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The Distortion of History and the Construction of a Mythology: Stalin and Hitler as Twin Monsters


Domenico Losurdo

5. The Distortion of History and the Construction of a Mythology: Stalin and Hitler as Twin Monsters

The Cold War and the Reductio ad Hitlerum of the New Enemy

With the start of the Cold War, each antagonist seeks to classify the other as the heir to the Third Reich that had just been toppled by both sides. “No one”―observes Lukács―”would dare say today that Hitlerism, its ideology and its methods, belong completely to past history."544 Indeed, on this  the two sides appear to agree without much trouble. It’s just that, while the communist philosopher makes use of the term imperialism to compare Truman and Hitler,545 on the opposing side they resort to the term totalitarianism to unite Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union with one another.

The two categories are wielded like weapons of war. The effort to associate the new enemy to the old one isn’t limited to the denunciation of imperialism or totalitarianism. After having described the ideological course that leads to the triumph of the Third Reich as the process of “reason’s destruction”, Lukács feels it necessary to also subsume in the category of irrationalism the ideology of the “free world” led by the United States. The task is not without its difficulties, and the Hungarian philosopher denounces the “new form of irrationalism hidden away under an apparent rationality." Yes, in the “new situation” that’s been created, “it’s completely natural that in philosophy it’s not a German type of irrationalism that’s dominant, but the Machian-pragmatic type”, whose representatives are, among others, Wittgenstein, Carnap and Dewey.546

The difficulty of comparing the new enemy to the old is also felt on the opposing side. In sketching out The Origins of Totalitarianism, after having for quite some time insisted on the fatal role of imperialism, and in that sense having denounced Lord Cromer (who, by as late as the second post- war period, is included by Churchill among the heroes of the British Empire),547 Arendt completes the comparison between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union by referring, aside from totalitarianism, to the “pan-movements”, in such a way that another analogy emerges: the pan- Germanism of the first corresponded to the pan-Slavism of the second. This conclusion is the  finish line of a tour de force, yet more foolhardy than the one seen in Lukács: we will see Churchill compare the communist movement to a church characterized by an expansionist universalism and “whose missionaries are in every country”, in every people; in any case, Stalin’s supposed pan- Slavism calls upon the peoples of the colonies to put an end to the rule of the master race, something considered natural and beneficial by the theorists of pan-Germanism.

544. Lukács (1974), p. 772.

545. Lukács (1974), p. 848

546. Lukács (1974), pp. 775, 784 and 786..

547. Churchill (1974), p. 7313.

At that time, however, on both opposing sides, the principal concern is the construction of  analogies and symmetries. We are forced to smile when we read in Arendt that what characterizes the “pan-movements” (and, therefore, Nazism and communism) is “the absolute pretension of having been chosen”: the celebration of the United States as God’s chosen people profoundly marks the American political tradition and continues to be heard today in the speeches by American presidents! The exigencies of the Cold War clearly take priority over any other consideration, as is confirmed by the argument made in 1950 by a prominent American historian. He would oppose Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policy of allying with the USSR; with the start of the Cold War, he felt encouraged to strengthen his thesis of the political and moral similarities between Hitler and Stalin, such that he intensely dedicates himself to the total comparison of the two dictators. The first  insists on the “racial destiny of the Teutonic people”; the average reader could be reminded of the “manifest destiny” that, according to a long tradition, would oversee the unstoppable expansion of the United States; yet arguing and omitting in a similar way to Arendt, the historian cited here makes the Nazi theme of the “racial destiny of the Teutonic people” correspond to the “faith of Stalin and Lenin in the messianic role of the proletariat and the revolutionary international communist movement." Once again the celebration of the “master race” is central to Hitler’s ideology; the search for analogies and precedents for this ought to go in the direction of the regime of white supremacy long enforced in the Southern United States, to which Nazism made reference and that, in some form, continued to exist in 1950, the year of the cited book’s publication. Yet nevertheless, the American historian discovers that similar to Hitler’s theory of the “master race” is that which is in action in Stalin’s Soviet Union, where nearly “every important discovery” is attributed to “some unknown or poorly known Russian”!548

548. Arendt (1989a), p. 325 and onward; Chamberlin (1950), pp. 36-37; Losurdo (2007), ch. II, section 14 and ch, III, sections 6-7 (for the “chosen” nation in the American political tradition)

 The reductio ad Hitlerum by the former allies also includes the accusation of genocide. Possibly the first to move in this direction is the political front over which the communist movement and the Soviet Union have hegemony. In 1951, in New York, the black lawyer William Patterson, leader of the Civil Rights Congress (an organization committed to the struggles against both McCarthyism and the regime of white supremacy) organizes the publication of a book that is also an appeal to the UN to make it aware of the tragedy affecting African Americans: in the United States (particularly in the South) the regime of racial discrimination, humiliation, oppression and social marginalization remains in force; the rapes, lynchings, and legal and extrajudicial executions haven’t ceased, and the police violence is getting worse (in 1963 Martin Luther King will speak of the “unspeakable horrors of police brutality”). In making this long list of injustices and suffering, he makes reference to the convention approved by the UN in December of 1948 against the crime of genocide, and making use of the fact that this genocide convention doesn’t necessarily mean the systematic annihilation of an entire ethnic group; the book carried the clearly provocative title: We Charge Genocide. Possibly motivated by the strong opposition faced by this convention in American politics, the denunciation is translated into a number of languages: in the USSR it appears with an introduction by Ilya Ehrenburg, an intellectual of Jewish origin, who compares the Third Reich and the US to the degree that both are affected by a racist and genocidal frenzy, or at least potentially genocidal. The book obviously provokes outrage in the United States, and they respond by returning the accusation. A member of the committee that approved the UN convention declares that: “in the communist countries it’s official policy to deport entire populations on the basis of racial or national origin."549

While the start of the Cold War sees both antagonists classify the other as the new version of Nazism and its genocidal madness, with the approaching triumph of the West the game of analogies plays out exclusively to the favor of the victors. For the ruling ideology in particular, the absolutely identical comparison of Stalin and Hitler has become an obsession, reaching the point of presenting them as twin monsters.

