Stalin is giving a long speech at an event, naturally in front of a huge audience. While he’s in full flow, somebody near the front of the hall sneezes. Stalin stops and surveys the crowd.
“Who sneezed?” he asks.
“I repeat,” says Stalin, “who sneezed?”
Not a peep.
“Very well,” says Stalin. “First row, stand up!” Everyone in the first row stands up. “Guards! Open fire!”
A few seconds later, the entire first row of the audience is lying in bloody heaps on the ground.
“Now, who sneezed?” Still not a whimper. “Second row, stand up! Guards! Open fire!” The second row writhes and breathes its last.
“Now, comrades: who sneezed?” Absolute silence. “Third row! Stand up! Guards! Op….”
“Wait! Wait!” From the sixth row a man rises, shaking so hard with fear that he can barely stay on his legs. “Please! Comrade Stalin! It was me. I sneezed.”
Stalin fixes his eye on the wretch. The entire audience watches, paralyzed.
“Yes, Comrade Stalin, yes. It was me.”
“Bless you, comrade!”
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