European History ~ Marxism, Lenin and Stalin PPt, a USSR, PPt, and Soviet humor paper

A//For Monday, March 8th Write a paper of two to three pages paper on the following topic:
Why did Marx’s idea have such a powerful effect on so many people in the
late l9th and 20th centuries and why have so many become disillusioned with his ideas?
Here are some writers who have articulated their feelings about Marxism especially feelingly, but you may certainly interview your parents or other adults if you’d like, but you should cite your interview in your bibliography.
Leszek Kolakowski

Arthur Koestler (a review by Rebecca West of Arthur Koester’s The God that Failed.)

Whittaker Chambers famous letter to his children

George Orwell

Geert van der Kolk (You’ll have to translate this one)

B//It’s estimated that as many as 250,000 people were sent to the labor camps for telling jokes under Stalin, and though Khrushchev freed a number of them, until the l980s it continued to be dangerous business to tell jokes about the government in the USSR or in a satellite country such as Romania, Czechoslovakia, or the GDR (East Germany.)

For Monday April 19th choose one of the jokes as the basis of a one-page paper. Your paper should explain the joke in the context of the Soviet Union or satellite country ; explain why people found it funny and what it illustrates about life at the time it was told. Justify your interpretation, and should show evidence of research.

During the famine of the civil war, a delegation of starving peasants comes to the Smolny, wishing to file a petition. “We have even started eating the grass like horses,” says one peasant. “Soon we will start neighing like horses!” “Come on! Don’t worry!” says Lenin reassuringly. “We are drinking tea with honey here, and we are not buzzing like bees, are we?”

The winter’s passed,
The summer’s here.
For this we thank
Our party dear!

Прошла зима,
настало лето.
Спасибо партии
за это!
(Proshla zima, nastalo leto / Spasibo partii za eto!)

Stalin reads his report to the Party Congress. Suddenly someone sneezes. “Who sneezed?” (Silence.) “First row! On your feet! Shoot them!” (Applause.) “Who sneezed?” (Silence.) “Second row! On your feet! Shoot them!” (Long, loud applause.) “Who sneezed?” (Silence.) …A dejected voice in the back: “It was me” (Sobs.) Stalin leans forward: “Bless you, comrade!”

Stalin finds a nest of mice in his office one day. Stalin summons one of his apparatchiks and asks for his advice as to what he should do about an infestation of mice.
-Put up a sign saying “ колхо́з,” (collective farm) says the apparatchik, Then half the mice will starve and the others will run away.

An American and a Soviet soldier kill each other and end up at the pearly gates
at the same time. Peter says “well, we have national division in hell as well,
but you may choose where you’d like to go. There is an American hell and a
Russian hell.”
American: what’s the difference?
Peter: well, in the American hell you have to eat a shovel of s*** a day.
Russian: and in Russian hell?
Peter: two shovels of s***
American: I’ll go to American hell.
Russian: well, two shovels of s***, it’s not nice, but I was a Russian alive
and I died a Russian and I’ll go to Russian hell.
Millenniums later, the same two soldiers end up doing sentry duty at the
checkpoint at the border between American and Russian hell at the same time.
Russian: Hi hi hi! How you doing! Long time no see!
American: Hey! How are you, you look good!
Russian: how is it over there in American hell?
American: oh, one shovel of s*** a day, you get used to it. How about Russian
Russian: well, you know how it is, one day there’s no s***, the next day no
shovels. . .

‘Is it true that Marxism-Leninism is scientific?’ ‘No, surely not. If it were, they would have tested it on animals first.’

Son: What will communism be like when it is perfected?
Father: Everyone will have everything they need.
Son: But what if there is a shortage of meat?
Father: Then there will be a sign over the butcher’s shop saying “nobody needs meat today”.

Boris saves his money and when he has enough for a Lada he presents himself to the dealer who gives him an exact date of delivery which is exactly ten years to the day ahead.” “Will it be delivered in the Morning or afternoon?” Boris asks.” Well, what difference does it make?” asks the dealer. “Well,” Boris says, “ it’s just that the plumber is coming in the morning.”

What are the last six pages of a Lada user’s manual reserved for?
Answer: The train and bus timetable.

This is one that Stalin is reputed to have told himself about a visit from a Georgian delegation: They come, they talk to Stalin, and then they go, heading off down the Kremlin’s corridors. Stalin starts looking for his pipe. He can’t find it. He calls in Beria. “Go after the delegation, and see if anyone has seen my pipe,” he says. Beria scuttles off down the corridor. Five minutes later Stalin finds his pipe under a pile of papers. He calls Beria—”Look, I’ve found my pipe.” “It’s too late,” Beria says, “half the delegation admitted they took your pipe, and the other half died during questioning.”

The KGB, the GIGN and the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at catching criminals. The Secretary General of the UN decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest and each of them has to catch it. The CIA goes in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that the rabbit does not exist. The GIGN goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and make no apologies: the rabbit had it coming. The KGB goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

The two Soviet Newspapers were Izvestiya and Pravda. Soviet citizens used to say that there was no Izvestiya in Pravda and no Pravda in Izvestiya.

One of Khrushchev’s first acts was to release all those imprisoned for minor political crimes, which included telling jokes. In his famous secret speech to the 20th party congress, Khrushchev cracked one too. He said that Stalin would have liked to have deported all the Ukrainians, but didn’t know where to put them. The stenographers recording the speech noted the reaction of the party—”laughter.”

