia; and got their NATO allies and the Schengen countries also to jump all over him.  I am hoping that McBride will not face a similar fate, when the descendants of the Collaborationist Nations learn of his research in the Soviet police archives.  Hopefully not; after all, there is a major difference between Dyukov and McBride as well:  the former is a Russian, whom Westies are trained since the cradle to despise and loathe as subhumans; whereas McBride is a fully human American citizen.  Civis Romanus sum, and a’ of that.

High Stalinism vs Late Stalinism

Another thing that attracts me in McBride is his sensible-shoes approach to Stalinism.  I think he would have lost me rather quickly, had he turned out to be one of those dreadful “Furries” who cannot see just what a hideous person Stalin was, and what a fucking liar and slanderer.  He certainly had no mercy for anybody, nor moral scruples.  Nevertheless, he was the figurehead of an entire system that was not nearly as horrific as Westies claim.  Had Stalin shown any weakness or indecisiveness when the Teutonic Horde invaded; had he actually been the coward as Khrushchev portrayed him, hiding under his desk and screaming “We have lost everything that Lenin built!” then I am pretty sure the Soviet “Deep State” (which consisted of tens of thousands of functionaries, serving an even vaster base), in facing this existential threat to the nation, would have found a way to replace him in very short order.

Professor Grover Furr

Fortunately for Stalin, he was not that coward, he remained in Moscow, he stepped up to the plate, provided decent leadership, and won the war for the Soviet people.  Which is why I am willing to concede that Stalin “redeemed” himself, although I fiercely debate the pro-Stalinists who do not understand the distinction between “redemption” and “vindication”.

Which brings us to the concept of “High Stalinism“.  I don’t know if McBride invented that term, but I really like it.  It is a way to distinguish the Office-Politics Stalin of the 1930’s who used state repressive organs to settle his personal scores against the Old Bolsheviks; from the later Stalin, the Company Man and Statesman who won the war.  Obviously lower-IQ people will not be able to grasp that the same person can be different entities, at different periods in their biography.  I am not at all a deep thinker myself, but I get that.  Others don’t.  They have to go on believing that Stalin was either (a) evil all the time, or (b) wonderful all the time.

In this respect, McBride once again takes the bull by the horns:

I wanted to ask about the issues with using Soviet police files. We know for example, that files, say during 1937-1938, the accuracy of the information is quite suspect. How do you deal with the information that’s in these documents?

McBride: This often colors a lot of our approach to the police archives, like everything else when it comes to Soviet history, in that it’s seen through the lens of high Stalinism. We need to obviously move away from that.

Stalin in 1945: Achieved a kind of Redemption

McBride goes on to say that, according to his research, the overwhelming majority of people who were accused of committing these crimes (as collaborators) were, in fact, guilty“Now the degree to which they were culpable is debatable. So, whether you were the head of the police, whether you were pulling the trigger at a mass grave or you were just basically surrounding people at the mass grave. We can obviously discuss the levels of culpability.  But this idea that these were fabrications of crimes is completely absurd.”

And this is different from those political trials during the “High Stalinism” period where, Grover Furr to the contrary, Stalin and his henchpersons were basically just making up fictional crimes against his political opponents.  As in, Trotsky Zinoviev Bukharin worked for the Nazis, etc.  But these people during the war, these local collaborators, they really did work for the Nazis!  “Ironies upon ironies,” as McBride notes.

Next:  The Prosecutions

[to be continued]

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Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part V

Dear Readers:

And so we have concluded the “Crime” portion of this story, for now.  We saw that the Germans had a rather sophisticated method for recruiting local collaborators to help them keep “order” and kill Jewish civilians in the occupied regions of Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltics.  We identified the criminals, members of the Schutzmannschaft units.  If the Germans had won the war, then these men would not have been criminals, they would have been local heroes.  But the Germans lost the war, and hence they are criminals.  Actually, by any civilized person’s standard they would be criminals, since they murdered unarmed civilians, unarmed women and children, and that’s always a no-no, even in ancient times.