The Negative Cult of Heroes

How have we reached this outcome? While attention is fixed exclusively on the Soviet Union and the Third Reich, we will see Gandhi equate British imperialism and Nazi imperialism in his  denunciation of colonial Britain and Nazi Germany. Researchers beyond suspicion of anti-Western bias have on repeated occasions compared the treatment of the colonial peoples, carried out but  also justified by the liberal West, to the genocidal practices of the Third Reich. This comparison is made in relation to: the deportation of the Cherokees ordered by Andrew Jackson (the president of the United States visited and celebrated by Tocqueville); the attitude assumed by Theodore Roosevelt regarding the “inferior races” (who should be met with a “war of extermination” in case of rebellion against the “superior race”); the treatment by England inflicted on the Irish people (treated in a similar way to the Native Americans and condemned to die en masse of starvation, by as late as mid nineteenth century).

549. Horne (1988), pp. 163-75; Rapoport (1991(, p. 193 (as it relates to Ehrenburg); Hofstadter (1982), vol. 3, p. 451 (as it relates to M. L. King).

 There’s more. The keys words in our time used to describe the horrors of the twentieth century emerge from the studies done of the liberal world of the nineteenth century: in specific reference to the “development of industrial capitalism” in England, it’s been stated that “the Gulag is not an invention of the twentieth century”; defined as a “totalitarian society” is that which in Australia devours those deported from England (often the poor condemned over petty theft, driven to it by hunger); finally, in regard to the tragedy of the indigenous peoples in America, Australia or in British colonies in general, authoritative researchers in turn spoke of an “American Holocaust” (or of a “final solution” to the Native American question), of an “Australian Holocaust” and of a “Late Victorian Holocaust”, not to mention the “Black Holocaust” (the deportation and then the enslavement of the survivors, one in every three or four), to which African Americans seek to call attention; and finally the “Canadian Holocaust” that we’ve already come across.

Even in regard to the events that have taken place under our watch, in authoritative news organizations we can read that in Afghanistan, an American protectorate, the captured Taliban members are put in a place that “resembles the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz” and that in Guantanamo there is, according to the words of Amnesty International, a kind of “Gulag in our times." Finally, it’s worthwhile to observe that a more impartial American historiography didn’t hesitate in making a comparison between the Anglo-American annihilation by air of entire cities (Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki) on the one hand, and the genocide of Jews on the other.550 But all of this magically disappears in the ruling ideology and historiography, just as it disappears the reality of the concentrationary universe that during the Second Thirty Years’ War arises even in the countries of a more consolidated liberal tradition, and that these countries, even after the defeat of the Third Reich, continued to operate for some time with anti-Soviet and anti-communist purposes, and that, at any rate, are expanded in the colonies or semi-colonies.

However colossal it may be, that omission isn’t enough to construct the myth of the twin monsters. Working from the comparison of the USSR and the Third Reich, they introduce the comparison of Stalin and Hitler, removing both from their respective historical contexts and political projects. Once the explosive contradictions that characterize them are removed―the Second Time of Troubles on the one hand, and the Second Thirty Years’ War on the other―the Stalinian terror appears as the expression of a gratuitous violence, motivated exclusively by totalitarian ideology, or directly motivated by the bloody paranoia of a single person.

Similarly suppressed is Hitler’s historical contextualization. He was born at the end of the nineteenth century. The “most painful” century in human history has not yet ended, the “century of colonization”, and above all else the “century of races”, which had the merit of having refuted once and for all the naive “ideas of universal brotherhood from the eighteenth century” and the mythology of the common origin and unity of mankind, the ideological tool that the “socialists” pathetically cling to, despite their explicit rejection by history and science.551 

550. Markusen, Kopf (1995).

551. Chamberlain (1937), pp. 997 and 33.

In 1898, it’s the Anglo-German author Houston S. Chamberlain who expresses that view, and he will later become particularly admired by Hitler, but at that time he’s acclaimed across the West. That is to say that, to comprehend Nazism it’s necessary to first study the political project that’s at its roots, and that political project isn’t just in reference to a single criminal or mad personality, but has various ties to other countries and political movements besides Germany and Nazism. In that sense, regardless of the artistic judgement of it, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht is unconvincing. To illustrate Hitler’s personality he makes use of a literary genre (crime fiction) which leads to misconceptions. It starts from a moral judgment, which is in fact constructed a posteriori. Nazism takes hold in a historical period in which the “evidence” in its favor consists of a racial hierarchy and a colonial expansion that often contains genocidal practices.

Certainly, to inherit such a tradition at a time when it begins to be strongly challenged, and to radicalize it, going to the point of seeking to put it into action in Eastern Europe as well, is a terrible development of that tradition, but it’s precisely a question of its development, not something  created out of nothing. In nineteenth century culture, there’s a widespread idea that racial “extermination”―Disraeli stresses―is the expression of “an irresistible natural law." At the end of the century Spencer laments that: “We we are entering into an era of social cannibalism, in which  the strongest nations are devouring the weakest." In the United States between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it’s commonplace for there to be appeals for the “final solution”, and the “complete and final solution” to the respective indigenous and black questions.552 Also around the same time in Canada, an authoritative government figure proposes the “final solution to our indigenous question."553 The horror and infamy of this radicalization remains the same, but it arises out of the experience of the failed attempt to build an overseas colonial empire, that at the outbreak of World War I is quickly eliminated by British naval superiority, which imposes on Germany a devastating and deadly naval blockade, even on the civilian population. Therefore they asked themselves: to continue being exposed to that terrible threat, or to build at all costs a continental empire, resorting to massacres and genocidal practices at the expense of the inferior races and following, at any rate, the classic and proven model of the West’s colonial expansion?

When it comes to the ruling ideology, any political project whatsoever disappears; the atrocities of the Third Reich are also expressions of a terrible madness of mysterious origins, but its name is nevertheless “totalitarianism." That is how they set up the comparison of Stalin and Hitler. They even make the superfluous (and perhaps embarrassing) analogy between pan-Slavism and pan- Germanism, something that Arendt insisted upon, though today it doesn’t appear to enjoy any noteworthy success. Everything revolves around the two (sick and criminal) personalities, on which they even sometimes trace biographical parallels.554

552. Cf. Losurdo (2005), ch. 10, sections 3-4.

553. Annett (2001), p. 6.

554. Bullock (1992).

 What stands out the most in these writings is the absence of history, and even politics in a certain sense. Colonialism, imperialism, world wars, national liberation struggles, different and opposing political projects, they all disappear. Nor do they even ask about the relations of the liberal West  with fascism and Nazism (who consider themselves the most authentic and relevant champions of the West), and with the old Russian regime, whose contradictions have for a long time been moving towards the outbreak of an enormous catastrophe. Overall, all of this is left in the shadows due to the absolute centrality given to two creative personalities, albeit evil in their creativity.

