Stalin's Genocides

Stalin's Genocides

Stalin's Genocides

Stalin's Genocides

Synopsis

Between the early 1930s and his death in 1953, Joseph Stalin had more than a million of his own citizens executed. Millions more fell victim to forced labor, deportation, famine, bloody massacres, and detention and interrogation by Stalin's henchmen. Stalin's Genocides is the chilling story of these crimes. The book puts forward the important argument that brutal mass killings under Stalin in the 1930s were indeed acts of genocide and that the Soviet dictator himself was behind them.


Norman Naimark, one of our most respected authorities on the Soviet era, challenges the widely held notion that Stalin's crimes do not constitute genocide, which the United Nations defines as the premeditated killing of a group of people because of their race, religion, or inherent national qualities. In this gripping book, Naimark explains how Stalin became a pitiless mass killer. He looks at the most consequential and harrowing episodes of Stalin's systematic destruction of his own populace--the liquidation and repression of the so-called kulaks, the Ukrainian famine, the purge of nationalities, and the Great Terror--and examines them in light of other genocides in history. In addition, Naimark compares Stalin's crimes with those of the most notorious genocidal killer of them all, Adolf Hitler.

Excerpt

This short book—really an extended essay—is intended to argue that Stalin’s mass killings of the 1930s should be classified as “genocide.” This argument is made more difficult by the fact that there was no single act of genocide in the Soviet case, but rather a series of interrelated attacks on “class enemies” and “enemies of the people,” metonyms for diverse alleged opponents of the Soviet state. Episodes of mass killing also took a variety of forms, some involving mass executions, others exile in special settlements and camps of the Gulag, where many hundreds of thousands died from the unusually harsh character of arrest, internment, and interrogation, on the one hand, and hellish conditions of transport, housing, sustenance, and forced labor, on the other.

The social and national categories of the supposed enemies of the USSR changed and shifted over time; the justifications for the assaults on groups of Soviet citizens (and foreigners in the Soviet Union) were similarly labile. Yet Stalin and his lieutenants connected these genocidal attacks to the tenets of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism and used similar police, judicial, and extrajudicial means of . . .

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