RADIO BROADCASTS BY DANIEL KALDER
BBC Radio 4/BBC World Service
For Stalin, privacy was key. So how would he feel
about his secrets being revealed? The Stalin
Digital Archive is the result of a collaboration
between the Russian State Archive of Social and
Political History (RGASPI) and Yale University
Press. As it approaches completion,
the implications of this decade-long endeavour
are explored by journalist and author Daniel Kalder.
Encompassing the years 1890 through to 1952, over 400,000 pages of archive prise open a safe
full of Soviet secrets. There's Stalin's foreign policy with Germany before World War II;
communications during the Great Purges and relations with Western intellectuals and leaders.
There are classified documents regarding deposed police chiefs, the 'Interior Ministry of the
Russian Empire' and, latterly, the FBI. Pieced together, this puzzle of papers underlines the
suspicion and paranoia that dominated this era.
Daniel Kalder believes that the collection has provided us with important new ways to 'read'
Stalin. We discover:
Stalin as artist: he loved to draw wolves' heads all over his notes while he was sitting in tedious
meetings. That was the only thing he drew - wolves, wolves, wolves. A holdover from his years
spent in exile in Siberia, surrounded by wolves?
Stalin as modest: he hacked out references to himself in the works he edited. A revelatory and
previously unknown quality, this completely inverts our understanding of Stalin
Stalin as smart: he added lots to Marxist theory, and yet, according to Trotsky, his limited mental
capacity wasn't up to such a task
With the click of a mouse, we gain access to one of the most guarded and secretive periods in
Russia's modern history.
BBC Radio 3
Daniel Kalder conjures up the vast landscapes east of the Urals, where taiga becomes tundra.
Siberia is more a state of mind than a place, given how the term encompasses not only the
endless forests of the taiga but also that which lies beyond them, where the trees dwindle,
diminish and finally give way to the tundra's ceaseless realms of permafrost. As part of Radio 3's
Northern Lights season Kalder, a travel writer who's lived in and travelled around Russia, reflects
on how ice and wind vies with geology to shape these memorable tracts. And in that land of ice,
not just the cryogenically preserved woolly mammoths, but is it true that former Soviet
apparatchiks are buried with their medals, in full state regalia?
BBC Radio 3
As the clock ticks down towards midnight and a New Year looms, it's hard to escape thoughts of
the passage of time, ageing, the meaning of it all. We lose ourselves in Abba and Auld Lang
Syne and make our resolutions: to live better, healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives. And we ask -
would I want to live forever?
Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, lover of all things Nordic, doesn't. But she's fascinated by those
who do. Especially as she sees our eyes being been drawn Northwards, throughout human
history, to think immortal thoughts. From the ancient Greeks to the cryogenics industry, we've
sought immortal inspiration in the perpetual North star, the endless ice and infinite cold, the
unending days and nights, and the wonders hidden there - legends of people reaching an
immense age, the secret of immortality itself.
And before you say 'how much have you had to drink?' let Eleanor take you away from the party
to show you that these stories may have followed biological truths. Bring your pint and follow the
scientists, artists, dreamers and chancers for whom ageing and death itself is a problem to be
They say you are not dead until you are warm and dead. Stay cold, head North.
Shiver, as Eleanor takes her first steps towards immortality and plunges into a frozen Norwegian
lake : 'a day spent in the ice is a day when you don't age'.
Wonder at the Cosmists, who planned to resurrect their ancient ancestors, and ended up
inspiring the Russian space programme.
Be amazed by the Siberian bacteria , still alive after hundreds of thousands of years , whose
ancient DNA is now being absorbed by other living things.
Hear the astonishing story of the woman who survived suspended animation.
Meet the middle-aged Norwegian whose beansprouts and juice may help him live forever - so far
Feel uneasy in the company of the man who runs a homemade cryonics operation, with a frozen
body in the toolshed.
And discover why Swedish tourist guides include the useful phrase: 'Think of death'.
A practical guide for dreamers, to life extension, survival and immortality in the far North.
The Digital Human: Protection
BBC Radio 4
Aleks Krotowski explores living in a digital world.