The Theorem of the Elective Affinities Between Stalin and Hitler

These two personalities―so the story goes―are not only morally and politically similar, but are bound together by a type of mutual attraction. To prove this they reference the Soviet-German pact of non-aggression and the demarcation of their respective spheres of influence. In reality, this pact, on the one hand, puts an end to the Diktat of Brest-Litovsk; on the other hand, it’s just one phase in a contradictory process that demarcates the spheres of influence by the great powers, something which begins in Munich and (provisionally) concludes at Yalta.555 In 1946, a few months after the conclusion of the Second World War, Ernest Bevin, a leading figure in the Labour Party and British foreign minister, saw the world basically divided “into three spheres of influence that could be described as three large Monroe doctrines”, demanded and agreed upon by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain.556 While the British Monroe doctrine quickly unravels, in 1961 during a summit in Vienna, John F. Kennedy, veteran of the infamous Bay of Pigs adventure, protests to Khrushchev over the success and dynamism of the Cuban Revolution: the United States can’t tolerate a regime that seeks to alter its hegemony in the “Western Hemisphere”, in one of the “areas of our vital interests”, just as the USSR couldn’t tolerate a challenge to its hegemony in its security zone, Eastern Europe.557

555. Gardner (1993).

556. Thomas (1988), p. 296.

557. Schlesinger Jr. (1967), p. 338.

One can consider especially odious the demarcation of spheres of influence based on the secret protocols of the German-Soviet pact, and point out the cynicism of the move that allows Stalin to gain both time and space; but it’s very difficult to reconcile such a condemnation with the thesis of the mutual attraction between the two dictators, by means of the theorem of elective affinities. In truth, immediately after the start of the war by Nazi Germany, Churchill eagerly welcomes the entrance of Soviet troops into Eastern Poland. Soon after, in addressing the leaders of Latvia, Stalin explains with great clarity the reasons for his policy toward the Baltic countries: “The Germans could attack. For six years, communists and German fascists have cursed each other. Now, in spite  of history, an unexpected turn has happened, but we can’t put our trust in it. We must be prepared ahead of time. Those who were not prepared have faced the consequences." Starting from the need to avoid the Third Reich's maneuvers in the region, the military protectorate, which Moscow initially appears satisfied with, is gradually transformed into true and proper annexation:558 so it was again put up for discussion the loss of territory suffered by Soviet Russia at the moment of its greatest weakness, while at the same time within the leadership group, there’s a growing tendency to carry on, without much limitations, the legacy of Tsarist Russia’s international policies.

In the usual evaluation of the German-Soviet pact the questions that are essential for its comprehension are completely missing: what agreements were previously signed by the Third Reich? How to explain the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union less than two years later, and what does Nazi Germany’s number two man (Rudolf Hess) have in mind when he suddenly lands in Britain on the eve of Operation Barbarossa?

In the race to reach an agreement or understanding with the newly installed regime in Berlin, Stalin clearly comes last. The Concordat between Germany and the Holy See happens on July 20th, 1933, and it guarantees the loyalty of German Catholics to the new “government formed in conformity with the Constitution” (verfassungmässig gebildete Regierung): a recognition that happens soon after the approval of the emergency laws, and with it the use of terror and the rise of the racial state, and the first measures against government employees of “non-Aryan origin." Two weeks earlier Zentrum was dissolved, the Catholic party whose militants had committed to “positive collaboration” in “the national front led by the Reich Chancellor."559 With respect to the Protestant faith, one can’t forget that the Deutsche Christen lined up in support of Hitler immediately after his rise to power, and did so by adapting Christianity to the needs of the Third Reich, reinterpreting the Protestant Reformation according to Nazi and even racist perspectives, theorizing a Church founded within the German “popular community” and based on the “recognition of the differences of nations and races as ordained by God."560

558. Roberts (2006), 38-45 and 55.

559. Ruge, Schumann (1977), p. 50.

560. Kupisch (1965), p. 256-58.

The Zionist movement at the time shows a similar willingness to gain the new rulers’ favor. Their press organ, Jüdische Rundschau, largely immune to the wave of prohibitions and persecutions which hit the German press immediately after the Reichstag fire, on April 7th, 1933, encourages Zionists and Nazis to be “sincere partners." It all results in an agreement on the “transfer” of 20,000 Jews to Palestine, who are allowed to take with them nearly 30 million dollars, a strong contribution toward colonization and to the process that would later lead to the formation of the State of Israel.561 Later, reacting to the “transfer” agreement, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem also seeks  Hitler’s favor. Now let’s look to the opposition political parties. The speech by Social Democrat MP Otto Wels is “very weak”, during the Reichstag session that concedes emergency powers to Hitler.562 It was the “Stalinist” communist party that first raised the alarm and organized resistance to the barbarism now in power.

1935 is also the year in which the naval agreement between Great Britain and the Third Reich is signed. Occurring after the start of feverish rearmament and the reintroduction of the draft, the agreement raises Hitler's hopes that they could reach a strategic understanding, with the recognition of Great Britain’s naval superiority and mutual respect between the two great “Germanic” empires: the British overseas empire and the continental German empire, which would be built through the colonization and enslavement of Eastern Europe. It’s rightly described as a “cynical attitude” from the government in London, which gives the impression of endorsing an infamous program previously and clearly described in Mein Kampf.563 It’s not shocking that there’s growing concern in Moscow, strong irritation in Paris,564 and unrestrained joy from Hitler, who then celebrates this as his “happiest day."565

Even more disturbing is Poland’s role. As has been observed, it becomes “totally subordinated to German policy” starting from the signing of the ten-year non-aggression pact with Germany on January 26th, 1934. The following year, foreign minister Beck declares to his subordinate: “There are two political entities undoubtedly condemned to disappear: Austria and Czechoslovakia."566 

