Reference - Purging Stalin

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Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:41 pm

Reference - Purging Stalin

01-07-2009, 09:32 PM
Marching arm in arm with the credulity of US journalists still swallowing nonsense from the State Department and Pentagon about "exposing the central front" to Soviet blitzkrieg, is their willingness to take at face value almost anything they are told by intellectuals in Moscow, so long as it is somehow associated with "reform" (which to American journalists means, in the last analysis, restoration of capitalist relations).

And in these heady days in Moscow it seems that some of these Soviet intellectuals will say anything they think Americans want to hear. A friend of mine recently returned from a conference in Hawaii, where American historians associated with "revisionist" readings of the origins of the Cold War were increasingly irked to hear Soviet participants piously echoing all the most hawkish American constructions of Soviet behaviour in the postwar period, to the tremendous pleasure of the American right-wingers in attendance. At this stage in the process of _glasnost_, these Soviets plainly felt that any defence of Soviet deeds in the pre-Gorbachev years amounted to a betrayal of the new thinking.

At the start of February, the tabloid _Argumenti i Fakti_ reported that the Soviet historian Roy Medvedev had proposed that Stalin's victims amounted to some 20 million. From Moscow, the _New York Times'_ correspondent Bill Keller relayed this to his newspaper which on 4 February ran a front-page headline announcing "Major Soviet Paper Says 20 Million Died as Victims of Stalin", with the lead paragraph reiterating Medvedev's claim that "about 20 million died in labour camps, forced collectivisation, famine and executions".

To me, the total figure seemed to have an insouciant roundness and also a suspect symmetry with the total - also 20 million - normally reckoned for Soviet losses in the war against Hitler. Looking through Medvedev's breakdown one could perceive that the word "million" really meant "a lot", with no substantive precision beyond the vague imputation of multitude. As relayed by Keller these volumes were expressed as "one million imprisoned or exiled from 1927 to 1929", or "nine or 10 million of the more prosperous peasants driven from their lands", and so on. In the end we were left with an overall figure of 40 million who, on Medvedev's account, had an awful or terminal time of it between 1927 and 1953, with 20 million actually killed.

All US reports of Medvedev's estimates told their readers that his was the most "precise" accounting thus far. No newspaper or TV programme that I saw, rang up any of the relevant scholars to get their reaction. When I started to do so myself, I was interested to find well-qualified historians and demographers in the US who regard Medvedev's claims as absurd. Sheila Fitzpatrick, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, told me there was "no serious basis for his calculations" and that privately some Soviet demographers and historians find Medvedev's work in this area embarrassingly bad. She gave me a couple of examples to explain why she thought Medvedev's numbers ridiculous.

Medvedev concludes that nine to 11 million prosperous peasants were driven from their lands with another two to three million arrested or exiled in the forced collectivisation of the early 1930s. But, Fitzpatrick says, Medvedev makes no distinction between those who left their villages voluntarily and those who left by force. This was the era of industrialisation and many of Medvedev's millions were moving to the town. Medvedev also bases his figures on the assumption that the average peasant family in the late 1920s had eight members, whereas in fact five was the normal size. Fitzpatrick also cited the famous conversation between Churchill and Stalin as another flimsy source, often used by some to claim that Stalin told Churchill that ten million peasants died in collectivisation. The actual passage in _The Hinge of Fate_ makes it clear Stalin was talking about the total number of peasants he was dealing with, not those who died. According to Fitzpatrick, a respected estimate, concurred with by several historians in the West, is that of the historian Victor P Danilov, who recently wrote in _Pravda_ that approximately three to four million died in the famine of the early 1930s. But where does that leave us on the matter of the purges?

In his 1946 survey, _The Population of the Soviet Union_, the demographer Frank Lorimer studied data from the Soviet census of 1925 and 1939 and all available information on fertility and mortality between these two dates. He calculated that what demographers call "excess deaths", that is, in Lorimer's method, a comparison of the reported total population in 1939 with the expected population at that date - given the count in 1925 and everything known about fertility, mortality and emigration between those years - amounted to somewhere between 4.5 million and 5 million, though this total included perhaps several hundred thousand emigrants, such as those Central Asian nomads moving into Sinkiang to avoid collectivisation.

In their 1979 volume _How the Soviet Union is Governed_, Professors Jerry Hough and Merle Fainsod generally supported Lorimer's calculation and concluded that the more extreme western estimates "cannot be sustained". Rather, "a smaller - but still horrifying - number" of "maybe some 3.5 million" emerges as the direct or indirect result of collectivisation in the early 1930s. With respect to the purges of 1937 and 1938, Hough and Fainsod again criticise excessive Western estimates, and report that on the evidence of extant demographic data, "the number of deaths in the purge would certainly be placed in the hundreds of thousands rather than in excess of a million". Indeed, "a figure in the low hundreds of thousands seems much more probable than one in the high hundreds of thousands, and even George Kennan's estimate of 'tens of thousands' is quite conceivable, maybe even probable."

At the far end of the spectrum from Hough and Fainsod, is Robert Conquest who had reckoned in excess of 20 million deaths under Stalin before 1939. In his essay _The Stalin Question Since Stalin_, Bukhtain's [sic -Bukharin?] biographer, Stephen Cohen cites Conquest's figure as "conservative", without mentioning lower numbers by other scholars and concludes by saying: "Judged only by the number of victims, and leaving aside important differences between the two regimes, Stalinism created a holocaust greater than Hitler's".

In this decade the most significant scholarly battle on the subject has been waged in the pages of the _Slavic Review_ between Stephen Wheatcroft and Steven Rosefielde, with Wheatcroft writing in 1985 that "these wildly unscholarly estimates [such as Cohen's] serve neither science nor morality", and "It is no betrayal of thm [the victims] nor an apologia for Stalin to state that there is no demographic evidence to indicate a population loss of more than six million between 1926 and 1939, or more than three to four million in the famine. Scholarship must be guided by reason and not emotion."

In a widely noted essay, also in _Slavic Review_ for 1985, the demographers Barbara Anderson and Brian Silver supported Wheatcroft, reckoning "excess deaths" between 1926 and 1939, to those alive in 1926, at a median figure of 3.5 million. Conquest, now at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, says that Medvedev's numbers are "obviously in the right range" though "perhaps he spread

them wrong", and "I'm not sure where he gets them from". He slighted Anderson and Silver's work as the product of demography rather than sovietology, and derided Hough and Fainsod's figures as "improbable". From the University of Michigan, Anderson responds that: "Conquest wouldn't know a number of it bit him." She thinks Medvedev's computations "ludicrous".

No doubt some will be eager to conclude that the foregoing is somehow an attempt to exonerate Stalin, dismiss the purges as got up by western propaganda. The following observation by Hough and Fainsod is salutary: "Some persons seem instinctively to object to [our] figures on the grounds that the Great Purge was so horrible that the number of deaths cannot have been so 'low'. We must become so insensitive to the value of human life, however, that we dismiss tens of thousands of deaths as insignificant and need to exaggerate the number by ten, 20, 30, 40 times to touch our feelings of horror."

The task is obviously to arrive at truth, but many such estimates evidently have a regulatory ideological function with an exponential momentum so great that now any computation that does not soar past ten million is somehow taken as evidence of being soft on Stalin. One can find an analogy in current writing on the French Revolution, where the passionately anti-Jacobin Rene Sedillot has produced a book addressing the matter of the Revolution's (and Counter-Revolution's, though it's never quite put like that) human cost where he boils up, by very questionable means, a casualty figure far in excess of all previous estimates.

