Stalin died on March 5, 1953. This billboard, “He died: you, too, will die” – clearly addressed to the current master of the Kremlin – appeared this morning near the Paveletsky station in Moscow.

For Kamil Ikramov, the announcement of Stalin’s death “was the first time I felt happy” because “he died and I still had not.” Still earlier, when official bulletins reported that Stalin was suffering from “Cheyne-Stokes respiration,” Yuri Gastyev knew it was a pre-death syndrome and immediately hailed the British doctors Cheyne and Stokes, who had discovered the breathing pattern, as “great benefactors of mankind.” (Years later, when published criticism of Stalin was again forbidden, Gastyev made a habit of citing the two “great doctors” in his censored books and articles, to the amusement of knowing friends.)

The quote above is from Stephen F. Cohen’s The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin. (Sadly, Prof. Cohen has become something of a Putin apologist lately.) Robert Service wrote in Stalin: a Biography:

Families existed whose members solemnly toasted the health of “the American doctor” Cheyne-Stokes on each anniversary of Stalin’s death. They were recalling the fatal breathing problem diagnosed at Blizhnyaya [dacha] in March 1953. (In fact there had been two doctors, Cheyne and Stokes, and they were not Americans but Irishmen.)

Back in 1953, at least one Ukrainian-owned restaurant in NYC offered free soup to celebrate the tyrant’s demise. This photo was originally captioned, “Eileen Keenan, a waitress at the 1203 Restaurant, puts up a sign outside the restaurant, March 6, inviting everyone to enjoy “Free Borscht” in celebration of Stalin’s death.”


  1. Does anyone know who posted the poster which refers to Putin? I found it interesting because sometimes I find myself having to remind Russians that Putin is mortal and at some point they’re going to have to contemplate life without him.

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