Why is the Soviet Union so demonized by some but praised by others?

I didn't say any of those things you are saying I did, I just summarized a history that you completely ignored (things were just dandy until 1956? What? Why would the Hungarians have revolted in the first place, then?). But in any case, no, the Berlin Blockade did not harm Soviet prestige like the invasion of Hungary in 1956. Nor did Churchill's warning about the Iron Curtain. Literature on the Cold War generally points to Hungary as the turning point for Soviet Postwar prestige -- that's why I mentioned it in the summary (if we weren't talking about perceptions of the Soviet Union but rather the rise of the Cold War, then I would have been in error here).

As for your point about "Uncle Joe," Stalin was far more popular in Europe after the Second World War than he was in the United States (the "Uncle Joe" stuff never really worked, and I've got some good sources that cover the failure of the "Uncle Joe" propaganda if you'd like to read more about it).

You also assert that the victory was "hardly Stalin's achievement." Maybe, but his popularity rose in Europe nonetheless. Undoubtedly, his and the USSR's prestige had waned by the time of this death, but Soviet prestige did indeed peak under Stalin and did not trough after his death. It's really odd that you would ignore this entire history, and then criticize my summary for leaving out the details of the rise of the Cold War.

You also note that you'd rather live under Brezhnev than Stalin. Who wouldn't? (Note that I brought up the KGB not to say that it made the Soviet Union "worse" than the Stalin Era, but to highlight the fact that the Soviet Union did not clear it's repressive reputation with de-Stalinization.) But the prewar Soviet Union was only one of many powers in Europe, incapable of generating the reputation as an imperialist Superpower that it garnered over the course of the Cold War.

And you might even be right that today many younger Americans who grew up after the Cold War who have little knowledge of that conflict think only of Stalin and his atrocities when they think of the Soviet Union. But the geopolitical situation today, especially in Europe, is a direct consequence of the Cold War--our leaders lived through that conflict. And it was the imperialist policies of the Superpower Soviet Union that turned Europeans off from that nation to this day, not the fact that in the 1930s Stalin purged the government and military.

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