57 Years After

More than half-century has passed since the death of Ioseb Jughashvili, better known in the whole world as Josef Stalin. He died on March 5, 1953, and many Soviet people at that time took it as a personal tragedy. However, throughout the following decades Stalin’s name started associated with the most dark and gory period of the Soviet era, which was often compared to Nazi Germany.

Zhiuli Sikmashvili of the Communism Party of Georgia in his office.At the head office of the Central Committee of the Communism Party of Georgia in Tbilisi, 2009

But despite millions of people had vanished in concentration camps, the Stalin period was treated by many as the time of order and progress.

Still many continue to think so.

Zhiuli Sikmashvili of the Communism Party of Georgia sweeps the dust off the Stalin's portrait in the Stalin's museum in Tbilisi
A member of the Communism Party of Georgia sweeps the dust off the Stalin’s portrait in the Stalin’s museum in Tbilisi, 2009

In Georgia some people, mostly of older age, are proud that Stalin was born here. They still keep Stalin’s portraits at homes, some have private museums dedicated to the Leader of All People. They continue to live in the Soviet Union in their hearts at the least.

Ushangi Davitashvili, 80, started making his own private museum of Stalin in the yard of his house  just after Great Leader's death in 53. Ushangi has about 10 stalin's statues, busts and portraits  of different sizes in his "museum," as well artifacts of Soviet era, like rusty machine gun of World War II, Nazi soldier's helmet etc. Ushangi Davitashvili, 80, created his own private museum of Stalin in the yard of his house shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953. Now Davitashvili has more than ten Stalin’s statues, busts and portraits of different sizes in his “museum,” 2009

The country itself too keeps signs of the past times. In Stalin’s hometown Gori there still is his museum and at the central square, also bearing his name, stands one of the few publicly open Stalin’s monuments.

Stalin's monument in GoriStalin’s monument at the main (Stalin’s) square of the leader’s hometown Gori, 2008

Cleaning up before the working hours at the Stalin's museum in Gori
Floors at the Stalin’s museum in Gori are cleaned up before the working hours, 2009

Now the memory of the Soviet times is gradually slipping away. People sell Soviet times portraits and medals at flea markets. If only fifteen years ago every tailor’s and cobbler’s workshop had large Stalin’s portrait hanging on a wall, now you can hardly see such images anywhere.

Stalin's mini-statue at the Tbilisi flea market, just before closure when sellers start packing their items up.
Stalin’s plaster sculpture is on sale at the Tbilisi flea market, 2008.

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