In a stunning confession of the chaos created by the new truth-telling about Soviet history, education authorities have canceled final examinations in history and social studies for this school year.

Saying that the standard textbooks presented "the history of the Fatherland in a monstrously distorted, unrecognizeable form," the government newspaper Izvestia hailed the decision as the only honest alternative for the schools."Everyone - teachers, parents, students - cannot but feel relief and gratitude toward those who had the courage to say no to the exams," the newspaper said in a front-page editorial. "But this feeling is mixed with another - a feeling of enormous shame."

Izvestia said "huge, immense is the guilt of those who led into error generation after generation, giving them falsehood of the intellect and of the soul".

The newspaper, in an editorial signed by I. Ovchinikova that first appeared in Thursday night's editions, gave no details of which officials decided to cancel the exams or when the decision was made. But the cancellation follows a two-month flood of newspaper and magazine articles and documentary films exposing the falsity of much of the traditional view of Soviet history.

Just in the past few weeks, for example, articles in the press have reversed long-held official views by calling Josef Stalin's secret pact with Hitler a "criminal" mistake and describing Red Army soldiers shooting starving peasants to keep them away from rotting grain stores in the Ukraine during the 1930s.