World: Unhappy Birthday

Twenty years ago last week, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin turned 70, and the Soviet Union celebrated with a birthday party to end all birthday parties. Factory workers and farm hands promised to double, triple and quadruple their production norms as a present to their leader. The Italian Communists sent an Alfa Romeo sports car to the Kremlin, while the French party dispatched a chromium-plated racing bicycle. For the next eight months, Pravda's pages had room for little except birthday greetings.

Four years later Stalin died, and in 1956 Nikita Khrushchev accused him of "intolerance,...

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