The New York Times: “A Monster to History, Stalin Is a Tourist Magnet in His Hometown”

Tourists at the Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori, the Georgian town where the Soviet leader was born. Photo: Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times., Jul 03, 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

A divisive figure among Georgians, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin is remembered fondly at his museum in the city of Gori where atrocities of the past century are largely overlooked, a Georgia Dispatch article from The New York Times reads.


With the feature, author David Segal introduces to readers the phenomenon of the local adoration for the historical figure in his birthplace while contrasting it to the opposite reaction Stalin’s name draws among the youth.


The tone throughout the museum is admiring, a stirring narrative about a poor kid who, against long odds and despite numerous stints in czarist prisons, soared to the heights of power,” Segal explains.


The controversial effect of the historical impact of the state leader also makes developing a tourist policy on Stalin a complicated matter for the Georgian government, with attitudes in promotion varying throughout the years.


[Stalin] has presented a quandary for Georgian officials. How, if at all, does a country market a homegrown monster to the rest of the world?”, the article asks.


As the Georgian government removed a statue of the Bolshevik figure in 2010, the local response from Gori has been similarly antagonistic, with the staff of the city’s museum keeping its celebratory tone.


[Even though later] the museum added a room containing a table where confessions were wrung from arrestees [in Soviet repressions], along with a reproduction of a prison cell [...,] the tour skips it,” the author notes.


The feature piece also shares Gori residents’ impressions on Stalin and contrasts his brutal repressions in Georgian to souvenir items bearing his photographs and name now providing a source of income for locals in the city.


Read the full story here.