RUSSIA: Man of the Year, 1939

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Man of the Year (See Cover)

On the year's shortest day, 60 years ago, in Gori, near Tiflis, a son was born to a poor, hard-working Georgian cobbler named Vissarion Djugashvili. The boy's pious mother christened him Joseph, after the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.

But names were not to stick very long to this newest subject of the Tsar; he was to answer to Soso, Koba, David, Nijeradze, Chijikov and Ivanovich until at length he acquired the pseudonym of Stalin, Man of Steel.

Last week, as another Dec. 21 rolled around, the little town of Gori was a mecca for 450 Russian writers, "intellectuals" and students sent to gather material on Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili's birthplace and early surroundings. Newspapers printed sentimental poems and stories about the "little house in Gori" and latest photographs showed that it had been enclosed in an ornamental stone structure and turned into a Soviet shrine. A Tiflis motion-picture studio started filming Through Historic Localities, a cinema intended to conduct the spectator through every part of the country associated with Joseph Stalin's name.

In Moscow 1,000,000 copies of President Mikhail Kalinin's biography, A Book About the Leader, were issued, while sketches by Defense Commissar Kliment E. Voroshilov and Commissar for Internal Affairs Laurentius Pavlovich Beria are soon to appear. In a twelve-page edition of Pravda, Moscow Communist Party newsorgan, only one column was not devoted to Joseph Stalin on his birthday morn. In an editorial called "Our Own Stalin," Pravda declared: "Metal workers of Detroit, shipyard workers of Sydney, women workers of Shanghai textile factories, sailors at Marseille, Egyptian fellahin, Indian peasants on the banks of the Ganges—all speak of Stalin with love. He is the hope of the future for the workers and peasants of the world."

In his honor the Council of People's Commissars founded 29 annual first prizes of 100,000 rubles ($20,000) each for outstanding achievements in "medicine, law, science, military science, theatre, inventions, while 4,150 Stalin student scholarships were announced. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet conferred on Tovarish Stalin the Order of Lenin and gave him the title of "Hero of Socialist Labor."

Shop committees, laborers' clubs, Soviets, Party and State functionaries felicitated Hero Stalin, but among the congratulations from abroad one came from an old enemy now turned friend—Adolf Hitler: "I beg you to accept my sincerest congratulations on your 60th birthday," wired the Führer. "I enclose with them my best wishes for your personal welfare as well as for a happy future for the peoples of the friendly Soviet Union." The Nazi press meanwhile carefully eulogized Mr. Stalin as the "revolutionary führer of Russia."

The Man. In all this wordage over Comrade Stalin's 60 years of life only six-line communiqués on the progress of the Red Army in Finland were printed in the U. S. S. R. Obviously, the hammer-sickle propaganda machine preferred that Soviet citizens pay as little attention as possible to a scarcely encouraging military campaign (see p. 20). Much, however, was written about Joseph Stalin's enormous effect on world affairs in the last twelve months.

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