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Yuri Smirnov on: His Memories of the Death of Stalin
Q: How do you remember the death of Stalin? What kind of memories do you have of that event?

YS: When Stalin died, or when he was dying, to be more precise, these several days when official reports about his health were made in the news, I remember very well...I remember well how all of the students, were gathered in the assembly hall...A huge portrait of Stalin was hanging in this assembly hall. And in the next symmetrical hall there was a huge portrait of Lenin. And in this hall, where this mourning line-up was held, the headmaster made a speech. I remember very well that many teachers did not hide their tears. They were crying. But the most interesting thing is that some of these very young people, school children, who were standing in this line-up, were not hiding their tears either. In sum, it was a shock.

When I came home that day, one grandmother, our neighbor, was siting outside and not hiding her sobs, she was lamenting: "Oh God, why did he die? Why did not you take me instead?" In other words, I want to say that among common people, the faith in Stalin and worship of Stalin, the acceptance of his genius, was just a confirmed fact. Of course, in our enormous country, there were people who understood perfectly well the true face of Stalin and who went through the camps, but the main mass of people had no knowledge or made no guesses.

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