Stalin’s British Victims

My college History tutor was an odd man. His face reflected the ache of years stranded in educating the young and the listless; he had given most of his life to History, yet hardly would he be remembered by it. A life more of habit than of passion, the end that would come to us all, he would pace the second-floor corridor with a limp, his grey hair bobbing with every untoward step. A sentiment of desolation would follow him as he walked, and amidst the ardour of the students between themselves, he would simply disappear. He did not belong in a world teeming with love and enthusiasm, rather he would  barely come alive within the laziness of the classroom. He could not inspire where inspiration already left its stain- he could inspire where the bleak reaches of history burrowed into the skin of the living and caused a morbid fascination to bubble dimly in the veins. Here he could reach in and tear the veins apart, but to the outside world, he was merely a creature of boredom and ruin. To me he was a hero of sorts: buried in his own thoughts. It was how I would have wanted to live when I was older; crushed by the weight of my own intelligence, yet dexterous enough to be able to use my madness to feed society with meaningless knowledge… and to get paid for it. It wouldn’t matter because nobody would listen to me anyway. I’m sure my tutor felt this way about his students. I am also sure that he knew how much I did listen.

Throughout his classes I became deeply interested in socialism. I had found resonance in the counter-argument against Capitalism during my time at school and in pursuing the desire to forever be extraordinary, continued in this  mode of thought within college. Controversy distinguished me from my peers and the notes taken during my tutor’s classes filled reams of paper with the exceptional adversity of the Russian people. My hours spent in the library focused on the biographies of the Communist greats- the sheer brutality of the regime and the dire steadfastness of the leaders, forged in iron and engulfed in human blood. During the videos shown in classes, my tutor would watch me from the back of the room. My eyes fixated always to the screen, the dreary narration only serving to heighten my absolute gratification. A single death is a tragedy, a hundred million is just a statistic.

My tutor would read my essays with interest. As he preached to the class, amongst the bored faces, my eyes could hardly blink. The deliciousness of human destruction would course through my veins and paralyse my entire body with unconditional joy; the Kronstadt Rebellion, Tambov, the Great Purge. My essays would discuss the prospects of the necessity of destruction. Communism might have been no picnic, but the feast of the historical quirks kept me enraptured for days. The Terror felt just so distant that it could almost have been a glorious fairytale, a haze of red surrounding everything. The regime was brutal, but also unfathomably beautiful.

The more I read of Stalin, the more my curiosity grew. No longer did I chase my own fame with controversy; rather I felt myself falling so deeply in love with him. He plucked the feathers from birds and watched his civilians starve. His wife took her own life because of his ignorance, and he flicked bread across the table to the women he fancied. His face bore the scars of illness, and dominated the width of the Russian landscape. All trembled in his wake. He ruled with an iron fist, littered with feathers and his own tears. His mind was riddled with paranoia and the wretched power attained in the slaughtering of his opposition. He was a comedic figure who went to war with the greatest powers of the twentieth century- an admirable, mad, foe. His ignorance had killed millions, and his iron first had buried deep into my heart. He acted on instinct, his audacity granting him the distrust of the most powerful nations and earning him their revulsion. I could not explain quite how I had come to adore him,  but observed simply that with madness had come such destructive power. He was untouchable. Paranoid, absurd, exquisite.

After the end of class one day my tutor took me to one side and handed me a book. He placed his hand on my arm, guarding my view of the title, ‘I want you to have this, and read it’.

I was overwhelmed. I had never been anything less than exceptional, and now more than ever I felt invincible.

‘Thank you so much, when do you want it back?’

‘Just keep it,’ he said grimly, the outside world creeping slowly once more into his countenance, ‘just keep the book, and read it’.

The next class pushed past my shoulders as I stood in the doorway, melting away into the atmosphere. I gazed at the book in my hand, and read the title… Stalin’s British Victims.

That night I lay in bed, reading the book. My eyes could not close with the sheer electrical anticipation racing up my spine. The night gave birth to the quiet dawn as my mind still absorbed the terror of the British encounter with Stalin. I read of the Terror, and of losing families. The long nights laying, waiting for the preordained knock upon the door, and the ensuing desecration of life. The absolute fear and loneliness that came from the removal of the familiar; the terror of British Communism under Russian rule extended Stalin’s grasp, snapping the necks of the young, and writhing in the blood of the victims. Over the weekend I could hardly eat; the sickening acts of depravity of worldwide Communism set a fire in my heart; I saw the great sphere in an entirely different way. The suppression of ordinary people, the inventions of disastrous miracles. Suddenly the Terror was stood outside my door, shaking through the walls. Close acquaintances against the regime were dragged away into the belly of the night; friends and neighbours. The frenzied screams of the dying filled my ears and my sleep was punctuated by the shaking of my own body. My waking moments were coated in such paralysing fear at the sheer grandeur of obliteration, until, eventually, the dawn of Monday broke through my curtains.

