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02/27/2006 Archived Entry: "White Rose and "secret speech": two important anniversaries"

TWO IMPORTANT ANNIVERSARIES LAST WEEK. One was the execution by the Nazis of Hans and Sophie Scholl of the White Rose. The other was Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 "secret speech" denouncing Stalin and admitting Stalin's murderous record for the first time. That speech might have been the first crack in the facade of Soviet invincibility -- even if that facade took another 30+ years to shatter.

The saddest things:

The Scholls' brave, but entirely intellectual, rebellion against the Nazis was the only such rebellion ever to take place in Hitler's Germany. That's scary. In 13 years, the only native resistance to one of the twentieth-century's three greatest monsters came from a tiny handful of college students. (A new movie about Sophie was released in 2005, BTW. It's gotten an Oscar nomination in the foreign-language film category.)

And in today's chaotic Russia, millions miss and praise Stalin. Twenty or thirty million outright murders of his own people? Who cares? Political purges and deadly show trials? Small matters. Millions slaving and dying in the gulags? A small price to pay for the revolution. After all, the man boosted steel production and converted the Soviet economy from primitive agriculture to industrialization. Never mind that the people still lived like serfs.

When you think too hard about it, you pretty much have to conclude there's not much hope the human race will ever grow a spine. Or a brain.

Posted by Claire @ 01:16 PM CST

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