The Stalin museum in Gori
The Stalin museum in Gori
The Stalin Museum in Gori is an intrusive and pathetic attempt to portray a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as well as unpleasant evidence of the hypocrisy of the Georgian government, which explicitly tolerates these lies. After leaving the Stalin Museum, one can have the impression that Stalin was a ‘good uncle’ who saved the world, because he defeated Hitler. In the museum there isn’t a single word about his pact with Hitler above the grave of Poland, or about the invasion of Poland. Stalin is responsible for the murder of 60 million people, which gives an average score of 40,000 a week, even during peacetime. This information also cannot be found in the museum, although there is a photo with his close ally – Churchill.
About 80km from Tbilisi there is a small town of Gori which is associated only with one man, with Iosif Jughashvili, who later became the famous but to most people infamous Joseph Stalin. He was born and raised in Gori, and that’s why today it is a popular tourist destination. The museum is located in the city centre, in Stalin avenue near Stalin square.
I would best describe my experiences in this small town as unexpected, as it is one of the very few places where Stalin is really loved. Both adults and children walking in Stalin Avenue are proud of him, and I think that despite the fact that they’ve heard about the gulags, about Katyn, the great famine and many other horror stories commited by Stalin, they simply don’t care. I talked about it with a girl from the hotel where I left my backpack, and she told me that all people in Gori feel the same way about the museum and that Stalin is admired by all. What’s more, when I talked to Georgians about the museum and Stalin himself, they were proud of him and the talk about him with a smile, whilst being very nice and hospitable to the Poles.
I don’t think I would make a mistake if I said that this small town of 50,000 has been placed on the map, only because as the red legend says: it was here where his beginning had the ‘father and teacher of the Soviet people who emerged from the endless fields of Russia’ …….. and murdered, starved, kept under absolute terror and declared war on his nation and many others; although that information in the museum simply does not exist.
Stalin’s little house
In front of the big building which honours the moustached leader, there is a statue of Stalin and in the foreground a small wooden house where Josif Jughashvili was born in 1878 and lived the first four years of his life. The cottage is very humble, but a better word to describe it is rather poor. It is here where little Iosif and his mother and father Vissarion Jughashvili (shoemaker) rented a room and the basement for a workshop. Today the house has been overbuilt by a communist looking lump of pillars, which gives an impression of a mausoleum. On the other side there is a park, where people sitting in the centre can look at the monument and think about their ‘comrade’.
On the left side of the museum stands a huge, armoured, 83-ton luxury wagon in which Stalin and his officials travelled around the Soviet Union and beyond. While Soviet people had to do 110% of a normal shift for a slice of bread, comrade Stalin was fully surrounded by comfort. Wagon has its own kitchen, bedrooms and a conference room with nice furniture and a red carpet on the floor. It is worth mentioning that among many trips Stalin also used that wagon for a conference in Tehran and Yalta, where Churchill and Roosevelt gave Poland to Stalin, so he could have his fill.
The museum of lies and convenient silence
Stalin museum was dedicated to his memory in 1957 and was closed in 1989, with the ‘independence’ of Georgia and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then many travellers from all over the world have gone there to see the story told in a different way. Once inside, first I saw another monument of Stalin and on the right a shop where a lady behind the counter was wearing a Bolshevik uniform, green with red epaulets, and she also had a cap with red star, and a medal on red ribbon with image of Stalin. The lady was quite pretty but Bolshevism stank both from her and from the rest of the staff. It also took me some time to convince her to keep my backpack, as if she subconsciously felt that I came from the completely different side of the barricade.
Especially in the Stalin’s Museum like nowhere else I asked for a guide, and it was another lady who told me about Stalin as she was instructed. She was very reluctant to answer my questions, and when she had no choice she always turned the facts in such a way, to not to show Stalin in a bad light. Each exhibition was associated with Stalin. Of course there were his busts, carpets with his likeness and photographs of him at different ages. The funniest thing however was the propaganda of greatness of the Soviet Union with all its factories working at full steam, and above all boundless love propaganda of the Soviet people for their leader. There were children with flowers, happy working class doing 110% of working time, and of course smiling viciously comrade Stalin who just by looking at people used to ‘heal the sick’ and ‘feed the hungry’.
