Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => The Russian Revolution => Topic started by: Elisabeth on September 02, 2005, 02:58:30 PM

Title: Soviet Atrocities and the Killing of Disabled and Innocent Children
Post by: Elisabeth on September 02, 2005, 02:58:30 PM
One of my more baffling experiences as a graduate student was encountering well-educated Americans who knew almost everything about the Holocaust but absolutely nothing about Soviet atrocities under Stalin. I recall one good, very intelligent and well-read friend who was astonished to learn that some 10-15 million peasants died during collectivization and the terror-famine that followed, another five million or so people under the Great Terror. Nor had she ever heard of the Communist atrocities under Mao in China – 30 million dead during the Great Leap Forward, another 5-10 million killed during the Cultural Revolution. Before she met me (a fellow liberal Democrat!) she believed that all Communist atrocities, with the exception of those in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, were solely the invention of anti-Communist propaganda propogated by neo-McCarthyites.

Why aren’t Soviet and Maoist atrocities better known in the West? Why haven’t they gripped the public imagination to the extent that the Holocaust has? After all, Stalin and Mao taken together (or even taken separately!) killed far more human beings than Hitler ever did. Why aren’t their crimes better publicized? Is there something in the Communist ideology itself that makes atrocities committed in its name somehow less "atrocious" than other crimes against humanity? Do you think it is justified or fair to teach students about Nazi atrocities in public schools without teaching about Communist atrocities at the same time? Or do you think the situation in Western schools has changed since I was a graduate student some fifteen years ago?  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on September 02, 2005, 04:17:41 PM
Dear Elizabeth,

Baffling cannot cover the word and the frustration of trying to get accross this point to fellow Americans, indeed even to any press.

Many times I've given question to the press, why don't you write and offer in your press, more factual stories about the soviet atrocities? Response, people are not interested. Then one goes into a catch 22 with the press. Well I respond, if you print it, people will be educated, and that in itself will create interest.

[I notice still today, in newspapers, flyers, etc., they support teaching children about the only holocaust, and or ask the public to purchase, and wear buttons to support the education of the holocaust of the jews.] This may be fine for the children of Israel, or whom are jewish, but what about the countless millions whom from other countries and ethnicities, who suffered untold misery, deprivation, torture, murder, genocide?

I state again, this is not the only holocaust of history, and the Jews should not be in a place to sit over all other peoples and nations, to say they lead the way in stating they suffered the worst in terms of holocaust!

No say the newspapers, all these 'other holocausts', it's old news. Then I ask, well then, why is it so important to every other month or three, to have news stories galore, ongoing films, or tv special films about the jewish holocaust. By the way, I say, although there was the holocaust of the Jews, [before that was at the start of that century of the jewish holocaust], there was the holocaust of the Armenians, [whom to this day, the Turkish government has not taken responsibility, nor has the UN taken them to court for the genocide]; After that the Armenians also suffered from the soviet atrocities. [For Americans, where is the story of the genocide of the American Indians for our schoolchildren to know about?]
Then came the Ukranian famine, etc., etc.

I know there were terrible atrocities by Mao, but here also, western societies are offered the least in understanding. I myself am not realy fully at all comprehensive of what was done to humankind there.

I was always to understand the taking of one life, is wrong. But millions, and there is not any accountability, let alone balance given in all history books globally, what is to be said of that?

Sorry, I get a bit heated about this subject, but only again, because in our family history, someone paid the dear price; then follows the complete negligence of not taking time to teach students everywhere, that wholesale murder and genocide from and by any country, or persons is not justified.

I agree with you, how are our children here and across the world to learn, and learn to live in peace if we don't offer the completeness of truth in our history books.

Peace begins at home, and I believe once we are able to start here at home, in balancing the books of history, then we can really feel we have accomplished much.
Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.

Tania



Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Maxim on September 02, 2005, 07:28:01 PM
If you want to debate 'Soviet atrocities' it is best to list what you mean by them and put forward the historical evidence as to how they were manifested and how many people they are thought to have affected.

I would like, for instance, to know the methodology behind '20 million peasants died during collectivization' - to me, it sounds like a made up number. Also, the idea of a "Ukrainian famine" is a misnomer - all the grain-producing regions of the European USSR had a poor harvest in 1932-33.

Finally, there are many many history books that discuss and debate and argue the exact extent of all sorts of these numbers. You could scarcely want more books about the Gulag system or the famine of 32-33 or the deportation of nationals. They are out there to be read.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 02, 2005, 08:16:35 PM
I am afraid you will find a definite lack of historical objectivity on this board when it comes to anti-Soviet sentiment.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: C.J._Griffin on September 02, 2005, 10:46:25 PM
From the numerous books I've read on the subject, I break down the Soviet death toll like this:

Around 20 million (citing The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al) to 35 million (citing A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia by Alexander Yakovlev) killed in all, from 1917 to 1991

250,000 executed by the Cheka during the "Red Terror" and Russian civil war. (citing The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police by George Leggett) But it could be much higher (see my sig)

Between 300,000 and 500,000 Cossacks killed or deported in 1919 and 1920 (known as "de-Cossackization"; not sure how many of these deaths overlap with the aforementioned Cheka executions - if at all). (citing The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al)

Between 7.2 to 10.8 million deaths during dekulakization and collectivization - which caused a famine the regime used as a weapon against supposed "class enemies" (citing Stalin and His Hangmen: the Tyrant and Those Who Killed For Him by Donald Rayfield)

Around 700,000 executed during the Great Terror of 1937-38 (citing Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore); this does not include those who were beaten/tortured to death during "interrogation" or deaths in the gulag during this time, which would put it over a million.

Over 1 million Polish citizens deported by November 1940; 30% of whom were dead by 1941 (citing Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore) and 21,857 executed outright (i.e. Katyn) by the NKVD during the Nazi-Soviet pact (citing Autopsy for an Empire by Dimitri Volkogonov)

A total of 34,250 Latvians and around 60,000 Estonians and 75,000 Lithuanians murdered or deported during Nazi-Soviet pact (citing Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore)

An estimated 4.5 million (citing Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum) to 12 million (citing How to Prevent Genocide: A Guide for Policymakers, Scholars, and the Concerned Citizen by John G. Heidenrich) deaths in the Gulag from 1918 to 1956.  

(I'm leaving out Stalin's ethnic cleansing of minorities in the USSR during WWII - Chechens, Crimean Taters, Kalmyks, Volga Germans, etc. - accused of "collaboration" with the Germans. I can't think of a source for that one off the top of my head. I'm sure hundreds of thousands perished though)

Haven't read as much on Mao Tse-tung, but the new biography of him by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (Mao: The Unknown Story) estimates "well over 70 million" perished as a result of Mao's policies which, if true, makes him the biggest mass killer in history.

Broken down looks like this:

3 million deaths during land reform and the "campaign to suppress counter-revolutionaries"

38 million deaths during "Great Leap Forward"

3 million deaths during the Cultural Revolution

27 million deaths in the lao-gai (the Chinese gulag)


Oh, anyone looking for reading material on Stalin's bloody reign of terror might want to check out the list I made at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/13CVYXCFG9Y0H/ref=cm_bg_lm/103-2257673-7935006)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on September 03, 2005, 01:33:15 AM
Quote
I am afraid you will find a definite lack of historical objectivity on this board when it comes to anti-Soviet sentiment.


In assessing any piece of historical scholarship, by what standards may that historical account be judged as being accurate?

Are not all accounts biased and motivated to portray an event as the author intends?

Each side will proffer arguments that they believe has merit.

Each side has a commonality of shared beliefs and is entitled to hold those beliefs.

The commonality of both sides is the point of discussion.

While the discussion may never reach a resolution, surely the best outcome is to respect one's point of view? ;D
Title: sRe: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: C.J._Griffin on September 03, 2005, 09:23:28 AM
Quote

Are not all accounts biased and motivated to portray an event as the author intends?


Indeed. Just think of all the leftists who have written about Pinochet's excesses (3,000 dead commies and sympathizers; the way they tell it you'd think it was the crime of the century) and the "horrors" of the McCarthy era (in which not one single person was killed). These accounts are always taken as gospel truth by the same people who question works on Soviet atrocities it seems.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on September 03, 2005, 01:00:47 PM
But is there something about Communist ideology in particular that somehow makes it peculiarly "exempt" from accusations of crimes against humanity? Is it because Communism's intentions are supposedly good, in promising a heaven on earth of egalitariansim for all (except for those hailing from the wrong social class, of course)? Why is Communism still such an attractive ideology to many who do not even regard themselves as communists, while fascism and Nazism are generally and rightly recognized as evil?

My own sense is that Western Europeans and Americans identify with the Jews who perished in the Holocaust because these victims are usually presented in the media as Western Europeans belonging to the middle class (Anne Frank being the prime example). So as middle class Westerners we identify with our own. (Of course, the majority of the Jewish victims were in fact Eastern Europeans of the lower classes...) Whereas most of the victims in the Stalinist and Maoist terrors were peasants. Not to mention the fact that Russians and other Soviet citizens as well as, needless to say, the Chinese, belong to the "East" and as "Asians" are also therefore considered in the popular imagination to be somewhat "strange" and "exotic" - so it follows that strange and inhumane things are somehow "expected" to happen in these places.  In other words, I think that more than a little racism and classism is involved in our current "ranking" of these human tragedies.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: C.J._Griffin on September 03, 2005, 01:41:27 PM
Quote
But is there something about Communist ideology in particular that somehow makes it peculiarly "exempt" from accusations of crimes against humanity? Is it because Communism's intentions are supposedly good, in promising a heaven on earth of egalitariansim for all (except for those hailing from the wrong social class, of course)? Why is Communism still such an attractive ideology to many who do not even regard themselves as communists, while fascism and Nazism are generally and rightly recognized as evil?


In Gulag: A History, Anne Applebaum addresses this very subject:

"It is not only the far-Left, and not only Western communists, who were tempted to make excuses for Stalin's crimes that they would never have made for Hitler’s. Communist ideals - social justice, equality for all - are simply far more attractive to most in the West than the Nazi advocacy of racism and the triumph of the strong over the weak. Even if communist ideology meant something very different in practice, it was harder for the intellectual descendents of the American and French Revolutions to condemn a system which sounded, at least, similar to their own. Perhaps this helps explain why eyewitness reports of the Gulag were, from the very beginning, often dismissed and belittled by the very same people who would never have thought to question the validity of Holocaust testimony written by Primo Levi or Elie Wiesel. From the Russian Revolution on, official information about the Soviet camps was readily available too, to anyone who wanted it: the most famous Soviet account of one of the early camps, the White Sea Canal, was even published in English. Ignorance alone cannot explain why Western intellectuals chose to avoid the subject." pg xxi

Quote
My own sense is that Western Europeans and Americans identify with the Jews who perished in the Holocaust because these victims are usually presented in the media as Western Europeans belonging to the middle class (Anne Frank being the prime example). So as middle class Westerners we identify with our own. (Of course, the majority of the Jewish victims were in fact Eastern Europeans of the lower classes...) Whereas most of the victims in the Stalinist and Maoist terrors were peasants. Not to mention the fact that Russians and other Soviet citizens as well as, needless to say, the Chinese, belong to the "East" and as "Asians" are also therefore considered in the popular imagination to be somewhat "strange" and "exotic" - so it follows that strange and inhumane things are somehow "expected" to happen in these places.  In other words, I think that more than a little racism and classism is involved in our current "ranking" of these human tragedies.


I agree. To quote from the book In Denial: Historians, Communism & Espionage by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr:

"But when it comes to the grand vision of Communism, far too many American academics are willing to excuse the murder of "uneducated peasants" and exculpate, even admire, a ruthless dictator and the elegant design of his coercive mechanisms." pg 26
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 26, 2006, 07:44:19 AM
First, I want to be very clear before I continue . . . .  I entirely agree with those people who put very large numbers on the deaths under Stalin's Terror.  And I entirely agree with those people who say Western teaching and imagination is much more occupied by the Holocaust than by the horrors of the early decades of the Bolshevik regime.  (Having grown up during the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis, though, I can assure you we in the U.S. were plenty occupied about what we thought was going on during the latter soviet regime.)

But one discussion I have never seen anywhere, whether it be about the Nazi or the Bolshevik regimes, is the question of whether they were uniquely evil, or whether their evil was a depressingly common artifact of the way new government systems have striven to establish themselves throughout history.

To explore this question requires a historical debate, not a moral one.

We should remember that tsarism was roughly eight centuries old when it left its last impressions on our memory.  And our impressions of the soviet era rest on its initial 70 years, with the focus in this Forum mostly on its initial Bolshevik and Stalinist phases.

But I would like to propose that most western monarchies -- as well as tsarism -- were born in throes of violence that, relative to the technology and demographics of their eras, was often as extreme as what happened under the Nazis and the Bolsheviks.

Look at castle architecture across western Europe from the era in which monarchies were coalescing from feudal warfare.  Every castle was built to hold the population of the surrounding countryside during an attack.  The reason was that warfare encompassed not only a battle of armed knights but also attempts to destory the enemy's ability to sustain and regenerate himself.  One element of that was to wipe out the entire civilian labor force that supported a lord's domain.  Moral questions simply did not come into consideration.

And the use of violence against civilian populations was not unique to the establishment of monarchies.  Look at the Terror that accompanied the French Revolution.  And violence was pressed into service in battles to establish new belief systems as well.  Look at the wars that ravaged the civilian populations of central Europe during the early Protestant era, or the burnings during Mary Tudors English reign, or the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in France.

As monarchies became stabilized and then entrenched, the role of violence began to alter and recede.  Its initial role had been either to eliminate all possible opposition or to subdue it through fear.  In that early phase, the emphasis was on eradicating the elements of the existing society that resisted -- or had the potential or motivation to resist -- the new order.  Then priorities shifted toward creating new social organs that would support the new regime without the invocation of force.  William the Conqueror dispossessed the indigenous land-owning classes of England and distributed their lands to his Norman fellows.  Peter the Great, fearing resistance to his westernization policy, subordinated the Orthodox Church to the monarchy by refusing to fill its top post, eventually assuming the role himself.  Louis XIV caged his rambunctious nobility at Versaiiles by cutting off state preferments to those who would not join him in the ruinous expense of living there (which bled off their ability to fund personal armies).

But violence always remained below the service as a tool to be called up when needed.  Fortunately, its later use tended to be against individuals.  Henry VIII beheaded an inconvenient wife on trumped up charges of incest.  Peter the Great, fearing his son would become the focus of resistance to westernization, had him tortured to death.  Frederick the Great's father forced him to watch the beheading of his best friend, probably in an attempt to erase the specter of homosexuality.

Eventually, monarchical states became encumbered in their ability to invoke wholesale violence, with the specturm of encumbrance very roughly decreasing along a west-to-east line.  By the 19th century, it was virtually unavailable to the British monarchy.  In Romanov Russia, there were no legal impediments on the autocracy's use of violence, the only throttle being the tsar's own predilections.  That is why, despite the reach of anti-semitism across Europe, it resulted in frequent pogroms only in Russia, where the state tolerated -- and perhaps occasionally institigated -- violence.

So here's the point of this too-long post:

The only Western attempts to create fundamentally new social orders during the memory of those still living were the Bolshevik revolution and the Nazi hijacking of Germany.  We no longer have a living memory of the formative stages of other systems.

As a consequence, we have a distorted ability to place the violence of Nazism and Bolshevism into a historical context -- unless we make a disciplined effort to do so.

Before collapsing around an inherently flawed economic theory, Bolshevism only had a 70 year run.  Even as early as Kruschev's private 1956 speech about Stalininst horrors, the regime was beginning the slow process of replacing indiscrimate violence with a reliance on new organs of support, such as the impenetrable and stultifying soviet bureaucracy.

Did violence remain at its core?  Yes, but only in the sense that it remained embedded in tsarism -- progressively less used, but always available, as neither form of government had any inherent limit on its ability to invoke violence.





Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on February 26, 2006, 12:00:17 PM
I really hate to say this, Tsarfan, because usually I find your arguments compelling in the emotional sense, if not always in the logical one - but what you say is, to put it bluntly, utter crap.  It seems that once again everyone is guilty of Soviet atrocities - except the Soviets themselves. Following your brand of logic, we are now supposed to blame the last kaiser, not to mention Frederick the Great, for the evils of the Holocaust. Say what???

If only the defendants at Nuremberg had known! If only Eichmann in Jerusalem had known! They could have argued not only that they were "just following orders," but also that they were "just following the example of [their] predecessors."

The fact of the matter is that you are leaving out not only the role of personal responsibility, and not only the stabilizing and pacifying role played by the increasingly large middle class in the West, but also - and I stress this! -  the huge role that extremist ideologies played in bringing about both Nazi and Soviet atrocities. I would strongly, strongly advise you to read more history books about the Soviet era. I have yet to come across a serious professional historian who blames the horrific excesses of Stalin's reign on the tsars. Even Soviet apologists almost to the last man view Stalin as the ultimate evil, not to be excused by any lengths or by any stretch of the imagination.... And while some of them see Stalin as a historical aberration (like Ivan the Terrible) - personally,  I don't think so - on the contrary, I think he grew quite logically out of Lenin and Lenin's own political excesses of violence and torture. Furthermore, this pronounced (even innate) tendency of Bolshevism has been more than amply demonstrated in histories of the Gulag by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Robert Conquest, and Anne Applebaum. But I suspect - and please excuse me if I'm wrong - that you haven't yet read any of these histories. Because otherwise I think that, as the sensitive and highly intelligent person you are, you would (more than) hesitate to draw such cheap and easy comparisons between the tsarist and Soviet regimes. Because they really are... cheap and easy.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on February 26, 2006, 02:04:25 PM
I'd like to think that if Hitler had died in 1938 we would not be congratulating his successors as beneficent leaders because of decreased German unemployment, restored German confidence and a larger German presence on the international scene... all this while the euthanasia of the mentally and physically handicapped, not to mention the Nuremberg laws had until only recently still been in force...

Here's the biography of a Soviet victim, taken from the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics series: "Osip Mandelstam was born in 1891 of Jewish parents and was brought up in St. Petersburg. The first volume of his poetry, Kamen ('Stone'), was published in 1913 and was followed by Tristia (1922) and Poems (1928). His persecution by the Soviet authorities for his evident lack of ideological conformism began in earnest in the 1930s, and in 1934 he was arrested and eventually exiled to Voronezh. [He was arrested again] and died in Eastern Siberia in 1938, on the way to a labor camp."

One might add, that he was originally arrested because he wrote a secret poem denouncing Stalin. And that he died of starvation and exposure in December 1938, according to the testimony of other camp inmates.

This is a late poem by Mandelstam, written about the Stalin years, near the end of his life:

The mounds of human heads disappear into the distance,
I dwindle here, no longer noticed,
But in caressing books and children's games,
I shall rise from the dead to say: the sun is shining!

- 1937

(trans. James Greene, with a little help from myself [what can I say, his translation was a little lacklustre], Penguin Twentieth Century Classics, p. 341)    
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on February 26, 2006, 02:09:48 PM
Very well stated Elizabeth! I Agree. Thank You !!!   ;)

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 26, 2006, 03:56:24 PM
Quote
I really hate to say this, Tsarfan, because usually I find your arguments compelling in the emotional sense, if not always in the logical one - but what you say is, to put it bluntly, utter crap.  It seems that once again everyone is guilty of Soviet atrocities - except the Soviets themselves. Following your brand of logic, we are now supposed to blame the last kaiser, not to mention Frederick the Great, for the evils of the Holocaust. Say what???


Huh?  Where did I say the soviets were not guilty of their own atrocities?  Of course they were.  I don't care how horrible slavery was or how poorly immigrants were treated, the person who commits a drive-by shooting today should be executed for it.  I feel that strongly about personal responsibility.

But if you broaden the focus beyond just Lenin or Stalin and ask the broader question of how did they get by with their atrocities, you have to start addressing issues beyond them as individuals.

There is a distinction between motive and ability.  The tsars contributed nothing to Stalin's motives.  He was a paranoid psychopath.  But what they did bequeth to him was a society in which the instinct and the political capacity to resist the predations of authority had never been allowed to evolve.  One man cannot emerge on the scene over a few short years to order the murder of millions and have his orders carried out with no resistance unless something has gone very, very wrong beforehand.

Remember, most Russians in 1917 had a recent memory of a march a dozen years earlier when government troops gunned down citizens trying to present a petition to their monarch.  That particular monarch might not have intended that outcome, but the people guarding an empty palace that day for some reason thought it was worse to have a petition for change left at the door than to open fire on an unarmed crowd.

I do not think it was a coincidence that fascism in its most extreme form took root in the most militarized society in Europe or that the violence of bolshevism succeeded in terrorizing tens of millions in the most autocratic society in Europe.

Like it or not, atrocities have frequently accompanied the birth of new forms of government.  If the emergence of the middle classes operated as a brake on this phenomenon, why have two of the great monsters of history emerged out of societies with significant middles classes -- especially so in Germany?

I do agree that the role of ideology might have changed the scope of atrocities in the 20th century.  But even there I'm not sure, particularly if you accept religion as a proxy for ideology.  The numbers of people who died as a direct or indirect consequence of the Protestant reformation were very large indeed.  I would argue that technology might have played at least as large a role as ideology in extending the reach of monstrosity in the past century.

And I do not buy the argument that Stalin was a natural outgrowth from Lenin.  Stalin was an psychopathic aberration, as was Hitler.  Stalin needed the power Lenin garnered, but Stalin did not need anyone to show him how to be a murdering, paranoid psychopath.  While I often wonder how the European world produced two such people almost simultaneously, they were not unique in history.  On a smaller scale, their genocidal like have emerged even later this century in Africa, the Balkans, and southeast Asia -- fuelled as often by ethnic strife as by ideology.  (And the scale was smaller only because the countries and the means were smaller, not their personal capacities for cruelty.)

None of my argument in an way means the "birthing violence" of new orders is or was "okay".  But, like it or not, historically it has been there in other times and places than just with the Nazis and the Bolsheviks.  And it has been most marked when one social or political order was replacing another.

That doesn't mean the soviet state would have evolved into "good" government.  It does mean, though, that the means of control would have changed as it had throughout history . . . and as was already happening beginning in the 1950's.

Elisabeth, this really suprises me coming from you . . . but you seem to be suggesting that even attempting to discuss soviet atrocities in a historical context is not allowed, because to do so is to say they are not personally responsible for what they did.  Am I misunderstanding you, or are you really suggesting that?  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 26, 2006, 04:26:55 PM
Quote
I'd like to think that if Hitler had died in 1938 we would not be congratulating his successors as beneficent leaders because of decreased German unemployment, restored German confidence and a larger German presence on the international scene... all this while the euthanasia of the mentally and physically handicapped, not to mention the Nuremberg laws had until only recently still been in force...


I, too, would like to think so.  But stranger things have happened.

We Americans today are very proud of the democratic, prosperous, pluralistic society we have created.  We prefer to forget our handling of the indigenous Indian populations as we pursued our "manifest destiny", and we try to keep the volume down on the issues with those nettlesome descendants of slavery who just keep having trouble clambering up on the good times wagon with the rest of us.

Believe it or not, some societies do evolve far, far away from their beginnings.  Remember, 101 years passed between the Emancipation Proclamation and the passage of the Civil Rights Act -- and we're still trying to get it implemented in parts of the country.

So there . . . now you can all accuse me of being a Nazi sympathizer, too.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on February 26, 2006, 06:43:20 PM
We can speak about various countries and who did what to whom.  There are no countries who have not had their own atrocities during their course in history.  This topic is not about Germany's Hitler, American Indians or China or Korea, it is about the Soviet Atrocities.   And,  these words always echo within me when I think about Russia under the yoke Lenin and Stalin, so I'll share this with you:

Serge Schmemann's book ECHOES OF A NATIVE LAND,  TWO CENTUREIS OF A RUSSIAN VILLAGE:

p.24:

"However obsolete, inequitable, or impractical that old world may have been, whatever we may think of the monarchy and the society that supported it, it's abrupt collapse tragically severed Russians from their roots and cultures and denied Russa whatever chance it might have had for a normal development.  It was not only an elite or an economic system that the Communists dismantled and replaced; an entire world was laid waste.  Industry and initiative were shackled, religion was crushed; art was perverted; the land was raped."

AGRBear
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 26, 2006, 08:03:54 PM
Quote
"However obsolete, inequitable, or impractical that old world may have been, whatever we may think of the monarchy and the society that supported it, it's abrupt collapse tragically severed Russians from their roots and cultures and denied Russa whatever chance it might have had for a normal development.  It was not only an elite or an economic system that the Communists dismantled and replaced; an entire world was laid waste.  Industry and initiative were shackled, religion was crushed; art was perverted; the land was raped."


I agree with that characterization of the soviet regime.

This will call down anathema upon my head, I'm sure . . . but as horrible as I think the Stalinist Terror was, I think it had spent itself and passed into history, as had previous atrocities that came with the establishment of other states.

I think the lasting travesty of soviet society was in imposing on Russia an economic theory and a draining of talent and initiative that has her gasping for breath even today and, I'm afraid, well into the future.  Granted, some people became victims of the terror exactly because they displayed those traits in greater measure than others.  But the thoroughness with which the entire system of government -- and not just its murderous rampages -- stripped those features from the society was without precedent in human history.

Germany recovered from Nazism within a couple of generations because, despite its depredations across the western world, it did not strip from Germany her middle classes or the incentive of property ownership and turn every area of endeavor into an uncontestable reign of bureaucrats.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 27, 2006, 02:00:51 AM
Quote
I think the lasting travesty of soviet society was in imposing on Russia an economic theory and a draining of talent and initiative that has her gasping for breath even today and, I'm afraid, well into the future.  Granted, some people became victims of the terror exactly because they displayed those traits in greater measure than others.  But the thoroughness with which the entire system of government -- and not just its murderous rampages -- stripped those features from the society was without precedent in human history.


This is being "sympathetic to the Soviet cause"?

I really do not understand this determination to accuse me of saying the exact opposite of what I said.

Of course, I also do not understand why saying that historical events, even atrocities, have a historical context causes one to be accused of being an "apologist".

My definition of "apologist" is someone who says there was a valid reason for something to have happened.  There was no valid reason for the Stalinist Terror.  He was a madman.

But . . . Stalin himself personally killed relatively few people.  The gulags, the people being hauled away in the middle of the night, the basement interrogation chambers, the decimation of the military leadership were all things done by large numbers of other Russians acting on his orders.  And the reason this could be so emerges from a historical context.  Madmen need no historical context to explain their existence.  Their ability to get legions to follow them, however, does.

(By the way, quite a few people on this site know my real name, know where I live, and have my e-mail address and phone numbers.  However, they are generally people who do not twist what I say and put arguments into my mouth that I never made.  I have no desire to have someone with such an agenda know how to reach me outside of this site.

And, since you apparently misunderstood the thrust of my post on American history, let me state in less facetious language what I was saying.  America, while she has accomplished wonderful things, has much to answer for in her past and much still to rectify.  I grew up in the deep South during the flowering of the civil rights movement, and I know in intimate detail how the system it struggled to overturn worked to preclude some Americans from having anything like the chances others had.

Finally, and with no disrespect intended . . . I will not respond any further to your posts.  Regardless of which of us is right or wrong, we do not speak our mother tongue in the same way, and it takes the discussion off track for others and is not fair to them.)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on February 27, 2006, 10:07:41 AM
My understanding, based upon information posted upon this Board, is that Tsarfan is an Anglo-Saxon Protestant, born and bred in the Southern United States.  He is well-educated, if one can deduce such things from spelling, syntax and argumentative methodology.

Do his ethnic and religious backgrounds meet the standards that allow participation in this discussion? Should we take, say,  Tania's Russian ancestry into account when reading her posts, as a source of possible bias?

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on February 27, 2006, 12:05:58 PM
Dorogoi i uvazhaemyi (dear and respected) Tsarfan is not being anti-American or pro-Soviet in making his argument. He is actually being very American - expecting reasonable explanations for what was essentially a completely  unreasonable political regime. The true American - egalitarian, rational, and tolerant - above all, tolerant - has great trouble understanding the mindset of an ideological fanatic, particularly those of the twentieth-century "scientific" school, who were not ostensibly appealing to the baser emotions, but to the so-called rational and scientific spirit of mankind.

Tsarfan, I am not at all suggesting that one should ignore the larger historical context in discussing Soviet atrocities. But in order to put Soviet atrocities into a larger historical context then you must necessarily be comparing human losses under the Soviets to human losses under other Communist regimes. And in this context, isn’t it interesting that so many different countries, all around the world, with their own very distinct histories and cultures, have experimented with Communism and ended up with pretty much the same results as the Soviet Union? Give or take a couple dozen million lives (notably in the case of China, the numbers of victims there being far more horrific even than Russia’s, despite their large and thriving middle class and their culture of social mobility – neither of which categories imperial Russia exactly shone in!).

What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this. Frankly  I don’t think you can. It’s like arguing that Nazism, instituted as a state ideology, does not lead to mass killing on a massive scale. Both ideologies argue that man is perfectable on earth. And that those who don't make the cut, deserve to die.

And whether you like it or not, Stalin was a natural outgrowth  of Lenin. You have only to look at Lenin’s other possible successor, Trotsky, to understand this. If anything, Trotsky might have been even worse than Stalin because he was a true demagogue who believed in perpetual revolution. Moreover, he was a revolutionary of the charismatic type, like Hitler (but unlike Lenin and Stalin). If you’re boggled by the cult of personality under Stalin, just try to imagine what heights of cruel absurdity it could have reached under Trotsky. The man was notoriously vain (kind of like Osama bin Laden, always impeccably turned out and magnetically gleaming for the cameras). Russia might actually have been lucky that it got Stalin instead of Trotsky. And that’s saying something, given the tens of millions who perished under Stalin.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 27, 2006, 12:55:36 PM
Quote
Tsarfan, I am not at all suggesting that one should ignore the larger historical context in discussing Soviet atrocities. But in order to put Soviet atrocities into a larger historical context then you must necessarily be comparing human losses under the Soviets to human losses under other Communist regimes. And in this context, isn’t it interesting that so many different countries, all around the world, with their own very distinct histories and cultures, have experimented with Communism and ended up with pretty much the same results as the Soviet Union? Give or take a couple dozen million lives (notably in the case of China, the numbers of victims there being far more horrific even than Russia’s, despite their large and thriving middle class and their culture of social mobility – neither of which categories imperial Russia exactly shone in!).

What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this. Frankly  I don’t think you can. It’s like arguing that Nazism, instituted as a state ideology, does not lead to mass killing on a massive scale. Both ideologies argue that man is perfectable on earth. And that those who don't make the cut, deserve to die.


As has happened with us before, Elisabeth, we end up not as far apart as we began.

Of course communism has been a complete train wreck everywhere it was tried, because it rests on a fundamentally flawed economic theory.  Karl Marx wrote on the assumption that his theory was the evolutionary endpoint of mature capitalism and that it would first take eventual root in the most developed countries.

In the event, it took root in the parts of the world you list, where it became a tool for those with totalitarian aspirations looking for a utopian appeal for enlisting adherents who were willing to overturn the established order at any price.

Marxism never took hold in the West, where the evolution of more democratic institutions and viewpoints put a stop to its economic/ideological nonsense at the outset.  Instead, it took root in the parts of the world where participatory political instutions were least developed.

I have never argued that tsarism produced the violence of communism.  I have argued that tsarism had blocked the evolution of the democratic impulses that would have stopped it in its tracks by depriving it of the energy it drew from mass disenfranchisement of the populace.

Where we do more fundamentally disagree is on the question of whether the initial violence of communism could have endured.  Taken to its logical extreme, it would have consumed the very society it was attempting to control.  In a sense, the French revolution dissipated its momentum by just such a cannibalistic excess.  Communism crossed this line in parts of southeast Asia.

But in Russia, I believe mass violence ran its course with Stalin.  Certainly Kruschev and his successors had no taste for it on the scale and with the crudeness Stalin practicsed it.  The capacity for violence remained, and it was on tap when needed.  But the Russia that was trying to win the Cold War could not have afforded to continue unrelenting depredations against its own people.  It needed a much more subtle form of control . . . which it found in a stultifying rule of bureaucrats.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 27, 2006, 05:26:57 PM
Quote
What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this.


I've been thinking about this one for a while, Elisabeth, because it poses some semantic difficulty in the confusion of state capitalism with communism.  But let's assume you're talking about state capitalism as Stalin implemented it rather than communism as Marx envisioned it.

Certainly state capitalism required violence to implement.  The ownership of all production capacity had to be seized by the state.  The notion of private property had to be eliminated.  The population had to be forced into work the state mandated be done rather than what individuals pursuing their own interests might choose.

But, up to this point of violence, I would argue that state capitalism was not unique in its dependence on violence.  Wars of conquest use violence for the same ends -- to seize property from its owners, to remove those whose interests run irreversibly counter to the new order, to force people into allegiances against their will.  Even the imposition of state religion has often resorted to violence for similar ends.

I think the violence of the Lenin era remained within the confines of those purposes -- large scale, but not unique to communism.  (You pose an interesting question about whether Trotsky would have stayed within those confines.)

Stalin broke the mold when he moved to wholesale violence to eradicate not just resistance to state capitalism, but real and imagined resistance to his personal rule.  That extreme of violence was not necessary to establish the soviet state.  It was necessary to fend off the paranoic demons of a madman.

I do not agree that all communist states resorted to violence for purposes beyond those in common with wars of conquest.  For instance, I don't think Castro crossed the line of violence necessary to secure the new state order.

I will agree, though, that most communist regimes have been extremely violent, particularly in Asia.  But I think the real question is whether communism as an ideology requires that level of violence, or whether communism, because of its false appeal to impoverished masses, has been a convenient ideology opportunistically seized upon by some 20th-century madmen to establish their control.

Hitler and Idi Amin and too many others visited similar horrors upon their people without resort to communism.

The rogues gallery of 20th-century genocidal maniacs is not populated exclusively by communists.  Ask a Kurd.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on February 27, 2006, 08:42:56 PM
Quote

Did violence remain at its core?  Yes, but only in the sense that it remained embedded in tsarism -- progressively less used, but always available, as neither form of government had any inherent limit on its ability to invoke violence.


Quoted from Robert Tucker in Stalinism as Revolution from Above:  (the underlining is my own)

"The basic underlying fact confronting us is that when the Russian revolutionary process resumed in the Stalinist stage, it had a different character from the revolutionary process of destruction of the old order and makeshift creation of the new that had marked the earlier, 1917-21 stage; and this change of character is to be understood in terms of a reversion to a revolutionary process seen earlier in Russian history."

"Leninist revolution from above was essentially a destructive process, a tearing down of the old order from the vantage-point of state power; Stalinist revolution from above used destructive or repressive means, among others, for what was, both in intent and in reality, a constructive (as well as destructive) process.  Its slogan or ideological banner was the building of a socialit society.  But in substance, Stalinism as revolution from above was a state-building process, the construction of a powerful, highly centralized, bureaucratic, military-industrial Soviet Russian state.  Although it was proclaimed "socialist" in the mid-1930's, it differed in various vital ways from what most socialist thinkers -- Marx, Engels, and Lenin among them -- had understood socialism to mean.  Stalinist "socialism" was a socialism of mass poverty rather than plenty; of sharp social stratification rather than relative equality; of universal, constant fear rather than emancipation of personality; of national chauvinism rather than brotherhood of man; and of a monstrously hypertrophied state power   rather than the decreasingly statified commune-state delineated by Marx in The Civil War in France and by Lenin in The State and Revolution."

"It was not, however, by mere caprice or accident that this happened.  Stalinist revolutionism from above had a prehistory in the political culture of Russian tsarism; it existed as a pattern in the Russian past and hence could be seen by a twentieth-century statesman as both a precedent and legitimation of a political course that would, in essentials, recapitulate the historical pattern."

Quote
What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this. Frankly  I don’t think you can. It’s like arguing that Nazism, instituted as a state ideology, does not lead to mass killing on a massive scale. Both ideologies argue that man is perfectable on earth. And that those who don't make the cut, deserve to die.


I agree with this, but Tsarfan's original question was is it uniquely evil.  In response, how is the ideology of Communism (or Nazism) any different from the ideology of Ossama Bin Laden and Al Queda?  Does not the ideology of these latter-day groups also lead to mass killing on a massive scale?

Isn't Tsarfan's basic point that repression is respression, no matter how much you dress it up?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on February 27, 2006, 11:55:57 PM
Dear Elisabeth,

There was opposition to Stalinism among American intellectuals both left and right during the late 1940s and through the 1950s. Mary McCarthy, Dwight MacDonald, Philip Rahv and several other leftists were sharply critical of his regime because of the excesses of the 1930s, and of course there was significant criticism of FDR's actions at Yalta as a betrayal of Eastern Europeans. Throughout the Cold War there was persistent criticism of American administrations for their "softness" in regard to the Soviet Union. The Realpolitik of Nixon's visit to China didn't mitigate the fury of those whose slogan was "Better dead than Red."

That being said, I think the tone was set by the successive Presidents who dealt with the monster Stalin and therefore gave the communist regime an international legitimacy it might otherwise not have attained. I think that in the throes of World War II, Roosevelt countenanced a deal with the devil to defeat another one.

Hitler's regime lasted barely twelve years, and he was at war for six of them. It was a war that he instigated. I think it very likely that had Nazi Germany not invaded Poland in 1939, we would indeed have been treating them as we treated Stalin --- deplorable, untrustworthy, but not ultimately "our" affair. Hitler declared war on the United States as a gesture of solidarity to Japan, and so forced the Americans into a violent confrontation with Nazism. Had he not, I wonder if the isolationists would have carried the day in regard to American foreign policy.

Simon

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 28, 2006, 06:38:46 AM
Elisabeth, this is a post you put up on another thread in which you took the position, if I understood correctly, that Orlando Figes' work was meritorious:

"I think Figes actually argues that the so-called 'innate' Russian brutality and disregard for individual human life was only a by-product of the arbitrary and unjust brutality of the Russian state from time immemorial. In other words, he blames the violence of the Russian Revolutions on tsarist rule: one extreme form of violence created another, even more extreme, but also nevertheless still state-imposed violence."

How does this differ from the position I took earlier on this thread -- other than being more extreme?  Figes says tsarist violence created soviet violence.  I only said that tsarism enabled it by retarding the development of political institutions and instincts that could have resisted it.

I don't know Figes' background.  Is he another of those naive Americans who simply cannot grasp the fundamental concepts of how atrocities happen?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 28, 2006, 12:37:31 PM
Quote
Quoted from Robert Tucker in Stalinism as Revolution from Above:


I did a little checking on Robert Tucker and found he is a professor emeritus at Princeton University and a former director of its Russian studies program.

The thesis of the book to which RichC refers contains the view that Stalin's revolution from above was "a throwback to the state-building of the earliest Muscovite princes", as one reviewer put it.

I guess Professor Tucker joins in the "utter crap" of my earlier assertion that the Bolshevik revolution shared many traits with the earlier establishment of monarchical systems.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on February 28, 2006, 01:12:15 PM
Sorry, Tsarfan, that does sound like utter crap to me! But I'm not an expert on Muscovite princes.

Quote
Elisabeth, this is a post you put up on another thread in which you took the position, if I understood correctly, that Orlando Figes' work was meritorious:

"I think Figes actually argues that the so-called 'innate' Russian brutality and disregard for individual human life was only a by-product of the arbitrary and unjust brutality of the Russian state from time immemorial. In other words, he blames the violence of the Russian Revolutions on tsarist rule: one extreme form of violence created another, even more extreme, but also nevertheless still state-imposed violence."

How does this differ from the position I took earlier on this thread -- other than being more extreme?  Figes says tsarist violence created soviet violence.  I only said that tsarism enabled it by retarding the development of political institutions and instincts that could have resisted it.

I don't know Figes' background.  Is he another of those naive Americans who simply cannot grasp the fundamental concepts of how atrocities happen?


Gotcha! Although in my defense, this quote has been taken somewhat out of context. At the time I was having an argument with Stephen Kerensky over Figes’ interpretation of peasant violence in A People’s Tragedy. Kerensky was thoroughly outraged because in his opinion Figes views the Russian people as innately violent and careless of human life; therefore Lenin-Stalinism and the Gulag were somehow a natural expression of the Russian national "character." In Kerensky’s view, then, APT boils down to blaming the Russian people – specifically their national character – for the fact that they wound up with the Bolsheviks. I thought this was an absurd interpretation, if for no other reason than that Figes makes clear that there were various explanations for peasant violence, one of which was the fact that the people had suffered for centuries under the "general lawlessness of the state" (p. 99, APT). So yes, in this context it would appear that Figes views the tsarist state as ultimately more responsible than the Russian people for helping to bring about the Bolshevik regime. Having reread Figes, however, it occurs to me that it really does him a disservice as a historian to reduce the subtlety of his position to some simplistic "blame game." Nowhere does he absolve the Russian people of responsibility for their own fate. And anyway, it’s a chicken and the egg argument: which came first, the Russian national character or the tsarist state?... But this is leaving out the whole question of ideology… which I still think is more pertinent to the discussion than questions of national character.

