Author Topic: No Stalin, no Hitler?  (Read 99541 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Robert_Hall

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #225 on: February 07, 2009, 06:32:34 PM »
Well, hell and damnation  do not matter if you do not believe in them , do they?
I am not, by any means, denying that Stalin was a nutcase.  What I am saying is that the movement of populations was because of some perceived threat. What that threat was is anyone's guess, but it was not a racial issue. Of course it was brutal and murderous, but there was some sort of perverted reason behind it. Stalin was weird.  The Jewish plot you referred to resulted in a purge of many Jews who were neither involved nor even anti-Stalin. But, "they" were persecuted anyway just because they were perceived as a threat.  Not because they were Jewish.
 Stalin saw shadows when there were none, but reacted as if there were anyway.

Elisabeth

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #226 on: February 08, 2009, 12:45:39 PM »
The Jewish plot you referred to resulted in a purge of many Jews who were neither involved nor even anti-Stalin. But, "they" were persecuted anyway just because they were perceived as a threat.  Not because they were Jewish.

That's not true, Robert. Stalin was virulently anti-Semitic in his later years (according to the testimony of many witnesses, including his daughter Svetlana) and was apparently even planning a major campaign against the Soviet Jews just before he died. Again, this campaign against Jews was probably designed to take the same form as the great leader's earlier ethnic cleansing campaigns against minority groups (i.e., deportation - in this case, Stalin seems to have intended to deport all Soviet Jews to the specially established Jewish Autonomous Region).

But it should also be remembered that Stalin's earlier, "successful" purges of Jews (because there was more than one after World War II) resulted in the actual judicial murders of members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee as well as the judicial murders of many prominent Jewish authors. And then there was the so-called Jewish Doctors' Plot, which as far as I know was still under investigation when Stalin died in March 1953. IMHO, it's quite obvious from the historical record that Stalin was an anti-Semite, and a particularly vicious one at that.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2009, 12:53:51 PM by Elisabeth »

Robert_Hall

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #227 on: February 08, 2009, 03:11:50 PM »
I would mildly disagree,  Elisabeth.  I cannot deny that Stalin was most likely anti-Semetic, but I do not think he was any more so than the average Russian at that time. Stalin was paranoid, , he was afraid of anything and everything, but, he kept the country running during it's most trying times. Is that good or bad?

Offline Terence

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 208
    • View Profile
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #228 on: February 08, 2009, 06:17:24 PM »
I would mildly disagree,  Elisabeth.  I cannot deny that Stalin was most likely anti-Semetic, but I do not think he was any more so than the average Russian at that time. Stalin was paranoid, , he was afraid of anything and everything, but, he kept the country running during it's most trying times. Is that good or bad?

Sorry to jump in here between Elizabeth and Robert...
but Robert ARE YOU SERIOUS!  I hope that is a rhetorical question to stimulate discussion.

Let's see...1,000,000,000s, that's millions of human beings killed by Stalin, but he kept the trains running on time, well mostly.  ::)

Nah, the ends don't justify the means.  I vote BAD, very BAD.

JMHO,
T

Offline RichC

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 757
    • View Profile
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #229 on: February 08, 2009, 07:44:44 PM »


Let's see...1,000,000,000s, that's millions of human beings killed by Stalin, but he kept the trains running on time, well mostly.  ::)

Maybe he needed the trains to run on time in order to transport all those vicitims! 

Robert_Hall

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #230 on: February 08, 2009, 08:46:10 PM »
Terence- please read my previous posts on this thread. I am NOT a fan of Stalin.  However, I do feel he is badly misunderstood from our perspective. From my several visits to Russia, I have a different view of the man than what I had previously. Be that as it may, of course the man is still a dictator. BTW, the "made the trains run on time" epithet is actually attributed to Mussolini,  as I recall. I just borrowed it for Stalin.  But he [Stalin] did accomplish as much as he failed in the human rights issues.  His rebuilding of the Russian, or Soviet, infrastructure,  the  some times successful 5 year plans,  the tremendous leadership to defeat Hitler.  As I recall, he wanted to be rid of Zhukov as he was jealous of his popularity. He was dissuaded from that by braver men than I am because it would have damaged his already fragile reputation.

