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“Stalin Epigram”. by Osip Mandelstam November 1933. “Stalin Epigram”. Joseph Stalin Part of the Bolshevik revolution--Helped lead the Russian Revolution with Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Launched a new economy plan after the death of Lenin

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stalin epigram

“Stalin Epigram”

by Osip Mandelstam

November 1933

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“Stalin Epigram”
  • Joseph Stalin
    • Part of the Bolshevik revolution--Helped lead the Russian Revolution with Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
    • Launched a new economy plan after the death of Lenin
      • Transformed Russia from an agrarian to an industrialized society.
        • Contributed to the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933
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Stalin Epigram
  • Led the “Great Purge” in which hundreds of thousands of people were executed or deported.
  • 1939—Stalin enters a pact with Nazi Germany that divided their influence in Eastern Europe and allowed the USSR to regain some if its lost territories.
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Stalin Epigram
  • Nazi Germany violated the pact is 1941 by invading the USSR.
  • Red Army takes Berlin in 1945, playing a major part in the victory over Germany, during WWII.
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“Stalin Epigram”
  • World War 2
    • 1939-1945
  • Why did the USA get involved?
    • Japanese attacks Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941)
  • Why did the USA join the European fight?
    • North Africa (November 7, 1942)
    • Europe (June 6, 1944)
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“Stalin Epigram”

Germany – Adolf Hitler

Soviet Union – Joseph Stalin

  • Why would a famous poet speak out against Stalin, who did so much to defend the USSR in WW2?
  • August 23, 1939 ~ Molotov-Ribbentrov Pact
    • Between Germany and USSR
    • Signed one week before the beginning of WW2 (Poland invaded)
    • Created for their own political agendas, but both Hitler and Stalin planned to rule parts of Europe while ignoring each other
  • Stalin only joined the Allies when Hitler betrayed him
    • Germany invades USSR (June 22, 1941)
  • Hitler is blamed for millions of deaths in WW2, but Stalin was responsible for even more deaths in USSR(most of which were his own people)
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“Stalin Epigram”
  • 1922 ~ Stalin became General Secretary of the Soviet Union
    • Acquired more and more power until he beat down all political opposition
  • 1928 ~ Stalin revamped the USSR economic plan
    • Heavy economic suffering
    • Millions of people sent to correctional labor camps in desolate locations of USSR
  • 1932-1933 ~ Soviet Famine
    • 6 to 8 million people die of starvation
  • 1937-1938 ~ Great Purge
    • Capture and execution of anyone suspected of opposition
    • 1 million politicians and civilians shot to death
  • 1941-1944 ~ World War 2
    • Over 23 million Soviet Union deaths (1/3 of total WW2 deaths!)
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“Stalin Epigram”

Osip Mandelstam (author of “Stalin Epigram”)

  • Born in Poland, but raised in Soviet Union
  • Father was a leather merchant and his motherwas a teacher of music
  • Abandoned his education and wrote poetry instead
  • Initially supported the Russian Revolution, but disagreed with many idealistic perspectives
  • Published 5 books of poetry from 1913 to 1928, each book becoming more and more liberal
  • November 1933 ~ published “Stalin Epigram”
  • Lived his final years in work camps, serving sentences for counter-revolutionary activities
  • Died December 27, 1938, in a Russian labor camp
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“Stalin Epigram”

Our lives no longer feel the ground under them.

At ten paces, you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk

it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms of his fingers

his words like measures of weight,

the huge, laughing cockroaches on his top lip,

the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses,

he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.

he pokes out his finger, and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,

one for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.

He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home.

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