Now we have this piece, posted just last week on Sean’s Russia blog.  This one was a real eye-opener for me, since I have often expressed the opinion that the Soviet government was not too keen about going after collaborators, post-war.  Apparently I was misinformed.  I also used to think that Casablanca was a beach resort.

Professor McBride

Sean’s post is a partial transcript of a podcast interview with Professor Jared McBride, PhD, who teaches Eastern European and Russian History at UCLA.  Professor McBride wrote his dissertation on “mass violence and genocide, the Holocaust, inter-ethnic conflict, and war crimes prosecution” in the Russian borderlands, and is currently writing a full-length book based on his thesis.  He will never have to worry about “Publish or Perish”, since there is a mountain of material out there.

McBride picked his main topic already as an undergraduate, when his adviser took him on a trip to the Russian archives in Moscow.  Their research was based on a collection called the Extraordinary State Commission (ChGK).  McBride:  “This was a massive collection of testimonies, among other things, collected immediately after the Red Army pushed the Nazis out of Eastern Europe and Russia. This commission was sent in to record the damage and what had happened during the Second World War.”

Recall our Russian historian from yesterday’s post, Alexander Diukov, and how his American wiki criticizes him for just trustingly taking Russian archives at face value.  I can’t help with wonder if McBride takes similar criticism from the usual suspects…  After all, real historians are not supposed to believe anything that is written down in Russian archives.  It’s all just a pack of lies!  Right?

McBride:  “They did everything from counting how many chickens were lost in the entire Soviet Union to the Nazis as well as recording the very macabre history of violence during the war.”  Well, they probably lied about the chickens too.

In spite of which, McBride became fascinated with the themes of what was actually going on at the local level in these occupied regions, and thus picked this “highly politicized” topic as, first his senior thesis, then his PhD thesis, and now his upcoming book.

An Even-Handed Approach

Joking aside, I personally very much like Professor McBride’s approach to these highly emotional issues.  He is even-handed, and gives logical explanations why the two sides in the Cold War (Soviets vs Westies) each treated this material in the way they did.  Each side one-sided, each in their own way.  McBride doesn’t discount the role of Nazi ideology, but also looks at how completely ordinary people, not even driven by ideology, are recruited into collaborationist type organizations.  And it is actually very logical, when you see how people behave in any organizational scheme that is set up, you even see such behaviors as conformism and bullying in day-to-day office politics, although it doesn’t normally reach the level of violent pogroms.

McBride:  “We’ve begun to move away from that in how we look at violence at the local level. Now we ask regular social science questions about peer pressure, economic motivations, and other social dynamics at the local level that are also playing into why local collaborators, or just the local population becomes implicated in violence.”

This is a sensible approach and helps drive humanity forward to a better era:  How can we set up systems of checks and balances which ensure that illegal and criminal structures cannot flourish, even in times of stress?  How can we set up norms of international law that protect ordinary people, even in war time?

Taking The Bull By the Horns

Not shying away from the big question posed by his interlocutor thusly:

Your work is highly reliant on using Soviet police archives, particularly from Ukraine because the Ukrainians have opened the access to them. Talk about these archives, the access to them, and the types of information they contain that is relevant for your work.

[By the way, I would personally hazard here that the Ukrainian Nationalists opened their archives in error, perhaps believing their own simplistic propaganda that Soviet archives could contain only a series of horrific “crimes of Stalinism” and whitewash the other side.  Perhaps not realizing how damning the truth is to their own side.]

McBride does not hesitate to engage on this issue, and I am sure he has been challenged a million times by the professional Cold Warriors who continue to dominate Pindosian Academia:

“They [the Soviet ChGK archives] provide a very nuanced, detailed look into what happened during the occupation. After 1991, this has been a source for a lot of historians who wanted to tell a much more detailed account of the Second World War.

“The police archives [of the type the Ukrainian opened] are like the Extraordinary State Commission times a million. The Extraordinary State Commission would often give lists of local collaborators or people who worked with the Nazi regime to the secret police. They also got these lists from other sources as well. The secret police, the NKVD at the time, and later the KGB, would arrest individuals for crimes that they committed during the occupation, interview other locals or witnesses for what they had done, and then often sentence them to very, very steep sentences. Oftentimes up to 25 years in Siberia.”