Elisabeth

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #231 on: February 09, 2009, 12:03:02 PM »
Terence- please read my previous posts on this thread. I am NOT a fan of Stalin.  However, I do feel he is badly misunderstood from our perspective. From my several visits to Russia, I have a different view of the man than what I had previously. Be that as it may, of course the man is still a dictator. BTW, the "made the trains run on time" epithet is actually attributed to Mussolini,  as I recall. I just borrowed it for Stalin.  But he [Stalin] did accomplish as much as he failed in the human rights issues.  His rebuilding of the Russian, or Soviet, infrastructure,  the  some times successful 5 year plans,  the tremendous leadership to defeat Hitler.  As I recall, he wanted to be rid of Zhukov as he was jealous of his popularity. He was dissuaded from that by braver men than I am because it would have damaged his already fragile reputation.

Robert, please don't leave! The discussion is only truly interesting when the participants disagree (and best of all, disagree vehemently). I understand that you are saying there was a gray zone in Stalinist Russia that I and other members here are not taking into account. Well, in case you weren't aware of the fact (although I'm sure you are) there are plenty of eminient revisionist social historians (by birth Western) from the 1970s and 80s who are all on your side. Many of them are still very active and influential; Sheila Fitzpatrick is I believe the exemplar (as well as one of the founders) of this movement in Soviet studies. These historians have contributed a vast amount to our store of knowledge about the Soviet period and Stalinism in particular, esp. as it worked out in the daily lives of average Soviet citizens. Understand, they never argue that Stalin was a "good" or "great" leader, per se, they just argue that life wasn't so bad and in fact might even have improved for most Soviet citizens under Stalin's regime.

My quibble with them is simply this: if there had been no Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, and Hitler had never invaded Poland, and World War II had never started, and most of all, if there had never been a Holocaust, then Hitler would no doubt to this day be regarded by many eminent Western historians as a great gift to the German people. After all, he got Germany back on its economic feet, so to say; he returned to most Germans a sense of national pride and identity; he negotiated successfully with European leaders over territorial disputes - all of them in fact concluded in Germany's favor.

But to me the clear and obvious historical fact that Hitler seems to have made the majority of Germans happy and prosperous does not and can not set aside the fact that even before 1939 he also oppressed and persecuted significant minority groups. After all, he passed the most discriminatory laws in the Western world with the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, by which German Jews were basically ostracized from German society, on every level - politically, professionally, and personally. These years also witnessed the establishment of concentration camps, not only for German Jews but also for politicians and political activists who in one way or another were viewed as "opposing" Hitler. There was the "Night of the Long Knives." There was Kristallnacht. And so on and so forth.

It could well be true that Stalin had more points in favor of him than Hitler (well, after all, he did beat Hitler in World War II). It could even be true that up until the postwar period (when Milovan Djilas for one thought that if Stalin was not senile, then he was rapidly approaching that state), Stalin operated from a relatively pragmatic and "sane" position (erg, if you only knew what it cost me even to write that), at least compared to Hitler, who was obviously a complete ideological fanatic and psychopath. The question before us is, do Stalin's crimes outweigh his "good" points? I believe they do. And since he lasted much longer in political power than Hitler, he necessarily got to perpetrate his crimes for a much longer period, as well. I also happen to believe he was an ideological fanatic and psychopath but again, that's just my personal opinion. (And yet another question we could address, if you would only stay, Robert! It will be so incredibly boring without you - in fact the entire discussion will grind to a screeching halt!)
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 12:31:24 PM by Elisabeth »

Robert_Hall

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #232 on: February 09, 2009, 12:33:04 PM »
Yes, Elisabeth, I am  very well aware of the revisionist historians.  In some cases, I do believe history  must needs be revised.  Especially here, as we have been  fed anti-Communist rhetoric since childhood. The vast majority of  prejudice and ignorance. That was when I started  visiting the Soviet Embassy in D.C. and made a few friends, Saw their system in a different light that we usually did. At about the same time [this was many years ago] I had a school assignment-  write a paper defending Hitler!  Talk about difficult.  At the time, there simply was nothing positive about him in print to use as a reference. I understood the point of the exercise and wrote a paper, received good marks, But, I did not believe a word of it. This is when I first read Mien Kemp. I also got on the mailing list for the American Nazi Party.[ talk about disgusting, and it did not sit well with my school either, it was a boarding school so their papers came to me there].
  The problem with Hitler, besides the obvious, is that he spelled out his plans beforehand. The expansionism, military build-up, etc. Those who failed to notice his intentions have only themselves to blame, as I see it.

