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Adam R

Who was worse Hitler or Stalin?

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Hitler at first underestimated Stalin describing his government as "nothing more than an international criminal ring". But when the war in the East turned, Hitler realised he had an equally formidable and ruthless opponent, "he (Stalin) is a hell of a fellow, in his own way" said Hitler (quote from Albert Speer's memoirs). 

Hitler and Stalin were responsible for millions of deaths, wars, invasions, war crimes and atrocities.

Who do you think was worse amongst these twentieth century despots? 

Edited by Adam R

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30 minutes ago, Adam R said:

Who do you think was worse amongst these twentieth century despots? 

That's a loaded question. Stalin was certainly more capable - the sheer numbers tell the story. I'd say that Hitler was in many ways irrational. His political rise was almost exclusively due to personal charisma - something that Stalin had very little of. Yet, Stalin mounted a 30-year rein without serious internal challenges almost to the end. And, of course, he has piled up more bodies over the course of his lengthy career.

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3 hours ago, Adam R said:

Hitler at first underestimated Stalin describing his government as "nothing more than an international criminal ring". But when the war in the East turned, Hitler realised he had an equally formidable and ruthless opponent, "he (Stalin) is a hell of a fellow, in his own way" said Hitler (quote from Albert Speer's memoirs). 

Hitler and Stalin were responsible for millions of deaths, wars, invasions, war crimes and atrocities.

Who do you think was worse amongst these twentieth century despots? 

In a way, Adam, you are asking at least two different questions - both good ones! (1) Who caused the greatest number of deaths; and (2) who would have caused the greatest number of deaths if he had won? So, who WAS the greatest criminal, and who was POTENTIALLY the greatest criminal? In both cases we are up against rather creative, politically motivated statisticians. 

For example, one professor in the U.S. 'calculated' that Stalin's gulags killed over 80 million people. Let's pause and digest this figure. It sounds impressive; we would like to believe it because it seems to confirm our opinion of Stalin, anyway. BUT: back in the 1920s-1930s, 80 million was about a third of USSR's total population. This cannot be right. So then you begin to worry about statisticians and their craft. And you start wondering where the figure of 30 million died of starvation under Stalin. (You read similar figures for the Chinese famines under Mao). Is this figure 'reasonable'? Do these figures suggest a political bias? When I was a school boy, the alleged losses (military and civilian combined) on the Eastern Front was about 15-18 million; now it somehow risen to 20-28 million.

In terms of future brutality, I believe that Hitler would have been the one with the highest real figure of population losses. There were no breaks on Hitler's brutality; I believe there was with Stalin - his brutality was more targeted, and famine is not something one can control in time to save lives; some of its losses must be left to 'accident' or 'chance' or 'carelessness'. But Hitler killed and killed deliberately. Had he won the war, there probably wouldn't be a 'Slav' left in Europe or a 'Turk' left in Central Asia.      

During the war, Churchill refused to try to alleviate the famine in India by using the navy to ship grain to the stricken areas. He has been criticised for this. It is said he had an unswerving hatred for Indians. Furthermore, it has been said that Indian grain merchants were hoarding huge amounts of grain, waiting for higher prices. If true, all one can say that the profit motive can sometimes be inhuman. Not making a political point here; just saying... 

Good question, though. It makes one think.

 

Edited by Gunnar Sivertsen
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12 minutes ago, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

famine is not something one can control in time to save lives; some of its losses must be left to 'accident' or 'chance' or 'carelessness'.

Gunnar, there is no question that Golodomor, i.e., starvation among farmer population of Ukraine and Central Russia in 1930s, was a deliberate policy aimed at obliterating independent farmers and subjugating the rest into the Kolkhoz collectives, where their status was no better than that of the surfs in the pre-emancipated Russian Empire. There was nothing accidental in that millions perished as a result of that policy.   

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Both were bloody awful!

Stalin is still revered in Russia though amazingly.

Hitler worse towards the worlds people - lets face it his actions more or less led to a world war and its 60-70 million casualties.

Directly Stalin may be worse in regards to his actions towards his own people.

I'll go Hitler but they're both hideous. 

Edited by Edward, The Black Prince

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Gunnar raises a good point about what are the actual accurate numbers. We hear these extremely high figures which seem impossible, i.e Mao killed 75 million. Does anyone have accurate sources for these numbers? Are they really true or have they become over hyped somewhere along the line to sell books etc? I am not doubting Mao was a monster, and a man who kills 10 million men is no less a monster than one who kills 75 million. My question is it really true that Mao killed 75 million? The figure i have heard of Stalin is 25 million rather than 80 milllion, is this right? For Hitler was the figure? Yes he did cause WW2, or at least he led a German National Revolution which caused the war and led to the deaths of 70 million. This 70 million does include the Pacific theatre which really should be attributed to the Japanese. And the Japanese committed many war crimes and atrocities on a parr with the Nazis, so perhaps we should have Hirohito here as well? What is the number for Hirohito?

This article has the total number killed by Hitler / Nazis as 11 million non combatants and Stalin as 6 million, which is a fraction of what we have commonly been told:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/03/10/hitler-vs-stalin-who-killed-more/

What are the real figures?

Edited by Adam R

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9 hours ago, Adam R said:

This article has the total number killed by Hitler / Nazis as 11 million non combatants and Stalin as 6 million, which is a fraction of what we have commonly been told:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/03/10/hitler-vs-stalin-who-killed-more/

Actually, Snyder says, "For the Soviets during the Stalin period, the analogous figures are approximately six million and nine million." And, of course, this number does not include, "The largest human catastrophe of Stalinism was the famine of 1930–1933, in which more than five million people died."  Which is a problem, since he is kind of admitting that this was a deliberate policy. Secondly, this is a conservative number – just like the number of people executed during the Big Terror. In fact, we know that this number is grossly deflated, because it does not include those sentenced to “10 years of incarceration without the right of correspondence,” which was a mere disguise for execution. How do we know that? None of them survived, and all of their cases are closed shortly after their sentencing with a standard – fake in all likelihood – cause of death remark. So, Snyder’s suggestion that “Judging from the Soviet records we now have, the number of people who died in the Gulag between 1933 and 1945, while both Stalin and Hitler were in power, was on the order of a million, perhaps a bit more. The total figure for the entire Stalinist period is likely between two million and three million” looks pretty naive to me.

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Thanks George, so we dont have agreed figures for how many Stalin killed I see.

A cruel irony of Stalin and Hitler is that they both killed the same people. The Russians and Slavs had to endure two of the most murderous dictators in history in the twentieth century, with Hitler killing around 20 million in USSR (14 million civilians, 6 million soldiers) by some estimates and Stalin murdering another 25 million of the same nation. 

We are very lucky to live in the time and place we do.

Edited by Adam R
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26 minutes ago, Adam R said:

A cruel irony of Stalin and Hitler is that they both killed the same people.

That's true. I've read an autobiographical book 'Journey to the Land of ZK" (ZK being a Russian acronym for a prisoner) by Margolis, who was a Polish Jew escaping to East Poland from the Nazis in the Fall of 1939 only to be subsequently imprisoned to GULAG by NKVD. He was lucky to survive all this, of course. 

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On ‎12‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 7:04 PM, George Collins said:

Gunnar, there is no question that Golodomor, i.e., starvation among farmer population of Ukraine and Central Russia in 1930s, was a deliberate policy aimed at obliterating independent farmers and subjugating the rest into the Kolkhoz collectives, where their status was no better than that of the surfs in the pre-emancipated Russian Empire. There was nothing accidental in that millions perished as a result of that policy.   

Having read Snyder's article - which appears a fair summation - I stand corrected. What is described as 'famine' is often a deliberate famine orchestrated by Stalin, and those famines caused more than 3 million lives.

My remaining question is this: was there also a nature-caused famine (say, due to drought) which Stalin exploited and deliberately worsened to his own political ends? I ask, not in order to excuse Stalin - what he did was inexcusable - but because Snyder says that the famine 'spread to Kazakhstan' - which makes it sound as if there were natural forces at play as well as human cruelty. Even if this were the case, what Stalin did was to prevent alleviation of the effect of such an natural disaster, and we know that he added to it.   

Snyder asks whether it is meaningful to compare cruelties - Stalin's versus Hitler's - and replies that yes it is in so far as every life lost is 'an infinity'. Nicely put! The total figures, he says, is a totality of infinities. Now, some of you will be angry with me for saying this - and you may accuse me of unworthy political motives - but one weakness in making the comparison that Snyder, and we, make is that we are comparing countries, or rather regimes, rather than ideologies. Would we not be justified in also attempting to assess - calculate - the civilian losses due to colonialism (this includes Tsarist and Soviet colonialism), Nazism, communism, and capitalism.

Now figures are out in regard to colonialism, Nazism, and communism, but I haven't seen any estimated figures for capitalism. I see an immediate problem, namely a debate about which civilian losses could have been prevented by government intervention and which could not; and frankly I don't have an answer to this. But it seems to me a little one-sided - maybe even a little self-serving? - to measure the suffering meted out by certain other governments (tyrannies) and leave out, or avoid, an attempt at measuring the suffering inflicted, or contributed to, by democracies. I suppose that I have in mind the assertion by some Classical historians that the first recorded massacre in history was committed by Athens on some island the population of which had refused to join the expanding Athenian empire; the point being that democracies can, and do, inflict deliberate civilian casualties in what we now call ethnic cleansing and genocide.

What I have in mind, in particular, is the loss of lives due to the structures of democratic capitalist governments - a structure that bias the economic outcome and hence the security and health of their citizens. We have, then, starvation as a factor in capitalist developing countries, and we have poverty mental health problems, and homelessness in democratic capitalist developed countries as a function of deliberate government policies. Part of the banking crisis of 2008 was mass homelessness of many of the people who couldn't meet their mortgage payments; and 'measures' such as austerity also kill civilians.           

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Gunnar I think you have a fair point that we do often overlook the number of people killed by Western demcracies. In Iraq 1 million were killed recently. It is also true that many in the British establishment were Nazis such as the Duke of Windsor, the Nazi King who abdicated, Lord Rothermere the owner of the Daily Mail, and Unity Mitford the cousin of Winston Churchill. Churchill our most famous anti-Nazi in fact praised Hitler before the war broke out. And Neville Chamerlain had no quams in proclaiming Peace in Our Time with the Nazi regime. It was not the brutality, or anti-semitism or facism of Nazi Germany which led us to declare war. Britain declared war against Germany in WW2 to preserve the Empire and the international balance of power upon which it rested.

The British Empire was not an entirely ignoble enterprise and Nial Ferguson shows in his book Empire that there was an effort to raise the rest of the world up to the standards of the British. But few could dispute the British Empire involved an inherent racism, and exploitation. Johan Hari estimates that:

"The British deliberately adopted policies that caused as many as 29 million Indians to starve to death in the late 19th century".

Although many reputable historians such as Ferguson dispute Hari on this very strongly. 

On a more political note, I certainly don't agree with you that homelessness in the UK is a tool of government mass murder. My experience of homelessness is that is in fact extremely rare, with only a few hundred genuine rough sleepers, and the majority beggars who are in fact seeking cash to fund drug and alcohol addiction. Britain has a welfare state with social housing, so is clearly not deliberately trying to kill anyone, although some may fall through the safety net.

 

Edited by Adam R

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4 hours ago, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

My remaining question is this: was there also a nature-caused famine (say, due to drought) which Stalin exploited and deliberately worsened to his own political ends? I ask, not in order to excuse Stalin - what he did was inexcusable - but because Snyder says that the famine 'spread to Kazakhstan' - which makes it sound as if there were natural forces at play as well as human cruelty. Even if this were the case, what Stalin did was to prevent alleviation of the effect of such an natural disaster, and we know that he added to it.   

No, the 'drought' had nothing to do with it. Particularly the fact that it was so wide spread is a hint in and of itself. But it was not the first time when the Bolsheviks generated famine to suppress resistance. On a smaller scale, it was Lenin who initiated it during the Civil War years under the telling name of War Communism policy.

Edited by George Collins

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17 hours ago, Adam R said:

Gunnar I think you have a fair point that we do often overlook the number of people killed by Western demcracies. In Iraq 1 million were killed recently. It is also true that many in the British establishment were Nazis such as the Duke of Windsor, the Nazi King who abdicated, Lord Rothermere the owner of the Daily Mail, and Unity Mitford the cousin of Winston Churchill. Churchill our most famous anti-Nazi in fact praised Hitler before the war broke out. And Neville Chamerlain had no quams in proclaiming Peace in Our Time with the Nazi regime. It was not the brutality, or anti-semitism or facism of Nazi Germany which led us to declare war. Britain declared war against Germany in WW2 to preserve the Empire and the international balance of power upon which it rested.

The British Empire was not an entirely ignoble enterprise and Nial Ferguson shows in his book Empire that there was an effort to raise the rest of the world up to the standards of the British. But few could dispute the British Empire involved an inherent racism, and exploitation. Johan Hari estimates that:

"The British deliberately adopted policies that caused as many as 29 million Indians to starve to death in the late 19th century".

Although many reputable historians such as Ferguson dispute Hari on this very strongly. 

On a more political note, I certainly don't agree with you that homelessness in the UK is a tool of government mass murder. My experience of homelessness is that is in fact extremely rare, with only a few hundred genuine rough sleepers, and the majority beggars who are in fact seeking cash to fund drug and alcohol addiction. Britain has a welfare state with social housing, so is clearly not deliberately trying to kill anyone, although some may fall through the safety net.

 

I didn't claim that death by homelessness (after the applicants had been told they were fit-for work' or after their pension/benefits had been withdrawn) was a 'tool of government mass murder'. But this raises an interesting question - the four-way distinction between (1) a deliberate policy of genocide (Stalin and Hitler); (2) a policy that the government knows (through their own monitoring and via feedback from the press, members of their constituency, fellow members of parliament, and (if they are sitting Ministers of the Crown) from what they can glean from Cabinet meetings) is causing significant deaths; (3) a policy that the government has reason to suspect is causing significant deaths; and (4) a policy that over decades, even centuries, has become 'structural' and therefore an accepted feature of a political system, and where expressions such as the 'survival of the fittest' serve as a mild justification for the civilian losses inherent in that politico-economic system. A figure of 120,000 since 2010 was suggested recently for the people who had died after losing their application to receive, or not to lose, their pension/benefits. Other figures were, through FOI, obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions, but DWP refused to provide The Guardian and the BBC with a breakdown of the causes of deaths, so WE don't know how many died of natural causes (that is, probably would have died anyway) and how many could reasonably have been said to have died from suicide and the effects of homelessness. But my contention is that the executive arm of the government know these figures and because the figures might embarrass the government - and by implication, display their responsibility - this is the reason they refuse to make them available. They don't want to be named and shamed.     

This four-way distinction makes it clear that any collection of data would have to be carefully sifted and categorised. You may disagree, but I think that governments are responsible if they are aware of, or have reason to suspect, a cause-effect link between their policies and the loss of lives among the people they are elected to serve - this includes refugees and economic migrants as well as citizens and members of the electorate. Knowledge, to my mind, confers responsibility. 

Homelessness is a big problem - anyone taking a walk through Folkestone on an early morning will be able to see this for themselves. However, you are right, Adam, that many of these people have substance use problems; others have mental illness, learning disorders, autism spectrum, or anti-social personality disorders, etc. People in the very last sub-category are hard to treat, but members in the other sub-categories are either treatable or, at the very least assistable - when funding is available. The National Health Service has called on radical funding increases for Mental Health; they report that the situation is desperate. After a particularly compelling case was presented in Parliament recently, the government has promised a small funding increase. They have the knowledge of the consequences; but they also stick to their policies - even when these policies kill. Maybe we should we create a fifth category - death by 'governmental benign neglect'. Here I'm highlighting that we don't seem to have a word for the mechanism where a government - democratically elected - avert their eyes.    

I wasn't - and am not - having a go at the British or their Empire. I am having a go at the rather lop-sided use of statistics. Historians occasionally make estimates of losses - even of civilian losses - as a result of long-term policies pursued by long-dead governments. I think we should do the same - apply our yardstick to ourselves and the system we represent; this might do either of two things: (a) establish a benchmark - that's one way of looking at it: the losses under our economic system are 'acceptable' and other systems should emulate us and our figures of civilian deaths; or (b) or cause a self-evaluation based on Humanist principles; we may decide that our figures are needlessly high, and seek to change the system.

      

Edited by Gunnar Sivertsen

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Why do I write about the current political and economic situation - I'm aware that it annoys some people here on this thread - when we are here to discuss World War II issues? Because World War II is not just about strategy, tactics, hardware and weapons, and war graves; it is also about the War's historical ramifications, and about the world our soldiers died for, and the world we now inhabit. History is not just 'then'; history is also 'now' - history unfolds as we speak. What we enjoy and endure will one day be what historians call History. History unfolds all the time.

Then there is the saying, 'We must learn from History'. One way is to take stock of certain salient features of what he now have and ask ourselves, 'Have we mismanaged our War legacy? Have we let down the hopes of those who died - hopes of a better world?  

In a way, World War II will never end. It's impact will be 'with us' forever - or for a very long time. Likewise, our views on World War II is projected onto our view of our future, our children's and grandchildren's future, and what we want for them. The pendulum of History swings - both ways. Perpetual resonance and feedback, regrets and reflection. That's us.     

Edited by Gunnar Sivertsen
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10 hours ago, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

Why do I write about the current political and economic situation - I'm aware that it annoys some people here on this thread - when we are here to discuss World War II issues? Because World War II is not just about strategy, tactics, hardware and weapons, and war graves; it is also about the War's historical ramifications, and about the world our soldiers died for, and the world we now inhabit. History is not just 'then'; history is also 'now' - history unfolds as we speak. What we enjoy and endure will one day be what historians call History. History unfolds all the time.

Then there is the saying, 'We must learn from History'. One way is to take stock of certain salient features of what he now have and ask ourselves, 'Have we mismanaged our War legacy? Have we let down the hopes of those who died - hopes of a better world?  

In a way, World War II will never end. It's impact will be 'with us' forever - or for a very long time. Likewise, our views on World War II is projected onto our view of our future, our children's and grandchildren's future, and what we want for them. The pendulum of History swings - both ways. Perpetual resonance and feedback, regrets and reflection. That's us.     

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days (back in 2015) in Ulaan Baator - capital city of Genghis Khan's Mongolia. Far from "learning from history", In post Soviet Mongolia, Genghis is being rehabilitated. In the centre of town is a massive, gold painted statue of the former Khan, 60 km out of town on the steppes stands a museum to Genghis Khan, topped by a massive stainless steel statue of the Khan, sat on a pony. Gengis Khan - without question - killed a larger fraction of the world's population that either Hitler OR Stalin. Mongolian Authorities point to the era of peace over which he presided, carefully papering over the reality that the "peace" would better be described as "terrified". I am convinced that the several generations of being a vassal state to the Mongol Empire left permanent psychological  scars on the Russian psyche.The Empire lasted 162 years, during which time many generations were born, and died.A life perpetually lived in poverty and terror simply became "normality". And when the empire collapsed (1368AD) the Russians were free to compose their own rules to order their society, the laws that they passed seemed to be based on the idea that the Mongols were still in control, and a cause of abject terror. One hears tales of circus animals, who  after a life confined in a small cage, on being released still pace no more than a metre or two, back and forth, as if still constrained by invisible bars. I think the same thing happened to the Russians.

Genghis.jpg

mongolian-parliament-16751109.jpg

Edited by Ron Walker
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On ‎12‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 6:36 PM, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

In a way, Adam, you are asking at least two different questions - both good ones! (1) Who caused the greatest number of deaths; and (2) who would have caused the greatest number of deaths if he had won? So, who WAS the greatest criminal, and who was POTENTIALLY the greatest criminal? In both cases we are up against rather creative, politically motivated statisticians. 

For example, one professor in the U.S. 'calculated' that Stalin's gulags killed over 80 million people. Let's pause and digest this figure. It sounds impressive; we would like to believe it because it seems to confirm our opinion of Stalin, anyway. BUT: back in the 1920s-1930s, 80 million was about a third of USSR's total population. This cannot be right. So then you begin to worry about statisticians and their craft. And you start wondering where the figure of 30 million died of starvation under Stalin. (You read similar figures for the Chinese famines under Mao). Is this figure 'reasonable'? Do these figures suggest a political bias? When I was a school boy, the alleged losses (military and civilian combined) on the Eastern Front was about 15-18 million; now it somehow risen to 20-28 million.

In terms of future brutality, I believe that Hitler would have been the one with the highest real figure of population losses. There were no breaks on Hitler's brutality; I believe there was with Stalin - his brutality was more targeted, and famine is not something one can control in time to save lives; some of its losses must be left to 'accident' or 'chance' or 'carelessness'. But Hitler killed and killed deliberately. Had he won the war, there probably wouldn't be a 'Slav' left in Europe or a 'Turk' left in Central Asia.      

During the war, Churchill refused to try to alleviate the famine in India by using the navy to ship grain to the stricken areas. He has been criticised for this. It is said he had an unswerving hatred for Indians. Furthermore, it has been said that Indian grain merchants were hoarding huge amounts of grain, waiting for higher prices. If true, all one can say that the profit motive can sometimes be inhuman. Not making a political point here; just saying... 

Good question, though. It makes one think.

 

I would like to correct the figures that I gave in the above post of 80 million victims of the gulags. I have now found my source and the figure quoted is 66 million. This figure was provided by I. A. Kurganov, an émigré professor of statistics and relates the victims of "internal repression" from the beginning of October 1917 to 1959. Alexander Solzhenitsyn quotes this figure in his "The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956. An Experiment in Literary Investigation" [parts] III-IV, volume 2, p. 10. In a later book, "Letter to Soviet Leaders", published in English in April 1974, Solzhenitsyn again refers to the same source, Professor Kurganov, and his figure of 66 million, and clarifies: the figure does not include war dead during World Wars I and II, "but from civil strife and tumult alone" (pp. 30-31). Solzhenitsyn does not state whether the figure includes losses during the October Revolution (presumably it does), the subsequent civil war (presumably it does), and the Stalin-orchestrated famine (don't know). - From this, it is apparent that of the 66 million quoted by Solzhenitsyn, it is near-impossible to derive a more definite figure for the people who died in the gulags themselves unless we go back to Kurganov to look for a breakdown of his over-all figure. - But of course we on this thread have other sources.      

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On ‎18‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 9:35 PM, Ron Walker said:

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days (back in 2015) in Ulaan Baator - capital city of Genghis Khan's Mongolia. Far from "learning from history", In post Soviet Mongolia, Genghis is being rehabilitated. In the centre of town is a massive, gold painted statue of the former Khan, 60 km out of town on the steppes stands a museum to Genghis Khan, topped by a massive stainless steel statue of the Khan, sat on a pony. Gengis Khan - without question - killed a larger fraction of the world's population that either Hitler OR Stalin. Mongolian Authorities point to the era of peace over which he presided, carefully papering over the reality that the "peace" would better be described as "terrified". I am convinced that the several generations of being a vassal state to the Mongol Empire left permanent psychological  scars on the Russian psyche.The Empire lasted 162 years, during which time many generations were born, and died.A life perpetually lived in poverty and terror simply became "normality". And when the empire collapsed (1368AD) the Russians were free to compose their own rules to order their society, the laws that they passed seemed to be based on the idea that the Mongols were still in control, and a cause of abject terror. One hears tales of circus animals, who  after a life confined in a small cage, on being released still pace no more than a metre or two, back and forth, as if still constrained by invisible bars. I think the same thing happened to the Russians.

Genghis.jpg

mongolian-parliament-16751109.jpg

Thank you, Ron Walker, for this excellent example of how not to learn from history! I must admit that the Norwegians do something similar regarding their Viking ancestors. The emphasis is nowadays on their seamanship and art and craft expertise, and we in Britain know, from our history books, that the Vikings often were up to no good. I suppose one could argue that Genghis Khan and the Vikings are sufficiently far back so as not to influence us directly (whatever that means). But they are part and parcel of our notion of physical and mental strength, about the glory of carving out empires - without much though to the victims - and that this spirit it alive an kicking in several parts of the world. 'Spheres of interest' abound.

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51 minutes ago, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

Thank you, Ron Walker, for this excellent example of how not to learn from history! I must admit that the Norwegians do something similar regarding their Viking ancestors. The emphasis is nowadays on their seamanship and art and craft expertise, and we in Britain know, from our history books, that the Vikings often were up to no good. I suppose one could argue that Genghis Khan and the Vikings are sufficiently far back so as not to influence us directly (whatever that means). But they are part and parcel of our notion of physical and mental strength, about the glory of carving out empires - without much though to the victims - and that this spirit it alive an kicking in several parts of the world. 'Spheres of interest' abound.

Here on the Isle of Man, the locals are very proud of their Viking Heritage; a couple of Km north of my home is "Gansey" - yet another place name (like Laxey, which is the home of the worlds biggest water wheel) left behind by Viking conquerors.The Manx had the last laugh, however... the female local natives intermarried with their (male) conquerors, and, it was the women who raised the children... as Manx Gaelic speakers. The Norsemen's language lives on is some place names, but their children didn't speak it, I'm not Manx myself (I just live here, for the moment) I come from Bristol, where a thousand years ago, raids across the Bristol Channel were a staple of the economy - to capture slaves. Apparently, many were then sold on to Viking traders, who re-sold them to the Irish.
But, with respect, the Vikings almost by definition weren't in the same league as the Mongol Hordes. Vikings liked to fight, and to drink. The Mongols seemed to prefer NOT to fight. As THE military superpower of their day, resisting them was inevitably futile.Fight and you WOULD LOSE.And having lost, your punishment for resistance would be death  Not just you; your whole family, neighbours, friends, livestock... EVERYTHING slaughtered. So, people generally didn't resist - they just surrendered. The Occupants of the lands to the East and North of the Germans had routinely been beaten up by their neighbours Their standard response to being attacked was to run away and hide in the forests. BUT they noticed that traders who frequently passed through their region tended to defend themselves ferociously (and successfully) when attacked. The traders called these local tribes the "Rus", and themselves "Vikings". The Rus, invited the Vikings to lead and protect  them as rulers. And they agreed. When the Mongol Horde arrived... very wisely, they surrendered, and accepted the standard terms from their new Mongol overlords. The same (viking!) aristocracy as before, but now acting as management, and every year the Mongols expected "Tribute" to be paid to them. Where "tribute" equated to almost the entire national output, leaving barely enough to eat. Failure to deliver tribute would be treated the same way as defiance would have been. Blanket extermination, not of individuals but of the entire community. Anyone hoarding food put the entire community at risk, which was not permissible. It resulted in a change of culture: spying on your neighbours was how you survived.. They spent 162 years selling each other out, starving,  perpetually terrified of stepping out of line and getting everybody you know killed. Reminiscent of a Scene from Schindler's List, where the Concentration Camp Commandant keeps a scoped Mauser rifle on his balcony, and randomly shoots inmates, merely for his own amusement.The Jews in the camp were already in no doubt that they were going to die... but at least had some small ability to delay it so that it didn't happen TODAY. Losing that ability brought another layer of terror. Imagine living in a country where being an inmate of Auschwitz was your normality - as it had been for your parents and grandparents. Perpetual hunger, perpetual terror. Peace, certainly, because  you are part of the Mongols' "flock", and they don't tolerate anyone else harming their property.
Genghis Khan's likeness appears on Mongolian (Tigrik) banknotes; There's a ten times life size statue of him seated outside of the parliament building, the massive stainless steel equestrian statue out on the steppes (what doesn't show in the photograph is that the circular building has a massive basement underground as well. Jeez... if someone erected a ten times life statue of Himmler in Germany (or worse - Poland maybe?).... there would be hell to pay!

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43 minutes ago, Ron Walker said:

Here on the Isle of Man, the locals are very proud of their Viking Heritage; a couple of Km north of my home is "Gansey" - yet another place name (like Laxey, which is the home of the worlds biggest water wheel) left behind by Viking conquerors.The Manx had the last laugh, however... the female local natives intermarried with their (male) conquerors, and, it was the women who raised the children... as Manx Gaelic speakers. The Norsemen's language lives on is some place names, but their children didn't speak it, I'm not Manx myself (I just live here, for the moment) I come from Bristol, where a thousand years ago, raids across the Bristol Channel were a staple of the economy - to capture slaves. Apparently, many were then sold on to Viking traders, who re-sold them to the Irish.
But, with respect, the Vikings almost by definition weren't in the same league as the Mongol Hordes. Vikings liked to fight, and to drink. The Mongols seemed to prefer NOT to fight. As THE military superpower of their day, resisting them was inevitably futile.Fight and you WOULD LOSE.And having lost, your punishment for resistance would be death  Not just you; your whole family, neighbours, friends, livestock... EVERYTHING slaughtered. So, people generally didn't resist - they just surrendered. The Occupants of the lands to the East and North of the Germans had routinely been beaten up by their neighbours Their standard response to being attacked was to run away and hide in the forests. BUT they noticed that traders who frequently passed through their region tended to defend themselves ferociously (and successfully) when attacked. The traders called these local tribes the "Rus", and themselves "Vikings". The Rus, invited the Vikings to lead and protect  them as rulers. And they agreed. When the Mongol Horde arrived... very wisely, they surrendered, and accepted the standard terms from their new Mongol overlords. The same (viking!) aristocracy as before, but now acting as management, and every year the Mongols expected "Tribute" to be paid to them. Where "tribute" equated to almost the entire national output, leaving barely enough to eat. Failure to deliver tribute would be treated the same way as defiance would have been. Blanket extermination, not of individuals but of the entire community. Anyone hoarding food put the entire community at risk, which was not permissible. It resulted in a change of culture: spying on your neighbours was how you survived.. They spent 162 years selling each other out, starving,  perpetually terrified of stepping out of line and getting everybody you know killed. Reminiscent of a Scene from Schindler's List, where the Concentration Camp Commandant keeps a scoped Mauser rifle on his balcony, and randomly shoots inmates, merely for his own amusement.The Jews in the camp were already in no doubt that they were going to die... but at least had some small ability to delay it so that it didn't happen TODAY. Losing that ability brought another layer of terror. Imagine living in a country where being an inmate of Auschwitz was your normality - as it had been for your parents and grandparents. Perpetual hunger, perpetual terror. Peace, certainly, because  you are part of the Mongols' "flock", and they don't tolerate anyone else harming their property.
Genghis Khan's likeness appears on Mongolian (Tigrik) banknotes; There's a ten times life size statue of him seated outside of the parliament building, the massive stainless steel equestrian statue out on the steppes (what doesn't show in the photograph is that the circular building has a massive basement underground as well. Jeez... if someone erected a ten times life statue of Himmler in Germany (or worse - Poland maybe?).... there would be hell to pay!

Yes but Stalin is lionised in Russia, and Mao lionised in China, so no surprise to me Khan is lionised in Mongolia.

Closer to home, Henry 8th is lionised and idolised in Britain although he killed thousands and murdered two of his wives. 

So British people are also part of this phenomenon of idolising brutal rulers. 

"Hold on a minute, yes that is true of Russians, Chinese and Mongolians but we Brits dont idolise Henry 8th, we know he was a tyrant!" I hear you thinking.

Before you challenge me on this point, I draw your attention to a survey of 500,000 Brits, on how was the greatest Brit. Henry 8th was voted 40th, above Charles Dickens, proof he is revered still in England despite his brutality. The Mongols love of Khan is no different. He is a strong leader, who gives them pride in his empire, despite his brutality. Julius Caesar boasted in his Commentaries that he killed 1 million Gauls, and enslaved another million, and he is likewise admired in Italy. Almost every nation in the world has had a brutal leader at some point, that helped build a sense of national consciousness. 

 

Edited by Adam R
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7 minutes ago, Adam R said:

Yes but Stalin is lionised in Russia, and Mao lionised in China, so no surprise to me Khan is lionised in Mongolia.

Closer to home, Henry 8th is lionised and idolised in Britain although he killed thousands and murdered two of his wives. 

So British people are also part of this phenomenon of idolising brutal rulers. 

"Hold on a minute, yes that is true of Russians, Chinese and Mongolians but we Brits dont idolise Henry 8th, we know he was a tyrant!" I hear you thinking.

Before you challenge me on this point, I draw your attention to a survey of 500,000 Brits, on how was the greatest Brit. Henry 8th was voted 40th, above Charles Dickens, proof he is revered still in England despite his brutality. The Mongols love of Khan is no different. He is a strong leader, who gives them pride in his empire, despite his brutality. Julius Caesar boasted in his Commentaries that he killed 1 million Gauls, and enslaved another million, and he is likewise admired in Italy. Almost every nation in the world has had a brutal leader at some point, that helped build a sense of national consciousness.

I'd say rather that Stalin is POPULAR in Russia, but with the proviso that I found Russia to be a very confusing place, on my most recent visit in 2015. I had previously debated the importance of the Anarchist leader Nestor Makhno. HIS history books all claimed that Makhno had been a figure of minimal importance, a mere "bandit". But his citations all came from publications run by the CPSSR (Communist Party of the Soviet Socialist Republic) who provided the model for Orwell's "1984", in which history is.... negotiable. My own sources were external to the USSR; Stalin's Russia in particular had a sorry reputation for pulping history books to expunge inconvenient facts. The Soviet equivalent of the Encyclopaedia Britannica issued periodic replacement pages, complete with a stiff backed razor blade to slice out the offending page. Makhno HAD been a major figure, pivotal in the Russian civil war, in Odessa where the Communists had little support, but Anarchists were the main opposition to the Czar in Odessa. The communists were happy to claim the Anarchists as allies, until the civil war ended, whereupon (now able to divert resources from elsewhere) they attacked Makhno, and changed the records to suggest that they hadn't. (The argument came to an end when my chum in Odessa asked around in the local home for retired seamen... whose account of events that they remembered was very different to hat the official histories reported.) I learned to speak Russian in the 1970s, and my vocabulary refers to a world that no longer exists. A "modern" Russian citizen has probably no idea what a "Kholkoznik" was. When being driven  from Dodomevo airport to central Moscow, I kept seeing adverts for a word I'd never seen before I asked the driver to translate and he explained that it meant "Car valetting service".Completely different world: when I learned Russian VERY few Muscovites owned a car, and it would have been a really crappy car. When you parked, the first thing a Muscovite would have done would be to remove the windscreen wipers, and lock them in the glove compartment. Older Russians seem to divide the past into four sections: The Communist Era, when the information available to you was strictly controlled by the state, and advised you that everything was going wonderfully. Then came the HORRID Gorbchev, who revealed that his predecessors had all been pathological liars - and by the way, the country's  bankrupt! - then a brief period of anarchy as power switched from the Party to... well, nobody. Then from the chaos of Yeltsin era, emerged the heroic figure of Putin. They've never known a period when their media (and thus their perception of the world) wasn't controlled by the political leadership.I'm not at all sure that they see Stalin as "an actual real person". More of a comic book figure, like Superman

The membership of this forum are almost certainly an exception to the "rule", but I'd wager that most modern citizens aren't familiar with the horror with which a typical citizen alive during the early 16th century would have regarded the failure of a monarch to die without there being a clear and undisputed line of succession behind them. Failure to secure the succession was potentially a recipe for civil war, and national disaster. Henry VIII would have been VERY aware of that, AND aware, almost before anything else, that it was his JOB to ensure that it didn't happen. Meaning that he had the moral authority to do pretty much ANYTHING that led to a continuation of the succession.

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Ron you as a Brit defending Henry 8th for murdering two young wives due to "moral authority to for pretty much anything that led to succession", is an example of a Brit defending a brutal leader. It is the same as the Mongols celebrating Khan. It makes Henry 8th somehow as a martyr providing national service, when he killed two young women who had lost his favour. It should be pointed out that Anne Bolyen had actually provided an heir Elizabeth 1st, and by the time Catherine of Howard was beheaded, Henry 8th also had Edward 6th as heir, so he neednt kill her to secure succession and prevent any civil war in England.

In granting, a leader "moral authority to do almost anything", we can understand how other nations feel about their past Kings, Emperors and Dictactors. The Russians say of Stalin, with some justification, whatever he did to the Russian people "only Stalin could have stopped Hitler". And the Chinese excuse the 75 million Mao killed because China developed rapidly. The Germans adored Hitler, he was elected by 33% of the public in 1933 and by 1934 90% of Germans voted for him to become Furher. Even in the 1980s despite the catastrophe of Nazism for Germany, it was quite common for Germans to defend Hitler, "he didnt know what was happening in the camps, he loved the country." Italians also revered Mussolini, and Berlusconi recently said he had only one mistake in allying with Hitler which was understanable as it appeared Germany would win.

From Napoleon to Caesar, every nation has had brutal leaders in its history, and the citizens of those countries, lionise those leaders, they grant them "moral authority to do almost anything" as they have played an important role in nation building. 

 

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9 hours ago, Adam R said:

Ron you as a Brit defending Henry 8th for murdering two young wives due to "moral authority to for pretty much anything that led to succession", is an example of a Brit defending a brutal leader. It is the same as the Mongols celebrating Khan. It makes Henry 8th somehow as a martyr providing national service, when he killed two young women who had lost his favour. It should be pointed out that Anne Bolyen had actually provided an heir Elizabeth 1st, and by the time Catherine of Howard was beheaded, Henry 8th also had Edward 6th as heir, so he neednt kill her to secure succession and prevent any civil war in England.