Anyway, I honestly don’t think that anyone here, least of all myself, is arguing that the form the Russian Revolution took was not in some ways influenced by Russian history and specifically the history of the autocratic Russian state. In the same way there were probably precedents for Hitler in German history. But at the same time I’m not going to make a sort of simplistic Daniel Goldhagen-style argument that tsarism was directly to blame for the Soviet regime. Nor am I saying that Communism was uniquely evil (haven’t I mentioned Nazism enough? I think my point was that Nazism was not uniquely evil, either). And yes, RichC, Islamic fascism insituted as a state ideology would no doubt lead to mass killing on a massive scale. As I said, I thought we were discussing  the impact of evil ideologies. No one can convince me that the tsarist state would have murdered people en masse if they’d simply had the technology. What made the major difference in the Soviet regime was the ideology – not the technology, not centuries of tsarism or peasant violence, not the Russian national character, etc., etc. And I think we see that truth reflected in what has happened to other countries that have tried the great Communist experiment.

But actually I’m no longer sure what we’re arguing, Tsarfan. It seems to be merely a question of degree. You posit that Stalin was as much an aberration as Ivan the Terrible; I have argued on the contrary that he was a natural  outgrowth of Lenin and communist ideology, and that other successors such as Trotsky might even have been worse. Nowhere did I say that revolutionary fervor would not have eventually expended itself and settled into the mire of bureaucratic red tape.

And Simon, I guess I was being sarcastic when I said that if Hitler had died in 1938, I would like to think we wouldn’t be congratulating his successors and applauding his many successes on the domestic and international fronts, even while the Nuremberg laws and the euthanasia program had until only recently still been in force… As the Clash put it, "If Hitler were alive today,/ They’d roll out the red carpet anyway." Of course. And that’s the whole point about the Soviet Union, it murdered more people than Hitler but it managed to get away with it, because of the longevity of the regime (although come to think of it, less than 75 years is less than one lifetime, after all - unless you’re a Russian male, that is).  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on February 28, 2006, 01:30:04 PM
Quote

I did a little checking on Robert Tucker and found he is a professor emeritus at Princeton University and a former director of its Russian studies program.

The thesis of the book to which RichC refers contains the view that Stalin's revolution from above was "a throwback to the state-building of the earliest Muscovite princes", as one reviewer put it.

I guess Professor Tucker joins in the "utter crap" of my earlier assertion that the Bolshevik revolution shared many traits with the earlier establishment of monarchical systems.


Not so much the Bolshevik revolution itself, but Stalinism, specifically.  Elsewhere, Tucker refers to the "striking similarities" between Stalin's "revolution from above" to Peter the Great's Westernization program of the early 18th century.  The goals of both were to transform a backward nation overnight into a leading world power regarless of the cost in human suffering.  Isn't the only difference that Stalin had the technology available to make every single Russian feel the immediate effects of his "revolution" -- which resulted in a lot of "collateral damage" -- while many Russians during Peter's time lived their entire lives never having heard "boo" from Tsar Peter?

I could see someone making a case that Peter I (as an individual) was every bit as psychotic as Stalin (the individual).  Just look at how both men treated their families.  Has anyone read Massie's depiction of how Peter taught his men how to chop people's heads off -- using live humans for the training exercise?

I think Tsarfan's idea makes a lot of sense.  Repression is repression.  But I don't see how Tsarfan's thesis takes personal responsibility out of the equation.  If anything I believe it enhances the responsibility of the individual because it doesn't matter what flavor-of-the-month ideology we are talking about -- communism, nazism, religion.  I wonder how many in history have died, been relocated or had their lives ruined because of religious ideology?  Maybe that one can give the communists a run for their money.

Yurovsky said he was "doing the work of the revolution" in killing the Imperial Family.  That's how he absolves his own personal responsibility for killing them.  Isn't that a textbook example of not taking personal responsibility?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on February 28, 2006, 02:57:28 PM
Quote
No one can convince me that the tsarist state would have murdered people en masse if they’d simply had the technology. What made the major difference in the Soviet regime was the ideology – not the technology, not centuries of tsarism or peasant violence, not the Russian national character, etc., etc. And I think we see that truth reflected in what has happened to other countries that have tried the great Communist experiment.


I tend to agree with the statement about the Tsarist state, Elisabeth, largely because of the strong religious component of certain levels of the society. Of course there were persecutions and atrocities in states identified themselves as Christian throughout Western Civilization, but a key element of Christianity is the stress upon the worth of the individual. In a state which recognizes no authority higher than itself --- and I don't just mean God, there is room for ethical humanism here --- then of course there is no value placed upon its opponents qua human beings. Combine that with the murderous technology of the 20th century, and you get Stalinism, Hitlerism and Maoism, to give these "ideologies" their proper names.

Simon  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 28, 2006, 04:50:59 PM
Quote
No one can convince me that the tsarist state would have murdered people en masse if they’d simply had the technology.


I may not be able to convince you, but I'm at least going to argue the point.  I don't think the matter revolves around technology, but around reasons.

First, is a serial killer who kills 4 people less evil than one who kills 40?  If you say yes, then read no further.  If you say no, then read on.

We may disagree with the reasons Lenin and Stalin killed people, but they had reasons.  So the question becomes how did the tsarist state behave when it had reasons to kill.  And I won't even go back to pre-Romanov Russia to look at the Boris and Gleb saga from the Kievan era or Ivan the Terrible, where some hair-raising tales can be told.  And I won't discuss the wars to subjugate ethnic groups as the empire expanded, which are slam dunk shots for my argument.

Let's take a look at the more civilized period of tsarist history.

Peter the Great wanted St. Petersburg built quickly to consolidate his hold on lands newly-conquered from Sweden.  Most reports say thousands died in the haste to work through all seasons and weather conditions.  What value did Peter assign to human life against something he wanted to accomplish quickly?

When the Winter Palace burned in 1837, Nicholas I, despite having numerous other palaces at his disposal, spent hundreds of lives to have it rebuilt over a winter season, due to such practices as unsafe interior fires being maintained to dry plaster and workers being improperly clothed.  What value did Nicholas I assign to human life against something he wanted to accomplish quickly?

Even during gentle Nicholas II's reign, the government supported and/or failed to suppress widespread pogroms in 1905-06 in order to divert attention from Russia's anti-monarchical turmoil.  What value did Nicholas II assign to human life or suffering against something he wanted to accomplish?

I think the tsarist state only failed to engage in mass murder because, once it had already consolidated power and set up the institutions to maintain its power, it had no reasons to engage in mass murder.  I find nothing in the ideology of tsarism that imposed a limit on the sacrifice of life.

A few thousand people to speed up the building of a capital.  A few hundred people to speed up the repair of a palace.  A few hundred people killed and countless others burned out to divert attention from government failures.

4 people or 40 people?  Thousands or millions?  From a moral or ideological standpoint, do the numbers matter?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on February 28, 2006, 05:39:30 PM
Quote
Not so much the Bolshevik revolution itself, but Stalinism, specifically.  Elsewhere, Tucker refers to the "striking similarities" between Stalin's "revolution from above" to Peter the Great's Westernization program of the early 18th century.  The goals of both were to transform a backward nation overnight into a leading world power regarless of the cost in human suffering.  Isn't the only difference that Stalin had the technology available to make every single Russian feel the immediate effects of his "revolution" -- which resulted in a lot of "collateral damage" -- while many Russians during Peter's time lived their entire lives never having heard "boo" from Tsar Peter?

I could see someone making a case that Peter I (as an individual) was every bit as psychotic as Stalin (the individual).  Just look at how both men treated their families.  Has anyone read Massie's depiction of how Peter taught his men how to chop people's heads off -- using live humans for the training exercise?


You sound like Solzhenitsyn, RichC (or rather Tucker does). That’s Solzhenitsyn's line, that Peter the Great was "Russia’s First Bolshevik." But seriously, you have a point. Peter was a complete fanatic when it came to Westernizing Russia. It’s estimated that one million people died during his reign; at least, there’s a gaping hole in the demographics for that period. You’re right, probably if he had had the technology, there would have been considerably more victims. That said, I don’t think they would have even approached the number of Stalin’s victims if only because Peter, unlike Stalin, was not aiming to eliminate entire classes of people, such as the upper and middle peasantry (the so-called kulaks) – in other words, the most productive members of Russian society. Instead Peter was aiming to make Russia more productive along Western lines. He envied Western Europe its prosperous merchant class and peasantry. He didn’t seek to destroy the Russian variants.

Moreover, it’s even easier to argue that Peter the Great was an aberration in Russian history than it is to argue that Stalin was one. It’s the consensus of historians that seventeenth-century Russia was already on the path to Westernization, by slow increments, when Peter unexpectedly came upon the scene. His "revolution from above" for the sake of modernizing the country was unprecedented. Here the accidental role of personality in the making of history cannot be overestimated.

Moreover, I don’t think there’s much similarity between the personalities of Peter and Stalin. Peter, whatever his personal demons, had a very creative, dynamic and flexible personality. He showed remarkable gifts, turning his hand at everything from ship-building to statecraft. But he was not a sadist, nor, I think, particularly bloodthirsty. The execution of the streltsy was an act of vengeance for his mother’s family, carried out in a white heat of rage. Stalin, by contrast, bore the pettiest grudges for the most imagined of slights for decades before finally acting upon them. In contrast to Peter, he lacked any sort of joy in life and creativity, and took an equally sadistic pleasure in watching his victims writhe and his minions contort themselves in kowtowing to him. Peter might have been emotionally unstable; Stalin was pathological, not to mention paranoid. Again, it’s a (significant) difference in degree.

Tsarfan, I do actually believe that someone who kills 4 million people for the sake of an ideology and holding onto absolute power is more evil than someone who kills 4 people because he's brain damaged and perhaps suffers from a deformed Y chromosome as well (or whatever the latest research into serial killers shows). You're right, this must just be a difference in our worldviews (I think this makes me a Catholic, and you a Protestant, haha!). In my opinion Stalin definitely suffered from some sort of mental illness but it obviously did not affect his ability to be a brilliant administrator and a master manipulator of people. He was fully functional - incredibly so. I don't belong to that class of intellectual snobs who believe Stalin was a nondescript apparachik in over his head - no, he was a genius. At least at some things, the things that mattered. This makes him even more responsible than an ordinary person, to my mind. Genius brings with it added responsibility, as De Gaulle said in so many words, approving the execution of the Nazi collaborator Brasillach (who himself wasn't guilty of killing anyone directly, but a "merely" a brilliant literary critic who applauded Nazi atrocities).      

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 28, 2006, 05:45:14 PM
Quote
But actually I’m no longer sure what we’re arguing, Tsarfan.


I may not be sure what we're arguing, Elisabeth, but I am sure why we're arguing.  We both enjoy it more than joining a chorus of adulation or castigation of anything.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on February 28, 2006, 05:50:27 PM
Quote

I may not be sure what we're arguing, Elisabeth, but I am sure why we're arguing.  We both enjoy it more than joining a chorus of adulation or castigation on anything.


LOL. You're definitely on a roll, Tsarfan, and I would try to impede your progress even further if I could, but now I have to go! (Sad face, weeping!)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on February 28, 2006, 05:54:04 PM
Quote
Tsarfan, I do actually believe that someone who kills 4 million people for the sake of an ideology and holding onto absolute power is more evil than someone who kills 4 people because he's brain damaged and perhaps suffers from a deformed Y chromosome as well (or whatever the latest research into serial killers shows). You're right, this must just be a difference in our worldviews (I think this makes me a Catholic, and you a Protestant, haha!). In my opinion Stalin definitely suffered from some sort of mental illness but it obviously did not affect his ability to be a brilliant administrator and a master manipulator of people.


I actually think our worldviews are not dissimilar.  We just get wrapped around different axles in trying to make our points.

For instance, if murder due to chromosonal abnormality is not evil, then why is murder due to madness?

But my point was not really 4 victims vs 4 million.  It was that a tsarist system that killed whatever numbers were required to accomplish its ends (such as the 1 million you cited for Peter) and a communist system that killed whatever numbers it required to accomplish its ends do not demonstrate, at least to me, a difference in the role of ideology in expanding or reducing the number of victims.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 01, 2006, 10:13:39 AM
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For instance, if murder due to chromosonal abnormality is not evil, then why is murder due to madness?


Aaargh! I'm not saying that murder due to madness isn't evil. I'm saying that there are different gradations of evil, just as there are different gradations of sin. Read Dante. Very Catholic.

But I don't think Stalin murdered people because he was insane. I think he was a mass murderer because he wanted absolute power and he enjoyed wielding power in the most absolute way he could, i.e., by exercising the power of life and death over others. Killing was easy for him. He once said, "The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic." He also said, "If there is a person, there is a problem. If there is no person, there is no problem." People who stood in the way of historical "progress" were problems.

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But my point was not really 4 victims vs 4 million.  It was that a tsarist system that killed whatever numbers were required to accomplish its ends (such as the 1 million you cited for Peter) and a communist system that killed whatever numbers it required to accomplish its ends do not demonstrate, at least to me, a difference in the role of ideology in expanding or reducing the number of victims.


Double aargh. Peter was an aberration in Russian history, as I said before. More to the point, he never tried to eliminate entire sections of the population because unlike Stalin he didn't have an ideology that made this possible. Think about Hitler. He murdered the Jews because that was part of his ideology. I'm saying that Stalin could conceive of liquidating entire categories of people (e.g., kulaks, various ethnic minorities), and try to carry this out, because his ideology made that possible.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 01, 2006, 10:32:53 AM
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Aaargh! I'm not saying that murder due to madness isn't evil.


I know.  I had dropped in that line with my tongue planted in my cheek.  Sorry.


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Peter was an aberration in Russian history, as I said before.


How many aberrations can emerge in one country's history before they cease to be aberrations?  Ivan the Terrible during his later reign?  Peter III in his petty cruelties and bizarre foreign policy?  Catherine II's murder of her husband to consolidate her grasp for a throne?  Alexander I's likely complicity in his father's murder?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 01, 2006, 11:14:23 AM
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Peter . . . was not a sadist, nor, I think, particularly bloodthirsty. The execution of the streltsy was an act of vengeance for his mother’s family, carried out in a white heat of rage.


I'm not sure he wasn't a sadist.  Reference RichC's reminder that Peter personally demonstrated how to behead a person by using live victims.

I think the episode with the Streltsy is particularly illuminating, though.  If I recall correctly, Peter was still in western Europe when word reached him of the Streltsy uprising.  So what he did to them was not done in the heat of the moment, as his return trip consumed some days or weeks.  While he certainly had reason to carry a grudge against the Streltsy, they had murdered his mother's family during his childhood.  Yet years passed, during which he removed Sophia and assumed sole power . . . and still he left Russia for an extended period leaving the Streltsy intact.

In fact, I think Peter's handling of the Streltsy was remarkably similar to Lenin's and Stalin's tactics with the Romanovs and Russia's property-holding classes.  Having concluded that they would be a perpetual threat to his power if left alive, Peter determined not only to eliminate the Streltsy entirely, but to do so in as cruel and bloodthirsty a manner as possible in order to demonstrate to everyone what the consequences of resistance to his will would be.

Granted, there were far fewer Streltsy than there were Stalinist victims.  But I see nothing in Peter's dealings with the Streltsy that indicated numbers were the least bit relevant to Peter.  If they had numbered in the thousands or the millions -- and he had the technological means to eliminate them brutally -- I think he would have.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 01, 2006, 12:01:29 PM
Peter was acting out of political expediency, Tsarfan, not out of ideological conviction. Henry VIII did much the same thing when he promised the rebels in the Pilgrimage of Grace pardons, then turned around and had them all hanged. I don't see anything particularly exceptional in Peter's handling of the Streltsy, except that he personally participated in the killings. And no, the numbers of victims here compared to Lenin and Stalin's are not even remotely comparable...

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How many aberrations can emerge in one country's history before they cease to be aberrations?  Ivan the Terrible during his later reign?  Peter III in his petty cruelties and bizarre foreign policy?  Catherine II's murder of her husband to consolidate her grasp for a throne?  Alexander I's likely complicity in his father's murder?


So now you’re equating the deaths of millions with the murder of a tsar? Where is this getting us?  Do you want to discuss all the  murdered kings in England’s history next?

Yes, sixteenth-century Russia lacked the institutional checks to control an Ivan the Terrible. But Ivan the Terrible was an accident of birth. You can say it was an accident waiting to happen… but how many kings in the West have been stark raving mad serial killers? The odds were that Russia would not end up with such a ruler. But, as is so often the case in Russian history, Murphy’s Law took over.

No one is arguing that Lenin and Stalin took place in a historical vacuum. Neither did Mao or Pol Pot, obviously. But look at it this way. Why didn’t Russia after 1917 end up with another authoritarian government to replace the old tsarist one? Why the sudden shift to totalitarianism? Are you really saying that ideology played no role in this? That it was all the fault of the tsars?

But going back to my original question, why aren’t Soviet atrocities taught in US schools – I think we’ve answered it here: because assigning blame always gets too complicated. Instead of a straightforward narrative that blames the perpetrators for the crimes, we get these convoluted arguments that the tsars or autocracy were ultimately to blame. Everything gets bogged down in minutely detailed discussions of Russian history, which in itself is a massively complicated subject most people can’t be bothered with. So instead we get one more Holocaust museum after another (did you know that even New England has one? query: why?), one more middle school study program about the evil Nazis after another, and meanwhile, the crimes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., etc. are for all intents and purposes forgotten… unless one decides to take a specific course in political science or history in college.  

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 01, 2006, 12:57:02 PM
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Peter was acting out of political expediency, Tsarfan, not out of ideological conviction.


To the victim, my guess is that it's a distinction without a difference.  

But just what is an "ideology of mass murder", anyway, Elisabeth?  To me, an ideology is a desired endpoint, not a methodology for getting there.  Perhaps some of our disagreement arises from lack of a shared definition.

Are you saying that Lenin and Stalin committed atrocities for their own sake, with no goal in mind?  If not, then what is the difference between political expediency and ideological conviction?

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But going back to my original question, why aren’t Soviet atrocities taught in US schools – I think we’ve answered it here: because assigning blame always gets too complicated. Instead of a straightforward narrative that blames the perpetrators for the crimes, we get these convoluted arguments that the tsars or autocracy were ultimately to blame.


I agree entirely with you here.  But I think there are several dimensions to the answer.

First, I think Soviet atrocities aren't taught in American schools for a simple reason.  Kristallnacht, the ghettoes, the existence of concentration camps (although not their extent or ultimate purpose) were all known in the 1930's.  But Nazi atrocities were not taught in American schools until after the Nazi state was vanquished.

Throughout the 1930's we were seeking some form of coexistence with the Nazi regime.  And, frankly, there was strong pro-German sentiment in many parts of the U.S. right up to Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, pictures often make more compelling history than the written word.  The liberation of the Nazi concentration camps unleashed a torrent of horrific film and photos on the world, the like of which never came out of Stalinist Russia.  And coming at a time when we were beating our chests over a vanquished enemy, the Holocaust became an iconic symbol of all political atrocities in the popular imagination . . . and of America's ability to set the world to rights.  (This last point is crucial.  Not being able to vanquish the Soviet state, raging about its atrocities would have reminded us of our inability to do that very thing we needed to believe we had fought WWII to do -- to rid the world of monsters.)

Second, there was plenty of U.S. sentiment against the Soviet regime during the Cold War, primarily because the Soviet economic model was anathema to most Americans in a postwar boom.  But the U.S. government nevertheless needed to keep some form of dialog open with a government that, like it or not, controlled Eastern Europe, a large nuclear arsenal, and tactical military technology that could challenge our own.

In the world of Realpolitik, it simply was viewed as inconvenient to highlight the Soviet regime's capacity for atrocities as being on a par -- or worse -- with Nazi Germany's.  Politically, it would have tied our leaders' hands in maintaining a dialog that, like it or not, had to be politically sustainable with the U.S. electorate.  (Democracy does have its downsides.)

Now, to your point about convoluted arguments vs straightforward assignment of blame for Soviet atrocities . . .

It's entirely correct to assign blame to Lenin and Stalin for the atrocities they unleashed.  They were personally responsible, no matter what history or ideology lay behind them.  But stopping the discussion there lulls us into a sense that, if we can just keep another Lenin or Stalin or an ideology like theirs from emerging, we will not see atrocities visited upon us again.  And it begs the critical question of how does a Lenin or a Stalin emerge and successfully seize power.

We're in this very predicament right now in the U.S.  We are lining up to heap blame on Al Queda and radical Islam for the bombing of the World Trade Center.  And so we should.  But we also want to halt the discussion from going any further into American long-term foreign policy in the Mideast and what our contributions have been to making that part of the world a powder keg.  That we should not do, no matter how damned complex or convoluted the topic becomes.

(And please, everyone . . . I am not trying to turn this discussion toward the Mideast.  I just want to use a current, widely-known example to make the point that trying to keep history too cut-and-dried or too conceptually simple has real consequences.)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 01, 2006, 03:34:34 PM
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But going back to my original question, why aren’t Soviet atrocities taught in US schools – I think we’ve answered it here: because assigning blame always gets too complicated. Instead of a straightforward narrative that blames the perpetrators for the crimes, we get these convoluted arguments that the tsars or autocracy were ultimately to blame. Everything gets bogged down in minutely detailed discussions of Russian history, which in itself is a massively complicated subject most people can’t be bothered with. So instead we get one more Holocaust museum after another (did you know that even New England has one? query: why?), one more middle school study program about the evil Nazis after another, and meanwhile, the crimes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., etc. are for all intents and purposes forgotten… unless one decides to take a specific course in political science or history in college.  


I disagree.  I don't think the reasons it isn't taught in schools have anything to do with the complexity of the matter.  [And I do not believe that Tsarism is to "blame" for Stalinism.  But the idea of remaking an entire society from the the top down (revolution from above) did have an antecedant in Peter the Great.  Russia tried to remake itself overnight -- twice; once under Peter I and once under Stalin.]

You mentioned a holocaust museum in New England.  I grew up in Connecticut and, as I remember going to public school there, a huge percentage of my classmates were jewish -- much more than the U.S. national average.  I remember one guy, Robert Frohlinger, who told the class about how his mother and father met at Auschwitz as children!  I remember several families for whom I was the paper boy, neighbors of ours, who had the telltale numbers tattoo'd on their wrists -- indicating what they had been through.

For me, at least, this was more immediate because I knew so many people personally who had been through that.  

I also went to high school with a number of Russian jews whose families had emigrated to the U.S. more recently (late '70's early '80's).  I don't remember any of them talking about what happened in Russia under Stalin -- and they did talk to their classmates about life in Russia.  

Aren't there just more prominent Jews in the U.S. today, who had family affected by the holocaust than there are Russians who had family affected by Stalin's terror?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 01, 2006, 03:43:36 PM
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ut just what is an "ideology of mass murder", anyway, Elisabeth?  To me, an ideology is a desired endpoint, not a methodology for getting there.  Perhaps some of our disagreement arises from lack of a shared definition.

Are you saying that Lenin and Stalin committed atrocities for their own sake, with no goal in mind?  If not, then what is the difference between political expediency and ideological conviction?


No, I'm not saying this at all. To my mind, an ideology is an all-embracing set of theories, assertions, and ideas about the way the world works and the function of mankind within that world. Utopian ideologies – and I have been talking about utopian ideologies – are differentiated from religion generally by the notion that it is possible to build heaven on earth (rather than waiting for the afterlife for one’s reward). In theory this usually means the forcible exclusion from society of large categories of people who are believed not to deserve this "heaven" and/or who are perceived by their very existence to prevent its realization (for the Nazis, this was primarily the Jews and gypsies; for the Stalinists and Maoists, the peasantry, the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy; for Al-Qaeda, all non-Muslims and all Muslims who do not practice shar’ia). A utopian ideology in and of itself need not openly advocate mass murder in order to become murderous when translated from theory into practice. It can make possible crimes that were never before contemplated, on a scale never before contemplated. The person who is full of ideological conviction is not subject to rational arguments against his planned course of action, however detrimental to broad sections of humanity it will probably prove to be. Indeed, the utter destruction of a racial or class or religious "enemy" is usually one of the specific goals of a utopian ideology.

Stalin firmly believed in the utopian ideology of Marxism-Leninism, which he sought to put into practice. While historians can debate endlessly over what Stalin’s "real" motives were for his war against the peasants, collectivization (which he told Churchill had been "worse" than World War II), there’s no question but that he wanted to socialize agriculture, and to socialize it quickly, before the peasant population (which was still two-thirds of the total population) had time to gather its forces and offer resistance. The peasantry were regarded as the class enemy to be crushed by any means necessary. And the reason Stalin could implement such a disastrous policy (disastrous not only for two-thirds of the population, but for Soviet agriculture for the remainder of the Soviet period) was because his political cadres were also ideologically committed to the goal he had in mind, as indeed, the Soviet leadership remained committed to collective farming until Gorbachev. To the ideologically committed Soviet Communist, the fact that collective farming didn’t work, had never worked, and would never work was immaterial. It was part of the socialist program and therefore immune from criticism – if there were problems with production figures, then those could always be faked.

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Now, to your point about convoluted arguments vs straightforward assignment of blame for Soviet atrocities . . .

It's entirely correct to assign blame to Lenin and Stalin for the atrocities they unleashed.  They were personally responsible, no matter what history or ideology lay behind them.  But stopping the discussion there lulls us into a sense that, if we can just keep another Lenin or Stalin or an ideology like theirs from emerging, we will not see atrocities visited upon us again.  And it begs the critical question of how does a Lenin or a Stalin emerge and successfully seize power.

We're in this very predicament right now in the U.S.  We are lining up to heap blame on Al Queda and radical Islam for the bombing of the World Trade Center.  And so we should.  But we also want to halt the discussion from going any further into American long-term foreign policy in the Near East and what our contributions have been to making that part of the world a powder keg.  That we should not do, no matter how damned complex or convoluted the topic becomes.

(And please, everyone . . . I am not trying to turn this discussion toward the Near East.  I just want to use a current, widely-known example to make the point that trying to keep history too cut-and-dried or too conceptually simple has real consequences.)


I don't disagree with you here, but to my mind these questions are better left to college and graduate school courses. When I was in middle school, because of time constraints and a general lack of interest on the part of most teachers, history was so superficially and ineptly taught that we were lucky if we got to the Cold War by the time the school year ended. From what I’ve seen of how the Holocaust is taught in schools these days, a lot of it is also superficially or ineptly done (see the documentary Paper Clips), but at least the point gets across. Still, if you think most middle school teachers are pretty clueless about German history (for that matter, I'm pretty clueless about it myself!), then try them on the subject of Russian or Chinese or Middle Eastern history… and really, why should they be expected to be experts in so many different fields? They could be college professors instead and make a much better living…

And no doubt you’re right, pictures of emaciated Nazi victims are more compelling than pictures of Soviet prisoners (zeks) bundled up to face sub-zero temperatures, even though they were also being worked to death on starvation rations. But more to the point, as I stated much earlier, I think there is a great deal more inherent appeal to Westerners in the Holocaust narrative – middle class victims, at least in the popular imagination, and white Europeans at that – not faceless millions of semi-"Asiatic" peasants living in izbas.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 01, 2006, 08:27:10 PM
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I don't disagree with you here, but to my mind these questions are better left to college and graduate school courses. When I was in middle school, because of time constraints and a general lack of interest on the part of most teachers, history was so superficially and ineptly taught that we were lucky if we got to the Cold War by the time the school year ended. From what I’ve seen of how the Holocaust is taught in schools these days, most of it is also superficially and ineptly done . . . .


This is where our different backgrounds cause us to read the same question differently.  I didn't realize in your original question, when you said you were baffled in graduate school about the lack of education about soviet atrocities and the ubiquity of Holocaust studies, you were referring to middle school.

I had no exposure to the Holocaust at all in school until I reached college, where I encountered it through a double major in European history and German.

Of course, unlike RichC, I grew up in a region of the country (Macon, Georgia) where people had virtually no personal experience of Jews and very little general understanding of any history relating to them.  In fact, while working a summer job in high school, I was assigned to a supervisor who was a bit crusty.  One day a woman in the office told me not to worry about my supervisor's behavior, explaining that "she's just Catholic."

That night at dinner, I told the story to my family, adding that I did not understand what being Catholic had to do with anything.  My mother, trying to be helpful, said, "well, they don't believe in Jesus."  Such was the depth of local confusion about anyone who wasn't Methodist or Baptist.

From my perspective, the prevalence of Holocaust studies in the lower schools is a regional phenomenon -- probably reflecting local demographics, as RichC suggested -- and not indicative of any national policy or consensus to teach such studies outside of specialty curricula.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 02, 2006, 09:29:25 AM
Since the above post, I've been thinking more about the original premise of this thread -- that well-educated people in the West are far more informed about the Holocaust than about Soviet atrocities.

I've been scratching my head trying to remember when I first became aware of Hitler killing 6 million Jews and Stalin killing 20 million Russians (the numbers that have stuck in my head as long as I have known that both committed atrocities).

Frankly, I have no recollection of having come significantly later to the knowledge of Stalin's atrocities than to Hitler's.  There is not a Holocaust museum on every fourth street corner in the U.S.  I have never been to one and would have to get on the internet to find one, and then would probably have to travel quite a ways to get there.

What I do know is this . . . as a child growing up during the Cold War, I was taught to view the Soviet Union as evil incarnate.  It was drummed into my head that the USSR was a dark shadow looming over our future, peopled with soulless automatons who were raised by the state and ordered around by shoe-pounding monsters intent on destroying western civilization, with nuclear bombs to be dropped on me, my family, and my friends if they couldn't do it any other way.

During my high school years, I don't remember any discussion about Germany other than that we had beaten them in World War II; they had killed a lot of Jews, but that was all over and the Jews now could live in safety in Israel; and postwar Germans were obsessed with cleanliness and making expensive cars that were engineered very well but that a whole lot of people didn't really want to buy.

But I do remember emergency drills where I was taught to climb under my desk with my head turned away from the windows and my arms over my head, so that I would be ready when the communists came to kill me and to destroy the American way of life.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 02, 2006, 10:01:36 AM
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From my perspective, the prevalence of Holocaust studies in the lower schools is a regional phenomenon -- probably reflecting local demographics, as RichC suggested -- and not indicative of any national policy or consensus to teach such studies outside of specialty curricula.


Actually, my impression is that it is a national phenomenon, which really took off as such in the 1990s. In fact the documentary Paper Clips (in which middle school children collect 6 million paper clips to represent the number of Jews killed by the Nazis) takes place in a southern state, although I don’t remember which one.

I personally know a woman whose husband is a middle school teacher and has been to several special teachers’ training courses specifically devoted to Holocaust studies. For a while he visited schools all over the Midwest, giving lectures about the Holocaust. I’ve also seen special teachers’ aid-books at our local public library for Holocaust studies at the middle and high school levels.

Of course in my day, back in the 1970s, we didn’t receive any instruction at all about the Holocaust in our local schools and my first encounter with this tragedy came when I read The Diary of Anne Frank as a child, on the recommendation of my parents. Like a lot of people I’ve met over the years (including the college friend who didn’t know about the Stalinist or Maoist Terrors), that book inspired a lifelong interest not only in Anne Frank but also in her fellow victims. I remember as a child being somewhat baffled by the total silence with which the subject was passed over in school, however. But probably I shouldn’t have been so surprised since the history of slavery in this country wasn’t dealt with in any depth either (and in fact one of my grade school books described "happy slaves" returning "cheerfully" from the cotton fields – a passage that made my father so angry he made a formal protest to the school).

I do think the situation now has gone to the opposite extreme – from total silence to treating the Holocaust as a unique phenomenon in human history, one "never to be repeated" even though of course it was repeated all throughout the twentieth century in places as far away from Europe as Cambodia and Rwanda. I don’t question the good intentions of social studies teachers and school districts in wanting to educate today’s children about the horrors caused by racial and religious prejudice; what I do question is why Americans seem so much more interested in the Holocaust than in their own history of enslaving Africans and oppressing indigenous peoples. Sometimes it all strikes me as an exercise in cheap pity: we identify emotionally with the European Jewish victims, but don’t of course see any aspects of our own history reflected in the Nazi perpetrators.

Recently I saw part of a very interesting documentary, After Auschwitz, in which Jewish academics from around the world discussed why the Holocaust has assumed such an important role in Western popular and academic culture. Various reasons were given but the one that struck me as most provocative was that, in addition to offering a transfixing narrative about thoroughly evil perpetrators vs. thoroughly innocent victims, the Holocaust, in its popular depiction of the prolonged and excruciating suffering of doomed victims, represents the "Christianization" of Judaism. This academic (I think his name is Novick) argues that in the popular imagination the various stages  leading up to extermination have been transformed into the various "stages of the Cross." Thus the Holocaust is treated as the "new Cavalry." The "fetishization" of the victims’ belongings – shoes, suitcases, hair, eyeglasses, even prostheses – are like the various pieces of the True Cross, which, after being collected and displayed in various museums ("churches") are then venerated by visitors ("believers"). Interesting, no?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Mike on March 02, 2006, 11:27:57 AM
I'm writing this post with certain reluctance. As a Jew, an Israeli and a member of my family, of which at least a dozen people - including my grandfather - were murdered by the Nazis, I might be prejudiced. So avoiding the fruitless discussion about whose atrocities were worse - Hitler's or Stalin's, just a few words about the Holocaust publicity.

In my view it is an attempt to tell people everywhere: look what has a faith of hate done to several million people. Then it was us; next time it might be you. So remember and don't let it happen again.

True there were other large scale atrocities against certain ethnic groups, e.g. against Tutsi in Rwanda in the 1990s or, more recently, against non-Arab people of Sudan. But, unlike Tutsi or Sudanese tribes, Jews have the necessary will, influence and resources to make the Holocaust bell ring incessantly.

I understand very clearly that it rings not only for my grandfather whom I've never seen, but also for an unnamed Tutsi baby and for all those whose only crime was their belonging to a "wrong" ethnic group.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 02, 2006, 11:36:33 AM
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But I do remember emergency drills where I was taught to climb under my desk with my head turned away from the windows and my arms over my head, so that I would be ready when the communists came to kill me and to destroy the American way of life.


By the time I went to grade school the air raid drills of the 1950s and 60s were a distant memory, at least for my teachers, if not for us children – we had no experience of such drills at all. And frankly I don’t remember being taught anything about the evils of Communism, period, either in grade school, middle school or high school. It was the era of détente. The Soviet Union was still a vaguely sinister country (well, they were still building missiles and persecuting their Jews, but more of that later) but they had also become a bit of a joke with their doddering, septuagenarian leaders like Brezhnev and Andropov. Not to mention the fact that everyone knew their entire agricultural system was a mess and they had to import grain from us in order to support themselves.

My  parents were all for disarmament and following their example I didn’t perceive the USSR to be any great threat to our American way of life… In fact, like most liberal Americans, when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire," I took it for granted that he was being unfair! And this despite the fact that I do vaguely remember when Solzhenitsyn first arrived in this country, having been forcibly deported from the Soviet Union; I even remember reading bits and pieces of Gulag Archipelago, Volume One, which at the time was way, way over my head. My parents definitely read this book; but apparently it didn’t have any long-term effect on their views. I think that after Solzhenitsyn denounced the materialism of the West, like many American liberals, they simply decided he was a bit of a kook. (But looking back I also think that my father, who leaned towards socialism, was very uncomfortable with Solzhenitsyn’s devastating critique of Lenin, and just decided to dismiss it. He disapproved of the Soviet regime, but Lenin was still in many respects sacred.)

Not that the Soviets didn’t occasionally still do some very scary things. I had a lot of Jewish friends in my school, too, RichC, and what they were preoccupied with was the flood of Russian Jewish dissidents and refugees then pouring out of the Soviet Union and emigrating to our community and others like it across the United States – many of these people had horror stories to tell about the KGB.

But back to the original subject of communism and formal education: what I do remember learning about, over and over again, both at home and at school, was McCarthyism. McCarthyism, McCarthyism, McCarthyism. If anything what I took away from this continual lecturing was that the so-called Soviet threat was greatly exaggerated and that people who rabbited on about the evils of communism were ignorant right-wing rubes ("McCarthyites") or kooks (like Solzhenitsyn).

And as far as I’m concerned that’s a large part of the problem with trying to educate people in the US today about Communist atrocities: the minute you say "communist atrocities" or "evils of communism," many people, at least more educated people, think "McCarthyism" and – automatically assume that you’re some ignorant right-wing rube who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Whereas in fact they’re the ones who are showing their ignorance.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 02, 2006, 11:50:07 AM
Fascinating theory, Elisabeth.

I grew up on Long Island surrounded by several families whose parents had been in concentration camps. I learned this from their children (my friends), never the adults. My experience with the Holocaust was that it was not discussed much, even in a heavily Jewish community, until the late 1970s and 1980s. I share Tsarfan's experience of being a child in the late 50s and early 60s, and we were certainly taught about the Soviet Union and the evils of communism. One of my most vivid memories is my family gathering in front of a black and white television set to listen to JFK talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis. We really did think that nuclear war was about to break out between the Soviet Union and the United States, and since we lived just outside of NYC, we expected to be among the first targets.

So my personal experience was different than yours, Elisabeth. I heard far more about Soviet atrocities even living among several Holocaust survivors. My closest friend lost 23 family members to the Nazis, and he only speaks about it when directly questioned.

As far as American slavery is concerned, there is at least a sense that the national discussion about it is taking place. Is there anything similar occuring in Putin's Russia about Soviet atrocities? Several posters here have commented that the average Russian is an emotional blank about the Imperial Family --- do they wish to see those that might still be living who participated in the gulags and kulaks' extermination held accountable?

Simon
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 02, 2006, 11:58:41 AM
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Recently I saw part of a very interesting documentary, After Auschwitz, in which Jewish academics from around the world discussed why the Holocaust has assumed such an important role in Western popular and academic culture. Various reasons were given but the one that struck me as most provocative was that, in addition to offering a transfixing narrative about thoroughly evil perpetrators vs. thoroughly innocent victims, the Holocaust, in its popular depiction of the prolonged and excruciating suffering of doomed victims, represents the "Christianization" of Judaism . . . .  
Interesting, no?
 


Interesting, yes.  But also quite a reach, even for someone such as I who can reach quite far on his own.

But, as long as we're reaching here . . .

You mention that Americans are developing a near-obsession about the Holocaust while ignoring their own history with slavery.  Let's assume that I agree with your view of the level of interest in the Holocaust (and you do seem more in touch than I with what's going on in the school systems these days), I think there may be a reason for this differentiated response to those two atrocities and the lack of response to soviet atrocities.

I believe that racism and anti-semitism still run strong beneath the surface in much of America.  But, as we try to reconcile this with our preferred view of ourselves as an even-handed society, the Holocaust gives us the easiest means for getting right with our consciences.  We can exorcise our demons by rehearsing the fate of the Jews, since we can convince ourselves we did something -- in sacrificing American lives to defeat Hitler and in supporting Israel -- to rectify that evil.  And if cranked up to a high enough pitch, we can drown out the nagging reminders of our racist heritage and the work still to be done there which, in America's current political climate, is hard to continue.

I do not think the Soviet atrocities provide us with that service.  We have no underlying sense of guilt for what happened to Russians under Stalin.  We did not turn them away at our ports of entry, as we did Jews in the 1930's.  There are no pockets of prejudice against the Russian peasants or middle classes that were Stalin's victims for which we feel a need to answer.  We did not defeat Stalin and cannot therefore claim a role in halting his atrocities.

My view of the undercurrent of anti-semitism in America may be controversial, because I know that many view American foreign policy as the handmaiden of the American Jewish political lobby.  And my evidence is anecdotal, but here are a few snippets:

The Ku Klux Klan still occasionally marches in American cities, mostly in the midwest these days.  And anti-semitism is a noisy part of their platform.

A few years ago, there was national press coverage when Marge Schott, the owner of the Cinicinnati Reds baseball team, made some racist comments.  As the focus on her grew, the story broke that she had a large collection of Nazi memorabilia.  When cornered, her response was, "they don't mean anything.  They're just mementoes."  I had been living in Cincinnati for several years before this incident, and I was struck by the quantity of such Nazi "mementoes" that routinely showed up in antique shops in the region.

I worked at a major corporation where the CEO, in commenting on the guy's intensity, once told a Jewish executive that he wondered why he hadn't become a doctor or a lawyer.

That same corporation once hosted a "globalization conference" in New York where a speaker, in describing business conditions in Indonesia, commented that the Chinese nationals in Indonesia were "the Jews of southeast Asia" and then went on to explain how good they were at "not leaving any money on the table" when they cut a deal.

You know . . . maybe we could use a Holocaust museum on every fourth street corner.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 02, 2006, 01:26:35 PM
Quote
We really did think that nuclear war was about to break out between the Soviet Union and the United States, and since we lived just outside of NYC, we expected to be among the first targets.


I had the same experience.  While still in elementary school, we were told that we would get it either from New York or from the Naval shipyards at Groton and New London.  (My dad worked for the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp (Sikorsky's son and his wife used to dine at our house occasionally) and he claimed that the Russians had a warhead aimed right at the plant)

On the whole, the Soviets were demonized by my elders and by my teachers when I was growing up.  I had one teacher who really despised Carter and who often talked of the craftiness of "commies"; "They take two steps forward and one step back, and before you know it they're ahead of us!"

But they were made fun of too.  I remember a skit on SNL when Yelena Bonner was trying to come to the West for medical treatment for a heart condition.  The story was Soviet doctors prescribed a special diet for her health:  salt pork and bacon.  Or how they were going to surpass us in the field of computer technology by building the biggest and fastest chips...