One painting showed young Stalin holding a book, whilst enlightening other children with his ‘outstanding intelligence’, and in another picture he was with his family after hard work in the farm. The exhibits in the museum always showed Stalin as a victim of persecution and arrests for his revolutionary activities in the name of ‘salutary’ Bolshevism, which first took place in Batumi at the end of the nineteenth century. Another exhibition took me through the revolution in 1905, then through Stalin’s exile to Siberia, the next revolution in 1917, the civil war and Lenin’s death in 1924. Of course there were pictures of Lenin too, who in his political testament from 1922 ordered Bolsheviks to eliminate Stalin as the first secretary ….. but my tour guide did not say that. There were also photos from Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt, and pictures showing ‘deep sorrow and flowing tears’ of many nations, when the red beast finally went to Hell in 1953.
The museum however did not show even one thing about people being sent to Gulags in Siberia, starvation of millions in Ukraine, and there wasn’t a single word about NKVD which murdered about 22,000 Poles in Katyn, including thousands of soldiers, police officers, representatives of the Polish intelligentsia, priests and many, many more of whom speaking about could harm the feelings of the people of Gori. I also have to say that when it comes to the Stalin’s closest political environment, very little was said about Khrushchev or Trotsky, and there isn’t a single word about the fact that Trotsky was murdered on Stalin’s order. The museum however mentions the sexual predator and the NKVD chief Lavretniy Beria (also Georgian), who after Stalin’s death went crazy about taking power, but was soon executed.
(By the way, if Beria was still alive today and if he was a politician in America or Western Europe during the times of perverse ultra-liberalism, his life would be a dream come true).
In the museum there isn’t also a single word about the secretive arrangement with Hitler to divide Poland, and about how the UK and America sold Poland to Stalin. I would like to make it clear that the Ribbentrop – Molotov pact was not only a non-aggression pact. Thanks to Stalin, Hitler was given a free hand to conquer Europe and then for many years he even supplied the Reich in materials needed for building a war machine, what means that the one who made his name in history as the conqueror of Hitler, for most of his reign was his partner in crime. (On the other hand Western European countries such as Great Britain also gave him a free hand even without signing the pact). One picture drew my attention in particular, because it showed Stalin holding the Polish emblem in his hand, whilst Polish generals were giving Poland away to him as a present. I must admit that even to these days, to millions of people the mood of that photo is joyful, just like if good uncle Stalin saved Poland from its independence.
This museum is an attempt to present Stalin as a young boy from the neighbourhood who grew up in Gori and lived in great Russia, and then climbed the peaks of power and defeated Hitler. However, after seeing the whole material I had an impression that someone who doesn’t know history, without a doubt would take Stalin for a ‘good uncle’. Unfortunately the Georgian nation is in love with him to this day, and it explicitly refuses to accept the truth. Georgians blindly love Stalin, even though he was responsible for the murder of 60mln people, what gives an average number of about 40,000 every week during his reign, even in peacetime. I think that the Stalin Museum in Gori is an intrusive and downright pathetic attempt to present a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as well as unpleasant proof of the hypocrisy of the Georgian government that openly tolerate these lies.
I also believe that before President Kaczynski helped Georgia during the Russian invasion in 2008, first he should have raised the issue of the museum and should have awaken a sense of Georgians’ humanity that they should not be proud of Stalin, and only depending on their response he should have helped. I would have done that. Looking at the politics of the former and the current years I know that Germany at least symbolically said ‘sorry’. Russians, with great difficulty, admitted their blame for Katyn, at the same time removing the guilt from the Germans, and they also admitted that Stalin took the eastern borderlands belonging to Poland.
Georgians however, who are friends of Poland take the greatest criminal of the Polish nation to the heavens! This also proves of great incompetence of President Kaczynski, who acted harmfully to the Poles. For comparison, Austrians are happy when people due to lack in their education think that Hitler was German, but Georgians feel offended when someone doesn’t know that Stalin was Georgian.
There are such nations, which after years of occupation and colonization grasp what they can, like a drowning man grabbing a razor, to forcibly provoke a sense of national solidarity. In Georgia they love Stalin because that’s all they have. In Ukraine on the other hand they love Bandera, because that’s all they have. Georgians without Stalin or Ukrainians without Bandera would only be a conglomerate of post-Soviet nations outside today’s Russia. However, there are more of such nations.
In Tajikistan they like Lenin, and I saw many monuments in his honor there because they: ‘feel like people of the Soviet Union’. The fact that Lenin, Stalin or Bandera were mass murderers of Poles doesn’t matter to them and they don’t even want to know about it, as it could destroy their artificially created national identity. Face to face with a Pole they are even nice people, but the degree of political and historical hypocrisy requires them to love and respect the mass murderers of Poles. I believe that many of those people still feel Soviets.