Another eye-opened for me is that Professor McBride found, in these archives, very explicit discussions about the Holocaust and inter-ethnic violence within the Soviet occupied regions.  I myself had always believed (and been raised to believe) that the Soviets were not at all keen to air this dirty laundry.  Which is actually the point that poet Yevtushenko was trying to make in his famous poem about Babiy Yar.  But perhaps there is also a way to square this circle:  Namely, discretion for the public at large, but all secrets bared in the archives.

“In fourteen-hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

And that is actually a common methodology in many human endeavors, but especially such emotional matters as religion and history.  Wherein only partial truths are revealed to the rubes, but the full monte for the inducted priesthood.  For example, I have been told that American schoolchildren learn a very watered-down version of their own history; many do not even know about the native genocides, about the true nature of African slavery, or even about segregation and Jim Crow.  And yet these facts are out there for those who seek them, and not exactly hidden behind seven veils.

In regard to the Soviet Union, it has been said (with some justification) that all regular citizens, including grown-ups, were treated (by the state) like children and spared from certain unpleasant truths.  And yet the truths were there for real grown-ups to know, hidden in archives behind lock and key!

Next:  A crucial distinction between High Stalinism and Later Stalinism…

[to be continued]

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Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part IV

Dear Readers:

Today we will finish reviewing this piece, and then we shall move on to the Punishment phase of this process.  Where we left off, the German occupying government had built Auxiliary Police Units in the Ukraine (and Baltics) eventually numbering in the hundreds of thousands of men.  Whose job was to combat armed partisans, Resistance, Communists, etc., but also to slaughter unarmed Jewish civilians.  As part of Hitler’s strategic initiative to physically eliminate all undesirable races in Europe, starting with the Jews.  Historian Alexander Diukov has described how the German occupiers selected their local assistants.

Historian Alexander Diukov: Banned from Schengen countries, but still allowed to stay at the Panorama Hotel.

Speaking of Diukov, the English-language wiki that I just linked, is not very happy with his work, describing him as “controversial” and a “historical negationist”.  And then proceed to quote every slanderous quote and accusation against him, even misspelling his name as “Dykov” in some portions.  This is because Diukov does not follow the Westie-favored narrative about Balt/Ukainian collaborators being the innocent victims of Stalinist terror; no, they were not pro-Nazi at all, but only fought back to defend their families; oh, and also for National Independence – yeh.  Western Wiki also disapprove that Diukov reports accurately on what he finds in the Soviet/Russian archives (taking archival material at face value instead is dismissing as “Russian lies”), and doesn’t just make shit up, like the Estonian historians do.  As a result of his work, in which he specializes on the years 1941-43, Diukov has been banned from Latvia, Lithuania, and other “Schengen” nation-states.  The Baltic states in particular, realistically and from the ideological point of view, may be considered inheritor states of the Nazi Occupying regime.  So it makes sense that they put their fingers in their ears and don’t want to hear what the likes of Diukov have to say.  It bursts their bubble too much to endure.

Volhynia: even the sweet little Polish babies were not spared…

Anyhow, continuing with Diukov’s narrative of the events of 1943:  It had taken the Nazis this long to get around to liquidating the Jewish ghettos.  Killing people isn’t as easy as it sounds, it takes a lot of planning and logistics, especially in wartime, when there are always other priorities.  When the time came to implement this special project, the Schutzmannschaften, consisting of local collaborationist “police”, were brought in to the dirty work.  This was around the time when the Ukrainian UPA carried out the Volhynian Massacre, primarily of peaceful Polish civilians as well as Jews.  From Diukov’s comment (“a part of the component of the Schutzmannschaft went off into the woods and organized the UPA, utilizing their specifically acquired butchery training to carry out the Volhynian Massacre”) it is not clear to me if he meant that the UPA was not really authorized by the Germans to do this, or just went off on their own into the forests to settle scores against Galician Poles (?)  In any case, as Diukov points out, (1) the UPA had received this specialized type of training for mass butchery from the German Abwehr; and (2) these professional butchers, killing sometimes Jews and sometimes Poles, were one and the same people.  I reckon the latter is an important debating point, as current-day Ukrainian Nationalists attempt to separate the UPA out as an instrument of “fledgling” Ukrainian statehood not beholden to the Nazis and, in fact, even fighting like partisans against the Nazis, as the current mythology goes.  Similar to the myth about Stepan Bandera’s arrest (for petty theft) as an indicator that the Nazis feared him and locked him up as a political prisoner.  Like a Ukrainian Nelson Mandela, or the like.  Again, too funny for words.

