C – O – L – D Stalin

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

Susanna and I went on a tour of the Stalin Museum in Gori. The strongest impression the museum made on me was that it was cold. Outside, the weather was about 30 degrees, with high wind and snow. Inside the “weather” was about 30 degrees, with no wind, but high humidity. The museum has never had heat since it was dedicated to Stalin in 1957. I suspect the reason is that it is expensive to heat the large space and the number of visitors who pay 10 lari ($6) is low; other than 3 women who collected our tickets and the guards, we were the only bodies heating the space on a Saturday afternoon from 2pm to 3pm. Wikipedia, however, describes the museum as “a popular tourist attraction.”

If you have a tour guide, or if you speak Georgian or Russian, the museum is worth a visit one time. It consists of three sections. One is the small home where Stalin was born in 1878. His family lived in the small room on the left side; the landlord lived in the smaller room on the right. No one moved the building to the museum site; instead, people built a pavilion over the brick, mud, and timber hut, and they preserved some of the original cobblestone street around the house. Another section is Stalin’s railway car—very simple. The third section is the museum itself, which consists mostly of photos and documents. I again believe that Wikipedia exaggerates; it states that the museum contains “many items actually or allegedly owned by Stalin, including some of his office furniture, his personal effects and gifts made to him over the years.” In fact, the website has listed ALL of the FEW artifacts in the six, cold halls.

Fortunately, we had a knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide from the International Women’s Association club. She told many interesting stories. For example, Stalin was imprisoned 7 times and escaped 6. In “prison” he had a mistress and fathered 2 children. Neither the museum nor our guide mentioned that Stalin killed 23 million people (remember, Hitler killed 11-12 million). See this “New York Review of Books” story http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/mar/10/hitler-vs-stalin-who-killed-more/?pagination=false and this article: http://www.distributedrepublic.net/archives/2006/05/01/how-many-did-stalin-really-murder/

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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