There’s a guy in my apartment block whose first name is Stalin.
Well, I thought it was interesting.
Anyway, you can learn more about Stalin (the former Soviet leader, not the guy who lives in my building) by visitng Wikipedia.
Update: While we’re on the subject of Stalin, this article made me chuckle: Stalin clears up unpaid bills.
The Stalin Clears up unpaid bills article brought a hearty laugh to a sleepy morning. I especially liked, “Comrades, this is not a cinema . . ” slogan.
Forget about interviewing all these bloggers. I say put some questions to the Stalin guy on your block.
Andy, while your at interviewing Stalin could you please ask him how to handle the situation described in Trapped in Germanistan.
Out of curiosity, how old is Comrade Stalin? I second Sean’s request for an interview with him!
Up to a few years ago, the Manhattan white pages had a V. I. Lenin.
As for the real Stalin, some might be familiar with the so-so movie about him which the History Channel runs. My favorite scene is where Stalin asks Molotov a series of questions that are answered unintelligently. After which, Stalin claps his hands and says: Molotov you’re so stupid. You will go far.
This relates to many present day situations. Included is the Eng. language coverage of the former USSR from the Russian government funded side.
In Germany’s on-line telephone book are listed …
Mr. Michael Lenin in Hünxe
Mr.or Mrs. M. Stalin in Bergisch Gladbach
Mr.Stalin in Osnabrück
Mr. Merlin Stalin in Köln (great name, isn’t it ?)
But we also have 86 people by the name Romanov. So the Russian royalists beat the communists in Germany by 86:4.
Stalin as a last name is one thing, but Stalin as a first name is a different thing entirely and may be one of the more unfortunate names around. What’s in a name, you ask? Apparently, quite a bit (see also here, and I can’t locate but am sure I’ve recently seen an article listing people named “Flowers” who became gardners, people with religious-sounding last names who became preachers, etc., but that was more like an entertaining anecdotal approach).
The thing about “Stalin” is that it’s not an ambiguous or Soviet-kitschy name like Vilen (Vladimir Ilyich LENin), Melor (Marx-Engels-Lenin-October-Revolution, though also, apparently, a saint) or Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards); I’d think even the less mellifluous Oktyabrina or Traktor would be preferable (though I doubt there are many Traktors still living). Anyway, I would definitely be interested in hearing from the gentleman how his name has served him and about the most interesting comment(s) he’s received on it.
Well, in Germany you have the legal possibility to change your name (first and / or last) when you can reliably assure that your name causes unease or problems.
I personally know a person who had the name changed from “Goering” to “Gering”.
Untill some years ago the procedure of giving a first name to a child (in Germany) was pretty strict. You had to prove that the name you had in mind was really a “name” and not some bizarre construct. The authorities even discussed with you about the spelling of a name.
My oldest son’s name is “Domenik”, the official filling out the birth certificate insisted that the name must be spellt “Domenique” or “Dominique”. I finally convinced him that I wanted to prevent people from taking him for being a female by spelling it without “que”.
A friend of mine faced more difficulties. He insited in giving his son the name “Eike”, which is a nordic-germanic name. The officials insited that this name would be female and refused to put it into the certificate. For moths the child had no name but a number. Finally, after quite some rallying, the (then) famous German soccer player Eike Immel agreed to help and sent a copy of his birth certificate to prove that “Eike” very well is a male name. After this the officals gave in and entered the name.
As to crazy names in Germany, in Hamburg someone managed to have the officials accept the names “Coca” and “Cola” for his twin daughters. A terribly stupid decision.
Lyndon, I’ve never actually met a Traktor, but I do know brothers named ????? and ????? after Karl Marx and Jean Jaurès.
What about Vladlen?
Mike, the website I was pulling those from has Vladilen. although I’ve only heard of Vladlen. Another one that lets you “pass” by going as the innocuous Vlad.
db, I made that connection about Alfyorov – fascinating.
And Heribert, is it true that there is control over what you can name your kid in Germany?! People would freak out about that in the US. It sort of reminds me of when I was being baptized into the Orthodox church, the priest first wondered if I wouldn’t take a proper Orthodox name and then couldn’t figure out how to say my actual name – he probably should have just baptized me as Leonid, but it was nice of him to try.
Lyndon wrote: And Heribert, is it true that there is control over what you can name your kid in Germany?!
There is a so-called “Namensregister” (register of names) which lists all the names which will be accepted without any discussion. Should you come up with a name not in the register, then it’s up to the official to decide whether this name is a name or not (or up to you convincing him). But it clearly has to be a name, no attribute or condition. And it has to have some seriousness to it.
People tried to name their kids “Afrika” or “Asia” and couldn’t. “Europa” (Europe) passed as it is a ancient Greek name.
Popeye won’t pass. But there is always an exception to the rule. If you manage to convince the official to note it down, and the name ends in the birth certificate, then the “name” is a name.
Then even “Coca and Cola” or “Cosima Proxima” will pass for being names.
I actually have an article from Iunyi proletarii (one of the main Komsomol journals) from 1924 (No. 66, Jan 1924, p. 4)that addresses the issue of revolutionary names. Its says that the older generation gave their children saint names. “Our generation must be filled with revolutionary content,” it reads. “Our task, as komsomoltsy, is to reflect Komsomol life in the next generation.” The author suggests giving names like Ninel, Oktiabrina, Zvezdochka, Smena, Ucheba, Kim (which stands for Communist Youth International), Vil, Krasarm (for Krasnaia Armii), Miud (International Youth Day) Inkor, Mai and Trud. But my ultimate favorite is that the article suggests giving names for revolutionary events like Miud. Can you imagine? Gives a whole new meaning to red diaper baby.
In one of Boris Akunin’s books appears a character named “Mirat”. The character suggests his name to be a combination of “???” and “????” to symbolize the USSR’s intention to make only peacefully use of its nuclear technology. Unlike the evil capitalistic and imperialistic powers in the West 😉
I knew a Kazakh environmentalist named “????,” short for “????? ?????? ?????? ??????.”
Er..”Marx Engels Lenin Stalin.” Sorry
To add a humourous “comment”:
A common joke here goes …
A girl applies for a job. She is asked about her first name …. She replies “Wazhsodasein”.
The interviewer askes if were of Middle Eastern origin.
No, she replies, the name is an abbreviation of my father’s first words when mother brought me home from hospital after birth.
Was zur hölle soll das sein ?
(The phrase translates to :What the f*** is this supposed to be ?)
Lyndon’s initial point about Stalin as a first name is right on the money – it’s highly unsual compared to the usual “Soviet glory” names, which is why I’m still curious to know when he was born. And more specifically, I’d like to know under what circumstances he came to have that name in the first place (is he even Russian? Were his parents communist sympathizers? Just a really, really unfortunate coincidence?)
Let’s hear more about this guy!
I haven’t actually met the Stalin in question, so can’t really enlighten you all that much.
His surname is Portugese, however, so in my mind, I imagine he is from South America somewhere, presumably with left-wing parents.
As for Soviet names generally, I hear that names like Stalin and Lenin are very popular in parts of India. There’s even a town in Kerala called Moscow. This BBC article reports on a reunion of six Lenins, two Gagarins and a pair of Pushkins.
When I worked in Kiev in 1995-7 our office manager was called Karl Marx. As far as I know he is now in London but I suspect not in the British Museum.
I also knew somebody whose first name was Vilen, apparently a quite common name.