Which former dictator would make the best roommate?

Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Hussein? Those are the options in a rather hilarious poll at the Melbourne Victory Forum at the moment. From the comments:

Hitler would organise an invasion of the neighbours and have them exterminated or incarcerated in labour camps. Taking over the nighbours place would result in more “lebensraum” for Adolf and his roomies.

Stalin would liquidate anyone arriving at the house who had previously been at the neighbour’s on suspicion of spying, sending them to the gulag.

Mussolini would send his cronies to the neightbour’s house to invade it, only to see them humiliate him by surrendering after 5 minutes.

Hussein would, upon invasion, declare that the enemy was killing themselves at the front gate, when in fact they were making themselves at home in the lounge.

While we’re on the subject, those of you who are Stalin experts can shed some light on the following question: did Stalin create a personality cult surrounding himself, or was he modest and self-effacing, as claimed by soilride in a recent comment on this blog?

About Markk

Markk runs iPhone application company Lyra Languages. He lives in the beachside suburbs of Melbourne, Australia with his beautiful wife and (future) children.
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4 Responses to Which former dictator would make the best roommate?

  1. soilride says:

    Since we’re on the subject, you might find this citation from Robert Conquest quite interesting (or not). Robert Conquest and his books on Stalin and the Soviet Union can be found in just about every American bookstore:

    “He had told Feuchtwanger that adulation was distasteful to him, but forgivable in the circumstances…. More privately, he prevented publication of a book called Tales of Stalin’s Childhood as not only ‘full of factual errors’ but also as instilling a ‘cult of personalities of leaders': but in this case perhaps the ‘errors’ loomed largest. Similarly he stopped Malenkov and Poskrebyshev from sponsoring a Russian translation of his youthful poems; here too, he may have wished not to lay himself open. On a slightly different note, early in 1938, citing ‘workers’ suggestions’, Yezhov proposed to the Politburo that Moscow should be renamed Stalinodar. Stalin pronounced against this.” (Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 214)

    Hope this helps in answering your proposed question.

  2. Markk says:

    I’ve heard of Robert Conquest and I would certainly be interested to read his books on Stalin, but have not as of yet. Certainly he seems to be highly regarded by other writers.

    My current impression, based on the limited amount of reading that I’ve done, is that Stalin either allowed or encouraged a personality cult, but at the same time he a) wanted to appear modest and b) he was a shrewd politician and knew when to stop.

  3. soilride says:

    An interesting theory, but one that is not grounded in objective investigation in my opinion. It’s like saying George Washington and Ben Franklin allowed a cult of personality to be built around them that persists to this day on US currency and portraits that decorates libraries, museums and American institutions.

    Robert Conquest, like so many others are of course anti-Stalin and anti-Soviet in coming to their conclusions. The reason I cite this particular anti-Stalin and anti-Soviet historian is because he, like others, are forced to admit Stalin’s innocence of allowing or building up a personality of cult around himself, which is of course is in completle contradiction to Kruschev’s outragious indictment of “Stalin’s” crimes. Robert Conquest still holds the view, like so many other anti-Soviet historians, that Stalin was a dictator tyrant, ego-driven maniac.

    Objective history, I feel proves him and so many others like Conquest, wrong.

    My main point is, if you really want to pursue this “theory” of yours and whether or not it holds up to scrutiny, investigate the sources in which Conquest and others like him base their reasons and conclusions on and draw your own conclusions.- not conclusions based on someone else’s intrepretation. This means investigating the documents and Soviet sources for yourself.

    For instance, notes of Stalin’s Speech in 1952:

    Stalin: Now regarding comrade Mikoyan. He is categorically against and thus he agitates against any taxes for the Soviet peasants. What is it that is not clear to our esteemed comrade A.I. Mikoyan?

    Farmer Deputy: We have good relations with the collective farmers. Our Collective Farmers are forever dedicated to collectivization. Our crops are abundant and all our Collective Farmers should give taxes to the state as the workers do. Therefore we do not agree with the suggestion – put forward by comrade Mikoyan.

    Mikoyan – coming to the speaker’s tribune started to defend his collective farm policies.

    Stalin: Well comrade Mikoyan, you are lost in your own policies and you are now trying to get the members of the CC to be lost with you. Are you still unclear?

    Molotov – Coming to the speaker’s tribune completely admits his mistakes before the CC, but he stated that he is and will always be a faithful disciple of Stalin.

    Stalin – (interrupting Molotov) This is nonsense. I have no students at all. We are all students of the great Lenin.

    Stalin suggested that they continue the agenda point by point and elect comrades into different committees of state.

    With no Politburo, there is now elected a Presidium of the CC of the CPSU in the enlarged CC and in the Secretariat of the CC of the CPSU – altogether 36 members.

    In the new list of those elected are all members of the old Politburo – except that of comrade A.A. Andreev, who, as everyone knows now is unfortunately completely deaf and thus cannot function.

    Voice From the Floor – We need to elect comrade Stalin as the General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

    Stalin – No! I am asking that you relieve me of the two posts!

    Malenkov: Coming to the tribune: Comrades! We should all unanimously ask comrade Stalin, our leader and our teacher, to be again the General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU.

    http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv8n1/stalin.htm

    This particular speech by Stalin and addressing the agenda during this particular time period in history doesn’t sound like anyone who is advocating or allowing a cult of personality, nor does he sound like he is “gripping power”. In fact he wants to be relieved of his position, contrary to what Conquest and others like him seem to push forward – but they will never cite any of this information.

    Anyways good luck in finding out your answers!

  4. Markk says:

    Thanks for the comment there soilride. I’ll continue to look into this.

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