Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dosvedanya To All That

Josef Stalin died on March 5, 1953. I note this only because the event affected (I think) one of my father's upcoming letters in the series Letters Home. He wrote home in mid-March talking about Russia wanting to go to war. 

The event certainly had a global effect. President Eisenhower, then in office just a little over a month, spoke to his cabinet days later, telling them:
Ever since 1946, I know all the so-called experts have been yapping about what would happen when Stalin dies and what we, as a nation, should do about it. Well he's dead. And you can turn the files of our government inside out--in vain--looking for any plans laid. We have no plan. We are not even sure what difference his death makes.
In private, and to his speechwriter Emmet Hughes, Ike was more circumspect: link
Look, I am tired--and I think everyone is tired--of just plain indictments of the Soviet regime. I think it would be wrong--in fact, asinine--for me to get up before the world now to make another one of those indictments. Instead, just one thing matters: what have we got to offer the world? What are we really going to do, to improve the chances of peace?...
Here is what I would like to say: The jet plane that roars over your head costs three-quarters of a million dollars. That is more money than a man earning ten thousand dollars a year is going to make in his lifetime. What world can afford this sort of thing for long? We are in an armaments race. Where will it lead us? At worse, to atomic warfare. At best, to robbing every people and nation on earth of the fruits of their own toil. 
Already in 1953, Eisenhower was foreshadowing his famous "Military-Industrial Complex" farewell speech in 1961. His perspective came from a lifetime of national service. 

Eisenhower went on to say to his speech writer:
Now, there could be another road before us--the road of disarmament. What does this mean? It means for everybody in the world: bread, butter, clothes, homes, hospitals, schools--all the good and necessary things for decent living. So let this be the choice we offer. If we take this second road, all of us can produce more of these good things for life--and we the United States, will help them still more...This is what I want to say. And if we really don't have anything to offer, I'm not going to make a speech about it.
Reading about Stalin, I learned that his little Himmler, Lavrentiy Beria, shared Eisenhower's view, and desired a strategic peace with the United States. Beria may have even poisoned Stalin. Beria was executed later that year.


  1. Beria was a pimp...basking in the shadow of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. And I'm hopeful that both of them are sharing a cell in hell with Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, etc.

  2. Describing Beria as "little Himmler" is perfect!

  3. Stalin introduced him to FDR as "our Himmler" so I only embellished -- a little.