Tina Poglajen
Poglajen is a freelance film critic who lives and works in Berlin.

STALIN, RUSSIA: Through interviews, observations and archival footage, this documentary explores the present baffling and widespread reverence of Stalin.

The Red Soul

Jessica Gorter

The Netherlands, 2017

Until the 1960s, the map of the Russian territory was covered with dots marking the locations of the GUlag run forced labour camps that held a wide range of convicts – from petty thieves to political prisoners, the number of which peaked under the rule of Joseph Stalin. Millions of people who were imprisoned have disappeared forever without a trace, despite their families’ efforts to uncover what happened to them. The camps and their prisoners – who were often being worked to death – were responsible for building much of today’s Russia, especially the major industrial cities of the Russian Arctic, such as Norilsk, Vorkuta and Magadan.

Human bones can still be easily found lying on the ground at the places their bodies were dumped. How is it then possible that a great deal of people in Russia still see Joseph Stalin as a hero of the Russian people, rallying on the streets of Russian cities to show their support for his vision of Russia with his portraits in their arms? As one interviewee asserts at some point in the documentary: Stalin supporters make up more than half of the population.

A Russian communist holds placards with portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin during a rally to celebrate International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day in Moscow May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov (RUSSIA – Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) – RTR31G68

«Gorter sets out to explore how it’s possible that so many in Russia still see Stalin as a hero.»

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