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December 13: Stalin’s Interlocutor

December 13, 2015

220px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-R09134,_Emil_Ludwig_(eigtl._Cohn)Emil Ludwig (1881-1948), a German-Swiss Jewish journalist best known for his interviews with Benito Mussolini, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and Joseph Stalin, conducted the latter one in Moscow on this date in 1931. “Never under any circumstances,” Stalin told him, without irony, “would our workers now tolerate power in the hands of one person. With us personages of the greatest authority are reduced to nonentities.... There is, of course,” he continued, “a certain small section of the population that really does stand in fear of the Soviet power, and fights against it. I have in mind the remnants of the moribund classes, which are being eliminated, and primarily that insignificant part of the peasantry, the kulaks. But here it is a matter not merely of a policy of intimidating these groups, a policy that really does exist. Everybody knows that in this ease we Bolsheviks do not confine ourselves to intimidation but go further, aiming at the elimination of this bourgeois stratum.... But if you take the laboring population of the USSR, the workers and the laboring peasants, who represent not less than 40 per cent of the population, you will find that they are in favor of Soviet power and that the vast majority of them actively support the Soviet regime. They support the Soviet system because that system serves the fundamental interests of the workers and peasants.” To read the complete interview, click here. Ludwig was a biographer of great figures such as Bismarck, Goethe, Hindenburg, and Jesus of Nazareth.

“It is people who make history, but they do so only to the extent that they correctly understand the conditions that they have found ready-made, and only to the extent that they understand how to change those conditions. That, at least, is how we Russian Bolsheviks understand Marx. And we have been studying Marx for a good many years.” —Joseph Stalin