Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 29 Nov 2006 21:52

Here is a quote from the article "Kurapaty: The Road of Death", which can be found here:

http://txt.knihi.com/kurapaty/kurap-e1.html

Ivan Trafimavic resisted all the torture and did not give in, did not sign a confession. After the fall of Yezhov, he was released, ill and gray-haired... And at the beginning of the 1950s, he happened to go on business with his son to the Ministry of Social Security of the Belarusian SSR. In the vestibule, they met a self-possessed woman, dressed elegantly, with her head held proudly high and her graying hair fashionably coiffured. - "Hello, Ivan Trafimavic!" - she sang rather than said in a deep-chested voice, and walked on. Ivan Trafimavic fainted into the arms of his son. - "Who was that, Dad?" - "That was Bajkova. Before the war, she was an investigator with the Mahileu NKVD". She had tortured Ivan Trafimavic. All the prisoners in Mahileu trembled before Bajkova. She was a sadist. She only interrogated males, and was especially fond of torturing veterans of the revolution. She would order a prisoner to strip naked and to the waltz-tune "In the hills of Manchuria" would demand that he sing. Then she would take her specially-made whip with wire thongs and would beat the man on his private parts and most sensitive spots, working herself up into an ecstasy, while the prisoner fainted from the pain.



The above tale told of Bajkova bears a strong resemblance to similar tales told about Ilse Koch and Irma Grese.

I would suggest that such tales are highly likely to be the product of male sexual fantasy rather than the literal truth. The description of a male being beaten in a sexual manner while the female whipping him experiences sexual ecstasy is a dead giveaway; it is the sort of thing that British aristocrats pay large amounts of money to enjoy.

That is not to say that the immense atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet Russian and German National Socialist governments were not historical fact. But is does mean that some of the accounts need to be subjected to very critical analysis.

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 29 Nov 2006 22:03

The well-sourced post by Griffin76 includes the following reference:

S. P. Melgunov's The Red Terror in Russia documents some of the most horrific tortures and mass murders committed by the Bolsheviks during this bloody time. Makes for ghastly reading!


I have read the above book, and what impressed me was that many of the atrocities described by Mel'gunov bear a remarkable similarity to claims made about certain Germans at the end of the Second World War.

A case in point is Mel'gunov's claim that Cheka officials made articles such as gloves out of human skin taken from prisoners; his book even has photographs of the alleged articles. That claim is the same as that made about Ilse Koch, with her lampshades allegedly made of human skin.

I would suggest that in both cases such claims are fictitious, despite the historical reality of the underlying atrocities.

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Post by David Thompson » 29 Nov 2006 23:34

Michael -- Note that at Ilse Koch's 1951 German trial, "[t]he court found no proof that anyone at Buchenwald had been murdered for his tattooed skin, but it expressed no doubt that skin lampshades had been made and that human heads had been shriveled and preserved at the camp.": viewtopic.php?p=424011#424011

Griffin76
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Post by Griffin76 » 01 Dec 2006 03:58

michael mills wrote:The well-sourced post by Griffin76 includes the following reference:

S. P. Melgunov's The Red Terror in Russia documents some of the most horrific tortures and mass murders committed by the Bolsheviks during this bloody time. Makes for ghastly reading!


I have read the above book, and what impressed me was that many of the atrocities described by Mel'gunov bear a remarkable similarity to claims made about certain Germans at the end of the Second World War.

A case in point is Mel'gunov's claim that Cheka officials made articles such as gloves out of human skin taken from prisoners; his book even has photographs of the alleged articles. That claim is the same as that made about Ilse Koch, with her lampshades allegedly made of human skin.

I would suggest that in both cases such claims are fictitious, despite the historical reality of the underlying atrocities.


I couldn't disagree more.

Anyway, speaking of Melgunov's pioneering work on Bolshevik terror, here are some photographs I scanned from my copy of the book, including the infamous hand flayings:

http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/9553 ... ngsfn6.jpg

http://img452.imageshack.us/img452/5660 ... te1qi2.jpg

http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/7300 ... ia2bv8.png

http://img447.imageshack.us/img447/183/ ... imsjo2.jpg

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 01 Dec 2006 21:10

Until such time as the articles alleged to have been manufactured from human skin, eg the gloves allegedly produced by Cheka members or the lampshades, gloves and book covers allegedly made by SS-men at Buchenwald, have been located and shown through scientific analysis to be indeed of human origin, or at least documentary evidence is found showing that such articles existed and were scientifically tested and found to be of human origin, I prefer to regard all such claims as fictional.

All that appears to exist is photographs, of articles found at Kharkov that look like gloves made of chamois leather, and of lampshades found in the officers' living quarters at Buchenwald. There is nothing to indicate that the articles depicted were manufactured from human skin.

With regard to Buchenwald, tests were carried out on some specimens of tattooed skin, and those specimens were found to be of human origin. The specimens had been collected from dead prisoners for display in a planned Museum of Criminality; the German Government regarded tattooing as a sign of a criminal mentality and membership in criminal organisations. But to my knowledge no such tests were carried out on manufactured articles found in the camp, such as lampshades, bookcovers and gloves.

Mel'gunov's book is a good pioneering study, but it contains a lot of unverified material, and the figures it gives for the numbers of victims of the 1918-21 "Red Terror" are exaggerated.

It is important to note that Mel'gunov's book was first published in Germany in the 1920s, and was used for anti-Soviet and anti-Communist propaganda. For example, some of the anti-Soviet statements made by Hitler in his "Mein Kampf", such as that many millions of persons had been killed by the Bolshevik regime, appear to be derived from Mel'gunov's book, whether directly or indirectly.

It may well be that in the course of the Second World War and in its immediate aftermath, Soviet and other Communist sources took some of the claims made by Mel'gunov and turned them against their "fascist" enemies, in a sort of payback.