Offline RichC

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 757
    • View Profile
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #233 on: February 09, 2009, 01:01:16 PM »
Terence- please read my previous posts on this thread. I am NOT a fan of Stalin.  However, I do feel he is badly misunderstood from our perspective. From my several visits to Russia, I have a different view of the man than what I had previously. Be that as it may, of course the man is still a dictator. BTW, the "made the trains run on time" epithet is actually attributed to Mussolini,  as I recall. I just borrowed it for Stalin.  But he [Stalin] did accomplish as much as he failed in the human rights issues.  His rebuilding of the Russian, or Soviet, infrastructure,  the  some times successful 5 year plans,  the tremendous leadership to defeat Hitler.  As I recall, he wanted to be rid of Zhukov as he was jealous of his popularity. He was dissuaded from that by braver men than I am because it would have damaged his already fragile reputation.

Robert, please don't leave! The discussion is only truly interesting when the participants disagree (and best of all, disagree vehemently). I understand that you are saying there was a gray zone in Stalinist Russia that I and other members here are not taking into account. Well, in case you weren't aware of the fact (although I'm sure you are) there are plenty of eminient revisionist social historians (by birth Western) from the 1970s and 80s who are all on your side. Many of them are still very active and influential; Sheila Fitzpatrick is I believe the exemplar (as well as one of the founders) of this movement in Soviet studies. These historians have contributed a vast amount to our store of knowledge about the Soviet period and Stalinism in particular, esp. as it worked out in the daily lives of average Soviet citizens. Understand, they never argue that Stalin was a "good" or "great" leader, per se, they just argue that life wasn't so bad and in fact might even have improved for most Soviet citizens under Stalin's regime.

My quibble with them is simply this: if there had been no Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, and Hitler had never invaded Poland, and World War II had never started, and most of all, if there had never been a Holocaust, then Hitler would no doubt to this day be regarded by many eminent Western historians as a great gift to the German people. After all, he got Germany back on its economic feet, so to say; he returned to most Germans a sense of national pride and identity; he negotiated successfully with European leaders over territorial disputes - all of them in fact concluded in Germany's favor.

But to me the clear and obvious historical fact that Hitler seems to have made the majority of Germans happy and prosperous does not and can not set aside the fact that even before 1939 he also oppressed and persecuted significant minority groups. After all, he passed the most discriminatory laws in the Western world with the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, by which German Jews were basically ostracized from German society, on every level - politically, professionally, and personally. These years also witnessed the establishment of concentration camps, not only for German Jews but also for politicians and political activists who in one way or another were viewed as "opposing" Hitler. There was the "Night of the Long Knives." There was Kristallnacht. And so on and so forth.

It could well be true that Stalin had more points in favor of him than Hitler (well, after all, he did beat Hitler in World War II). It could even be true that up until the postwar period (when Milovan Djilas for one thought that if Stalin was not senile, then he was rapidly approaching that state), Stalin operated from a relatively pragmatic and "sane" position (erg, if you only knew what it cost me even to write that), at least compared to Hitler, who was obviously a complete ideological fanatic and psychopath. The question before us is, do Stalin's crimes outweigh his "good" points? I believe they do. And since he lasted much longer in political power than Hitler, he necessarily got to perpetrate his crimes for a much longer period, as well. I also happen to believe he was an ideological fanatic and psychopath but again, that's just my personal opinion. (And yet another question we could address, if you would only stay, Robert! It will be so incredibly boring without you - in fact the entire discussion will grind to a screeching halt!)

I actually have a huge amount of respect for folks like Sheila Fitzpatrick.  I'm familiar with her, as I said before Elisabeth, because she was a professor of mine when I was a student (and gave me an "A" on my bachelor's paper, for which I'm eternally grateful!)