561. Losurdo (2007), cap 5, § 1.

562. Hitler (1965), p. 238.

563. Shirer (1974), p. 453.

564. Baumont (1969), p. 161.

565. Recorded in Goebbels (1992), p. 867 (editors’ note 22).

566. Baumont (1969), pp. 92-93 and 281.

The alignment with Hitler’s program is obvious, and it’s not just a matter of words. “The ultimatum to Czechoslovakia in which Poland demanded the return of Teschen led Beneš―according to his own account―to abandon any idea of opposing the Munich arrangement. Poland until that moment had been Germany’s most useful ‘attack dog’ in the East, similar to Italy’s role in the Mediterranean." The Munich Conference doesn’t mark the end of the Warsaw government’s collaboration with the Third Reich: “If Hitler truly sought to enter into Ukraine, he ought to pass through Poland; and in the autumn of 1938 that idea didn’t appear to be a political fantasy at all."567 It even appeared to  have the encouragement of Warsaw. In January of the following year, during a conversation with Hitler, Beck states: “Poland doesn’t attach any significance to the so-called security system."568

Stalin has every reason to be worried and distressed. Before the Munich Conference, the American ambassador to France, William C. Bullitt, observed how important it was to isolate “Asian despotism”, thereby saving “European civilization” from a fratricidal war. After the victory achieved by Hitler, an English diplomat writes in his diary: “From being a fist aimed at the heart of Germany, Czechoslovakia now quickly became a fist aimed at the vital organs of Russia."569 During the crisis caused by the Munich Conference, the USSR was the only country challenging the Third Reich and confirmed its support for the Prague government, putting more than seventy divisions on a high state of alert. Later on, after the Third Reich’s dismemberment of  Czechoslovakia in March of  1939, Moscow delivers a strongly worded message of protest to Berlin.570 The reaction from other capitals was much more “restrained." As a result, the Nazi-fascist aggressors had successively devoured Ethiopia, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Albania and China thanks to the direct or passive complicity of the Western powers, inclined to direct the Third Reich’s sights and ambitions against the homeland of the October Revolution; to its east, the Soviet Union sees the pressure applied by Japan on its eastern borders. Thus emerges the danger of an invasion and war on two fronts: It’s only at this moment that Moscow begins moving toward a pact of non-aggression with Germany, noting the failure of the popular front strategy.

Carried out by Stalin with conviction and decisiveness, the popular front strategy had its costs. It had strengthened the opposition and Trotskyite agitation, especially in the colonies: what credibility could an anti-colonialism have which spared―so the argument went―the leading colonial powers at that time, concentrating instead on a country, Germany, which at Versailles had lost what few colonies it previously had? For the colonized peoples themselves it was especially difficult to accept that adjustment. Britain was widely discredited. In the spring of 1919 it not only was responsible for the massacre at Amritsar, that cost the lives of hundreds of unarmed Indian civilians, but it also resorted to “public flogging” and forcing the residents of the city “to crawl on their hands and  knees while entering or leaving their homes”,571 a dehumanizing collective punishment and a terrible racial and national humiliation. Later, while fighting the Second World War, the imperial government represses pro-independence demonstrations, using planes to fire upon them.

567. Taylor (1996), p. 259.

568. Wolkogonow (1989), p. 468.

569. Gardner (1993), pp. 36 and 44.

570. Wolkogonow (1989), pp. 465 and 460.

571. Brecher (1965), pp. 89-90.

These are the years when Gandhi asserts that “in India we have Hitlerian rule, however disguised it may be in softer terms”; “Hitler was ‘Great Britain’s sin’. Hitler is only the response to British imperialism."572 With the war over, Gandhi will go as far as paying tribute to Subhas Chandra Bose, who to achieve independence had fought alongside the Axis: “Subhas was a great patriot and had given his life for the good of the country."573

To conclude, it wasn’t easy for the USSR to switch to the idea that, despite appearances, for the colonized peoples as well the principal danger was the Nazi-fascist coalition, the German, Japanese and Italian axis, and particularly the Third Reich, determined to take up and radicalize the colonial tradition, resorting to the most extreme methods. For countries like Britain and France, the popular front strategy brought very little costs, yet they still sabotaged it. At this point, the USSR had no other choice but to reach an understanding with Germany, a move that was described as “a dramatic improvisation at the last moment”, which Moscow resorted to for lack of alternatives “in the immediate lead-up to a new European war."574

A radical change of course takes place that is often evaluated from an exclusively European perspective. But there’s no reason to ignore the repercussions in Asia. Mao Zedong expresses his satisfaction: “The pact represents a blow to Japan and help to China” because it “more easily allows the Soviet Union” to support “China’s resistance against Japan."575 It’s precisely for this reason that the Japanese consider Germany’s behavior to be “treacherous and unforgivable."576 As a result, the flow of Russian arms and munitions to China proceeds at a steady pace. The West’s position is very different:

Europe and America’s indifference left its mark on history, demonstrating that they had no notion of reality, they refused to make the most minimal effort in deterring the fascists in Tokyo; but it’s not just that, even worse is that the United States continued to send Japan petroleum and gasoline almost right up until the big attack on Pearl Harbor.577

572. Gandhi (1969-2001), vol. 80, p. 2000 (Answers to Questions, April 25, 1941) and vol. 86, p. 223 (interview with Ralph Coniston in April of 1945).

573. Gandhi (1969-2001), vol. 98, p. 293.

574. Roberts (2006), p. 5.

575. Mao Tse-Tung (1969-1975), vol. 2, pp. 271 and 275.

576. Coox (1990), pp. 898 and 900.

577. Romein (1969), p. 261.

Let’s leave aside Asia for the moment to concentrate on Europe. The mutual distrust between the Soviet Union and the Third Reich and the preparation for open conflict never ceased, not even during the months following the non-aggression pact. Even before signing, speaking in Danzig with the high commissioner of the League of Nations, Hitler explains:

Everything I do is directed against Russia. If the West is too stupid and blind to understand it, I’ll be forced to reach an understanding with the Russians and then defeat the West, so that after its defeat I can concentrate all possible forces on the Soviet Union.578

Judging by these words, the Führer’s consistent objective is the construction of a western alliance,  led by the Germans, to defeat the Soviet Union; if this alliance can’t be stipulated through a pact ahead of time, then there’s no choice but to impose it on the allies after their defeat; the temporary understanding with Moscow is just a means to achieve victory and thereby realize the necessary Western alliance for the definitive settling of accounts with Bolshevism. The pact of non-aggression is an instrument to achieve the Third Reich’s principal and permanent objective, which unleashes Operation Barbarossa and presents it as a crusade for Europe, calling upon on European countries and nations to participate, and they do participate, as a matter of fact.