The symmetry that calculations, such as Medvedev's, seek to establish between Stalin and Hitler performs similar injury to history. Hitler wanted to exterminate the Jews and the gypsies, and though accuracy is important it does not alter the moral scale of this horror one iota to propose that, in pursuit of this design, Hitler may have, in reality, killed a million less or a million more than the conventional estimate.

Evil though he was, Stalin did not plan or seek to accomplish genocide, and to say that he and Hitler had the same project in mind (or as right-wing German historians now argue, that somehow Lenin and Stalin put Hitler up to it) is to do disservice to history and to truth.
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:44 pm

01-07-2009, 09:38 PM

In Search of a
A 55-Year-Old Famine Feeds the Right

By Jeff Coplon

Originally published in the Village Voice (New York City), January 12, 1988.

Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most impudent lies.... The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed."
-- Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

The girl is dying. She looks about five years old, but we know she may be older, diminished by hunger. She leans wearily against a gate. Her long hair falls lank about bare shoulders. Her head rests against her arm. He neck is bent, like a stalk in parched earth. Her eyes are the worse -- large and dark, glazed yet still wistful. The child is dying, starving, and we feel guilty for our witness...

The Ukrainian émigrés who made Harvest of Despair knew a gripping image when they saw one. The black-and-white still, played over an arching, minor-mode chorus, was chosen to close the Canadian documentary on the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33. The same photography was used to promote the film, to symbolize a long-dormant cause célèbre: a "man-made" famine, "deliberately engineered" by Stalin to crush Ukrainian nationalism and cow a stubborn peasantry into permanent collectivization. Seven million Ukrainians were killed, the narrator tells us, as "a nation the size of France [was] strangled by hunger."

The result, intoned William F. Buckley, whose Firing Line showed the film last November, was "perhaps the greatest holocaust of the century."

The term "holocaust" still burns the ears, even in our jaded time. As we watch the film and see corpses piled in fields, bloated bodies sprawled in streets, pale skeletons grasping for bits of bread, we wonder: How can such a terrible story have been suppressed so long?

Here is how: The story is a fraud.

The starving girl, it turns out, wasn't found in 1932 or 1933, nor in the Ukraine. Her pictures was taken from a Red Cross bulletin on the 1921-22 Volga famine, for which no one claims genocide. Rather than an emblem of persecution, the photograph advances the most cynical of swindles -- a hoax played out from the White House and Congress through the halls of Harvard to the New York State Department of Education. Pressing every pedal, pulling all the strings, is a Ukrainian nationalist lobby straining to cloak its own history of Nazi collaboration. By revising their past, these émigrés help support a more ambitious revisionism: a denial of Hitler's holocaust against the Jews.

There was indeed a famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s. It appears likely that hundreds of thousands, possibly one or two million, Ukrainians died -- the minority from starvation, the majority from related diseases. By any scale, this is an enormous toll of human suffering. By general consensus, Stalin was partially responsible. By any stretch of an honest imagination, the tragedy still falls short of genocide.

In 1932, the Soviet Union was in crisis. The cities had suffered food shortages since 1928. Grain was desperately needed for export and foreign capital, both to fuel the first Five-Year Plan and to counter the growing war threat from Germany. In addition, the Communist Party's left wing, led by Stalin, had come to reject the New Economic Plan, which restored market capitalism to the countryside in the 1920s.

In this context, collectivization was more than a vehicle for a cheap and steady grain supply to the state. It was truly a "revolution from above," a drastic move towards socialism, and an epochal change in the mode of production. There were heavy casualties on both sides -- hundreds of thousands of kulaks (rich peasants) deported to the north, thousands of party activists assassinated. Production superseded politics, and many peasants were coerced rather than won to collective farms. Vast disruption of the 1932 harvest ensued (and not only in the Ukraine), and many areas were hard-pressed to meet the state's grain requisition quotas.

Again, Stalin and the Politburo played major roles. "But there is plenty of blame to go around," as Sovietologist John Arch Getty recently noted in The London Review of Books. "It must be shared by the tens of thousands of activists and officials who carried out the policy and by the peasants who chose to slaughter animals, burn fields, and boycott cultivation in protest."

Such a balanced analysis, however, has never satisfied Ukrainian nationalists in the United States and Canada, for whom the "terror-famine" is an article of faith and communal rallying point. For decades after the fact, their obsession was confined to émigré journals. Only of late has it achieved a sort of mainstream credibility -- in Harvest of Despair, shown on PBS and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and at numerous college campuses; in The Harvest of Sorrow, an Oxford University Press account by Robert Conquest; in a "human rights" curriculum, now available to every 10th-grade social studies teacher in New York State; and in the federally-funded Ukraine Famine Commission, now into its second year of "hearings."

After 50 years on the fringe, the Ukraine famine debate is finally front and center. While one-note faminologists may teach us little real history, they reveal how our sense of history is pulled by political fashion until it hardens into the taffy of conventional wisdom. And how you can fool most of the people most of the time -- especially when you tell them what they want to hear.
The Film

Harvest of Despair was the brainchild of Marco Carynnyk, a Ukrainian translator and poet who lives in Toronto. In 1983, Carynnyk found a sponsor in St. Vladimir's Institute, which formed a Ukrainian Famine Research Committee of well-to-do émigrés. The committee raised $200,000 for the documentary, including a major grant from the Ukrainian Canadian Committee (a spiritual descendant of the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), and a loan from the similarly right-wing World Congress of Free Ukrainians.

As chief researcher for the film, Carynnyk had two major functions -- to locate and interview famine survivors, and to find archival photographs. Talking heads would not be enough to make a case for genocide. To gain its intended shock value, the film would have to show what the famine was like. "There can be no question," assessed the Winnipeg Free Press, "that without the films and photographs uncovered from the 1932-33 famine, the film would lose much of its authority."

"I gave them two sets of photographs," Carynnyk said. "I told them, `Here are the ones from the 1930s, and here are the ones from 1921-22.' But in the cutting of the film, they were all mixed up. I said this can't be done, that it will leave the film open to criticism... My complaints were ignored. They just didn't think it was important."

One problem, Carynnyk said, was that producer Slawko Nowitski faced an impossible five-month deadline to ready the film during the famine's 50th anniversary. (In fact, Harvest of Despair would not be completed until late 1984). But the researcher believes it was more than mere sloppiness at work. "The research committee was more interested in propagandistic purposes than historical scholarship," said Carynnyk, who has sued the Famine Research Committee for copyright violation. "They were quite prepared to cut corners to get their point across."

In October 1983, Carynnyk left the project -- "relieved of his duties," according to Nowitsky, "because he did not produce the required material." Three years and seven awards later, the lid blew last November at a

meeting of the Toronto Board of Education, where terror-famine proponents were pressing to include the film in the city's high school curriculum. The show stopped cold when Doug Tottle, former editor of a Winnipeg labor magazine, stood up and declared that "90 per cent" of the film's archival photographs were plagiarized from the 1921-22 famine.

Tottle traced several of the most graphic photos, including that of the starving girl, to famine relief sources of the 1920s. (Some of these resurfaced in 1933 as anti-Soviet propaganda in Völkischer Beobachter, an official Nazi party organ). Other pictures were lifted from the 1936 edition of Human Life in Russia, by Ewald Ammende, an Austrian relief worker in the earlier Volga famine. Ammende attributes them to a "Dr. F. Dittloff," a German engineer who supposedly took the photos in the summer of 1933. The Dittloff pictures have their own bastard pedigrees --three from 1922 Geneva-based relief bulletins, others from Nazi publications. Still other Dittloffs were also claimed as original by Robert Green, a phony journalist and escaped convict who provided famine material to the profascist Hearst chain in 1935. Green, a convicted forger who used the alias "Thomas Walker," reported that he took the photos in the spring of 1934 -- almost a year after the Ukraine famine had ended, and in direct contradiction of Dittloff.

