We admit being conflicted—we'd much rather use Soviet propaganda as kindling for the backyard grill than preserve it on the Internet. Still, we find ourselves doing the latter: here is a sample of Soviet propaganda at its highest, masterfully blending truth and fallacy, obliterating boundaries between fact and fiction.
Vilis Lacis was a well-known Latvian writer; the movie of his book, The Fisherman's Son, released in 1939, was by all accounts an artistic and popular success. As Soviet puppet, on July 31, 1940, he penned the order deporting the commander of Latvian forces, General Balodis, along with all family members. However, his greatest contribution to the welfare of Latvia came on March 17, 1949, when he signed the order for the mass deportations of March 25th, in which 42,133 Latvians—more than two thirds of them women and children—were sent to Siberia, a virtual death sentence.
Lacis tells of increases in the numbers of schools and "quickly" eradicating illiteracy under the Soviets and fails to mention the Latvian literacy rate was the highest in Europe. Of course, that was literacy in Latvian—not very useful to Soviet Russification.
Lacis tells of vast increases in industrial production and fails to mention Latvia being used as a mere assembly station: visual and verbal imagery conjure an economic force to rival Western Europe, whereas Latvia was nothing but a Mexico assembling piece-parts into an endless line of Volkswagen Things—and when the Soviet Union finally collapsed and parts stopped arriving, Latvia's vaunted "industry" vanished overnight, leaving wastelands of abandoned factory shells looted to the bare walls by the Communist apparatchiki.
Lacis tells of the returning Latvian Australian emigré who is informed, as he receives his new Soviet passport, "You may live wherever you wish and work at whatever suits you," proving anti-Soviet press a "pack of lies." As Lacis parades his poster boy, he fails to mention Latvians who need written approval and "escorts" to visit their own relatives, who carry papers indicating where they can, and cannot, go, who would be arrested on sight at their ancestral home, long since confiscated and converted into a kolkhoz—who sigh guilty relief when agents come for their neighbor, not for them.
Our intent is not to disprove Lacis point by point. Rather, in presenting the Soviet "view," one which Russia vehemently still clings to, we can better inform our understanding of the present through a recognition and understanding of propaganda.
Album of illustrations
as part of the series "THE FIFTEEN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS OF TODAY AND TOMMORROW."
We do not endorse the Soviet account of historical events or their circumstances contained therein as factual.