One such claim is that the Cheka killed some of its victims by throwing them into blast-furnaces. Similar claims that German forces were killing Jews in occupied Soviet territory by the same method surfaced during the war (eg in letters to his wife by one of the later members of the miliary conspiracy against Hitler), but faded away when more reliable information about the real methods of German mass-killing became available. I would see that as a Soviet propaganda initiative that was overtaken by the truth.

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Post by David Thompson » 20 Dec 2006 20:45

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Post by Jacob Peters » 20 Dec 2006 21:14

Melgunov's work can't be taken seriously as it is the pre-eminent 1920s Russian emigre propaganda piece published in the West. His work at best is a polemec on behalf of the White Guards. There is an absence of bibliography and footnotes in his work about the so-called "Red Terror". Melgunov even came from an aristocratic family showing how inherently partisan his views were. Melgunov claims that tens of thousands were executed in Krym without putting forth any serious evidence. What especially casts doubts on these sensational claims is that Lenin distinctly said that 300,000 captured bourgeois in the Krym would be spared:

For instance, there are at present 300,000 bourgeois in the Crimea. These are a source of future profiteering, espionage and every kind of aid to the capitalists. However, we are net afraid of them. We say that we shall take and distribute them, make them submit, and assimilate them.
http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/w ... dec/06.htm

**Nine million repression deaths [Executions: 1.5 million, Gulag: 5 million, Deportations: 1.7 million {out of 7.5 million deported}, and POW's and German civilians: 1 million] (citing Vadim Erlikman’s Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. ISBN 5931651071)


Erlikman's estimates are unsubstantiated. His figure for the GULAG is five times too high. His number of executions is about three times too high. As Pavel Polyan has clearly demonstrated, the deportation of Soviet civilians and Poles from annexed territories was about 4 million as opposed to Erlikman's baseless 7.5 million. Moreover, the deportees did not die because of the process of resettlement but because of the economic catastrophe brought by the war.

to perhaps 15-20 million deaths attributable to the regime overall (citing The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al


This is not a valid source.

A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia by Alexander Yakovlev; Autopsy of an Empire:


Yakovlev does not cite a source for his claim. It is difficult to take someone seriously like Yakovlev who is considered to have been the architect of the perestroika which allowed for the IMF to to destroy the Russian economy. Yakovlev became an ardent right-wing neoliberal politician in the 1990s who regularly slandered the communists.

The Seven Leaders Who Built the Soviet Regime by Dmitri Volkogonov


Volkogonv fails to substantiate his claim that 7 to to million died from collectivization and dekulakization. It is difficult to take someone like Volkogonov seriously when he became an adviser to Boris Yeltsin whose policies brought the largest catastrophe in Russia not seen since the second world war.

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore


This work contains numerous factual errors particularly in regard to the famine. Montefiore is not a historian but is instead a sort of literary writer. He does not have the credentials of a historian. Much of what he purports are derived from often faulty, sensationalist sources from the likes of Anthony Beevor, Robert Conquest, etc.

The numerous mass graves discovered all over the former USSR and various satellite countries from the late 80’s to today are by far the most damning evidence of the sheer criminality of the Soviet regime:


These "mass graves" do not provide an indication of factual statistics which is all you are ever interested in. Moreover there really is no way to verify whether the communists were responsible for these "mass graves".

*Some 100,000 (citing Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War by W. Bruce Lincoln) to 250,000-300,000 (citing The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police by George Leggett) murdered by Lenin’s Bolsheviks during the "Red Terror" and Russian civil war.


That is false. Based on a misunderstanding that there were actually executions in the Crimea and that the Kronshtadt battle took a heavy toll, the scholar Mozohin has confirmed that no more than 50,000 were shot. You distort Leggett's work as he favours a figure of 140,000. The Cheka's documents show that about 18 thousand were executed between 1918-1921. This is contrast to the 25,000 workers slaughtered by the German-backed regime between February-May 1918.
http://www.fsb.ru/history/read/1998/mozohin.html

*Between 300,000 and 500,000 Cossacks killed or deported in 1919 and 1920 out of a population of no more than a few million (known as "De-Cossackization"; not sure how many of these deaths overlap with the aforementioned Cheka murders - if at all).


That is false. Polyan shows that no more than 45,000 Cossacks were deported. Moreover, the Cossacks were a major element of the Whites and obviously endured fatalities in battle. As Reds and Whites combined endured some 300 thousand deaths in battle, it is implausible that the Cossacks endured 500,000 losses. There are today millions of Russians of "Cossack" ancestry. A large portion of Cossacks were guilty of having collaborated with mass murderer proto-Nazi Denikin whose forces slaughtered up to 100,000 Jews. Propaganda dessiminated by the whites painted the power of the soviet workers councils as a lunatic Jewish conspiracy. Nevertheless, the Cossacks did not endure demographic losses implicated by the work you've cited. The records show only 40,000 deportations of Terek Cossacks in order to make space for the Chechens and Ingush.
http://www.memo.ru/history/deport/polyan1.htm#_VPID_13

*5 million perished in the famine of 1921-22, in which the Bolshevik policy of "war communism" (which included forced requisitioning of food and deportation and even execution of peasants who refused to comply) made the famine much worse than it had to be. Compare this to previous Russian famines under the autocratic Tsars which killed no where near as many. (citing A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes and Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime by Richard Pipes)


The policy of grain collections were neither excessive nor did they originate with the Bolsheviks. The Whites and even the Greens collected grains from the regions they controlled. Grain collections drastically reduced in 1921 when the New Economic Policy was implemented. In 1918 and much of 1919, the Bolsheviks did not have control of the relevant agricultural regions including Ukraine, the North Caucasus, Sibir, and much of the Volga. Stephen Wheatcroft and the pre-eminent scholar on the Soviet economy Robert Davies wrote in their 2004 "Years of Hunger":

The urban food shortages began to emerge during the First World War in 1916 and led to major food riots in the spring of 1917. The shortages turned into a major crisis following the 1917 harvest. The Soviet government succeeded in collecting only a fraction of the grain which was transferred from village to town in normal years. The disintegration of the army was largely caused by the food shortage. A severe drought in 1921, following poor weather and a poor harvest in 1920, was the immediate background to the famine. According to Soviet data, the grain harvest in 1920 was only 60% of the pre-war level, and it was even smaller in 1921.