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 02, 2006, 02:36:22 PM
Quote
As far as American slavery is concerned, there is at least a sense that the national discussion about it is taking place. Is there anything similar occuring in Putin's Russia about Soviet atrocities? Several posters here have commented that the average Russian is an emotional blank about the Imperial Family --- do they wish to see those that might still be living who participated in the gulags and kulaks' extermination held accountable?


Excellent question, Simon. Back in the early 1990s, Russian television played one documentary after another about the Gulag (so yes, contemporary pictures and films of the Soviet concentration camps do exist!). There was also a flurry of camp memoirs written by survivors, most of them now elderly men and women. Then, after the various economic crises of the later 1990s, interest in the dark side of the Soviet past seemed to subside and was replaced by nostalgia – much of it tongue-in-cheek (several rock groups made a living parodying old patriotic Soviet songs), but not all of it (e.g., the recent revival of the "high Stalinist" style in architecture – you know, those towering neo-Gothic monstrosities – I actually kind of like them myself). Nostalgia for the Stalin period is accompanied by a generalized nostalgia for the Russian past, however, as witnessed by the number of books about the imperial family in Moscow bookstores (this according to my husband, who visits Russia frequently; he says the IF remain popular among ordinary Russians).

Nevertheless there are signs that interest in the Stalinist Terror is reviving. Last month Russian television aired a series based on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel The First Circle, about Soviet scientists imprisoned in a sharashka (a special camp for those political prisoners whose expertise was still needed by Stalin). The first episode won enormous ratings and subsequent episodes also earned a sizeable audience. But it’s very doubtful that this newly revived interest will result in the arrest and prosecution of former Stalinists who participated in crimes against their fellow citizens: most of these people are now in their eighties and nineties, if they’re not already dead.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 02, 2006, 02:45:08 PM
Quote
I believe that racism and anti-semitism still run strong beneath the surface in much of America.  But, as we try to reconcile this with our preferred view of ourselves as an even-handed society, the Holocaust gives us the easiest means for getting right with our consciences.  We can exorcise our demons by rehearsing the fate of the Jews, since we can convince ourselves we did something -- in sacrificing American lives to defeat Hitler and in supporting Israel -- to rectify that evil.  And if cranked up to a high enough pitch, we can drown out the nagging reminders of our racist heritage and the work still to be done there which, in America's current political climate, is hard to continue.


Exactly what I was driving at, Tsarfan, you hit the nail on the head.

Quote
I do not think the Soviet atrocities provide us with that service.  We have no underlying sense of guilt for what happened to Russians under Stalin.


Ah, but perhaps we should have. Read Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales. They’re a collection of autobiographical short stories about the Soviet concentration camps written by a survivor. In one, "Lend Lease," the camp administration decides "that the first job for the bulldozer received by Lend Lease should not be work in the forest, but something far more important" – digging a mass grave for the prisoners who have been worked and starved to death.

The fact of the matter is we made a deal with one devil, Stalin, to defeat another devil, Hitler. And many Russians who spent their best years wasting away in the camps and watching their friends and relatives die still feel anger towards the United States for propping up Stalin's murderous regime. In First Circle there's an incredibly bitter (but very funny) satire of Eleanor Roosevelt visiting a Soviet prison under Stalin, being treated to a Potemkin village-like display, talking with the happy prisoners, approving the wonderful food they get to eat, etc., etc. But that's another story...
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 02, 2006, 05:03:40 PM
Quote
The fact of the matter is we made a deal with one devil, Stalin, to defeat another devil, Hitler.


True.  But, with the advantage of hindsight, I'm not sure I would wish us to have done anything different.

Iraq is a daily reminder that removing a tyrant -- or even simply letting him fall -- is a very different thing from saving a country.

By the time we entered WWII, Lenin's and Stalin's work had already gutted Russia of the people and the institutions with which she could have rebuilt herself.  Stalin had even managed to destroy her ability to feed herself.

Who would have stepped into the power vacuum?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 03, 2006, 12:01:13 PM
Quote

True.  But, with the advantage of hindsight, I'm not sure I would wish us to have done anything different.

Iraq is a daily reminder that removing a tyrant -- or even simply letting him fall -- is a very different thing from saving a country.

By the time we entered WWII, Lenin's and Stalin's work had already gutted Russia of the people and the institutions with which she could have rebuilt herself.  Stalin had even managed to destroy her ability to feed herself.

Who would have stepped into the power vacuum?


I agree. We also have to remember that the Allied forces were already nearing exhaustion as the war reached its close and for that reason alone an invasion of the USSR would have been completely unrealistic. It also would have been an extremely tough sell to the American and British people after all the sacrifices they’d had to make while fighting the Axis  powers.

However, I do think this might be one more reason why we’re uncomfortable talking about the evils of the Soviet system. When we recognize that we were allied with  one evil empire in order to defeat another, it really detracts from our image of World War II as an absolutely "good" war, as in good (Allies) vs. evil (Axis). It opens up some very disturbing grey areas in what was formerly a neat and tidy, not to mention reassuring, black and white picture.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 04, 2006, 08:28:57 AM
Despite the argument some make that Roosevelt and Churchill abandoned Eastern Europe to Russia at Yalta, I don't think they had a realistic military option against Stalin even in that theater, much less in Russia itself.

Stalin had relocated most soviet military and industrial production to points east of the Urals to put it beyond Hiter's reach.  It was consequently beyond our reach as well.  Any march across Russia to destroy Stalin's means to exert his will would have simply visited another round of horrors upon the population, on the heels of what Stalin and Hitler had already done.  And we would probably have encountered the same impenetrable defenses that undid Hitler and Napoleon -- endless expanses of landmass blanketed in Russian winter.  Not to mention the fact you already pointed out that western military forces were not in their finest fighting fettle at that point.

There was, I suppose, a nuclear option in that few years when we had the bomb and Russia did not.  But, unlike Japan, Russia had not attacked the U.S.  And nuclear bombs at that point were strategic, not tactical, weapons.  Their impact was derived from dropping them on population centers, not chancellories.

Moreover, whether an exemplary one or not, Russia had been an ally.  The prospect of one country turning on another to save its internal population from its own leaders is a prospect that even today does not make us comfortable.  In Iraq, for instance, we apparently felt we needed the fabrication of an illicit weapons program to move against Hussein.  His atrocities had nothing to do with it.  The plight of the Kurds had been no secret since at least the invasion of Kuwait a decade earlier.  That had not overly occupied our thoughts . . . or the thoughts of the United Nations and Western Europe.

The only force that could have stopped Stalin's atrocities would have been the refusal of the Russian people to participate in them.  And, for reasons we've debated earlier, that resistance did not exist.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 04, 2006, 09:34:50 AM
Quote
Despite the argument some make that Roosevelt and Churchill abandoned Eastern Europe to Russia at Yalta, I don't think they had a realistic military option against Stalin even in that theater, much less in Russia itself.

Stalin had relocated most soviet military and industrial production to points east of the Urals to put it beyond Hiter's reach.  It was consequently beyond our reach as well.  Any march across Russia to destroy Stalin's means to exert his will would have simply visited another round of horrors upon the population, on the heels of what Stalin and Hitler had already done.  And we would probably have encountered the same impenetrable defenses that undid Hitler and Napoleon -- endless expanses of landmass blanketed in Russian winter.  Not to mention the fact you already pointed out that western military forces were not in their finest fighting fettle at that point.


You're probably right here. Soviet troops were already occupying eastern Europe and there was nothing the Allies could have realistically done about it. Nevertheless, the Yalta agreement and specifically Britain's role in it actually contributed to the perpetration of Soviet atrocities by forcibly repatriating over 2 million Russian refugees back to the Soviet Union. These people, many of whom were White Russians who had fled their country after the October Revolution, and who had been peaceably living in western Europe for decades, were rounded up at gunpoint by British soldiers and shipped back to the Stalin's empire in cattle cars. Countless numbers of them, men, women, and children, committed suicide rather than face Stalin's secret police. The rest of them, upon crossing into Soviet territory, were either shot immediately or sent off to concentration camps.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about this dark chapter in Allied history should read Nikolai Tolstoy's Victims of Yalta, a superb book by a descendant of the senior line of the illustrious Tolstoy family.
 
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 09, 2006, 09:37:57 AM
Regarding the earlier discussion about whether soviet atrocities were uniquely evil or whether they differed in fundamental purpose or method from atrocities committed by other governments . . .

I happened to catch a History Channel special the other day on the Boer War that sent me diving into some research materials to bone up my scant knowledge of that era.  Here's a capsule version of what I found:

In 1887 the world's largest gold field was discovered in the Boer-occupied region of South Africa.  British settlers poured into the region to exploit the find, with the support of the British government in London.  This triggered the second Boer War, which devolved into a guerilla resistance movement after British troops established formal control over the Boer region.

In its effort to deal with the guerilla resistance to its occupation of Boer territory, Britain set up the world's first concentration camps, into which they eventually placed over 116,000 Boers, mostly women and children.  This amounted to about 25% of the Boer population.  Of those prisoners, almost 28,000 eventually died . . . 22,000 of whom were children under the age of 16.  Primary reasons for death were exposure, disease due to poor sanitation, and inadequate food rations.  Interestingly, the wives and children of suspected guerillas were given reduced food rations.

Even outside the concentration camps, the British engaged in a scorched earth policy in which 30,000 Boer farmsteads and 40 towns were destroyed.

And none of this even touches upon the separate camps that were set up for 120,000 black South Africans by the British.

Smaller numbers than died in Stalin's gulags?  In absolute numbers, yes.  In terms of percentages, no.

What was Stalin trying to do?  Eliminate political opposition and industrialize Russia quickly.  What was Britain trying to do?  Co-opt gold reserves to further her own international ambitions.

I still simply cannot find anything uniquely violent about Marxism as an ideology.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 09, 2006, 10:39:56 AM
Tsarfan, first of all, we’re talking about Marxism-Leninism, not Marxism per se. I don’t even want to get into that splitting of hairs with you. Secondly, what don’t you understand about the differences between totalitarian vs. constitutional states?

Totalitarian regimes are closed regimes. There is not even a semblance of the freedoms we in democratic societies take for granted – freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right of assembly, etc. Unlike even authoritarian states, the totalitarian state can do what it likes, when it likes; there are no institutional checks whatsoever on its power. Even ideology is no check on the state’s power because Marxism-Leninism or Nazism replaces the absolute morality of religion with the situational ethics of a utopian ideology. Thus crimes against humanity can only be publicly recognized as such by the very state that committed them in the first place.  In this way it was Khrushchev, not the shackled and terrorized Soviet press, who first revealed to the Soviet people the crimes of Stalin. But Lenin’s crimes remained unacknowledged by the state for decades to come, until the fall of communism itself.

It’s not that bad things don’t happen in open societies. They happen all the time. You don’t have to go all the way back to the Boer War to find atrocities committed in Western societies. As previously stated, Churchill forcibly repatriated over 2 million Russians to the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Even in the twenty-first-century democratic United States the government has been accused of torturing political opponents in prisons overseas. But the point is, this sort of thing cannot be kept quiet for very long. Unlike in totalitarian regimes, our government does not have an open license to do whatever it wants. Sooner or later the media finds out, human rights activists find out, the justice system finds out, the public itself finds out. And if I recall my history correctly, this is precisely what happened with the British concentration camps in the Boer War. They were exposed in the British and international press and denounced.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 09, 2006, 10:52:27 AM
Quote
Totalitarian regimes are closed regimes.


Yes.  But Marxism -- and the other "isms" it spawned -- have not been the only totalitarian systems.

Originally, you seemed to be arguing that Leninism/Stalinism (if those are the versions you want to discuss) as an ideology produced the violence of soviet atrocities.  Now you seem to be arguing that it was the absence of a free press and similar institutional stops that allowed them to get by with atrocities which other ideologies (such as imperialism or colonialism) could commit, at least until they drew attention.

Leninism/Stalinism are not the only ideologies that have lacked those institutional stops, though.  So I'm still having trouble finding that the ideology itself is the source of the atrocities.

I see we're both back from hiatus, by the way.  Welcome back.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 09, 2006, 12:57:40 PM
Welcome back to you, too, Tsarfan. I see you’re in fine fettle as always and raring to go! I'm about to give you a run for your money, too, not to be too capitalist about it, ha ha!

Yes, Marxism-Leninism created Stalinism. I don’t even think that’s disputed by most historians, or even by many modern-day Marxists. Please, let’s not go whole hog and equate Marxism with Communism. There are many different strands of Marxism in the Western tradition, including the Social Democratic parties back in the 1920s and 30s in many Western nations. Perfectly respectable and respecting of others’ rights, not to mention frequently critical of the Bolshevik strain of Marxism. (See Emma Goldman in the United States and her critique of Lenin.) Although most Social Democratic parties today are not Marxist, but that’s another story...

In Marxism-Leninism an elite revolutionary vanguard, the "party," speaks for (i.e. dictates to) the "dictatorship of the proletariat," in effect thus constituting a dictatorship of a dictatorship (keeping in mind that the secondary "dictatorship," the proletariat, as yet constituted less than 5 per cent of the total Russian population when Lenin first took over, and was deprived of all rights to assemble, form unofficial non-state unions, and so forth, under the Soviets – in other words, it was completely subjected to the state, i.e. the party). The party is the state in Marxism-Leninism, just as the party is the state in Nazism. There is a complete identification of the utopian ideology with all the institutions of government. What could be simpler? There is no room for any other voice. Hence a totalitarian regime, as opposed to an authoritarian or a constitutional one.

In the totalitarian state the utopian ideology replaces every other belief system. Human beings are regarded as a means to an end in the construction of a secular paradise on earth. Morality becomes situational; no absolute right or wrong exists. In the pursuit of the goals of the significant myth as defined by the rulers, "everything is permitted" (by the state). Society is atomized by state-sponsored terror and falsehood. Consequently people find it difficult to trust and believe one another, and even children are alienated from their parents and denounce them to the authorities. The significant myth is predicated on "group think:" human beings are defined in moral and ethical terms solely in terms of their membership in certain groups, and the individual’s worth as a human being is defined by his or her race or ethnicity (Nazism) or by his or her class or occupation (in a Communist state).

Haven’t you read George Orwell, Tsarfan? Animal Farm or 1984????  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 09, 2006, 02:09:00 PM
Quote
Haven’t you read George Orwell, Tsarfan? Animal Farm or 1984????


Yes, I have, and I agree with your definition of totalitarianism and its distinction from authoritarianism . . . as I did even back when we discussed it on a long-defunct thread.

But I still do not see how an ideology's being totalitarian necessarily equates with atrocities.



Quote
In the totalitarian state the utopian ideology replaces every other belief system. Human beings are regarded as a means to an end in the construction of a secular paradise on earth. Morality becomes situational; no absolute right or wrong exists. In the pursuit of the goals of the significant myth as defined by the rulers, "everything is permitted" (by the state). Society is atomized by state-sponsored terror and falsehood. Consequently people find it difficult to trust and believe one another, and even children are alienated from their parents and denounce them to the authorities. The significant myth is predicated on "group think:" human beings are defined in moral and ethical terms solely in terms of their membership in certain groups, and the individual’s worth as a human being is defined by his or her race or ethnicity (Nazism) or by his or her class or occupation (in a Communist state).


What an apt description of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians . . . or many other cults.  Group think.  Moral relativism (the leader having bedding rights of all the females in the group).  A life-or-death division between believers and non-believers.  Children alienated from their parents (the leader meting out all physical discipline).  Cult-sponsored terrorism and falsehood.  A single interpretative authority for all scripture and events.




Here's my problem, though, Elisabeth.  Whatever you call the system that gripped Russia for seven decades, the atroticities it manifested were not unique to that system or even to other totalitarian systems.

We disagree, but I still maintain that the atrocities Russia endured under Lenin and Stalin were not unlike atrocities exhibited by other systems in the early phases of establishing themselves or even later in their existence (the Figes / Tucker / Peter the Great / Boer War discussions).

Soviet Russia was the longest-lived experiment in totalitarian rule of which I am aware.  As such, it is the only real example any of us have for assessing whether atrocities were necessary to found or sustain such a state.  I find it telling that, as the Soviet state began to crumble in the 1980's, it did not revert to atrocities in an attempt to sustain itself.

Given the twin facts that non-totalitarian states have committed atrocities at various times in their existence -- and especially in their formative stages -- and that the totalitarian Russian state did not return to atrocities in its last attempts to stay afloat, I simply cannot find an indication that atrocities were an inevitable result of such a system.

Your arguments to suggest so are elegant, erudite, and tantalizingly logical on their face.  However, when taken to the lab of history for actual testing, I fear they simply do not hold up.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 09, 2006, 03:10:07 PM
Tsarfan, as always you have seized on one aspect of what I have said and ignored all the rest. (Did David Koresh have the organs of an entire state available to him? Did he liquidate non-believers and send their wives and children off to concentration camps? Was his ideology embraced by millions? Did his victims number in the millions?) I can’t help but come to the unfortunate conclusion that we have reached a genuine impasse in our argument. I feel that, whatever your strengths as a debater, I am arguing with someone who lacks all sense of proportion and who simply hasn’t read any of the relevant texts about Soviet totalitarianism. I asked you if you had read Orwell, and you didn’t reply; tell me, have you bothered to read Solzhenitsyn, Grossman, Conquest, Applebaum, Arendt, Malia, the Medvedev brothers, etc.? Or are you now simply arguing for the sake of argument, as I suspect?

The fact is that the later Soviet system did not commit atrocities on even remotely the same scale as Lenin and Stalin because the ideological fervor of the earlier era had long since died. Gorbachev was actually one of the few true believers in socialism left in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Because of the prevailing environment of political antipathy to Communism and his own rather timorous personality, he sought to preserve by reason what could no longer be preserved by anything but brute force (as the Chinese dictatorship employed to such effect at Tianamen Square). In the hands of another leader the outcome might have been quite different and considerably bloodier, at least in the short-term.

But if, as you say, Lenin and Stalin’s atrocities were nothing special, not a product of the ideology in whose name they were perpetrated, then Hitler’s weren’t either. Do you want to argue that point as well? I mean, if there’s nothing inherently wrong with Marxism-Leninism as an ideology, then what the h*** is wrong with Nazism? For that matter, what's inherently wrong with Al-Qaeda's ideology?... Are you beginning to understand how ridiculous your argument sounds?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 09, 2006, 04:15:30 PM
For starters, I did answer your question about Orwell.  Please re-read my post.

And I thought you knew me well enough by now to know that I occasionally stick a tongue in my cheek, as I was doing in bringing up Koresh.  Sorry if my attempt was clumsy.

However, we probably are at an impasse, because we're right back where we started.

I said Stalin's atrocities were not unique . . . and, while you have labelled that "utter crap", there are some reputable historians who would not agree with you.  But I never said the atrocities were "nothing special".

It's been an interesting discussion on a lot of fronts.  But I guess I will have to accept the final conclusion here:  it is impossible in this Forum to argue that soviet atrocities were not something fundamentally unique without having that argument twisted into an assertion that they were all right.

I actually rather enjoy having my views taken on and, as you know from other threads, I often concede points and sometimes whole arguments.

But nowhere else have I encountered the peculiar tendency on this one topic to be told I said things I neither said nor meant to imply.  And to jump from the assertion that, by saying soviet atrocities were not unique, I would also be pleased as punch with Nazi atrocities, too, is a mind-boggling leap that, coming from you, leaves me simply aghast.

See you on another thread on another day . . . .  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 10, 2006, 07:38:21 AM
Tsarfan, nowhere did I say that Soviet atrocities were unique in the international context. I wish you would stop repeating this, because it isn't true. I said that Soviet atrocities were first and foremost the product of the Marxist-Leninist ideology, and not of the previous tsarist regime. Only in that sense were they "unique." (A better word would be "new.") I don't know why you are so hung up on this word. Haven't I talked about Nazi atrocities enough? Haven't I mentioned the atrocities that have resulted in other countries where communism has been tried?

Let me ask you this... do you really believe that the Soviet Union could only industrialize if it first collectivized agriculture? Why collectivize agriculture at all? What other European nations had first collectivized the countryside before moving on to industrialize? Do you think perhaps Stalin decided to collectivize agriculture because of... ideology?

Anyway, I didn't start this thread to debate whether Soviet atrocities were "unique" or somehow caused by the pre-existing tsarist regime - obviously, I don't think they were, or I wouldn't keep comparing the Nazi and Soviet regimes. I started this thread to debate the question of why Soviet atrocities aren't better known in the West, and particularly in schools in the United States. Maybe one reason is that some people who have liberal tendencies (as I myself do) are simply reluctant to acknowledge that the far left has as much or more blood on its hands as the far right.

But maybe we should try to make the impact of the Terror more real to people. I was reading Nadezhda Mandelstam's brilliant memoir, Hope Against Hope last night and came upon this passage about what it was like to live under the iron fist of Stalinism:

There is something in the Christian injunction against suicide which is profoundly in keeping with human nature – this is why people don’t do it, even though life can be far more terrible than death, as we have seen in our times. When M. [her husband, Osip Mandelstam, who died in a camp] had gone and I was left alone, I was sustained by the memory of his words, "Why do you think you ought to be happy?" and by the passage in the "Life" of the Archpriest Avvakum when his exhausted wife asks him: "How much further must we go?" And he replies: "Unto the very grave, woman." Whereupon she gets to her feet and walks on.

If these notes of mine survive, people reading them may think they were written by a sick person, a hypochondriac... By then all will have been forgotten and nobody will believe the testimony of a witness. One only has to think of all the people abroad who still do not believe us. Yet they are contemporaries, separated from us only by space, not by time. I recently read the following reasonable sounding words by a foreign author: "They say that everybody was afraid there. It cannot be that everybody was afraid. Some were and some weren’t..." It sounds so reasonable and logical, but in fact our life was far from logical. And it wasn’t just that I was a "professional suicide," as M. had called me teasingly. Many other people thought about it, too. Not for nothing was the best play in the Soviet repertoire entitled The Suicide."


(Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope, pp. 57-58.)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 10, 2006, 09:49:00 AM
I think our real sticking point, Elisabeth, is around the role of ideology in soviet atrocities.

Quote
Let me ask you this... do you really believe that the Soviet Union could only industrialize if it first collectivized agriculture? Why collectivize agriculture at all? What other European nations had first collectivized the countryside before moving on to industrialize? Do you think perhaps Stalin decided to collectivize agriculture because of... ideology?


I certainly may be wrong on this, but I have never really believed Stalin was committed to Marxism and its ideological offspring.  I have always felt that the only real ideology that drove Stalin was a highly personal, perverted form of nationalism.

Some historians have noted that the three great self-aggrandizers of modern European history emerged from the periphery of their national cultures:  Bonaparte the Corsican, Hitler the Austrian, and Stalin the Georgian.

While Bonaparte had some grandiose notions of a great pan-European state, what drove him at his core was a desire to ascend to the top of a monarchical system that had once treated him as not quite French enough.  And, in responding to that deep urge to put on a crown, Napoleon took the first critical misstep that put him on the path to his eventual ruin.

Hitler revealed the same deep-seated resentment of being an outsider by styling himself not just German, but cartoonishly hyper-German.  (And remember that Hitler also styled himself a National Socialist, although I can find precious little socialism in his mantra.)

I believe the true, innermost drives of madmen can be divined from the reality they attempt to create, not from the labels they apply to their actions.  The reality Stalin created was not a socialist state.  It was a form of state capitalism intended to turn Russia -- at any cost -- into the world's premier superstate, with Stalin, the ethnic Georgian, as firmly ensconced at the apex as any White Russian tsar ever was.  This is not the ideological goal of communism or its variants.  This is the ideological goal of hyper-nationalism, stoked from aggression to atrocity by the psychological need of the scorned outsider to become the ultimate insider.

With regard to collectivizing agriculture, I think Stalin had a two-fold drive that had little to do with communism.  It resolved all the prickly political questions of land distribution and use in fairly short order, and it put food production under direct state control before tackling industrialization (although to disastrous effect).  Stalin was seeking speed and efficiency, not social and economic equality, and he mistakenly thought collectivization was the answer.

Now . . . when it comes to nationalism, that is an ideology I can come closer to accepting as intrinsically likely to spawn atrocities.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 11, 2006, 07:07:02 AM
I'm dividing this post into two posts because it is too long. Bear with me.

Part I. Class Warfare or the Ideology of Terror

Richard Pipes on Lenin’s pamphlet, "Lessons of the Commune," 1908:

Having listed the achievements and failures of this first "proletarian revolution" [the French Revolution], he [Lenin] indicated its cardinal weakness: the proletariat’s "excessive generosity – it should have exterminated its enemies," instead of "trying to exert moral influence on them." This remark must be one of the earliest instances in political literature in which the term "extermination," normally used for vermin, is applied to human beings. As we have seen, Lenin habitually described those whom he chose to designate as his regime’s "class enemies" in terms borrowed from the vocabulary of pest control, calling kulaks "bloodsuckers," "spiders," and "leeches."

Lenin, January 1918:

The communes, small cells in the village and city, must themselves work out and test thousands of forms and methods of practical accounting and control over the rich, swindlers, and parasites. Variety here is a guarantee of vitality, of success and the attainment of a single objective: the cleansing of Russia’s soil of all harmful insects, of scoundrel fleas, bedbugs – the rich, and so on.

Trotsky, December 2, 1917:

There is nothing immoral in the proletariat finishing off the dying class. This is right. You are indignant… at the petty terror which we direct against our class opponents. But be put on notice that in one month at most this terror will assume more frightful forms, on the model of the great revolutionaries of France. Our enemies will face not prison but the guillotine."

Isaac Steinberg, Lenin’s Commissar of Justice:

Terror is not an individual act, not an isolated, fortuitous – even if recurrent – expression of the government’s fury. Terror is a system… a legalized plan of the regime for the purpose of mass intimidation, mass compulsion, mass extermination. Terror is a calculated register of punishments, reprisals and threats by means of which the government intimidates, entices, and compels the fulfillment of its imperative will. Terror is a heavy, suffocating cloak thrown from above over the entire population of the country, a cloak woven of mistrust, lurking vigilance, and lust for revenge. […] Terror exists precisely because the minority, ruling on its own, regards an ever-growing number of persons, groups and strata as its enemy… This "enemy of the Revolution" …expands until he dominates the entire expanse of the Revolution… The concept keeps on enlarging until, by degrees, it comes to embrace the entire land, the entire population, and in the end, "all with the exception of the government" and its collaborators.

....

I objected, that this cruel threat [to kill without trial "enemy agents, speculators, burglars, hooligans, counterrevolutionary agitators, and German spies"] killed the whole pathos of the manifesto. Lenin replied with derision, "On the contrary, therein lies true revolutionary pathos. Do you really believe that we can be victorious without the very cruelest revolutionary terror?"
    It was difficult to argue with Lenin on this score and we soon reached an impasse. We were discussing a harsh police measure with far-reaching terroristic potentialities. Lenin resented my opposition to it in the name of revolutionary justice. So I called out in desperation, "Then why do we bother with a Commissariat of Justice? Let’s call it frankly the Commissariat for Social Extermination and be done with it!" Lenin’s face suddenly brightened and he replied, "Well put… that’s exactly what it should be… but we can’t say that."


(quotes from Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, pp. 790-795)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 11, 2006, 09:14:20 AM
Part II of my post.

The 1920s: After the Civil War but Before Stalinism, or,
How to Build a Totalitarian State

From Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, vol. I:

That same year, 1921, began with Cheka Order No. 10, dated January 8: "To intensify the repression of the bourgeoisie." Now, when the Civil War had ended, repression was not to be reduced but intensified! …In the summer of 1921 the State Commission for Famine Relief, including Kuskova, Prokopovich, Kishkin, and others, was arrested. They had tried to combat the unprecedented famine in Russia. The heart of the matter, though, was that theirs were the wrong hands to be offering food and could not be allowed to feed the starving…

In that same year the practice of arresting students began (for example, the group of Yevgeniya Doyarenko in the Timiryazev Academy) for "criticism of the system" (not in public,  merely in conversation amongst themselves)… Also in 1921 the arrests of members of all non-Bolshevik parties were expanded and systematized. In fact, all Russia’s political parties had been buried, except the victorious one... And so that the dissolution of these parties would be irreversible, it was necessary that their members should disintegrate and their physical bodies, too.

Not one citizen of the former Russian state who had ever joined a party other than the Bolshevik party could avoid his fate. He was condemned unless, like Maisky or Vyshinsky, he succeeded in making his way across the planks of the wreck to the Bolsheviks. He might not be arrested in the first group. He might live on, depending on how dangerous he was believed to be, until 1922, [1927], 1932, or even 1937, but the lists were kept; his turn would and did come; he was arrested or else politely invited to an interrogation, where he was asked just one question: Had he been a member of such and such, from then till then?


Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. I, pp. 34-35

Keep in mind as you read all this that Solzhenitsyn worked on Gulag in secret in the Soviet Union of the 1960s and, in addition to suffering harassment by the KGB, had only the most limited access to local archives (most state and party archives were closed). Since the 1990s additional material about the terror "waves" of the 1920s has no doubt become available.

Summary of Pages 35-41:

1922 was the year of the big Menshevik trial.

Also in 1922 the Cheka began its "church revolution" – "to remove the existing leadership and replace it with one which would have only one ear turned to heaven and the other to the Lubyanka." Metropolitans, bishops, archpriests, monks, deacons and nuns were arrested. Also arrested: "theosophists, mystics, spiritualists… religious societies and philosophers of the Berdyayev circle," the "Eastern Catholics" (followers of the Russian philospher Vladimir Solovyov), and ordinary Roman Catholics, especially Poles.

During these years Tanya Khodakevich wrote a poem:

You can pray freely
But just so God alone can hear

For this she received a ten-year sentence.

In 1926 the Zionist society, "Hehalutz," was exiled.

In 1925 one hundred Leningrad students were sentenced to three years in political detention for reading Plekhanov and Menshikov literature smuggled in from abroad.

Former members of the nobility and former state officials were also arrested in the 1920s, as were former Tsarist officers who had gone over to the Red Army during the Civil War (their wives were also arrested).

"Sometimes sheer accident took a hand. Solely out of a love of order, a certain Mova kept at home a list of all former employees of the provincial judiciary. This was discovered by accident in 1925, and they were all arrested and shot."

In 1926 the Political Red Cross in Petrograd was shut down and its leaders sent into exile.

Etc., etc.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 11, 2006, 12:12:17 PM
"Desiring with the most heartfelt anxiety, even as Our Apostleship requires, that the Catholic faith should especially in this Our day increase and flourish everywhere, and that all heretical depravity should be driven far from the frontiers and bournes of the Faithful, We very gladly proclaim and even restate those particular means and methods whereby Our pious desire may obtain its wished effect, since when all errors are uprooted by Our diligent avocation as by the hoe of a provident husbandman, a zeal for, and the regular observance of, Our holy Faith will be all the more strongly impressed upon the hearts of the faithful . . . .

Wherefore We, as is Our duty, being wholly desirous of removing all hindrances and obstacles by which the good work of the Inquisitors may be let and tarded, as also applying potent remedies to prevent the disease of heresy and other turpitudes diffusing their poison . . . We decree and enjoin that the aforesaid Inquisitors be empowered to proceed to the just correction, imprisonment, and punishment of any persons, without let or hindrance . . . .
 (Bull of Innocent VIII)

Acting on this authority, somewhere between 600,000 and 9,000,000 Europeans were tortured and executed over the next 250 years.

I have always viewed the ideology of Catholicism to be that the Roman Church is the sole interpreter of Christ's will on earth.  I have viewed the atrocities of the Inquisition as a methodology applied to secure the ends of the ideology.

I guess I was wrong.  Catholicism, at least in that era, was apparenty an ideology of terror and atrocity.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 11, 2006, 01:38:32 PM
I am confused. How does the Inquisition become an ideology and not a methodology? It clearly existed as one --- and not the only --- means of dealing with what were regarded as heresies. Nor was the Inquisition the raison d'etre of the medieval Catholic Church, anymore than, say, the Reign of Terror was the expression of liberty, fraternity and equality.

I do recognize that the Inquisition was a sanctioned arm of the Church. I disagree that it was an expression of the innate nature of Catholicism even during the time in which it flourished. As a catholic institution, the Church has always had internal contradictions in terms of its behavior. There have been frequent regrettable lapses from the message of the Gospels. The late Pope recognized this when he issued apologies for the treatment of Jews and other groups, and even at the time these horrific events took place, there were some internal voices raised against them. Sadly, not enough to prevent them. I would regard the Inquisition as a perverted methodology to implement the ideology of Christianity imposed upon it by Christ when he told the apostles to go and spread His message.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 11, 2006, 01:55:55 PM
Quote
I am confused. How does the Inquisition become an ideology and not a methodology?


Personally, I think the Inquisition was a methodology and not an ideology.  My point was that Lenin's atrocities, too, were a methodology, not part and parcel of the ideology.

However, if one uses Lenin's pronouncements on his metholody to argue it was intrinsic to the ideology, then must one not also examine the Catholic Church's pronouncements on its methodology and conclude the same -- since both pronouncements produced atrocities?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 11, 2006, 01:58:00 PM
Thank you, Louis Charles. You have put it quite eloquently. But my husband, a professor of Russian intellectual history, has advised me that it's no use arguing with someone like Tsarfan, who continues to ignore the Soviet cultural context and the many differences between totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, among other things.

My impression is that Tsarfan regards the Holocaust as "new," but any mass murders carried out by the Bolsheviks are to be regarded only in the light of previous atrocities carried out by authoritarian regimes. I can only conclude from this that I am right in asserting that one major difficulty in teaching students about Soviet atrocities is that too many people with liberal sympathies are psychologically averse to accepting the fact that the far left (the Communists, in various countries) produced genocidal atrocities on on an even greater scale in the twentieth century than the far right (the Nazis).

Tsarfan will not even admit that there are distinct similarities between the Nazi and Bolshevik regimes. That is startling to me.

Indeed, if one proclaims Stalin as the natural heir of Leninism (well, among other things, he took class warfare to the countryside, as Lenin always intended), then Tsarfan attempts to make him into a nationalist, i.e., someone on the far right. This is a common ploy by certain (thankfully rare) elements of the far left who cannot accept that Lenin was not the egalitarian saint of Soviet legend.  

BTW, I should note here that I consider myself a liberal, and have voted Democratic in all the elections for which I have been an eligible voter. This does not prevent me from seeing, however, that Lenin and Stalin and Co. were every bit as evil as Hitler and the Nazis.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 11, 2006, 02:21:53 PM
Elisabeth, I have let your comment about my "liberalism" pass a couple of times, but since it is becoming part of the discussion, I must respond to that point.

While I happen to view Bush as a moron and a puppet, I have voted Republican more times than Democract, largely because until the current administration I have favored Republican tax and fiscal policies.  I turned away from the Republicans finally only because of their recent tendency to merge religion into government policy.  (I am a Senior Managing Director at one of the world's largest hedge funds . . . perhaps the biggest nest of venal capitalists you could find on this planet.)

And I freely admit there were deep similarities between the soviet and the Nazi regimes.  In fact, I haven't the vaguest idea what I said that would cause anyone to think I don't see parallels.  And whatever would cause you to think I see the Holocaust as something "new"?  I find it simply the last century's most pronounced -- but by no means unique -- manifestation of a deep-seated human tribalism that creates temptations for us to reject and demonize people unlike ourselves.  I find it to arise from the same source as the racism that allowed the Klan to prowl the Southern night of my youth with impunity.

All we are really arguing about is whether Lenin's and Stalin's atrocities were a means of reaching an ideological end, or whether they were part of the goal itself.  Just because I see atrocities as a method instead of a goal doesn't mean I take them more lightly . . . or that I am an apologist for the Far Left who takes only the Far Right to task.

And I do not think Lenin was some saint whose noble mission was hijacked by Stalin.  In fact, I think Lenin was one of history's great morons for trying to impose on a nation one of the silliest economic theories in the history of mankind.

Before you attribute all these views to me, it might be helpful for you to quote the actual things I wrote that demonstrated all these flawed views.  I really don't know quite to what I'm responding on some of these points.  You seem to be reading my posts against some stereotyped model of what I must be like and generating interpretations of what I said that are not, in fact, what I said.

Seriously . . . please quote the things I wrote that support the interpretation of my views you gave in your above post.  I think honest debate requires it.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 11, 2006, 02:50:43 PM
Quote
And I freely admit there were deep similarities between the soviet and the Nazi regimes.  In fact, I haven't the vaguest idea what I said that would cause anyone to think I don't see parallels.  And whatever would cause you to think I see the Holocaust as something "new"?  I find it simply the last century's most pronounced -- but by no means unique -- manifestation of a deep-seated human tribalism that creates temptations for us to reject and demonize people unlike ourselves.  I find it to arise from the same source as the racism that allowed the Klan to prowl the Southern night of my youth with impunity.


See, but this is why I think it's easier for you to relate to and empathize with the victims of Nazi atrocities. Because you were raised in the South (of the US) and dealt with all the horrors of racism on a daily basis. Whereas the "classism" of the Bolsheviks, both as an ideology and a methodology (seeing and treating the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia and the upper peasants as "class enemies" to be stamped out, whether in 1908 or 1918) really seems to pass you by. I just don't think you connect with this type of prejudice on a gut level. Excuse me for saying so; I may be wrong.

Quote
All we are really arguing about is whether Lenin's and Stalin's atrocities were a means of reaching an ideological end, or whether they were part of the goal itself.  Just because I see atrocities as a method instead of a goal doesn't mean I take them more lightly . . . or that I am an apologist for the Far Left who takes only the Far Right to task.


Again, I think you are intellectualizing the issue too much. You're not feeling it in your gut. These were real people... not "insects," as Lenin termed them. Note that "burglars" and "hooligans" even preceded "counterrevolutionary elements" in Lenin's list of villains to be shot without trial. In other words... anyone. "Hooligans" is a very loose term, that is obviously completely open-ended in its definition.

Quote
And I do not think Lenin was some saint whose noble mission was hijacked by Stalin.  In fact, I think Lenin was one of history's great morons for trying to impose on a nation one of the silliest economic theories in the history of mankind.

Before you attribute all these views to me, it might be helpful for you to quote the actual things I wrote that demonstrated all these flawed views.  I really don't know quite to what I'm responding on some of these points.


I think I simply misunderstood you, Tsarfan. I think - from the above posting - that you are simply arguing that the genocidal impulse has been with humankind since the very origins of humankind. Which conclusion is very much borne out by recent archaeological findings of entire villages massacred (and buried in haphazard mass graves - in the Neolithic period, some 4-5,000 years ago) by outsiders. So in this I would actually concur with you.

But what I don't like is the privileging of the Holocaust over all the other twentieth-century genocides - in the Soviet Union, in China, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc. That is basically why I started this thread...

Because I'm wondering: is the average person only capable of holding one narrative about genocide in his/her head? Isn't it possible to teach students about genocide as a general underlying impulse on the part of humankind, as opposed to some isolated incident in human history that only lasted four years (1941-1945)? Wouldn't it be far more effective to teach genocide as an abiding human impulse throughout the ages, as opposed to teaching it as a phenomenon reserved solely for an isolated "incident" concentrated within a short amount of time and ultimately stopped by the so-called "heroes" of humanity, the Allies (one of which, the Soviet Union, had in the meantime been busily perpetrating its own genocide in the secrecy of its own prisons and concentration camps)?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 11, 2006, 09:41:48 PM
Quote
I just don't think you connect with this type of prejudice on a gut level. Excuse me for saying so; I may be wrong.


And you may be right.  I certainly know a lot more of the details of Nazi atrocities, because I did my graduate work in 19th-20th century German history.

But, in fact, I've been doing a bit of reading on soviet atrocities since this thread drew my attention.  While my awareness of the number of deaths has not grown (I have long understood the number to lie somewhere between 12-20 million), my awareness of the array of endeavors the atrocities reached has grown.

I do not think we disagree on the scope of soviet atrocities, and we do not disagree on your original premise that people in the West know much more about the Holocaust than any other 20th-century atrocities.  And I think there is much merit to your view that, instead of teaching atrocities as case study, they should be taught as a wider anthropological phenomenon.

But we still disagree on whether soviet atrocities were a means to institute an ideology or part of the ideology itself.  And apparently we always will.

I did not mean to be incendiary in quoting the papal bull Malleus Maleficarum above.  I was just using it to point out what I think is a pitfall in citing tracts about Lenin's faith in violent means to support an argument that violence was intrinsic to his social/economic ideology.  That line of argument turns many ideologies -- from colonialism to Manifest Destiny to Catholicism and Islam -- into ideologies of atrocity.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 12, 2006, 08:10:12 AM
Quote
But we still disagree on whether soviet atrocities were a means to institute an ideology or part of the ideology itself.


This is where I think you are really splitting hairs. Ideology is not a fixed thing. It adapts itself (or is adapted) to changing historical circumstances. Was the "Final Solution" a "means to institute an ideology or part of the ideology [of Nazism] itself"? I would argue that only after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 did the Final Solution become both a part of Nazi ideology and a means to institute that ideology. It was never publicly proclaimed, however, to be part of Nazi ideology. One could be a Nazi and not knowingly advocate the extermination of the Jewish people.

