When you hear the name ‘Stalin’ what comes to mind? Steel. Soviet. Dictator. Evil Man. Iron Curtain. Red Scare. Big Mustache. Nazi Killer. Follower of Lenin. Communism. Roosevelt’s Russian Friend. Not Russian?
That’s right. “The Great Architect of Communism” is not Russian, he is Georgian.
We visited Gori, a town about 90 minutes to the west of Tbilisi, to see the his old home and the museum erected in his honor. We were astonished. His old neighborhood was bulldozed so that only his home, which he lived in until the age of 4, was the only house left standing on the city block, allowing for a whole Stalin park. His father was a cobbler.
Ironically when “The Father of Nations” lived here, his name was Joseb Besarionis dze Jugashvili. He changed his name to Stalin (Steel) much later when he needed a pen name for his communist writings. He rose up through the communist party over the years, being deemed unfit for military service due to his deformed hand; his face scarred with small pox didn’t help either.
The museum though, focuses on these things as something of a hero-worship to “Humanity’s Brilliant Genius”. It somehow manages to ignore all the painfully evil things he did to maintain control within the Communist Party and the broader Soviet system; pacts with Hitler, various famines, the sending of people to the Gulags, etc. The guide did talk about the open disagreements between Lenin and S