Stalin may be enjoying a sinister revival in Putin’s Russia, but not everyone associated with the former Soviet Union is amused. This pungently anti-communist documentary from the wonderfully named Latvian historian and filmmaker Edvins Snore is much more than a catalog of Stalin’s Terror, which, among other iniquities, carried out ethnic-cleansing policies that starved seven million Ukrainians to death between 1932 and 1933. Drafting little-seen footage of Soviet mass killings that closely resemble oft-seen footage from Nazi concentration camps, Snore, along with prominent historians from Russia and Western Europe, argues that Nazism and Stalinism were equivalent forms of fascism. He then goes further to show that before and during World War II, the two powers openly and secretly collaborated to massacre Jews, Poles, and countless Soviet citizens. Fair enough, but it’s not just Holocaust exceptionalists and Putin admirers who’ll have their noses put out of joint. Snore’s worrying habit of cutting and pasting from history to suit his message has him culling a couple of undeniably toxic statements about the unviability of “unproductive people” from George Bernard Shaw and Karl Marx, which leads him to lump them in with other totalitarians and damn their legacies to hell forever. International labor, most of Europe’s welfare democracies, and the New Left—to name but a few pretty OK 20th-century movements—might beg to differ.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 22, 2008