Magazine article Russian Life

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin

Magazine article Russian Life

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin

Article excerpt

Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, $29.95)

LENINGRAD

Anna Reid (Walker, $30)

THE DAMNED AND THE DEAD

Frank Ellis (Kansas. $34,95)

It is the great, cruel paradox of World War II in Russia that heinous, unanswered crimes coexisted with truly heroic, astonishing human achievement. That-be it out of fear or love of the Motherland or self-defense-Soviets fought so bravely to defend a system that treated them like cattle, confiscating from them the land, the bread and the peace that the Revolution had allegedly been all about, shipping them and their relatives off to Siberian labor camps, sentencing soldiers unfortunate enough to have been captured in war into "penal battalions."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Taken together, these three books offer a stunning and deeply documented indictment of the Stalinist regime. Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands is the most unequivocal. "At a great distance," he writes, "we can choose to compare the Nazi and Soviet systems, or not. The hundreds of millions of Europeans who were touched by both regimes did not have this luxury." Trapped between colluding or colliding total itarianisms, between 1933 and 1945, some 14 million Europeans perished as a result of non-combat, deliberate killing policies of the Hitler and Stalin regimes. And that is more or less a low estimate. The number could have been as high as 21 million, Snyder asserts.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The crimes, Snyder explains, were committed under cover of Big Lies, the pursuit of unattainable utopias: "Stalin's utopia was the forced collectivization of the Soviet Union in 9-12 weeks, Hitler's was to conquer the Soviet Union in the same span of time ..." When the utopias instead lead to catastrophe, Stalin and Hitler "blamed the enemy of their choice, and then used the death of millions to make the case that their policies were necessary or desirable. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.