Did Stalin count on the long or eternal duration of the pact? In truth, from the start he is aware of the inevitability of the clash with Nazi Germany: “we will be spared from the war for a little while longer."579 He takes advantage of this time to consolidate his country’s position. As early as November of 1939, from Hitler’s perspective, the country governed by communists appears determined to strengthen itself militarily, and it’s only willing to respect the pact according to circumstances and its own convenience.580 It’s a point argued by the Führer two months later: Stalin is cautious, he’s very aware of the balance of forces, but he’s clearly waiting for a “difficult situation for Germany”; he doesn’t even lose track of the weather, acting “more brazen” than usual during  the winter months, when he feels more protected from the Third Reich’s formidable war machine.581

578. Nolte (1987), pp. 313-14.

579. Montefiore (2007), p. 354.

580. Hitler (1965), p. 1423.

581. Hitler (1965), pp. 1653 and 1655.

The Führer’s concerns are anything but imaginary. Let’s see what Moscow’s stance was in late summer of 1940, at a time when, having completed the occupation of France, the Third Reich appears to be in the position of forcing Great Britain to surrender:

While Stalin relays to Hitler his confidence in a quick conclusion to the war, his diplomatic envoys and his agents abroad encourage all kinds of resistance to “the new order." The Moscow newspapers, that until then hadn’t spared the allies of ironic or scornful remarks, began taking on a more sympathetic tone toward Britain’s struggle, and encouraging French patriots in their struggle against Nazi domination. The German foreign minister was even forced to protest against anti-Nazi propaganda carried out by Mrs. Kollontai, representative of the Soviet Union in Sweden.582

What’s revealing is the meeting that takes place in Moscow on November 25th, 1940, between two of Stalin’s closest collaborators:

Dimitrov: we will carry out a policy of bogging down the German occupation troops in various countries, and, without drawing attention, we want to take this work even further. Would this upset Soviet policy?

Molotov: Naturally, this must be done. We wouldn’t be communists if we didn’t follow this line. Only it must be done quietly.583

Stalin also agrees with this line;584 he’s clearly committed to encouraging resistance to the Third Reich’s expansionism. Of course, this is heading towards a collision, and Stalin is aware of that, as shown by his observations and actions. November 7th, 1940: it’s necessary to be at the military level “of our enemies (and for us they are all capitalist states, including those who present themselves as our friends!)."585 

582. Deutscher (1969), pp. 633-34.

583. Dimitrov (2002), p. 245.

584. Dimitrov (2002), p. 258.

585. Dimitrov (2002), p. 241.

On November 25th of the same year: “our relations with the Germans are marked by apparent courtesy, but between us there’s a lot of tension."586

In the first months of 1941, the mask begins to fall off: “Currently the resistance against Hitler is encouraged [from Moscow] openly and from all parts." This is especially true with respect to the Balkans, where the dispute between the signatories of the non-aggression pact is  increasingly intense. In the Kremlin, Stalin welcomes the Yugoslav ambassador to Moscow and discusses with him the approach that should be used in opposing the Third Reich. Pleasantly surprised by this audacity toward those who aspire to rule the world, Belgrade’s representative puts forward a question: “And if the Germans, irritated, turn against you?." And the reply is quick: “Let them come!”587 The drafting of the friendship treaty on April 4th, 1941, between the USSR and Yugoslavia was immediately followed by Hitler’s invasion of the latter country. A few days later, in relaying the opinion of the Soviet leader, Dimitrov writes in his diary (April 18th, 1941): “The war  of the Greek and Yugoslav peoples against imperialist aggression is a just war”, and on this “there’s no doubt."588 The approaching clash with the Third Reich is increasingly apparent. May 5th, 1941, Stalin observes: “is the German army invincible, perhaps? No, it’s not invincible [...]. Germany now wages a war in the name of the enslavement and subjugation of other nations, in the name of hegemony. This is a great disadvantage for the German army."589

While the rapprochement between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union had provoked notable discomfort within the Nazi ranks, and especially for Rosenberg (“I have this feeling that the Moscow Pact will haunt national-socialism sooner or later”), Operation Barbarossa brings about a sense of relief: “the stain to our honor” has been wiped away, Goebbels writes in his diary.590 The Führer himself writes to Mussolini: “I am at peace with myself ”; the “agony” and the sense of  “abandoning my origins, my thinking, and the work I set out on”, these feelings that came with the pact of non-aggression have disappeared. Hitler―a contemporary historian explains―finally arrives at the “fight that for nearly two decades has been a central element of his thinking” and even his “psyche." Longed for since the beginning, the annihilation of Asiatic and Eastern Bolshevism would have permitted, in the conditions imposed by Berlin, the restoration of unity within the West and  the white race, in particular reaching a permanent agreement with the “British Empire”, that for the Führer continued being the “supreme model of domination and exploitation."591 

586. Dimitrov (2002), p. 246.

587. Deutscher (1969), p. 638.

588. Dimitrov (2002), p. 300.

589. Dimitrov (2002), p. 309

590. Nolte (1987), p. 313; Goebbels (1992), p. 1603 (16th of June, 1941).

591. Kershaw (2001), pp. 596-97 and 625.

Arendt’s affirmation, according to which Hitler “never had the intention of defending the ‘West from Bolshevism’”, but on the contrary “he had always been willing to ally with Stalin to destroy it”, is nothing more than her tribute to Cold War ideology.592

