[Cz-L]Admiring description of Czernowitz triggers Stalin's ire.

From: Ina Lancman <ina.lancman_at_gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 May 2014 16:18:13 -0400
To: "czernowitz-l_at_list.cornell.edu" <czernowitz-l_at_list.cornell.edu>
Reply-To: Ina Lancman <ina.lancman_at_gmail.com>

Dear Czernowitzers,
This curious story comes from a Russian article based on archival documents, "Soviet Art Under the Yoke of Socialist Realism: Political and Ideological Aspects (1930s-1940s)" It concerns A. Avdeenko, author of the screenplay for the 1940 film "The Law of Life." The film had good reviews and did very well at the box office. Stalin, however, had second thoughts about the film and decided it was anti-Soviet. A high-level meeting was convened to discuss the film. Present at the meeting, in addition to Stalin and his then-henchman Zhdanov, were also Malenkov, Andreev, a few writers, and the heads of the Central Committee's propaganda and agitation units, who had approved the film's release. Stalin spoke at length, condemning the film as a travesty of the Soviet reality, void of ideology, and pandering to populism.

At the meeting, Stalin recalled Avdeenko's recent newspaper article about the city of Czernovtsy in the Northern Bukovina, newly "added" to the Soviet empire. Avdeenko had found much to be admired about the city, its streets, architecture, and theater. "What was all that about?" demanded Zhdanov at the meeting. "Attracted to the old Czernovtsy," Stalin replied. "Plenty of color for old Czernovtsy, but not for our cities - here he ran out of color altogether." With this little exchange, Avdeenko's worship of the bourgeois West -- a serious political transgression -- was firmly established.

The film was subsequently banned, Avdeenko was expelled from both the communist party and the Union of Soviet Writers, and evicted from his apartment. He was, however, not arrested, and in that he was luckier than most of those who had unwittingly crossed Stalin.

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Received on 2014-05-12 15:37:00

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