How not to offend millions of people.

In things I can’t believe I’m typing this morning …

A reminder: the hammer and sickle/the Soviet Union represents evil.

After a “cutesy” episode of Australian Story on the ABC, in which a bunch of Anglo Australians waved a communist flag around and did a “retro kitsch” tribute to Stalinist Russia, in which modern-day Russia was discussed as if it – and Putin memes = cute …

The hammer and sickle flag is illegal in much of the former USSR, right alongside the swastika. It’s illegal because it represents the genocides of the Ukrainian and Kazakh people, the total ethnic cleansing of the native people of Crimea, the deportation of the people of western Ukraine (including everyone in my family’s villages) to Siberian gulags, the deportation of tens of thousands of people from the Baltics, too.

It’s illegal because it represents Russian colonialism and the suppression or elimination of other racial and ethnic groups’ languages and cultures. Because it represents a century of mass murder and horror.

It is now an ideology Putin is using in his invasions of Georgia (which began in 2008, and is ongoing) and Ukraine (started in 2014, and ongoing).

I can’t believe this is something I have to explain, but – to my own horror – Australian author after Australian author shared the story yesterday, all with a comment to the effect of “look at this happy, good news story!”.

To wave that flag around without a care in the world is hurtful and harmful to the non-Russian people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This is something we just went through with My Kitchen Rules, when they pulled their “cutesy Stalin and Putin” retro communist ad.

Do better, people. There’s no excuse to not know that Soviet Russia was as evil and genocidal as Nazi Germany was.

Universal Children’s Day

Today is Universal Children’s Day. The 20th of November is also the date when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. Additionally, the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on this date in 1989.

In an age where Russia had whitewashed Stalin’s image and the nation now reveres him almost as a God, and at a time when young people – ignorant, or perhaps wilfully ignorant of recent history – embrace communism (if I see one more “social justice warrior” with a hammer and sickle avatar…), I’d like to share some pictures.

These aren’t children in a Nazi concentration camp; they’re Soviet children in communist gulags during Stalin’s reign.

The problem with 20th century history taught in schools is that it stops with Hitler. Few seem aware that Stalin had the deaths of tens of millions on his hands.

The communist utopia teens and twenty-somethings in the West seem to dream of these days? This was the reality of it.

D0-Mgs7XQAITWXP These aren’t children in a Nazi concentration camp they’re Soviet children in communist gulags during Stalin’s reign.

These aren’t children in a Nazi concentration camp they’re Soviet children in communist gulags during Stalin’s reign. D0-Mjc6XgAAx3jb

These aren’t children in a Nazi concentration camp they’re Soviet children in communist gulags during Stalin’s reign. D0-MimeWwAIrLf1

D0-Mh0LX4AAz7ch These aren’t children in a Nazi concentration camp they’re Soviet children in communist gulags during Stalin’s reign.

Eighty Years Ago

Soviet cavalry on parade in Lviv, after the city's surrender to the Red Army during 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland The city, then known as Lwów, was annexed by the Soviet Union and toda

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This image is taken from Soviet footage in the city of Lviv, made on the 28th of September, 1939. The communists parade through the streets following a successful invasion. Lviv, in Ukraine, changed from Polish to Russian governance at this time.

Control of western Ukraine changed hands a number of times during the Second World War. It was the site of the beginning of the Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

1940 Soviet stamps celebrating the 1939 “liberation” of Ukrainian and Belarusian people from the Polish regime.

At the end of the war, world leaders including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were responsible for the region falling behind the so-called Iron Curtain, trapping ethnic Ukrainians in the USSR.

Today, Lviv is one of Ukraine’s most patriotic cities.

On this day: a bid for independence

a sign “ukraine is leaving the ussr” at the rally in support of the nation_s independence next to ukraine_s verkhovna rada in kyiv on 24 august, 1991.

24th August 1991: Shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, people gather in Kyiv, Ukraine to demonstrate in favour of independence. The sign reads, “Ukraine is leaving the USSR”.

Demonstrations for freedom from Moscow broke out across the USSR in 1991. Some were violently crushed by the Soviet Army, on instructions from the communist government, resulting in civilian deaths.

On this day: Nuclear tests during the Cold War

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7th August 1957: The tail of an airship sticks up in the air after it was brought down by a nuclear test in Nevada, USA.