I think Martin Malia explains the role of ideology in the "Soviet experiment" best:

The Soviet system had its deepest origins in, and drew its justification from, the moral idea of socialism as the fullness of human equality. This moral idea necessarily leads to an instrumental program for the suppression of all the prime sources of inequality: private property, profit, and the market, an ensemble of institutions called capitalism. This program was supposed to emerge by itself from the logic of history (which is also the logic of democracy). In fact, however, history refused to cooperate in producing the requisite instrumental program, and so the latter had to be implemented coercively through a new and unique political instrument: the Party.

Thus, the enduring formula of Sovietism is maximalist or integral socialism as the alleged culmination of the logic of history in conjunction with the dictatorship of the Party substituting for history’s allegedly annointed vehicle, the universal class of the proletariat.  This formula has been abbreviated in these pages to "ideocratic partocracy." It is building socialism with this blunt instrument, not development or modernization, that the Soviet experiment was all about. But such an enterprise is intrinsically impossible, for the primitive military means of the partocracy by their very nature cannot realize the complex ideological ends of an efficient economy and a just, egalitarian society. Under such circumstances, the building of Soviet socialism could proceed only as a mixture of ideological illusion and raw coercion. And this meant that the whole "experiment" unfolded in perverse fashion from its beginnings, that is, from the first Bolshevik attempt to coerce history by the October coup of 1917 and the ensuing effort of 1918 to build Communism by military means.  From the "original sin" flowed all of the succeeding acts of coercion, starting with the revolution from above of 1929-1933, continuing with the purges, and culminating with the postwar restoration of the system.


(my emphasis, Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy, pp. 494-95)

Thus Malia does not view Stalin as an aberration of history, or as a nationalist, or as the natural heir of autocratic tsars like Peter the Great. He sees Stalinism as part and parcel of the Soviet system itself.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 12, 2006, 08:41:23 AM
Quote
The Soviet system had its deepest origins in, and drew its justification from, the moral idea of socialism as the fullness of human equality.

Thus Malia does not view Stalin as an aberration of history, or as a nationalist, or as the natural heir of the autocratic tsars. He sees Stalinism as part and parcel of the Soviet system itself.


This is the gap I have trouble thinking my way across.  I can find nothing in what Stalin did that reflects the least concern with human equality or any of the stated goals of communism.

Stalin did not try to build an egalitarian society.  He tried to build a military and industrial superpower with himself in incontestable control.

There's an old saying --  if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck.  And this duck looked like a nationalist and walked like an autocrat . . . no matter what he called himself.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 12, 2006, 10:35:44 AM
Quote
Stalin did not try to build an egalitarian society.  He tried to build a military and industrial superpower with himself in incontestable control.


But why build it the way he built it, Tsarfan?

Again I ask (for the nth time, because speaking of ducks, you keep ducking this question), why collectivization? (Collectivization wasn’t a stated goal of communism?) What earthly purpose did it serve, since it proved to be an utter disaster, not only in agricultural but also in human terms, from the very outset? The Soviet Union managed to industrialize not because of collectivization, but in spite of collectivization.

For that matter, why did the Soviets keep agriculture collectivized for the remainder of their tenure in power, long after Stalin was dead and gone, and this despite the fact that they had to import grain from the West in order to feed their population?

Let’s also remember that the "military and industrial superpower" turned out to be a house of cards in end, in no small part because of the disastrous policy of collectivization.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 12, 2006, 11:16:42 AM
Quote

But why build it the way he built it, Tsarfan?

Again I ask (for the nth time, because speaking of ducks, you keep ducking this question), why collectivization? (Collectivization wasn’t a stated goal of communism?) What earthly purpose did it serve, since it proved to be an utter disaster, not only in agricultural but also in human terms, from the very outset? The Soviet Union managed to industrialize not because of collectivization, but in spite of collectivization.


I was taught that collectivization was implemented to effect total state control over food production.  The goal was state control -- the reason was to feed the workers who would be building the USSR into a modern military and economic giant.  

Quote
For that matter, why did the Soviets keep agriculture collectivized for the remainder of their tenure in power, long after Stalin was dead and gone, and this despite the fact that they had to import grain from the West in order to feed their population?


Because, again, the goal was control -- to have complete control over all aspects of Soviet society.

Quote
Let’s also remember that the "military and industrial superpower" turned out to be a house of cards in end, in no small part because of the disastrous policy of collectivization.  


But they did have complete control over everybody within their borders, didn't they?  They accomplished that quite well.  This is why I agree with Tsarfan when he says,

"Stalin did not try to build an egalitarian society.  He tried to build a military and industrial superpower with himself in incontestable control."
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 12, 2006, 12:26:21 PM
Quote
With regard to collectivizing agriculture, I think Stalin had a two-fold drive that had little to do with communism.  It resolved all the prickly political questions of land distribution and use in fairly short order, and it put food production under direct state control before tackling industrialization (although to disastrous effect).  Stalin was seeking speed and efficiency, not social and economic equality, and he mistakenly thought collectivization was the answer.


Sorry, Elisabeth, but I wasn't ducking the question about collectivization.  Here's the answer I posted a few days ago when you first asked it.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 12, 2006, 12:35:31 PM
Quote

Why aren’t Soviet and Maoist atrocities better known in the West? Why haven’t they gripped the public imagination to the extent that the Holocaust has? After all, Stalin and Mao taken together (or even taken separately!) killed far more human beings than Hitler ever did. Why aren’t their crimes better publicized? Is there something in the Communist ideology itself that makes atrocities committed in its name somehow less "atrocious" than other crimes against humanity? Do you think it is justified or fair to teach students about Nazi atrocities in public schools without teaching about Communist atrocities at the same time? Or do you think the situation in Western schools has changed since I was a graduate student some fifteen years ago?  


The Soviet and Maoist atrocities didn't happen in the West -- that's one basic reason they are not as well known.  Also, American troops did not liberate the Soviet or Maoist death camps, but they did liberate the Nazi death camps.  In addition, as we've already discussed, the Jews have done an admirable job at getting the word out about what happened to them -- they have the money and the influence to do it.  But that doesn't take away from the horror of what happened in Russia or China, Rwanda, Cambodia, East Timur, the Balkans...

Religionlink.org has a lot of detailed information about how the Holocaust is taught in the United States -- almost every U.S. state specifies that the Holocaust must be taught.  For example, in New Jersey, it is state law to teach the Holocaust in public schools at all grade levels.  According to Religionlink.org there are about 30 Holocaust museums in the United States.  

I do not believe that Soviet atrocities are ignored because of communist ideology.  The Jews simply have the resources that the Poles, Ukrainians, Armenians don't have.  And I don't blame them for using whatever means to get the word out.  Let's not hold that against them.

There is another possible reason why the Holocaust is taught in American schools (now by law in some areas) that I hadn't thought of before, but read online; fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. see the Jews as God's chosen people -- they are the people through which God chose to enter human history.  In this way, the Holocaust is seen as an attempt to wipe out God's chosen people.  If Christ were alive and living in Germany during World War II, he would have gone to Auchwitz.  This has enormous resonance in Christian thinking and indeed does set apart the Holocaust from all other genocides -- but it has nothing to do with communist ideology.

Do not underestimate this factor, Elisabeth.  We recently saw Pat Robertson on national television say that Sharon's stroke was God's punishment for giving up Jewish land.  Robertson has a lot of followers.

See Peter Novick's The Holocaust in American Life which discusses the use (and abuse) of the Holocaust.




Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 12, 2006, 01:43:51 PM
Quote
Sorry, Elisabeth, but I wasn't ducking the question about collectivization.  Here's the answer I posted a few days ago when you first asked it.


IMO you are ducking it all together. You honestly don't see any continuity between Lenin's plan to foment class warfare in the village in 1918-19 and Stalin's ultimate decision to bring class warfare to the village from above in 1928?

What you and RichC are neglecting to notice is that Stalin’s program was actually Trotsky’s program. That was the remarkable thing about Stalin: he would defeat his enemies and then promptly take over their program. In Trotsky’s case this meant the complete collectivization, industrialization, and militarization of Soviet society.

So if Lenin had been succeeded by Trotsky instead of Stalin, the history of the Soviet Union would have looked much the same.

You want to personalize Stalinism, but Stalinism was more about Marxism-Leninism than it was about Stalin the individual man. The old Soviet "cult of personality" excuse, translated into Western terms as the "bad man" theory of history, simply doesn’t hold water in this instance.



Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 12, 2006, 04:15:02 PM
Quote

What you and RichC are neglecting to notice is that Stalin’s program was actually Trotsky’s program. That was the remarkable thing about Stalin: he would defeat his enemies and then promptly take over their program. In Trotsky’s case this meant the complete collectivization, industrialization, and militarization of Soviet society.

So if Lenin had been succeeded by Trotsky instead of Stalin, the history of the Soviet Union would have looked much the same.

You want to personalize Stalinism, but Stalinism was more about Marxism-Leninism than it was about Stalin the individual man. The old Soviet "cult of personality" excuse, translated into Western terms as the "bad man" theory of history, simply doesn’t hold water in this instance.



Yes, I do want to personalize Stalin.  I don't want Stalin to be let off the hook because he was merely following the tenets of Marxist-Leninist ideology.  And I do agree that Trotsky probably would have been just as murderous.  

But didn't you criticize Tsarfan earlier for "taking personal responsibility out of the equation" by saying that Stalin's murderous regime had a "pre-history" in Tsarism?  You mentioned Eichman blaming the Kaiser or following the "example of his predecessors".  Can't Stalin then blame Marx or Lenin in the same way?  I'm confused because it seems that in one part of the thread you are blaming individuals for the atrocities but later you are blaming ideology and taking individuals out of the mix.

You mentioned the siren-song of communism.  Maybe you are right. But I fail to see how anybody could be so gullible as to believe that communists could create Heaven on Earth while in the meantime slaughter millions of people.  Anyone who subscribes to such an ideology is nuts.

That's why, for me, the ideology is beside the point -- you seem to be saying that Stalin, Lenin and their cohorts truly believed they were building a "Heaven on Earth" and that's what justified all the horror.  But how could someone like Stalin, for instance, believe that he was creating a paradise, when he knew full-well about the misery his dictatorship engendered?  I don't believe it; I don't believe Stalin believed it and I don't believe Lenin believed it.  They just wanted to take over and be in charge; the ideology was a means to an end -- which was power.  And they took over in a country that already had a long tradition of the government being in control of everything -- and that made it easier for them.  

And those purges, where was the ideology in that?  Weren't the purges merely the result of the a paranoid tyrant who ruthlessly eliminated anyone who remotely appeared as a threat -- not to the socialist paradise, but to the tyrant personally?


Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 12, 2006, 04:39:45 PM
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In Trotsky’s case this meant the complete collectivization, industrialization, and militarization of Soviet society.

So if Lenin had been succeeded by Trotsky instead of Stalin, the history of the Soviet Union would have looked much the same.

You want to personalize Stalinism, but Stalinism was more about Marxism-Leninism than it was about Stalin the individual man.


I'll admit I don't know enough about Trotsky and his program.

But I actually read Das Kapital some years ago in the original German.  Whatever Stalin (and/or Trotsky) were up to, it definitely was nothing like what Karl Marx envisioned.

While there are some parallels in what Stalin was doing with what Marx described as the penultimate evolutionary stage of economic history, they did not have as their goal Marx' vision.

Stalin exploited the totalitarian strains of Marxist thought but applied them not to Marxist ends, but to nationalist ends.

One of the core (foolish, but absolutely core) tenets of Marxism is that once the working masses seize control of the means of production, they will -- in the individual exercise of their free choice -- make "natural" economic decisions that benefit the common good.

Putting control of the means of production under the state, and then the control of the state in the hands of one man, is not Marxism but its antithesis.  If you think Stalin derived his direction from Marxist thought, please point me to the role of individual free choice in anything Stalin or Trotsky stood for.  It stubbornly eludes me thus far.

And remember that Marxism also assumed not only the withering away of the state, but the withering away of geopolitical boundaries between nations.  My understanding of Stalin's post-war East European policy was that its aim was to erect a buffer to protect Russia while she built her military might, not to foster the withering away of Russian statehood.

Whether Stalin or Trotsky was driving the train, it was an ultra-nationalist program, not an international dictatorship of the proletariat.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 13, 2006, 08:33:25 AM
Oh, so now Trotsky is a nationalistic heir of the tsars, too? That’s funny, I always thought he was a committed Bolshevik and an internationalist insofar as he believed in fomenting worldwide revolution… Tell me, Tsarfan, were there any committed Bolsheviks in the Bolshevik party or were they all secretly right-wing nationalists?

You are completely mistaken to assume that Lenin did not believe in promoting the military power and industrial might of the new communist state. As Theodore Von Laue summarizes:

Two traits stood out in the history of Russian communism as shaped by Lenin. The first was the boundless will to advance the country (not as an accidental base of world revolution, but as Russia – holy Russia) to a position of global pre-eminence, particularly in terms of industrial strength, the basis of modern civilization. The other trait was a fanatical reliance on organization, "our fighting method," as Lenin called it in 1918… He, then, who could give vigor to these Leninist traits and advance them with the same monstrous impatience which Lenin had shown almost to the end of his career would be his true heir. In these essentials, Stalin was indeed the perfect Leninist by more than his own, all too brazenly proclaimed judgment. His rise to power did not mark, therefore, a Thermidorean reaction, but rather Fructidor, the high summer of fruition for the most dynamic and emotion-charged element of Bolshevism.

(Von Laue, Why Lenin? Why Stalin?, p. 186)

So I guess that makes Lenin a right-wing nationalist, too?

But the main reason you have trouble understanding my argument is that you keep trying to fit Bolshevik ideology into some sort of ideal pattern of Marxism as defined solely by Marx. However, we’re not talking about Marxism per se. We’re talking about Marxism-Leninism. I think you simply misunderstand the many major differences between Marxist thought as it was shaped by Lenin and other strands of Marxism as they developed in other Russian socialist parties (e.g., the Mensheviks, the Social Revolutionaries, etc.) and in the West (e.g., the Social Democrats or SDs).

Two of the most outstanding features of Marxism-Leninism are the elitist and monolithic nature of the Bolshevik party and its concentration of power into its own hands. Marxism-Leninism never stood for equality or egalitarianism in the sense that everyone was to have a voice in the making of the new society. On the contrary, the party led and made all the decisions; the people, even the proletariat, submitted to its will. This is the totalitarian foundation of Marxist-Leninist thought. Again, I think Malia explains it best:

...in 1902 in What Is to Be Done? [Lenin called] for a "party of a new type," composed of full-time revolutionaries… his paramount reason was that the "spontaneous trade unionism" of the workers had to be informed by the "conscious" and "scientific" revolutionary theory of the "vanguard" party. In other words, the Bolshevik Party was the vehicle for the logic of history that would lead mankind to the socialist revolution – or in practical terms the Party was a surrogate for the revolutionary intelligentsia. As for the actual workers, they participated in the Party’s life only insofar as they worked for revolution and not for short-term economic gains. If the workers fell into the latter "revisionist" trap, they ceased being authentic proletarians and became part of the "petty bourgeoisie," whose natural spokesmen were the "traitorous" Mensheviks or the "renegade" German SDs. For there existed basically only two classes with two worldviews in society, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie; if any political actor, whatever his de facto class, did not have a scientific revolutionary consciousness, he was automatically a burzhui [a bourgeois] and an enemy. The Leninist Party thus represented a metaphysical, not an empirical, proletariat, and thus the primacy of ideological "consciousness" over real life was Lenin’s understanding of the class struggle and the driving force of all his politics.

(Malia, The Soviet Tragedy, 100.)

Lenin’s own words in July 1918:

The revolution has only just broken the oldest, most durable, and heaviest fetters to which the masses were compelled to submit. That was yesterday, but today the same revolution demands, in the interests of socialism, that the masses unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of the labor process [i.e., the party].

(quoted in Theodore Von Laue, p. 140.)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 13, 2006, 09:08:36 AM
Quote
Oh, so now Trotsky is a nationalistic heir of the tsars, too? That’s funny, I always thought he was a committed Bolshevik and an internationalist insofar as he believed in fomenting worldwide revolution… Tell me, Tsarfan, were there any committed Bolsheviks in the Bolshevik party or were they all secretly right-wing nationalists?


You are the one that first said Trotsky and Stalin were cut of the same cloth.  Then, when I say essentially, "okay, for the sake of argument, have it your way," you lambast me for applying an argument I made about Stalin to Trotsky?

As I said in my post, I don't know much about Trotsky.  If, in fact, Trotsky believed what you said in your last post and would have acted on those beliefs, then what he created would not have looked like what Stalin created.

I think Stalin was a nationalist.  If you are telling me that he and Trotsky were the same, then I either have to argue that they were not the same (an argument for which I do not have enough knowledge), or that Trotsky, too, was a nationalist.

It was Stalin who ran Russia, not Trotsky.  So let's leave him out of it.



I do not argue any of your other points from the above post.  But they all to go the question of what Lenin or Trostsky or Stalin or other strains of revolutionaries said or even thought their ideology was.  But ultimately an ideology is defined by the results it creates.

Marxism-Leninism -- or whatever you want to call it -- did not create a state that existed for the purpose of improving the lives of the proletariat.  In fact, it created a military-industrial superpower that existed for the benefit of the bureaucratic class that ran it.  It created a state in which the workers were among the least free and the least prosperous in the industrialized world.  It created a state where unquestioning loyalty to the state and unquestioning submission to its will were demanded on penalty of horrific consequences.  It created a state in which the only thing that mattered was the state.

This was not a historical accident.  It was the result of specific decisions made by a series of men calling themselves socialists and busying themselves with everything but the good of the working classes.

You can call it anything you want.  What is was, though, was an ultra-nationalist monster.  Fortunately, it was grounded on such an absurd economic theory that no manner of force could ultimately sustain it.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 13, 2006, 11:40:50 AM
Quote
I do not argue any of your other points from the above post.  But they all to go the question of what Lenin or Trostsky or Stalin or other strains of revolutionaries said or even thought their ideology was.  But ultimately an ideology is defined by the results it creates.
 
Marxism-Leninism -- or whatever you want to call it -- did not create a state that existed for the purpose of improving the lives of the proletariat.  In fact, it created a military-industrial superpower that existed for the benefit of the bureaucratic class that ran it.  It created a state in which the workers were among the least free and the least prosperous in the industrialized world.  It created a state where unquestioning loyalty to the state and unquestioning submission to its will were demanded on penalty of horrific consequences.  It created a state in which the only thing that mattered was the state.
 
This was not a historical accident.  It was the result of specific decisions made by a series of men calling themselves socialists and busying themselves with everything but the good of the working classes.
 
You can call it anything you want.  What is was, though, was an ultra-nationalist monster.  Fortunately, it was grounded on such an absurd economic theory that no manner of force could ultimately sustain it.


Er, excuse me for saying so, but you are trying to change the terms of the debate entirely with your new definition of ideology. (Does Webster’s Dictionary know it is defining the term "ideology" incorrectly?) You are now making a teleological argument, defining the cause by the effect. In other words you are now engaging in Marxist discourse yourself, making an argument which is not falsifiable and thus not empirically based.

What it comes down to is that I’ve demonstrated that Stalin was not an aberration (as you argued) but in fact the natural heir of Lenin. So now you’ve decided that Marxism-Leninism itself must be an ultra-nationalist ideology because it produced a "ultra-nationalist monster" of a state. Interesting.

All I can say is, it’s a good thing you’re not taking an exam on Russian history!

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 13, 2006, 12:44:29 PM
Quote
Er, excuse me for saying so, but you are trying to change the terms of the debate entirely with your new definition of ideology. (Does Webster’s Dictionary know it is defining the term "ideology" incorrectly?)


Ideology:  the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program (Merriam-Webster)

Nationalism:  political or social philosophy in which the welfare of the state an an entity is considered paramount (Columbia Encyclopedia)

Nationalism:  ideology based on the premise that the individual's loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests (Encyclopedia Britannica)

If the "aims" are part of the definition of the ideology, the question becomes whether one determines the aims from what is said or from what is done.  I think aims are best deduced from outcomes, unless one can argue an outcome was not intended.

If not the state's, exactly whose welfare was Stalin "aiming" to advance.


Quote
What it comes down to is that I’ve demonstrated that Stalin was not an aberration (as you argued) but in fact the natural heir of Lenin.


This is quite a reversal from our earlier debate in which I said there were antecedents in tsarism to what Stalin perpertrated, and you accused me of attempting to absolve him of responsibility by trying to blame his actions on historical influences.


Quote
All I can say is, it’s a good thing you’re not taking an exam on Russian history!


True . . . and apparently a further good thing that you're not grading it.  (I tried to add a smiley face, but my machine won't register it.  Honest.)



You know, Elisabeth, you earlier told me that I didn't feel Stalin's atrocities in my gut.  And there was some truth to the statement.

But no matter what the complex, elegant thought constructs and social theories in which Lenin and his progeny wrapped themselves, the millions of Russians who lived under the regime they created saw only a system which told them what they could and could not do; where they must live; what they could think, write, say, and study;  what consumer goods would or would not be made for them.  All in the name of advancing the military and industrial might of the state.

Maybe it's not nationalism, except by a strained reach.  But neither does it bear a remote resemblance to communism, Marxism, socialism, or any of the other things it claimed to have as its source.

It was power-mongering in its crudest form, launched by a man (Lenin) who was so intellectually arrogant he thought his philosophical choices should be imposed on a nation at any price.  The problem is that, once moving down that road, the philosophical choices became first a side show and, finally, irrelevant.  Power and its propogation was all that mattered.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on March 13, 2006, 01:48:55 PM
Elizabeth,

If I were in your area and there were needed referals for students interested in Russian History, and you taught it, there would be no hesitation in my making direct referal to your person and classes. I am more than sure that students coming to this AP Web site will indeed gain much more than they ever wanted to, especially in reading your presenting subject matter here. It is excellent by far ! Thank you. Your a joy to read.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 13, 2006, 02:11:45 PM
Wow, thank you so much for your kind words, Tania. That is high praise indeed.

Quote

Ideology:  the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program (Merriam-Webster)

Nationalism:  political or social philosophy in which the welfare of the state an an entity is considered paramount (Columbia Encyclopedia)

Nationalism:  ideology based on the premise that the individual's loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests (Encyclopedia Britannica)

If the "aims" are part of the definition of the ideology, the question becomes whether one determines the aims from what is said or from what is done.  I think aims are best deduced from outcomes, unless one can argue an outcome was not intended.

If not the state's, exactly whose welfare was Stalin "aiming" to advance.


He would have said, the welfare of the people of the Soviet Union, and by extension, of humanity as a whole. I don’t think we should question the ideological sincerity or convictions of Lenin and his Bolsheviks. They sincerely believed they were building the perfect socialist society. Even Stalin thought he was building socialism. Sad but true.

Anyway, need I point out that you are still making a teleological argument, Tsarfan (which needless to say is totally unfair and not playing by the rules of empirically minded debate). Aims are not the same as results. We determine the aims of an ideology precisely from what is said by the ideologue.

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This is quite a reversal from our earlier debate in which I said there were antecedents in tsarism to what Stalin perpertrated, and you accused me of attempting to absolve him of responsibility by trying to blame his actions on historical influences.


I don’t understand your point. I’m not reversing myself. You, on the other hand, have at this point reversed your position several times and now seem to have backed yourself into a corner.

Quote
You know, Elisabeth, you earlier told me that I didn't feel Stalin's atrocities in my gut.  And there was some truth to the statement.

But no matter what the complex, elegant thought constructs and social theories in which Lenin and his progeny wrapped themselves, the millions of Russians who lived under the regime they created saw only a system which told them what they could and could not do; where they must live; what they could think, write, say, and study;  what consumer goods would or would not be made for them.  All in the name of advancing the military and industrial might of the state.


But millions of these very same citizens believed with their whole hearts in the stated Bolshevik aim of building socialism. You always underestimate the seductive lure of Marxism-Leninism, Tsarfan, I suspect in large part because you have never immersed yourself in literature of the Soviet period and as a result simply can’t comprehend how all-encompassing and all-embracing this ideology was for most of Soviet society.

Quote
Maybe it's not nationalism, except by a strained reach.  But neither does it bear a remote resemblance to communism, Marxism, socialism, or any of the other things it claimed to have as its source.


Whaaaaat? Now you’re really reaching. You seem to believe quite sincerely that a true communist ideology can lead only to peace, love and understanding. This is very sweet, but it really has more to do with your own personal belief system than it has to do with objective historical reality. I think you simply can’t accept on a visceral (gut!) level that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, even for the left-wing.

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It was power-mongering in its crudest form, launched by a man (Lenin) who was so intellectually arrogant he thought his philosophical choices should be imposed on a nation at any price.  The problem is that, once moving down that road, the philosophical choices became first a side show and, finally, irrelevant.  Power and its propogation was all that mattered.


Tsarfan, I really do wish you would read more Russian literature. Ideology was very important for most of the Soviet period. It never entirely lost its relevancy or you would not have seen someone like Gorbachev, who is still to this day a Marxist, clinging with all his strength to the antiquated system of collectivized agriculture even in the days of perestroika and glasnost’. Gorbachev is an excellent example of the tremendous and abiding utopian allure of Marxism-Leninism. His aim in introducing perestroika and glasnost' was not for the greater glory and aggrandizement of the Soviet empire (well, he permitted its dissolution without major bloodshed) but for the preservation of communism and of the communist party itself. He was and is a true believer in the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, and that’s one of the reasons he was selected to succeed Chernenko by both the party and state apparatus.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 13, 2006, 03:30:01 PM
Quote
I am utterly wasting my time arguing with someone like Tsarfan.


And you choose to take no note of the fact I am not the only person on this thread you have failed to convince.


Quote
He would have said, the welfare of the people of the Soviet Union, and by extension, of humanity as a whole. I don’t think we should question the ideological sincerity or convictions of Lenin and his Bolsheviks. They sincerely believed they were building the perfect socialist society. Even Stalin thought he was building socialism.


Should not question the sincerity of Lenin and his Bolsheviks?!!!!!

Are you honestly saying we have no right to question whether Lenin and Stalin might have been driven by motives other than their stated views of the welfare of humanity?  That once a person adopts socialist views, he loses an ability to be corrupted by baser drives or to have those baser drives coexist with nobler drives?

Millions of Russians died in gulags or were resettled into almost uninhabitable reaches of northeast Siberia to build "the perfect socialist society"?  The building of tanks to prop up the Iron Curtain and to keep people from fleeing this perfect society had nothing to do with it?

You have taken Lenin's and Stalin's ideology, dropped it into a display case, read every book you can find on what others think about it, examined what they themselves said about it, explained its origins and deduced its intentions.  You have, in fact, done everything intellectually possible with it except to examine what it actually did and did not create.  It did not create a perfect socialist society.  It created a totalitarian order that murdered millions of its citizens and subjugated every aspect of the intellectual and economic lives of the survivors to the state's will.  That, for some inexplicable reason, seems in your view to hold absolutely no clue about what was really going on in the minds of these men.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 13, 2006, 03:58:30 PM
Quote
And you choose to take no note of the fact I am not the only person on this thread you have failed to convince.


Um, that would be RichC. Whereas most of the people who would support my end of the debate (aside from Tatiana) have obviously opted not to in a public forum: I strongly suspect because they feel that they would be arguing with someone whose political views are predetermined and not subject to any kind of logical persuasion. As indeed I have been repeatedly warned by my nearest and dearest.

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Should not question the sincerity of Lenin and his Bolsheviks?!!!!!

Are you honestly saying we have no right to question whether Lenin and Stalin might have been driven by motives other than their stated views of the welfare of humanity?  That once a person adopts socialist views, he loses an ability to be corrupted by baser drives or to have those baser drives coexist with nobler drives?


Of course I’m not saying that at all, Tsarfan. I’m merely pointing out that people are very complicated creatures psychologically, and can’t necessarily be boiled down to a single motivation. What works for them, works. It might not necessarily be (and usually isn’t) what they ardently believe it to be.

Quote
So much for debate in the U.S. about our Iraq policy, detainment of prisoners without due process, wiretapping without warrants.  Bush says he's a Christian and a staunch supporter of the Constitution and would never do anything in contravention of either.  So there's an end to it.


Bush thinks he’s God’s instrument to bring democracy to the Middle East. That’s a rather outsize role for anyone, it might be said.  Of course anyone is right to question it. But that doesn’t mean he’s not utterly sincere in his beliefs. Some might even say, that very sincerity is precisely what makes him so scary. As Bill Maher put it in a recent comedy sketch, it doesn't matter to Bush how many op ed pieces come out disproving his theories, it doesn't matter to him how low his approval rating goes: he's still right, in his own mind, and that's all that matters to him.

There’s a difference between sincerity and reality, Tsarfan, just as there is a difference between ideology and reality. It’s in the discrepancy that the real trouble lies. As Martin Malia put it, "The Leninist Party... represented a metaphysical, not an empirical, proletariat, and thus the primacy of ideological ‘consciousness’ over real life was Lenin’s understanding of the class struggle and the driving force of all his politics."

This is the main point that keeps escaping you.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 13, 2006, 04:15:34 PM
Quote
This is the main point that keeps escaping you.


It doesn't escape me.  In Lenin's case, I am actually inclined to agree with it.  I believe he was incredibly naive and self-deluding.  I can find no other explanation for his affinity to Marxist economic nonsense.

But I absolutely do not agree with it in Stalin's case, where I think cynicism was the dominant trait.  I think Stalin appropriated the class vocabulary and the moral justifications of Lenin for his own ends, which were another kettle of fish.

While the bulk of my earlier posts were about my views of Stalin, in recent posts the terminology has drifted to "Marxism-Leninism" and a pulling of Trotsky and Lenin into the debate.  We were arguing about so much else that I improperly failed to keep distinct lines drawn about whom I was talking.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 13, 2006, 09:54:35 PM
Elisabeth, why do you feel the need to pepper the argument you are making with personal remarks that cast aspersion upon Tsarfan's character as opposed to simply dealing with his arguments?

Discarding the personal remarks, this has been a very interesting thread to read and ponder, with much insight displayed from both sides. I do wish, however, that people would stop asserting that Tsarfan regards the Holocaust as a more intrinsically horrifying event than the atrocities committed by the communist regimes of Russia and China. I see no evidence for that in any of his posts, and he is far too educated to espouse such a silly position.

As a side note, I am 52 years old. I was raised in a typical New York household during the 1950s and 1960s, and I can assure you, we were aware of Soviet atrocities; they were taught in the parochial and private schools I attended, and they were used to condemn the regime.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 13, 2006, 10:08:53 PM
Quote

Um, that would be RichC.


Actually, what I have been trying to say from the beginning is that regardless of what ideology was being expounded, what Lenin and Stalin believed in their hearts, what happened was misery on a grand scale.  I think these people found themselves in power, threw ideology out the window, and instead did whatever they could to hold on to power.

You seem to believe that communist ideology (or Marxist/Leninist ideology) is what inexorably leads to mass killing on a mass scale.  But one argument I have seen for Stalinism (the Stalinist insanity) was that there was no recognizable ideology left to work with -- everything had been so completely twisted around.  On the "withering away" of the state, for instance, Vyshinsky said this would take place, "...not through weakening state power, but through a maximum strengthening of the state in order to defeat the remnants of the dying classes and to organize a defense against capitalist encirclement."  I hope I'm not the only one that sees a contradiction here...

Under Stalin, rule by a siege mentality became the norm.  Hence, you had Stalin and his entourage cooking up all kinds of mythical enemies and "destroying masses of people in the process."  It was, in the words of Moshe Lewin, "...a divorce of the leadership from the interests of the state.  For the nation, it was an unmitigated catastrophe."

Perhaps Stalin believed, to the end, as you say, Elisabeth, that he was a good socialist, but in reality, he jettisoned most socialist beliefs at the first sign of trouble and Russia reverted to a basically autocratic system which had little to do with Socialism or socialist ideals.

I quote Moshe Lewin (Professor Emeritus of Russian & Soviet History at the University of Pennsylvania) in The Social Background of Stalinism:

"It [Stalinism] evolved forms and structures of an autocratic power pattern reminiscent in many aspects, even reproducing directly, traits of the imperial past.  But the meeting of hearts and the affinity with the past statehood was not a replica of the past, but a new, original creation, a hybrid of Marxism and tsarism, a transitory phenomenon that was confined to the Stalinist stage alone."

Also:

"The Tsar, the Emperor, the Marshal"

"The discussion of the peasantry's role offers the appropriate moment to ponder over another significant phenomenon in Stalinism: the return of the modernizing Soviet state under Stalin to the models and trapping of earlier tsardom.  The popularity of the tsar-builders, impetuous and despotic industrializers and state promoters: the growing rehabilitation of traditions from the imperial past; the epaulettes of generals and marshals; Stalin's own bemedaled chest and lofty titles during and after the war; the re-costuming of the state bureaucracy, notably the juridical and foreign services, into a uniformed officialdom complete with titles almost directly borrowed from the "table or ranks" -- all these are well-known events."

--Moshe Lewin; The Social Background of Stalinism; The Making of the Soviet System

Lewin also mentions "nationalism" as one of the hallmarks of Stalinism:

"Three factors seem to be crucial in favoring the phenomenon of Stalinism, with its personal rule, extreme dogmatism with strong pseudo-religions undertones, and renewed nationalism -- a remodeled "autocracy, nationality, orthodoxy".

(Lewin's three factors are, the unhinging of the social structures created by the industrialization effort; the characteristics of the growing bureaucracy; and the historical-cultural traditions of the country)












Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 14, 2006, 05:46:51 AM
Quote
I quote Moshe Lewin (Professor Emeritus of Russian & Soviet History at the University of Pennsylvania) in The Social Background of Stalinism:

"It [Stalinism] evolved forms and structures of an autocratic power pattern reminiscent in many aspects, even reproducing directly, traits of the imperial past.  But the meeting of hearts and the affinity with the past statehood was not a replica of the past, but a new, original creation, a hybrid of Marxism and tsarism, a transitory phenomenon that was confined to the Stalinist stage alone."

Also:

"The Tsar, the Emperor, the Marshal"

"The discussion of the peasantry's role offers the appropriate moment to ponder over another significant phenomenon in Stalinism: the return of the modernizing Soviet state under Stalin to the models and trapping of earlier tsardom.  The popularity of the tsar-builders, impetuous and despotic industrializers and state promoters: the growing rehabilitation of traditions from the imperial past; the epaulettes of generals and marshals; Stalin's own bemedaled chest and lofty titles during and after the war; the re-costuming of the state bureaucracy, notably the juridical and foreign services, into a uniformed officialdom complete with titles almost directly borrowed from the "table or ranks" -- all these are well-known events."

Lewin also mentions "nationalism" as one of the hallmarks of Stalinism:

"Three factors seem to be crucial in favoring the phenomenon of Stalinism, with its personal rule, extreme dogmatism with strong pseudo-religions undertones, and renewed nationalism -- a remodeled "autocracy, nationality, orthodoxy".


I counsel caution here, RichC.  You have apparently been reading things that are not on the approved list for this course.  In doing so, you run the risk of being misled by authorities who are not Russian enough to grasp the highly-evolved Marxist-Leninist mentality.

Disagreeing with Eilsabeth on such points is "utter crap".  Perhaps "you don't realize how ridiculous your arguments sound".

And, as her husband, The Professor, will tell her to tell you, you're just not worth the argument, because you simply do not have the academic background to digest her complex points without "backing yourself into a corner".  Either that, or you're just "too liberal" to be able to discern day from night.  (She'll let you know which, once she consults with her "nearest and dearest" on this point . . . wink, wink.)

So let's get this straight once and for all . . . .

There are neither nationalist elements nor tsarist antecedents in anything Stalin did.  He was a sincere Bolshevik internationalist intent on walking in Lenin's ideological footsteps to forge the "perfect socialist society".  He was perhaps a bit overzealous in his methods, but his aim was socialism.  It is not for the likes of us to question his motives by trying to deduce them from his actions.

Hasn't Elisabeth made herself perfectly clear?  Please quit distracting her class with these pseudo-academic teleological diversions and false authorities.

Speaking on behalf of her legion of silent supporters,

I thank you.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 14, 2006, 05:58:57 AM
Hi everyone :)

This thread is fascinating.

Here in England all we ever hear about is the holocaust, holocaust, holocaust. It drives my poor Dad barmy!! lol

It's so interesteting, yet sad, to read and learn about the Soviet atrocities which occured. Which I believe were much worse.

Thank you :)

P.S Hope you all like my AV, Vicky was lovely I think :)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 14, 2006, 07:28:19 AM
Sorry for any nasty undercurrents in my arguments yesterday, Tsarfan. I freely admit I have a hot temper and an unfortunate taste for sarcasm. I was really losing my patience with you yesterday and I should have taken a time-out. You know how much I respect you so please accept my deepest apologies!

Quote
In Lenin's case, I am actually inclined to agree with it.  I believe he was incredibly naive and self-deluding.  I can find no other explanation for his affinity to Marxist economic nonsense.

But I absolutely do not agree with it in Stalin's case, where I think cynicism was the dominant trait.  I think Stalin appropriated the class vocabulary and the moral justifications of Lenin for his own ends, which were another kettle of fish.


If Stalin was a cynic, then he was no more a sincere nationalist than he was a sincere socialist. He merely exploited nationalistic feelings the same way he exploited Marxist-Leninist ideology, in the interest of establishing and maintaining his own absolute power.

But all the biographers of Stalin I’ve read seem to believe that he was a committed Marxist-Leninist.

Adam Ulam: "Absolute power turned a ruthless politican – but within the Soviet context not so unusually ruthless – into a monstrous tyrant. And faith in the creed of Marxism-Leninism endowed him with a sense of his historic mission and enabled him to stifle any scruples and inhibitions in protecting that power." (Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era, p. 740)

Simon Sebag Montefiore: "[Stalin] was married to Bolshevism and emotionally committed to his own drama in the cause of Revolution. Any private emotions were mere bagatelles compared to the betterment of mankind through Marxism-Leninism."
(Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 15)

Martin Malia: "There is no reason to doubt the genuineness of [Stalin’s] commitment to Marxism, however crudely he applied it: It furnished the basis of his worldview for the whole of his adult life."
(Malia, The Soviet Tragedy, p. 181)

Whether or not Stalin's avowed belief system was sincere, though, is a little beside the point:

"… more important than history or psychology is the institutional setting in which Stalin operated, a setting that bred both cruelty and paranoia. The Party, as its agitprop ceaselessly proclaimed, was in a class war to the death. It was surrounded by enemies from without and within: international capital, petty bourgeois kulaks, bourgeois wreckers, and deviationists within the Party. Stalin no doubt personally aggravated this mood of universal struggle and suspicion, but he by no means created it; it derived, rather, from the Party’s whole heritage. This was a Party with which his 'rude' character meshed only too readily."
(Malia, p. 219-20)

 
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities, t
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 14, 2006, 08:33:18 AM
At the risk of pleasing neither side, could it not be true that Stalin was a mixture of both cynical knave and classic Marxist-Leninist? Certain aspects of Stalin's Soviet foreign policy --- the desire for control of the entrance to the Black Sea, the hegemony established after World War II over the buffer states between it and the West --- these were also part of Tsarist ambitions. If the word "Tsarist" rankles, subsitute the phrase "Classic Russian". Elisabeth's sources for his ideological stance are impressive. And I see no reason why a cynical knave couldn't also function as a committed Marxist, in much the same way that certain democratic politicians have been capable of heinous behavior (U.S. treatment of native Americans, the British Raj, etc.)

And Eddieboy, while I am sorry that your father is driven "barmy" by the slaughter of 6,000,000 people, I doubt that his personal discomfort was the intended goal of the Holocaust. Was he similarly "barmy" during the 1990s when the Serbian atrocities were bruited about the airwaves? Does the reporting of the current situation in Darfur upset him? The discovery of the extent of Saddam Hussein's genocidal tendencies with the Kurds? The slaughter of the Armenians in 1915? Or is his exasperation limited to Holocaust coverage?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 14, 2006, 09:29:25 AM
Thank you for enquiring but his exasperation is limited to Holocaust coverage. That's the beauty of a democracy, he's entitled to his opinions!!  

:) :)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 14, 2006, 09:30:22 AM
Quote
Sorry for any nasty undercurrents in my arguments yesterday, Tsarfan.


And I'm sorry for my sarcastic response.  Truce.


Quote
If Stalin was a cynic, then he was no more a sincere nationalist than he was a sincere socialist. He merely exploited nationalistic feelings the same way he exploited Marxist-Leninist ideology, in the interest of establishing and maintaining his own absolute power.  


Couldn't have said it better myself.


Quote
Whether or not Stalin's avowed belief system was sincere, though, is a little beside the point:

"… more important than history or psychology is the institutional setting in which Stalin operated, a setting that bred both cruelty and paranoia. The Party, as its agitprop ceaselessly proclaimed, was in a class war to the death. It was surrounded by enemies from without and within: international capital, petty bourgeois kulaks, bourgeois wreckers, and deviationists within the Party. Stalin no doubt personally aggravated this mood of universal struggle and suspicion, but he by no means created it; it derived, rather, from the Party’s whole heritage. This was a Party with which his 'rude' character meshed only too readily."
(Malia, p. 219-20)


I agree with this.  What you might not like to hear, though, is that I think it is another artifact of the tsarist legacy, where divergent political opinions could only be expressed through violence.  Russia was never allowed to evolve the habit of reasoned political discourse and debate.  This precipitated an almost instinctual assumption that you were not safe in your opinions unless all possible opposition to them could be annihilated.  The notion of pluralistic viewpoints embedded in a political system which had the flexibility to experiment with differing ideological approaches to problems simply never became part of Russia's political vocabulary.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Mike on March 14, 2006, 10:18:15 AM
May I dilute this highly intellectual and enticing discussion with an old Soviet joke?

