On 9 May 1995 the Russian Federation observed the fiftieth anniversary of the defeat of Germany in World War II. The night before, a gala concert was held in the State Kremlin Palace. The audience included many officers in Soviet uniforms, invited foreign veterans, and various government officials. There were two speakers, President Yeltsin on behalf of the federation and retired general of the army Viktor Kulikov speaking on behalf of the Russian veterans. In the course of his remarks, Yeltsin mentioned the number of Soviet casualties the war had cost--now estimated at 27,000,000 persons. Kulikov did not mention casualties, but he did make one remark that evoked considerable applause, easily more than had responded to the President's remarks. Kulikov called on the Russian people never to forget the system that had brought them this victory.
One of the purposes of this book was to examine the Soviet system as it developed under Stalin into what seemed a mighty nation state. Given its centralized command and control apparatus and its monolithic decision making system, the Soviet state under Stalin seemed to be ideally configured to become the superpower of the next millenium. The system had one fatal flaw. Its operator was a paranoid who was prepared to believe that there were people of many different backgrounds and origins who were constantly plotting to remove him and to destroy what he considered his personal contribution to world development and history--the Soviet Union and its satellites. As we have seen, Stalin arranged to surround his person with individuals who attempted to make him think that he