On Soviet Art: What is the difference between painters of the naturalist, impressionist and the socialist realist schools? The naturalists paint as they see, the impressionists as they feel, the socialist realists as they are told.

The Commisar came to the collective farms to see how the harvest was doing and asked a farmer and the farmer said “Oh commrade commisar! If we took all the potatoes, they would reach the foot of God.” “Comrade farmer, this is the Soviet Union. There is no God.” “Thats okay, there are no potatoes.”

In a restaurant:
― Why are the meatballs of cubic shape?
― Perestroika! (restructuring)
― Why are they undercooked?
― Uskoreniye! (acceleration)
― Why are they bitten?
― Gospriyomka (state approval)
― Why are you telling me all this so brazenly?
― Glasnost! (openness)

“Comrade Stalin! This man is your exact double!” / “Shoot him!” / “Maybe we should shave off his moustache?” / “Good idea! Shave it off and then shoot him!”. (In another version, Stalin replies shortly Ili tak [lit. or so], meaning “this way is ok too”)

Armenian Radio was asked: “Is it true that conditions in our labor camps are excellent?” Armenian Radio answers: “It is true. Five years ago a listener of ours raised the same question and was sent to one, reportedly to investigate the issue. He hasn’t returned yet; we are told he liked it there.”

Gorbachev, Ceauşescu, and George HW Bush and the Pope are flying on an airplane when the engines fail. The pilot cries desperately to the passengers…
Pilot: “We have to abandon the plane, we are going to crash, but we only have 4 parachutes for the 5 of us! One of us will not be able to jump”
Gorbachev jumps up and takes a parachute..
Gorbachev: “I must save myself, I am the Soviet Union’s president…
Da svidanya!”.
And he jumps out…
Bush: “I gotta go, fellaz, ’cause I’m the president of the United States… Bye!”
He takes the second parachute and jumps…
Ceauşescu, the pope and the pilot remain with only 2 more parachutes.
Ceauşescu (famous for his low i.q.) takes another parachute…
Ceauşescu: “I am the “Brain of the World”, the most intelligent genius in the World, I must jump out! You go to hell! La revedere!”
The pope and the pilot are left.
The pope: “My son, you take the last the parachute, I give myself to the hands of God. Good luck son!”
The pilot: “No, father, don’t worry! We can both jump out, we have 2 parachutes! The “World’s Brain” jumped out with my lunch box!”

“My wife has been going to cooking school for three years.” / “She must really cook well by now!” / “No, they’ve only reached the part about the Twentieth CPSU Congress so far.”

Brezhnev visited the Soviet colonies in Central Asia.
A crowd greeted him shouting, “salaam aleikum!”
Brezhnev had been well coached. “Aleikum salaam!”, he replied.
Then a wretched dissident called out “Gulag Archipelago!”
“Archipelago Gulag!”, Brezhnev replied.

Gorbachev was late from getting to the Kremlin from his house. He told the chauffer, “Look we are running late so let me drive. I insist.” So He told the Chaufer to get in the back and he drove. Meanwhile the police were given strict orders to ticket anyone speeding no matter how important. So they were speeding down Moscow and two motorcycle cops pulled them over but didn’t ticket him after he saw who it was. He goes back to the station and talks about it and was asked, “Why didn’t you ticket him? “Too important.” “Who was it?” “I didn’t recognize him, but his driver was Gorbachev!”

A man is queuing for food in Moscow. Finally he’s had enough. He turns round to his friend and says “That’s it. I’m going to kill that Gorbachev,” and marches off. Two hours later he comes back. “Well,” says the friend, “did you do it?” “No,” replies the other, “there was an even longer queue over there.”

The latest achievements of the East German electronics company Robotron were celebrated—they built the world’s largest microchip.

A man walks into a shop and says, “I see you don’t have any fish”, and the shop assistant replies, “You got it wrong – ours is a butcher: we don’t have any meat. They don’t have any fish in the fish shop that is across the road!” [The Russian version is a subtle pun based on the fact that a sentence “You don’t have fish?” (with interrogative intonation and extra accent on “don’t”) actually means “Do you have fish?” So, the original Russian dialog is less verbose: “You don’t have fish?”- “We don’t have meat: we are butchers. The fish shop across doesn’t have fish.”]

We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us!

―Have you heard, Putin ordered the government to arrest the inflation. / ―Well, not exactly, he ordered to have it arrested…and jailed.

Vladimir Putin conjures up the ghost of Stalin and asks him how he can consolidate his power.
Stalin advises as follows:
Step 1 Kill all the democrats
Step 2 Paint the Kremlin blue
Putin replies: Why Blue?
Stalin replies: Aha! I knew you wouldn’t ask about step 1.

Places you might look for answers:

• The “Anecdote”: Unrationed Soviet Humor, William Henry Chamberlin
Russian Review, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Jul., 1957), pp. 27-34
(article consists of 8 pages) Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Editors and Board of Trustees of the Russian Review Stable URL:

C//Lenin and Stalin PPt. So far as I know this is original. If there are images used that are not in the public domain, I am unaware of it.

D// This PowerPoint deals with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death, but only touches on the Fall. It is, if memory serves, original, but it’s possible I’ve unknowingly infringed on copyrighted material. If so, please let me know.

After Stalin2After Stalin2ColdWarinterpretations-1


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