The Doctors’ Plot
Editorial Note: A commentary on “The Death of Stalin”, by DAVID ASHTON
Screen and stage “entertainment”, such as “The Crown” or “Darkest Hour”, use either fictional reconstruction to highlight truthful themes from history, or falsify the facts for political propaganda and other questionable purposes.
Stalin said that the death of one person is a tragedy, whereas the death of millions is a statistic. But do we know how, why or exactly when he died, or an approximate total of fatalities from his purges, gulags and wars?
Both Josef Stalin and Julius Streicher met their end in proximity to the Purim festival, which celebrates the execution of an ancient tyrant who attempted the original “Holocaust”. Some have suggested that the killer in the Kremlin was removed to prevent plans for another one.
It is also worth comparing how Stalin’s admirers, like Marxist Grover Furr and the anti-Marxist Kerry Bolton, handled those events over 60 years ago. I recall a boyhood invitation from a Jewish couple, the local Communist Party treasurer and his wife, a Korean War “collaborator” employee. Their son’s birthday included a bedroom “tour” that displayed two Uncle Joe posters, one with his pipe and lupine leer, the other striding the parapets alongside Voroshilov. My young friend responded to my sarcastic observations with earnest devotion: “Stalin ALWAYS smiles, Dave.”
What persuaded Sir Bruce Lockhart to endorse Czech ex-communist Josef Heisler’s story that Jews had already been deported or murdered in huge numbers across the USSR, before Molotov (whose Jewish wife had been penalised for foreign links) provided a fatal cocktail for the paranoid Vozhd. Or that Khrushchev later bumped off Beria with the help of General Moskalenko’s tommy-gun spray? Vladimir Naumov conjectured that the MVD chief had slipped poison into the despot’s drink, albeit with Khrushchev’s knowledge. Exculpating his father, Beria’s son protested that “Svetlana embroidered the story” of her father’s death, adding that “at least six different versions” of his own father’s arrest and death exist – including more than one from Khrushchev!
Zhores Medvedev wrote of such assassination allegations: “Avtorkhanov developed a detailed theory…naming Beria as the culprit. Many versions of this story have continued to appear, most recently in the biography of Stalin by Edvard Radzinsky, who had entree to previously inaccessible archive documents. Nevertheless, there is still no concrete evidence to substantiate the claim that Stalin’s death was anything other than the result of illness.” According to Robert Service, although a plot to exterminate Soviet Jewry lacks proof, the tyrant’s entire Presidium themselves feared for their personal future.
Given the prolonged delay in publishing Stalin’s “autopsy”, the truth may never be known. Maybe Stephen Kotkin’s recent research will discover something reliable. Where deaths are involved, from Kirov and Tukhachevsky, from Berezovsky to Nemtsov, Russia remains a riddle.
We can anyhow be grateful that Armando Iannucci, director of “The Death of Stalin”, did not change the race and gender of these historic personalities. The communist comrades in his movie, accordingly, are all wicked white men.