1942: German soldiers relaxing on the Eastern Front

Bottom line:  Without these local Schutzmannschaften, the Germans simply could not have coped with the logistics of killing all the Jews in these occupied regions.  It would have detracted too many forces from the front.  Where the regular German soldiers were kept busy enough fighting against partisans  Every collaborationist in the rear guard was a precious commodity, one less German soldier pulled away from the front lines to do the menial work of killing civilians.  The Third Reich was appreciative and knew how much they owed these local collaborationists.  If Hallmark had been around in those days, they would have made a card for that:  “For all you do…”

Besides, the locals knew the area, they knew the local population, they knew who was who.  Who were the local Communists, who were the local Jews.  German Nazi soldiers didn’t possess this local knowledge, so every foray would have put them at risk.  It always pays to have a native guide.

Ukrainian Collaborators Spread Their Wings

In the final section of this piece, we learn that the Ukrainian collaborators, in particular, took an active part in the Jewish Holocaust even beyond the borders of Soviet territory.  According to Russian historian Konstantin Zalessky:

“A significant part of the collaborators, who underwent training in the scope of Operation Reinhard, in the SS training camp Travniki, came from the Ukraine.  The training camp prepared men to be concentration camp guards.  They were employed in the [Nazi] concentration camps in Poland and even in the Third Reich.”

Historian Konstantin Zalessky

In which context, one recalls that old chestnut of a Ukrainian diaspora joke; something to the effect:  “Uncle Taras is coming to dinner, whatever you do, don’t ask him about the war.  His brother spent the war in a concentration camp, and Uncle Taras is still haunted by the memory…”  “Why, what happened?”  “His brother lost his footing one day and fell off the guard tower…”

The exact number of Ukrainian collaborationists cannot be determined with complete accuracy.  Many historians estimate around 250,000 Ukrainians served the Third Reich in various types of military formations.  Diukov considers this number to be too high; he believes that a lot of Ukrainians got double-counted if they served in more than one type of unit at different times.  In any case, the real number, high as it is, pales in comparison with the number of Ukrainians who fought on the other side of the front, on the correct side of the front.  Those Ukrainians numbered in the millions.  Therefore, the final tally goes something like this:

Millions of Ukrainians fought against Hitler in the ranks of the Red Army; and only something like 200,000 fought for Hitler, as members of the Schutzmannschaft.

Ukrainians celebrate those millions who fought on the correct, and the victorious, side of the war.

This is why it is particularly annoying that the current Ukrainian Nationalist government decided to pick those 200,000 as their heroes and spit on the other millions.  They pick the ideology of a violent, brutal and treasonous minority as the state ideology and name streets and towns after these butchers.  The Orange and Maidan movements truly represented the ideological triumph of Galicia and the Nazis over mainstream Kiev; with the cancer cells spreading and consuming the healthy part of the body politick.  With Western assistance these malignant forces managed to install a pro-Nazi Cargo Cult type ideology in Kiev — the Mother of All Russian Cities!! — a cult that celebrates unworthy losers instead of righteous victors.

However, there is still room for hope:  One saw, a few days back on May 9, tens of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians pour into the streets of several cities carrying photos of the real heroes, those who fought against the monstrous anti-human philosophy of Nazism.  Whereas the Banderite minority were only able to pull at most, half a thousand neo-Nazis into the streets of Kiev, carrying the photographs of their heroes:  Bandera, Shukhevich, and the other butchers of the Schutzmannschaft.

Next:  Not all crimes go unpunished.

[to be continued]

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