A post at Whale Oil makes an interesting point, comparing the near universal condemnation of Hitler to far more lenience to Stalin’s extraordinarily brutal rule. I’ve seen plenty of information about it but it has seemed fairly distant and impersonal
In Giovanni Tiso’s fondness for “Grandpa” Stalin there are two personal accounts of life (and often death) under Stalin.
First in the post from a friend of Slater’s who’s family is Russian.
My family fled the Soviet Union during Stalin’s purges of the 30s, abandoning everything, their friends, family, worldly-possessions, because they were terrified of what would happen to them as former farm owners. Most of their family who stayed behind were either murdered by the NKVD or sent off to Siberia, only a handful managed to survive the remaining years of Stalin’s reign.
I remember growing up that my dedushka would nearly break down if we tried to ask him about what life was like in Russia before he and babushka left. He’d point out the millions of people who’d died as a result of Stalin’s purges, power games, agriculture reforms and ethnic cleansing, that’s before he pointed out the two brothers and one sister he’d lost in the years following their decision to flee.
People in the west seem to forget that Stalin was every bit as ideologically nasty as Hitler, intentionally murdering millions of people for reasons just a batty as those Hitler advanced. Yet for some reason, he’s not seen as reprehensibly evil as Hitler.
There’s debate over the number of deaths that can be attributed to both Hitler and Stalin but both wreaked a savage toll on their own populations and also in other countries.
There is also a comment from Lucia Maria, someone who will be familiar to many around the blogs.
My father was a child prisoner in a Soviet gulag in Siberia during WWII. He was transported from Poland to Siberia on train in compartments made for cattle, not humans, during winter.
When the USSR became allies with the West, all Polish prisoners were given amnesty – my Dad’s family was split into those who were directed to the Polish army in the USSR and those that were not army material (ie mother and children).
The second group were sent to Kazakhstan to die of starvation. Amazingly enough, my dad survived this, when those sent to bury the family found some of the children still alive.
Anyway, I don’t have a strong reaction to people such as Giovanni anymore – there are just too many of them. But yes, the comparison of Stalin to Hitler is one I had to stress to my husband recently. Most people just don’t get it.
I guess a significant difference is that we haven’t fought world wars against Russia as we have against Germany.
But give or take a few million lives Stalin was as bad a genocidal brute as Hitler was.
Another difference is that Nazism largely died with Hitler and hasn’t been given any credence by anything other than small groups of extremists.
In contrast many seem to have excused or ignored Stalin’s barbarity because he represented a political ideology they supported.
These same people strongly oppose much of what the US does and stands for. The US is far from unblemished in it’s worldwide inferences but has been nowhere near as bad as Hitler or Stalin, different plant degrees of difference.
Both Stalin and Hitler deserve similar levels of condemnation – as much as can be given.Joking about grandpa Stalin is akin to joking about uncle Hitler. I don’t know why anyone would want to be related to either in any way. Even in jest it would be a sick joke.
For the record Calculating the number of victims cites various sources with most estimates being between 15 and 30 million deaths attributable to Stalin and his policies (which include famines).
Update: Tiso knows what it’s like to be associated with tryants:
(There is, besides, the crass ignorance of the comment. When she was seven years old, my mother was made to line up along the train tracks outside her village and salute Hitler’s train as it passed at speed on its way to Rome. This is my history, you pathetic fool.)