Dear Comrades, rejoice! As of tomorrow, the main principle of communism, proclaimed by Lenin, will be finally implemented. Everyone will give to the state according to his/her ability, and will receive from the state according to his/her needs*.
---------
* Note: Each person's exact needs have already been set by a local Party Committee.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 14, 2006, 10:45:19 AM
LOL, Mike. Thanks for the comic relief.

Tsarfan, thanks for being such a sport. I don't know what got into me. I guess this is why our parents always advise us not to argue with friends about politics.

Louis Charles (or do you prefer Simon?), I actually agree with you about Stalin's mixture of faith and cynicism, you've explained it very well. IMO Stalin was a supremely intelligent and complicated man, and I don't see any reason why he couldn't have carried two contradictory ideas in his head at the same time (what Orwell called "doublethink," a feature of totalitarian regimes).

But this post is primarily addressed to RichC, in response to his cogent earlier post citing Moshe Lewin.

Quote
Perhaps Stalin believed, to the end, as you say, Elisabeth, that he was a good socialist, but in reality, he jettisoned most socialist beliefs at the first sign of trouble and Russia reverted to a basically autocratic system which had little to do with Socialism or socialist ideals.

I quote Moshe Lewin (Professor Emeritus of Russian & Soviet History at the University of Pennsylvania) in The Social Background of Stalinism:

"It [Stalinism] evolved forms and structures of an autocratic power pattern reminiscent in many aspects, even reproducing directly, traits of the imperial past.  But the meeting of hearts and the affinity with the past statehood was not a replica of the past, but a new, original creation, a hybrid of Marxism and tsarism, a transitory phenomenon that was confined to the Stalinist stage alone."


I think it’s a big stretch, Rich C, to argue that under Stalin, "Russia reverted to a basically autocratic system which had little to do with Socialism or socialist ideals." Even Moshe Lewin describes Stalinism as a "hybrid of Marxism and tsarism." I wouldn’t agree with this thesis, either, but at least it gives some credit to the ideology of the Bolsheviks.

I suppose you could argue that Stalin’s style of personal rule harkened back to certain tsars (Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great), although theirs was never as extreme or as absolute as his; you could even say that the cult of personality vaguely resembled the religious exaltation associated with the figure of the tsar in traditional Russian Orthodox culture, although again, there’s a significant difference in degree. But I would certainly accept that there were obvious nationalist elements in Stalin’s system, in for example the resurrection of elaborate uniforms and medals and the ceaseless glorification of Russia’s many historical contributions to humankind. To say that there were nationalist elements in the system, however, is not to say that the ideology itself was only or even predominantly nationalist.

But the fundamental question is, when did the tsars ever hold in their hands such absolute power over their citizenry as Soviet leaders held in theirs, whether we are talking about Stalin or his successors? Yes, with Stalin’s death, the Great Terror ended, and with it (although more gradually) the cult of personality (at least of Stalin; the cult of Lenin continued unabated). But agriculture remained collectivized; industries remained in the hands of the state as well; no political parties other than the Party were allowed to exist, and no independent trade unions either; the press remained shackled; political opponents and dissidents were still arrested; rights and liberties taken for granted in democratic societies were still denied to Soviet citizens. In other words, the Soviet Union remained every bit as totalitarian as it was before Stalin’s death, with the exceptions of the cult of personality (of Stalin) and the Terror.

Moreover, as I keep stressing, there is great continuity between Lenin and Stalin (and even, as I have tried to explain above, between Stalin and his successors). To view Stalinism as a "transitory phenomenon" is to ignore this. It was under Lenin, not Stalin, that you see the development of the ("nationalist"?) idea that the Soviet Union would be the beacon lighting the way to worldwide revolution. Stalin’s style of personal rule was already nascent in Lenin’s dictatorial ways within the Party (frequently criticized by non-Bolsheviks). Even the Great Terror was already implicit in two measures passed in the last year’s of Lenin’s reign. As Von Laue summarizes, the 1921 party congress decided to allow the Central Committee to expel all "factious" party members with only a two-thirds vote. In 1922 the party leadership decided to set the secret police upon "troublemakers" within the party. "It was paradoxical that Lenin, whose vision of a monolithic party was becoming reality at last, fell sick in the early summer of 1922 and was forced to withdraw from active leadership. The benefits of these changes accrued only to his successor [Stalin]." (Von Laue, 173) The party under Lenin already had the siege mentality that made purges inevitable (indeed, in 1921 Lenin conducted a party purge of all "rascal bureaucrats, dishonest or wavering Communists…and Mensheviks who have repainted their façade, but who have remained Menshevik at heart" quote of Lenin's own words from Von Laue, 171). In all these ways Stalin merely took up what Lenin had already begun.

So for the life of me I cannot view the autocratic tradition in Russia as being somehow responsible for the horrors that emerged under communist rule (and again, not only under Stalin, but also under Lenin!). Totalitarianism was not inevitable in Russia because of the tsarist regime. Another authoritarian regime could have replaced tsarism; a fledgling democracy might even have emerged. Instead the government of Russia was seized by a group of radicals espousing an ideology that contained within it all the seeds of totalitarianism. And with that seizure, mass murder carried out by the state on an unprecedented scale became, if not absolutely inevitable, then all too likely a prospect.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 14, 2006, 01:57:34 PM
Quote
Totalitarianism was not inevitable in Russia because of the tsarist regime. Another authoritarian regime could have replaced tsarism; a fledgling democracy might even have emerged. Instead the government of Russia was seized by a group of radicals espousing an ideology that contained within it all the seeds of totalitarianism. And with that seizure, mass murder carried out by the state on an unprecedented scale became, if not absolutely inevitable, then all too likely a prospect.


What is interesting to me about this statement is that, in addition to its applicability to Russia, it also works for Imperial Germany. In fact both nations had a brief democratic government immediately after the overthrow of the imperial system. Both democratic governments were overwhelmed by a disciplined ideology that played by different rules. Germany, or rather the Weimar Republic, was only saved from either a Communist dictatorship or a complete collapse of the social order by the support the army gave to the government. Is it not when the military turns upon the Kerensky Provisional Goverment that it is finished?

I think it is too broad a statement that there is a direct corollary between an authoritarian government and a totalitarian. But the Russo-German Imperial systems certainly prepared a population that was less apt to challenge a totalitarian state. And, yes, I think Stalin was a successful Hitler. In other words, he achieved his horrific goals and was never held accountable for his atrocities. Had Nazi Germany not invaded Russia in June, 1941, he might very well have ended on the rubbish heap next to Hitler at the end of World War II, assuming that Britain and the United States still won.

I think that it is inherent to a system that believes that our condition on earth is perfectable through the actions of a state that there will be atrocities. If Stalin believed that he was creating a worker's paradise in this world, then what brakes could be applied to his behavior? Totalitarian regimes beget atrocities by their very nature. I have no problem with the idea that Marxist-Leninism qua Marxist-Leninism begets them, but so does every regime which proposes the state as the solution to all societal problems.

I prefer Simon, Elisabeth, but will answer to either! And Eddie, thank you for being so explicit in your answer about what makes your father "barmy", and his entitlement. I hope you can understand that seeing the letters "lol" and the word "Holocaust" in the same sentence makes me queasy.

Quote
Here in England all we ever hear about is the holocaust, holocaust, holocaust. It drives my poor Dad barmy!! lol





Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 14, 2006, 02:27:39 PM
Quote

And Eddie, thank you for being so explicit in your answer about what makes your father "barmy", and his entitlement. I hope you can understand that seeing the letters "lol" and the word "Holocaust" in the same sentence makes me queasy.
 



You are welcome Simon, sorry you feel like that.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 14, 2006, 02:29:46 PM
I'm not.

Regards,

Simon
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 14, 2006, 02:31:21 PM
And it was actually in the following sentence :)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 14, 2006, 02:33:37 PM
You are correct, of course. Does this mean that you find your father's barminess the object of the laughter?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 14, 2006, 02:39:36 PM
Yes! :) He's hilarious, honestly you should hear him. He's got an answer for everything. But i always think, he's had such a hard life, and it gives him such pleasure to say what he thinks and feels so why should we deny him that??

He's so very eccentric, and amazingly interesting! He once worked on Onassis's yacht, helped the Duke of Windsor out of an aeroplane and was in Monaco for Grace Kelleys wedding!! and that's nothing believe you me!!

Sorry am completely of subject now. But he really is an amazing man and far to interesting. I get my love of history from him which he always encouraged.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 14, 2006, 04:54:09 PM
Quote
Stalin . . . merely exploited nationalistic feelings the same way he exploited Marxist-Leninist ideology, in the interest of establishing and maintaining his own absolute power.


In 1939, Stalin concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Hitler.  Its public purpose was a mutual assurance that Germany and Russia would leave each other alone while each got on with its ideological chores of expanding German Lebensraum and creating the workers' paradise (with each finding concentration camps to be very handy tools for the tasks at hand).

But the pact also contained a secret protocol by which Germany and Russia divided six central European countries into "spheres of influence", where each would have a free hand of conquest.  Less than a month later, while Hitler moved into Poland from the west, Stalin invaded from the east, in contravention of the Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact he had signed in 1932.  (Any bells ringing here?  Catherine the Great?  Partitions of Poland?)

Western European communists were horrified that their Soviet hero had made such a deal with Hitler, the fascist Anti-Christ.  But Stalin was too busy munching on his share of the spoils to explain how dividing central Europe with Hitler furthered the cause of international socialism.

Less than two years later, of course, Stalin was caught completely off guard when Operation Barbarossa turned Hitler's guns on Russia.  After a period of stunned inactivity, Stalin seized upon the explosion of Russian patriotic sentiment to fashion himself the Savior of the Motherland, culminating four years later in an artful propaganda film showing him (via a lookalike) presiding magisterially over the final collapse and surrender of Germany -- an event he was, in fact, nowhere near.

When Stalin died in 1953, many Russians mourned the passing -- sincerely -- of the man they credited with saving the motherland in The Great Patriotic War, not the man who built an international workers' paradise.

What would the reaction to his death have been had there been no Great Patriotic War?  Would his atrocities have figured larger in their estimation of the man?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 15, 2006, 07:16:09 AM
Quote
In 1939, Stalin concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Hitler.  Its public purpose was a mutual assurance that Germany and Russia would leave each other alone while each got on with its ideological chores of expanding German Lebensraum and creating the workers' paradise (with each finding concentration camps to be very handy tools for the tasks at hand).


Yes, they even had a large prisoner exchange. So you saw the bizarre phenomenon of German Communists going directly from  Soviet concentration camps to Nazi ones (many German Communists had fled to the Soviet Union to escape Hitler, only to be arrested by Stalin). The NKVD and Gestapo also freely exchanged information on prisoners and interrogation techniques, if I recall correctly.

Quote
But the pact also contained a secret protocol by which Germany and Russia divided six central European countries into "spheres of influence", where each would have a free hand of conquest.  Less than a month later, while Hitler moved into Poland from the west, Stalin invaded from the east, in contravention of the Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact he had signed in 1932.  (Any bells ringing here?  Catherine the Great?  Partitions of Poland?)


Yes, bells definitely ring, and you’re right, they should do so. But Stalin would have argued that a Soviet "sphere of influence" was necessary as a buffer zone with Germany, in order to protect the Soviet Union, as indeed went his argument after the war when carving up eastern Europe. Many people sympathetic to the Soviets still excuse him for his actions on that score (as my college professor in Soviet history did!). The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is thus interpreted in strictly "statist" terms, as an utterly rational and pragmatic move on Stalin’s part, given the international political situation (a socialist state ringed by capitalist enemies).

Quote
Western European communists were horrified that their Soviet hero had made such a deal with Hitler, the fascist Anti-Christ.  But Stalin was too busy munching on his share of the spoils to explain how dividing central Europe with Hitler furthered the cause of international socialism.


Most western European communists, however, automatically excused the Pact in terms of the socialist revolution needing to defend itself. It wasn’t until Khrushchev’s "secret speech" criticizing Stalin in 1956 that the first large numbers of western European communists began abandoning the party (although interesting to note, it was Solzhenitsyn’s publication in the West of Gulag in the early 1970s that virtually destroyed the French Communist Party overnight).

Quote
Less than two years later, of course, Stalin was caught completely off guard when Operation Barbarossa turned Hitler's guns on Russia.


Yes, according to Solzhenitsyn and many historians unsympathetic to the Soviets, Stalin felt genuine betrayal when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. "He had trusted one person, one person only, in a life filled with mistrust, a person as decisive in friendship as in enmity. Alone among Stalin’s enemies, while the whole world watched, he had turned around and offered Stalin his friendship. And Stalin had trusted him. That man was Adolf Hitler." (Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle, p. 106)

It's certainly true that Hitler and Stalin greatly admired each other. Hitler saw Stalin's ruthlessness in dealing with his enemies as an example to be emulated.

Quote
After a period of stunned inactivity, Stalin seized upon the explosion of Russian patriotic sentiment to fashion himself the Savior of the Motherland, culminating four years later in an artful propaganda film showing him (via a lookalike) presiding magisterially over the final collapse and surrender of Germany -- an event he was, in fact, nowhere near.

When Stalin died in 1953, many Russians mourned the passing -- sincerely -- of the man they credited with saving the motherland in The Great Patriotic War, not the man who built an international workers' paradise.

What would the reaction to his death have been had there been no Great Patriotic War?  Would his atrocities have figured larger in their estimation of the man?


I kind of doubt it, unless you're talking about areas of the country hit hardest by collectivization, like the Ukraine (which mistakenly greeted the Nazi invaders as "liberators"). But elsewhere the cult of personality was already firmly in place before Operation Barbarossa. Nadezhda Mandelstam also writes of the "hypnotic trance" that came over Soviet citizens in the late 1920s and into the 1930s, as a result of Soviet propaganda and wave after wave of arrests:

"I maintain that all of us – particularly if we lived in the cities – were in a state close to a hypnotic trance. We had really been persuaded that we had entered a new era, and that we had no choice but to submit to historical inevitability, which in any case was only another name for the dreams of all those who had ever fought for human happiness. Propaganda for historical determination had deprived us of our will and the power to make our own judgments. We laughed in the faces of those doubters, and ourselves furthered the work of the daily press by repeating its sacramental phrases, by spreading rumors about each new round of arrests ('that’s what passive resistance leads to!') and finding excuses for the existing state of affairs. The usual line was to denounce history as such: it had always been the same, mankind had never known anything but violence and tyranny. 'People are shot everywhere,' the young physicist L. once said to me. 'More so here, do you think? Well, that’s progress.' 'But look, Nadya,' L.E. used to argue with me, 'things are just as bad abroad.'

(Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope, p. 44)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 15, 2006, 07:59:20 AM
I'm curious as to why Western European communists held on so long. In the States, the trials of the late 1930s and the Trotsky mess split the leftists earlier than the Pact. There were some prominent Stalin supporters that maintained their allegiance throughout, like Lillian Hellman, but many sympathizers with the Revolution broke away because of his excesses prior to World War II. See the memoirs of Mary McCarthy, for example.

Did Stalin have strong support in, say, the UK?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 15, 2006, 09:48:04 AM
Quote
Stalin would have argued that a Soviet "sphere of influence" was necessary as a buffer zone with Germany, in order to protect the Soviet Union, as indeed went his argument after the war when carving up eastern Europe.


I have always found it interesting that Stalin did not annex central Europe into a trans-national soviet state (which is what his espoused ideology implied) but rather set up puppet regimes that went out of their way to retain the illusion of independent, sovereign nation states with such artifices as the Warsaw Pact and trade treaties.

Granted, an outright annexation of these countries would have turned up the volume of the Cold War.  But I also suspect that Stalin's internalized model of the correct order of the world was premised on the notion of a dominant Russian nation at the apex of a socialist world.


Quote

Most western European communists, however, automatically excused the Pact in terms of the socialist revolution needing to defend itself.


I wonder whether they realized that Germany and Russia had been cooperating in the military and commercial spheres at least as far back as 1936 . . . and that this cooperation allowed Hitler to endrun Allied naval blockades for almost two years after he marched into Poland and triggered WWII.

I know some historians have felt Stalin was running a calculus that, if he could help Hitler defeat the western European nations, he would remove a threat to his regime from that quarter.  But did he really think a victorious, expansionist, fascist Germany sitting right on his doorstep was less of a risk?  Would Stalin really have been uninformed that Hitler's hierarchy of racial prowess placed the Slavic races not too many notches above Jews and Africans?

The very act of splitting up central Europe into spheres of influence meant each side had to move their military into the region and into closer proximity to each other.  What kind of buffer is that?

I just cannot rationalize Stalin's actions as having to do with establishing a buffer.  A wide band of independent states through which Hitler had to fight his way eastward to gain ground while western Europe kept his other flank occupied would have been a much better buffer for Russia than spheres of influence that put each at the other's doorstep and than military cooperation that helped Hitler endrun western blockades and reduce pressure of his western flank.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 15, 2006, 11:17:30 AM
Quote
I'm curious as to why Western European communists held on so long. In the States, the trials of the late 1930s and the Trotsky mess split the leftists earlier than the Pact. There were some prominent Stalin supporters that maintained their allegiance throughout, like Lillian Hellman, but many sympathizers with the Revolution broke away because of his excesses prior to World War II. See the memoirs of Mary McCarthy, for example.

Did Stalin have strong support in, say, the UK?


Richard Crossman, in the introduction to The God That Failed, selects 1917 to 1939 as the period when what he terms "conversion" to Communism was most common in Europe and the United States. I haven’t read this book for a very long time, so I can’t remember why each of the six writers who contributed to it eventually left the Communist Party. (I do remember that André Gide, who was never officially a member of the Party, but merely a "fellow traveler," became disillusioned with Communism during a visit to the USSR in 1936.)

My impression is that despite the Moscow show trials of the 1930s, most Communists in Europe and the United States continued to support Stalin's Party because they believed that Soviet-styled Communism offered the only real alternative to Nazism. Stalin’s support of the Republicans in Spain also lent credence to the idea that his Soviet Union was the only country serious about fighting Nazi Germany.

Frankly I don’t know if support for Stalin was stronger in Europe than the US after 1939. I suspect it was, judging from the relative strength of the postwar Communist Party in countries like France and Italy. But don’t quote me!

No, I haven’t read Mary McCarthy’s memoirs, so many thanks for the tip. Have you by any chance read Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Daughters and Rebels? She and her husband were ardent (British) supporters of Stalin. (Her sisters Diana and Unity, however, both became Nazis.) Despite what seems like very serious subject matter, this book is extremely witty and will make you laugh out loud, I guarantee it!
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 15, 2006, 11:25:03 AM
Quote
I know some historians have felt Stalin was running a calculus that, if he could help Hitler defeat the western European nations, he would remove a threat to his regime from that quarter.  But did he really think a victorious, expansionist, fascist Germany sitting right on his doorstep was less of a risk?  Would Stalin really have been uninformed that Hitler's hierarchy of racial prowess placed the Slavic races not too many notches above Jews and Africans?

The very act of splitting up central Europe into spheres of influence meant each side had to move their military into the region and into closer proximity to each other.  What kind of buffer is that?

I just cannot rationalize Stalin's actions as having to do with establishing a buffer.  A wide band of independent states through which Hitler had to fight his way eastward to gain ground while western Europe kept his other flank occupied would have been a much better buffer for Russia than spheres of influence that put each at the other's doorstep and than military cooperation that helped Hitler endrun western blockades and reduce pressure of his western flank.


I don’t disagree with you at all, Tsarfan. I was merely repeating what my Marxist professor of Soviet history taught me in college (I didn’t believe a word of it then, and needless to say, I don’t believe a word of it now). I think you’re absolutely right about the absurdity of the  argument that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was purely a "defensive" measure by Stalin’s Soviet Union. As you pointed out before, Stalin was obviously caught completely off guard by Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) in June 1941 – and this despite repeated warnings by his own spies and even Churchill that an invasion was afoot! His total surprise in June 1941 indicates to me that he had entered upon his agreement with Nazi Germany in full faith that Hitler would honor it. This is why I tend to favor Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation of Stalin’s relationship with Hitler. I think... they genuinely liked each other.

Now I want to raise another, albeit still related topic... it’s interesting to contemplate what would have happened if a Hitler minus the racial policy had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. As it was, even with the racial policy, the entirety of western Russia – the newly annexed Baltic "provinces," Belorussia, and the Ukraine – welcomed the German invaders as liberators. I used to think that this meant, as many Russian émigrés argued, that Stalin’s Soviet Union would have folded like a house of cards if only it had been invaded by a Western country preaching democracy and freedom.

But since the war with Iraq I’ve had to revise my views. Isn’t it possible that the initial victory over Moscow in 1941 would have been relatively easy (as was the initial victory over Baghdad), if conducted properly, but that within a matter of months it would have degenerated into a stalemate, as Russian Communist-nationalist insurgents mustered their strength and additional forces? Because while it’s true that places like the Baltics, Belorussia, and the Ukraine had their own individual nationalist movements yearning for independence from Moscow, and obviously could only welcome liberation from Moscow by an outside force, Russia itself would have been another proposition all together. Given the number of true believers, not just in Communism, but in the glory of the Russian nation as a sovereign state, wouldn’t any invading force have automatically met with tremendous opposition - if not immediately, then eventually?  

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: RichC on March 15, 2006, 12:04:46 PM
Quote

No, I haven’t read Mary McCarthy’s memoirs, so many thanks for the tip. Have you by any chance read Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Daughters and Rebels? She and her husband were ardent (British) supporters of Stalin. (Her sisters Diana and Unity, however, both became Nazis.) Despite what seems like very serious subject matter, this book is extremely witty and will make you laugh out loud, I guarantee it!


Well, this is 150% OFF topic but the Mitford story is too good to be true.  What a family!!  Let's see, one daughter is an intimate of HITLER, another get's married in Goebbels' living room and winds up the best friend of the Duchess of Windsor, yet another hangs out with the likes of Martin Luther King and takes part in historic freedom marches in Alabama and yet another one becomes the Duchess of Devonshire.

Who is making the movie?  Who will star?

Let's start a thread.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 15, 2006, 12:40:10 PM
After the Romanovs, the Mitfords are my favorites --- in fact I was leafing through Debo's Chatsworth cookbook this morning. My copy of Hons and Rebels is well-worn, Elisabeth. I think I have everything any of them ever wrote, as well as all of the biographies.

That being said, I think the show trials had caused a major split in US communists --- Decca and Esmond were a little young to be taken seriously, I think, during the relevant period. (Although if you want some laughs, read Nancy's letters from her Soviet trip in the 1950s, in which she comments that if Decca could actually visit the CCCP, it would shut her up in an instant.)

The split among American leftists was bitter --- Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman were still going at it hammer and tongs in the early '80s, largely because of the bad blood Hellman's Stalinism created (it wasn't just McCarthy, Tallulah Bankhead and Hellman mixed it up during the run of The Little Foxes over Hellman's refusal to allow a benefit for Finland during the Soviet Finnish war.) But the whole Partisan Review crowd, though not strictly communist, were leftist and highly critical of Stalin's regime.

In any event, I don't think the United States in the '30s could have been construed as remotely friendly to the Stalin Regime

I was reminded by her death this week of Maureen Stapleton's wonderful performance as Emma Goldman in Reds. Anyone else remember the scene in which she tells Jack Reed (Warren Beatty) off about how nothing in the Bolshevik state actually works?

There must be a way we can get a Mitford thread going!

Regards,

Simon

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 15, 2006, 01:15:04 PM
Wow, I'm so thrilled to meet another fan of Jessica Mitford's memoirs! I've loved that book since childhood and my copy also got so worn-out and tattered that I finally bought a new one on a trip overseas... only then did I learn that the title is Hons and Rebels in England.

I admit I know next to nothing about the American Communists, except what I read years ago in The God That Failed (BTW, it has a brilliant essay by Richard Wright which left a big impression on me). I'll definitely have to pick up a copy of Mary McCarthy's autobiography.

I also love the scene in Reds with Maureen Stapleton as Emma Goldman telling Warren Beatty as John Reed where to get off in his infatuation with the Bolsheviks.

But to pick up on RichC's idea for a movie about the inimitable Mitford sisters... We need a cold, icy blonde beauty to play Diana Mitford Mosley, wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, head of the British Nazis. Nicole Kidman? We need a brunette wit, sharp as nails, to play Nancy Mitford, the famous novelist and biographer. Sarah Jessica Parker? Then a big, buxom but nevertheless highly neurotic blonde in the role of Unity Valkyrie Mitford (yep, that was her real name), close buddies with Hitler and Goebbels. Charlize Theron? Another witty brunette to play Jessica Mitford, Stalinist, future Freedom Rider and American muckraker extraordinaire. Maggie Gyllenhaal? Finally, a horsey blonde to play Debo, or Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, sweet and sentimental. Kirsten Dunst? But we’re still leaving out Pam... Reese Witherspoon? (Sorry I'm not more familiar with British actresses!)

Way off topic, I know.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 15, 2006, 01:32:57 PM
Quote
This is why I tend to favor Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation of Stalin’s relationship with Hitler. I think... they genuinely liked each other.


Maybe they did.  What I find fascinating, though, is that Hitler's liking of Stalin did nothing to change Hitler's intentions to invade Russia as soon as circumstances permitted, while Stalin's liking of Hitler turned one of history's great paranoics into a gullible handmaiden to the expansionist policy of a fascist he should have seen as an ideological archenemy.

As you know, I have an irritating habit of trying to divine motives from actions.  And these are the actions I see here:

-  a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that cannot be explained as a defensive move by Stalin

-  a secret protocol in that pact that Stalin thinks gives him a free hand for a permanent land grab and that allows an avowed anti-socialist state to do the same

-  military and economic cooperation with that anti-socialist state, with the probable goal of enabling it to hold the western powers at bay

-  those western powers have burgeoning socialist sentiment and growing communist parties, while the fascist state Stalin is succoring puts its leftists in jail.

What's the best explanation of all this?  A Bolshevik agenda?  A nationalist agenda?  Something else altogether?


Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 15, 2006, 01:39:46 PM
Quote
(Sorry I'm not more familiar with British actresses!)


Jennifer Ehle's gotta fit into this somehow.  And, for an Aussie with great range who gives good British -- Toni Collette.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on March 15, 2006, 10:32:19 PM
I wanted to address this part of Tsarfan's statement.
I might be wrong, but it was my understanding in both reading about prisoners held by Hitler and listening from actual people who had been in the camps of Hitler, that when Hitler imprisoned Russians, and or the communist russian soldiers, he put them on the very last notch, below the Jews, and Africans, and treated them them worst. Can anyone help me on this actuality, or if it were shared on these forums in a prior thread ? Thanks in advance.

Tatiana+

Quote From Tsarfan :
I know some historians have felt Stalin was running a calculus that, if he could help Hitler defeat the western European nations, he would remove a threat to his regime from that quarter.  But did he really think a victorious, expansionist, fascist Germany sitting right on his doorstep was less of a risk?  Would Stalin really have been uninformed that Hitler's hierarchy of racial prowess placed the Slavic races not too many notches above Jews and Africans?
End Quote/
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 15, 2006, 10:52:52 PM
I doubt there is going to be a definitive answer to this question. The camps were not run according to completely uniform principles, and a great deal depended upon the individual commandants, or the purpose for which they were created (not all were for extermination; some were work camps, some functioned as both).  Slavic prisoners were usually treated as slave labor and worked until they died. Some Jews were as well, but there were also some who were immediately killed at extermination camps. Both Slavs and Jews were subjected to horrific medical experimentation. Gypsies were also treated with inhuman brutality, as were homosexuals, political prisoners, and anyone else who was incarcerated in a Nazi camp. Even those at Theresienstadt, the so-called "model camp", were gassed by the end of the war. As far as "policy" was concerned, there was a general determination to reduce the Russians and Poles to a general slave labor class in the expanded German colonies that the Nazis foresaw in the eastern territories. This information is available in any decent, scholarly treatment of the history of the period.

The Jews, however, were to be simply exterminated, and even in the late days of the war, trains were commandeered to carry them to death camps from all over occupied Europe. Russian Jews suffered horribly when they fell into Nazi hands, c.f. Babi Yar.

Once Germany invaded Russia in 1941, there were also orders to shoot all known Bolshevik commisars and party functionaries as soon as possible. Certainly when the Red Army invaded Germany in the last days of the war, they were eager to return the favor.

Millions of Jews died. So did millions of Slavs. What is the point of the question?

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 16, 2006, 08:54:10 AM
Quote
What's the best explanation of all this?  A Bolshevik agenda?  A nationalist agenda?  Something else altogether?


Good morning, Tsarfan! Another thought-provoking post. And I have indeed been giving it a lot of thought.

I wonder if perhaps you are still taking it a little for granted that Marxism-Leninism (Bolshevism) never had "nationalistic" tendencies? That Bolshevism and nationalism are somehow mutually exclusive concepts? But Lenin himself always wanted to preserve the boundaries of the old Russian empire, and crushed the nationalist movements within individual Soviet republics in favor of a greater Soviet state. Extremist ideologies, whether Red or Brown in complexion, are but two sides of the same totalitarian coin. "Both Communism, the systemisation of bourgeois guilt or self-loathing and working-class resentment cloaked in universal benignity, and fascism or Nazism, the solipsistic, quasi-tribal veneration of one race or nation, shared [an] antipathy towards the world of civility, decency, prudence, law and order, and explicitly glorified violence" (Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich, p. 17). Hitler and Stalin had a lot in common, including the desire to spread their "revolutions" – if necessary by force – across international borders.

But I’ve been reading up about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact since you raised these questions and it does seem that we have to keep in mind a largely defensive motivation on Stalin’s part, however cynically it worked out in the end in terms of the USSR’s seizure of the Baltic states and carving up Poland.

According to Robert Service, in his new History of Russia, Lenin had always believed that war was inevitable among the capitalist powers because of economic competition. Lenin thought the role of the Soviet Union was to avoid getting involved insofar as this was possible. Of course, this did not mean that it would always be possible. In the 1930s the growing threat of a war in Europe sent Stalin on a search for allies. Britain and France’s refusal to fight Nazi Germany in Spain made Stalin suspicious, but even as late as 1939 he did make diplomatic overtures to Britain. London showed little enthusiasm for reaching an agreement with the USSR, however, sending not the Foreign Secretary but a mere military attaché to Moscow for negotiations, moreover, an attaché who had not even been entrusted with the powers to reach a settlement. All these things led Stalin to the conclusion that the Allies were not to be trusted. Nazi Germany, on the other hand, proved much more amenable to reaching a mutually satisfactory accord with the Soviet Union.

What Stalin primarily needed and got from Nazi Germany in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a guarantee that the Soviet Union would not have to go to war in Europe in the immediate future; that Hitler’s Wehrmacht, in marching eastward, would stop at a prearranged point in Poland. (Keep in mind that Stalin was also rightly concerned about a war with Japan breaking out on the Soviet Union’s Far Eastern borders.) The USSR’s army was in ruins in 1939, thanks to Stalin’s own purges, which had virtually wiped out the entire officer corps. (Just how bad the Soviet army was would be amply demonstrated in Stalin’s disastrous invasion of Finland that same year.) Stalin needed time - years - to bring it back to full fighting strength. Additionally, in exchange for Soviet natural resources, under the Pact Germany would send the USSR much-needed German machinery and technology.

But even if we take it as a premise that Stalin came to "trust" Hitler, at least in preference to the Allies, that doesn’t mean he entirely trusted Nazi Germany. He still had a Marxist view of things, and saw Hitler as a mere figurehead controlled by the German generals. Thus even in the first days of Operation Barbarossa, Stalin seems to have clung to the belief that it was not Hitler, but the German generals, who had decided to violate the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and invade the Soviet Union.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 16, 2006, 10:05:16 AM
I largely agree with your analysis, Elisabeth.  This may well be the best explanation of why Stalin concluded the pact with Hitler.

However, it still begs a few questions that go to the quality of Stalin's reasoning.

As early as Chamberlain's signing of the Munich Agreement with Hitler in September 1938, Stalin apparently concluded that he was not likely to find useful military allies in the west.  The reason was not that they preferred to ally themselves elsewhere, but that they were absolutely desperate to avoid war at almost any cost.

At the time Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, all indications were that Germany was the only European power willing to risk war.  (Hitler certainly took Munich as a signal that the western powers, while grumbling and protesting their moral outrage, would ultimately give him a free hand to expand eastward.)  So, basically, Stalin was allying himself with the only power that was likely to instigate war -- and with the only power whose territorial interests lay in the direction of Russia.

So, ultimately, the efficacy of this arrangement rested on one factor alone:  the personal trustworthiness of Hitler.  The man Stalin thought to be under the thumb of his generals.  The man who had sworn to eradicate communism.  The man who, for this arrangement to work to Stalin's benefit, would have to watch benignly while Stalin rebuilt his communist army directly on Germany's new eastern flank.

I know of nothing in Leninist thinking that would generate this strategy as the safest means of protecting the revolution.  

If, in fact, Stalin was willing to take such a life-and-death risk with Hitler on the basis of a personal affinity to him, that suggests to me that soviet ideology played a very small role developing his plan of action, at least in foreign policy.  It would seem to be a foreign policy of personality, not ideology.

Ironically, Stalin made the same mistake with Hitler in 1939 that Nicholas made with Wilhelm in 1914.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 16, 2006, 11:10:19 AM
Quote
I know of nothing in Leninist thinking that would generate this strategy as the safest means of protecting the revolution.  

If, in fact, Stalin was willing to take such a life-and-death risk with Hitler on the basis of a personal affinity to him, that suggests to me that soviet ideology played a very small role developing his plan of action, at least in foreign policy.


Well, I wouldn’t exactly disagree with you here. But before we get into another of my long-winded explanations, many thanks for praising "my" rundown of Stalin’s motives in signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. 99% of the credit, however,  should really go to Robert Service. I haven’t read his latest book in its entirety yet; although from the few sections I have read it appears to be excellent. It’s a history of modern Russia, by the way (I left out the "Modern" in the title I gave above), from Nicholas II to Putin, and it’s received rave reviews so far, at least in England. So I would highly recommend it to everybody: it’s very well written, organized, and accessible.

I think, in answer to your skepticism about Stalin’s motives (and I agree that we should always maintain skepticism about Stalin’s true motives in everything he did), that he was nevertheless stuck between a rock and a hard place when he reached the accord with Hitler’s Germany. He was an intellectually brilliant (if often ideologically blinkered) man, who read voraciously, and for that very reason it couldn’t have escaped his attention that Hitler’s program of Lebensraum (did I spell that right?) as laid out in Mein Kampf, envisioned an eventual German invasion and annexation of the eastern European nations, most specifically Russia. In other words, Stalin must have known that after Czechoslovakia and Poland, Russia was next on Hitler’s list of conquest.

Simultaneously, however, Stalin was politically savvy enough to know that the USSR wasn’t yet ready to fight a war against a modern, fully militarized and industrialized Western nation like Nazi Germany. But where exactly did he have to turn to for outside aid, if Nazi Germany suddenly implemented its plan and invaded the Soviet Union? He had tried and failed to enlist the help of the Allies, who, despite the threat of Nazi Germany to their own sovereignty, nevertheless still thoroughly despised the Soviet Union and basically continued to treat it as a renegade nation. (The vociferously anti-Bolshevik Churchill, who nevertheless decided that he was willing to strike a deal with the Communist devil in order to defeat the Nazi one, was not yet in power in Britain.) All Stalin could do was play for time and hope for the best. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact provided him with this opportunity. And at least with his troops stationed in the Baltic states and Poland he would have some protection (he thought) from any eventual invasion by Germany.

In short, this was all primarily Realpolitik on Stalin’s part, pragmatic statism, and not, I agree, a result of Boshevik ideology per se – although we must keep in mind that Lenin himself was no mean master of Realpolitik, as the period of NEP shows. This is not to say, of course, that a good deal of very personal, wishful thinking didn’t go into the mix – especially as regards Stalin’s well-attested mutual admiration society with Hitler. (If I recall correctly, Hitler even asked one of his minions who was meeting with Stalin to carefully observe the shape and style of attachment of the Soviet dictator’s ears, in order to prove "scientifically" that Stalin was not a mere Slav but an Aryan!) Even if Stalin secretly suspected that Hitler was a mere puppet in the hands of the German generals, he could still hope, couldn’t he, that Hitler’s personal friendship with him would prevail? Exactly what other choice did he have?      
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 16, 2006, 11:49:19 AM
Quote
Even if Stalin secretly suspected that Hitler was a mere puppet in the hands of the German generals, he could still hope, couldn’t he, that Hitler’s personal friendship with him would prevail? Exactly what other choice did he have?


There was another bet he could have taken instead . . . .

Do not rely on Hitler's integrity.  Instead, leave him guessing about Russian intentions.  Make him fight his way across all of eastern Europe to get to Russia instead of moving Russian troops westward to a common border.  Place a bet that at some point the western powers would have to abandon their pacifism and present Hitler with a western front.

It would not have been far-fetched.  In fact, it's exactly what happened a couple of weeks after Hitler signed the pact when he invaded Poland and Britain declared war.

It was western intervention that really bought Stalin two years to rebuild his army.  Without it, Hitler would have been at his doorstep much earlier.

I think Stalin ultimately opted for the pact with Hitler because of the secret protocol that put Russian boots back in the Baltic states.

He might have convinced himself that he had no choice but to sign the pact.  But I really wonder if he would not have given more thought to the other bet had the pact not contained that secret protocol.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on March 16, 2006, 01:42:41 PM
Quote
I think Stalin ultimately opted for the pact with Hitler because of the secret protocol that put Russian boots back in the Baltic states.

He might have convinced himself that he had no choice but to sign the pact.  But I really wonder if he would not have given more thought to the other bet had the pact not contained that secret protocol.


Well, you’re probably right. Stalin could have bluffed Hitler, never signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and World War II might never have happened. I totally agree... and for that matter, on the most basic level doesn't Realpolitik mean taking whatever you can "realistically" grab? Britain wasn’t about to offer Stalin anything, but Germany was willing to cede to the USSR the Baltic states, half of Poland, Finland, and even an interest in a totally obscure place like Bukovina. Underneath all the ideological fol de rol, Stalin was basically a thug, a gangster. (In his memoirs Churchill’s servant said that Molotov slept with a gun under his pillow even at Chequers. "These people are gangsters!," he rightly concluded.) Of course Stalin was out for the best deal – whatever he could get.

The only thing you’re forgetting is the Western "Sitzkrieg" from September 1939-May 1940, when the Allies did absolutely nothing to halt the invasion of Poland by the Nazis. They declared war, yes, but did little else. There were naval engagements, true, but they did nothing to impede Germany’s progress across eastern Europe. Given this miserable performance, Stalin was probably right to think the Allies would have abandoned the Soviet Union if Hitler had invaded it in 1939.

On the other hand, more to the point, as you indicate, without the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Hitler would no doubt have hesitated to invade Poland in the first place.

But speaking of Realpolitik, or gangsterism (whatever shoe fits), I didn’t know this before, but my husband informs me that Stalin actually tried to join the Axis Powers in November 1940. It seems Stalin was running scared after the Nazi Blitzkrieg, especially its successful conquest of France. Stalin asked for Bulgaria and Romania in return for formally joining Hitler's war, but Hitler refused. Why should we give you the oil reserves in Romania and a strategically important country like Bulgaria? the Nazi argument went... Meanwhile, Molotov, in Berlin to conduct the negotiations, found himself having to escape Allied bombing raids by sitting in a bomb shelter with Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop said, well, we’ll give you Iran and Iraq instead (the unspoken meaning of which was, then you’ll have to declare war on the British Empire - which at the time controlled Iran and Iraq). Molotov replied, who’s bombing you right now? (Obviously: Britain; the unspoken answer being: no deal!).

But almost an entire year later, in October 1941, when Nazi Germany was winning every battle in sight in its invasion of the USSR, Stalin sent his gangster-in-chief Beria to the Bulgarian ambassador to act as an intermediary with Hitler. Please dear Hitler, take whatever you already have in the Soviet Union, was the desperate Stalin/Beria’s proposal, but leave us whatever is left. The Bulgarian ambassador replied, are you fools? Germany’s going to lose this war. And right about the same time Soviet resistance to the Nazis stiffened. So yet another deal in the interests of thuggery (or "Realpolitik"?) fell through.

I think it’s pretty clear from all of the above that what interested Stalin first and foremost was maintaining his own personal power, at whatever cost to the Soviet state.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on March 16, 2006, 02:42:06 PM
Well, I'd like to argue further with you (it's not easy to turn my back on two weeks of such fun) . . . but I can't.

I actually did forget about the Sitzkrieg, though.  But I suspect that would have been harder for Stalin to foresee than Britain's declaration of war.
Title: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Tania+ on June 21, 2006, 03:14:29 PM
[size=12]Dear Posters and Readers, All Ages,

I thought it was more than appropriate to start a new thread based on the fact that the dear son of TIM, HIH Alex was disabled.