The following effectively discredits these absurd claims about excessive grain procurements. Unlike the literary fairy tales that have been incessantly been cited, this data actually has scientific, economic basis:

1914: 67.8 milllion tons produced; 5 million tons collected
1915: 74.3 million tons produced; 8.2 million tons collected
1916: 62.5 to 65.5 million tons produced; 8.9 million collected
1918: 1.8 million tons collected
1919: 3.5 million tons collected
1920: 44.5 million tons produced; 5.9 million tons collected
1921: 38 million tons produced; 3.8 million tons collected
Source: The Economic Transformation of the Soviet Union, ed. R.W Davies, Mark Harrison, and S.G Wheatcroft

*Between 7.2 to 9.5 million deaths during dekulakization/collectivization and the massive famine caused by these draconian policies (citing Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed For Him by Donald Rayfield and Autopsy of an Empire: The Seven Leaders Who Built the Soviet Regime by Dmitri Volkogonov)


2 million died from famine according to Soviet documents while perhaps 200,000 kulaks died during the process of resettlement. You are blatantly incorrect about famine having resulted from Stalin's policies. The sources you have cited incorrectly claim that the harvest in 1932 was no worse than in previous years. However, research conducted by Mark Tauger, Stephen Wheatcroft and the pre-eminent scholar of Soviet economics R.W Davies show that both the 1931 and 1932 harvests were disastrous caused primarily by drought, poor weather, rust, smut, and an inadequate supply of horses. Moreover, the Soviet government with its rationing system fed more than 60 million people.
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/econo ... deaths.xls
http://www.thewalls.ru/truth/kulak.htm
http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/T ... ctions.pdf

*Around 700,000 executed during the Great Terror of 1937-38


This is inaccurate. The historian A.Dugin found that there were 640,000+ executions total in the period 1921-53. It must be stressed that the "Great Terror" was limited to foreign and domestic parties, the state, and burreacuracy. The proper source is: А.Дугин. Сталинизм: легенды и факты // Слово. 1990, №7. С.25.

*Over 1 million Polish citizens deported by November 1940; 30% of whom were dead by 1941


This is false. Polyan found that 275,000 ethnic Poles were deported between 1939-41. When relations were restored with the illegitimate Polish regime in London, Polish prisoners of war were promptly repatriated. There is no evidence to this claim that Polish deportees endured that high of a death rate.
http://www.memo.ru/history/deport/

(citing Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore) and over 20,000 reserve officers and intellectuals executed outright (i.e. Katyn) by the NKVD during the


That is highly disputed. Russia confirmed that 1,803 of the officers died. You are also incorrect in calling them reserve officers as all reserves become active when under invasion.

*A total of 34,250 Latvians and around 60,000 Estonians and 75,000 Lithuanians murdered or deported during Nazi-Soviet pact (citing Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore) Gruesome pictures of Latvian victims of the NKVD can be found here


That is false. 45,000 total from the Baltic states were deported between 1939-41 according to the archival documents cited by Polyan. Never did executions exceed repression in the form of imprisonment of deportation.
http://www.memo.ru/history/deport/

An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 were slaughtered during the "prison massacres," in which the NKVD murdered Ukrainian and Polish political prisoners (this does not include the aforementioned 20,000 killed) wholesale as they retreated from the advancing Wehrmacht in 1941. Most were machine-gunned to death in batches, but sometimes prisons were set on fire and the helpless prisoners burned to death, in other cases grenades were tossed into crowded cells and prisoners were blown to pieces. (citing wikipedia article NKVD massacres of prisoners)


Wikipedia is not a valid source as it is edited by wannabe scholars with an internet connection.

*The ethnic cleansing of minorities during WW2 within the USSR - such as the Crimean Taters, Chechens, Kalmyks, Volga Germans and others where deported wholesale into exile for "collaborating" with the Germans


That is a misleading statement that there was not collaboration by any one of these groups. It is an established fact that 10% of the entire Crimean Tatar population collaborated with the Germans. This can distinctly be found by a scholarly article published by Alexander Statiev: http://muse.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/access.cgi? ... atiev.html

In regard to the Chechens, historian Igor Pykhalov documented internal rebellion and massive desertion: http://www.specnaz.ru/archive/10_2001/7.htm

Statiev wrote: "Collaboration with the invaders in Crimea spread wider than in any of the republics in the North Caucasus; in total, 20,000 persons enlisted in Tatar batallions and self-defense units."

Conscription to the Red Army and the wartime labor draft provoked an uprising in the mountain districts of Chechnya in October-November 1941. Police, with the use of air force among other means, suppressed about 800 rebels, but a small-scale insurgency continued.

When the authorities attempted to conscript Chechens into the army in the spring of 1942, the police reported that "all the male population fled to the mountains". Out of 14,000 Chechens liable for conscription, only 4395 were enlisted, and of those 2365 deserted. The government, despite all its efforts, could conscript only 17500 Checnes during the war, but many of them deserted. At one point, the number of deserters and draft-evaders among the recruits reached 13,000 men. From Nov. 1941 to June 1943, the 141st NKVD Security Regiment deployed in Chechnya killed 973 and captured 1167 bandits and arrested 1413 insurgents.

with hundreds of thousands dying in transit or of privation while in exile.