I bumped into my tutor in the corridor of the college that afternoon. I thanked him for the book and he nodded his head. He told me he had hoped it would have put me off the idea of Communism and hoped that I had learned from the cruelty of dictatorship; that fear was not imaginary, but could arrive at your own front door. I nodded my head and he walked past me, satisfied, on the way to his next class. I clutched the book tightly underneath my arm as I walked in the opposite direction, hardly able to keep the smile from my face.


14 thoughts on “Stalin’s British Victims

  1. This is delightful, Anna! The way you’ve used the obsession with Stalin to portray the eccentricity of his own obsession was very effective. The style and the embrace of the character reminded me in places of Edgar Allen Poe.


    1. Oh Gosh, thank you so much! Poe is one of my favourite writers, that is one of the nicest compliments I could have ever hoped for :)


    1. Ha! Try not to poke my brain too much, it might explode and brain juice will go everywhere. And brain juice is a reet bitch to get out of the carpet.


  2. Hee Hee, My Brother is Pretty Deranged Too, Lol

    You’re right, he did have a Huge Impact on My Life… In fact, I couldn’t talk about him for the First Two years after he was gone… But I did Write a Piece About him on My “Deep Impact” Series I used to do on The Dark Globe… I’d Link it, but I believe Links send me to Spam, Lol… If you go to the Category Thingy on Dark Globe, and Click “Deep Impact”, He’s Like the 5th One Down It’s Called “Deep Impact – Uncle Pat”

    Hey, you Came in 4th in the Writing Contest, Gratz… Check Out the Post on the Dark Globe Site when you get a Chance

    Gratz Anna, Your Piece was Awesome



    1. Aw, I will look forward to reading it later when I get home from work :) I love your writing, and I bet it’s such a wonderful piece.

      And thanks for the ‘Honourable Mention’ in the competition- I will have to add it to my ‘Awards’ page when I get home!


  3. “A life more of habit than of passion, the end that would come to us all”–another great line from you. This one strikes so close to home because it describes most of my life, I think. Weird, isn’t it?–not sure, but I believe more people at his behest than because of Hitler, yet he is not nearly as vilified. “The desire to forever be extraordinary”–yes that still smolders within a lot of us.


    1. Thank you so much, this comment meant a lot to me! Of course much of this story is highly exaggerated, but I do have a slight soft spot for the dictator. I love the little quirks of Russian history, which just seems so much bigger than the rest of the world- Stalin makes up a huge element of that.

      What amuses me the most, as you have rightly pointed out, is that his legacy is diminished by the so-called ‘ultimate evil’ of Hitler. By labelling anything as such makes it almost unpassable in terms of further human behaivour. It probably isn’t right to find such a thing amusing, but nonetheless it does showcase a side of humanity that refuses to acknowledge that evil is anything but a blip in the otherwise untarnished record of human history. Of course this is entirely wrong; Stalin is just one more example of that.

      And as for being unexceptional, it is how we all find ourselves in the end. We are led to believe that we can be more than we had ever believed, but in the end we are all just made of space dust, floating through life. Thank you for your comment, trailertrashdeluxe, it’s nice to know someone’s on the same level. At least we are all unexceptional together :)


  4. Lol, Brilliant

    My Uncle dropped out of College after a year or two, he was a Brilliant Musician… And a Single Father… Later he had Health problems, had a Heart Valve Replaced… Twice… And finally, a full blown Heart Transplant… Once he got the New Heart, he suddenly had Strength again, and in his 40’s he went back to College… And got a Masters Degree in History in UCLA… His Writing was so Brilliant, that they literally asked him if he’d consider Rewriting some of the Text Books… I don’t think he ever did, but I remember at a Family Picnic one time… I asked him “Why He Studied History”, I wanted to Understand, as in School I had a lot of “Uninspired Instructors”… The worst being our Junior Varsity Football Coach, Lol He told me that if Our Government Studied Our History more carefully, they could learn from it, and not make so many of the same mistakes… Sadly he passed away a hand full of years ago… He was My Childhood Hero… One of the Best Electric Blues Guitarists I’ve ever seen.

    Anyway, you make me think of him with all your Passion, and Candor… He was the most Interesting, Cantankerous Dude you’d ever meet, lol

    Deranged, and Monumentally Brilliant… He’s still one of My Greatest Heroes, and one of the Most Important People to me in My Life

    I suspect you would have loved him, and he you

    This is a Brilliant Piece Anna, thank you for Delving even Deeper with this… Or at least, I thought it was from a bit deeper in you.

    Well Done



    1. Oh, DarkJade, he actually sounds fantastic. I would have loved to have met him! Anyone who keeps his own heart in a jar, and with such a great passion for History, is unequivocally one of the most interesting people anyone could ever hope to meet. I’m so sorry for your loss, but it sounds like he had a huge impact on your life while he was still alive, and just reading your words about him have made me smile. I wish I could know someone so ‘deranged’; the world would be a much nicer place :)


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