In any society with a recent past of genocide, one of the most important questions is: What are you going to teach schoolchildren about it?
For thirty-five years after Stalin's death, the answer was, essentially, nothing. Nowhere was after-the-fact denial of reality more blatant. Every student across all eleven time zones of the Soviet Union used the same textbooks. Schools teach twentieth-century Russian and Soviet history in the final two years of high school. When the latest pre-glastnost edition of the textbook for the first of these courses (up through 1937) came off the presses in 1986, the print run was 3,890,000 copies. The book has exactly ten lines about Stalin. It praises the collectivization of agriculture, ignoring the 7 to 10 million people who starved to death as a result. It does not mention the Great Purge. This ignoring of history is as if the Holocaust did not appear in a German textbook. And, because the Soviets were the main victims of the Purge as well as its perpetrators, it is also as if the Holocaust did not appear in an Israeli textbook.
- from The Unquiet Ghost by Adam Hochschild