Long  before the Nazis decided to kill innocent citizens, they, the bolsheviks started with the infirm, the disabled, those with mental disabilities, etc. This is a fact !

The son of the Tsar was one of the first children in history, and of an imperial family to be savagely murdered.

My question is in asking, how many disabled children, pregnant women, women, men the elderly were butchered in Russia during the bredth of the Russian Revolution, and after by the Godless bolsheviks ?

I have placed two threads on the AP Forums. This thread, and on the Final Frontier, asking who were these butchers of the Russian citizens and their families ?

The II War has offered countries and peoples reparation to those who suffered from the onslaught of the war, etc., including those affected by genocide.

Russia still today has yet to offer the names themselves of those who actually participated in this unforgiveable act of barbarism. We who are alive today, must not forget, but join together in making every effort at least in name value is offered for the millions of lives who were slaughtered and taken before their time.

I ask you to join in the research, to finding out who these butchers were. If only to share their names, we offer justice to those who were murdered unnecessarily. Thank you for any and all assist.

I start with their names in bold. Their names start off with :
 
Lenin
Beria
[/size]
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: ptitchka on June 21, 2006, 10:31:57 PM
It is for this very reason, knowing how the boy suffered, that the eleventh kontakion of the akathist to this innocent child-martyr is heartbreaking to read and to attempt to translate.  That stanza speaks of how after a life with many days spent forced to lie in bed recuperating from illness, Alexei Nikolaevich lay prostrate and helpless on the floor of the cellar room in the Ipatiev House, unable to fend off his death.

O sweetest child!  O glory of Russia!  O invincible right of dominion!  In this you remind us of how Christ the Bridegroom, God Himself, was stretched upon the Cross; therefore to Him we sing Alleluia.'

Nikitin aimed and fired, though he could not really bear to harm Alexei, and it was left to Yurovsky and Ermakov to deal the young Tsarevich the most savage blows.

*** ***  ***
Another story of Russian children slain involved two nameless little boys who were shot in cold blood for daring to bring water to prisoners left by the CHEKA to die of thirst.

Whatever happened to Alexei Nikolaevich's cadet friends at Mogilev, Vassili Agaev and Yevgeny Makarov?  I thought I had read in the book 'A Lifelong Passion' that the Royal Martyrs had heard these two boys were killed in separate incidents during the first days of the Revolution.  
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 21, 2006, 10:58:01 PM
A bullet, fired by somebody in the back, hummed near my head and grazed either the palm or finger (I do not remember) of somebody. When the firing stopped, it turned out that the daughters, Alexandra Feodrovna and, it seems, Demidova and Alexei too, were alive. I think they had fallen from fear or maybe intentionally, and so they were alive. Then we proceeded to finish the shooting. (Previously I had suggested shooting at the heart to avoid a lot of blood). Alexei remained sitting petrified. I killed him. They shot the daughters but did not kill them. Then Yermakov resorted to a bayonet, but that did not work either. Finally they killed them by shooting them in the head. Only in the forest did I finally discover the reason why it had been so hard to kill the daughters and Alexandra Feodrovna

anyway i personally think its bad enough killing kids let alone disabled ones

P.S this was a quote from
A bullet, fired by somebody in the back, hummed near my head and grazed either the palm or finger (I do not remember) of somebody. When the firing stopped, it turned out that the daughters, Alexandra Feodrovna and, it seems, Demidova and Alexei too, were alive. I think they had fallen from fear or maybe intentionally, and so they were alive. Then we proceeded to finish the shooting. (Previously I had suggested shooting at the heart to avoid a lot of blood). Alexei remained sitting petrified. I killed him. They shot the daughters but did not kill them. Then Yermakov resorted to a bayonet, but that did not work either. Finally they killed them by shooting them in the head. Only in the forest did I finally discover the reason why it had been so hard to kill the daughters and Alexandra Feodrovna

anyway i personally think its bad enough killing kids let alone disabled ones

http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/yurovmurder.html
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: Jim_Wilhelm on June 22, 2006, 03:30:38 PM
All:

How could we possibly leave the name of Joseph Stalin of the list of the greatest monsters of all time for his role in the slaughter of the innocents?

Jim Wilhelm
Albuquerque, NM USA
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: Romanov_Fan19 on June 22, 2006, 10:19:02 PM
I Think the Murder of that poor boy was one of the worst crimes ever commited   Those People were less than human  Barbaric Crazed Drunken Savages :'( >:( :( :o  
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on June 23, 2006, 12:47:22 AM
Honestly, if you can kill ANY innocent person, let alone children, you aren't at all sane. That includes Stalin.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 23, 2006, 04:45:00 AM
I really dont think it matters if the people are disabled or not
just the fact that they are kids
P.S i beleive lenin ordered the exuctuion of those responsible didnt he?
not that it makes it any better

alex
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: Natasya on June 23, 2006, 08:47:47 PM
Lenin did order it, so that when the White army got to Ekaterinburg, the Imperial Family coundn't be rescued.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: CorisCapnSkip on June 24, 2006, 01:45:18 AM
Royal children have been killed before.  How about the princes in the tower, and the fate of the dauphin of France is not really known except he wasn't any of the people who turned up pretending to be him.  Being in too high a position of privilege can be just as uneasy for a child as terrible poverty.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: Tania+ on June 24, 2006, 02:11:24 AM
Dear CorisCapnSkip,

Thank you for bringing an important focus to the forefront on this thread in particular. Your statement below brings understanding again, of how low, and immoral these desperate murders are. They will stop at nothing to obtain what they wish, even if it is the life of innocent children.

Of course there are countless children who have been murdered, known, and unknown, but the impact of the dreaded act is dispicable nevertheless. Murder of innocent children regardless of privilege or of terrible poverty does not excuse these crimes, not ever.

All the more as I have stated in this title, this was a disabled child, so it is all the more henious !

                                            Who in their right mind, kills any child ?

Thank you for bringing up your more than relevant point.

Tatiana+

Quote
Royal children have been killed before.  How about the princes in the tower, and the fate of the dauphin of France is not really known except he wasn't any of the people who turned up pretending to be him.  Being in too high a position of privilege can be just as uneasy for a child as terrible poverty.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 24, 2006, 04:23:17 AM
YUROVSKY'S ACCOUNT
OF
THE EXECUTION OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY

February 1, 1934:
On the 16th in the morning I dispatched the little cook, the boy Sednev, under the pretext that there would be a meeting with his uncle who had come to Sverdlovsk. It caused anxiety among the prisoners. Botkin, the usual intermediary, and then one of the daughters asked about Sednev - where, why and for how long he had been taken away - because Alexei missed him. Having received an explanation, they went away apparently calmed down. I prepared 12 revolvers and designated who would shoot whom. Comrade Filipp [Goloshchyokin] told me that a truck would arrive at midnight; the people coming would say a password; we would let them pass and hand over the corpses to them to carry away and bury. At about 11 o'clock at night on July 16 I assembled the men again, handed out the revolvers and announced that soon we had to begin liquidating the prisoners. I told Pavel Medvedev he had to check the guard outside and inside thoroughly. He and the guard commander had to keep constant watch over the area around the house and in the house where the external guard was stationed and to maintain communications with me. I also told him that at the last moment, when everything was ready for the execution, he had tell the guards and the others in the detachment not to worry about any shots they might hear from the house, and not to leave the premises. If there were any unusual amount of unrest, he was to notify me through the established line of communication.

The truck did not arrive until half past one. The extra wait caused some anxiety - waiting in general, and the short night especially. Only when the truck had arrived (or after telephone calls that it was on the way) did I go to wake the prisoners. Botkin slept in the room nearest to the entrance. He came out and asked me what the matter was. I told him to wake everybody, because there was unrest in the town and it was dangerous for them to remain on the top floor. I said I would move them to another place. Gathering everybody consumed a lot of time, about 40 minutes. When the family had dressed, I led them to the room in the basement that had been designated earlier. It must be said here that when Comrade Nikulin and I thought up our plan, we did not consider beforehand that, one, the windows would let out noise; two, the victims would be standing next to a brick wall; and finally, three (It was impossible to foresee this), the firing would occur in an uncoordinated way. That should not have happened. Each man had one person to shoot and so everything should have been all right. The causes of the disorganized firing became clear later. Although I told [the victims] through Botkin that they did not have to take anything with them they collected various small things - pillows, bags and so on and, it seems to me, a small dog.

Having gone down to the room (At the entrance to the room, on the right there was a very wide window), I ordered them to stand along the wall. Obviously, at that moment they did not imagine what awaited them. Alexandra Feodrovna said "There are not even chairs here." Nicholas was carrying Alexei. He stood in the room with him in his arms. Then I ordered a couple of chairs. On one of them, to the right of the entrance, almost in the corner, Alexandra Feodrovna sat down. The daughters and Demidova stood next to her, to the left of the entrance. Beside them Alexei was seated in the armchair. Behind him Dr. Botkin, the cook and the others stood. Nicholas stood opposite Alexei. At the same time I ordered the men to go down and to be ready in their places when the command was given. Nicholas had put Alexei on the chair and stood in such a way, that he shielded him. Alexei sat in the left corner from the entrance, and so far as I can remember, I said to Nicholas approximately this: His royal and close relatives inside the country and abroad were trying to save him, but the Soviet of Workers' Deputies resolved to shoot them. He asked "What?" and turned toward Alexei. At that moment I shot him and killed him outright. He did not get time to face us to get an answer. At that moment disorganized, not orderly firing began. The room was small, but everybody could come in and carry out the shooting according to the set order. But many shot through the doorway. Bullets began to ricochet because the wall was brick. Moreover, the firing intensified when the victims shouts arose. I managed to stop the firing but with great difficulty.

A bullet, fired by somebody in the back, hummed near my head and grazed either the palm or finger (I do not remember) of somebody. When the firing stopped, it turned out that the daughters, Alexandra Feodrovna and, it seems, Demidova and Alexei too, were alive. I think they had fallen from fear or maybe intentionally, and so they were alive. Then we proceeded to finish the shooting. (Previously I had suggested shooting at the heart to avoid a lot of blood). Alexei remained sitting petrified. I killed him. They shot the daughters but did not kill them. Then Yermakov resorted to a bayonet, but that did not work either. Finally they killed them by shooting them in the head. Only in the forest did I finally discover the reason why it had been so hard to kill the daughters and Alexandra Feodrovna.

cont next post
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 24, 2006, 04:26:01 AM
After the shooting it was necessary to carry away the corpses, but it was a comparatively long way. How could we do it? Somebody came up with an idea: stretchers. (We did not think about it earlier.) We took shafts from the sledges and, it seems, put sheets on them. Having confirmed they were dead, we began to carry them out. It was discovered that traces of blood would be everywhere. I said to get some smooth woolen military cloth immediately and put some of it onto the stretchers and then line the truck with it. I directed Mikhail Medvedev to take the corpses. He was a Cheka man then and currently works in the GPU. He and Pyotr Zakharovich Yermakov had to take the bodies and take them away. When they had removed the first corpse somebody said (I do not remember exactly who it was) that someone had taken some valuables. Then I understood that evidently there had been valuables in the things that they had brought with them. I stopped the removal immediately, assembled the men and demanded the valuables be returned. After some denial, two men returned the valuables they had taken.

After I threatened the looters with shooting, I removed those two and ordered Comrade Nikulin (as far as I remember) to escort the bodies, having warned him about valuables. I first collected everything - the things they had taken and other things as well - and I sent all of it to the commandant's office.

Comrade Filipp [Goloshchyokin], apparently sparing me (My health was not very good), told me not to go to the "funeral" but I worried very much about disposing of the corpses properly. So I decided to go personally, and it turned out I did the right thing. Otherwise, all the corpses would wind up in the hands of the White Guards. It is easy to imagine how they would have exploited the situation.

After instructions were given to wash and clean everything, at about three o'clock or even a little later, we left. I took several men from the internal guards. I did not know where the corpses were supposed to be buried, as I have said. Filipp Goloshchyokin had assigned that to Comrade Yermakov (By the way it seems it was Pavel Vedvedev who told me that night that he had seen Comrade Filipp, when he was running to the team. Comrade Filipp was walking back and forth all the time near the house, apparently because he was anxious about how everything would turn out). Yermakov drove us somewhere at the Verkh-Isetsky Works. I was never at that place and did not know it. At about two-three versts (or maybe more) from the Verkh-Isetsky Works, a whole escort of people on horseback or in carriages met us. I asked Yermakov who these people were, why they were there. He answered that he had assembled those people. I still do not know why there were so many. I heard only shouts "We thought they would come here alive, but it turns out they are dead." Also, it seems about three-four versts farther our truck got stuck between two trees. There where we stopped several of Yermakov's people were stretching out girls' blouses. We discovered again that there were valuables and they were taking them. I ordered that men be posted to keep anyone from coming near the truck.

The truck was stuck and could not move. I asked Yermakov, "Is it still far to the chosen place?" He said "Not far, beyond railroad beds." And there behind the trees was a marsh. Bogs were everywhere. I wondered "Why had he herded in so many people and horses. If only there had been carts instead of carriages." But there was nothing we could do. We had to unload to lighten the truck, but that did not help. Then I ordered them to load the carriages, because it was already light and we did not have time to wait any longer. Only at daybreak did we come to the famous "gully". Several steps from the mine where the burial had been planned, peasants were sitting around the fire, apparently having spent the night at the hayfield. On the way me met several people. It became impossible to carry on our work in sight of them. It must be said, the situation had become difficult. Everything might come to nothing. At that moment I still did not know that the mine would not meet our needs at all. And those damned valuables! Just then I did not know that there was so much of them or that the people Yermakov had recruited were unsuitable for the project. Yes, it was too much! I had to disperse the people. I found out we had gone about 15-16 versts from the city and had driven to the village of Koptyaki, two or three versts from there. We had to cordon the place off at some distance, and we did it. Besides that, I sent an order to the village to keep everybody out, explaining that the Czech Legion was not far away, that our units had assembled here and that it was dangerous to be here. I ordered the men to turn back anybody to the village and to shoot any stubborn, disobedient persons if that did not work. Another group of men was sent to the town because they were not needed. Having done all of this, I ordered [the men] to load the corpses and to take off the clothes for burning, that is, to destroy absolutely everything they had, to remove any additional incriminating evidence if the corpses were somehow discovered. I ordered bonfires. When we began to undress the bodies, we discovered something on the daughters and on Alexandra Feodrovna. I do not remember exactly what she had on, the same as on the daughters or simply things that had been sewed on.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 24, 2006, 04:29:28 AM
But the daughters had on bodices almost entirely of diamonds and [other] precious stones. Those were not only places for valuables but protective armor at the same time. That is why neither bullets nor bayonets got results. By the way, only they had guilt in their dying agony. The valuables turned out to be about one-half pud. Greed was so great that on Alexandra Feodrovna, by the way, there was simply an enormous piece of round gold wire, turned out as a sheer bracelet and weighing about one pound. All the valuables were ripped out immediately, so that it would not be necessary to carry the bloody rags around with us. Valuables discovered by the White Guards were undoubtedly related to those sewed into other things. After burning, they remained in the ashes. Several diamonds were handed over to me the next day by Comrades who had found them there. How did they overlook the other valuables? They had enough time for it. Most likely they simply did not figure it out. By the way, one has to suppose that some valuables will be returned to us through Torgsin ["Trade with foreigners" stores], because they were probably picked up by the peasants of the Koptyaki village after our departure. The valuables had been collected, the things had been burned and the completely naked corpses had been thrown into the mine. From that very moment new problems began. The water just barely covered the bodies. What should we do? We had the idea of blowing up the mines with bombs to cover them, but nothing came of it. I saw that the funeral had achieved nothing and that it was impossible to leave things that way. It was necessary to begin all over again. But what should we do? Where should we put the corpses? About at 2 p.m. I decided to go to the town, because it was clear that we had to extract the corpses from the mine and to carry them to another place. Even the blind could discover them. Besides, the place was exposed. People had seen something was going on there. I set up posts, guards in place, and took the valuables and left. I went to the regional executive committee and reported to the authorities how bad things were. Comrade Safarov and somebody else (I do not remember who) listened but said nothing. Then I found Filipp [Goloshchyokin] and explained to him we had to transfer the corpses to another place. When he agreed I proposed to send people to raise the corpses. At the same time I ordered him to take bread and food because the men were hungry and exhausted, not having slept for about 24 hours. They had to wait for me there. It turned out to be difficult to get to the corpses and lift them out. The men got very exhausted doing it. Apparently they were at it all night because they went there late.

I went to the town executive committee, to Sergei Yergerovich Chutskayev who was its chairman at the time to ask for advice. Maybe he knew of a place. He proposed a very deep abandoned mine on the Moscow high road. I got a car, took someone from the regional Cheka with me, Polushin, it seems, and someone else and we left. But one and a half versts away from the appointed place the car broke down. The driver was left to repair it, and we went on foot. We looked over the place and decided it was good. The only problem was to avoid onlookers. Some people lived near the place and we decided to come and take them away to the town and after the project let them come back. That was our decision. We came back to the car but it had to be towed. I decided to wait for a passing car. A while later some people rode up on two horses. I stopped them. The fellows seemed to know me. They were hurrying to the plant. With great reluctance they gave us the horses.

While we rode another plan took shape: burn the corpses. But nobody knew how to do it. Polushin seems to have said they already knew that because nobody really knew how it would come out. I was still considering the mines on the Moscow high road and then transportation. I decided to get carts. The plan came to me at the thought of failure in burying them in groups in different places. The road leading to Koptyaki is clay near that gully. If we buried them there without onlookers, not even the devil would find them. To bury them and to drive by with the string of carts would result in a mishmash and that would be that. So there were three plans. There was nothing to drive, there was no car. I went to the head of the military transportation garage to find out if there were any cars. There was a car, but it was the chief's. I forgot his surname; it turned out he was a scoundrel and, it seems, he was executed in Perm. Comrade Pavel Petrovich Gorbunov, who is now deputy chairman of the state bank, was the manager of the garage or deputy chairman of military transportation. I do not remember which. I told him I needed a car urgently. He said "I know what for." He gave me the chairman's car. I drove to Voikov, head of supply in the Urals, to get petrol or kerosene, sulphuric acid too (to disfigure the faces) and, besides that, spades. I commandeered ten carts without drivers from the prison. Everything was loaded on and we drove off. The truck was sent there. I stayed to wait for Polushin, the main "specialist" in burning who had disappeared somewhere. I waited for him at Voikov's. I waited for him in vain until 11 p.m. Then I heard he had ridden off on horseback to come to me but he fell off the horse, hurt his foot, and he could not ride.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 24, 2006, 04:35:04 AM
Since we could not afford to get stuck with the car again, I rode off on horseback about midnight with a comrade (I don't remember who) to the place the corpses were. But I also had back luck. The horse hesitated, dropped to its knees and somehow fell on its side and come down on my foot. I lay there an hour or more until I could get on the horse again. We arrived late at night. The work extracting [the corpses] was going on. I decided to bury some corpses on the road. We began to dig a pit. At dawn it was almost ready, but a comrade came to me and said that despite the order not to let anybody come near, a man acquainted with Yermakov had appeared from somewhere and had been allowed to stay at a distance. From there it was possible to see some kind of digging because there were heaps of clay everywhere. Though Yermakov guaranteed that he could not see anything, another Comrade (not the one who had spoken to me) began to demonstrate that from where he had stood it was impossible not to see.

So that plan was ruined too. We decided to fill in the pit. Waiting for evening, we piled into the cart. The truck waited for us in a place where it seemed impossible to get stuck. (The driver was Zlokazov's worker Lyukhanov.) We headed for the Siberian high road. Having crossed the railroad, we transferred two corpses to the truck, but it soon got stuck again. We struggled for about two hours. It was almost midnight. Then I decided that we should do the burying somewhere around there, because at that late hour nobody actually could see us. Only the watchman of the passing track saw several men, because I sent for ties to cover the place where the corpses would be put. The explanation for needing ties was: The ties had to be laid for a truck to pass over. I forgot to say that we got stuck twice that evening or, to be precise, that night. About two months ago, I was looking through the book by Sokolov, the preliminary investigator of the extremely important cases under Kolchak, when I saw a photo of those stacked ties. It was mentioned that the ties had been laid there to let a truck pass. So, having dug up the entire area, they did not think to look under the ties. It is necessary to say that all our men were so tired. They did not want to dig a new grave. But as it always happens in such cases, two or three men started working, then the others began. A fire was made and while the graves where being prepared we burned two corpses: Alexei and Demidova. The pit was dug near the fire. The bones were buried, the land was leveled. A big fire was made again and all the traces were covered with ashes. Before putting the other corpses into the pit we poured sulpheric acid over them. The pit was filled up and covered with the ties. The empty truck drove over the ties several times and rolled them flat. At 5 - 6 o'clock in the morning, I assembled everybody and stated the importance of the work completed. I warned everybody to forget the things they saw and never speak about them with anybody. Then we went back to the town. Having lost us, the fellows from the regional Cheka, such as Comrades Isay Rodzinsky, Gorin and somebody else arrived when we had already finished everything.

In the evening of the 19th I went to Moscow with my report.

Documentation Centre of the Social Organization of the Sverdlosk Region (DCSOSR) F. 41 Op. 1.D. 151, L. 10-22. Original.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Our thanks to Rob Moshein for transcribing the account as printed in "The Last Act of a Tragedy" by V.V. Aleskeyev, Yekaterinburg, 1996. ISBN 5-7691-0394-9; 5-7691-0597-6.
This information is for educational purposes only and is protected by copyright belonging to V.V. Alekseyev and the Interregional Fund "Russian Heritage" 1996. It may not be reproduced or used commercially without prior written approval of the copyright holders.

Please send your comments on this page and the Time Machine to boba@pallasweb.com


Aorry it took so long
if you read it you can see why i wanted to post it

anyway it also possibly explains why his corpse was not found and many other things.

when i was reading the bit were he shoots alexi it was very disturbing and sad, not to mention discusting.
anyway read it (even if it seems long)

Alex
P.S was he disabled or was it more he was very ill and unable to walk easily???
P.s please note that this is not mine and i am not attempting to pass it off as that anyway im a bit young for it be mine.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: CorisCapnSkip on June 26, 2006, 02:19:25 AM
Being too ill to walk as a result of a lifelong condition is a sort of disability.

In one account, or possibly it was revealed by an examination of the bones, it was believed Nicholas was trying to shield Alexei's eyes and was shot through the hands.  This conflicts somewhat with the story of Nicholas being shot first and Alexei second unless Nicholas was turning towards Alexei in order to shield him with his hands.  People can also be shot through the hands or arms as a result of defensive wounds.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 27, 2006, 05:29:42 AM
Ok
i must say that a major problem is the lack of the clear evidence of what happnede on the night.
Although this arguably answers the quostion of why his body was not found.
anyway would he have made an recovery after being injured???
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: TheAce1918 on June 27, 2006, 01:04:56 PM
That is the severe downside of revolutions, the death.  The sincere problem is that the Russian people had been brought to the brink, to a point where that the Bolsheviks shared the same idea that there was no other alternative to accomplishing their dreams of 'equality', and the more famous...'peace, land, bread'.  With the history of the Soviet Union, it is hard to see that.  Still, I agree with Tania and Skitzo...the 'murders' were horrid and in a humane ideal, wrong.  

I can't remember if it was in Massie's Final Chapter...but there was a chapter where a Russian scientist compared the Romanovs to the Kennedy 'assassination'.  And when I think of that, I remember a line said by Donald Sutherland in JFK

The organizing principle of any society, is for war. The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers

Simply gruesome :(

Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,et
Post by: skitzo12 on June 27, 2006, 08:46:51 PM
good point

Anyway i always find it funny, ironic almost that humans the "smartest" race on earth have so far killed trillions of our own type. How many animals have done that???, similary how many animals have killed trillions of there own type???

my bet is very few

cya

alex
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Emyrna on August 24, 2006, 11:52:55 AM
I think it's time that Russia puts to justice those that participated in the killings of millions of innocent people during the Russian Revolution and specially during Stalin's rule.  From what I have read, so many people participated in crimes against others that it would be an endless procedure.  A lot of people would turn in relatives or friends, so that they themselves wouldn't get sent to jail or a concentration camp, (hard labor camp).  I agree with  Alexander Solchenitsyn ( I'm not sure I spelled it right) :-[ when he wrote that it must be very uncomfortable to live around people who have never been brought to justice for their crimes.  All of those that have perished innocently deserve a great memorial and tribute.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 05, 2006, 06:20:29 PM
Quote
"It is not only the far-Left, and not only Western communists, who were tempted to make excuses for Stalin's crimes that they would never have made for Hitler’s. Communist ideals - social justice, equality for all - are simply far more attractive to most in the West than the Nazi advocacy of racism and the triumph of the strong over the weak. Even if communist ideology meant something very different in practice, it was harder for the intellectual descendents of the American and French Revolutions to condemn a system which sounded, at least, similar to their own. Perhaps this helps explain why eyewitness reports of the Gulag were, from the very beginning, often dismissed and belittled by the very same people who would never have thought to question the validity of Holocaust testimony written by Primo Levi or Elie Wiesel. From the Russian Revolution on, official information about the Soviet camps was readily available too, to anyone who wanted it: the most famous Soviet account of one of the early camps, the White Sea Canal, was even published in English. Ignorance alone cannot explain why Western intellectuals chose to avoid the subject." pg xxi

The purpose of history is not only to tell stories but to analyze and examine WHY they have occurred. In regard to the Gulag, there are several factors that western propagandists like Applebaum refuse to understand. Observing Applebaum's opinion pieces slandering Putin and the Russia for what is their refusal to acquiesce to western imperialism, she is undoubtedly a partisan hack devoid of any critical thought that is required in history. Applebaum spreads a degree of outrageous and slanderous propaganda against Russia and specifically Putin that is all too common in the western media:

Mr Putin has now taken full advantage of this muddle and turned the St Petersburg meeting into a major propaganda offensive, dedicated to the idea that Russia is still a superpower -- an 'oil and gas superpower' -- and a democratic, free-market one at that. Just last week he defended his country's deployment of gas-pipeline blackmail to disrupt the Ukrainian elections on the grounds that Russia had merely been 'using freemarket principles in the gas trade with some of our neighbour states'. His top adviser held a rare public meeting to announce that Russia is in fact a 'sovereign democracy' after all. The Russian government has even hired a powerful American public relations company (Ketchum, whose clients include Disney and Pepsi). ---The Spectator. London: Jul 8, 2006.

Her motives cannot be possibly any more blatant than the rubbish written above shows.

Anyway, regarding the Gulag, western propagandists refuse to take into consideration several of its characteristics:

1.The vast majority of Gulag prisoners were common criminals. Labour camps have traditionally been where Russian criminals have been sentenced. The majority of sentences were brief -- lasting no more than 5 years.
2.The death rate in the Gulag did not significantly deviate from the general population. The death rate in 1952 was lower than the death rate of Russia today.
3.There was no intent to have Gulag prisoners killed. The whole purpose of the Gulag was to get important industrial projects completed at a low cost.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 05, 2006, 06:20:43 PM

The GULAG was generally oriented towards keeping its labour force in humane condition for hard work so that it could fulfil to a full extent (yet, very often to a large extent) the construction and production plans handed down from above. As to the latter, already in the 1930s, and to an even larger extent during the post-war period, it issued numerous orders to ensure the provision of minimum levels of food, clothing and living conditions, and sought to enforce limits imposed on the exploitation of prison labour by legislation.

Starting from the very beginning (in early 1930s) monetary payments were to be paid to all working prisoners in Soviet camps who fulfiled their work norms. Throughout the 1940s, these payments were referred to as 'monetary rewards' or 'bonus remunerations' ( premvoznagrazhdeniia ). Additional monetary payments in form of supplemental bonuses for individual prisoners were also possible, although granted extremely rarely. The above-mentioned 1939 temporary regime instruction for corrective-labour camps required that monetary bonuses be credited to each working prisoner's personal account up to a monthly upper limit. Inmates could also be given cash totaling no more than 100 rubles a month, subject to the approval of the division chief. Bonuses and personal cash were to be issued 'piecemeal at different times, in such a manner that the total amount in an inmate's possession does not exceed 50 rubles' (Order No. 00889 NKVD of August 2, 1939). The 1947 procedures for inmates of all Soviet prison camps and colonies spelled out similar terms, limiting the maximal amount of cash to be in any prisoner's possession to 100 rubles (Order No 0190 MVD of March 29, 1947). According to another source, a speech by GULAG director Nasedkin from the same period, inmates could receive cash amounts of not more than 150 rubles at one time. Any sums above this limit were to be credited to their personal accounts and to be paid out as previously issued cash was spent (GARF 9414.1.77: 28).

Prisoners working according to 'Stakhanovite' measures were supposed to enjoy additional privileges such as better living quarters, boots or coats, special rations, a separate dining room or the right to be served first, first access to books or newspapers in the prison library, the best seating in the camp theater (if such existed), or a place in training courses to raise their professional qualifications.

Leonid Borodkin and Simon Ertz, Leonid Borodkin, 'Forced Labour and the Need for Motivation: Wages and Bonuses in the Stalinist Camp System', Comparative Economic Studies, New Brunswick, June 2005, Vol.47, Iss. 2
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on December 06, 2006, 05:56:11 AM

The GULAG was generally oriented towards keeping its labour force in humane condition for hard work . . . .


And Stalin's Great Purge was all about making sure the generals kept theirs desks clean.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on December 06, 2006, 11:53:10 AM

The GULAG was generally oriented towards keeping its labour force in humane condition for hard work so that it could fulfil to a full extent (yet, very often to a large extent) the construction and production plans handed down from above. As to the latter, already in the 1930s, and to an even larger extent during the post-war period, it issued numerous orders to ensure the provision of minimum levels of food, clothing and living conditions, and sought to enforce limits imposed on the exploitation of prison labour by legislation.

Starting from the very beginning (in early 1930s) monetary payments were to be paid to all working prisoners in Soviet camps who fulfiled their work norms. Throughout the 1940s, these payments were referred to as 'monetary rewards' or 'bonus remunerations' ( premvoznagrazhdeniia ). Additional monetary payments in form of supplemental bonuses for individual prisoners were also possible, although granted extremely rarely. The above-mentioned 1939 temporary regime instruction for corrective-labour camps required that monetary bonuses be credited to each working prisoner's personal account up to a monthly upper limit. Inmates could also be given cash totaling no more than 100 rubles a month, subject to the approval of the division chief. Bonuses and personal cash were to be issued 'piecemeal at different times, in such a manner that the total amount in an inmate's possession does not exceed 50 rubles' (Order No. 00889 NKVD of August 2, 1939). The 1947 procedures for inmates of all Soviet prison camps and colonies spelled out similar terms, limiting the maximal amount of cash to be in any prisoner's possession to 100 rubles (Order No 0190 MVD of March 29, 1947). According to another source, a speech by GULAG director Nasedkin from the same period, inmates could receive cash amounts of not more than 150 rubles at one time. Any sums above this limit were to be credited to their personal accounts and to be paid out as previously issued cash was spent (GARF 9414.1.77: 28).

Prisoners working according to 'Stakhanovite' measures were supposed to enjoy additional privileges such as better living quarters, boots or coats, special rations, a separate dining room or the right to be served first, first access to books or newspapers in the prison library, the best seating in the camp theater (if such existed), or a place in training courses to raise their professional qualifications.

Leonid Borodkin and Simon Ertz, Leonid Borodkin, 'Forced Labour and the Need for Motivation: Wages and Bonuses in the Stalinist Camp System', Comparative Economic Studies, New Brunswick, June 2005, Vol.47, Iss. 2

Looks like we have our very own David Irving in the forum. How unfortunate.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tsarfan on December 06, 2006, 01:26:06 PM
Starting from the very beginning (in early 1930s) monetary payments were to be paid to all working prisoners in Soviet camps who fulfiled their work norms. Throughout the 1940s, these payments were referred to as 'monetary rewards' or 'bonus remunerations' ( premvoznagrazhdeniia ). Additional monetary payments in form of supplemental bonuses for individual prisoners were also possible, although granted extremely rarely. The above-mentioned 1939 temporary regime instruction for corrective-labour camps required that monetary bonuses be credited to each working prisoner's personal account up to a monthly upper limit. Inmates could also be given cash totaling no more than 100 rubles a month, subject to the approval of the division chief. Bonuses and personal cash were to be issued 'piecemeal at different times, in such a manner that the total amount in an inmate's possession does not exceed 50 rubles' (Order No. 00889 NKVD of August 2, 1939). The 1947 procedures for inmates of all Soviet prison camps and colonies spelled out similar terms, limiting the maximal amount of cash to be in any prisoner's possession to 100 rubles (Order No 0190 MVD of March 29, 1947). According to another source, a speech by GULAG director Nasedkin from the same period, inmates could receive cash amounts of not more than 150 rubles at one time. Any sums above this limit were to be credited to their personal accounts and to be paid out as previously issued cash was spent (GARF 9414.1.77: 28).

Prisoners working according to 'Stakhanovite' measures were supposed to enjoy additional privileges such as better living quarters, boots or coats, special rations, a separate dining room or the right to be served first, first access to books or newspapers in the prison library, the best seating in the camp theater (if such existed), or a place in training courses to raise their professional qualifications.

Leonid Borodkin and Simon Ertz, Leonid Borodkin, 'Forced Labour and the Need for Motivation: Wages and Bonuses in the Stalinist Camp System', Comparative Economic Studies, New Brunswick, June 2005, Vol.47, Iss. 2

What an absolutely brilliant scheme!  (I'll let it pass that any study referring to wages and bonuses as a motivation for forced labor is a complete oxymoron.)

If only American slave owners had been as solicitous for the well-being of their forced labor, we might have avoided all that Civil War messiness.  When there are industries to be built and cotton to be picked, who needs freedom?

Just feed 'em well, and they'll be singing and dancing to beat all.  "Mammy's little baby loves shortenin', shortenin' . . . Mammy's little baby loves shortenin' bread."
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 06, 2006, 02:55:00 PM
Quote
Looks like we have our very own David Irving in the forum. How unfortunate.


The fact that the minority of Gulag prisoners died means that they were treated humanely. In order to get someone to perform hard labour for 5 years, they would have to be receptive to adequate nutrition. Anyway, the death rate in the labour camps did not really deviate from the crude death rate of the USSR:

Gulag death rate:
1935: 16.3/1000
1936: 12.6/1000
1949: 13/1000
1950: 10/1000
1952: 6/1000

http://sovietinfo.tripod.com/GTY-Penal_System.pdf

The death rate in Russia today is 15 per 1000. The Gulag was paradise compared to the mess Russia is in today.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Janet_W. on December 06, 2006, 03:36:41 PM
Well, it appears that I was born in the wrong country and wrong era. To think I could have partaken of the virtues of the Gulag, where death rates were not significantly different from the rest of the Soviet Union . . . and of course we all know what paradise the USSR was at that time. Plus, depending on whether I was identified as a good worker, I could have priviledges including better living quarters, the right to be served first, etc. Sheer heaven! I've always wanted to be a toady so that I might lord it over others more unfortunate. And of course what would make me feel soooo happy would be that I had been removed to this fabulous place from my own home, family and friends, without choice or options, to work for ONLY five years . . . or maybe less. Woo-hoo! Of course, it would be a problem working alongside common criminals, including people who had bravely dared to challenge the status quo. But as we all know, into each life some rain must fall, and I'm sure the pluses would more than make up for the minuses. Just think what hilarious and marvelously bucolic stories I could tell my grandchildren!

But hey, before I sign up to be a part of a true-to-life reinactment of one of these Gulags, how about if those who praise their virtues elect to spend a year or so there first? Thanks very much, and do send me a postcard upon your first opportunity.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on December 06, 2006, 06:47:41 PM
I have never seen, nor do i continue to see on this forum any long line of peoples looking to find or live int such a state as the old Soviet Union presented. I also must agree with you Janet_W, that we all must have been born in the wrong country and era. Wow to think we missed all that, especially that shortenin bread ! One would think this person is trying to drum up business and have others join in to being supportive of the old day return of the Soviet Union. I seriously don't think so....

I wonder if this person who writes so glowingly has ever had the privledge of staying in a Gulag, or he/she of their family members, or friends ? Is this person now living in Russia today? Are they part of the political lanscape? Are they part of the old burned out Soviet State ? Who indeed is this writer, Zvezda ? They certainly write like they miss the old days, and being part of a system that enjoyed destroying millions of lives, and killing as well ?

This person rattles off death rates like the stock exchange, without emotion, or concern.
Sounds almost like the profile of those who murdered the agent in London. Makes one wonder how these kind of people can look in the mirror and say, 'i am a human being'....Well they were just as brutal in the Soviet period, and I don't think by theis person's writing, much has changed with some people at all...

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 06, 2006, 06:57:35 PM
The description of the Gulag was taken from:
Leonid Borodkin and Simon Ertz, 'Forced Labour and the Need for Motivation: Wages and Bonuses in the Stalinist Camp System', Comparative Economic Studies, New Brunswick, June 2005, Vol.47, Iss. 2

They're no one special. Just typical bourgeois scholars. Borodkin is at Moscow State University.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on December 09, 2006, 07:47:05 AM
Here are some interesting statistics I found online, from two publications by V.N. Zemskov, “GULAG (istoriko-sotsiologicheskii aspect)/Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia,” 1991, Nos. 6 & 7. Zemskov got these figures from documents in GARF.

Mortality rates for GULAG prisoners:

1933 –  of 422,304 prisoners,  67,297 died or 15.94 %

1938 – of 1,156,781 prisoners, 90,546 died or 7.83 %

1943 – of 823,784 prisoners, 166,967 died or 20.27 %

1947* – of 958,448 prisoners, 35,668 died or 3.72 %

* figures for 1948 don’t exist


Mortality rates for prisoners kept in Soviet prisons:

1939 – 269,393 of whom 7,036 died or 2.61 %

1942 – 253,033 of whom 29,788 died or 11.77 %

1945 – 260,328 of whom 6,834 died or 2.63 %

Of course, for the very reason that these are official mortality figures they should be handled with extreme caution (for common sense tells us that most camp commandants would have had a strong incentive to lie to the government about the high rate of mortality in their camps). Moreover, as far as I can make out, these death rates for victims in Soviet prisons and camps do not include those shot, but only those prisoners who succumbed to malnutrition, exhaustion, or disease.

Needless to say, these figures also do not include the massive numbers of Soviet citizens, men, women and children, who were rounded up, shot, and buried in mass graves during the Stalin period.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: amelia on December 09, 2006, 09:55:42 AM
Maybe this is not the right site to post this.  But I just finished reading Almendingen's auto biography, Tomorrow will come, and in this book you can read the revolution misery, the lack of food, the lack of housing, cold, dirt etc. It is a wonderful book to read about the soviet attrocities.
Amelia
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on December 09, 2006, 11:13:05 AM
Amelia,

From your description, it is the right place to post ! Perhaps you could share some of the passages with us ? I'm sure it could shed some corborating facts for Elizabeth and others in their argument to date...Nice to hear from you ! :)

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: amelia on December 09, 2006, 03:41:45 PM
Dear Tania,

I will do that. I just have to find the quotes and will post.

Amelia
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: lexi4 on December 09, 2006, 06:15:50 PM
Ok, I am going to take a stab at this.
Maybe the reason Westerners are more aware of the German Halocuast is because so many Jews immigrated here and did not let the story die. Maybe it is because the Jews have a strong lobby group in D.C. which does has influence. I realize that there have been immigrants from China and other countries where untold thousands died at the hand of a Communist regime, but I do not see the efforts I have seen on the part of the Jews to keep the history alive in Western thinking. Also, during WW II, Hitler was our enemy and Stalin (Russia) was our ally. I think it has been difficult for those of the WW II generation to swallow the fact that we fought as allies with a government that was equally as brutal as Hitler. Also, for many years, it seems, information from some of the Communist countries previously mentioned was closed. So perhaps information was not as available from those countries as it was from Germany.
Just my two cents.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on December 09, 2006, 06:18:18 PM
I am curious whether Zvezda has ever lived under the soviet regime or is your "red star" just a facade to propel a discussion?  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: lexi4 on December 09, 2006, 06:24:53 PM
And what, may I ask, does that have to do with the topic of this discussion?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on December 09, 2006, 07:40:08 PM
If the question was directed to me Lexi4, my short answer is: EVERYTHING.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: lexi4 on December 09, 2006, 07:47:53 PM
If the question was directed to me Lexi4, my short answer is: EVERYTHING.

Yes, Belochka, it was directed at you. And "everything" is not an answer. I ask a vaild question which was what does  this question, posted by you "I am curious whether Zvezda has ever lived under the soviet regime or is your "red star" just a facade to propel a discussion?" have to do with the topic. You have not provided an answer. I really don't want to see this discussion get off topic and personal, which is why I asked.
Thank you.
Lexi
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on December 09, 2006, 08:06:04 PM
May I assure you Lexi4 that my question to Zvezda was more than valid. It comes down to "perspective".

Furthermore the issue of "soviet atrocities" is indeed a very personal consideration.

Thank you for your concern.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: lexi4 on December 09, 2006, 08:27:02 PM
Here are some interesting statistics I found online, from two publications by V.N. Zemskov, “GULAG (istoriko-sotsiologicheskii aspect)/Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia,” 1991, Nos. 6 & 7. Zemskov got these figures from documents in GARF.

Mortality rates for GULAG prisoners:

1933 –  of 422,304 prisoners,  67,297 died or 15.94 %

1938 – of 1,156,781 prisoners, 90,546 died or 7.83 %

1943 – of 823,784 prisoners, 166,967 died or 20.27 %

1947* – of 958,448 prisoners, 35,668 died or 3.72 %

* figures for 1948 don’t exist


Mortality rates for prisoners kept in Soviet prisons:

1939 – 269,393 of whom 7,036 died or 2.61 %

1942 – 253,033 of whom 29,788 died or 11.77 %

1945 – 260,328 of whom 6,834 died or 2.63 %

Of course, for the very reason that these are official mortality figures they should be handled with extreme caution (for common sense tells us that most camp commandants would have had a strong incentive to lie to the government about the high rate of mortality in their camps). Moreover, as far as I can make out, these death rates for victims in Soviet prisons and camps do not include those shot, but only those prisoners who succumbed to malnutrition, exhaustion, or disease.

Needless to say, these figures also do not include the massive numbers of Soviet citizens, men, women and children, who were rounded up, shot, and buried in mass graves during the Stalin period.


Thank you Elisabeth, for providing the numbers.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: amelia on December 10, 2006, 09:55:18 AM
Dear Tania,

Here are some quotes from Tomorrow will come - the autobiography of E.M.Almedigen.

Page 109 "The house in the Bolshoy Prospect had neither lamps nor candles, and the sixth floor must now be reached by slow and patient groping. Within our two rooms we guarded jealously a small store of cheap stearine candles. But there were days when we wished we might have none, days when we drank water, imagining it to be tea, and also pretended that we had no use for  food"

Page 125 "I held a precarious job and my slender  wardrobe was falling to pieces . Everybody predicted an exceptionally harsh winter: I possessed neither a fur cap nor snow boots. Above all, I had no bread for the rest of the week"

page 183 " A somewaht milder edition of the Shparlernya prision was the old Konig sugar factory on the Wiborg Side, a place kept apart for minor offences. There I once spent a bleak and extremely tedious day. It happened in the middle of a particularly severe winter, and I had forgotten to make my turn in sweeping the snow in front of the house. The local commissariat arrested me, confiscated my labor book, a somewhat sorry equivalen of a civilized passport , and pronounced no sentence, saying that did not lie within their province. I was merely told that my labour book would be sent to the proper quarters - together with the dossier offence. For two days no summons arriving for me, I walked trembling: the confiscation of a labour book amounted to medieval oubliette. You were beyond the communal pale in the most rigid sense.Food cards could not be issued to you, no shelter  could be given you, no official job could be offered to you. Without your labour book you were virtually condemned to civic annihilation, in some cases a far more bitter  fate than imposed by a straightforward death warrant. Yes, incongruously, a labour bok was usually "confiscated" for a minor offence.   

Amelia

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on December 10, 2006, 12:53:19 PM
Thanks be to you Amelia ! In reading these quotes, one can almost feel the utter dejection, aloneness, coldness, hopelessness of their given situations. Whilst I am in what one would consider in any time, the lap of luxury, having the basic needs of life in my life, I can't imagine no 'light' in my life, the lesser of adequate clothing, certainly not warm threads to cover and secure my wellness; or walking up endless flights of stairs to get to my home, but be met with the understanding that there are no adequate supplies for even one person. I would consider the last situation of having my 'passport' in life confisticated, which as was stated, would be a bitter fate of a death warrant. In Siberia, there are no warm spots, and having to face the closure of my life in such an tortured way I would not even want to consider. No human being then or now ever should be treated or have their lives end that way. It was inhumane. In my prayers I offer remembrance for their souls, all those who were forced to meet such tragic endings. Thank you again Amelia for sharing these pages of history of the Gulags.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: James1941 on December 10, 2006, 01:20:38 PM
I am going to turn Belochka's question about living under a soviet regime on its head. I will ask has anyone ever lived under an absolute monarchy in a system in which the "will" of the monarch is the law of the land?

It would seem that the Russian people have rejected both systems as their political institution, and rightly so.
Both systems were abominations. The two sides in this argument seem to  imploy a lot of nostalgia with all the drawbacks that nostalgic memory brings. I personally would not have wanted to live either under the Russian monarchy or the Soviet regime. I would have been on the boat just as fast I could, provided I didn't end up in Siberia as a dissetent, or worse.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: lexi4 on December 10, 2006, 03:52:18 PM
I am going to turn Belochka's question about living under a soviet regime on its head. I will ask has anyone ever lived under an absolute monarchy in a system in which the "will" of the monarch is the law of the land?

It would seem that the Russian people have rejected both systems as their political institution, and rightly so.
Both systems were abominations. The two sides in this argument seem to  imploy a lot of nostalgia with all the drawbacks that nostalgic memory brings. I personally would not have wanted to live either under the Russian monarchy or the Soviet regime. I would have been on the boat just as fast I could, provided I didn't end up in Siberia as a dissetent, or worse.

Interesting question and comments James. I have never lived under and absolute monarchy. I was born in the U.S. and have lived here all my life. So I have no idea other than what I've learned by studying history and talking to those who have lived under such a system.
I am with you though. I would be on the first boat out under either system. But I wonder if that would be true if my family and lived under such systems for generations...if that was all I knew. I can say that I would be on the first boat out because I do live in the U.S. and appareciate the freedoms that I have. I can't imagine living any other way and would never choose to do so.
Lexi
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 10, 2006, 11:59:26 PM
Quote
Of course, for the very reason that these are official mortality figures they should be handled with extreme caution (for common sense tells us that most camp commandants would have had a strong incentive to lie to the government about the high rate of mortality in their camps). Moreover, as far as I can make out, these death rates for victims in Soviet prisons and camps do not include those shot, but only those prisoners who succumbed to malnutrition, exhaustion, or disease.

These are not official figures. They are declassified archival figures. There is a huge difference between polemicist material dessiminated to the public and state secrets locked away in archives only to be discovered decades later. Plus, the Soviet government can hardly be blamed for deaths of labourers in 1941-45 as the only reason why there was a staggering death toll was due to the war brought by the Germans that deteriorated life for all parts of the country.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on December 11, 2006, 07:25:45 AM
Quote
Of course, for the very reason that these are official mortality figures they should be handled with extreme caution (for common sense tells us that most camp commandants would have had a strong incentive to lie to the government about the high rate of mortality in their camps). Moreover, as far as I can make out, these death rates for victims in Soviet prisons and camps do not include those shot, but only those prisoners who succumbed to malnutrition, exhaustion, or disease.

These are not official figures. They are declassified archival figures. There is a huge difference between polemicist material dessiminated to the public and state secrets locked away in archives only to be discovered decades later. Plus, the Soviet government can hardly be blamed for deaths of labourers in 1941-45 as the only reason why there was a staggering death toll was due to the war brought by the Germans that deteriorated life for all parts of the country.

How do you know these aren't official figures, Zvezda, since they came from the Russian government's own archives? And what do you mean by claiming that they are "polemicized"? Are you accusing Zemskov and other Russian researchers of lying? Because that's what it sounds like.

Of course WWII affected conditions throughout the country. Nevertheless IMO the Soviet government can and should be blamed for the "staggering death toll" (interesting, even you admit it was staggering) in the camps during these years, since the Soviet government imprisoned these people in the first place. Moreover, the percentage of prisoners who died in 1933, a year when the country was at peace, was 15.94 percent. Is that so much less "staggering" than the 20.27 percent who died in 1943?

But the death toll is pretty scary for the other, non-war years, too, is it not? In an earlier post you claimed that the mortality rate in the camps was lower than the mortality rate in Russia today. All these figures prove you wrong. The current mortality rate in Russia is 16 deaths per 1000 people. Do the math and you'll see that the mortality rate in Soviet concentration camps, even during the "best" non-war years, was dramatically higher than that.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 11, 2006, 01:22:49 PM
Quote
How do you know these aren't official figures, Zvezda, since they came from the Russian government's own archives?


Because they were kept in the archives, they cannot be regarded as official material disseminated to the public by Soviet ideology. These are not official figures but are declassified archival materials.

Quote
And what do you mean by claiming that they are "polemicized"? Are you accusing Zemskov and other Russian researchers of lying? Because that's what it sounds like.

Of course not, you misunderstand. I am referring to polemicist materials that would have been disseminated by the Soviet government like the inflated 1939 census as opposed the recently declassified 1937 one.

Quote
country was at peace, was 15.94 percent. Is that so much less "staggering" than the 20.27 percent who died in 1943?

Famine was raging in the period February-July 1933 and virtually all parts of the country were affected.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Elisabeth on December 11, 2006, 01:46:29 PM
Zvezda, I'm trying and failing to understand what your quibble is with these documents. I think the real problem you have with them is that they don't support your thesis that the mortality rate in the Gulag was lower than the current mortality rate in Russia. That's a ridiculous argument as you can see even from the numbers of dead for the non-"famine" and non-war years. (It's curious: I notice you accept these numbers as true when you think you can explain them away...)

So I take it you don't regard the government as responsible for feeding its own prisoners when there's a famine raging in the countryside (BTW, I thought in another post you said that the worst of the famine was over by 1933). Although, as I recall, the famine only affected certain areas of the country, such as the Ukraine and parts of the Caucasus, frankly I've never heard of it reaching its tentacles into Siberia, too. But at any rate, the point is the Soviet government always found enough food to feed itself and its collaborators. That never seems to have been a problem. The cities were fed, too (unless they were in the Ukraine). In short it seems to have been mainly peasants who had resisted collectivization and prisoners convicted of political crimes who starved to death in large numbers in the Soviet Union of the early 1930s. Pardon me if I find that sinister.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 11, 2006, 01:55:11 PM
Quote
Zvezda, I'm trying and failing to understand what your quibble is with these documents.


I am not at all quibbling about these documents. I accept them to be reliable.

Quote
I think the real problem you have with them is that they don't support your thesis that the mortality rate in the Gulag was lower than the current mortality rate in Russia.


That is not true. In the post-war period, they were lower than Russia's mortality rate today. In the 1930s, they did not significantly deviate from the death rate of the USSR at the time.

Quote
(BTW, I thought in another post you said that the worst of the famine was over by 1933).

That is not what I said. Famine was raging in February-July 1933 but ended by the time of the successful harvest in the autumn circa September.

Quote
Although, as I recall, the famine only affected certain areas of the country, such as the Ukraine and parts of the Caucasus, frankly I've never heard of it reaching its tentacles into Siberia, too.

90 thousand died in the northwestern consumer region comprising Leningrad and Moscow. Famine affected 70 million people in all parts of the country.
 
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/faculty/harrison/archive/hunger/deaths.xls
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on December 12, 2006, 11:52:56 AM
Let me give you just a small slice of reality.

I'll pick a community of German-Russians  in what as called the Beresan area.  And, this is a farming community  north of Odessa.

Not counting war or famine or dieases,  about 1/3 of the population labed as  'kulacks" was placed into box cars which were taken to what was called "Correctional  Work Camps".

Men  were taken from the families and sent off in their own box cars.... 

Women and small children were given their own box cars....

The conditions of the box cars:

one bucket as a toilet
one stove in center of box car if headed to Siberia
lice infested straw
two small barred windows for  ventilation

The prisoners were provided:

very little water
one bowl of fish bone soup or a salted herring given once or twice a week

The train was stopped for fuel and water and if any escaped were made,  the military police in charge of the train hunted down the prisioner was shot so the others in the box cars could see what would happen to them if they tried to escape.

Another task when the train stopped was to push the dead out of the box cars.

Here is a gruesom statistic:

Quote
The death toll was expecially high among young children.  For instance. in the old Rusian monastery at Totma, which had been converted into a woman's work camp in 1930, forty to fifty children died from dysentery every day.  Since no graves could be dug and no coffins were available, the bodies were stacked like card-wood in one of the stone towers.
  p. 339  Joseph S. Height  PARADISE ON THE STEPPE.

To add to this story,  an official was shown this terrible tower of the dead and after calling Moscow, permssion  was given that the children be returned to their village from where they had been taken.   And what do you think happened to this  official?  The fate of this brave and kind official was:  He became a victim of the night and the GPU took him away and no one knows his fate, accept,  the fact is, no one heard from him, again.

The truth of Russian history can be found in the stories of the real people who suffered the inhumanity of the Bolsheviks / Soviets  under thier leaders  Lenin, Stalin....  So, don't let the comrades of this world fool you with their stats and propaganda.  There is a lot not mention  in those old documents in the archives.

AGRBear
[American-German-Russian Bear, a cousin to many who perished....]

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nikl on December 12, 2006, 12:31:04 PM
This is for "ZVEZDA":

What do you think about Breznev's  Atrocities?
I am originally from the Czech Republik, so I know what his communist party made there in the year of 1968.  :(
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on December 12, 2006, 02:37:18 PM
I have been off doing small things of what i can manage to do, all the while perplexed by the overwhelming numbers of lost, murdered peoples A.G.R. Bear and now Nickl have offered. It strikes me doubly, I'm sure for many of you readers as well, when at this time of season, we think of all that we can as individuals, communities, and nations offer another, each other, in terms of humanity. When reading what the 'reality' has brought to light anew, it allows me to be thankful once again that I am not living in or under a governing process as was the old Soviet government. From all that I read, over and over on these time worn pages, it gives me paust to think of these once vibrant living men, women, children, elderly who loved life as much as you and I, with dreams far more than we can imagine. It stops me cold to think that these wonderful human beings were murdered not in a handful, but in a prohibitive amount of alarming, overwhelming numbers, beyond genocide !

We must not, and cannot forget these numbers, or that they were living, vibrant, human beings. No matter if you are Russian, Czech, German, or from any other country, the fact that you were controlled, made to serve other energies than that of your birth right, allows you to speak out, and make sure your peoples, your countrymen and women are never forgot. We may not be able to travel to a given place in history where there lives were taken wantonly, but we can, and must continue to remember them even here, on this forum, so that all peoples and nations will never forget the price they paid under communism. In their names, and for their souls I pray do we join together to speak up and out against governments as was the old soviet regime.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nikl on December 12, 2006, 05:11:29 PM
Tania, thank you very much for your addition. My english is limited, so I could not write this beter. I hope that more people wil read and think about your exelent article.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on December 13, 2006, 05:40:15 AM



Quote
The death toll was expecially high among young children.  For instance. in the old Rusian monastery at Totma, which had been converted into a woman's work camp in 1930, forty to fifty children died from dysentery every day.  Since no graves could be dug and no coffins were available, the bodies were stacked like card-wood in one of the stone towers.
  p. 339  Joseph S. Height  PARADISE ON THE STEPPE.


AGRBear
[American-German-Russian Bear, a cousin to many who perished....]



Correction:  "stacked like cord-wood"
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on December 13, 2006, 05:44:14 AM
Tatiana's quote is from the heart of her Russian soul and may the gods bless her:

Quote
  From all that I read, over and over on these time worn pages, it gives me paust to think of these once vibrant living men, women, children, elderly who loved life as much as you and I, with dreams far more than we can imagine. It stops me cold to think that these wonderful human beings were murdered not in a handful, but in a prohibitive amount of alarming, overwhelming numbers, beyond genocide !  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on December 13, 2006, 10:12:59 AM
My dear friends, it matters not in this case if ones t's are crossed, or i's dotted, but it matters greatly if we do not have the mortal courage to speak out against past, present, actions towards any human being, be it one or in the millions.

I hope all who have read have made measured notice as well that when posters as Zvezda makes the choice to post what they do, it is done as a 'political statement' whereas Elizabeth's, Bear's, and many more are offered to point out the horrendous savagery of such a political system, and the actions taken therein against helpless citizens, and children, anywhere.

There is no glory in standing with one's foot on a dead person's body ever, because this is the lasting picture such a governeng process as the old Soviet system was. As you can read in today's news, nothing has changed with the long arm of such manevolent, calculated, intensified actions to murder just one human being in London.

That's why countless lives as myself, and people as yourselves, continue to fight from our homes, on our computers, in this very century, to make sure that the likes of such a system never again takes control of any peoples, or country. Fight the good fight, and it will return to all those who love freedom, the peace and quiet they deserve so well !


Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on December 29, 2006, 12:40:55 AM
Quote
This is for "ZVEZDA":

What do you think about Breznev's  Atrocities?
I am originally from the Czech Republik, so I know what his communist party made there in the year of 1968.


I opposed military action in Czechoslovakia but I also opposed the bourgeois policies of Dubček. While the USSR and other socialist countries had legal justiication to intervene, the USSR destroyed its reputation with the international community with this disastrous policy. In any case, violence was not widespread as only 25 Czechoslovaks were killed.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on December 29, 2006, 01:15:04 AM
comment deleted
 
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nikl on January 01, 2007, 04:07:53 PM
Quote
This is for "ZVEZDA":

What do you think about Breznev's  Atrocities?
I am originally from the Czech Republik, so I know what his communist party made there in the year of 1968.


I opposed military action in Czechoslovakia but I also opposed the bourgeois policies of Dubček. While the USSR and other socialist countries had legal justiication to intervene, the USSR destroyed its reputation with the international community with this disastrous policy. In any case, violence was not widespread as only 25 Czechoslovaks were killed.

Well between 25 people was my best friend. The russian tank drove over him.  None never been charge for that. >:(
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: lexi4 on January 01, 2007, 04:55:08 PM
Niki,
I am so sorry that you had to endure that. What you have described is beyond horrific.
My deepest sympathies.
Lexi
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on January 01, 2007, 06:47:18 PM
There always denyers for every atrocity committed against humanity. To those who deny the Holocaust, my friend Ilana's mother says, "then, where is my grandmother?" There are those who still say that killing the tsar and those with him was no big deal, there were only 11 people. But, every single one of those people was loved by someone who survived, just as Niki still misses her friend.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nikl on January 01, 2007, 08:23:48 PM
There always denyers for every atrocity committed against humanity. To those who deny the Holocaust, my friend Ilana's mother says, "then, where is my grandmother?" There are those who still say that killing the tsar and those with him was no big deal, there were only 11 people. But, every single one of those people was loved by someone who survived, just as Niki still misses her friend.

Thank you everybody for sympathies. Some people would just twist the history >:(
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on January 03, 2007, 10:38:12 PM
My Dearest Nikl,

One friend who longed for freedom, to be taken from life without reason, is one life too many ! I'm sorry you lost your friend.
To twist history is more than negligent, and takes away from every citizen's connect of their origin, and of their identies.
Those of us here on this forum, and beyond, who champion freedom, truth, and honesty stand with you and your country.
For this person to state 'only 11 people were killed' shows you that this person has no soul, no consicence.
Don't ever think for one moment that statements as Zevezda, nor people as this will be defended, ever, not even in on these past issues of historical mistruths.

Dear Nikl, do keep fighting back and telling your story, and that of your country. We are here to listen, and are supportive. God Bless their souls, for they are not ever forgotton, but will be remembered long after our lives have left this earth.
Thank you for you and others who continue to champion all that is good.
Goodness always triumphs over evil. God Bless !

Tatiana+

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: James1941 on January 27, 2007, 06:19:49 PM
And yet I find there is some hypocrisy here.
I agree that the taking of even one life for political reasons is to be abhorred.
However, when some posters try to point out how the tsar's regime also killed or murdered people for so-called political reasons all sorts of excuses or justifications are made.
Alexander Ulyanov was a dedicated opponent of the tsar's autocracy. He was only eighteen or nineteen (sorry I can't remember which), only a youth with a youth's silly certitude that they are right, and I would imagine he had people, relatives, a mother who loved him despite his actions. And yet, he was hung and that young life ended, for political reasons. I know he was involved in plots to kill the tsar and that he refused to recant, but couldn't the government have showed leniency and sentenced him to a long term in prison instead of killing him. Who knows what he might have believed had he been allowed to live his biblical life span.
Both regimes, the monarchy and the communist, used killing to advance political aims. The extent and degree may be different but the intent is not. How can one be justified and the other not. Was it alright for the tsar's first minister Stolypin to send troops in to hang rioters (Stolypin's neckties) but when the communists did it to maintin their power or control it is labeled as "atrocity." Both thought they were defending a system worth defending.
If you are going to argue against governments using terror you must be fair and balanced and condemn all or you risk being a hypocrite, and losing creditbility.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on October 22, 2007, 02:37:46 PM
This is an old thread, but so interesting it seems worth resurrecting. Reading through it, I felt a number of things were left unaddressed or inadequately explored. Several posts as a consequence of coming late to this:

1. On the question of whether Soviet atrocities are taught in colleges and schools on the same level as the Holocaust, I thought so at the time. I was an undergraduate in the early 80s, though, studying International Affairs/Soviet Studies. None of my professors glossed over the Soviet atrociites. To the extent that Americans are generally more familiar with the Nazi horrors, I think it's just that more Americans have been exposed to W. European history, and not as many to larger portions of the world. I would say that Americans probably viewed the USSR as generically evil, rather than pinning as many specifics to it as could be pinned to the Nazis. But I think Americans during the Cold War would not have viewed the Sov. Union as less evil than Hitler's regime. BTW, I think Americans are even less well informed about, genocide in Turkey.

2. On the issue of whether Soviet and Nazi atrocities are a logical outgrowth of ideology, as Elisabeth suggests, vs a combination of SOP for a new regime/economic order establishing itself + a lack of practice at resisting authority, as Tsarfan suggests, it seems we could test this. Elisabeth's hypothesis predicts that communism will be more atrocious than other ideologies even over time. Tsarfan's that in general violence will fall off as the regime establishes itself. Tsarfan further suggests that previously authoritarian regimes will morph into truly horrible beasts if taken over by a regime that establishes a new basis for order. Which pattern seems more prevalent in the world today? Have the successors to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot been driven by the ideology to continue the policy of mass murder? Who was more violent, the Sandinistas or the regime they overthrew? Has every communist leader been as bad? Was Allende worse than Pinochet? I don't know; I'm asking. It seems we have enough examples to support one generalization or another, though.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on October 22, 2007, 02:38:38 PM
3. Related to that, are there examples of ideology-driven mass murder or extreme state-sponsored terror that have persisted beyond the initial establishment of the regime? We probably don't have enough evidence, but I'm willing to bet that the Aztec, Mayan and Inca cultures could teach us some lessons about this. In the case of the Aztec, they were preceeded by 2 other very bloody cultures, the Toltec and Olmec... Point being this stuff went on for generations. There are mass graves...nothing on the scale of Stalin's or Pol Pot's, but then what was... Anyway, it didn't necessarily fall off as the regime established itself; in fact it seemed to intensify. And I would say it was ideologically driven, in the same way that a theocracy would be ideologically driven. But there may be many other factors at work, some of which we do have evidence about but would be off-topic. In any event, it's worth looking at the old new world as well as Asia and Europe if we're going to generalize about communism as a uniquely atrocious ideology. South Africa persisted over generations as well.

4. What accounts for Serbia?

5. My guess is that the atrocities under Stalin were ideologically driven to the extent that they were enabled by a philosophy that the individual does not matter. Or that the mass doesn't matter, depending on how you look at it. Stalinism shared this view with autocracy. It's also a big piece of many Asian cultures. And certainly it played a role in German nationalism.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on October 22, 2007, 02:39:41 PM
6. Atrocities committed under capitalism...would those living in Africa or Latin America agree that capitalism is inherently less atrocious, I wonder? Is capitalism just better at outsourcing its atrocities? You could argue that these conditions were caused by Colonialism, which was propelled by Imperialism as much as by capitalism, but in the end it's about the extraction of resources with no regard for the costs at the point of extraction. And if capitalism is as atrocious, or at least qualifies for the line-up of atrocious characters, then is this a result of ideology, a stabilization attempt, or what?

6. On genocide. I don't think that's the right term for Stalin's mass murders, even though Stalin was happy to incorporate genocidal elements into his policies. I'd say that genocide was a component, but not a governing ideology. That's a nit, I suppose. I'd like to see that term preserved as referring to the specific cultural and/or physical annihilation of an ethnic group. Native America qualifies. Armenia qualifies. Bosnia qualifies. Rwanda qualifies. European Jewry qualifies. So we can discuss genocidal components of Stalinism, but it's not a logical consequence of Marxism-Leninism.

7. On the question of whether we were guaranteed a mass murderer following Lenin... leaving Trotsky out of it for the nonce, are we stuck with Stalin? Where does Stephen Cohen's work fit into this discussion? I thought he pretty much obliterated the argument that Stalin was a given post-Lenin, but then I haven't been paying attention for a couple of decades. Lenin spoke of collectivizing the peasantry and destroying resistance, but he was also interested in *successful* policies and there was of course the NEP. It's not a given that if he had lived longer he would have essentially been Stalin.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on October 22, 2007, 02:41:18 PM
8. On Stalin and the peasants... I don't think it was primarily ideology that made him as brutal. Control, and also just hatred. He hated peasants. They reminded him too much of himself.

9. That's another thing about Leninism-Stalinism and Nazism--both were ideologies of revenge, of turning the tables. And they were propelled to success by individuals who were *outraged*. Outraged, to some degree by the conditions of their countrymen, but to a greater degree by they fact that they did not have any power in the existing systems. Grandiose individuals with high IQs, or who thought they had higher IQs than the country's current rulers and ruling classes, certainly, on average, and who were marginalized. The system had no means of co-opting talent when it came from a petty nobleman or a peasant, let alone a failed art student... Read the journals of Columbine mass-murderer Eric Harris--everyone deserves to die *because they're stupider than me,* or even if they're smarter, I've got a gun and you'll have a window into Stalin's soul. Or psyche, anyhow. Not sure he had a soul.

10. On the question of how would history view Hitler if he had succeeded, well... that's a scary one. Look at the current approval ratings for Stalin in Russia today and you'll probably find your answer. It seems that many contemporary Russians believe that it was worth the price--just for the status of being a superpower, as far as I can tell. Why it's not all right to be, say, Sweden, and be relatively prosperous and stable without having to kill several million people, I don't know. 
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on November 06, 2007, 06:11:28 PM
So, I am reading Montefignore's Young Stalin at the moment. It's horribly overwritten and overwrought, but it's got me thinking. How much of what happened to the USSR is due to ideology per se and how much due to gangsterism and thuggery, given that Lenin et al relied on these tactics/elements for funding?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on November 10, 2007, 10:21:34 AM
http://www.gulagletters.com/

Letters from very real people who suffered under the communists lead by Stalin.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nicolay on December 21, 2007, 04:56:11 AM
One of my more baffling experiences as a graduate student was encountering well-educated Americans who knew almost everything about the Holocaust but absolutely nothing about Soviet atrocities under Stalin. I recall one good, very intelligent and well-read friend who was astonished to learn that some 10-15 million peasants died during collectivization and the terror-famine that followed, another five million or so people under the Great Terror. Nor had she ever heard of the Communist atrocities under Mao in China – 30 million dead during the Great Leap Forward, another 5-10 million killed during the Cultural Revolution. Before she met me (a fellow liberal Democrat!) she believed that all Communist atrocities, with the exception of those in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, were solely the invention of anti-Communist propaganda propogated by neo-McCarthyites.

Why aren’t Soviet and Maoist atrocities better known in the West? Why haven’t they gripped the public imagination to the extent that the Holocaust has? After all, Stalin and Mao taken together (or even taken separately!) killed far more human beings than Hitler ever did. Why aren’t their crimes better publicized? Is there something in the Communist ideology itself that makes atrocities committed in its name somehow less "atrocious" than other crimes against humanity? Do you think it is justified or fair to teach students about Nazi atrocities in public schools without teaching about Communist atrocities at the same time? Or do you think the situation in Western schools has changed since I was a graduate student some fifteen years ago? 


http://day.zp.ua/core/data/upimages/deti-dead-upa-horror.jpg

http://vlasti.net/index.php?Screen=news&id=215820

http://www.anti-orange-ua.com.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1094&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=40

http://katynbooks.narod.ru/amtliches/amtliches_material.html



and many more
if you search you find many more from Latvia to Vladivostock!
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: amelia on December 21, 2007, 08:41:00 AM
I  just finished reading a new book by Orlando Figes, The Whisperers - private life in Stalin 's Russia. Talking about atrocities..... It is very well written, with interviews etc. of people who suffered under Stalin and were sent to the Gulags, and the families were desintegrated. I highly reccomend this book.

Amelia
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on December 22, 2007, 10:21:06 AM

http://day.zp.ua/core/data/upimages/deti-dead-upa-horror.jpg

...[in part]....

and many more
if you search you find many more from Latvia to Vladivostock!

Is this a newspaper in Russia which carried the above photo?  http://day.zp.ua/

Do you know anything more about this photo?  Was it taken in a Russian camp?  Was this in Stalin's time?

AGRBear
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nicolay on December 22, 2007, 02:41:46 PM
Yes
this was posted by Russian newspapers and forums,

AS FAR AS I UNDERSTAND IT (Lack of RUSSIAN)
and hope that somebody with better Russian can correct me
if I am wrong!

That these were the UPA (Ukraine) fighters.

These are/were street signs left behind in Poland by those fighters,
and supposedly there were a lot of them.

(The story is:
that these fighters are celebrated today as freedom fighters)

I have seen similar articles about the supposedly deportations of Latvians to Siberia,
but those deported Latvians didn't get further than a hole in the local forest!
(It was just as graphic as the UPA posts)
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nicolay on December 23, 2007, 03:18:56 AM
I want to state my thoughts to all this!

My family lost family and dear friends to this regime
as well as their homes and everything they worked very hard for in over 300 years!
but yet I harbor no ill feelings or carry any anger in my heart towards any of them,
they were just as mislead and hurt as anybody else.

This was devastating to the once that died
as well as the once that fled
and the once that survived
inclusive the once that participated in it!

Because the mental burden of the once that participated
must be extraordinarily hard and tremendously painful to carry!

All we can do is learn out of it,
but to be able to learn we must gain the knowledge!

Without knowledge of these events,
it will happen again!
[/color][/font][/size]
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on January 10, 2008, 03:11:21 PM
Not to be glib, but isn't this the way of all revolutions?

My ancestors suffered badly during and following the American Revolution; many of them fled to Canada. They owned a great deal of the land in Connecticut and New York state and all of it was lost. Lives as well. So it goes.

General Putnam was notorious for his brutal discipline both with his troops and in the villages and towns where they were billetted. Many of the continental army were forcibly conscripted and could not have cared less about the outcome of the war.

I'm not saying it was a bad as the Soviet catastrophe by any means. But revolutions are hard on those who live through them. Which is why they don't happen that often.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nicolay on January 10, 2008, 03:32:43 PM
Not to be glib, but isn't this the way of all revolutions?
..........................................................................   .....   ..........
 Which is why they don't happen that often.
Yes you are right and no you are not glib
:)

But you are wrong in saying that they do not happen that often,
it is till today an ongoing story in human history!
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on January 10, 2008, 04:51:01 PM
Not to be glib, but isn't this the way of all revolutions?

My ancestors suffered badly during and following the American Revolution; many of them fled to Canada. They owned a great deal of the land in Connecticut and New York state and all of it was lost. Lives as well. So it goes.

General Putnam was notorious for his brutal discipline both with his troops and in the villages and towns where they were billetted. Many of the continental army were forcibly conscripted and could not have cared less about the outcome of the war.

I'm not saying it was a bad as the Soviet catastrophe by any means. But revolutions are hard on those who live through them. Which is why they don't happen that often.

The Soviet Union began with revolution, but the totalitarian nature of it and other regimes in the 20th century was previously unknown in previous annuls of recorded history. Of course people suffer in revolutions, but that is completely beside the point.

The government which followed the collapsed Tsarist state and its successor Provisional government practiced an intense hatred and oppression against its own people. It destroyed all kinds of resources and did untold environmental damage. It murdered tens of millions of people, the number of which will never be known. The Aral Sea has virtually disappeared due to Soviet contempt for the environment. It will take many generations for the former Soviet Union to recover from the hateful policies of its state.

And this we could not say was due solely to revolution.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: dmitri on January 12, 2008, 12:01:45 AM
I think it is all too easy to knock the Soviet Union. There were many good things achieved during that particular regime as well. Gorbachev actually ceased the war in Afghanistan. He was undermined from within. The successor state is hardly perfect. There were a great many people in Russia who starved to death under Yeltsin. In fact he a complete disaster. Remember his turning the tanks on the elected Parliament simply because they did not agree with him? He was also responsible for the ongoing war in Chechyna. Putin is far from perfect either. Democracy hardly flourishes in Russia today although corruption and the mafia do very handsomely. It is perhaps not particularly wise to make sweeping statements about a period of history. No regime is perfect and the Russian Empire was extremely backward. The Soviet regime dragged the former Russian Empire kicking and screaming into the 20th century. General levels of public health, housing and education actually improved under the Soviet Union. Of course millions did die and environmental problems happened. They also have happened elsewhere. The nuclear testing in the Nevada desert is a classic example. Social upheavel can be extremely brutal. Nobody can forget the terrible things that happened under the Soviet Union. Dreadful things happened for many, many decades in Central and Southern America and remain largely unreported. Before an important meeting of leaders in Rio de Janiero, street children were machine gunned to rid the city of their presence. We live in a world of incredible contradiction. Sadly mankind never learns from the mistakes of the past.   
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: dmitri on January 12, 2008, 12:08:04 AM
It should also be pointed out the enormous worked carried out during the Soviet Union of rebuilding the social fabric after the massive destruction caused by the German forces during world war two. Most of the Tsarist Palaces and other areas of the Soviet Union were destroyed by what can only be described as massive cases of brutal barbarian vandalism not seen in any such scale previously. Any visitor to St.Petersburg and Moscow can only admire the incredible resilience of the people in lovingly restoring and rebuilding their shattered country. Preservation of culture such as theatre, ballet and opera were plus art collections was a massive achievement during the Soviet Union. Allowing millions to experience such things that previously they were denied was a magnificent achievement. 
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on January 13, 2008, 12:54:47 AM
We simply see this differently, dmitri.

I consider the Soviet Union to be a mostly criminal regime which waged war on its own citizenry and was a force for destruction of everything good and decent in Russia. Does this mean that no good came during this period? Of course not. It's just that any positive came about accidentally, because the Bolsheviks, unlike the tsars, hated Russia and hated the people of Russia.

They were so hateful that the advancing Germans in WWII could have taken the Ukraine without a shot - except Hilter's Nazis hated Slavs, so the poor Ukrainians were caught between the hateful Nazis and hateful Bolsheviks.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on February 06, 2008, 06:24:08 PM
Quote
I recall one good, very intelligent and well-read friend who was astonished to learn that some 10-15 million peasants died during collectivization and the terror-famine that followed, another five million or so people under the Great Terror.


Concerning the famine, the narrative that the Russian Government imposed a famine has no foundation. The theory that the famine resulted from the policies of the Russian Government is equally tenuous. Groundbreaking research by Professor Mark Tauger demonstrates that the famine resulted exclusively due to a series of poor harvests in 1931 and 1932 caused to a large extent by natural disasters and poor weather. The death toll of the famine amounted to about 2 to 3 million in the regions of Ukraine, the Volga, and the Northern Caucasus, as the declassified Russian archives demonstrate.
http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/Tauger,%20Natural%20Disaster%20and%20Human%20Actions.pdf
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/faculty/harrison/archive/hunger/

Regarding the kulaks, there was no intent to harm them, but only to engage them in more productive parts of the economy. This campaign of resettlement was non-violent, as the kulaks were merely transferred to the Urals and Turkestan where they would work in the timber, fishing, and gold industries. Concerning kulak children, they received rights equal to the children of all citizens. The school network in the kulak settlements included some 200,000 students and 8000 teachers. In 1938, the children of ex-kulaks gained the right, at age sixteen, to leave their settlement in order to work or attend an institution of education. During the war, the ex-kulaks were rehabilitated: in January 1945, the ex-kulaks were granted all rights of Russian citizens. By the early 1950s, the kulaks had effectively assimilated into Russian society. Although some 390,000 ex-kulaks died between 1932-40 in their places of settlement, this statistic is devoid of context and does not consider certain important factors.

About 250,000 occurred during the famine of 1932-33 when such consequences could not have been averted as Russia as a whole was faced with a severe famine caused by natural disasters. Of the remaining 140,000 kulak deaths, the Government again cannot be held responsible because there will always be deaths due to natural causes in a given population. In the kulak settlements the death rate in the period 1935-40 was not any different from the Russian population as a whole. While the Russian crude death rate per 1000 people was 17.5 in 1939, that of the kulaks was 17.03. This demonstrates that the conditions of the kulaks were on par with the rest of Russia. It is undeniable that Russia experienced unprecedented economic and social progress in the 1930s. The kulak settlements were no exception. There was no intent to harm the kulaks, but only to concentrate them in a productive area of the national economy and to assimilate them into the rest of Russia.

Despite claims to the contrary, it is irrefutable that there was a formidable kulak class in Russia following the abolition of serfdom. After the shift to the new economic policy in 1921, kulak farming revived. By 1927 kulak farms numbered just over 1 million, or about 5 percent of the total number of farming units. Because they possessed significant means of production and used usurious methods, they continued to exploit the rural poor.

Quote
another five million or so people under the Great Terror.

Scholars have concluded through research in the archives that the number of death sentences during the Yezhovschina was about 500,000 or so. It should be taken into consideration that tens of thousands of members from the State and Party had been unjustly persecuted during this campaign. Hence, the Yezhovschina proportionately affected Communists far more than most other groups. About one-third of those sentenced to death were from diaspora nationalities including the Poles, Germans, Finns, Greeks, Bulgars, and others. In this sense, the Yezhovschina was to a large extent directed against foreigners in the context of increasing threats from Germany, Japan, Poland, and Finland. This suspicion of foreigners had more to do with traditional Russian xenophobia rather than the teachings of Marxism-Leninism.

Stalin and the members of the Politbureau cannot be held responsible for things getting out of hand throughout the country because the Central Government did not have firm control of the entire country. Out of the 500 thousand or so death sentences, Stalin and members of the Politbureau signed the names of about 45,000. The remainder was the result of the overzealous conduct of opportunistic officials trying to get rid of their rivals. In Turkmenia, the Yezhovschina was especially severe not because of Stalin but because of the excesses carried out by the local officials who were later reprimanded. Interestingly, many of those responsible for the Purge, including Yezhov and his deputy Frinovsky, had themselves been executed. Starting in the mid 1950s the Soviet Government moved to rehabilitate those that had been unjustly punished, including Tukhachevsky, Egorov, Bliukher, etc and ending with Bukharin and Zinoviev in 1988.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on February 06, 2008, 06:40:32 PM
Quote
Nor had she ever heard of the Communist atrocities under Mao in China – 30 million dead during the Great Leap Forward
Chinese demographic statistics suggest about 14 million died in the famine. No serious historian takes the view that the Chinese Government imposed a famine on the peasantry. The famine in China resulted from two successive years of natural calamities, declining harvests, and to a lesser extent the abrupt termination of Russian technological aid. As a result, grain output dropped from 200 million tons in 1959 to 170 million tons in 1960 to 144 million tons in 1961. Through the system of rationing grain reserves and large purchases of Canadian and Australian wheat, the Chinese Government helped to alleviate the situation. Famine has been a chronic feature of Chinese history. In the first chapter of his book on the famine, Jasper Becker notes that 1,828 major famines were recorded during the years 100BC-1911 AD, that their severity and frequency appeared to have increased over the centuries, and that an 1876 famine in northern China left 15 milion dead, a higher percentage of the population than in 1959-61.
Quote
another 5-10 million killed during the Cultural Revolution.

Most people in China had not even be aware of the Cultural Revolution, for the movement was primarily limited to the major urban areas. The Chinese Central Government in Beijing cannot reasonably be held responsible for the spontaneous excesses that resulted from the Red Guard’s lack of discipline, violent factionalism, vandalism, and outright hooliganism. The central authorities exhorted the Red Guard not to use force, ordered them not to interfere with the productive activities of the workers, admonished them for indiscriminate attacks on local and provincial State and Communist Party organizations, and criticized them for fomenting differences among the people. When the situation in the country got out of control, the People’s Liberation Army was brought in to restore peace. During the Cultural Revolution, many thousands of innocent State and Communist Party cadres, among them Deng Xiaoping, had been unjustly persecuted by the Red Guard and their leaders. The estimate that hundreds of thousands of people were killed is exaggerated and cannot be verified. When the Gang of Four were prosecuted, they were charged for the persecution of 729,511 people, some 34,8000 of which had died in prison or had committed suicide. When the Cultural Revolution was ended, the Chinese Government proceeded to rehabilitate those that had been unjustly punished, among them former President Liu Shaoqi.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on February 06, 2008, 07:16:27 PM
... Stalin and the members of the Politbureau cannot be held responsible for things getting out of hand throughout the country because the Central Government did not have firm control of the entire country.

Comrade stalin as the leader was 100% accountable for all the misery and destruction of society that was inflicted by his agents during his regime based on terrorism. Accountability can not be shared.  
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: amelia on February 06, 2008, 08:49:02 PM
Zvesda,

Have you ever read The Whishesperes? It is a book written by Orlando Figes, with a lot of interviews and research. While reading this book, I had many times tears in my eyes. I can not believe that you are trying to "protect" Stalin, when in my opinion he was far worst than Hitler.

