Not One Step Forward
(As Opposed to Stalin's Order to the Stalingrad Command: "Not One Step Back")
Article from the Russian national newspaper Tribune, June 28, 2001

          As we have already written the deputies of the Volgograd Regional Duma have adopted a resolution demanding the cessation of the showing of the film, "Enemy at the Gates". From whom are they demanding this? From President Putin, from Premier Kasyanov, from speakers Stroev (Federated Council) and Seleznev (Federal Duma), from Ministers Ivanov and Schvidky, and also from plenipotentiary, Kazantsev and from the leaders of the Russian regions.
          So here is the official schedule of the addressees of this resolution. In other words, awake great country: the enemy is at the gates! More specifically, the enemy has already penetrated within our boundaries. For the time being in the form of he American/European blockbuster about the Battle of Stalingrad, but according to the Regional Duma, presenting a clear and present danger to the "social consciousness" of the fatherland. And here it is worth attending to some curious details.
          The film was shown in Volgograd from the sixth to the 22d of April. For this time frame there was a sparse attendance and the proceeds of the central Cinema theater of the city in all were only 48,000 rubles ($1655). By comparison Mikhalkov's "Siberian Barber" brought to the cash register at the same "Victory Cinema theater during this time 734 thousand rubles.
          On April 22 following the eruption of the scandal surrounding the film, the Moscow firm "East-West", to whom belonged the film rights and who had the exclusive right to show it, recalled the film back to the capital. As they say, if you don't want it, it ain't worth the trouble. It would appear that the issue is now closed. But there appeared a letter from the Volgograd veterans and even from the belligerent interventionists of the time of the Caribbean crisis, and then the action of the regional Duma, which on May 17 adopted its angry resolution.
          Meanwhile, the scandal smolders, notwithstanding that only a few have seen the film. One of the newspapers published the full text of the resolution of the deputies. If the resulting scandal is receding, someone stubbornly does not let it die out. To this one should add that the film theater "Victory" already is undergoing its second procurer's inspection. What are they looking for? Likely something or other!
If one looks hard enough, then always one can find something. The procurors have found it. At last here they are, the fingerprints of an ideological diversion; the director of "Victory", Gennady Domaskin, honored cultural worker, began to show a film clip the 6th of April, but received permission for this only on the seventh.
          Yes, and this was only by fax- completely out of order. In his justification he prattles on; he wanted, it is said, that the premiere take place in Volgograd, at the place where the events in question occurred. The ministry of culture gave the film a revolving certification from the 6th of April. And it must follow that there was no violation. So there you are- an original defense. But the automobile already had lost its way: and the investigation requires a guilty party. On what measures of punishment to choose for this crime, the procuror still has not decided. 
          This story of the film's presentation was recently discussed at the Volgograd Forum. Alas, those who made the stink in the first place, the deputies of the Regional Duma did not come to the Forum's meeting. But even without them the discussion turned out to be interesting.
          Anatoly Kozlov, chairman of a section of the Battle of Stalingrad veterans in general thinks that the Duma members and their same like minded veterans have tried to judge an artistic production by the same measure as a documentary. And, of course, in that case they found that much in the film did not coincide with what actually happened. But in the larger picture, one is obliged to thank the author for having resurrected the memory of Stalingrad. Why in the West they are come to forget about that war, which raged in Europe exactly 60 years ago, about the role of the Soviet Union in the destruction of the Hitlerites! So at least let people have a look and know that there was such a city, which the fascists were not able to take. 
          And what about the sex scene and the killing of Russians by Russians? And so it was, says Kozlov. Surely we must know, for example, that in the Battle of Stalingrad alone 11 thousand of our native sons were shot for a defeatist mentality. Think about it, a whole division!
          Surely we must know that here there was given birth the sadly famous Stalin order: "Not a Step back". And the director of the Panorama -Museum, the military historian, Boris Usik corroborates the veteran. Is it possible, he emphasized, that everything that does not please that, or us does not correspond to dogma we do not perceive as true?
          And there is more. Why did the Duma members so united in joining ranks against the film, not allocate the necessary means for the maintenance of the Panoramic Museum, the complex on Mamaev Kurgan and our other sacred places? Why did we not raise our voices for the undertaking of a government program to search for Soviet soldiers, even to this hour counted among the fallen without trace of their whereabouts? But for such of these, to this day, more than 200,000 have not been buried, in the Stalingrad region alone.
          An astounding fact. The Germans for the last six years on the territory of the Volgograd region have collected and identified the remains of 80,000 of their soldiers. For that same period we have done the same for 1,138, of which about 100 have been established by their family names. But instead of humbly acknowledging the need to bury all of our native sons who fell on the Volga frozen waste and in other engagements of the Great Fatherland war, we again and again search for enemies, and accord little value to the people's great deeds. 
          So let us add to this another fact. The powerful Russian film, "Stalingrad" can be found only in the State film foundation and there is only copy left. Not only that, reports Domanskin, but it is in a condition classified as the fifth category. That is, practically not suitable for showing. Today when the anniversary fanfare grows quiet by the passing of another date in the history of this sacred, current war, we recognize the self-evident: fact that no one but ourselves are guilty for the fact, that are monuments have decayed, the fields the film depicts are now covered with dust, our youth even in Volgograd, on the ground where each pebble is reddened with the blood of his fathers and grandfathers, does not want to see a film on that war. That is if there are six films with a Schwartsenneger or from somewhere from across the seas…
          So that our chief enemy is not at the gates or behind the gates. He is in ourselves. And meanwhile we do not understand this but instead joust with films, books and picture postcards...

Michael Verzhba, Tribune, Tribune Correspondent, Volgograd

Translation by Edward R. Brown


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