That is a faulty observation. Death among the resettled German population in adjacent Kazakhstan were not any different than what the Soviet population endured. It was not because of the resettlement why they died but because of the effects brought by war. With some 860 thousand deported Germans, there were 774 Germans located in the settlements in 1946. Eventually, the Soviet German population increased to 2 million in 1989. Germans and other groups were never sent into some sort of isolated exile but lived just like anyone else in the region. Germans in Kazakhstan had schools and media in their own language and were by far more prosperous than the indigenous population. Moreover, Soviet documents have shown the following in which there was an effort to accomodate the deportees:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/l2tartar.html

. By 1 June of this year, the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Uzbekistan, comrade Iusupov, the Chairman of the Uzbek SSR Council of People's Commissars, comrade Abdurakhmanov, and the Uzbek SSR People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, comrade Kobulov, are to carry out the following steps in regard to the acceptance and settlement of the special settlers:

a) To accept and settle within the Uzbek SSR 140 to 160 thousand special settlers -- Tatars, sent by the USSR NKVD from the Crimean ASSR. The settlement of the special settlers will occur in state farm communities, existing collective farms, farms affiliated with
enterprises, and in factory communities, for employment in agriculture and industry

b) To establish commissions in oblasts where the special settlers are resettled, consisting of the chairman of the oblast executive committee, secretary of the oblast committee, and chief of the NKVD administration, charging them with the implementation of all measures in connection with the acceptance and distribution of the newly arrived special settlers;

c) To organize raion troikas, consisting of the chairman of the raion executive committee, secretary of the raion committee, and chief of the raion branch of the NKVD, charging them with preparation for the distribution and organization of the acceptance of the newly arrived special settlers;

d) To arrange the automotive transport of the special settlers, mobilizing the vehicles of any enterprises or institutions for this purpose;

e) To grant plots of farm land to the newly arrived special settlers and to help them build homes by providing construction materials;

f) To organize special NKVD commandant's headquarters, to be maintained by the USSR NKVD, in the raions of settlement;

g) By 20 May of this year, the Uzbek SSR Central Committee and Council of People's Commissars are to submit to the USSR NKVD (comrade Beria) a plan for the settlement of the special settlers in the oblasts and raions, indicating the destination points of the trains.

4. Seven-year loans of up to 5,000 rubles per family, for the construction and setting up of homes, are to be extended by the Agricultural Bank (comrade Kravtsov) to special settlers sent to the Uzbek SSR, in their places of settlement.

5. Every month during the June-August 1944 period, equal quantities of flour, groats, and vegetables will be allocated by the USSR People's Commissariat of Procurement (comrade Subbotin) to the Uzbek SSR Council of People's Commissars for distribution to
the special settlers, in accordance with Appendix No. 2.

Flour, groats, and vegetables are to be distributed free of charge to the special settlers during the June-August period, as repayment for the agricultural production and livestock received from them in the areas from which they were evicted.

6. To augment the automotive transport capacity of the NKVD troops, garrisoned in the raions of settlement in the Uzbek, Kazakh, and Kirgiz SSR's, the People's Commissariat of Defense (comrade Khrulev) is to provide 100 recently repaired "Willys"3 motor vehicles and 250 trucks during the May-June 1944 period.

7. By 20 May 1944, the Main Administration for the Transport and Supply of Petroleum and Petroleum Products (comrade Shirokov) is to allocate and supply 400 tons of gasoline to locations specified by the USSR NKVD, and 200 tons of gasoline are to be
placed at the disposal of the Uzbek SSR Council of People's Commissars.

The supply of gasoline [for this purpose] is to be carried out in conjunction with a corresponding reduction of supplies to all other consumers.

8. By 15 May of this year, the Main Supply Administration of the USSR Ministry of Forestry, USSR Council of People's Commissars (comrade Lopukhov), is to deliver 75,000 2.75-meter railroad car boards to the People's Commissariat of Railroads, using any means
at its disposal.

9. In May of this year, the People's Commissariat of Finance (comrade Zverev) is to transfer 30 million rubles from the reserve fund of the USSR Council of People's Commissars to the USSR NKVD, for the implementation of special measures

(citing The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB by Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin)


Mitrokhin's archives have largely been discredited. If they were anything reliable then people implicated would have been prosecuted. He did not have the original documents with him when he somehow under the watchful eye of the ubiquitous KGB managed to flee from a Baltic state to England. With regard to Andrew's work, he himself does not conduct any breakthrough research but instead employs the most militantly anti-communist sources. According to Andrew's partisanship, it was unscrupulous for the KGB to have funded foreign media. But when the CIA did the exact same thing it was a crusade for freedom. http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/sep/28raman.htm

*The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the scorched earth campaigns against the Mujahadeen claimed between 1.5 and 2 million lives, 90% of whom were civilians


There was never a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as the Afghan government repeatedly requested the assistance of the Soviet government. It is impossible to blame the USSR for economic catastrophe in Afghanistan given the fact that the US-backed mujahideen controlled 80% of the country. When the USSR withdrew, tens of thousands were murdered by the US-backed mujahideen in Kabul alone. Hundreds of thousands became refugees.
After a month, the DRA requests were no longer for individual crews and subunits, but were for regiments and larger units. On 19 July, the Afghan government requested that two motorized rifle divisions be sent to Afghanistan. The following day, they requested an airborne division in addition to the earlier requests. They repeated these requests and variants to these requests over the following months right up to December 1979. However, the Soviet government was in no hurry to grant these requests. http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu/grasovintroduction.html

Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation


I'll take this as a satirical joke. Everything claimed on that web site is crude propaganda.
Last edited by Jacob Peters on 13 Jan 2007 21:45, edited 1 time in total.

Jacob Peters
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Post by Jacob Peters » 11 Jan 2007 05:35

**Nine million repression deaths [Executions: 1.5 million, Gulag: 5 million, Deportations: 1.7 million {out of 7.5 million deported}, and POW's and German civilians: 1 million] (citing Vadim Erlikman’s Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. ISBN 5931651071)


Vadim Erlikman is not a historian. He is merely a journalist. Of course, journalists derive their work from historians when the subject at hand relates to history. His works are available here which include "Stephen King. The king of dark side", "Anthology of children world literature", "Anthology of world fantasy"
http://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id/22 ... pe=305#305

Everything for which Stalin is blamed for e.g Yezhovshchina, labour camps, collectivization and famine resulted not in 20 million deaths but instead in perhaps 4 million deaths of which half were from unintended famine caused by natural factors. It should also be kept in mind that there was no intent to have the Gulag labourers killed because that would defeat the whole purpose of the labour camp system:

The GULAG was oriented towards keeping its labour force in reasonable condition for hard work so that it could fulfil the construction and production plans handed down from above. Already in the 1930s, and to an even larger extent during the post-war period, it issued numerous orders to ensure the provision of minimum levels of food, clothing and living conditions, and sought to enforce limits imposed on the exploitation of prison labour by legislation
Leonid Borodkin and Simon Ertz, Leonid Borodkin, 'Forced Labour and the Need for Motivation: Wages and Bonuses in the Stalinist Camp System', Comparative Economic Studies, New Brunswick, June 2005, Vol.47, Iss. 2

http://sovietinfo.tripod.com/GTY-Penal_System.pdf
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/econo ... deaths.xls

Mel'gunov's book is a good pioneering study, but it contains a lot of unverified material, and the figures it gives for the numbers of victims of the 1918-21 "Red Terror" are exaggerated.


It is difficult to take Mel'gunov's agitprop seriously. His work is primarily composed of hearsay, rumour, and anecdotes. Little of what he says can be verified. His credibility is dubious because he clearly had an axe to grind manifested by his over the top rhetoric. I've looked through his book and it lacks even a bibliography. Mel'gunov's work typifies the hysterical agitprop dessiminated by 1920s Russian defectors in the West.

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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by MattRay » 14 Feb 2017 05:44

15 million might be safer as a minimum, but some things to keep in mind are many estimates on the death toll under Stalin only count Soviet victims, nor is it typical for Soviet POWs who died in German custody to be included in these totals, despite the fact that Stalin undoubtedly bears responsibility for this considering he refused Hitler's offer for better treatment of Soviet POWs in exchange for the Soviets treating German POWs more humanely on the grounds that "there are no Soviet POWs, only traitors." Also, many don't include the roughly 1.5 million give or take who died from the 1946-1947, which wasn't a deliberate mass murder campaign like the Holodomor and 1932-1933 Terror Famine, but just like the famine that resulted from Mao's Great Leap Forward or the 1995-1998 North Korean Famine in that state policies clearly played a key role in it and the leaders were indifferent to this. Also of note are that documents make it beyond dispute that over 450,000 German POWs and civilians died in Soviet custody and it's been claimed that the real total was more like 1 million, to say nothing of the German victims of Soviet occupation and finally the Polish death toll at Stalin's hands was also certainly 6 figures, but whether closer to a hundred thousand or a quarter million is the question. Of course, there were also at least tens of thousands of Japanese who died in Soviet custody, many thousands of Hungarians killed by the Soviets and I forgot to mention foreign NKVD assassinations and other lethal operations, much like the CIA, which don't factor into most estimates, but a famous example would be Trotsky's assassination. The executions at the Czech show trial in the early 50's are another example.

1929-1939 is the time period where it's most possible to estimate the death toll using the census numbers available. To show the staggering losses inflicted on the Soviet people by the Dekulakization and Terror Famine campaigns, the Soviet population grew nearly the same total amount from 1920-1926 as it did in nearly twice the time from 1926-1937 despite the former period including the 1921-1922 famine that is widely believed to have killed around 5 million people. The surprisingly low population of 162 million shown by the suppressed 1937 census conservatively shows a 15 million population deficit as regular population growth would have been 3 million per year. Of course, Stalin didn't kill 15+ million people in that time since many were never born. The 1970 census suggests a birth deficit of about 4 million for the years of the Terror Famine, which would put the death toll under Stalin at 11 million through 1937. This is again conservative because many births weren't registered during this time, especially in the Ukraine. It's really impossible to accurately sort out the deaths from Dekulakization and the Terror Famine, but 6-7 million total with 4-5 million in the Ukraine are the consensus estimates, although Michael Ellman believed the toll for the famine was even higher, which would make sense since I believe the Dekulakization death toll is likely a bit lower than this suggests. Of course, there were deaths that didn't fit into either campaign, such as the at least hundreds of thousands Gulag and labor colony deaths prior to 1937 and the 25-30,000 workers said to have died building the useless White Sea Canal in addition to covert executions like Kirov and his bodyguard and more importantly, the "Kirov Flood" of at least tens of thousands arrested after Kirov's murder as well as death sentences expedited. For the rest of the 30's, the falsified 1939 census makes things trickier, but according to Richard Pipes and Alec Nove, the loss was 9-10 million from 1932-1939, so there's some overlap, but this suggests 13-14 million killed during Stalin's first decade in power, or if Ellman's higher total for the 1932-1933 famine is accurate, then about 12 million total, which would also support his estimate of minimum 950,000 and maximum 1.2 million repression deaths during The Great Purge.

