- Hitler Bad - But Far From Worst
- Ask any Westerner to name the most evil figure of the
past century. Almost always, the same answer comes up: Hitler. Sustained
brainwashing has done its job...Der Fuhrer still towers above all rivals
as modern history's greatest demon. But increasingly, research proves that
we have been persuaded to fixate on the wrong dictator. History's airbrush
has worked overtime on the most criminal monster of them all: Josef Stalin.
- Stalin's murderous ruthlessness was, by any standard,
far more horrible than Hitler's. A psychopath who modelled himself on
Ivan the Terrible, Stalin instituted a reign of terror without parallel,
exterminating opponents or perceived opponents by the multi-million. How
many died in his murderous stranglehold?
- Only in recent years have the Russians themselves learnt
just how hideous their history is. Their first glimpse of the reality came
in February, 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin's mass terror
and unmasked the prison Gulag system. That was met with widespread disbelief
in the West. There can now be no doubt that Stalin, as a matter of policy,
killed and killed and killed.
- * In 1989, the KGB itself set the death toll in Stalin's
26-year reign of terror (1927-53) at 36 MILLION. But that figure included
ONLY the victims of Stalin's liquidations of individuals and groups. Serious
research began stepping up with Gorbachev's policy of 'Glasnost.'
- * Norman Davis, in his celebrated History of Europe
suggested a figure of 54 MILLION.
- * The University of Moscow, in association with the
University of Madrid, put the figure at 57 MILLION.
- Those figures are ten to 15 times higher than the numbers
allegedly killed by the Fuhrer and makes him look like an amateur. Such
imposed slaughter on countless millions simply freezes belief. It represents
the most appalling terror ever inflicted on human kind, rivalled only by
Mao's China. Only under a regime which deliberately allowed the extermination
of millions of its own citizens could such unimaginable figures be achieved.
- On one day alone, December 8, 1938, Stalin signed 30
death lists, containing thousands of names. He then went to the Kremlin
cinema to watch a comedy called 'Happy Guys.' It is this viper's ghost
that should worry us rather than Hitler's. Yet no Nuremberg trials have
ever been conducted into Soviet atrocities. There have never been any Soviet
war crimes trials.
- As for Stalin's victims, who is interested? They are
so much dust blowing in the Siberian winds. No Spielberg conjures them
to life. There are many reasons why Stalin's Great Terror remains the
most underreported event of the 20th Century.
- First, Hitler lost, Stalin - ally of the West - won.
Stalin believed (correctly) that he could get away with mass murder.
As he told Mao Tse-tung when the Red Chinese leader, visited Moscow in
1949: "Victors are not judged." Perhaps the whole of modern
history is summed up in those four words.
- Many anti-Stalinists knew, and published, the truth:
men such as Malcolm Muggeridge, George Orwell, and Arthur Koestler. But
their reports were overwhelmed from the start by the pro-Stalinists. Way
back in the mid 1930s, the father of all fellow travellers, George Bernard
Shaw, dismissed reports of a Moscow-engineered famine killing millions
as "pure invention." Shaw knew better, of course. Stalin had
given him the details.
- As he did to New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty,
a prince of liars, who gained the Pulitzer Prize for his fictional accounts
of Stalin's "new civilisation" and of "the great Soviet
miracle." Duranty played a key role in perpetrating one of the greatest
cover-ups in history.
- Western illusions did not stop there. Bizarre as it now
seems, many at the highest level, up to and including US President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, revered Stalin and were consciously partisan in their
support of this butcher.
- Further, in an astounding example of mankind's infinite
capacity for self-deception, millions of Western intellectuals, academics,
communists, socialists, liberals, fellow travellers, trade unionists, journalists
and clergy forcefully rejected reports of mass atrocities in the old USSR
and in China, just as they did later of events in Cuba and Cambodia.
- The truth is that vast numbers in the West worshipped
Stalin as almost a demigod, and nursed an almost religious faith that the
USSR represented the great new hope of all mankind. Stalin fondly referred
to such useful idiots as his "maggots."