Although Green was exposed by The Nation and several New York dailies by 1935, right-wing émigrés have used his spurious photos for decades. "It's not that these pictures were suddenly discovered in 1983 and accidentally misdated" in the film, Tottle noted.

Tottle had done his homework. Carynnyk confirmed that "very few" photos in Harvest of Despair could be authenticated, and that none of the famine film footage was from 1932-33. But the Ukrainian Famine Research Committee decided to stonewall. At first they insisted that any photos from the 1920s were used only when the film discussed the Volga famine -- a blatant evasion, since that segment lasts a scant 28 seconds and uses only two still photos, neither especially potent. Committee chairman Wasyl Janischewskyj recently softened that stance: "We have researched further and made discoveries that some photos we thought were from 1932-33 were not ... We are now having further deep investigations of these pictures."

In the main, however, the filmmakers have sought to justify their fraud. "You have to have visual impact," said Orest Subtelny, the film's historic adviser. "You want to show what people dying from a famine look like. Starving children are starving children." A documentary, added producer Nowitski, must rely on "emotional truth" more than literal facts.

"These people have never attempted to refute my claims," said Tottle. (His book on the subject, Fraud, Famine, and Fascism, will be published this fall by Toronto's Progressive Books, an outlet for Soviet releases). "They have tried to lie and cover it up, but they have not tried to refute it."

Nor have the nationalists refuted Tottle's contention that several "witnesses" in the film were Nazi collaborators, including two German diplomats who served in the Third Reich and an Orthodox Church layman who blessedly rose to bishop while the Third Reich occupied the Ukraine in 1942.

"Just because they're collaborators," countered Nowitski, "does that mean we cannot believe anything they tell us? Just because they're Nazis is no reason to doubt the authenticity of what happened."

This slant pervades émigré research on the famine. Soviet sources are rejected out of hand, while Nazi sources (or known liars like Walker and Dittloff) are accepted unconditionally. In the Göbbels tradition, the nationalists' brief always serves their anti-Communism --no matter how many facts twist slowly in the process. Harvest of Despair follows unholy footsteps, and never breaks stride.
The Book

According to a 1978 article in The Guardian of London, Robert Conquest got his big break shortly after World War II, when he joined the Information Research Department of the British Foreign Office. Staffed heavily by émigrés, the IRD's mission was a covert "propaganda counter-offensive" against the Soviet Union. It was heady, hands-on work for a young writer, a chance to slant media coverage of Russia by adding political "spin" to Eastern bloc press releases and funneling them to top reporters. The journalists knew little about the IRD, beyond the names of their mysterious contacts. The public knew nothing at all, even as their opinions were being sculpted.

After Conquest left the IRD in 1956, the agency suggested that he package some of his handiwork into a book. That first compilation was distributed in the US by Fred Praeger, who had previously published several books at the request of the CIA.

The shy and courtly Conquest has come a long way since then, from gray propagandist to éminence grise. He is now a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford, as well as an associate of Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute. But his heart and his pen never left the IRD. The Soviet Union would be Conquest's lifetime obsession. He churned out book after book on the horrors of communism: The Nation Killer, Where Marx Went Wrong, Kolyma: the Arctic Death Camps. His landmark work of 1968, The Great Terror, focused on Stalin's purges of the late 1930s. But by 1984, his work had turned surreal; What To Do When the Russians Come was the literary equivalent of that politico-teen-disaster flick, Red Dawn. Yet he remained a mainstream heavyweight, coasting on reputation, his excesses accepted as Free World zeal.

In 1981, the Ukrainian Research Institute approached Conquest with a major project: a book on the 1932-33 famine. The pot was sweetened by an $80,000 subside from the Ukrainian National Association, a New Jersey-based group with a venerable, hard-right tradition; the UNA's newspaper, Swoboda, was banned by Canada during World War II for its pro-German sympathies. (The grant was earmarked for Conquest's research expenses, including the assistance of James Mace, a junior fellow at the URI).

The nationalists knew they'd be getting their money's worth. At the time, faminology was virgin ground. There was little source material available, since the Soviet archives remain sealed. More to the point, most non-émigré historians viewed the 1932-33 famine as an outgrowth of collectivization, not a political phenomenon of itself, much less a stab at genocide. But Conquest was different. In his Terror book, he'd already concluded that more than three million Ukrainians were killed by the famine. Here, clearly, was the right man for the job, a man who once stated: "Truth can thus only percolate in the form of hearsay ... basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumor." And with no one on record to dispute the issue, Conquest's rumors could rule.

In The Harvest of Sorrow, Conquest outdoes himself. He weaves his terror-famine from unverifiable (and notoriously biased) émigré accounts. He leans on reportage from ex-Communist converts to the American Way. He cites both "Walker" and Ammende. Black Deeds of the Kremlin, a period piece published by Ukrainian émigrés in 1953, is footnoted no less than 145 times.

Conquest can be deftly selective when it suits his purpose. He borrows heavily from Lev Kopelev's The Education of a True Believer, but ignores Kopelev when the latter recalls Ukrainian villages that were relatively untouched by famine, or relief efforts by a Communist village council.

By confirming people's worst suspicions of Stalin's rule, The Harvest of Sorrow has won favorable reviews from The New York Times, The New Republic, and The

New York Review of Books. But leading scholars on this era are less impressed. They challenge Conquest's contention that Ukrainian priests and intelligentsia -- two major counterrevolutionary camps -- were repressed more ruthlessly than anywhere else in the country. They point out that the 1932-33 famine was hardly confined to the Ukraine, that it reached deep into the Black Earth region of central Russia. They note that Stalin had far less control over collectivization than is widely assumed, and that radical district leaders made their own rules as they went along.

Most vehemently of all, these experts reject Conquest's hunt for a new holocaust. The famine was a terrible thing, they agree, but it decidedly was not genocide.

"There is no evidence it was intentionally directed against Ukrainians," said Alexander Dallin of Stanford, the father of modern Sovietology. "That would be totally out of keeping with what we know -- it makes no sense."

"This is crap, rubbish," said Moshe Lewin of the University of Pennsylvania, whose Russian Peasants and Soviet Power broke new ground in social history. "I am an anti- Stalinist, but I don't see how this [genocide] campaign adds to our knowledge. It's adding horrors, adding horrors, until it becomes a pathology."

"I absolutely reject it," said Lynne Viola of SUNY- Binghamton, the first US historian to examine Moscow's Central State Archive on collectivization. "Why in god's name would this paranoid government consciously produce a famine when they were terrified of war [with Germany]?"

These premier Sovietologists dismiss Conquest for what he is -- an ideologue whose serious work is long behind him. But Dallin stands as a liberal exception to the hard-liners of his generation, while Lewin and Viola remain Young Turks who happen to be doing the freshest work on this period. In Soviet studies, where rigor and objectivity count for less than the party line, where fierce anti-Communists still control the prestigious institutes and first-rank departments, a Conquest can survive and prosper while barely cracking a book.

"He's terrible at doing research," said veteran Sovietologist Roberta Manning of Boston College." He misuses sources, he twists everything."

Then there are those who love to twist, and shout --to use scholarly disinformation for their own, less dignified purposes. In the latest catalogue for the Noontide Press, a Liberty Lobby affiliate run by flamboyant fascist Willis Carto, The Harvest of Sorrow is listed cheek-by-jowl with such revisionist tomes as The Auschwitz Myth and Hitler At My Side. To hype the Conquest book and its terror-famine, the catalogue notes: "The act of genocide against the Ukrainian people has been suppressed [sic] until recently, perhaps because a real `Holocaust' might compete with a Holohoax."

For those unacquainted with Noontide jargon, the "Holohoax" refers to the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews.
The Curriculum

In 1982, the New York State Department of Education set out to blaze a new trail: a definitive curriculum on the Nazi holocaust. The department assembled a distinguished review committee, including such Holocaust experts as Terrence Des Pres and Raul Hilberg. It assigned the actual writing to three top-rated social studies teachers. The finished two- volume project, which went to classrooms in the fall of 1985, does credit to everyone involved. It is a balanced mix of archival documents, survivor memoirs, and scholarly essays.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the high schools: The Ukrainian nationalists stole the show. Their point man was Bohdan Vitvitsky, a New Jersey attorney and author who was invited to join the state's advisory council, which would steer the curriculum's development. Vitvitsky's first move was to gain inclusion of an excerpt of his book on Slavic victims of the nazis. His second victory was to eliminate all but passing mention of Ukrainian war criminals.

"I took the position they should be dealt with, "said Stephen Berk, a Union College history professor and advisory council member, "but Vitvitsky insisted there should be no dwelling on [Nazi] collaborators." (The Catholic lobby didn't fare so well: over its protests, the curriculum includes a critical assessment of Pope Pus XII's inaction.)

But Vitvitsky's major coup, helped along by a nationalist letter campaign, was to install material on the Ukraine famine of 1932-33. In the curriculum's second draft in 1984, the famine was treated as a 17-page precursor chapter to the second Holocaust volume -- a plan which met heated resistance from Jewish groups. By the time the material reached the schools last fall, however, it had swollen into a separate third volume, with 90 pages on the "forced famine," and another 52 on "human rights violations" in the Ukraine.

A key player in the transition was Assemblyman William Larkin (Conservative Republican, New Windsor), a retired Army colonel, assistant minority whip, and old friend of Gordon Ambach, then the state commissioner of education. Larkin had ample incentive to help; his district contains about 8000 ethnic Ukrainians. He arranged "four or five" meetings between the state education staff and 20 upstate Ukrainian nationalists in 1985. He also enlisted other Republican assemblymen to press for the famine book, and says he spoke personally to Ambach.

The commissioner "offered to do anything he could," Larkin said. "But if we didn't go up there in force, if we didn't push it, it wouldn't have happened."

By most accounts, the political pressure was intense -- enough to squeeze a department deemed relatively apolitical. The Ukrainians mounted "an enormous letter-writing campaign with the Board of Regents," said Robert Maurer, the executive deputy commissioner. "There were phone calls and visits. There's not often that much interest in curriculum matters; it was very unusual."

The famine boosters found an especially sympathetic ear in Regent Emlyn I. Griffith, then chairman of the committee that unanimously endorsed Volume Three in 1985 -- a vote which ensured its future use. "As a member of a minority people put down by a majority government, I empathized" with the Ukrainian nationalists, said Griffith, an ethnic Welshman. "There was s significant lobbying effort ... It was persuasive. It wasn't threatening, it was positive."

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly who made the fatal decision on Volume Three. Griffith said his committee acted on a strong staff recommendation. Ambach failed to return phone calls for this story. Maurer lodged responsibility with Deputy Commissioner Gerald Freeborne, who in turn pointed to Program Development Director Edward Lalor, who referred questions to a low-level official named George Gregory, the chairman of the Human Rights Series advisory committee.

Shrouded by this corporate haze, Vitvitsky ran in an open field. No one challenged his basic premise. The famine `certainly does represent another example of genocide," Gregory asserted. "It was a planned attempt by Stalin to eliminate the Ukrainian people."

("George is the consummate bureaucrat," said one educator involved with the series. "His experience is mainly in grade- school -curricula -- like `Appreciating Our Indian Heritage,' or `The importance of the Finger Lakes Region.' when I started up there, he really didn't know anything about the Holocaust.")

To write the famine material, Gregory hired Walter Litynsky, a Troy High School biology teacher and a local chairman of Americans for Human Rights in Ukraine. For the job of principal reviewer Litynsky recommended Jame

s Mace, the Conquest protégé who also directs the Ukraine Famine Commission under a $382,000 congressional appropriation. Mace and Litynsky proceeded to stack the review committee with Ukrainian academics, the omnipresent Vitvitsky, and four upstate nationalists. "No contrary [review] letters were either solicited or received," Berk acknowledged. "I'm sorry this came out, because it was distorted -- but I felt it was a fait accompli."

When asked about contrasting viewpoints from such scholars as Lewin and Viola, Gregory was unmoved. "Quite frankly, we have not heard of any of them," he said. "We tried to present a balanced point of view. We didn't ask for the soviet opinion, since the soviet view was that the famine never happened. [In fact, the Soviets now concede that a famine was "impossible to avoid," because of drought, mismanagement, and kulak sabotage.] We relied heavily on James Mace; he's the leading historian of that time period."

This paean would startle academe, where Mace's work is infrequently read and rarely found in footnotes, the baseline of a scholar's importance. He is widely regarded as a right-wing polemicist, an indifferent researcher who has made a checkered career out of faminology.

"I doubt he could have gotten a real academic job," Manning said. "Soviet studies is a very competitive field these days -- there's much weeding out after the Ph.D. If he hadn't hopped on this political cause, he would be doing research for a bank, or running an export-import business."

The Mace-Litynsky partnership yielded a predictable end product -- the undistilled nationalist line. The state curriculum on the Ukraine famine apes both Harvest of Despair and The Harvest of Sorrow. (The education department now supplies the embattled documentary, as an audiovisual supplement, to any interested teacher.) Like the film and the book, the curriculum features faked photos from Ammende, dubious atrocity tales (including 16 selections from Black Deeds of the Kremlin), and sections of the "Walker" Hearst series, all without caveat. Like Conquest and Nowitski, the famine volume red-baits anyone who challenged the genocide scenario, such as New York Times reporter Walter Duranty. It goes Conquest one better by referring to the region as Ukraine, with no article, in deference to a sovereignty that exists only in nationalist fables.

The curriculum is most obviously exposed in its estimate of the famine death toll: " is generally accepted that about 7 million Ukrainians or about 22% of the total Ukrainian population died of starvation in a government- planned and -controlled famine."

How did Litynsky arrive at this talismanic figure, cited over and over again in émigré literature? "I don't pretend to be an expert on this subject," the biology teacher said. "This is not my field. I had a list of people who went from 1.5 million to 10 million. In my reading I saw seven million used more than any other figure, and I decided that was realistic. It got to the point where it was so confusing that you had to decide." (Mace has opted for 7.9 million Ukrainian famine deaths in his own work, with an "irreducible minimum" of 5.5 million. Conquest fixes on seven million famine deaths, including six million Ukrainians, with no appendix to show how his numbers are derived.)

But the magic number, like the genocide theory it shoulders, simply can't pass scrutiny. Sergei Maksudov, a Soviet émigré scholar much cited by Mace and Conquest, has now concluded that the famine caused 3.5 million premature deaths in the Ukraine -- 700,000 from starvation, and the rest from diseases "stimulated" by malnutrition.

Even Maksudov's lower estimates are open to challenge. Writing in Slavic Review, demographers Barbara Anderson and Brian Silver maintain that limited census data make a precise famine death count impossible. Instead, they offer a probable range of 3.2 to 5.5 million "excess deaths" for the entire Soviet Union from 1926 to 1939 -- a period that covers collectivization, the civil war in the countryside, the purges of the late `30s, and major epidemics of typhus and malaria. According to these experts, and Maksudov as well, Mace and Conquest make the most primitive of errors: They overestimate fertility rates and underrate the impact of assimilation, through which many Ukrainians were "redesignated" as Russians in the 1939 census. As a result, the cold warriors confuse population deficits (which included unborn children) with excess deaths.

Which leaves us with a puzzle: Wouldn't one or two or 3.5 million famine-related deaths be enough to make an anti- Stalinist argument? Why seize a wildly inflated figure that can't possibly be supported? The answer tells much about the Ukrainian nationalist cause, and about those who abet it.

"they're always looking to come up with a number bigger than six million," observed Eli Rosenbaum, general counsel for the World Jewish Congress. "It makes the reader think: `My god it's worse than the Holocaust.'"
Hidden Agendas

Your husband's courage and dedication to liberty will serve as a continuing source of inspiration to all those striving for freedom and self-determination.
-- letter from President Reagan to the widow of Yaroslav Stetsko, ranking OUN terrorist, murderer, and Nazi collaborator, read by retired general John Singlaub at a conference of the World Anti-Communist League, September 7, 1986.

In the panel discussion that followed Harvest of Despair on PBS last fall, Conquest addressed the issue of Ukrainian war crimes. "It's not the case," he said blandly, "that the Ukrainian nationalist organizations collaborated with the Germans."

Once again, the aging faminologist had tripped on the public record. It is one thing to suggest, rightly, that Ukrainian nationalism had little popular support among the peasantry. (It was actually a narrow, urban, middle-class movement.) Millions of Ukrainians fought with the Red Army and partisans. Many others can be accused of nothing worse than indifference, and a smaller number risked their lives to save Jews from the Germans. But on the matter of the OUN, the principal nationalist group from the 1930s on, the record is quite clear: It was fascist from the start.

In its original statement of purpose in 1929, the OUN betrays a raw Nazi influence: "Do not hesitate to commit the greatest crime, if the good of the Cause demands it ... Aspire to expand the strength, riches, and size of the Ukrainian State even by means of enslaving foreigners." This sentiment was echoed in a 1941 letter to the German Secret Service from the OUN's dominant Bandera wing: "Long live greater independent Ukraine without Jews, Poles, and Germans. Poles behind the [river] San, Germans to Berlin, Jews to the gallows."

As the authoritative John Armstrong, a staunch anti- Communist and pro-Ukrainian, has written: "The theory and teachings of the Nationalists were very close to Fascism, and in some respects, such as the insistence on `racial purity,' even went beyond the original Fascist doctrines."

But the OUN storm troopers, like any terrorist group, prized action over theory. Their wartime brutalities have been amply documented (Voice, February 11, 1986, "To Catch a Nazi,"). They recruited for the Waffen SS, pulled the triggers at Babi Yar and Sobibor, ran the gas chamber at Treblinka. During their brief interludes of Nazi-sponsored "independence" (in the Carpatho-Ukraine in 1939 and in Galicia in 1941), pogroms were the order of the day, in the spirit of their revered Simon Petlura. They strove to outdo the Nazis at every turn.

And when the Third Reich fell, the nationalists fled -- to Munich, t

o Toronto, and (with the covert aid of the US State Department, which viewed them as potential anti-Soviet guerrillas) to New York and Chicago and Cleveland.

This is not ancient history. The Ukrainian émigré groups still contain more than a few former OUN members, and many of their sons and daughters. The nationalists still heroize their wartime past. On occasion their old passions surface as well -- as in Why Is One Holocaust Worth More Than Others?, recently published by "Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army: "In 1933, the majority of the European and American press controlled by the Jews were silent about the famine."

From this perspective, the "conspiracy" lives on: "In (February) 1986 the Jewish newspaper Village Voice ... published one-and-one-half pages of accusations against a high-standing member of the Ukrainian nationalist movement, Mykola Lebed."

And finally, most transparently: "Tens of millions of people have been killed since the Zionist Bolshevik Jews, backed by the Zionist-oriented Jewish international bankers, took over Russia."

Not surprisingly, Ukrainian émigrés are among the harshest and most powerful critics of Nazi-hunting. They have sought to kill both the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations and the Canadian Deschenes Commission -- and with good reason. Sol Littman, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto, recently presented the commission with the names of 475 suspected Nazi collaborator. He reports that Ukrainians were "very heavily represented" on the list.

It may not be sheer coincidence that faminology took wing just after the OSI was commissioned in 1979. For here was a way to rehabilitate fascism -- to prove that Ukrainian collaborators were helpless victims, caught between the rock of Hitler and Stalin's hard place. To wit, this bit of psycho-journalism from the March 24 Washington Post, in a story on accused war criminal John "Ivan the Terrible" Demjanjuk: "The pivotal event in Demjanjuk's childhood was the great famine of the early 1930s, conceived by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as a way of destroying the independent Ukrainian peasantry ... Several members of [Demjanjuk's] family died in the catastrophe."

Coupled with the old nationalist canard of "Judeo- Bolshevism," faminology could help justify anti-Semitism, collaboration, even genocide. An eye for an eye; a Nazi holocaust in return for a "Jewish famine."

Just as the Nazis used the OUN for their own ends, so has Reagan exploited the famine, from his purple-prosed commemoration of "this callous act" to his backing of the Mace commission. Faced with failing fascist allies around the world, from Nicaragua to South Africa, the US war lobby needs to boost anti-Communism as never before. Public enthusiasm to fight for the contras will not come easy. But if people could be convinced that Communism is worse than fascism; that Stalin was an insane monster, even worse than Hitler; that the seven million died in more unspeakable agony than the six million ... Well, we just might be set up for the next Gulf of Tonkin. One cannot appease an Evil Empire, after all.

As Conquest noted on PBS, after the starving girl's image finally faded from the screen: "This was a true picture we saw ... It instructs us about the world today."

It turns out that the picture is far from true -- that the purveyors of a famine genocide are stealing a piece of history and slicing it to order. It's a brash bit of larceny for Conquest and company, even within the prevailing vogue of anti-Stalinism. But if they say it loud enough and long enough, people just might listen. Lie bold enough and large enough, and -- as the man once said -- it just might stick.

Back to Table of Contents of Grover Furr's Politics and Social Issues Page. / last modified 11 May 98 / /
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:48 pm

01-07-2009, 09:39 PM

FOI Request: The academic materials relating to the Holodomor
Internal Document – dated 30 November 2006

..."There are two major problems with the genocide interpretation, however. One is the undisputed fact that the famine hit several parts of the USSR, notably Kazakhstan, where the death toll as a proportion of the local population was even higher than in Ukraine, and certain agricultural areas of Russia, notably the lower Volga region and the northern Caucasus. Nor is there any evidence that non-Ukrainian peasants in Ukraine were singled out for better treatment. It therefore seems judicious to conclude, as one UK historian did several years ago, that Stalin 'starved to death those whom he believed to be recalcitrant peasants, many of whom were Ukrainians, rather than Ukrainians, many of whom were peasants.'4

8. The other major problem with the genocide argument is its tendency to portray the famine implicitly, and sometimes even explicitly, as a crime inflicted on Ukraine by Russia. Such a claim is deeply misleading. It suggests that the USSR was simply the continuation of the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire and that the non-Russian inhabitants of the Soviet Union were no more than victims of Russian imperialism. Yet one of the foundations of the Soviet system was a supra-national ethos, which aimed to foster a sense of 'Soviet internationalism' among its peoples and the eventual creation of a 'Soviet man'. This of course involved colossal hypocrisy and humbug, not least because of periodic bouts of russification of political and cultural life in the non-Russian republics, yet millions of Soviet citizens still genuinely saw themselves as more than their national and ethnic identities (although any sense of 'Soviet' identity would have been less well developed in the 1930s). Successive Soviet leaderships also hailed from a variety of backgrounds, not just Russian, although Russians, as the largest national group, tended to predominate. ... -holodomor
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:51 pm

01-07-2009, 09:42 PM

While fully recognizing the Ukrainian tragedy, there is no explicit proof that the famine was provoked by the Kremlin and intended to exterminate the Ukrainian nation. The holodomor concept first arose amongst the Ukrainian Diaspora. Many books and press publications appeared in the West in the 1940s-70s describing the Famine as a Kremlin plot to kill off Ukrainians and undermine the survivors' spirit. Public attention to the holodomor skyrocketed in the 1980s. This was the time when President Ronald Reagan was referring to the the Evil Empire. Ukrainian emigres added fuel to the fire with their reminiscences and analyses of the holodomor.

In 1984, the U.S. Congress established an ad hoc commission to investigate the causes of the Great Famine in Ukraine in 1932-33. Its 1988 Report to Congress described the famine as "man-made" and denied any causal connection with drought. "Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932-1933," the report says. Perestroika, with its outspoken spirit, brought the concept to Ukraine. Mourning the millions starved to death went hand-in-hand with wrathful denunciations of genocide.

Today's propaganda aims to make the holodomor part of the Ukrainian world-view. President Viktor Yushchenko called on politicians of his generation to "preserve historical memory and spare no efforts to make the world qualify the Famine of 1932-33 as genocidal". Why is such sensation whipped up over bygones? On the one hand, Ukrainian propaganda has found a satanic enemy, the epitome of Absolute Evil, and is now out to develop a guilt complex in Russians to make them feel morally and materially responsible for the tragedy. On the other hand, it seeks to make Ukrainians feel like innocent victims, and spread this assumption worldwide. Tellingly, Ukrainian leaders are ever more frequently referring to the Famine as the "Ukrainian Holocaust" - thus putting the U.S.S.R. on a par with Nazi Germany.

Cardinal Lubomir Husar, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, concisely described the goal of the campaign: "Memory of the holodomor is what our nation shall stand on." Words of equal aptitude belong to former President Leonid Kuchma: "Ukrainian national consolidation has a long way to travel yet. We have made Ukraine. Now is the time to make Ukrainians." "Making Ukrainians" implies a new national ethic and mentality, with the idea of Ukrainians and Russians as two nations apart. What several Ukrainian generations firmly believed in has been turned on its head. The young regard their country's recent past as a time of colonialism, when Ukrainians were ruthlessly exterminated. It is hard to find a more graphic example than the Famine.

Was it really genocide or ethnocide against Ukrainians? The U.S.S.R. owed the terrible famine of 1932-33 to agricultural collectivization. The rapid creation of a thoroughly new type of farming went together with the cruel dispossession of well-to-do farmers, so-called "kulaks". Peasant resistance inevitably followed. Bloated grain procurement quotas envisaged total confiscations-seed, food and fodder grain. The 1932 quota for Ukraine was 400 million poods, or 6.4 million metric tons, but even the severest possible confiscations brought only 261 million poods, so extra procurements were launched, with searches, ruinous fines-and firing squads. Peasants were dying of starvation as early as October 1932, and the famine went on up to the next year's end. Those two years saw 2.9-3.5 million deaths from starvation in Ukraine alone, according to various estimates. Yet it was not ethnocide proper. Registry office statistics for 1933 show death rates in urban localities no higher than average, in contrast to an exorbitant death toll in the countryside not only in Ukraine but all over the Soviet Union. People were doomed not on the grounds of ethnicity, but merely because they lived in rural areas.

Grain shortages were exacerbated by a rapid increase of the urban population. It swelled by 12.4 million nationwide in the four years 1929-32, and by 4.1 million in Ukraine within 1931, mainly because persecuted peasants fled their villages. Nothing could have been easier for the regime than to starve townspeople, who depended on food supplies from elsewhere for their survival. Yet, it was not done. The regime made do with harsh food rationing. Peasantry as a social class was the victim of the cruel policy. This point clearly follows from the geography of the Great Famine. It spread throughout the Soviet breadbasket areas-Ukraine, the middle and lower reaches of the Volga, the North Caucasus, the central part of the Black Earth Zone, the Urals, part of Siberia, and Kazakhstan - with a total population of 50 million. The Famine killed 6-7 million people nationwide.

All Soviet peoples were victims. Arguments cited to prove that the famine was a deliberate act of genocide do not hold water. Still, many Ukrainians do not want to turn the tragic page of history. This is understandable. If they did, public attention would turn to their own, present-day, policy and its dire fruit. The Ukrainian population shrank by 4.3 million in 1991-2003-3.6 million died, and over 1.2 million emigrated, while only 500,000 former emigres returned. If we extrapolate the figures to the end of 2006, the population decline exceeds 5.4 million-this without wars, famine, or the Kremlin's imperialism. Don't these statistics give food for uneasy thought?
NOTE: Andrei Marchukov, PhD (History), is staff researcher of the Russian
Academy of Sciences' Institute of Russian History. The opinions expressed
in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of
RIA Novosti.
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:51 pm

vampire squid
01-07-2009, 11:28 PM

[. . .] Popular estimates of executions in the Great Purges of 1937-1938 vary from 500,000 to 7 million. We do not have exact figures for the numbers of executions in these years, but we can now narrow the range considerably. We know that between October 1, 1936, and September 30, 1938, the Military Board of the Supreme Court, sitting in 60 cities and towns, sentenced 30,514 persons to be shot. According to a press release of the KGB, 786,098 persons were sentenced to death “for counterrevolutionary and state crimes” by various courts and extra-judicial bodies between 1930 and 1953. It seems that 681,692 people, or 86.7 percent of the number for this 23-year-period were shot in 1937-1938 (compared to 1,118 persons in 1936). A certain number of these unfortunates had been arrested before 1937, including exiled and imprisoned ex-oppositionists who were summarily killed in the autumn of 1937. More important, however, our figures on 1937-1938 executions are not entirely comparable to those quoted in the press release. Coming from a 1953 statistical report “on the quantity of people convicted on cases of NKVD bodies,” they also refer to victims who had not been arrested for political reasons, whereas the communique concerns only persons persecuted for “counterrevolutionary offenses.” In any event, the data available at this point make it clear that the number shot in the two worst purge years was more likely a question of hundreds of thousands than of millions.

