A Special to the email newsletter by Edvins Snore
I decided to make the documentary film “The Soviet Story” to show the world the history of those nations, millions of people, who lived behind the Iron Curtain, under Soviet occupation.
When I made "The Soviet Story", I knew Russia would not like it. But I did not expect that they would hang and burn my effigy in the streets of Moscow after the film was released. The crowd was shouting: "We will not let rewrite our history!"
Indeed, the film shows the Soviet history in a different light, than the current Russian text books, which call Stalin a successful manager, ignoring the fact that under Stalin’s "successful management" 7 million Ukrainians were intentionally starved to death. Whole nations and ethnic groups were wiped off the map.
Today, watching the world news, people sometimes wonder why the Chechen people are so fiercely opposing Russia's rule. Not many people know that in 1944 the whole Chechen nation - men, women, and children - were rounded up, loaded into cattle trucks and deported to Central Asia. This operation was carried out during one day - February 23, 1944. 20% died en route. Ironically, the Chechen families were transported in the American-made Studebaker trucks, provided by the allied U.S. as war aid.
The Soviet crimes against humanity and against the captive nations resonate even today.
The Soviet policy of deportation, ethnic cleansing and Russification left a huge impact on the societies once controlled by the Soviets. A classic example are the three Baltic States, now members of NATO and the EU. In 1940 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were invaded by the USSR. As the local people were deported to Siberia, millions of Russian settlers moved into the Baltic States. Soviets applied a similar policy of colonisation also in the Ukraine. Today these former Soviet republics may be free democracies, but they have ethnically and ideologically divided societies with increased risk of conflict and instability.
When publicly burning the script of "The Soviet Story" the pro-Kremlin youth shouted: "Hands off our grandfathers!”, apparently referring to footage in the film calling for prosecution of the NKVD/KGB (Stalin's Security Police) officers who carried out torture and executions of thousands of the GULAG victims. The GULAG was the largest concentration camp system in the world, exceeding that of Nazi Germany. The GULAG net covered both Asia and Europe. Remarkably, after World War 2, the USSR even used the liberated Nazi camps (Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen) as part of its own camp system. None of the former NKVD/KGB killers and concentration camp guards have been tried in Russia.
“The Soviet Story” also discusses the Socialist origins of mass murder. For example, I knew that the renowned British playwright (and Socialist) Bernard Shaw called for extermination of "parasite classes" in 1930s. But I was shocked to discover that he had done so on camera. We include this footage in the film.
Perhaps the most striking historical footage which we uncovered was that of the Soviet-Nazi friendship during the first part of the World War Two. The joint Soviet-Nazi victory parade and the collaboration of the Gestapo and the NKVD was the culmination of that Alliance and the film documents this for the first time.
I believe “The Soviet Story” provides a fresh look at this important chapter of 20th century European history and its lesser known matters – elements of which still resonate with us today.
Edvins Snore, writer and director
“The Soviet Story”
Back to my January page
Back to my Patriotic page