- Above all, until quite recently, we have had little real
access to communist archives. Even today the most sensitive are still
closed. So we still do not know the full answers: Was it one tenth or
one-twentieth of the entire adult Soviet population who served time in
Stalin's prison camps? Did 3 million die in the Gulag, or was the figure
closer to ten? We may never know but the effort to break through the Great
Amnesia is picking up speed.
- Till the late 1980s, hardly anyone but local villagers
knew where the bones were buried. For the past 13 years the Russians have
been slowly recovering their past, with new mass graves being uncovered
at regular intervals. And, as soon as the existence of the first Stalinist
mass graves were made known, people began to come forward with revelations
of the death camps. In one, Kolyma, the huge prison complex in the Russian
Arctic, so many bones lay around that in the summer children used the skulls
to gather blueberries. Now memorials are being built.
- The misery came early. In Russia, uniquely, there exists
hardly any memory of the 1914-18 War, such a watershed for the rest of
Europe. There exist no Soviet national monuments to WWI. The reason is
simple. In the civil wars which followed the revolution of 1917 and brought
the Bolsheviks to power, between nine and 14 million Russians died: starving,
cold, racked with disease, or tortured and killed in bitter fighting.
- Next came the Ukraine. Robert Conquest in his 'Harvest
of Sorrow' suggests that when, on Stalin's direct orders, the entire grain
crop of the Ukraine was seized for export, the number of resulting deaths
was probably about 1.5 million, equalling the total dead of WWl.
- We will now turn to a brilliant but deeply disturbing
new book by a young British historian, 'Night of Stone: Death & Memory
in Russia' by Catherine Merridale, published by Granta. Dr. Merridale
is one of a growing army of scientists dedicated to uncovering the truth
about Soviet-era crimes, the legacy of Josef Stalin and the society he
- She spent two years in Russia and the Ukraine, researching
documents from the Stalinist era only now coming to light: and talking
to ordinary Russians about what it is like to live in a country haunted
by the all-pervasive presence of death. Her book, an excellent work of
scholarship, attempts to explain how the Russian people lived through some
of the greatest horrors of a singularly bloody 20th century: and how, at
long last, they are coming to terms with their shocking past and themselves.
- Merridale does not attempt to put a precise figure on
how many Russians lives were lost to violence between 1914 and Stalin's
death in 1953, but suggests a total well in excess of 50 MILLION. All
of it planned.
- Epidemics of flu and cholera, and the 1921-22 famines
in grain-producing areas of southern Russia, killed many millions. People
ate earth, grass, carrion and human flesh. In some districts, in the winter
of 1921, local officials had to ban the sale of processed meat to stop
the trade in human flesh.
- Stalin's own signature is on thousands of death warrants.
Millions more were denounced as enemies of the state for no other reason
than they wished to think for themsetves.
- Crematoria, with which the state had been experimenting
since Lenin's time, were now running more efficiently. The bodies arrived
in batches, accompanied by stamped forms in triplicate.
- "They were such handsome men," one crematorium
worker told Dr Merridale. "Some of them were still warm. Some of
them were not even dead when we threw them into the furnace....."
- The death rate in the gulags peaked in 1942-3. Without
doubt, the brutalisation of millions of Russians over the previous quarter
century contributed to the grim reputation of the Red Army in WW2. Soldiers
were treated like livestock. At Stalingrad, there was no one left to dig
- At last came victory in the Great Patriotic War, as it
was known, the only occasion for real celebrations that many of those Merridale
interviewed, had known in all their lives. After Stalin's death in 1953,
the repression gradually eased. "A human being survives only by his
ability to forget," wrote a survivor of the Kolyma Camp. In recent
years, many of the anonymous Gulag death camps have quietly disappeared.
- Stalin himself spelt it out. His Short Course Into The
History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union contains references
to the liquidation of his political opponents. He wrote: "The Soviet
Government had only to raise its little finger for them to vanish without
trace." How true.
- For an intelligent person today to be ignorant of the
manner of Soviet rule can only be seen as an act of wilful political bias.
The whole record of the terrible era is one of naked human power and inhuman
cruelty. It is a sad fact that many in South Africa's present ruling ANC/SACP
glory in their self-designation as "Stalinists"...
- There is little danger of the world ever running out
of imbeciles. _____
- Thought for the Day:
- "A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths
are a statistic."
- -Joseph Stalin
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