Of course, aside from executions in the terror of 1937-1938, many others died in the regime’s custody in the decade of the 1930s. If we add the figure we have for executions up to 1940 to the number of persons who died in GULAG camps and the few figures we have found so far on mortality in prisons and labor colonies, then add to this the number of peasants known to have died in exile, we reach the figure of 1,473,424. To be sure, of 1,802,392 alleged kulaks and their relatives who had been banished in 1930-1931, only 1,317,022 were still living at their places of exile by January 1, 1932. (Many people escaped: their number is given as 207,010 only for the year of 1932.) But even if we put at hundreds of thousands the casualties of the most chaotic period of collectivization (deaths in exile, rather than from starvation in the 1932 famine), plus later victims of different categories for which we have no data, it is unlikely that “custodial mortality” figures of the 1930s would reach 2 million: a huge number of “excess deaths” but far below most prevailing estimates. Although the figures we can document for deaths related to Soviet penal policy are rough and inexact, the available sources provide a reliable order of magnitude, at least for the pre-war period.

Turning to executions and custodial deaths in the entire Stalin period, we know that, between 1934 and 1953, 1,053,829 persons died in the camps of the GULAG. We have data to the effect that some 86,582 people perished in prisons between 1939 and 1951. (We do not yet know exactly how many died in labor colonies.) We also know that, between 1930 and 1952-1953, 786,098 “counter-revolutionaries” were executed (or, according to another source, more than 775,866 persons “on cases of the police” and for “political crimes”). Finally, we know that, from 1932 through 1940, 389,521 peasants died in places of “kulak” resettlement. Adding these figures together would produce a total of a little more than 2.3 million, but this can in no way be taken as an exact number. First of all, there is a possible overlap between the numbers given for GULAG camp deaths and “political” executions as well as between the latter and other victims of the 1937-1938 mass purges and perhaps also other categories falling under police jurisdiction. Double-counting would deflate the 2.3 million figure. On the other hand, the 2.3 million does not include several suspected categories of death in custody. It does not include, for example, deaths among deportees during and after the war as well as among categories of exiles other than “kulaks.” Still, we have some reason to believe that the new numbers for GULAG and prison deaths, executions as well as deaths in peasant exile, are likely to bring us within a much narrower range of error than the estimates proposed by the majority of authors who have written on the subject. ... R/AHR.html
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:52 pm

01-08-2009, 06:07 PM

Journal of Genocide Research (2005), 7(4),
December, 551–559

Hostage of Politics: Raphael Lemkin
on “Soviet Genocide”
This article summarizes Raphael Lemkin’s views on Stalinist terror. To follow
Lemkin’s train of thought, I consider the evidence he had, the importance he
attached to it, and the ends to which he used that evidence. I argue that the discussion
of the ethnic deportations in the Soviet Union was part and parcel of the evolving
Cold War. Raphael Lemkin resorted to anticommunism to convince the US
administration to ratify the Genocide Convention, which was essentially his
As the United Nations General Assembly was preparing to vote on the resolution
against genocide, Lemkin approached the Soviet delegation through Jan
Masaryk, the Czechoslovak Foreign Minister. Lemkin conveyed to the Soviets
that the resolution was not a conspiracy against them. As a result, nobody in the
Soviet bloc opposed the resolution, which was unanimously adopted on December
11, 1946.1 Five years later, however, Lemkin was claiming that the Soviet Union
was the only country that could be indicted for genocide.2 How to explain such a
dramatic transition?
Lemkin’s concept of genocide covered Stalinist deportations by default. That
concept, as outlined in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, differed significantly
from the wording of the UN Genocide Convention. Lemkin identified
several forms of genocide: political, social, cultural, economic, biological,
physical, religious, and moral. He interpreted genocide as an intention to annihilate
a group of the population by destroying essential foundations of life such as: social
and political institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, economic
means, personal security, liberty, health, dignity and, finally life itself.3 Such a
broad interpretation of the crime would make just any instance of gross human
rights violation genocide. Indeed, from today’s perspective, several cases that
Lemkin deemed “genocidal” back in 1944 (for example: German policy in occupied
Luxemburg, Alsace-Lorraine, or Slovenia) did not amount to actual genocide.

5 pages + cites -
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:53 pm

vampire squid
01-09-2009, 12:17 AM

Stalin 'planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact'

Stalin was 'prepared to move more than a million Soviet troops to the German border to deter Hitler's aggression just before the Second World War'

By Nick Holdsworth in Moscow
Last Updated: 1:14AM BST 19 Oct 2008

Papers which were kept secret for almost 70 years show that the Soviet Union proposed sending a powerful military force in an effort to entice Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance.

Such an agreement could have changed the course of 20th century history, preventing Hitler's pact with Stalin which gave him free rein to go to war with Germany's other neighbours.

The offer of a military force to help contain Hitler was made by a senior Soviet military delegation at a Kremlin meeting with senior British and French officers, two weeks before war broke out in 1939.

The new documents, copies of which have been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, show the vast numbers of infantry, artillery and airborne forces which Stalin's generals said could be dispatched, if Polish objections to the Red Army crossing its territory could first be overcome.

But the British and French side - briefed by their governments to talk, but not authorised to commit to binding deals - did not respond to the Soviet offer, made on August 15, 1939. Instead, Stalin turned to Germany, signing the notorious non-aggression treaty with Hitler barely a week later.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named after the foreign secretaries of the two countries, came on August 23 - just a week before Nazi Germany attacked Poland, thereby sparking the outbreak of the war. But it would never have happened if Stalin's offer of a western alliance had been accepted, according to retired Russian foreign intelligence service Major General Lev Sotskov, who sorted the 700 pages of declassified documents.

"This was the final chance to slay the wolf, even after [British Conservative prime minister Neville] Chamberlain and the French had given up Czechoslovakia to German aggression the previous year in the Munich Agreement," said Gen Sotskov, 75.

The Soviet offer - made by war minister Marshall Klementi Voroshilov and Red Army chief of general staff Boris Shaposhnikov - would have put up to 120 infantry divisions (each with some 19,000 troops), 16 cavalry divisions, 5,000 heavy artillery pieces, 9,500 tanks and up to 5,500 fighter aircraft and bombers on Germany's borders in the event of war in the west, declassified minutes of the meeting show.

But Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, who lead the British delegation, told his Soviet counterparts that he authorised only to talk, not to make deals.

"Had the British, French and their European ally Poland, taken this offer seriously then together we could have put some 300 or more divisions into the field on two fronts against Germany - double the number Hitler had at the time," said Gen Sotskov, who joined the Soviet intelligence service in 1956. "This was a chance to save the world or at least stop the wolf in its tracks."

When asked what forces Britain itself could deploy in the west against possible Nazi aggression, Admiral Drax said there were just 16 combat ready divisions, leaving the Soviets bewildered by Britain's lack of preparation for the looming conflict.

The Soviet attempt to secure an anti-Nazi alliance involving the British and the French is well known. But the extent to which Moscow was prepared to go has never before been revealed.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, best selling author of Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar, said it was apparent there were details in the declassified documents that were not known to western historians.

"The detail of Stalin's offer underlines what is known; that the British and French may have lost a colossal opportunity in 1939 to prevent the German aggression which unleashed the Second World War. It shows that Stalin may have been more serious than we realised in offering this alliance."

Professor Donald Cameron Watt, author of How War Came - widely seen as the definitive account of the last 12 months before war began - said the details were new, but said he was sceptical about the claim that they were spelled out during the meetings.

"There was no mention of this in any of the three contemporaneous diaries, two British and one French - including that of Drax," he said. "I don't myself believe the Russians were serious."

The declassified archives - which cover the period from early 1938 until the outbreak of war in September 1939 - reveal that the Kremlin had known of the unprecedented pressure Britain and France put on Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler by surrendering the ethnic German Sudetenland region in 1938.

