R.I.P. Moshe Lewin (1921-2010)

Just two weeks ago, August the 13th 2010, saw the death of famous socialist historian Moshe Lewin in Paris. Lewin was particularly known for his works on the history of the Soviet Union, specifically his relatively recent classic The Soviet Century, which earned him a wide readership. Nonetheless, the Soviet Union was not the country of his birth. Lewin’s life itself was a representation of the vagaries of 20th century history: born in Wilno when this city was still a regional center in Poland (it is now as Vilnius the capital of Lithuania), he fled the invading armies of Nazi Germany to the USSR in 1941. Adopting the ‘bulwark of socialism’ as his new fatherland, he joined the Red Army and attended its officer training school, serving in the last years of the war that was more destructive than any in history and more in the USSR than anywhere else. Possibly the experiences of this destruction as well as the Stalin government, which he from the start seems to have disliked, caused him to attempt building up yet another life in Israel after the war. Lewin left Israel during the period of its first structural turn towards militarism and fascism, in the 1960s, to move to France to finally receive some formal higher education. Continue reading “R.I.P. Moshe Lewin (1921-2010)”