Fitzpatrick's body of work (what I have read of it, which I admit is only a small part of the total) is interesting because in my view it doesn't so much let Stalin off the hook as it exposes the entire Russian population as being somewhat complicit in vast upheavals that took place in Russia under Stalin.  According to Fitzpatrick, life did improve for segments of the Russian population under Stalin, but only at the expense of others.  I don't recall her ever denying crimes and misery which stemmed from Stalin's policies.  One thing that sticks in my mind is her use of the word "cadre" in describing groups of people who would step in for those who had been replaced/arrested/exterminated.  It was a Russian version of affirmative action.

Fitzpatrick wrote a book in 2000 called Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times.  Unless I'm mistaken it was very well received.

RichC

Elisabeth

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #234 on: February 09, 2009, 01:49:16 PM »
You're so lucky to have had Sheila Fitzpatrick as a professor, RichC. I haven't read her book Everyday Stalinism but I know it was "well received" because I've read numerous reviews of it, also at least one very interesting interview with her (it's in an issue of last year's journal Kritika as I recall). But as I was saying, and as I clearly stated above, I am not accusing revisionist social historians like Fitzpatrick of saying that Stalin was a "great" or even a "good" leader. My point was more subtle. It's only that whether or not life "improved" for certain "segments" of Soviet society, it's those minority dead-as-doornails millions that should disturb one's peace. As we all know by heart, by 1934 millions of Soviet peasants had either been murdered outright or died of starvation (whether the Great Famine was due to a deliberate policy on the part of Stalin or simply an example of governmental incompetence, or a mixture of the two, in a sense doesn't even matter - whatever was the case, Stalin and his regime were ultimately responsible). Other peasants had been exiled to Siberia (often to die there, too, since in many cases there was no "welcoming committee," i.e., food or shelter provided), forced into slave labor camps, or forced into collective farms (which, as far as I can see, demanded pretty much the equivalent of slave labor).

Sorry for the rant. I do have a point, however. Since pre-revolutionary Russia was overwhelmingly a peasant society, by something like 80 or more percent, it seems to me that most Soviet citizens were affected by collectivization. If not directly, then indirectly through family members. I would even venture to say that most Soviet citizens were traumatically effected in some way by these events. Therefore, it seems to me that those that took advantage of this situation (and the Great Terror that followed in the late 1930s), in order to gain for themselves better jobs and housing - were the very dregs of the dregs of Soviet society. Which might explain why modern-day Russia seems to lack a moral or ethical core.

If you want to compare Stalin's regime in this respect with Hitler's regime, it's easily done. Up until the Allies started bombing Berlin, life improved tremendously for German gentiles, new job opportunities were everywhere, particularly after the Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935, since these laws banned professional Jews from practicing their professions. Victor Klemperer's diary is very eloquent on that point. He lost his job in Dresden as a professor of French Literature, and what made matters worse, almost every single one of his Aryan colleagues at his university - and other German universities - ostracized him, up until the end of the war. Understandably, he later wrote in his diary: "If one day the situation were reversed and the fate of the vanquished lay in my hands, then I would let all the ordinary folks go and even some of the leaders, who might perhaps after all have had honorable intentions and not known what they were doing. But I would have all the intellectuals strung up, and the professors three feet higher than the rest; they would be left hanging from the lampposts for as long as was compatible with hygiene" (August 16, 1946).

If I had been in his shoes I wouldn't have let the leaders go, much less all of the "ordinary" people. A moral conscience does not demand high intelligence... Frankly, I think there's no point to the study of history at all unless there's some kind of moral aspect brought to bear on it. I know that sounds incredibly 19th century and humanist... but there you go. I'm a 19-century kinda gal. Fancy the history of the United States told without a moral bent (well, the blacks and the Indians suffered, it's true, but everybody else did mighty well, eventually! Even the Irish and the Jews!).
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 02:11:57 PM by Elisabeth »

Offline RichC

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 757
    • View Profile
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #235 on: February 09, 2009, 10:08:12 PM »
Thanks, Elisabeth, for mentioning the Kritika article in your previous post.  I found it, read it, and was quite fascinated by it.  You are always such a wealth of information, not just about Russian history itself, but about the various cross-currents going on in western academia which hold such sway over history's narrative.  It's a singular and very important contribution to this board.

Fitzpatrick basically describes herself as a socialist (at least when she was younger) and also says she was, as a graduate student at Oxford, an "anti-moralist" and "anti-anti-Soviet".  She basically says, if I'm reading between the lines of the interview, that much scholarship about the USSR throughout the 60's and 70's was much more politicized (both on the left and the right) than it is today. 

