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Tags adolf hitler , Josef Stalin , Robert Conquest , Soviet Union history , Tim Snyder , World War II history

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Old 19th March 2018, 01:55 PM   #1
Jerrymander
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Hitler and Stalin: Who really killed more?

So there's a truism that Stalin killed more than Hitler, having killed 20 million.

However, according to historian Tim Snyder...

Quote:
Today, after two decades of access to Eastern European archives, and thanks to the work of German, Russian, Israeli, and other scholars, we can resolve the question of numbers. The total number of noncombatants killed by the Germans—about 11 million—is roughly what we had thought. The total number of civilians killed by the Soviets, however, is considerably less than we had believed. We know now that the Germans killed more people than the Soviets did.....
He goes on....

Quote:
The total figure of civilians deliberately killed under Stalinism, around six million, is of course horribly high. But it is far lower than the estimates of twenty million or more made before we had access to Soviet sources.
and finally.

Quote:
All in all, the Germans deliberately killed about 11 million noncombatants, a figure that rises to more than 12 million if foreseeable deaths from deportation, hunger, and sentences in concentration camps are included. For the Soviets during the Stalin period, the analogous figures are approximately six million and nine million. These figures are of course subject to revision, but it is very unlikely that the consensus will change again as radically as it has since the opening of Eastern European archives in the 1990s.
http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2011/01...who-was-worse/

I have heard from other sources that the death figures given for Stalin have gone down since 1991. Though there are questions as to how complete the Soviet archives are. In addition, we know that the Soviets released prisoners that were in poor condition or were on the brink of death. Their death toll has not been recorded.
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Old 19th March 2018, 02:30 PM   #2
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At a certain point, it doesn't really matter. Who was worse, Gacy or Manson? Yes.
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Old 19th March 2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
At a certain point, it doesn't really matter. Who was worse, Gacy or Manson? Yes.
About all you can say for Stalin is that he was an equal opportunity butcher...
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Old 19th March 2018, 03:05 PM   #4
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Let's not leave Chairman Mao out of the discussion....
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Old 19th March 2018, 03:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Let's not leave Chairman Mao out of the discussion....
Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin? Chairman Mao.

No, thatís another discussion.

It is interesting to ask the question of who killed more between those two if only because they fought against each other in some clash of the tyrants. Itís often been taken for granted that siding with Stalin was a necessary evil despite him killing more people than Hitler.
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Old 19th March 2018, 03:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin? Chairman Mao.

No, thatís another discussion.

It is interesting to ask the question of who killed more between those two if only because they fought against each other in some clash of the tyrants. Itís often been taken for granted that siding with Stalin was a necessary evil despite him killing more people than Hitler.
I think the thing was Hiler was more of clear and present danger then Stalin was until 1945.
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Old 19th March 2018, 04:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
At a certain point, it doesn't really matter. Who was worse, Gacy or Manson? Yes.
This. Both groups of killers should have died hard and prolonged removal. To help them realize they had been very, very bad. Educational punishments is what I support.
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Old 19th March 2018, 05:03 PM   #8
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So I can give a bit of background on the historiography of Soviet crimes and atrocities - the tl;dr is that Snyder's number is about correct, but Snyder is not a very good historian and I would not use him as a main source for this.

The grand old man in this context is Robert Conquest, who wrote the definitive works of his day in the -60's and -70's, The Great Terror and The Harvest of Sorrow. Both are eminently readable to this day and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in Soviet history.

However, Conquest's works had shortcomings. The one that is most obvious if one is familiar with more modern treatments is that he is operating very much within a framework of "totalitarianism". This is a historiographically almost obsolete point of view that remains common in popular discourse, that views the U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany as "two sides of the same coin". Most modern historians restrict such comparisons to very limited contexts (e.g. the use of civilian police forces in state control). One of several apparent failures of the model is its treatment of Stalin as a Hitleresque absolute despot far too early in the timeline. Another is the assumption that the USSR and Nazi Germany had the same or very comparable aims.

Conquest had a method of estimating death tolls that was highly banal. It consisted of extrapolating a growth curve for the U.S.S.R. (if I recall correctly, it was based off highly optimistic projections by the Politburo, but don't quote me on that), noting that the data came up about 20 million short, and flawlessly concluding that 20 million must have died as a result of Soviet policies; the vast majority due to famines caused by the collectivization in the early 1930's.

