How Stalin’s death was announced on the BBC 70 years ago





Forgive my rambling down Memory Lane, other paths and maybe  a cul de sac or two.

I remember the reporting of Stalin’s death in March 1953. I was11 years old.

And my surprise on hearing the BBC tell me that in June 1941 Germany had invaded the Soviet Union.

I had assumed that the Soviet Union had always been the enemy of Britain and the United States and the peoples of the rest of the world, including Ireland. 

I may be wrong in seeming to remember warm words about Stalin broadcast on the BBC.But I don’t

think so.

My father always bought the Irish Press, occasionally the Irish Independent and never THE IRISH TIMES. The Indo had virtually called for the execution of James Connolly and the Irish Times for that of all the 1916 Insurgents. The Irish Times warned of the dire consequences of a return to power of De Valera (February 1933) and in March the same year rejoiced in Hitler’s coming to power.

 Ireland under De Valera’s leadership played a principled and constructive role in the League of Nations and was virtually alone in honouring the League’s Covenant, Dev saved the State from involvement in the war resulting from the League’s collective .cowardice

When the NazIs were defeated (largely by the Soviet Union) Cold War Propaganda waged by the West against the Soviets was relentless.

Even Fianna Fail’s IRISH PRESS was not above carrying some of it. For instance the strip cartoon featuring the heroic spaceman Buck Rogers. This was a full eight years before the Astronaut hero Major Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first of our species to orbit our planet.

Buck Rogers was pitted against a monstrous tyrant who misruled the Red Planet. The tyrant smoked a pipe, was carried like a Pope on a gestatorial chair on the shoulders of men. When  the tyrant wanted to move faster he applied a burning appliance to them. If any underling displeased him, he would blow smoke in his face, inflicting a painful death.

I think the tyrant was called Joe, and he was the spitting image of ally of Churchill and Roosevelt in the war which had ended eight years earlier,during which anyone publicly denouncing him in Britain would be imprisoned.

Today Varadkar, Micheal Martin and Mary Lou MacDonald spout more nonsense about Russia for defending itself against American inspired aggression than was ever deployed in the Cold War.

The principles and policies of De Valera and Frank Aiken have been abandoned. And the sentiments once expressed in the slogan –  “WE SERVE NEITHER KING NOR KAISER – BUT IRELAND!”









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