The Soviet Union was a latecomer to the whaling industry. But after a bumbling start, by the 1960s, Soviet whalers were slaughtering over 20,000 whales a year. The decimation of the world’s whales in the 20th century, a genocide in which the Soviets played no small part, has had catastrophic results on the world’s ocean environments. Ryan Tucker Jones tells us about the Soviet whaling industry, the lives of Soviet whalers, their attitudes toward their craft, and the lasting trauma of the hunt the ocean’s majestic creatures.
It all started with a letter to Stalin in 1935. And when a Kremlin clerk opened it, there was a piece of shit inside.
Was the turd an insult? A way of saying to Stalin, “You’re a shit. Here’s some shit”?
But I ended Part One of a Gift for Stalin on a different note: that the turd addressed to Stalin was no slight at all. It was, in fact, a gift.
A little brown present for Comrade Stalin.
It’s Sunday, October 13, 1935, and someone, we don’t know who mails a letter from the outskirts of Moscow. It’s addressed: “Kremlin. To Comrade Stalin.” It arrives a few days later. And when Comrade Sentaretskya, one of the secretaries sorting Stalin’s mail, got to this letter, she had no reason to worry . . . . that is until she opened it.
It’s Sunday, October 13, 1935, and someone, we don’t know, who mails a letter. It’s addressed: “Kremlin. To Comrade Stalin.”
Now, there was nothing odd about people writing Stalin. They wrote to him a lot.
So, when Comrade Sentaretskaya, one of the secretaries sorting Stalin’s mail, got to this letter, she had no reason to worry . . . . that is until she opened it.
Just what was in this letter?
Find out March 31 when The Eurasian Knot debuts with A Gift to Stalin, two episodes about a letter mailed to the Soviet dictator and what it might have meant in the Soviet Union. Available wherever you get your podcasts.