The more vicious aspect of this, in my view, is the construct of the "Holodomor" ("Death by Famine"), widely promoted by Ukranian nationalists. This is a kind of modern foundation myth in the same vein as the Polish "double genocide" thesis, maintaining that the famine in Ukraine was a deliberate effort to stamp out Ukranian nationalism ("And nevertheless, we survived, look how far we have come!" etc etc). I don't recall that Conquest ever states this outright, but it's very easy to read this into his work, and countless authors have drawn upon him to support this thesis. The most significant reveal of the Soviet archives is that there is absolutely no evidence of such a deliberate policy. The Central Committee were dumbstruck and confused by the reports coming in, and Stalin's position was significantly weakened as a result of the short-term failures of his collectivization efforts.

That's not to say that the U.S.S.R. does not bear a great deal of responsibility for the atrocity that the famine was - as someone once pointed out, the idea of risking starvation so that you can buy tractors that will be obsolete in ten years is hardly humanitarian, or even very sensible. But the Soviet collectivization was hardly very different from myriad other efforts at either "modernization", or highly extractive policy - some of the best comparisons include Britain's responsiblility for the Great Irish Famine, and the Indian famines caused by the promotion of cash crops; these contain very similar features (including apparent refusal to acknowledge the famine out of ideological convictions and continued exportation of grain). The best recent work on Soviet policy was done by Davies and Wheatcroft, as far as I know.

The "great purge" is an example of more direct state violence, but it also needs to be understood within the context of institutionalized denunciation as a method of breeding loyalty (which Stalin did not invent!). The stark rejection of the idea by Kruschev and Brezhnev was in a way highly cynical, as they were its greatest benefitters by far. I have encountered some recent suggestions that Stalin never had that much control of it (although he certainly did not go to great lengths to stop it), but I imagine such assertions remain highly contentious, as does the degree of ultimate responsibility that the NKVD chief Yezhov had.

Ultimately I'm not a big fan of these comparisons. The Great Famine of the early 1930's, the Great Purge, and the Holocaust were all horrors that need to be understood and contextualized in their own right. I think the most important thing to understand is that the Holocaust was highly anomalous as far as mass death goes. One of the greatest disservices that has been done to the modern study of human rights catastrophes is the tendency both in the public and professional sphere, to treat the Holocaust as the prototypical mass killing. On the contrary, the complete irrationality and institution of a central state policy to focus on literal physical extermination that characterized the Holocaust are very rare. That doesn't mean we shouldn't study other atrocities - on the contrary, we should! But we should not automatically use the Holocaust as a measuring stick.

As for deaths under Mao, the pattern was broadly similar to that of Stalin. Probably the main difference is that whereas Stalin's base was workers, Mao was genuinely popular among peasants. Mao was eminently cynical about deaths of common people in China - after all, there were so many of them. The broadest cause of disaster during the Great Leap forward was that Mao had unrealistic expectations which his subordinates were afraid not to meet, leading to plunder and corruption. The death toll there is much harder to establish, but about 20 million is probably a good ballpark esitmate. Deaths under famine are notoriously hard to estimate - do you count numbers due to decreased fertility? Miscarriages? Infant deaths? Only deaths of children over a certain age? etc, and this can lead to very large shifts that means that the raw number does not always reflect the human experience. Very large numbers such as 70 or 100 million seem to derive of an old Confucian tradition (also apparent in estimates of the Taiping rebellion 100 years earlier) of counting three generaitons - i.e., for ever man who died, you also count the loss of his future children and grandchildren.

Amartya Sen did some interesting work based on the notion of the death rate going down, noting that India had not seen a similar decline in mortality, concluding that, according to a certain calculus, the more market-oriented policies of India had caused more harm than the collectivist ones of China.

I think it is important to note, to keep things in perspective, that overall mortality went down even during the Great Leap Forward. Yeah, being a Chinese peasant sucked. The total death toll lands at around 2-5% of the affected population depending on your numbers, which makes it less severe than a lot of other famines in comparable situations, including the Great Irish and Great Indian famines; even the Bengal famine, arguably.


