3 MIN READ - A followup on Wikipedia’s softball search previews for communist mass murderers from The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Left Coast Affairs and Inexplicable Phenomena.
|Stalin erases NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov from Soviet history after his execution|
Given the “pass” communism, the Soviet Union, and Joseph Stalin get in Wikipedia search previews (“Leader of the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953”) and among so many western academics, the Correspondent would like to share an illuminating quote from Stalin biographer and Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin comparing the Soviet despot to Adolf Hitler.
Not to give Hitler a pass either since Nazi Germany’s national socialism was its own brand of state evil writ large, but Kotkin describes one of many key areas where the murderous and super-paranoid Stalin was even worse: the Great Terror where he purged the Soviet communist party of countless real and imagined enemies.
And the Purge is hardly the only atrocity where Stalin out-Hitlered Hitler.
(A few factoids about the 1936-1938 Great Terror appear at the bottom of this column)
Professor Stephen Kotkin:
“Let’s imagine for a second Hitler, who is generally speaking not considered let’s say… an unbloody ruler.
“Let’s imagine Hitler decides to murder 90% of his upper officer corps, accuse them of false crimes, have them tortured to testify that they committed those false crimes, that they were working the whole time for Judeo-Bolshevism as they were building up the Nazi regime.
“And let’s imagine that the population in Germany accepts that 90% of the upper officer corps were working the whole time for Judeo-Bolshevism.
“And then they get shot. He shoots his own officers.
“Let’s imagine he does that also to all the Gauleiters and the provincial Nazi Party machines. That is he gets them to testify that they were working for Judeo-Bolshevism the whole time that they were Nazis.
“And let’s imagine he does that for his diplomatic corps
"And his intelligence operations
"And he does it for his cultural figures.
“And then he does it to the Gestapo! He murders the Gestapo because they’re agents of Soviet influence. They’re Soviet agents wearing Gestapo uniforms.
“And moreover he destroys the Gestapo while the Gestapo is destroying everyone else, not after but during.
"While they’re killing army officers, and while they’re killing the party and state officials, he’s killing the police officials.
“Let’s imagine Hitler does all of that, and the populace of Germany accepts that they were all these traitors.
“Can we actually imagine that? This is Hitler after all.
“There’s no way to imagine it for Hitler. It’s impossible to think of.
“First of all, could Hitler have actually enacted that? Who would have done all of that on his behalf if he gave those orders? And how could his regime have survived such a self-destabilization?...
“…In fact Hitler didn’t murder his officer corps. He retired them when he didn’t like them and gave them a gigantic pension and let them live in Berlin… not fearing that they would plot against him after they sacked hm.
“Hitler in the middle of Stalin’s Great Terror said ‘this guy Stalin is sick in the head.’ This is Hitler talking about Stalin. The lines are so good, you’d think I invented them.”
A few facts about the 1936-1938 Great Terror launched by the paranoid despot Wikipedia describes as “Leader of the Soviet Union from 1924-1953”:
-Of the 1966 delegates who attended the 1934 17th Soviet Communist Party Congress, only 858 returned to the 1939 18th Party Congress, the rest mostly shot or sent to the Arctic gulag.
-Historians believe Stalin executed 81 of his 103 top generals and admirals with most of the remaining sent to the gulag. The hollowed out, rudderless military leadership was a major factor in the Soviet army's string of stunning defeats in the opening phases of the 1941 Nazi invasion.
-KGB archives, opened to the public after the fall of the Soviet Union, contain thousands of blood-stained confessions signed by Stalin's innocent victims under torture.
-NKVD interrogation reports reviewed by Stalin, also stored in the archives, contain his handwriting in the margins countless times instructing secret police operatives on how to more effectively torture prisoners and identifying which ones to pressure the hardest.
-Virtually every Russian city, town, and village was directed to meet regular execution quotas. Directives often read "You are ordered to find 500 enemies of the people and execute them next month." With so little time to find so many "guilty" traitors, the NKVD arrested anyone accused by a neighbor with a score to settle, or simply grabbed innocent people on the street, accused them of false crimes, and had them shot.
-Stalin had two consecutive NKVD chiefs executed during the purge as well: Genrikh Yagoda for not being ruthless enough and then his successor, the particularly sadistic Nikolai Yezhov, was shot and replaced with Lavrentiy Beria who survived until Stalin’s death only to be executed himself by order of Nikita Khrushchev.
Beria is famous for coining the phrase "You show me the man and I'll find you the crime."
-Of the seven founding members of the original 1917 Soviet Politburo, only Stalin survived past 1940. Lenin died in 1924 from a brain hemorrhage leading to Stalin's rise to power. Stalin had the remaining five executed. Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Grigori Sokolnikov, and Andrei Bubnov were all arrested, show trialed, and executed during the Purge. Leon Trotsky, criticizing Stalin from exile in Mexico City, was assassinated in his study by NKVD agent Ramón Mercader.
-The Purge was finally wound down only because the planned economy was beginning to suffer from the loss of so many bureaucrats and productive civilians.
To read more about the Great Purge, go to: