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Hitler and Stalin: Same Book with Different Covers

In the second half of the twentieth century, people were made to see both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as the greatest of evils. Hitler was bad, because his regime propagated the unprecedented horror of the Holocaust, the attempt to eradicate an entire people on racial grounds. Yet Stalin was worse, because his regime killed far, far more people—tens of millions, it was often claimed—in the endless wastes of the Gulag. For decades, and even today, this confidence about the difference between the two regimes—quality versus quantity—has set the ground rules for the politics of memory. Even historians of the Holocaust generally take for granted that Stalin killed more people than Hitler, thus placing themselves under greater pressure to stress the special character of the Holocaust, since this is what made the Nazi regime worse than the Stalinist one.

In INDIA, the horrors of the Nazis are being taught in schools but the horrors of Joseph Stalin were never taught. This makes Hitler a popular villain among the youth but no one knew about Stalin. Another reason which justifies why Hitler is popular is that, the Nazis claimed that they orchestrated the Holocaust but Stalin never accepted that he killed far more people during his tenure as the Premier of Soviet Union.

Nikita Khrushchev, former Premier of Soviet Union on his infamous “Secret Speech” stated the horrors of Stalinism. Although the speech was, made to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it was shocking in its day. There are reports that the audience reacted with applause and laughter at several points. There are also reports that some of those present suffered heart attacks and others later committed suicide due to shock at the revelations of Stalin's use of terror.

Discussion of numbers can blunt our sense of the horrific personal character of each killing and the irreducible tragedy of each death. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the difference between zero and one is infinity. Though we have a harder time grasping this, the same is true for the difference between, say, 780,862 and 780,863—which happens to be the best estimate of the number of people murdered at Treblinka. Large numbers matter because they are an accumulation of small numbers: that is, precious individual lives. 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, could be be more or less than we had believed. We know now that the Germans killed more people than the Soviets did but the archives of the Soviet Union is still not available to most of scholars and it is also believed that during the mass murder by the Red Army no one kept any record of the numbers of the people they killed . That said, the issue of quality is more complex than was once thought. Mass murder in the Soviet Union sometimes involved motivations, especially national and ethnic ones that can be disconcertingly close to Nazi motivations. This proves the same ideology of both the DICTATORS.



  1. The New York Review

  2. History Wench

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