I definitely think that deaths as a result of Stalinist-style collectivization are a category worthy of study, but it's also useful to not think of these as isolated "Communist crimes", but part of a broader category of atrocities resulting from extractive policy. You see very similar patterns with colonialism and imperialism. And I think we should be careful when comparing either to Nazi crimes - parallels exist (Nazi mass murders definitely had genetic links to colonial atrocities), but one must be careful to restrict the context in which they are made.
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Old 19th March 2018, 05:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
It is interesting to ask the question of who killed more between those two if only because they fought against each other in some clash of the tyrants. It’s often been taken for granted that siding with Stalin was a necessary evil
It wasn't a "clash of the tyrants" in any meaningful sense. Germany invaded Soviet Russia in a campaign that was ultimately genocidal in its very nature. The U.S.S.R. was defending itself (Molotov-Ribbentrop pact notwithstanding). The Nazis killed far more people than the typical count of those who were victims of the most direct extermination campaigns, remember, so there's no sensible calculus to be made there. The USSR was a natural ally for the banal reason that Germany was invading and annexing countries left and right, and the USSR was one of them.

Quote:
despite him killing more people than Hitler.
No. Stop repeating this false assertion.
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Old 19th March 2018, 05:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
No. Stop repeating this false assertion.
Wow. Great creationist style misrepresentation there. You didn't quote a full sentence.
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Old 19th March 2018, 06:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Wow. Great creationist style misrepresentation there. You didn't quote a full sentence.
I'm not saying angrysoba intended to make that claim, but the false idea that "Stalin killed 20 million" lives on as a meme precisely because people carelessly repeat it.
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Old 20th March 2018, 09:19 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
It wasn't a "clash of the tyrants" in any meaningful sense. Germany invaded Soviet Russia in a campaign that was ultimately genocidal in its very nature. The U.S.S.R. was defending itself (Molotov-Ribbentrop pact notwithstanding). The Nazis killed far more people than the typical count of those who were victims of the most direct extermination campaigns, remember, so there's no sensible calculus to be made there. The USSR was a natural ally for the banal reason that Germany was invading and annexing countries left and right, and the USSR was one of them.


No. Stop repeating this false assertion.
I probably worded my post misleadingly. My point was not to assert that Stalin killed more than Hitler, but rather that it is an assumption that the OP clearly means to question, hence the title, "Who really killed more?" I'm just restating the obvious point that it is commonly assumed to be Stalin, even if... hopefully you get the point.

And similarly, as we are talking historiography here, it is often asserted that Hitler and Stalin are comparable in terms of their capacity for evil, as books such as Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin (or perhaps more recently Snyder's Bloodlands) explicitly make such comparisons.
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Old 20th March 2018, 09:40 AM   #13
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Are the numbers for Stalin just during the war, or do they include the rest of his reign?

My understanding is that Stalin really went to town on his own people after the war had ended.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:08 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Are the numbers for Stalin just during the war, or do they include the rest of his reign?

My understanding is that Stalin really went to town on his own people after the war had ended.
Stalin's worst crimes occurred in the 1930's. I am not sure to what degree wartime Gulag numbers are accounted for if at all.

While Stalin attained absolute power following the war, he did not really embark on a new terror. You might be thinking of the Doctors' plot and his supposed plans for a wider pogrom - at this time he was suffering from alcohol dementia and was quite erratic.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I probably worded my post misleadingly. My point was not to assert that Stalin killed more than Hitler, but rather that it is an assumption that the OP clearly means to question, hence the title, "Who really killed more?" I'm just restating the obvious point that it is commonly assumed to be Stalin, even if... hopefully you get the point.

And similarly, as we are talking historiography here, it is often asserted that Hitler and Stalin are comparable in terms of their capacity for evil, as books such as Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin (or perhaps more recently Snyder's Bloodlands) explicitly make such comparisons.
Agreed. Yes, Snyder's Bloodlands is a good example. Snyder has a thing for Eastern European nationalism, IIRC, which pervades some of his work. I think it was Richard Evans who said that Snyder has a "Great Men of Violence" theory of history.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:11 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Are the numbers for Stalin just during the war, or do they include the rest of his reign?

My understanding is that Stalin really went to town on his own people after the war had ended.
Uh...compared to the Yezhovschina? Stalin was no less insane post-1945, but even the Doctors Plot didn't come anywhere near the purges of the 30s.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:14 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
"Stalin killed 20 million"
Stop repeating that false claim.

How is anyone supposed to talk about it even being false without actually including it in a sentence?
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:19 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
Uh...compared to the Yezhovschina? Stalin was no less insane post-1945, but even the Doctors Plot didn't come anywhere near the purges of the 30s.
I don't think Stalin was necessarily insane as much as brutal, callous and narcissistic. Denunciations were a tried and true method of saturating a complex bureaucracy with loyal followers. The biggest argument in favour of delusional paranoia would be the military purges. They were not quite as irrational as one might think however, especially not from a perspective informed by Late Modern Russian history.

We will never know what went through Stalin and his contemporaries' minds, but I imagine fear that an outbreak of war would result in martial law would be one motivation.

Don't get me wrong though, it would have been a deeply flawed rationale in any case.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:20 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Stop repeating that false claim.

How is anyone supposed to talk about it even being false without actually including it in a sentence?
OK, do you have anything useful to say?
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:22 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Let's not leave Chairman Mao out of the discussion....
Pol Pot, though his body count wasn't quite in the Hitler/Stalin range (though there seems to be considerable uncertainty about exactly how many he killed) was also notable for the sheer brutality and stupidity of his reign.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:25 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
Pol Pot, though his body count wasn't quite in the Hitler/Stalin range (though there seems to be considerable uncertainty about exactly how many he killed) was also notable for the sheer brutality and stupidity of his reign.
Pol Pot was also stopped by other Communists.

The Khmer Rouge is a group I have a much worse grasp on. But from what I understand their anti-intellectualism was linked to a distaste for Chinese bureaucrats and informed by Colonial racial perspectives (Pol Pot himself spent important years in France, growing disillusioned with the trappings of modernity).
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:31 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
So I can give a bit of background on the historiography of Soviet crimes and atrocities - the tl;dr is that Snyder's number is about correct, but Snyder is not a very good historian and I would not use him as a main source for this.

The grand old man in this context is Robert Conquest, who wrote the definitive works of his day in the -60's and -70's, The Great Terror and The Harvest of Sorrow. Both are eminently readable to this day and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in Soviet history.

However, Conquest's works had shortcomings. The one that is most obvious if one is familiar with more modern treatments is that he is operating very much within a framework of "totalitarianism". This is a historiographically almost obsolete point of view that remains common in popular discourse, that views the U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany as "two sides of the same coin". Most modern historians restrict such comparisons to very limited contexts (e.g. the use of civilian police forces in state control). One of several apparent failures of the model is its treatment of Stalin as a Hitleresque absolute despot far too early in the timeline. Another is the assumption that the USSR and Nazi Germany had the same or very comparable aims.

Conquest had a method of estimating death tolls that was highly banal. It consisted of extrapolating a growth curve for the U.S.S.R. (if I recall correctly, it was based off highly optimistic projections by the Politburo, but don't quote me on that), noting that the data came up about 20 million short, and flawlessly concluding that 20 million must have died as a result of Soviet policies; the vast majority due to famines caused by the collectivization in the early 1930's.

The more vicious aspect of this, in my view, is the construct of the "Holodomor" ("Death by Famine"), widely promoted by Ukranian nationalists. This is a kind of modern foundation myth in the same vein as the Polish "double genocide" thesis, maintaining that the famine in Ukraine was a deliberate effort to stamp out Ukranian nationalism ("And nevertheless, we survived, look how far we have come!" etc etc). I don't recall that Conquest ever states this outright, but it's very easy to read this into his work, and countless authors have drawn upon him to support this thesis. The most significant reveal of the Soviet archives is that there is absolutely no evidence of such a deliberate policy. The Central Committee were dumbstruck and confused by the reports coming in, and Stalin's position was significantly weakened as a result of the short-term failures of his collectivization efforts.

That's not to say that the U.S.S.R. does not bear a great deal of responsibility for the atrocity that the famine was - as someone once pointed out, the idea of risking starvation so that you can buy tractors that will be obsolete in ten years is hardly humanitarian, or even very sensible. But the Soviet collectivization was hardly very different from myriad other efforts at either "modernization", or highly extractive policy - some of the best comparisons include Britain's responsiblility for the Great Irish Famine, and the Indian famines caused by the promotion of cash crops; these contain very similar features (including apparent refusal to acknowledge the famine out of ideological convictions and continued exportation of grain). The best recent work on Soviet policy was done by Davies and Wheatcroft, as far as I know.

