Terror and Surveillance

“Surveillance means that the population is watched; terror means that its members are subject on an unpredictable but large-scale basis to arrest, execution, and other forms of state violence.”1 This is the theme of Chapter 8 of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism, in which the modes of Soviet public repression and purging are explored in detail.

The development of the Communist “Great Purges” in the 1930s was a self-propelling loop of suspicion, witch-hunts, and above all else, terror.… Read the rest here

A Lesson in Charity

Hywel Davies’s book Fleeing Franco is a touching account of the lives of the Basque refugee children who were displaced from their homes during the Spanish Civil War and taken in by various humanitarian groups in Wales.  Although Davies does present pithy summaries of the political and social events surrounding the period, the text is primarily composed of several detailed vignettes that follow the lives of individual refugee children and the characteristics of the Welsh communities that came to their aid.  … Read the rest here

Fleeing Franco

Fleeing Franco is a book written by Welsh historian Hywel Davies in 2011. It deals with the Welsh repatriation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. While the book is well researched, and presents an uplifting thesis about the largely uniform acceptance of the Spanish children in an already poverty-stricken nation, Davies does seem to present a slightly biased view on the matter. For example, he makes a point of vilifying the leading Welsh politicians, by stating their pro-Fascist attitudes, in favor of returning the children to Spain after the War, while stressing his opinion that those working with the children were following a humanitarian call rather than a political opportunity.… Read the rest here

Circus

In this film by Grigory Alexandov, a young woman named Marion Dixon (perhaps a play on the Mason Dixon line) joins a Russian circus after being forced to flee her American hometown after the townspeople discover that her son is black. She performs a daring routine called “The Flight to the Moon” which the manager of the circus, Ludvig, wishes to imitate with his own daughter, Raya. One night when Mary is performing, Ludvig shows her act to Ivan Martinov, a performance director.… Read the rest here