Friday A/V Club: Stalin's Friends in the Press

Pathé's pathetic propaganda


Earlier this year, British Pathé uploaded approximately 3,500 hours of newsreel footage to YouTube, a great gift to anyone who enjoys exploring history. Amid this wealth of clips is a jaw-dropping 1939 dispatch from a Tatar collective farm in Crimea. In this village, the narrator informed English theatergoers, the work is "pleasant and profitable," "light and speedy." The grown-ups play music, the little children dance, and "All the workers, men and women, are part owners of the farm, which may account for the happy smiles":

The report neglects to mention it—perhaps the filmmakers simply did not have time, what with all the joyful folk-dancing footage they needed to squeeze in—but the collectivization of agriculture in that region was a brutal process that killed millions of people. And evidently the workers' ownership of the farm wasn't very secure, given that five years later Stalin managed to expel the Tatars from Crimea. Still: Just look at those happy smiles!

Bonus links: For more Pathé reports from the Ukraine, go here. For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.