The "great purge" is an example of more direct state violence, but it also needs to be understood within the context of institutionalized denunciation as a method of breeding loyalty (which Stalin did not invent!). The stark rejection of the idea by Kruschev and Brezhnev was in a way highly cynical, as they were its greatest benefitters by far. I have encountered some recent suggestions that Stalin never had that much control of it (although he certainly did not go to great lengths to stop it), but I imagine such assertions remain highly contentious, as does the degree of ultimate responsibility that the NKVD chief Yezhov had.

Ultimately I'm not a big fan of these comparisons. The Great Famine of the early 1930's, the Great Purge, and the Holocaust were all horrors that need to be understood and contextualized in their own right. I think the most important thing to understand is that the Holocaust was highly anomalous as far as mass death goes. One of the greatest disservices that has been done to the modern study of human rights catastrophes is the tendency both in the public and professional sphere, to treat the Holocaust as the prototypical mass killing. On the contrary, the complete irrationality and institution of a central state policy to focus on literal physical extermination that characterized the Holocaust are very rare. That doesn't mean we shouldn't study other atrocities - on the contrary, we should! But we should not automatically use the Holocaust as a measuring stick.

As for deaths under Mao, the pattern was broadly similar to that of Stalin. Probably the main difference is that whereas Stalin's base was workers, Mao was genuinely popular among peasants. Mao was eminently cynical about deaths of common people in China - after all, there were so many of them. The broadest cause of disaster during the Great Leap forward was that Mao had unrealistic expectations which his subordinates were afraid not to meet, leading to plunder and corruption. The death toll there is much harder to establish, but about 20 million is probably a good ballpark esitmate. Deaths under famine are notoriously hard to estimate - do you count numbers due to decreased fertility? Miscarriages? Infant deaths? Only deaths of children over a certain age? etc, and this can lead to very large shifts that means that the raw number does not always reflect the human experience. Very large numbers such as 70 or 100 million seem to derive of an old Confucian tradition (also apparent in estimates of the Taiping rebellion 100 years earlier) of counting three generaitons - i.e., for ever man who died, you also count the loss of his future children and grandchildren.

Amartya Sen did some interesting work based on the notion of the death rate going down, noting that India had not seen a similar decline in mortality, concluding that, according to a certain calculus, the more market-oriented policies of India had caused more harm than the collectivist ones of China.

I think it is important to note, to keep things in perspective, that overall mortality went down even during the Great Leap Forward. Yeah, being a Chinese peasant sucked. The total death toll lands at around 2-5% of the affected population depending on your numbers, which makes it less severe than a lot of other famines in comparable situations, including the Great Irish and Great Indian famines; even the Bengal famine, arguably.


I definitely think that deaths as a result of Stalinist-style collectivization are a category worthy of study, but it's also useful to not think of these as isolated "Communist crimes", but part of a broader category of atrocities resulting from extractive policy. You see very similar patterns with colonialism and imperialism. And I think we should be careful when comparing either to Nazi crimes - parallels exist (Nazi mass murders definitely had genetic links to colonial atrocities), but one must be careful to restrict the context in which they are made.
It would seem to me that the deaths due to collectivization and the resulting famine might be classed as manslaughter: It was not Stalin's intent to kill those people, even thought that was the result.

The deaths in the Holocaust, OTOH, were clearly premeditated murder. Hitler wanted those people dead, because of their ethnicity.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:47 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
It would seem to me that the deaths due to collectivization and the resulting famine might be classed as manslaughter: It was not Stalin's intent to kill those people, even thought that was the result.

The deaths in the Holocaust, OTOH, were clearly premeditated murder. Hitler wanted those people dead, because of their ethnicity.
Yes, although such labels will ultimately always be rhetorical. There is a good deal of controversy re: "famine" vs "genocide" in general.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:49 AM   #24
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Guys, guys there's a simple test for this.

Does calling someone Stalin Godwin a thread?
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:53 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
You might be thinking of the Doctors' plot and his supposed plans for a wider pogrom - at this time he was suffering from alcohol dementia and was quite erratic.

