Turn Rıght at the Stalin Statue: Gori, Georgia. Aprıl 2007.

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Turn right at the Stalin statue, the Alabama native told my husband and me. A former Peace Corp volunteer now settled in Gori, Georgia, he had spotted David and me looking lost and stopped to help us find our way.

Right at the Stalin statue. How often will you get a direction like that these days? And, in Gori, Stalin’s hometown, you have to know which of his statues to look for.

Our fellow American was directing us to the Stalin statue shown below, which is in …Stalin square… . You reach Stalin square by heading
south on…Stalin street. Head north on Stalin street and you hit the
other Stalin statue, which is outside the …Stalin Museum, part of which is shown here. This is the temple built around the much more humble boyhood home of Stalin.

Statistics

It’s one thing to honor a local boy who has become famous. But, Stalin? He who is credited with the saying, “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.” There is a lot of debate about Stalin’s own statistics, about how many deaths he caused, directly and indirectly. This is from
theWikipedia entry on him:

“Early researchers of the number killed by Stalin’s regime were forced to rely largely upon anecdotal evidence, and their estimates range from a low of 3 million to as high
as 60 million.”

Stalin’s Wikipedia entry is marked as having disputes. Dead since 1953 and still causing trouble, that Stalin is. The talk entry for his Wikipedia page has people writing in to debate how and what Stalin did after he started running the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

The entry continues with some of the debate about whether to include “the 6 to 8 million victims of the 1932-33 famine:” Historians “differ as to whether the famine was deliberate – as part of the campaign of repression …or simply an unintended consequence of the
struggle over forced” central ownership of farms.

Some died in prison camps known as gulags, where people were forced to work and treated savagely. Others lost their lives during forced moves away from the places they had lived for years.
All in all, a very bad time for very many people. That’s why David is pointing a finger at the statute in this picture.

David and I had planned to see the Stalin Museum, curious how skeptical it would be in portraying him. The entrance fee turned out to be something close to US$10, instead of the
US1 our book had said. We skipped the museum, and wandered the town a
bit before getting down to a truly Georgian matter–lunch.

More about that in the next blog entry, dedicated to eating in Georgia.

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