The Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) and the fate of the ‘60s generation

[From the World Socialist Website]

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the best-known Soviet poet from the 1960s to the 1980s, died at 83 from cancer on April 1, 2017, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Yevtushenko, born in 1932 in the small town of Zima in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, became one of the leading Soviet poets of the “thaw period” under Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. Those years were bound up with official condemnation of the “cult of personality” around Joseph Stalin and the widespread hope within the Soviet people that the country could be renewed on a socialist basis.

In one of his most renowned poems, “The Heirs of Stalin,” published in 1961 at the time that Stalin’s body was removed from the mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square, Yevtushenko wrote:

Let someone repeat over and over again: “Compose yourself!”
I shall never find rest.
As long as there are Stalin’s heirs on earth,
it will always seem to me,
that Stalin is still in the Mausoleum.
[Translated by Katherine von Imhof]

Yevtushenko’s father was a geologist of Baltic German origin. His parents divorced when he was 7 years old. The boy’s original last name was Gangnus, but his mother changed it to her family name after they moved to Moscow at the end of the war.

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Don’t forget how the Soviet Union saved the world from Hitler

Interesting take on different imaginations of the Second World War.

[From The Washington Post]

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In the Western popular imagination — particularly the American one — World War II is a conflict we won. It was fought on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, through the rubble of recaptured French towns and capped by sepia-toned scenes of joy and young love in New York. It was a victory shaped by the steeliness of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the moral fiber of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the awesome power of an atomic bomb.

But that narrative shifts dramatically when you go to Russia, where World War II is called the Great Patriotic War and is remembered in a vastly different light.

On May 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin will play host to one of Moscow’s largest ever military paradesto mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. More than 16,000 troops will participate, as well 140 aircraft and 190 armored vehicles, including the debut of Russia’s brand new next-generation tank.

It’s a grand moment, but few of the world’s major leaders will be in attendance. The heads of state of India and China will look on, but not many among their Western counterparts. That is a reflection of the tense geopolitical present, with Putin’s relations with the West having turned frosty after a year of Russian meddling in Ukraine. When Russia’s T-14 Armata tank broke down at a parade rehearsal on Thursday, the snickering could be heard across Western media.

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Ironic Inversions: Rare Soviet Yiddish Songs of WWII

מוזיק אין חורבן | Music in the Holocaust

[From In Geveb]

At the international symposium “Global Yiddish Culture: 1938-1949,” held at the University of Toronto this spring, singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko of Moscow and U of T Professor Anna Shternshis brought to life lost Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in an all-new concert and lecture program.

During and immediately after World War II, the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture, led by philologist Elye Spivak and folklorist Moshe Beregovski, began collecting and transcribing original songs composed by Soviet Jewish Holocaust refugees and survivors. But in 1949, before the Cabinet could publish their collection, these rare Yiddish artifacts were confiscated by the Soviet government and hidden from the public. Until recently, that is, when Shternshis found the collection while doing research at the Manuscript Department of the Ukrainian National Library. Shternshis then teamed up with Korolenko to reinterpret and present these songs to new audiences. The Toronto…

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