In truth, the leaders of the Third Reich were not mistaken in feeling relieved by the fact that, finally, with Operation Barbarossa, they could finally confront and eliminate (so they hoped) the true adversary, the eternal enemy. Even before Nazism took power, on August 12th, 1931, Stalin had described antisemitism as a type of “cannibalism." Upon the establishment of the Third Reich, he had reacted, on January 26th, 1934, with a firm stance against fascism and against the “German version of fascism” specifically: “Again, like in 1914, the parties of warmongering imperialism and the parties of war and revanchism take center stage." The “new war” that appears on the horizon would be especially barbaric: it would be the war “organized by a ‘superior race’, that’s to say the German ‘race’, against the ‘inferior race’, and especially against the enslaved."593 Stalin defended this concept later on November 25th, 1936, in the presentation of the new Soviet Constitution, which through its “profoundly internationalist” character opposed the “bourgeois constitutions [that] implicitly work from the assumption that nations and races can’t have equal rights." It’s true that  here the speech was of a general character, as shown by the references to the “colonies” and to discrimination based on “differences in skin color”, but it’s clear that the principal target was Nazi Germany, which embraced racial ideology as a state doctrine. It’s not by chance that Stalin insisted on the principle of equality among nations “regardless of their strength or weakness”:594 at this time the Third Reich was the champion of social-Darwinism at the international level. Still a few months from the start of the war in Europe, on March 10th, 1939, in warning the Western powers that their “dangerous political game” of redirecting the Third Reich’s expansionist drive “to the East, against the Soviet Union”, could end in “serious failure” (in other words, with a non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin), Stalin had called for an end to appeasement, the policy which “made one concession after another to the aggressors”, demanding the formation of a common front against the instigators of war.595

592. Arendt (1989a), p. 429, footnote 13.

593. Stalin (1971-1973), vol. 13, pp. 260-61 and 263 (= Stalin, 1952, pp. 527-28 and 530).

594. Stalin (1971-1974), vol. 14, pp. 68-69 (= Stalin, 1952, pp. 624-25).

595. Stalin (1971-1973), vol. 14, pp. 187 and 190 (= Stalin, 1952, pp. 624-25).

Totally rejecting the historical context briefly outlined here, Arendt describes the theorem of the elective affinity between Stalin and Hitler: the only man who the first trusted was the second, and the only man admired by the second was the first. After what we’ve seen, to speak of trust between the two sounds unintentionally comical, yet Arendt’s thesis of “Stalin’s pro-Hitler policy” is a mere tribute to Cold War ideology.596 In Moscow in 1937―Feuchtwanger observes―“everyone is of the mindset that a future war is an absolute certainty”, they see the “German fascist” as the enemy. The reason is obvious: “Our prosperity, the Soviets say, is in such obvious contrast with fascist theories that the fascist states, if they wish to survive, must annihilate us."597 Accurately predicted here is the war of annihilation that will be unleashed later by the Third Reich; far from easing up, the preparations for the war continue to intensify until becoming frantic during the months of the non- aggression pact.

It’s correct, however, that beginning with Operation Barbarossa, Hitler occasionally highlights the political and military competence of his great antagonist: is this confirmation of the theorem of elective affinities? During the Tehran Conference, while in friendly debate with Franklin D. Roosevelt (who tends to read Hitler in psychopathological terms), Stalin stresses however that their common enemy is “very capable” and only this can explain the extraordinary results initially achieved;598 is this another confirmation of the thesis that’s commonplace today? In fact, the Soviet leader was right, not the American president! One must have a very primitive outlook on antagonism to think that authenticity requires ignorance of the enemy’s capabilities. Historians today are in agreement in admonishing the Führer for underestimating the USSR, yet Arendt works off her late and partial change of heart to construct a theorem of the elective affinities.

Hitler, moreover, is cited in a one-sided way. It’s quite understandable his effort at explaining the unexpected failures and partial successes on the Eastern Front (which uncomfortably dismisses the myth of the invincibility of the Third Reich and the Wehrmacht) by detailing the unusual characteristics of the new enemy. But such characteristics aren’t always described in flattering terms. As early as July 14th, 1941, commenting on the ferocious resistance Operation Barbarossa was encountering, the Führer states: “our enemies are no longer human beings, but beasts." And echoing the opinions of their leader, one of his secretaries writes to a friend: “we are fighting against ferocious animals."599 Obviously Stalin is among these “beasts” and “ferocious animals”, who on another occasion is seen by Hitler as a creature from “hell” (unterwelt), confirming Bolshevism’s “satanic” character.600 On the other end, we can note that both before and during the war, Stalin describes Hitler as the champion of antisemitic “cannibalism” and of “cannibalistic politics” based on “racial hatred."

596. Arendt (1985), p. 248.

597. Feuchtwanger (1946), pp. 76-77.

598. Roberts (2006), p. 182 (referencing the account by Charles Bohlen).

599. Kershaw (2001), pp. 621-22.

600. Hitler (1965), p. 2051 (declaration from November 8, 1943), and p. 1064 (declaration from

January 30, 1939).

We can add that leading political figures of the liberal West also formulated a positive opinion of the Soviet leader, to whom Churchill also expresses a feeling of human sympathy. Franklin D. Roosevelt himself, when speaking of the “marvelous progress achieved by the Russian people”, indirectly pays tribute to the person who leads them.601 Finally, in our days leading historians stress Stalin’s extraordinary military and political capacity, without disparaging Hitler’s. Should we include all these individuals, despite their great differences, within the theorem of elective affinities? In truth, when they pronounce that theorem, Arendt and her followers abandon the field of philosophical and historical investigation, pursuing belles-lettres instead.

The Ukrainian Holocaust as an Equivalent to the Jewish Holocaust

The two criminal personalities, mutually linked together by elective affinities, each create a concentrationary universe with great similarities between them―this is how the construction of the omnipresent political myth of our time proceeds. In truth, despite inaugurating this tradition, Arendt elaborated a more complex discourse. At one end, she mentions, although very briefly, the “totalitarian methods” of liberal Britain’s concentration camps where the Boers are confined, but also the totalitarian aspects present in the concentration camps that France’s Third Republic established “after the Spanish Civil War." On the other hand, in making the comparison between Stalin’s USSR and Hitler's Germany, Arendt points out some important distinctions: only in the second case does she speaks of “extermination camps." There’s more: “in the USSR the guards were not like the SS, a type of elite force trained to commit crimes." As is confirmed by the analysis from a witness who passed through the tragic experience of both concentrationary universes: “The Russians [...] never showed the sadism of the Nazis [...]. Our Russian guards were good people and not sadists, but they scrupulously followed the rules of that inhuman system."602 In our time, however, the references to the liberal West, and the mere mention of different kinds of concentrationary universes in which the liberal West was implicated, have now disappeared; the entire discourse centers on the similarity between the Gulag and the Konzentrationslager.

601. Butler (2005), p. 82 (message from August 8, 1942).

602. Arendt (1989a), pp. 602-03 and 614-15.

For such a comparison to be persuasive, they must first inflate the numbers of the Stalinian terror. Recently, an American researcher calculated that the executions that actually took place reached a  tenth of the usual estimates.603 It’s clear, obviously, that the horror of that repression is always on a large scale. However, the audacity of certain historians and ideologues is significant. Nor do they limit themselves to inflating the numbers; in a political and historical void the construction of the monstrous twins can take it a step further: the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany against the Jews, especially starting from the stalemate on the Eastern Front, corresponds to the earlier holocaust (starting in the thirties); in this second case it was a matter of a planned “terror famine” that ended up becoming an “immense Bergen Belsen”, that’s to say an immense extermination camp.604

It was Robert Conquest who particularly distinguished himself in spreading this thesis. His critics accuse him of having worked as a disinformation agent for British intelligence services, and of having studied the Ukrainian case through the perspective of that profession.605 Even his admirers recognize a point that doesn’t diminish in importance: Conquest is “a veteran of the Cold War” and wrote his book in the context of a “political-cultural operation” that was ultimately led by U.S. president Ronald Reagan and which achieved “numerous successes: on the one hand, significantly putting into the focus of international debate the value and limits of Gorbachev’s reforms, and on the other hand, it powerfully influenced the radicalization of separatist ambitions in Ukraine."606 In other words, the book was published in the atmosphere of a “political-cultural operation” that  aimed to deliver the final and decisive blow to the Soviet Union, exposing it as responsible for shameful acts completely identical to those committed by the Third Reich, and encouraging its disintegration by making a people victimized in a “holocaust” become aware of it, thus making coexistence with their tormentors impossible. It’s necessary not to lose sight of the fact that, in the same period, together with the book on Ukraine, Conquest published another (in collaboration with a certain J. M. White), in which he gives advice to his fellow citizens about how to survive a possible (or imminent) invasion by the Soviet Union (What to Do When the Russians Come: A Survivalist’s Handbook).607

603. Goldman (2007) p. 5.

604. Conquest (2004), pp. 11-14.

605. Tottle (1987), p. 86.

606. Argentieri (2001a), pp. vii-viii. 607. Tottle (1987), p. 86.

 Of course, regardless of the underlying political motivations, a thesis must be analyzed based on the arguments it offers. And the thesis of the “terror famine” planned by Stalin to exterminate the Ukrainian people may prove to be more credible than the thesis that Reagan’s United States ran the risk of being invaded by Gorbachev’s USSR! Therefore, let’s concentrate our attention on Ukraine in the first years of the 1930s. In 1934, upon returning from a trip to the Soviet Union that had also taken him to Ukraine, the French prime minister, Édouard Herriot, denies not only its planned character, but also the extent and seriousness of the famine.608 These declarations, made by a leader of a country that in the following year would sign an alliance treaty with the USSR, are generally considered unreliable. However, the testimony contained in the diplomatic reports by fascist Italy are beyond suspicion. Even in the period in which the repression of “counter-revolutionaries” is at its cruelest, it is combined with initiatives that go in a different and opposite direction: the soldiers “are sent to the rural areas to collaborate in the work in the fields” and “workers come to repair farming equipment”; together with “the effort to destroy any hint of Ukrainian separatism”, we witness a “policy of promoting the Ukrainian national character” which seeks to attract “the Ukrainians of Poland for a possible and sought after union with the USSR”; and this objective is pursued by favoring the free expression of the Ukrainian language, culture and tradition.609 Did Stalin seek to attract “the Ukrainians of Poland” into uniting with Soviet Ukrainians by exterminating the latter through starvation? From what we can tell, soon after the start of World War II, the Soviet troops who stormed into the Ukrainian territory until that moment occupied by Poland were warmly welcomed by the local population.610

Now let’s see the image that arises from the statements by Stalin’s other enemies, this time from within the communist movement. Trotsky, was born in Ukraine (as it is known), and who in the last years of his life repeatedly addressed the subject of his homeland, taking a position in favor of the pro-independence movement: he condemns the ferocity of the repression but, despite not sparing Stalin of accusations (in a number of occasions comparing him to Hitler), he makes no mentions of the so-called “holocaust of hunger” organized from Moscow.611 Trotsky stresses that “the Ukrainian masses are driven by an irreconcilable hostility toward the Soviet bureaucracy”, but identifies the reason for such hostility in the “repression of Ukrainian independence." Judging by this thesis popular nowadays, the Holodomor had taken place at the start of the 1930s, however according to Trotsky “the Ukrainian problem has intensified at the start of this year”, that’s to say 1939.612 Like Stalin, the leader of the anti-Stalinist opposition also wanted to unify all Ukrainians, although this time not within the USSR, but rather in an independent state. Would it have made sense  to formulate that project while remaining totally silent on the genocide that had already taken place? 

608. Tottle (1987), p. 15.

609. Losurdo (1996), cap. V, § 9.

610. Wolkogonow (1989), p. 484; Mayer (2000), pp. 670-71.

611. Trotsky (1988), pp. 1173.

612. Trotsky (1988), pp. 1241 and 1243.

 In Trotsky’s opinion, the treachery of the Soviet bureaucracy consists of this: it erected monuments to the great national poet, Taras Shevchenko, but only to force the Ukrainian people to pay homage to their Moscovite oppressors in the language of their national poet.613 As one can see, he does not speak of genocide, nor even ethnocide; for however strong the condemnation of the Stalinian regime may be, he doesn’t accuse it of either the physical or cultural destruction of the Ukrainian people. Whether inside or outside the communist movement, the enemies of Stalin converge on this essential acknowledgement.

