Giovanni Tiso’s fondness for “Grandpa” Stalin

A reader emails about Giovanni Tiso’s affectionate tweet about Josef Stalin.

Thought you might be interested in this – something I saw a couple of weeks back on Twitter, but was waiting for a friend of mine to get back to me about before I fired it your way.

Basically, twitter’s self-appointed adjudicator of self-righteousness, Giovani Tiso, made a joke about referring to Stalin as “grandpa” in a thread about photos of politicians when they were younger.

I thought it was a little off colour joke to make given Stalin’s brutality, but to check I wasn’t being hypersensitive, I flicked it on to a friend of mine on Twitter whose family is Russian to see what he made of it and asked if he could jot down his reaction. I thought his reply hit the nail on the head:

“Its bloody disgusting to joke affectionately about Stalin being grandpa. Would Mr Tiso be happy if anyone else making a similar joke about Hitler, Pol Pot or some other genocidal maniac from the 20th century? He’d be the first to kick up a big stink about how inappropriate it was.   

My family fled the Soviet Union during Stalin’s purges of the 30s, abandoning everything, their friends, family, worldly-possessions, because they were terrified of what would happen to them as former farm owners. Most of their family who stayed behind were either murdered by the NKVD or sent off to Siberia, only a handful managed to survive the remaining years of Stalin’s reign.

I remember growing up that my dedushka would nearly break down if we tried to ask him about what life was like in Russia before he and babushka left. He’d point out the millions of people who’d died as a result of Stalin’s purges, power games, agriculture reforms and ethnic cleansing, that’s before he pointed out the two brothers and one sister he’d lost in the years following their decision to flee.

People in the west seem to forget that Stalin was every bit as ideologically nasty as Hitler, intentionally murdering millions of people for reasons just a batty as those Hitler advanced. Yet for some reason, he’s not seen as reprehensibly evil as Hitler.

Mr Tiso isn’t stupid, he should be fully aware that Stalin was every bit as vile, as vicious, as genocidal as Hitler was. For a man who has made a name for himself on calling out people for inappropriate remarks and behaviour, like rightfully calling out Willie Jackson and John Tamihere over their comments on the Roastbusters scandal, or how he’s recently got upset over the Sunday Star Times hiring of Judith Collins, Mr Tiso has shown an incredible amount of hypocrisy that is hugely disrespectful to the victims of Stalin – of which my family is but one small group.

The sad thing is, Mr Tiso probably doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong and that he was just making an innocent joke. The problem is, it’s not so innocent when you’ve lost family members to the subject of that joke, as have millions of others.”

Giovanni Tiso doesn’t believe in freedom of speech, he actually is a Stalinist who wants any dissenting or contrarian views bullied into silence.


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  • rangitoto

    “People in the west seem to forget that Stalin was every bit as
    ideologically nasty as Hitler, intentionally murdering millions of
    people for reasons just a batty as those Hitler advanced. Yet for some
    reason, he’s not seen as reprehensibly evil as Hitler.”

    I’ve pondered this myself. Probably because he was allied with the US and UK for WWII. Also the USSR govt continued to control the flow of information whereas everying came out about what had been going on in Germany once Hitler was defeated.

    • Isherman

      Given Stalin was responsible either directly or indirectly for the deaths of possibly 30 million of his own people, he’s every single bit as evil as Hitler, some suggest he was actually worse. The exact number of people that perished is still debated among historians, but the man made famine that he caused in Ukraine alone killed somewhere between 2.5 and 7.5 million needless deaths by starvation. I’m actually surprised that Tiso’s intellectual greatness allowed him to think there was anything about Stalin at all to be taken lightheartedly.

  • CheesyEarWax

    Even if Twisted Tiso changes his name to Twisted Stalin, people still don’t know who he is or read his blog.

  • timemagazine

    I quick history lesson-Mao has killed 78 million people, grandpa Stalin 23 million and Hitler ” only” 17 million. And these are conservative numbers.
    The left clearly knows the scam they are running in addition of being true believers. If this makes sens.

    • Isherman

      And Tiso seems to forget that he is exactly the type of Intelligensia academic phrophet that Stalin distrusted the most, he would have been just another name on just another personally signed purge order.

    • SlightlyStrange

      If Stalin is “grandpa” to Tiso, do you think he would consider Mao to be a demi-god?

  • Reaper

    I spent a few months in Russia some years ago. Your friend’s feelings are consistent with those of all the Russians I met – if they spoke of Stalin at all. Just like most Germans’ reluctance to speak about Hitler. It is a part of their history many would rather forget. There is hardly a Russian family that was unaffected by the actions of Stalin. He was a monster.

    What is wrong with this Tiso guy?

    • SlightlyStrange

      Yes, when we went to Russia in 2012, our tour guides were happy to talk about Gorbachev and the fall of the union, or even about things like the siege of Leningrad, but Stalin? Nope. Its a period of history they still feel so much pain over and wish hadn’t happened.
      Having learnt a bit about it in my “World War 1 and its legacies” paper at uni this semester, I can definitely see why. It was horrid.

  • dgrogan

    Would Tiso refer so intimately to uncle, Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, I wonder?

  • caochladh

    Considering that the origin of the name Tiso is most likely German, it is unlikely that his grandparents would agree with him.

    • Isherman

      I believe he’s Italian, and is a translator as well as a (sic) ‘writer’.

  • I had to search around to find out who Giovanni Tiso was. Obviously, I’m not keeping up.

    My father was a child prisoner in a Soviet gulag in Siberia during WWII. He was transported from Poland to Siberia on train in compartments made for cattle, not humans, during winter. When the USSR became allies with the West, all Polish prisoners were given amnesty – my Dad’s family was split into those who were directed to the Polish army in the USSR and those that were not army material (ie mother and children). The second group were sent to Kazakhstan to die of starvation. Amazingly enough, my dad survived this, when those sent to bury the family found some of the children still alive.

    Anyway, I don’t have a strong reaction to people such as Giovanni anymore – there are just too many of them. But yes, the comparison of Stalin to Hitler is one I had to stress to my husband recently. Most people just don’t get it.

    • taurangaruru

      I tend to agree with your sentiments re not expending any energy on the likes of Tiso but the age old saying “those that cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” is very relevant. Tiso & all the other lovers of Communism that ignore the tens of millions of dead should be reminded at every turn of what an evil system Communism actually is. Tiso & his ilk would have a lot more relevance if he had spent years living in the likes of North Korea before espousing the wonders of Communism. Even the great mouthpiece Gareth Morgan spent the barest amount of time necessary to get himself from one end of North Korea to the other on a motorbike before telling us all how wonderful the place is.

  • dale

    I would like to recommend a book. GULAG. By Ann Applebourm. A terrible reality. So precise. This history should never repeat.