"At every stage of the appeasement process, from the earliest top secret meetings between the British and French, we understood exactly and in detail what was going on," Gen Sotskov said.

"It was clear that appeasement would not stop with Czechoslovakia's surrender of the Sudetenland and that neither the British nor the French would lift a finger when Hitler dismembered the rest of the country."

Stalin's sources, Gen Sotskov says, were Soviet foreign intelligence agents in Europe, but not London. "The documents do not reveal precisely who the agents were, but they were probably in Paris or Rome."

Shortly before the notorious Munich Agreement of 1938 - in which Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, effectively gave Hitler the go-ahead to annexe the Sudetenland - Czechoslovakia's President Eduard Benes was told in no uncertain terms not to invoke his country's military treaty with the Soviet Union in the face of further German aggression.

"Chamberlain knew that Czechoslovakia had been given up for lost the day he returned from Munich in September 1938 waving a piece of paper with Hitler's signature on it," Gen Sotksov said.

The top secret discussions between the Anglo-French military delegation and the Soviets in August 1939 - five months after the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia - suggest both desperation and impotence of the western powers in the face of Nazi aggression.

Poland, whose territory the vast Russian army would have had to cross to confront Germany, was firmly against such an alliance. Britain was doubtful about the efficacy of any Soviet forces because only the previous year, Stalin had purged thousands of top Red Army commanders.

The documents will be used by Russian historians to help explain and justify Stalin's controversial pact with Hitler, which remains infamous as an example of diplomatic expediency.

"It was clear that the Soviet Union stood alone and had to turn to Germany and sign a non-aggression pact to gain some time to prepare ourselves for the conflict that was clearly coming," said Gen Sotskov.

A desperate attempt by the French on August 21 to revive the talks was rebuffed, as secret Soviet-Nazi talks were already well advanced.

It was only two years later, following Hitler's Blitzkreig attack on Russia in June 1941, that the alliance with the West which Stalin had sought finally came about - by which time France, Poland and much of the rest of Europe were already under German occupation ... -pact.html
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:54 pm

01-09-2009, 08:07 AM

I grew up around a lot of Ukrainian immigrants, they fell into two groups, civil war and post WWII. The family of a good friend was of the former group, claimed to be Cossacks. More numerous were the post WWII's, interestingly these families were most mixed German-Ukrainian though entirely claiming Ukrainian affinity. All were utterly anti-communist and anti-Russian, hard to say who they hated more.
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:55 pm

m pyre
01-09-2009, 01:25 PM
I grew up around a lot of Ukrainian immigrants, they fell into two groups, civil war and post WWII. The family of a good friend was of the former group, claimed to be Cossacks. More numerous were the post WWII's, interestingly these families were most mixed German-Ukrainian though entirely claiming Ukrainian affinity. All were utterly anti-communist and anti-Russian, hard to say who they hated more.

I had a friend in grad school who was Estonian, her parents immigrated to escape Communism. She said that the Ukraininans and Estonians had many similarities and she also said her parents were, as you have described for the Ukies, "utterly anti-communist and anti-Russian, hard to say who they hated more."

On a barely-related note, while in grad school this particular gal introduced me and some other friends to the Holiday Cocktail Lounge in Greenwich Village, a bar with cheap, strong drinks and an excellent tunes selection on its jukebox. Run by Ukraininans. It was where we always started the evening when we travelled to NYC for fun.
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Re: Reference - Purging Stalin

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:56 pm

vampire squid
01-09-2009, 05:24 PM ... R/AHR.html

i'm just going to go ahead and post the rest of that report because, as luck would have it, MIM got taken down the very day after i posted this excerpt. fortunately i had bookmarked the google cache. this should help put to rest all those ridiculous 50 billion+ estimates of "Stalin's" "victims."



Peter A. Coclanis is an associate professor of history and the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Universitv of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He worked under Stuart W. Bruchey at Columbia University, earning his doctorate in 1984. He is the author of The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1670-1920 (1989), as well as of numerous articles in economic and social history. Currently, he is writing a book on the history of rice. Coclanis spent the 1992-1993 academic year conducting research in Southeast Asia on a Fulbright Research Fellowship.

J. Arch Getty is a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. He studied with Roberta Manning and received his Ph.D. from Boston College in 1979. He is the author of Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1949 (1985) and co-editor of Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives (1993). His research is on the political history of the Soviet Union in the 1930s and concentrates on the history of the Soviet Communist Party. Getty is now writing (with Gabor Rittersporn) Society and Politics in the Soviet 1930s (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press), a treatment of the state-society question in the pre-war Stalin period, and is collaborating in the editing of a series of researchers' guides to Russian archives.

James L. Huston is an associate professor of history at Oklahoma State University. He received his doctorate in 1980 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, under the guidance of Robert W. Johannsen. He is the author of The Panic of 1857 and the Coming of the Civil War (1987), which was subsequently awarded the Phi Alpha Theta prize for an author's first book. Although Huston has pursued a number of topics in political and economic history, his major concern has

been an investigation of protectionist political economy. He is currently completing a book-length manuscript on this topic.

Marc Raeff is Bakhmeteff Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies at Columbia University. He earned his doctorate in history from Harvard University in 1950. His recent books include The Well-Ordered Police State: Social and Institutional Change through Law in the Germanies arid Russia, 1600-1800 (1983), Understanding Imperial Russia: State and Society in the Old Regime (1984), and Russia Abroad: A Cultural History of the Russian Emigration, 1919-1939 (1990).

Gabor T. Rittersporn is a senior research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. He studied at the universities of Szeged (Hungary), Leningrad, and Tokyo, defending his doctoral dissertation at the Sorbonne in 1979. His research interests involve the interaction of collective representations, social practices, and political processes in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, with particular emphasis on the evolution of penal policy. Rittersporn is the author of Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR, 1933-1953 (1991).

Paul W. Schroeder is professor of history and political science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of three books and many articles on the history of international politics from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, as well as Austrian and German history. His latest work, The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848, will be published by Oxford University Press in the Oxford History of Modern Europe series early in 1994. His current research is on change, development, and learning in international politics, 1648 to 1945.

Carl Strikwerda received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan under the supervision of Louise A. Tilly and is now an associate professor of history at the University of Kansas. The co-editor with Camille Guerin-Gonzales, Oberlin College, of The Politics of Immigrant Workers: Labor Activism and Migration in the World Economy since 1830 (1993), he is currently editing a volume with Ellen Furlough. Kenyon College, on the history of consumer cooperation. Strikwerda has hadarticles published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, International Labor and Working Class History, and the Journal of Urban History, and recently completed a manuscript on Catholic and Socialist workers in Belgium between 1870 and 1914. His article in this issue grew out of research for a book on the conflict between nationalism and internationalism in the era of World War 1.

Viktor N. Zemskov is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He received his kandidat nauk degree from the History Faculty of Moscow State University in 1974, specializing in the history of the Soviet working class. He has written The Leading Force of National Struggle: The Struggle of the Soviet Working Class in the Period of Fascist Occupation of the USSR, 1941-1944 (in Russian) (1986). In 1989, Zemskov was among the first researchers admitted to the secret archives of the GULAG system, and he published a series of articles in Argumenty i fakty and Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia on prisoners, exiles, and repatriation in the Stalin period. He is now preparing two books, one on Soviet citizens dn forced labor in Nazi Germany, 1941-1945 and another on exiles in the USSR, 1930-1960.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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