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Paul Robeson - Hymn of the Soviet Union

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Uploaded on Jan 26, 2009

The national anthem of the USSR between 1944 and 1991, performed here by American bass singer Paul Robeson. Prior to 1944 the Soviet Union anthem had been The Internationale - however it was replaced in the midst of the 'Great Patriotic War' (the USSR's bitter fight against Nazi Germany) to reflect its struggle as a nation. Like other Soviet propaganda it refers to and links Lenin and Stalin, although this part of the anthem was relegated after Stalin's death in 1953. The lyrics were written by Bolshevik author Sergey Mikhalkov, who was hand-picked for the task by Stalin in 1942. Almost sixty years later Mikhalkov was chosen by Vladimir Putin to pen lyrics for the same tune to constitute a new national anthem for Russia.

Paul Robeson was one of America's best light operatic singers, most widely known for his performances of Ol' Man River from the musical Show Boat. He was invited to visit the USSR in 1931. On arriving, Robeson found that unlike in America, discriminatory treatment of blacks was non-existent. Robeson developed close ties with Soviet Russia, visiting it several times, giving performances (such as this one) and sending his son there for education. However the escalation of the Cold War naturally made Robeson a target for the FBI, McCarthy and HUAC, and for almost a decade he was denied a passport because of his sympathies for the communist state. Robeson was a champion of the fight against segregation and Jim Crow laws within the US, and his connections with the USSR were often use to discredit elements of the civil rights movement.

The Music in History channel is operated by Alpha History. Visit our website at http://alphahistory.com for great history teaching and learning resource.

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