Thursday, August 5, 2010

Stalin's Quip at Potsdam

As someone who takes the study of history quite seriously, it seriously ticks me off when I hear revisionist historians blaming FDR and Truman for the outbreak of the Cold War. I have no patience for that position; I think people who espouse it are dangerously naive about the nature of Joseph Stalin’s regime. Stalin was a man given to pithy, ironic comments. At the Potsdam conference on the outskirts of Berlin in July of 1945, a diplomat asked Stalin if he was happy now that Russian troops had occupied Berlin, after all, just three and a half years earlier, you could hear the sound of German artillery fire inside the Kremlin and at one point, German troops were only seven miles away.

Stalin smiled and said, “Czar Alexander made it to Paris.”

Anyone who thinks Stalin would’ve been satisfied with making it to Paris are, well . . . did I mention dangerously naive?

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