A New Look At Beria – Part I

Dear Readers:

Turning our attention to the “controversial” figure of Lavrenty Beria, an important figure in Russian and Soviet history.  I have two pieces on Beria, both written by Russian reporter Evgeny Krutikov, who is known to dabble in the “dark arts” – this one from last year, and this one from last week.  Both pieces lead with photos of our Mingrel hero getting quite chummy with Stalin’s daughter.  Which is one of Beria’s good qualities, namely, it is known he was very fond of children.  Especially little girls.

Just for the record, I am a believer, myself, that Beria was not the monster that people say, and that if he had won the Succession War instead of Khrushchev, then maybe history could have gone a better way.  Namely, no Gorbachov and no Yeltsin!  Maybe they would just vanish like a puff of smoke in the ALT-Timeline:  SHAZAM!

A young Beria, before he lost most of his hair.

But we shall never know, nobody has a Time Machine, and nobody is in a position to go back and change history, just to see what happens next.

Let us begin with the earlier piece.  Krutikov’s headline reads:

Could Lavrenty Beria Have Transformed Stalin’s USSR Into a Democracy?

The short answer is No, but the longer answer is Yes.

Beria held important positions under Stalin:  He was a People’s Commissar, he was the head of Counter-intelligence during the Great Patriotic War (=WWII) and held the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union.  After the war, he headed the nation’s Nuclear project and saw to it, that the Atom was split.  After Stalin’s death, Beria threw his hat into the ring for the post of Successor. He became First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union, not to mention continuing as Minister of Internal Affairs (the equivalent of the American FBI).

Beria was a clever guy, but somehow he lost out in the ensuing vicious game of Kremlin Office Politics.  Lost out to the “clown”, Khrushchev.  Even the American Wikipedia calls Khrushchev’s gambit a “Coup d’état”.  And again, just for the record, I have been known to defend Khrushchev against the stupider elements, such as Furries and others, who insist that he (=Nikita) was an American puppet and “counter-revolutionary” all along.  I don’t believe that.  I just think that Nikita represented a more “liberal” wing of the Party, as did Beria himself!  Reform of the Stalin system was bound to happen, one way or the other.  But did it have to lead to counter-revolution?  Not necessarily…

Beria (left) and a scheming Khrushchev (right), before he got really fat

Beria was arrested on 26 June 1953.  He was tried for treason, convicted, and executed (by bullet) on December 23, 1953.  Leading the way for the Khrushchev era and the revelations of Stalin’s misdeeds, including the dumping of said misdeeds onto Beria.  While Nikita, who was also Stalin’s henchperson, comes out smelling like a rose.

In a way, Beria served as the scapegoat for the entire Stalin era, and to this day, as Krutikov points out, his name has a toxic ring to it.  Among the Russian pro-Westie Liberals and Kreakle class, Beria is the litmus test for everything that is bad.  God protect anybody who ever says a good word about this man, he immediately becomes an enemy of humankind itself!

Among Russian youth, Beria is the villain of a horror movie.  Like Dracula, he lived in a Gothic castle (but in the center of Moscow, not Transylvania), he wore that strange-looking pince-nez instead of regular glasses, he organized the assassination of Trotsky and seduced young girls.

Beria’s old house in Moscow, on Malaya Nikitskaya

[All of the above is true, but] the real Beria got a chance to show what he could really accomplish, in that brief period of time between Stalin’s death (in March of 1953) and his own arrest in June.  The man should be judged by what he did during those two months when he had real power and authority.  And this is what he did:  He bombarded the Politburo with a series of reports and projects, of a “Reforming” type.  He attempted to do something about the political and judicial repressions of individual persons.  Most of Beria’s oeuvre during this period was concerned with righting individual wrongs, for example exonerating the “Jewish Doctors” and the like.  Or defending people of his own ethnos (the Mingrels) who had been accused of various crimes during Stalin’s final days.  Beria also attempted to bring to justice certain officials who had employed torture to extract confessions.  Beria also implemented a broad amnesty, under which tens of thousands of prisoners were freed.  The amnesty included less dangerous criminals and first offenders, also many convicted of domestic crimes and property offenses (for example, helping themselves to communal property from the kolkhoz); especially women, older people, and juvenile offenders were amnestied and allowed to return to their homes.

Boris: “I free prisoners, then they attack me. Ingrates!”

[Which, by the way, reminds me of that scene in the Godunov miniseries:  After Fyodor Ivanovich abdicates his throne and the succession crisis begins in earnest, Boris and his men enter the Moscow prison and just free all the prisoners.  The ecstatic families take their people home, and Godunov’s popularity rating goes way up.  Until the mob turns on him, later.  Unfortunately for Beria, his magnanimity didn’t really help him much either.]

Krutikov admits that Beria’s putative “Liberalism” doesn’t amount to much in the political realm.  To be sure, there was a draft law which would have permitted peasants to hold a passport [are you telling me they didn’t??], and also envisioning some ameliorations in the lifestyles of people living in prison camps and the like.  These reforms were well overdue and were subsequently implemented by Khrushchev.  Showing that everybody in the Party was on the same page, in this respect.  I mean, the war was over, the nation needed to rebuild, life needed to settle down and become less tense, and people craved more individual liberties, is that so wrong?  The Furries will tell you that, yes, this was very wrong.  Everything went to hell in a handbasket after Stalin died.

Next:  What were Beria’s plans for the outside world?  His projected foreign policy?  Astonishingly, Beria had a plan to re-unify Germany.  And Krutikov unveils a skeleton in his own family closet, namely his grandfather, Alexei Dmitrievich Krutikov!

[to be continued]

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