Tau News
Tel Aviv University News, Winter-1996-97

From Russia with Hate
A Mission to Rescue
Zionism Then and Now
Skull Find Helps Solve Evolutionary Puzzle
Children's Books Gain Major Attention

From Russia with Hate

TAU historian the target of threats

TAU historian Prof. Gabriel Gorodetsky has found himself once again at the center of an intense debate over Stalin's role in starting the Second World War. This time, however, his safety has been threatened in the latest book written by a former defector of the Soviet military intelligence, Viktor Suvorov, titled The Last Republic.

The debate has been raging for five years, since Gorodetsky published his book, The Icebreaker Myth, a rebuttal to Suvorov's 1992 best-seller The Icebreaker, 'which challenged accepted accounts of events leading up to the German invasion of Russia during the Second World War (see TAU News, Spring 1995). The issue remains an open wound for Russians who suffered heavy losses of between 20 to 30 million people in the war.

In The Icebreaker, Suvorov argued that throughout the 1930s Stalin had been preparing for war against Germany, eventually scheduled for July 6, 1941. This was foiled by Hitler's own invasion of Russia on the 22nd of June. Red Army mobilizations in the spring of 1941 proved that it was deployed in an offensive fashion, alleged Suvorov. The Icebreaker was not only popular in Russia, but was enthusiastically received in Germany by those attempting to rehabilitate Hitler and deny the Holocaust.

Unlike The Icebreaker, which is undocumented, for his book Gorodetsky was allowed unprecedented access to the archives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Soviet Military Intelligence, and the Red Army. Gorodetsky not only refutes Suvorov's thesis, but presents an innovative analysis of Stalin's policies during that period. His research is highly regarded in Russian academic circles, and led to his appointment as a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Suvorov's latest work is in effect a rebuttal to Gorodetsky's rebuttal. In it, he uses traditional xenophobic polemics to undermine Gorodetsky's standing. Repeatedly referring to Gorodetsky's foreign (Jewish) nationality, Suvorov portrays him as an "enemy of the Russian people." "Brothers!" he writes in The Last Republic, "The honor of our Motherland is at stake... Gorodetsky's wild fabrications were fully supported by Russia's ideological machine. And Gorodetsky, throwing aside all restraint, continues to speak about our cowardice, cowardice, cowardice and about our gross unpreparedness."

The book concludes with a threat: "Brother-paratroopers, need I say more about what needs to be done? Or perhaps you will defend your honor without being prompted? And the honor of your Motherland at the same time?"

Ironically, Gorodetsky sees his own work as defending the honor of the Russian people. He finds it inconsistent that Suvorov, who has described the Red Army as aggressors, now tries to portray himself as a patriot. "The only reason he can do this," explains Gorodetsky "is because I am a foreigner - and worse - a Jew."

The Icebreaker Myth by
Gabriel Gorodetsky
The Last Republic by
Viktor Suvorov

Prof. Gorodetsky, Director of TAU's Cummings Center for Russian and East European Studies, the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities, was recently elected by the TAU Senate as incumbent of the Samuel Rubin Chair of Russian and East European History and Civilization.