In granting, a leader "moral authority to do almost anything", we can understand how other nations feel about their past Kings, Emperors and Dictactors. The Russians say of Stalin, with some justification, whatever he did to the Russian people "only Stalin could have stopped Hitler". And the Chinese excuse the 75 million Mao killed because China developed rapidly. The Germans adored Hitler, he was elected by 33% of the public in 1933 and by 1934 90% of Germans voted for him to become Furher. Even in the 1980s despite the catastrophe of Nazism for Germany, it was quite common for Germans to defend Hitler, "he didnt know what was happening in the camps, he loved the country." Italians also revered Mussolini, and Berlusconi recently said he had only one mistake in allying with Hitler which was understanable as it appeared Germany would win.

From Napoleon to Caesar, every nation has had brutal leaders in its history, and the citizens of those countries, lionise those leaders, they grant them "moral authority to do almost anything" as they have played an important role in nation building.

Again, you're indulging in "egocentrism." As  Antonio Gramsci commented: "Ideology has no history".  That is "Things as they are now is how they've ALWAYS BEEN, both here and everywhere else." Henry VIII had ONE son? And some daughters? Wow! In a world without antibiotics and an frighteningly high infant mortality rate, that's not exactly reassuring.Henry himself had inherited the crown not from his father... but from his elder brother. You need quite a large bunch of "spares". And those spares ought ideally to be BOYS.

If I have any admiration for Stalin (and I must admit that I do have. SImilarly I thought Yuri Andropov was the last Soviet leader who had the balls to knock heads together until things could be turned around. There was no way that the inherently corrupt Communist Party was ever going to voluntarily relinquish power or accept ANY changes; individually, party members were going to sabotage any attempt to prise their hands off of the tiller. What impresses me about Stalin is that he seemed to make Marxism/Leninism actually WORK, despite it being (in my view) a contradiction in terms. Marxism describes history as being somewhat glacier-like: huge, and under the impulse of Gravity, always trying to move downhill. "Downhill" carrying it through quite distinct historical stages, notable Feudalism, then Mercantilism, then Capitalism, Socialism and Communism. Always the same stages, and always in the same order. At the time of the Communist takeover of power in 1917, Russia was still stranded somewhere between Feudalism and Mercantilism, according to Marx's analysis. Leninism implies that it's possible to SKIP any developmental stages that you don't like (like Capitalism) and move straight on to the ones you DO like. Back in the 1980's I proposed "Walker's Law" to a girlfriend who was finishing a degree course in Soviet Studies.My "law" asserted that any state will attempt to have control over the design and manufacture of the weapons used by its own army, and that one can - with a reasonable degree of certainty - measure industrail development by where a country gets its weapons.. Russia, by 1917, had historically been importing weapons from Europe and the USA. Central Asia had been conquered using Smith & Wesson revolvers and Winchester rifles. Russia was steadily switching over to imports mainly from Belgium, but also from the UK, Germany and the USA, because it had minimal manufacturing capacity of its own, and what there was had been imported. Generally, according to Marx,industrialisation takes place during a country's passage through the early stages of capitalism.Lenin dried to leap straight to socialism, and establish heavy industry AND an industrial infrastructure as part of a planned economy when they didn't HAVE a planned economy; they barely had railroads, and THEY had been imported. Getting from nowhere to becoming a serious player on the heavy industry stage in barely more than a generation is IMPRESSIVE.  [As an aside, after Bazalgette totally reformed London's medieval sewage system by pumping waste to a point so far down the Thames that it couldn't just flow back, the French thought it a great idea, and planed something similar for Paris. They saved a fortune when they bought only two of the five huge steam pumps that the job required, and assumed that they'd just be able to copy them. And from that they learned an important lesson. Even given detailed scale drawings and a working prototype does NOT mean  you'll be able to put a piece of (for the time) "High Tech" equipment into production, because to do so requires equally "high tech" production methods. The French spent a fortune attempting to produce copies of the imported pumps... but never managed to get the knack of it. They humiliatingly had to go back to the UK and buy the other three units.It had been a member of the Watt family (by marriage) who had pioneered the art of precision drilling-out the barrels of cast iron cannon; when, later, emerging steam technology required a precision engineered tube capable of withstanding massive pressure through which a cylinder could be slid... they already had access to an "off the shelf" solution. Point being, technology tends to evolve.You CAN'T just decide that you want to be able to do X in five years time, because (usually) you can have no idea of what unforeseen problems will be found along the way, or how long it will take to solve them.] Not only did the USSR bootstrap itself from medieval society into an industrial power in a couple of decades, but then, after 1941... they had to do it AGAIN. Interestingly Marx himself had dismissed the idea of Russian Communism, precisely because of his "stage theory". you HAVE to go through ALL the stages, and Russia was a couple of "stages" behind its neighbours. According to Marx, Britain, Germany and France would lead the way. (Why not Belgium and Czechoslovakia? Both were "industrially precocious")

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2 hours ago, Ron Walker said:

Not only did the USSR bootstrap itself from medieval society into an industrial power in a couple of decades, but then, after 1941... they had to do it AGAIN. 

That's rich. Russian Empire - apart from corrupt and increasingly disfunctional Romanovs' rule - enjoyed steadily improving living standards up until the break out of the Great War. Yes, Stalin did preside over "an industrial power", by 1941 producing over 15 thousand fighter planes, almost 20 thousand tanks and insane number of small arms, artillery pieces and munitions. But living standards of the Soviet population never recovered to the level of 1913 - and that's leaving off millions slaving away in GULAG.   

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