Friday, March 01, 2013

The Soviet Story demolishes deeply-rooted myths

The other week, I sent an email to my son's lycée, to the attention of the history teachers to let them know about the existence of a film which I thought might be of interest to them and their students, The Soviet Story. My DB told me that I was probably now marked as an interfering parent and that my son would be eyed suspiciously as having a mother who thought she could boss his teachers about. Paranoia is alive and well in the French teaching profession.

I have had no answer to my mail, not even an acknowledgement of receipt.

The reason why I thought it might be of interest to the school is because it demolishes two deeply-rooted myths in French society (and now has French subtitles).

The first is that communism, as opposed to Nazism started off with good intentions.

Our own dear former socialist president of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, M. Georges Frêche proved this by installing a number of bronze statues on the Place des Grands Hommes du XXe siècle including Lenin and Mao, because « les idéologies représentées sur la place sont toutes des idéologies de libération et de conquête des droits malgré leurs parts d’ombre » (Translation: the ideologies represented on the site are all ideologies of liberation and the conquest of rights despite a few dodgy bits). The editor of top Polish newspaper Uważam Rze wondered why a member of the French Parti Socaliste had decided to honour two of the greatest criminals against humanity...

Edvins Snore, the writer and director of The Soviet Story, shows that communism is about class warfare, which meant eradicating whole sections of the population. Those in opposition were first up against the wall, then came intellectuals, good workers, engineers and so on. Lenin, Mao, and indeed Pol Pot and Stalin were all supporters of forced social engineering. They even used it on ethnicities who were considered too resistant. During the winter of 1932-3, for example, 7million Ukrainians died of starvation because their food and grain reserves were confiscated, and anyone trying to get food or escape was shot.

The second myth is that Soviet communism and German national-socialism are two completely different ideologies.

Both aimed at creating a new Man because neither accepted human nature as it was. In fact, both systems were at war with human nature, which is the root of totalitarianism. Nazism was based on false biology, and communism was based on a false sociology, but both claimed to have a scientific base (Françoise Thom, professeur d’histoire, Sorbonne, interviewed in the film).

According to Natalia Lebiedeva, a Russian historian, between 1937 and 1941, 11million people were assassinated. Hitler followed what was happening in the Soviet Union very closely, knew about George Bernard Shaw's support and his appeal to scientists to develop a gas that could exterminate those people who were useless for society humanely. Hitler used this gas, Zyclon B, later in his camps.

The Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany instigate the holocaust. The film shows evidence from archive documents and interviews with former Soviet military intelligence officers. Between September 1939 and June 1941, the Soviets handed over to the Nazis whole groups of Jews who had managed to flee Germany.

So, I believe it's a film that is worth seeing, especially to young people so that they can learn more about what really happened, stop believing the myths and be able to make their case based on knowledge not fantasy.

This is important because communism has played an important role in defining French society, and its political echoes are cited as a reason why French politicians are historically against liberal market economics. Here are a couple of examples:
« Libéralisme, thatchérisme, reaganisme, des oripeaux. » (oripeaux = flashy rags)
Alain Juppé, Le Figaro Magazine, 24/11/84.

« Je suis convaincu que le libéralisme est voué au même échec que le communisme et qu’il conduira aux mêmes excès. L’un comme l’autre sont des perversions de la pensée humaine. »
Jacques Chirac, dans « L’inconnu de l’Elysée », de Pierre Péan (Fayard, 2007). 

The Secu was set up in October 1945 under the influence of the Parti communiste and the unions. The unions went on to infest the state's administrative, political, economic and social machinery and have managed to stay there with the tacit support of successive heads of government whether on the right (through weakness or cowardice) or on the left (ideological convergence). You can read more about the dodgy monopoly French Secu here which, despite condemnation by the Cour Européenne de Justice for non application of directives concerning medical insurance has resisted practical application, so it's almost impossible to quit. In fact, only a total collapse of the system could put an end to this communist-inspired monopoly set up in 1945 without any public approval.