Unfortunately, censuses are worthless for determining how many Soviets Stalin killed as the war was extremely lethal for Soviets in general with nearly 5 million military dead according to Stalin, which may exclude the 2-3 million POWs since Stalin didn't consider them losses as well as the Siege of Leningrad, which caused the deaths of about 670,000, so it's much more difficult to get a ballpark estimate, but based on documents, a minimum figure of 1.5 million has emerged, with about 1 million documented deaths in the Gulag, camps and prisons as well as over 158,000 soldiers executed as "deserters", but once again, this figure is too low because it doesn't include the Penal Battalions, who were given suicide missions, such as running into machine gun fire or mine fields. Richard Overy puts the figure at about 220,000 dead. This also doesn't mention the NKVD prison massacres after Operation Barbarossa, which I've seen put at around 100,000. Some have put the total figure at more like 4-5 million, though this is controversial and can't be confirmed by the documents we currently have. Then there was the post-war terror, which was fortunately interrupted by Stalin's death before it could reach the height of the Great Purge, but between the emerging Jewish Doctor's plot, the Jewish Anti-Facist Committee, the Leningrad Affair and typical Stalinist, MGB terror and repression executions, deaths from torture and in the Gulag and prisons like Lefortovo continued.

A problem some have is viewing the reports and documents revealed since the early 90's as anything more than minimum starting points. In some cases, this is simply laziness as it allows people to close the book on this, but if only it were that easy. For one, there are countless documented instances of the Soviet government destroying documents, such as Beria, Shelepin and Khrushchev to name a few.
One problem is that in a police state like the Soviet Union, many of the most damaging directives were probably never committed to paper, while many documents that did get circulated were intended to bolster the standing of a particular official, and so did not necessarily reflect the truth. Many sensitive documents have also been destroyed -- by Lavrenti P. Beria, the secret police chief, or in World War II, or during de-Stalinization.
http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/26/world ... wanted=all

The documents most likely to be destroyed would be the crimes to make the Soviets look the worst, such as murders and deaths resulting from Soviet treatment, not that there's any reason to believe they literally cared to document all such crimes in the first place. A perfect example is Katyn. Shelepin destroyed the Katyn order, but fortunately, the 1959 note he sent to Khrushchev stating he'd destroy the record of the 21,875 Poles murdered still exists.
One of the documents now posted online was a March 1959 letter marked "Top Secret" from the former head of the KGB, Alexander Shelepin, to then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, proposing that all dossiers concerning the Katyn killings be destroyed.
He said the authorities should just keep a few documents - the minutes of meetings of the NKVD troika that condemned the prisoners and some papers on the fulfilment of the troika's instructions.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8648275.stm

In fact, the Katyn murders alone show the execution totals in the Shvernik report as widely inaccurate for 1940 despite the fact that many went through the troikas so this shows that even formal executions were more extensive than listed in the Shvernik report. That same report is where the 681,692 executions for political crimes during the Great Purge comes from. Incidentally, this figure shows that while Robert Conquest overestimated the Gulag deaths and population significantly, his extrapolation technique used for executions was remarkably accurate as he estimated 700,000 "legal" executions during the Purge back in 1968 and 1 million total. Of course, the former figure was the only one that could be confirmed by the archives in the first place, but when you consider more clandestine executions, such as went on in Kolyma, Bamlag and Novaya Zemlya as well as the practice of rounding hundreds or thousands "undesirables" in the camps to be shot every so often. Additionally, there were many not listed as political crimes, but were no less repressed by any civilized standard, such as the more than 170 handicapped men who were arrested on vagrancy in 1937 and shot in early 1938. Even being late for work could get at least a Gulag sentence. But perhaps more significant is that those sentenced to "10 years without the right of correspondence" was a euphemism for a death sentence, but was not counted in the Shvernik report. So 1 million total executions during the Great Purge seems like a good conservative estimate, but when you consider the extent of the terror, especially concerning insignificant workers and peasants, it's difficult to completely discount the figure of 1.75 million executions given by both Dmitri Volkogonov, who had access to top secret archives long before just about any other notable historian and Aleksandr Karbainov of the Security Ministry. But with all this in mind, Vadim Erlichman's estimate of 1.5 million executions under Stalin seems pretty plausible, though if anything, conservative. Head of the Security Ministry Archival Administration Anatoli Krayushkin for instance, who made the Kruglov report available stressed that it was "far too low" and only included political crimes against the state and crimes officially processed by the courts, so it excluded massive campaigns like Dekulakization and others the Soviet government didn't see fit to go through that trouble with.

As for the Gulag, what the Zemskov figures allow us to do is pretty comfortably disregard the earlier higher estimates of around 12 million, or R.J. Rummel's more recent estimates. The Erlichman estimate of 5 million once again seems very plausible, although there's also a very common 4.5 million estimate you see. These certainly aren't 5 times too high either since even the Gulag archives confirmed 1,590,378 deaths in the Gulag under Stalin, although this excludes deaths shortly after release owing to the horrendous treatment in the Gulag, which were quite common, deaths during transportation, labor colonies, which could have over 40% the population of the Gulag proper, other forced labor projects, executions in the camps and deaths during interrogations, which were also quite common and often involved the faking of the cause of death with a heart attack being the common listed cause, while some other murders were listed as suicides, which again makes all these totals too low. To say nothing of the KGB falsifying causes of deaths for rehabilitated victims years later. Anyway, back to the Gulag, J. Otto Pohl came up with 2,749,163 deaths, although he also stressed this was incomplete. When you look deeper too, you discover discrepancies too great to be overlooked, such as the 2.75 million Gulag population the NKVD gave the 1937 census board, despite the fact that the "official" Gulag population on New Years Eve 1936 was only 820,881 + 375,488 in "labor colonies" for a total 1,196,369, which still doesn't even equal half the NKVD figure. Another example of these discrepancies is the 9.8 million total entering the Gulag for 1939-1952, which doesn't at all lineup with the 1.1 million arrests minus executions shown in the Shvernik report, even when you note that the Shvernik report covered only political crimes, that should give a figure of at least around 37.7% the 9.8 million figure, several times more than 1.1 million. There are other notable weaknesses, such as the notorious overcrowding, particularly during the purge. It seems the Gulag population was greater in 1937-1938, 1946 and 1952 than the Zemskov totals suggest, the death toll in 1947 was also greater than officially documented and given that deaths were far more likely to be inaccurate than general population, it seems logical to assume the Gulag deaths during the Great Purge were also greater than documented. Although it's actually more obvious that executions exceeded those shown in the Shvernik report, and in some cases like Katyn or a number of other instances, this is easy to prove.

