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On 05/04/2014 06:57 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:
Even in Soviet times, Odessa was a city low on the pecking order. Again,
as in czarist days, its residents weren't given to taking edicts from
the Russian government all that seriously. One never could be quite sure
of Odessa's Marxist orthodoxy — after all, this was where Leon Trotsky
had gone to school and where Mensheviks flourished before 1917. After
the 1917 revolution, it took several years for the Bolsheviks to subdue
The Soviet regime increased Russian presence in the region, but Odessa
never fully embraced Moscow, and it remained a poor cousin to other
Soviet cities. Food and goods were in shorter supply than elsewhere, and
first-rate opera and ballet companies rarely played the gorgeous Opera
House designed by Austrians in the 1880s.
Prof. Herlihy makes some pretty obvious points about the history of the
and its attempts to wage imperialist politics vis-a-vis its rivals.
But, the above 2 paragraphs are appallingly ignorant.
During Soviet times, Odessa was a city of extreme strategic importance.
It was the main cargo port of the Soviet Union (counting nearby
Mykolaev and Illichevsk ports). It included facilities for
roll-on-roll-off ships, which carried freight rail cars to COMECOM
states and the West, connecting industrial regions such as the Donbass,
the Urals, etc. to external markets.
In addition, it contained the largest ship building facilities of the
Soviet Union, where aircraft carriers were built. Needless to say,
this, along with military facilities alone, ensured heavy investment in
universities, and related infrastructure. Moscow's Patrice Lumumba
University had a regional campus in the city (where my grandmother
worked in one of the dorms), and the medical university was considered
among the country's best three of four.
It took the Bolsheviks several years to subdue the city, because it was
a major landing base of the imperialist Western intervention in the
Civil War. The French Navy was stationed there, among other forces,
including major White units. It's absurd not to mention this, while
No first-rate opera and ballet companies performing in Odessa? What is
this professor smoking to tune her subtle anti-Soviet, Orientalist
First, the Odessa Conservatory itself was world-class, producing
musicians such as violinist David Oistrakh and many others. All the
major orchestras, ballets and operas regularly rotated through its
theater (spared from demolition during WW II by a sympathetic German
officer, with an artistic sensibility, according to local legend) and
Even the greatest of stars, such as the pianist Sviatoslav Richter,
regularly toured through provincial cities, not to mention major stops
like Odessa - and this was routine Soviet state practice.
I won't even speak to the points about food and goods being in less
supply, but this is the most absurd mis-characterization of Odessa's
recent history, or Soviet policies, I've ever read.
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