Explains a lot, wouldn't you say?

Anyway, the school might not be interested, but I am certainly going to buy the dvd to show to my son and any of his friends who want to see it too.

From The Soviet Story website:


The film tells the story of the Soviet regime.
- The Great Famine in Ukraine (1932/33)
- The Katyn massacre (1940)
- The SS-KGB partnership [in the late 1930s the KGB was called NKVD]
- Soviet mass deportations
- Medical experiments in the GULAG.
These are just a few of the subjects covered in the film.
“The Soviet Story” also discusses the impact of the Soviet legacy on modern day Europe. Listen to experts and European MPs discussing the implications of a selective attitude towards mass murder; and meet a woman describing the burial of her new born son in a GULAG concentration camp.
The Soviet Story is a story of pain, injustice and “realpolitik”.

Here are some reviews from Amazon.


  1. Not exactly relevant, but I have to say that 'Snore' is not a promising name for a writer or film director.

    1. I think he's Latvian so probably can't help it. :)

  2. I would like to see that movie myself. Wonder what the teacher here in the US would think if I suggested it? I can't believe the anti communist feeling here in the US. I know how the theory manifest itself was not pretty (putting it mildly) but the intents are actually simply - we are all equal.

    1. I suppose so if you get rid of all the ones who aren't. :)

      I'd be interested to hear if you get a different response from an American teacher, well, even just a response would be different!

  3. Suggesting something to the French teaching profession!
    They'll be round with the stake and faggots shortly...

    My father was a convinced communist...until he met up with them in the Spanish Civil War and discovered that they were much more interested in destroying the Anarchists than they were in defeating Franco.

    1. That's human nature for you, isn't it. People will keep going off on a tangent.

  4. Hire a hall and show it yourself. Why not?

    1. Well of course the licence on the public dvd is not the same price as one for personal viewing, but you're right, the maire might be very interested. Good idea, Hattie, I'll write to him. :)

  5. My son is studying The Cold War as part of his History AS level. I will mention this to him. Thanks, Sarah.

    1. You're welcome. :)
      I wrote to the Maire today telling him about the film and about the lack of interest by the school. :)

  6. The film looks interesting, I'll sniff it out. I think that any extreme is dangerous, but not as dangerous as suggesting things to French teachers :-) Have you got yourself a bodyguard yet? You're awesome! I made the mistake of "bringing back my strawberry" when I corrected the "Very well!" scribed on my son's homework. The teacher never forgave me....

    1. P.S: Just to let you know I nominated you for the Liebster award... More info here:

    2. Shows how dedicated they are to actual learning that they have a hissy fit if their mistakes are pointed out! So far, so good, but it is half term...

      No response from the maire yet either but he may be on holiday too.

    3. Thanks for the award. :) I'll deal with it some time in the foreseeable future. :)

  7. Well Sarah, it is a well-known fact of life that most history teachers in France are belonging to the Parti Socialiste or Parti Communiste. You will not get a response and will probably be labelled 'conservative mum'. I used to have a Communist history teacher at my lycee. She spent the whole year talking about Mao and his little red book. She made us read it. Nobody bat an eyelid. That's France for you!

    1. Well, I was being kind of provocative because I know that such a film would be too much for the lefty teachers, and I just wanted to rub their noses in it. :)

      I also wanted to let them know that someone is watching out for the education of her son and believes education is not just about le programme, but is also about the big picture which films like this can help us see.

      This is too much for l'education national though... :)

  8. Interesting stuff, but I'm not surprised the school was not responsive. Schools try to avoid getting involved in anything controversial even here in good old blighty.

    Ref the elimination of the wrong political classes, Vassily Grossman wrote movingly on this subject.

    1. A lot of teachers here are practically communists anyway and probably don't want to dispel the myth.

      Thanks for the info re Vassily Grossman.


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