17-18 million Soviets seems to be the most likely conservative estimate. But it's worth noting that Dmitri Volkogonov put the number at 21.5 million Soviet citizens killed by Stalin from 1929-1953 and Alexander Yakovlev, who had similar access as head of the rehabilitation commission came to the conclusion of 20+ as well. The lowest I've seen from a reputable historian doing a comprehensive study is 9 million, but even to arrive at a figure less than 8 figures, you have to basically believe the Soviet Government under Stalin, the most notorious falsifiers of history documented virtually all of their crimes, preserved them and then faithfully reported them, despite the well known fact that the Soviets destroyed many documents and many still haven't been found. Volkogonov was yet another person who mentioned this in an unrelated discussion concerning Alger Hiss. For a comparison, nobody thinks only 68,864 died at Auschwitz, including only around 30,000 Jews simply because that's what the camp records say. Even, the most ardent revisionists consistently estimate the death toll at roughly twice that amount or even more. The reason for this is that it's widely believed the SS destroyed files or didn't document everything to begin with. Now consider the Soviets, where we have more known instances of this and a half a century to cover their tracks, rather than a month. Personally, I believe Volkogonov's 21.5 million to be possible and more likely than anything below 15 million, although I'd stay in the 15-20 million range myself, just like I'd probably estimate 1.3-1.5 million killed during the Great Purge or Yezhovshchina, despite suspicions that it may well have exceeded 2 million. Especially since it's remarkable how often it is you come across a known figure in Russia, even a prominent one who had a family member fall victim to the purge in a country of roughly 162+ million. Of course, one difference is that you're actually able to debate these things when it comes to Stalin, while with Hitler there's not that much discussion that is allowed, so naturally you have a much wider variation of estimates. Although thankfully, we can narrow it down more than we can with Mao, who is the one man responsible for more deaths than Stalin, although not more deliberate murders than Stalin.

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Sergey Romanov
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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by Sergey Romanov » 15 Feb 2017 09:18

> For one, there are countless documented instances of the Soviet government destroying documents, such as Beria, Shelepin and Khrushchev to name a few.

It is true that some documents about individual crimes (e.g. Khrushchev's) were purged but that doesn't affect the overall statistics (incl. the contemporary summary documents).

> A perfect example is Katyn. Shelepin destroyed the Katyn order

This example is pretty bad. Nobody has destroyed any order, we still have it. It is true that thousands of Katyn documents were destroyed and *yet* we know how many were shot and where, because we still have thousands more, because it's hard to destroy evidence of massive events which cause many bureaucratic, social and physical "ripples". Moreover, Katyn (and here I mean the whole crime complex, the killing of 22000 POWs and prisoners, not only the Katyn Forest massacre) was a very unique case and did not appear in the summary stats due to that uniqueness (see below). No other "hidden" mass massacres on such a scale are known (and we had known about Katyn before the documents were revealed). So using Katyn as a tool to discredit the general stats is largely fallacious: one actually has to show evidence that something else is missing, that there were other massacres on the scale of Katyn. Possible is not the same as probable.

> In fact, the Katyn murders alone show the execution totals in the Shvernik report as widely inaccurate for 1940 despite the fact that many went through the troikas so this shows that even formal executions were more extensive than listed in the Shvernik report.

Yes and no. As a figure of all people shot in 1940 it would be inaccurate. However Shvernik's commission clearly cited the general stats. The Katyn victims were never a part of the general stats since their cases went through a special troika (there was only one, specifically for the Polish POWs and prisoners "sentenced" to death by Stalin's order). Note that there were no other troikas at that moment, they were liquidated in 1938, so there was no and could have been no general troika stats for that year. It's like the murder of Mikhoels - it obviously wouldn't have appeared in the "executed" stats for the year 1948. So with that in mind, the general stats exist as a basis and to them we can indeed add all the other killings that weren't done through the usual bureaucratic channels *as long as there is evidence for them*. Mere hinting at incompleteness is not enough. Massacres leave evidence.

> These certainly aren't 5 times too high either since even the Gulag archives confirmed 1,590,378 deaths in the Gulag under Stalin, although this excludes deaths shortly after release owing to the horrendous treatment in the Gulag, which were quite common, deaths during transportation, labor colonies, which could have over 40% the population of the Gulag proper,

True, but let's not forget the other side of the coin: many of those deaths would have been natural (i.e. those people who would have died under best circumstances), and many if not most of those who died were not political prisoners (that is, many of those people would have ended up in the prison/camp system anyway in most societies, like thieves and murderers, so the principle that we can use e.g. when it comes to the Jewish deportations, that the Nazis who deported them to the camps without any reasonable justification were also responsible for any shortened life-spans, is not applicable here). So it could balance itself out. But such things are impossible to estimate.

> often involved the faking of the cause of death with a heart attack being the common listed cause, while some other murders were listed as suicides, which again makes all these totals too low

Not really, unless one alleges that it happened on the scale comparable e.g. to the Nazi murders in camps. For which one would have to cite evidence. If, say, 10000 death records were falsified in GULAG, that would still be below the rounding error compared to the overall stats.