Please don't assume that I'm thinking anything. I'm way too ignorant on the subject to have actual thoughts.

Grateful for the information here, though.
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Old 20th March 2018, 11:03 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Let's not leave Chairman Mao out of the discussion....
Mao's an interesting case. He is said to have been responsible for 50 millions deaths but most of those are attributed to the Chinese Famine. If Mao didn't intend for that to happen but was willing to risk all those lives for his Great Leap Forward, then would he be a murderer or manslaughter?

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Old 20th March 2018, 11:13 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Jerrymander View Post
Mao's an interesting case. He is said to have been responsible for 50 millions deaths but most of those are attributed to the Chinese Famine. If Mao didn't intend for that to happen but was willing to risk all those lives for his Great Leap Forward, then would he be a murderer or manslaughter?
I think that once you start talking about millions dead from the policies of an ideological dictatorship, the exact terminology doesn't matter so much as fixing responsibility on the dictator.
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Old 20th March 2018, 11:32 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Pol Pot was also stopped by other Communists.

The Khmer Rouge is a group I have a much worse grasp on. But from what I understand their anti-intellectualism was linked to a distaste for Chinese bureaucrats and informed by Colonial racial perspectives (Pol Pot himself spent important years in France, growing disillusioned with the trappings of modernity).
His brutality was definitely informed by anti-colonialism as well. He seemed intent on stripping Cambodia of all foreign influence. Long ago I heard an interesting argument for the Kmer Rouge's brutality being due to the marriage of communism/Marxism with Buddhism. The claim being that Buddism has a ascetic streak that some how made Pol Pots communism more brutal. Not sure I buy it its interesting.


On communisms death toll, so after the US lost in Viet Nam the Chinese invaded and lost, then the Viet Namese invaded Cambodia. Who gets credit for those last two wars?
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Old 20th March 2018, 11:52 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Jerrymander View Post
Mao's an interesting case. He is said to have been responsible for 50 millions deaths but most of those are attributed to the Chinese Famine. If Mao didn't intend for that to happen but was willing to risk all those lives for his Great Leap Forward, then would he be a murderer or manslaughter?
50 million is probably too high by a factor ~2. Not that it matters that much.

As I noted above, one remarkable fact in assessing the context of these atrocities is the steady decline in mortality during Mao's rule (even during the Great Leap Forward), especially when compared with India. It's... complicated, and one of the big reasons why dictatorships of huge countries can be so disastrous.
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Old 20th March 2018, 11:59 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I think that once you start talking about millions dead from the policies of an ideological dictatorship, the exact terminology doesn't matter so much as fixing responsibility on the dictator.
What matters is capturing the human experience and the structural causes that allowed an atrocity to occur. This goes for China, Ireland and British India alike.
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
His brutality was definitely informed by anti-colonialism as well. He seemed intent on stripping Cambodia of all foreign influence. Long ago I heard an interesting argument for the Kmer Rouge's brutality being due to the marriage of communism/Marxism with Buddhism. The claim being that Buddism has a ascetic streak that some how made Pol Pots communism more brutal. Not sure I buy it its interesting.
We love putting dictators in neat boxes; in reality they all incorporated various levels of socialism, fascism, anti-colonialism, and also colonial sentiments, as wella as local traditions. Mao was a Chinese Emperor, Son of Heaven, in all but name. Kim il-Sung is an even more extreme example. Ho Chi Minh was var more academically inclined than either; he was definitely a marxist... but also a staunch nationalist.

An interesting comparison is looking at Islamism. Sayyid Qutb, one of the ideological founders of Islamist ideologies, was a socialist (in a broad sense) who grew disillusioned with both Western modernity and Arabic nationalist militarism. Ruhollah Khomeini based his ideology, ostensibly rooted in Islamic jurisprudence, on a mixture of Qutbism and his own experiences with fascist movements and notions of enlightened despotism in Europe.
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Old 20th March 2018, 12:27 PM   #31
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how do ''they'' count the dead
are german troops counted as killed by H or S
or the troops who died after capture
german's plus allied axis powers lost 5 million troops vs 10 15 20 million reds
who gets the total just for direct troops killed ?
then how to count indirect killings by active acts like steal the food or destroy shelter
vs people who died do to the lack of meds or clean water ect in a war

then there is the direct non-combat killing like the jews or red's camps

so does H get the count of red troops killed in battle or S ?
does H get the war indirect dead reds also or S ?
I guess the jews and others camp killed is on H only
but S had a pile of dead at his orders also

then there are the they died because of a war non-troop loses
without orders or plan just died do to war conditions
plus post war related deaths who gets that blame ?

