“When truth was a luxury, any careless word or act would be seen as an attack on the state’s monopoly of truth.”
Changing Place Names to Honor the Demi-god
“Soon after Lenin’s death the dubious practice of had grown of giving the names of the party faithful and state figures to towns, regions, factories, educational facilities, theaters and so on. It had become the norm for state-run newspapers to help implement these desires of Party leadership. Trotsky himself had received a request from the citizens of Kochetovka, Zosimov District, Tambov Province, who had requested permission to call our village “Trotskoe,” in honor of our leader and inspirer of the Red Army, Trotsky.
By early 1925, Stalin had agreed to Molotov’s proposal to perpetuate his name by printing his collected works. After this it was decided to rename the town, province and railway station of Tsaritsyn to “Stalingrad.” The factories, parks, newspapers, ships and palaces of culture bearing his name would now embody his claim to eternity.
By the end of the 1920s there was virtually no district where Stalin’s name had not been adopted by one administrative, production or cultural body or another. By this means the people were surreptitiously imbued with the idea of the exceptional role that Stalin played in the nation’s destiny. The glorification of the Leader would be heard in every routine press report or speech by which the local “leader” would see that some of the glory was reflected upon himself.
The impression was inevitably gained that, having given up belief in God in heaven, the people were creating his replacement on earth. By August or 1931 and before the personal cult of Stalin had reached its zenith, there were attempts to immortalize Stalin in works of political biography. Everything he said, wrote or formulated was immutable, true, and in no need of actual evidence. In other words, Stalin was a demi-god – an all-wise man whose intellect was capable of answering all questions of the past, understanding the present and peering into the future.”
(Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, Dimitri Volkogonov, Prima Publishing, 1991)