> When you look deeper too, you discover discrepancies too great to be overlooked, such as the 2.75 million Gulag population the NKVD gave the 1937 census board, despite the fact that the "official" Gulag population on New Years Eve 1936 was only 820,881 + 375,488 in "labor colonies" for a total 1,196,369, which still doesn't even equal half the NKVD figure.

Even if there is such a document, it's just one incorrect (due to typos or whatever) summary document against the whole GULAG archive (which is open to researchers btw) full of the "low-level" documents. You can literally go there and make your own estimates, camp by camp. You can't make grand conclusions based on a fluke. That's not how historians work.

> Another example of these discrepancies is the 9.8 million total entering the Gulag for 1939-1952, which doesn't at all lineup with the 1.1 million arrests minus executions shown in the Shvernik report, even when you note that the Shvernik report covered only political crimes, that should give a figure of at least around 37.7% the 9.8 million figure, several times more than 1.1 million.

Where is the 9.8 mln figure from? And why this percentage?

> 17-18 million Soviets seems to be the most likely conservative estimate

More like an extreme maximum estimate.

> you have to basically believe the Soviet Government under Stalin, the most notorious falsifiers of history documented virtually all of their crimes, preserved them and then faithfully reported them

Since they recorded all this for their own consumption, in top secret stats, we can, of course, use these stats relatively safely (unlike, say, the public census data, etc.). Just as we can use the Nazi stats where we have them (e.g. the Höfle telegram, the Korherr report, the Einsatzgruppen reports, etc.). If the German documents on Babiy Yar say that around 34,000 Jews were killed, we can't willy nilly claim that actually 80,000 were, because we can't trust the murderous Nazis' own stats or something.

> For a comparison, nobody thinks only 68,864 died at Auschwitz, including only around 30,000 Jews simply because that's what the camp records say.

Because there is voluminous evidence, including numerous documents and testimonies, that those numbers only pertained to registered prisoners. I.e. there is a reason to think that these stats are not complete due to the fact that there was an extermination campaign. In order to draw an analogy with any other camp system one would have to show similar evidence.

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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by Art » 15 Feb 2017 10:43

MattRay wrote:When you look deeper too, you discover discrepancies too great to be overlooked, such as the 2.75 million Gulag population the NKVD gave the 1937 census board
No-no-no. The NKVD part of the census registered:
1) Personnel of NKVD organs and NKVD border and internal troops
2) Barracked personnel of police and GULAG camp guard and camps, colonies and prisons apparatus
3) Prisoners anв arrested in camps, colonies and prisons, settlers in labor settlements, children in children colonies etc.
Of them 2)+3) according to official stats accounted for 2.4 million. The difference between that and your 2.75 mln must be explained by 1)
official" Gulag population on New Years Eve 1936 was only 820,881 + 375,488 in "labor colonies" for a total 1,196,369
and 545 000 men in prisons (1.2.1937) and 916 787 in labor settlements.
So NKVD census actually provided a number lower than all those contingents combined which is usually explained by the fact that some labor settlements were covered by civil census.
An article discussing the NKVD census results:
http://ecsocman.hse.ru/data/123/924/1216/10Zemskov.pdf

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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by Art » 15 Feb 2017 11:59

Art wrote: Of them 2)+3) according to official stats accounted for 2.4 million. The difference between that and your 2.75 mln must be explained by 1)
Ok, according to another source, NKVD census registered:
1) NKVD troops and NKVD organs - 270 thousand
2+3) police, camps and prison personnel, prisoners, settlers - 2 380 thousand
Total 2 660 thousand. Page 27:
http://demoscope.ru/weekly/knigi/nasele ... 2-1991.pdf
To show the staggering losses inflicted on the Soviet people by the Dekulakization and Terror Famine campaigns, the Soviet population grew nearly the same total amount from 1920-1926 as it did in nearly twice the time from 1926-1937 despite the former period including the 1921-1922 famine
There are no completely reliable numbers for the 1920 population. The census held in 1920 was incomplete and didn't cover the entire territory. Andreev et al provide the following estimates for the Soviet population at the beginning of the respective year:
1921 - 137.8
1927 - 148.7
1937 - 162.5
So we have an average annual population growth equal to 1.8 million in 1921-27, and 1.4 million in 1937-1937 nothing like a two-fold difference.

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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by Sergey Romanov » 15 Feb 2017 15:04

Art, thanks for the link to the Zemskov article, I read it years ago but forgot about it now. Rosefielde in particular misuses this statistic. He is particularly known for having defended the inflated GULAG stats before the archives were opened, basing his fantastical estimates on various testimonies (it's like trying to gauge the Auschwitz death toll based on testimonies - you'll end up with 4-5 million victims "statistic").

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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by fuser » 15 Feb 2017 15:19

First of all 20 million number is ridiculous, no it's just unbelievable that over 10% of population was killed without disrupting population growth rate in a major way. And if we are arguing for who is worse where are threads about European colonialism? More people died directly or indirectly because of European colonialism than any Hitler or Stalin. Same dynasty still rules in Belgium and sits on throne in figurative capital of Europe which was responsible for literal and figurative rape and murder of entire nation of Congo, where is the outrage? But any person or place even with name of Hitler becomes headline all over the world. Note : I am not defending Nazism, it was a vile political movement but let's not pretend that it was the only one.

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Re: Stalins purges: Responsible for 20 million deaths.

Post by antfreire » 15 Feb 2017 16:09

Some people always have reasons to believe that the figures of deaths in the USSR that are provided by non communists are false or at least have been altered. So what is left then to believe, what Pravda published?

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