Interestingly, Fitzpatrick is part of an ongoing international project in comparative history, which re-examines the Nazi and Stalinist eras by having scholars in both areas co-author articles.  I'll see if I can find more about this project.

Elisabeth

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #236 on: February 10, 2009, 12:49:56 PM »
Thanks, Elisabeth, for mentioning the Kritika article in your previous post.  I found it, read it, and was quite fascinated by it.  You are always such a wealth of information, not just about Russian history itself, but about the various cross-currents going on in western academia which hold such sway over history's narrative.  It's a singular and very important contribution to this board.

Fitzpatrick basically describes herself as a socialist (at least when she was younger) and also says she was, as a graduate student at Oxford, an "anti-moralist" and "anti-anti-Soviet".  She basically says, if I'm reading between the lines of the interview, that much scholarship about the USSR throughout the 60's and 70's was much more politicized (both on the left and the right) than it is today. 

Interestingly, Fitzpatrick is part of an ongoing international project in comparative history, which re-examines the Nazi and Stalinist eras by having scholars in both areas co-author articles.  I'll see if I can find more about this project.

Thanks as ever for your kind words, Rich. You know very well that you yourself contribute an amazing amount of information and insight to this board. I for one find it extremely interesting that there's now a special international scholarly project to re-examine and re-evaluate the Nazi and Stalinist periods. Before your post, I hadn't heard about this. Needless to say, it's a very valuable and valiant effort. And I would greatly appreciate any further, more detailed information you can give us about it!

As for the great debate, I think every good scholar has something to contribute to our understanding of these regimes... whether they are so-called Cold War warriors like Robert Conquest or revisionist, so-called pro-Soviet scholars like Sheila Fitzgerald. In the end, one's political stance doesn't count for so much, it's the factual information one uncovers and the occasional astonishing insight that one imparts to the rest of us that endure through each succeeding generation of historians. I suspect that in the long run, scholars will come down somewhere in the middle of the "moralist" versus "anti-moralist" debate regarding the Soviet Union. Apparently now, in the first decade of the 21st century, there is already a strong school of revisionists of the revisionists in American Soviet studies, and I suspect the same phenomenon has occurred in recent German studies of the Nazi regime as well (there was a revisionist trend even there, too, wasn't there, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s? It met with a lot of flak by other scholars specializing in that period, but frankly speaking, IMO, if you can do revisionist history of Stalin's Soviet Union, then you can do revisionist history of Hitler's Nazi Germany, too!).
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 12:52:41 PM by Elisabeth »

Zvezda

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #237 on: February 10, 2009, 07:57:04 PM »
Quote
IMHO, it's quite obvious from the historical record that Stalin was an anti-Semite, and a particularly vicious one at that.
This is an oversimplification. Zhores Medvedev concludes that Stalin was not anti-Semitic as much as he was hostile to Zionism, which were seen as a threat to the country. The Soviet Government was opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Stalin made many public statements to that effect. Stalin was surrounded by Jewish officials.

Quote
or forced into collective farms (which, as far as I can see, demanded pretty much the equivalent of slave labor).
Frankly, it is ridiculous and offensive to deride collective farmers as slaves. A farm boy like Gorbachev could not grow up to be President of his country under a slave-holding system. My uncle and his family lived on a collective farm and they were happy with their lives.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 08:04:17 PM by Zvezda »

Robert_Hall

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #238 on: February 10, 2009, 08:31:13 PM »
Thank you, Zvezda.  The Soviet sytem also provided health care and education for the people.  Also, a stable social  enviornment. Scientific progress and secure borders. The collective farms were for the common good,  some, of course were failures, some, great sucesses. I would guess the same ratio as capitalists experiments.

GoldenPen

  • Guest
Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« Reply #239 on: February 11, 2009, 06:48:42 AM »
Robert_hall, first the government health care in Soviet was behind compare to the United States. In fact it was reported the death rate was 6 times higher as well. The stable environment was only stable because the wealth went to the higher up pies, while the workers would wait hours for bread, shoes or toilet paper. The capitalist government is success or fail type of government, but with that said you can go to the limits but not with soviet.  You would give away many of the freedoms, why the people with power would get all the good stuff.


Truly, GoldenPen