Amelia
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on February 06, 2008, 08:54:48 PM
Quote
I can not believe that you are trying to "protect" Stalin, when in my opinion he was far worst than Hitler.
I acknowledge that there were abuses and excesses in Stalin's period; this was even acknowledged by the post-Stalin leadership. But these errors do not negate the overall positive legacy of his era.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on February 07, 2008, 12:42:25 AM
Quote
I can not believe that you are trying to "protect" Stalin, when in my opinion he was far worst than Hitler.
I acknowledge that there were abuses and excesses in Stalin's period; this was even acknowledged by the post-Stalin leadership. But these errors do not negate the overall positive legacy of his era.

Stalin's programs were driven by terror that left a land strewn with millions of dead whilst the survivors expressed hatred and fear.

Stalinist policies provided the following:

. Liquidation of minorities and classes of people deemed undesirable.

. To create socialist order: collectivization meant that millions of families were displaced and deported against their free will.  Millions died.

. Intelligence gathering became an artform of unprecedented proportions, which the ordinary citizen came to fear.

. The use of penal labor to build dams and railways.

. Siberia became an expansive penal colony. Any offense against the regime, including non-conformism ensured a sentence.

. Rigid control and strict censorship of all internal and foreign press and publications in all forms.

. Free speech between individuls at home, school, university and in the work place became a perilous exercise.

. Rampant extermination of political opposition, whether real or imagined.

. Occupation of the Baltic States.

. The forced repatriation under the Yalta Agreement, of cossacks, military personnel, non-combatant personnel who were captured by the nazis in WWII, met their death upon return to the homeland. Women were not excluded.

. Purging of musicians, artists and other individuals considered to be intellectuals.

. A one party system ensured that there were no opponents.

. Suppression of religion and the destruction of religious buildings and extermination of the clergy and believers.

These are just a few realities of the stalinist regime.

For anyone to suggest today that there was a positive legacy fails to truely comprehend the political, social and psychological consequences of the brutal and inhumane regime that shrouded the nation against their will. 

Margarita
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on February 07, 2008, 12:57:38 PM
Quote
I can not believe that you are trying to "protect" Stalin, when in my opinion he was far worst than Hitler.
I acknowledge that there were abuses and excesses in Stalin's period; this was even acknowledged by the post-Stalin leadership. But these errors do not negate the overall positive legacy of his era.

And what would that positive legacy be, pray tell?

I can remember studying that in 1910, the Ukraine supplied 10% of the world's grain exports. Stalin and his cronies (we cannot exempt the cronies from complicity in his crimes) destroyed such a viable agricultural region to the extent that after his Reign of Terror, the Soviet Union needed 10% of the world's total grain to import to feed a starving populace. So, is it your opinion that destruction of an agricultural infrastructure is a positive legacy in terms of population reduction?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: amelia on February 07, 2008, 02:39:18 PM
I would like to know, very much, the positive aspects of Stalin legacy. Could you please mention them?

Thanks Amelia
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on February 07, 2008, 02:50:08 PM
Quote
Stalin and his cronies (we cannot exempt the cronies from complicity in his crimes) destroyed such a viable agricultural region to the extent that after his Reign of Terror, the Soviet Union needed 10% of the world's total grain to import to feed a starving populace.
Actually, as late as the early 1970s, the Soviet Union was a grain exporter. Russia endured agricultural problems during and after the 1970s due to a large extent to frequent drought. While Russia endured three famines between 1921-1991, Russia had endured dozens of such famines in the 19th century. The Finnish famine of 1866-68 killed a staggering 20 percent of the population.

If it's Stalin's era you want to talk about, the fact that his policies helped to greatly modernize Russian agriculture. Above all, the introduction of the tractor to Russia helped to greatly increase agricultural productivity.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: antti on February 11, 2008, 02:35:31 AM
[color=yellow]"Actually, as late as the early 1970s, the Soviet Union was a grain exporter. Russia endured agricultural problems during and after the 1970s due to a large extent to frequent drought. While Russia endured three famines between 1921-1991, Russia had endured dozens of such famines in the 19th century. The Finnish famine of 1866-68 killed a staggering 20 percent of the population."[/color]

Dear Zvezda,
The finnish famine was caused by extreme wether conditions for several years in a row. Actually the Tsar did everything that something like that would not happend again in his Grand Duchy.
Please read more.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_famine_of_1866-1868
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Belochka on February 13, 2008, 05:25:59 PM
It seems that not everyone has noticed that the red star (krasnaya zvezda) no longer dominates the Kremlin.

Russia has changed and her people are no longer interested in reading revisionist communist interpretation of history based on disinformation and bombasitic prose.

Today's Russian people are becoming aware of the atrocities, the purges and how the stalinist regime had attempted to destroy the very essence of society.

Time to respect the rejuvenated Russian nation and her people and begin to offer original thoughts and evidence based history.

Margarita
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: AGRBear on February 25, 2008, 10:26:36 AM
My one ancestor,  who was an inventor and a dreamer,  brought in the first tractors in the Odessa area before he migrated in 1910.

This was when the farmers were producing more wheat, etc.  then Russia was in the 1970s.



When I first joined this forum there was a group of pro-communists spouting their  age old facts which Stalin and his  comrads wanted the Russians and the rest of the world to believe.   It little mattered what I wrote and used as sources,   they just refused to believe them,  and, now, I can make a sure bet that you will, also.  But here goes another attempt to disclosed the truth.

One of the topics we went into was that of the  two famines ( the first   in the early 1920 and  the second starvation early 1930s.  I gave the estimated  number of people  who died between 1920 and 1935.  Your fellow conrades gave their numbers,  which were very low,  and what Stalin wanted us to believe.  However, slowly but surly the facts have been collected.  For example,  just in one area Tirraspol and one Catholic diocese which had 352,000 souls some 100,000 starved to death.  And with each area and each group, be it religious or ethnic,  the numbers grew  and grew and grew....   5 million then to 10 million then to 25 million....  ?? million....

Stalin and his comrades blamed the "drought".   A  drought  did occured in 1921.  But was this drought different than other droughts?  If just speaking of the weather, then the answer is: "  No."  It was not different.  Then what was different and what created the famine? 

In the fall of 1918 the Bolsheviks'  oganization called the Soviet Food Commissarian who granted the "worker columns"  the right to  collect food from the peasants whenever they wished,  and there was no limit as to how much they could take....  To the peasants this "was the largest wholesale looting operations in history"   wrote Joseph S. Height in his book Paradisse on the Steppe p. 322.  Exactly how much did they loot?  Half a million tons in 1918.  Two million tons in 1919.  1920 almost six million tons.  And,  when this occured they not only took a huge amount they didn't leave the farmer anything in his  storage which would have been used for  farther bad harvests or what we called "those rainy days".   Added to this,  it wasn't just the grain,  the looters took the seeds.... the horese,  the cows,  the sheep, even the chickens....

When there was nothing left to loot,  the Bolsheviks took the village men, lined them up and with machine guns killed them in hopes to scare other farmers into revealing their hiding places because they couldn't seem to understand there was nothing left.....

If you do not believe me,  then you do not believe the truth of what occured.

If you claim there was terrible injustices by everyone,  the starving people really can't put up much of a fight  ....

This is how it worked before the insanity and greed of the Bolsheviks:

p. 329:

Quote
In the days of the Czar there used to exst in all the German colonies a wonderful institution-- the communal wheat storage granary.  In periodical years of poor harvest there occured a scarity of food,  epsecially bread, fr the poor people.  But no one ever died of starvation, because in the years of plenty every farmer had to deliver a certain part of his wheat crop into the communal granary.  When there was a poor year, these reserves were divided among the needy.  But no such reserves were avaiable under the Bolshevikst regime of reckless exportation.

I haven't even mentioned  Stalin's "Five Year Plan" or his deportation of the peasantry into forced labor camps.  Stalin took the farmer who knew how to be productive and sent them off to Siberian labor camps....   Left were the peasants who had little knowledge of the land and how to grow crops and if they did they weren't given seeds because there wasn't any.... and,  they needed horses or oxen to till the soil and there were few of them around....

In order to protect the loot from the starving peasants,  Stalin hired "agents of justice".  I believe the number is estimated to have been about 700,000  men.    This resulted in Stalin being able to export seven hundred and ninteen thousand tones of wheat in 1931, which is called a "famine year",  while Russians  were hungry and dying... And in 1933 which is called a "famine year",  Stalin sent an addtional one million, eight hundred thousdand tons abroad to pay for te import of industrial equipment.

We have no idea how many Russians starved to death in 1931 to 1933.

As you can see,  the drought s  of 1921  and 1931 were  not the real reason that  millions and millions of  people died in Russia of starvation from 1920 to the 1930s.

AGRBear



Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Zvezda on February 25, 2008, 04:28:42 PM
Quote
Exactly how much did they loot? 

This is simply wrong. One should keep in mind that the Soviet Government throughout 1918 did not have control of the grain producing regions. Ukraine from February to November 1918 was a German puppet state. The Don and Kuban provinces were controlled by the bloodthirsty Cossack warlords. Siberia were occupied by the Czech and Japanese aggressors, Admiral Kolchak, and bloodthirsty warlords like Semenov.

Some people attribute superhuman qualities to the soviet Russian State by basically blaming it for a famine that struck Russia in 1921. Such claims like “Communists demanded more grain, not less from the peasants to the point that they were driven to starvation.” are at the least misleading. Famine first emerged in Russia in 1916, leading to food riots in the spring of 1917. The shortages turned into a major crisis following the 1917 harvest. The Soviet government was able only to collect a fraction of the necessary grain which was transferred from village to town in normal years. During most of the civil war, the vital agricultural regions of Ukraine, the North Caucasus, Siberia, and part of the Volga were under the occupation of the White Guard forces and foreign interventionists. As a result, Grain collections by the Soviet state declined from 8. million tons in the 1916/17 season to to 2.0 million in 1918/1919. In 1920/21, the grain requisitions increased to 6 million tons, most of which had come from territory that just been liberated. In the spring of 1921,the government moved away from requisitioning and reintroduced the market. The famine resulted from poor weather and a poor harvest in 1920 and severe drought in 1921. The 1920 harvest was only 60 percent of the pre-war level in 1920 and even smaller in 1921. The Soviet Government had always publicly acknowledged famine and accepted proposals from international agencies to organize aid. The claim that the Soviet state was exporting “large amounts of grain” is factually incorrect. Russian statistics show that only 115 tons of grain were exported in 1921-22 compared to 3000 thousand tons in 1926. In other words, the export level of 1921 was basically 0 percent of a normal economic year.

Grain requisitions were put in place by the Tsarist autocracy during the imperialist war. Even in the grain rich areas of Ukraine and South Russia, and Siberia,the regimes of Kolchak, Skoropadsky, Denikin, and Wrangel resorted to coercion to take grain due to shortages. In Siberia, the Kolchak “government” imposed a law requiring all surpluses to be transferred to the state. Wrangel invaded the Crimea in search of grain and even introduced a foreign trade monopoly in order to prevent exports. By the end of 1919 peasants were merely given paper receipts in exchange for requisitioned food.

Quote
And in 1933 which is called a "famine year",  Stalin sent an addtional one million, eight hundred thousdand tons abroad to pay for te import of industrial equipment.
The scholar Mark Tauger, one of the few scholars to have actually carried out research on 20th century Russian agriculture, concludes that the famine resulted from that the famine of 1932-33 famine was the result of a genuine shortage, a substantial decline in the availability of food caused by a variety of factors, each of which decreased the harvest greatly and which in combination must have decreased the harvest well below subsistence. Any understanding of the Soviet famine of 1932-33 must start from the background of chronic agricultural crisis in the early Soviet years, the harvest failures of 1931 and 1932, and the interaction of environmental and human factors that caused them. In 1932, extremely dry weather reduced crops in some regions, and unusually wet and humid weather in most others fostered unprecedented infestations. These conditions from the start reduced the potnetial yield that year, as drought had in 1931.

While Russia experienced chronic drought and other natural disasters earlier, those in 1932 were an unusual and severe combination of calamities in a country with heightened vulnerability to such incidents. That the Russian Government through its rationing systems fed more than 50 million people, including peasants, during the famine indicate that it was genuinely committed to alleviating the situation.

There is no foundation that the Russian Government in 1931 and 1932 had resorted to excessive procurements. With the rapid growth in the urban population, increased requisitions were necessary to feed the workers. Procurement of grain in the period 1930-33 amounted to about 22 million tons. In 1932, procurements were much lower at 18 million tons. As grain procurement continued following the 1933 famine, Russia did not experience another famine in the 1930s.

Tauger's groundbreaking essay is found here:
http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/Tauger,%20Natural%20Disaster%20and%20Human%20Actions.pdf

Quote
We have no idea how many Russians starved to death in 1931 to 1933.
Actually, the Russian archives provide precise figures of the death rates between 1926-33. They are located here:
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/faculty/harrison/archive/hunger/

The archives demonstrate that excess deaths were as follows:
Ukraine: 1.54 million
Northern Caucasus: 300,000
Volga: 270,000
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on February 25, 2008, 11:25:59 PM
Hi Zvezda...

It's nice to have someone on this board who has a very different point of view and who has very different resources and statistics at his or her disposal. It would be helpful if everyone would cite their sources for how many died when, etc.

It is hard to establish a causal relationship vs. a temporal one for some of the alleged improvements brought by Stalin, though. In America, many say that Ronald Reagan was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union. They believe that because he took such a tough stance, and because he outspent the Russian military on the fictional Star Wars missle defense system, he precipitated the crisis that led to the collapse. But I was working in Washington when Reagan took office; and I was in Leningrad in the summer of 1985, studying Russian at LGU. I studied International Affairs/Soviet Studies in college, writing my thesis on Afghanistan, and took Russian for 7.5 years. My personal take was that the USSR was on the verge of collapse for a variety of reasons, primarily because of the fact that outside of the cities it was a third-world country. Only the cities took the leap forward... Corruption was another reason. As were the gross inefficiencies in the "Communist" system. I believe that it was just coincidence that the Soviet Union collapsed more or less on Reagan's watch, and people mistake this temporal happenstance for cause. In fact, it may be that Reagan's harsh stance delayed the collapse and prolonged the agony.

It's possible that you are making the same mistake with Stalin. You assume that because certain supposed improvement occurred when he was in power, these improvements *resulted* from his administration. Perhaps some did. But you have to ask the question: what would have happened otherwise?

I believe that absent Reagan, the USSR would still have collapsed. And I believe that absent Stalin, the Russian economy and social order would still have improved. This is partly because I believe that, contrary to the cult of personality, "great men" don't matter that much in history. (I also think Russia would have Westernized to some degree without the influence of Peter the Great, even at that time). I completely agree that the autocratic system was a total disaster and that Russia was indescribably backward as a result of the feudal regime. But was Leninism/Stalinism the only alternative? What if the previous revolution had been successful? Or, what if the October Revolution had morphed into the NEP and stuck to that course? Would a capitalistic system have brought more suffering to Russia, or less? More progress, or less? We can say that X and Y events/achievements occurred during Stalin's regime, but can we truly say that they occurred *because* of him, or in spite of him? Here, several have argued that Stalin's policies precipitated the famine. Surely you are right that weather, war, and a variety of other factors contributed. But I think people here are saying that absent Stalin, the famine would not have killed so many, that the country (or countries, it might have been, had the Russian Empire collapsed and the USSR not arisen in its place) would have recovered more quickly under a system that enabled individual initiative (those nasty kulaks) and ingenuity.

It's a thought experiment. It's hard to point to parallel examples, except perhaps to point out that capitalism did serve the Western world quite well--they moved out of feudalism faster than Russia did. Perhaps if Russia had gone from the Romanov stagnation to outright capitalism it would have caught up faster. Certainly one could make the case that India has been kicking butt lately, without a whole lot of communism or Stalinist policies going on. Not that it's wonderful there, just that it's moving fast, without such resorting to such dire means.




Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on February 25, 2008, 11:36:58 PM
cont'd...

And then you might ask: what's the point of it all, anyway? Russia modernized rapidly (and extremely unevenly)--to what end? Obviously, there needed to be improvements in the quality of life among the peasants and workers. Would this NOT have occurred under almost any other scenario in which the autocratic system collapsed? Was the amount of gain worth the cost in life, and suffering, and worth the cost to the Russian soul? Was it worth being transformed into a nation of thugs and psychopaths and post-traumatic stress victims and alcoholics? All this, just to be a super power? Hey, I live in a super power. Who cares? If Russia had fragmented into a dozen smaller countries with no real standing in the world, what would be the loss, existentially?

So, it would be Sweden. It would be Canada. It would be New Zealand. Is that such a bad life? Would more modest "progress," under less severe conditions, and with a less repressive regime, actually have been preferrable?

The means employed were terrible. They were used according to the premise that the ends justify the means. But what were the ends? To what end has the Soviet Union and its successors come? (The end of dying by low birth rate, it seems, and being swallowed by Islam in a generation or two, face the facts.) And shouldn't it always be the opposite if you mean to be a revolutionary? Shouldn't the means always be *worthy* of the ends you seek?

And, finally, were not those who rose up in protest against the brutality of the Soviet regime the true heroes? Weren't they justified? And if so, weren't the means used to repress rebellion (if you are doing the right thing, there will be no rebellion), truly inexcusable? If the revolution is the people's will and in the people's best interest, then why was there so much need for repression?

The most damning aspect of the Soviet regime was its refusal to let people emigrate. If people want to leave, it means you're not doing a good job. If you're keeping them there by force... what is the logic? How can you argue that it's a superior system, when you have to force people to stay?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on February 26, 2008, 12:32:39 AM



The Soviet Union began with revolution, but the totalitarian nature of it and other regimes in the 20th century was previously unknown in previous annuls of recorded history. Of course people suffer in revolutions, but that is completely beside the point.

The government which followed the collapsed Tsarist state and its successor Provisional government practiced an intense hatred and oppression against its own people. It destroyed all kinds of resources and did untold environmental damage. It murdered tens of millions of people, the number of which will never be known. The Aral Sea has virtually disappeared due to Soviet contempt for the environment. It will take many generations for the former Soviet Union to recover from the hateful policies of its state.

And this we could not say was due solely to revolution.


Lisa,

I agree, the regime that followed the Russian revolution was despicable and possibly unprecedented. It had its own special patina of horror... well, there was a lot of atrocity going on in the 20th century, not all of it atrributable to communism, but much of it attributable to totalitarianism (I would argue that Pol Pot, for example, was not really a communist, but a tribal monster). I might not go as far as to say it was the worst in history...perhaps in recorded history, but not in glimpsed history... see Charles Mann's 1491 for a revised view of the Inca empire. But still, at least as ugly as it's gotten so far.

I would still argue, though, that the American Revolution was out of proportion to its cause...that the response was excessive in regard to  the impetus, that if we'd stayed an English colony and turned out like Canada things wouldn't be THAT bad, and the loss of life and general upheaval would have been less. I would also argue that we wear blinders about the cost of our system. To the Native Americans, to the slaves, to the laborers, the unionizers, the coal miners mowed down in corporate massacres, the interned Japanese, and the possibily soon-to- be-rounded-up "illegal" Mexicans... was our approach as bad as Stalinism? Of course not. But there was a cost, a cost disproportionate to the gain, and mostly unsung. And I would repeat my earlier point that capitalism outsources its atrocities. So, we don't turn our guns on our own people as much. But what is the difference? People are people. Is it better that we pay death squads to wipe out entire Latin American villages/regions? That we undo democratic elections in other countries? That we support dictators who disappear their people and gas ethnic minorities? We're not great on the environment, but again we outsource the damage. What's happened to the environments of South America, the Middle East, and Africa as a result of our political and economic policies?

Capitalism is built on colonialism. Extraction is its root.

And certainly the growth of our country was utterly dependent on colonialism and on slavery. So I guess it depends on which side of the gun you're on in terms of how repressive you view a particular system. We're nicer to our own people. But an El Salvadoran villager's life is worth just as much as yours or mine.

Which system to live under? Well, I'll pick ours, of course. (Well, actually, I'd prefer the vacation packages and healthcare of Western Europe.) But in terms of worldwide damage done, we're probably a close second or third to Russia and China. Though I would also say that the responsibility for some of the damage is shared by the regimes and groups we've colluded with in other countries.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: klava1985 on February 26, 2008, 12:35:38 AM
cont'd...

And think again of the other colonial empires. The English? Nice people? I don't think so. Very civilized within their own borders, utterly barbaric without. Still are. Africa being a case in point. Africa is always the case in point. Any idea how many people have died over sugar and tea? And English history during the medieval period wasn't exactly about treating your own people kindly. There just were only so many people you could kill back then.

The Japanese? My God...the stories about what they did in China and Korea etc will make your skin crawl.

So it it just numbers we're talking about? Was the Soviet regime just quantifiably more evil, or was it qualitatively more evil? Is it fundamentally different if you murder your own people or if you pay someone else to murder theirs when they happen to be in the way of your economic policy? What if *they* (the Soviets) kill 10 million, and you are only responsible (and indirectly, bec you only provided the money and the guns, and oh yeah a few advisors and maybe some mercenaries) for a million or so? Is it just a matter of containing collateral damage?

I'm not sure there's really anything new under the sun. The numbers were higher in Russia, but the mentality? The amorality? I think there are non-communist, even non-totalitarian systems that have been as bad. They just took it outside and did it in the dark.

Does this justify Stalin? Does this justify a system that enables a sociopath to that degree? No. I think even Stalin was horrified at the extremes to which he was able to go, by the end. No one stopped him. Unbelievable. It wasn't just Stalin. The Russian people rolled over and gave him their throat. There was a guy who sat in a basement executing Polish officers with a pistol. Thousands. 8-10 hours per day, a shot to each neck. Just a day's, week's, month's year's, several years' work. What is UP with a person like that? Wouldn't you rather take a shot to your own neck than go back to work at that task, day after day after day? Even the life of my family isn't worth that. Like I said, I think even Stalin was horrified at the extent to which people were willing to go. His subjects were like algae, like lichens, just fighting for a foothold, really. Willing to do whatever it took for a few moments of sunshine. Stalin was like a kid testing limits, and no one set any.

I think utter disgust is a reasonable response.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on February 27, 2008, 12:48:04 AM
While I agree that there were unfortunate outcomes with the American Revolution, these have occured over a period of centuries. The abuses of the Soviet system happened in a couple of generations - and at a far greater cost of human life.

I also disagree about Stalin's horror at his own abuse of power. On the contrary, everything I've read indicates he reveled in the slaughter of innocent people.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on May 31, 2008, 08:03:29 AM
No matter how much one reads about Lenin and Stalin, their abused of power was beyond the limits of acceptabiity and I believe they both enjoyed very much what they did and enjoyed even more their hold of power over the peoples. Stalin finally had his slap in the face wake up time when he realized all too late of
when Germany moved against Russia. I think that's when he realized even more he needed the people on his side and 'allowed' the peoples to open their churches and places of faith. Not that he was a believer, his only belief was as the devil himself and reveled primarily in destroying people in every way, especially all who opposed him. Look what the brute did to his only son. That's not a father, that's not a leader, that's not a man. But to be sure, he and Lenin were the scourge and monstor of those 'communist years'. Neither of them were worth the extremes of loss of human life in and trough out Russia.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 02, 2008, 04:43:46 PM
cont'd...

And think again of the other colonial empires. The English? Nice people? I don't think so. Very civilized within their own borders, utterly barbaric without. Still are. Africa being a case in point. Africa is always the case in point. Any idea how many people have died over sugar and tea? And English history during the medieval period wasn't exactly about treating your own people kindly. There just were only so many people you could kill back then.

The Japanese? My God...the stories about what they did in China and Korea etc will make your skin crawl.

So it it just numbers we're talking about? Was the Soviet regime just quantifiably more evil, or was it qualitatively more evil? Is it fundamentally different if you murder your own people or if you pay someone else to murder theirs when they happen to be in the way of your economic policy? What if *they* (the Soviets) kill 10 million, and you are only responsible (and indirectly, bec you only provided the money and the guns, and oh yeah a few advisors and maybe some mercenaries) for a million or so? Is it just a matter of containing collateral damage?

I'm not sure there's really anything new under the sun. The numbers were higher in Russia, but the mentality? The amorality? I think there are non-communist, even non-totalitarian systems that have been as bad. They just took it outside and did it in the dark.

Does this justify Stalin? Does this justify a system that enables a sociopath to that degree? No. I think even Stalin was horrified at the extremes to which he was able to go, by the end. No one stopped him. Unbelievable. It wasn't just Stalin. The Russian people rolled over and gave him their throat. There was a guy who sat in a basement executing Polish officers with a pistol. Thousands. 8-10 hours per day, a shot to each neck. Just a day's, week's, month's year's, several years' work. What is UP with a person like that? Wouldn't you rather take a shot to your own neck than go back to work at that task, day after day after day? Even the life of my family isn't worth that. Like I said, I think even Stalin was horrified at the extent to which people were willing to go. His subjects were like algae, like lichens, just fighting for a foothold, really. Willing to do whatever it took for a few moments of sunshine. Stalin was like a kid testing limits, and no one set any.

I think utter disgust is a reasonable response.

Anything with the word reasonable attached does not compute when it comes to Stalin. He was not horrified at what he could do, he positively reveled in it. And, yes, he was a man, a human being - but a horrible example of one at that. People endured so much under him and his buddy Lenin - they believed they were building a just society. Instead, they were just building a gulag for the few who survived the murder and torture of their regime.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Dmitrieff on June 06, 2008, 03:36:46 PM
I also disagree about Stalin's horror at his own abuse of power. On the contrary, everything I've read indicates he reveled in the slaughter of innocent people.

Yes, that is also the officially accepted point of view. So it's only natural that you hold such an opinion. You need to set a higher standard for yourself.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nikl on June 06, 2008, 06:01:06 PM
Quote
Stalin and his cronies (we cannot exempt the cronies from complicity in his crimes) destroyed such a viable agricultural region to the extent that after his Reign of Terror, the Soviet Union needed 10% of the world's total grain to import to feed a starving populace.
Actually, as late as the early 1970s, the Soviet Union was a grain exporter. Russia endured agricultural problems during and after the 1970s due to a large extent to frequent drought. While Russia endured three famines between 1921-1991, Russia had endured dozens of such famines in the 19th century. The Finnish famine of 1866-68 killed a staggering 20 percent of the population.

If it's Stalin's era you want to talk about, the fact that his policies helped to greatly modernize Russian agriculture. Above all, the introduction of the tractor to Russia helped to greatly increase agricultural productivity.
Here is something for you to read:

Around 20 million (citing The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al) to 35 million (citing A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia by Alexander Yakovlev) killed in all, from 1917 to 1991

250,000 executed by the Cheka during the "Red Terror" and Russian civil war. (citing The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police by George Leggett) But it could be much higher (see my sig)

Between 300,000 and 500,000 Cossacks killed or deported in 1919 and 1920 (known as "de-Cossackization"; not sure how many of these deaths overlap with the aforementioned Cheka executions - if at all). (citing The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al)

Between 7.2 to 10.8 million deaths during dekulakization and collectivization - which caused a famine the regime used as a weapon against supposed "class enemies" (citing Stalin and His Hangmen: the Tyrant and Those Who Killed For Him by Donald Rayfield)

Around 700,000 executed during the Great Terror of 1937-38 (citing Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore); this does not include those who were beaten/tortured to death during "interrogation" or deaths in the gulag during this time, which would put it over a million.

Over 1 million Polish citizens deported by November 1940; 30% of whom were dead by 1941 (citing Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore) and 21,857 executed outright (i.e. Katyn) by the NKVD during the Nazi-Soviet pact (citing Autopsy for an Empire by Dimitri Volkogonov)

A total of 34,250 Latvians and around 60,000 Estonians and 75,000 Lithuanians murdered or deported during Nazi-Soviet pact (citing Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore)

An estimated 4.5 million (citing Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum) to 12 million (citing How to Prevent Genocide: A Guide for Policymakers, Scholars, and the Concerned Citizen by John G. Heidenrich) deaths in the Gulag from 1918 to 1956. 

(I'm leaving out Stalin's ethnic cleansing of minorities in the USSR during WWII - Chechens, Crimean Taters, Kalmyks, Volga Germans, etc. - accused of "collaboration" with the Germans. I can't think of a source for that one off the top of my head. I'm sure hundreds of thousands perished though)

Haven't read as much on Mao Tse-tung, but the new biography of him by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (Mao: The Unknown Story) estimates "well over 70 million" perished as a result of Mao's policies which, if true, makes him the biggest mass killer in history.

Broken down looks like this:
3 million deaths during land reform and the "campaign to suppress counter-revolutionaries"
38 million deaths during "Great Leap Forward"
3 million deaths during the Cultural Revolution

What do you think about that?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 07, 2008, 04:08:41 PM
I also disagree about Stalin's horror at his own abuse of power. On the contrary, everything I've read indicates he reveled in the slaughter of innocent people.

Yes, that is also the officially accepted point of view. So it's only natural that you hold such an opinion. You need to set a higher standard for yourself.

You need to get a grip. There is no "officially accepted point of view", at least not in the circle of historians in which I trave. And, I am not someone for you or anyone else to talk down to?
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on June 07, 2008, 08:12:01 PM
I also disagree about Stalin's horror at his own abuse of power. On the contrary, everything I've read indicates he reveled in the slaughter of innocent people.
Yes, that is also the officially accepted point of view. So it's only natural that you hold such an opinion. You need to set a higher standard for yourself.

It isn’t a “point of view” or matter of opinion. There is nothing to suggest that he ever felt the least bit of remorse regarding his actions. As for the actions themselves, it is a proven fact that Stalin sentenced millions of his own people to death and exile in gulags. The records kept by his own government – not some body hostile to him – but HIS OWN government (I feel that point should be emphasized) confirm that as fact. Why would the Cheka and their successors at the NKVD and the KGB have lied in their own records about murdering people? These were private records that they never expected anyone to read apart from perhaps Stalin himself. There would be no reason for them to fabricate tales of brutality implicating Stalin. If anything, to do so would have been to risk their own lives if they displeased Stalin.

Now you could argue that these people – Stalin’s victims - deserved to be exiled, imprisoned and/or murdered, but I would love to know what in your opinion would justify their persecution.

I would suggest you try to broaden your own horizons and read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago”.
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Tania+ on June 07, 2008, 09:17:07 PM
Thank you Nadia; it is extremely important that people and youth read and retain what they have read so that when they enter into any discussion here on the Alexander Palace or even off line, they will be able to coherently and astutely slide in without personal affronts to any person or and of those discussion matters.

So many have entered these portals with an 'i will conquer and show them they are all wrong' when history itself is and has already been addressed by countless 'known' historians who can testify to time, place, persons, and incidents where needed. No they are not all correct, and at times from those who have been kind enough to delve in and research till they really pegged it down, and posted their findings, then we gain that much more to the historical narratives, and understandings.

But to come to any discussion place with arrogance, and a know it all persona, 'even if one knows it all' does not set well with most readers, and with the public at large
Manners are and is an essential part of communication. Here on this site there arewonderful moderators who bend over backwards to help the process of communication. Lisa is another exceptional person.

But BTT - thanks again Nadia and Lisa for your input. : )
Tatiana+
Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on June 07, 2008, 09:34:24 PM
You are welcome, Tania. I don't question the assertion of other posters that other societies have committed atrocities, or that Tsarism was far from ideal and that crimes were committed during that period, but it is absurd to suggest that Communism was an improvement. As the age old saying goes - two wrongs don't make a right. I imagine my own comments will seem arrogant to some. They aren't meant to be and I apologize in advance to anyone they may insult. I'm rather blunt and I just can't help but respond to something I believe is untrue or incorrect. You are right that no one knows it all, though. We all have our opinions based on what we have read (or failed to read) and they must be taken for what they are worth. ;-)

No. I think even Stalin was horrified at the extremes to which he was able to go, by the end. No one stopped him. Unbelievable. It wasn't just Stalin. The Russian people rolled over and gave him their throat. There was a guy who sat in a basement executing Polish officers with a pistol. Thousands. 8-10 hours per day, a shot to each neck. Just a day's, week's, month's year's, several years' work. What is UP with a person like that? …Like I said, I think even Stalin was horrified at the extent to which people were willing to go. His subjects were like algae, like lichens, just fighting for a foothold, really. Willing to do whatever it took for a few moments of sunshine. Stalin was like a kid testing limits, and no one set any.

There is nothing, no evidence whatsoever, to suggest that Stalin was “horrified” by the brutality he instigated. If you know of any source that suggests otherwise I would be sincerely interested in reading it. Everything that I have ever read indicates that he had no regrets about what he had done to his people and continued to commit atrocities right up until the very end of his life. His daughter Svetlana stated that he felt no remorse. She described her father as “"a moral and spiritual monster.” Even the works of those Western European historians who were openly in favor of Communism didn't suggest that Stalin regretted his actions. There were those who claimed Stalin was unaware of atrocities occurring in Russia, but that claim can be easily disproved. His wife Nadezhda committed suicide, because she could no longer stand his misdeeds. His only response was to privately declare her a traitor. He then had her relatives put in gulags. Not precisely the act of a remorseful man, you must admit. He allowed his son from his first marriage to perish in a concentration camp rather than save him. Why did he leave him there? Because he believed that ALL Russians who had the misfortune to be captured by the Nazis during the war were “traitors.” Yakov Dzhugashvili was shot in 1943 while trying to escape from the Nazi concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. As for the other unfortunate Russian POWs – many of them were freed from Germans concentration camps only to be shipped by Stalin to Russian gulags for the “crime” of being captured by the Germans. Real patriots, you see, wouldn’t have allowed themselves to become POWs in Stalin’s opinion. There is no evidence that Stalin ever felt compassion for, or showed mercy to, any living soul. Stalin wasn’t a “child testing limits”. He was a paranoid sociopath who attacked any and all persons he considered to be “enemies”.

As for the Russian people rolling over and giving Stalin their throats, nonsense. What were they supposed to do? They had no way of reaching Stalin. You can argue that dying in a noble act of resistance is preferable, but very few people are that brave in reality. History proves that fact time and again. The Russian people are not to blame for Stalin’s behavior. He alone chose to commit murder and it seems unfair to blame Stalin’s victims for his crimes.

You are correct that it wasn’t “just” Stalin. Every dictator needs flunkies - like that executioner in the basement - to carry out their orders. The fact remains that Stalin, not that officer executing Poles, was the leader of the USSR. As the leader the majority of the blame for all that occurred during Stalin’s time at the helm lies at his door, not on the shoulders of his underlings, regardless of how despicable they were.

The most damning aspect of the Soviet regime was its refusal to let people emigrate.

Again, I would beg to differ.  The refusal to allow emigration, while unfortunate and unjust, wasn’t the “most damning” aspect of Soviet rule IMHO. The most damning aspect of the Soviet system was that it punished and murdered millions for no reason. Once again, just to make myself clear, that isn’t to suggest that other societies have not done the same, but their actions don’t justify Stalin and Lenin’s crimes.

And, finally, were not those who rose up in protest against the brutality of the Soviet regime the true heroes?

Yes, of course they were. I don’t question that many Russians disapproved of their government’s tactics. Frankly, I don’t think the Russian people as a whole can or should be blamed for most of what occurred after the Revolution. The atrocities that took place during the Stalinist era, certainly, were the result of the actions, political beliefs and decisions, of a relative few. The average Russian had absolutely no control over their government and the Russians/Soviets were themselves the primary victims of Stalin (who was actually Georgian not Russian). To condemn Stalin and Lenin is not to condemn the average Russian. You can question the decency of a nation’s government without questioning the decency of her people. The Russians are deserving of great praise for their rich culture, pride and perseverance. I don’t think anyone who posts on this board would disagree with that.

Title: Re: Soviet Atrocities
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on June 07, 2008, 09:53:14 PM
I agree, the regime that followed the Russian revolution was despicable and possibly unprecedented…I would still argue, though, that the American Revolution was out of proportion to its cause...that the response was excessive in regard to the impetus, that if we'd stayed an English colony and turned out like Canada things wouldn't be THAT bad, and the loss of life and general upheaval would have been less. I would also argue that we wear blinders about the cost of our system. To the Native Americans, to the slaves, to the laborers, the unionizers, the coal miners mowed down in corporate massacres, the interned Japanese, and the possibily soon-to- be-rounded-up "illegal" Mexicans... was our approach as bad as Stalinism? Of course not. But there was a cost, a cost disproportionate to the gain, and mostly unsung. And I would repeat my earlier point that capitalism outsources its atrocities. So, we don't turn our guns on our own people as much. But what is the difference? People are people. Is it better that we pay death squads to wipe out entire Latin American villages/regions? That we undo democratic elections in other countries?

On one hand you state that you do not believe the atrocities of others justify Stalin’s own crimes. Then you state that “people are people.” Is your point that we shouldn’t mention Stalin’s crimes because our government and other governments have also committed crimes? You ask “what is the difference.” Perhaps there is no difference, but that doesn’t mean his crimes should go unmentioned or unexamined because others were equally criminal and despicable.

There is no question that other nations/cultures have committed atrocities. Virtually every nation that has ever possessed power of any kind has abused that power. I’m well aware of the rape of Nanking by the Japanese. I am also fully aware of the abuses of the Communist Government in China against its own people, Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, the US government’s hideous abuses of power at home and abroad, the Nazis’ crimes, the atrocities committed by the British, Belgians, Spanish and the French over the centuries in their colonies. I’m not “blind” to any of that. Still, I don’t see what that has to do with Stalin.

No one to my knowledge has suggested that the Honduran death squads led by the CIA and John Negroponte in the 80s were the actions of just leaders. Of course they weren’t. However, the actions of the American government in Latin America and the Latin American dictators we supported, isn’t the subject of this thread. Neither is the subject of this thread whether or not the American Revolution was justified. Personally, I feel that is was justified and have no regrets about splitting from the British Empire. IMHO our one great fault wasn’t ridding ourselves of British rule, but that we have thus far failed to live up to the ideals set out in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, that is also not the subject of this thread. Neither is capitalism and its faults. I'm not suggesting that you don't have the right to discuss or broach other subjects here. I'm not a moderator and I have no right to make such assertions. I'm only making the point that Stalin and Soviet atrocities are the subject of this thread and that is the reason why they – and not the atrocities of other nations – are the main focus of this thread. It isn’t because all of the posters are “blind” to these other events or considered them some how less horrendous or justifiable.

As you yourself state, horrific acts committed by others do not excuse Stalin. They merely serve to condemn the leaders who carried them out. They do not change the fact that Stalin was a monster. Comparing the suffering of others is pointless. One cannot quantify or measure suffering. The victims of Stalin deserve to be remembered and the crimes of Stalin recognized, just as the victims of other atrocities deserve recognition. If people are to overcome their history rather than repeat it they must first learn to honestly assess history. That rule IMO pertains not only Russia but to all nations. I would agree that we in the West are equally guilty of failure in that respect.

As for outsourcing atrocities, the Soviets did that too. In their case primarily to Eastern Europe and Afghanistan.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Ausmanov on March 10, 2009, 04:07:35 PM
Emyrna, while it would be great if justice could brought for these crimes. I take comfort in the fact that those who committed these crimes will face their consequences before God.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on March 11, 2009, 03:07:13 PM
I take comfort in the fact that those who committed these crimes will face their consequences before God.


Well said!, I have to agree with you, fortunately, the Tsar Nicholas II and his family have been rehabilitated recently, I think.
As well as having been sanctified by the Orthodox Church in 2000.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Ausmanov on March 11, 2009, 04:10:21 PM
RomanovsFan4Ever, I read that too. I thought it was quite an interesting article. I believe both of those are very positive steps, but i also believe that its a shame that it has taken so long for it to happen.
Ive included the website with the rehabilitation story on it for anyone that hasn't read it.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,24432076-1702,00.html
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on March 11, 2009, 04:43:31 PM
I believe both of those are very positive steps, but i also believe that its a shame that it has taken so long for it to happen.


Yes, you are right!, it has taken 90 years to happen, too long.  :(
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Tina Laroche on March 21, 2009, 01:24:40 PM
I believe both of those are very positive steps, but i also believe that its a shame that it has taken so long for it to happen.


Yes, you are right!, it has taken 90 years to happen, too long.  :(

Well, I think that's because of the communism...
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Ausmanov on March 23, 2009, 03:02:04 AM
Hello *Tina*. I agree with you.As I understand it {i could be wrong} Imperial Russian history was for a long time not allowed to be openly discussed or researched in Russia and i doubt wether the prior government would have approved of allot of the positive steps taken in recent history. I thank God that that sittuation has improved and the Russian people are now free to peice together their glorious history.
Title: Re: The Killing Of Disabled & Innocent Children,etc.
Post by: Tina Laroche on March 23, 2009, 12:44:06 PM
Hello *Tina*. I agree with you.As I understand it {i could be wrong} Imperial Russian history was for a long time not allowed to be openly discussed or researched in Russia and i doubt wether the prior government would have approved of allot of the positive steps taken in recent history. I thank God that that sittuation has improved and the Russian people are now free to peice together their glorious history.

Thanks for your reply, Ausmanov. Well, I think that the Imperial history wasn't very popular then. In the whole Soviet Union. Kids didn't study it a lot (or at all?) in school, there weren't any open discussions, etc...