The downing of the (unmanned) ship came at the height of tensions during the Cold War, at a time Russian/Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, infamous for carrying out Stalinist purges in Ukraine, was repeatedly threatening the West with nuclear annihilation.

928 nuclear tests were held at the site in Nevada. The frequent mushroom clouds, seen for miles, became Las Vegas tourist attractions.

On this day: Before the Nuclear Disaster

A_Picture_Of_Prypiat,_pictured_before_the_Chernobyl_Disaster_to_add_Context_to_what_the_city_was_like chornobyl ukraine ussr soviet union 23rd April 1983 Pripyat (Ukrainian При́п'я

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The closed nuclear city of Pripyat (При́п’ять), Ukraine is pictured here on the 23rd of April, 1983, three years and three days before the Chernobyl (Chornobyl in Ukrainian) disaster.

At the time of the disaster Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and the fallout from the event caused great harm to areas of Ukraine and much of Belarus.

Pripyat was evacuated on the 27th of April, 1986, and today stands as a ghost town.

On this day: a Communist Ballet in China

ScenefromtheChineseChinaTheRedDetachmentofWomenballetwitnessedbyPresidentandMrsNixonintheGreatHallofthePeople ballet

US President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972 resulted in significant changes in relations between the two countries.

During the visit, Nixon and his wife attended a performance of the communist ballet Red Detachment of Women. The ballet, based on a 1961 film of the same name, which itself was based on a book, was staged on the 22nd of February, 1972.

Red Detachment of Women, one of only a few ballets permitted in China during the Cultural Revolution, is still in the repertoire of the National Ballet of China.

Out this month: Mr Jones

mr. jones is a 2019 drama film directed by agnieszka holland. soviet union ussr ukraine stalin's genocide holodomor in ukraine movie poster

Historical film Mr Jones – about a Welsh journalist who risked his life to tell the truth about Stalin’s 1930s genocide in Ukraine – is out this month, beginning with a premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

Unlike the Holocaust, the Kremlin’s forced famine genocide – known as the Holodomor – escaped the world’s notice mostly because Western journalists, many of them advocates of communism, spent decades denying it.

Conservative estimates of the death toll put it on par with the Holocaust, while others place the numbers much higher; up to ten-million Ukrainians killed between 1932 and 1933. The numbers vary so much because, unlike the Germans who documented every aspect of the Holocaust, the Russian authorities have done everything in their power to hide their crimes.

(It should be noted that the Kremlin committed another genocide, in Kazakhstan, at the same time, killing 42% of their population.)

Gareth Jones, played in the movie by English actor James Norton, saw the Holodomor firsthand, and went against the lead of Stalin-friendly journalists like The New York Times’ Walter Duranty to try and get the truth out beyond the Iron Curtain.

Jones was only twenty-nine when he was murdered, one day shy of his thirtieth birthday.

This film seems incredibly important in this day and age, with people once again reacting to rising fascism by identifying as communists and sympathising with Russia. As this Variety article points out, we live in a similar age to the 1930s, with propaganda and “fake news” dominating much of the press, and most of the world turning a blind eye to atrocities being committed by the Kremlin, and by the regimes in countries like Syria.

Memorial to the Great Purge

KurapatyforestgravesnearMinsk,Belarus_%2Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in St

Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in Stalin’s Great Purge during Soviet control of the nation.

Not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, historian Zianon Pazniak revealed the extent of the executions in the Kurapaty forest near the capital city, Minsk.

At least 30 000 people were killed in Kurapaty between 1937 and 1941, but some estimates put the number as high as 250 000.

People who attended the first commemoration – in 1988 – were attacked by the police, and to this day Kurapaty is not publicly mentioned by the pro-Russian government (run since the 1990s by dictator Alexander Lukashenko).

Pazniak fled the country in 1996 and was granted political asylum in the United States.

On this day: Dressing a Communist

Italian fashion designer Angelo Litrico cutting fabric for a jacket for the secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. 26th October 1957

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26th October 1957: Italian fashion designer Angelo Litrico is photographed cutting fabric for a jacket for Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev held the title of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 until 1964.

The designer, born the eldest of twelve children in Sicily in 1927, found international fame dressing political figures on both sides of the Cold War standoff.