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MARTINA CARR: Kirill Mikhailovich, as a Russian historian you held a very privileged position. You were director of one of the most important Russian archives, one which kept many documents related to the highest level of the Russian government and Stalin himself. Did you come across anything that really surprised you about Stalin himself and his role in the Second World War?

KIRILL ANDERSON: As far as Stalin himself is concerned, I found a great deal of information that really surprised me. Stalin was one of the last leaders of the Soviet Union and Russia who wrote all his speeches, all of his documents were written by himself. He even helped his comrades to write theirs.  It really surprised me, he had no speech writers, no editors, nothing. And what is even more interesting is that he understood the power of propaganda or mass media as we call it today and he really knew how to use it, and did use it to his advantage.

Also what I found very interesting during the period of the war was Stalin’s ability to do his job, his so called managerial ability. In a very short period of time he was able to change effectively the way the whole country was run during the war – he replaced governmental bodies like The Party Central Committee, The Council of Ministers, The Supreme Council, etc. with one functional institution - The State Committee of Defence.  And to achieve this, to change the whole governing system of the country like the Soviet Union in such a short time can be only done by somebody with great managerial and leadership abilities. And yes, these changes were done in a hard, often even brutal way, but they were done.

MARTINA CARR: And how would you describe his character?

KIRILL ANDERSON: Well, many have described his character, those that knew him or those who wrote about him based on the documents they researched - what I would say about him is that he really wasn’t interested in any material things for himself. He kept a surprisingly very modest lifestyle. He was a very clever, cunning man and fearful to an extent.  He had a very well developed sense of perception of others and after the war it increased even more. He had sense of humor, he liked art and he was – if you would like - a fanatic. A fanatic in the sense that he unquestionably believed in ideas.  To him power didn’t represent a means to some material advantages for him or for his family, no to him the power was a mean to reach the ideals in which he sincerely believed.  In the same way as others close to him like Kaganovich or Molotov sincerely believed in the same communist ideals. These were people with fanatical characters, that you often see amongst politicians.