a big can of worms nobody really knows who killed who or even how many died
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Old 20th March 2018, 12:37 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by nota View Post
how do ''they'' count the dead
are german troops counted as killed by H or S
or the troops who died after capture
german's plus allied axis powers lost 5 million troops vs 10 15 20 million reds
In listing Hitler's crimes against humanity, the millions of Soviet PoWs are occasionally included. The count typically is, 6 million Jews, Roma and Sinti (the Holocaust "proper"), 5 million Slavic civilians (actual civillians; sometimes more as the Polish government claims more ethnic poles were killed than most historians accept; these were mainly deliberately starved to deatj), and about 3 million PoW:s who were summarily executed.

German PoW:s are counted among the wartime Gulag population. There conditions were very harsh and the mortality rate high (about 10-15% during he war I believe) but German prisoners were prized for their work ethic and the Gulag did not consist of anything like death camps.

Making these assessments is a very complex topic of course.
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Old 20th March 2018, 12:54 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Jerrymander View Post
So there's a truism that Stalin killed more than Hitler, having killed 20 million.

However, according to historian Tim Snyder...



He goes on....



and finally.



http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2011/01...who-was-worse/

I have heard from other sources that the death figures given for Stalin have gone down since 1991. Though there are questions as to how complete the Soviet archives are. In addition, we know that the Soviets released prisoners that were in poor condition or were on the brink of death. Their death toll has not been recorded.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.........!
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Old 20th March 2018, 05:17 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
Pol Pot, though his body count wasn't quite in the Hitler/Stalin range (though there seems to be considerable uncertainty about exactly how many he killed) was also notable for the sheer brutality and stupidity of his reign.
Oh, definently. He was just handicapped by having a smaller population to work with.
One of the main reasons I have little use for Noam Chomsky is his continued defense of Pol Pot.
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Old 20th March 2018, 05:19 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Jerrymander View Post
Mao's an interesting case. He is said to have been responsible for 50 millions deaths but most of those are attributed to the Chinese Famine. If Mao didn't intend for that to happen but was willing to risk all those lives for his Great Leap Forward, then would he be a murderer or manslaughter?
I would say that is a distinction without a difference, since he continued his policy even after it's deadly effects were known.
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Old 20th March 2018, 05:20 PM   #36
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I love these attempts to, basically, show that somehow Stalin was "less evil" then Hitler.
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Old 20th March 2018, 05:23 PM   #37
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Yeah well before you get to the "We have to switch to mass graves because if we dig individual ones we'll be here all day and who has time for that" level the line between incompetence and maliciousness blurs pretty much to non-existence for me.
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Old 20th March 2018, 05:53 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
I love these attempts to, basically, show that somehow Stalin was "less evil" then Hitler.
Could you be more specific and actually formulate relevant criticism of what has been said? I'm basing my view on what I read in actual academic works and discussions and perspectives of historians. Frankly, I think your ridiculing of contextualization is incredibly contemptuous toward the victims of Soviet atrocities.

Do you mock people who contextualize British atrocities on the same scale as Soviet ones as "trying to show Churchill was less evil than Hitler"? Do you think there's a point to understanding the suffering of victims of Soviet atrocities in their own right? Or are they only pawns in a game of political pie-throwing for you?
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Old 20th March 2018, 05:55 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Yeah well before you get to the "We have to switch to mass graves because if we dig individual ones we'll be here all day and who has time for that" level the line between incompetence and maliciousness blurs pretty much to non-existence for me.
Say what you will about Mao, he really seems to have been an idiot. Before Trump I struggled to understand how he could have risen to power.
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Old 20th March 2018, 10:41 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
At a certain point, it doesn't really matter. Who was worse, Gacy or Manson? Yes.
Gacy far worse. Manson killed quickly without sexual torture and it's doubtful he personally would have been able to do those acts.

As for the two men in the topic of the thread, they both really are as bad as humans can get.
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