The fragility and the instrumentalization of the analogy between the Holodomor and the “final solution” is starting to become clear. Hitler and other Nazi leaders explicitly and repeatedly proclaimed that it’s necessary to proceed toward the annihilation of the Jews, compared to  a bacteria, a virus, a pathogenic agent, whose extermination would allow for society to become healthy again. It would be useless to search for similar declarations by Soviet leaders with regards to the Ukrainian people (or Jewish people). It could be more interesting to compare the policy of Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany in relation, in both cases, to Ukraine. Hitler proclaimed on various occasions that Ukrainians, like all “subjugated peoples”, must be kept at the proper distance away from culture and education; it’s necessary to also destroy their historical memory; it would be good  if they didn’t even know how to “read and write."614 And that’s not all. One could “do well without” 80% to 90% of the local population.615 Above all else, one could totally do well without the intellectual classes. Their liquidation is the condition for transforming the subjugated people into a hereditary caste of slaves or semi-slaves, destined to work and die in service to the master race. The Nazi program is later clarified by Himmler. It’s a matter of immediately eliminating the Jews (whose presence is important with regard to the intellectual classes) and to reduce to a “minimum” the total Ukrainian population to clear the way for the “future German colonization." That is how―the historian cited here comments―in Ukraine as well the “construction of the Nazi empire” and the “Holocaust” go hand and hand; and in it those very same Ukrainian nationalists take part, and they constitute the principal sources for Conquest’s book and will later act as his principal propagandists.616

Relative to the Third Reich, Soviet power moves in the precise opposite direction. We learned of the affirmative action policy, promoted by Soviet power in relation to national minorities and Ukrainian “brothers and comrades”, to take the words used by Stalin soon after the October Revolution.617 In effect, who most decisively promotes “affirmative action” in favor of the Ukrainian people is precisely that figure who today is considered responsible for the Holodomor.

613. Trotsky (1988), pp. 1174-75.

614. Hitler (1989), p. 215.

615. Kershaw (2001), p. 668.

616. Lower (2005), pp. 8 and onward; Sabrin (1991), pp. 3-13; Tottle (1987), pp. 75.

617. Stalin (1971-1973), vol. 4, p. 6 (= Stalin, 1952-1956, vol. 4, p. 17).

  In 1921 he rejects the notion of those for whom “the Ukrainian Republic and the Ukrainian nation were an invention of the Germans." No; “it’s evident that the Ukrainian nation exists and that communists should develop its culture."618 Starting from that basis, they carry out the “Ukrainization” of culture, schools, the press, publishers, party cadre and the state apparatus. Lazar Kaganovich, who is a loyal associate to Stalin, and who in March of 1925 becomes party secretary in Ukraine, gives particular attention to that policy.619 The results don’t take very long: in 1931 the publication of books in Ukrainian “reaches its peak of 6,218 out of 8,086 titles, nearly 77%”, while “the percentage of Russians in the party, around 72% in 1922, had been reduced to 52%." It’s also necessary to have in mind the development of the Ukrainian industrial apparatus, Stalin again insisting on its importance.620

One can seek to minimize all of this, referring to the persistent monopoly on power exercised in Moscow by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. However, that policy of Ukrainization has such a strong impact that it is forced to confront resistance from Russians:

The former in any case were disillusioned with the solution given to the national question in the USSR. The equalization of Russia with the other federal republics shocked them, the rights extended to minorities within the Russian Republic irritated them, the anti-Russian rhetoric of the regime angered them [...] and it weighed upon them the fact that Russians were the only nationality of the federation that didn’t have a party of their own, nor a science academy of their own.621

Not only does it not make sense to compare the Soviet policies to that of the Nazis, but the first, in fact, proves to be fully superior to that of the Whites (supported by the liberal West). Conquest himself ends up recognizing this against his will. Placing himself on a line of  continuity in relation  to Tsarist autocracy, Denikin “refused to admit the existence of Ukrainians." Precisely the opposite attitude of Stalin who praises “the Ukrainization of Ukrainian cities." After the success of  this  policy a new and especially positive page has been turned:

In April of 1923, at the XII Congress of the [communist] party, the policy of 618. Stalin (1971-1973), vol. 5, p. 42 (=Stalin, 1952-1956, vol. 5, p. 63).

619. Graziosi (2007), p. 205.

620. Graziosi (2007), pp. 311 and 202.

621. Graziosi (2007), pp. 203-204.

“Ukrainization” obtained full legal recognition. For the first time since the nineteenth century, a stable Ukrainian government included in its program the defense and development of the Ukrainian language and culture [...]. The Ukrainian cultural figures who returned to their country did it with the real hope that a Soviet Ukraine could also give life to its national rebirth. And in large part, for some years, they were right. Poetry and prose, linguistic and historical works had a wide and intense circulation among all classes, while all past literature was reprinted on a large scale.622

We have seen that this policy is in force, and even in full development, in Ukraine at the start of the 1930s. Of course, soon a terrible conflict and famine will follow; however, it remains a mystery how over such a short period of time it can switch from radical affirmative action in favor of Ukrainians to planning their extermination. It’s good not to forget that Ukrainian nationalist circles played an important role in the elaboration and promotion of the Holodomor thesis, after having carried out “many pogroms” against Jews during the years of the civil war,623 often times collaborating with the Nazi invaders, immersed in the realization of the “final solution." After having simultaneously functioned as an instrument of demonization and of convenient self-absolution, the Holodomor thesis becomes a formidable ideological weapon in the final period of the Cold War and in the program for the Soviet Union’s dismemberment.

A last consideration. During the twentieth century the “genocide” accusation and “Holocaust” denunciation were utilized in the most different ways. We’ve already seen a number of examples. One more should be added. On October 20th, 1941, the Chicago Tribune reports the passionate appeal led by Herbert Hoover for an end to the blockade imposed by Great Britain on Germany. A few months earlier the war of extermination was unleashed by the Third Reich against the Soviet Union, but on this the ex-president of the United States didn’t say a word. He concentrates on the terrible conditions of the civilian populations in the occupied countries (in Warsaw, the “child mortality rate is ten times higher than the birth rate”) and he called for an end to “this holocaust”, the blockade being useless in any case, given that it wasn’t able to halt the advance of the Wehrmacht.624 It’s apparent that Hoover is interested in discrediting the country or countries on whose side F.D. Roosevelt is prepared to intervene; and it should be said that it has been lost from memory this supposed “holocaust” for which the champion of isolationism blamed London and in part Washington.

622. Conquest (2004), pp. 65 and 79-80.

623. Figes (2000), p. 815.

624. Baker (2008), 411.

 Terror Famines in the History of the Liberal West

Moreover, besides distorting history, what completely invalidates the discourse by “the Cold War veteran” is his silence. One can start with the debate that occurs in the House of Commons on October 28th, 1948: Churchill denounces the widening conflict between Hindus and Muslims and the “horrible holocaust” that is overtaking India after independence was conceded by the Labour government, and after the dismantlement of the British Empire. Then a Labour MP interrupted the speaker: “Why don’t you talk about the famine in India?” The former prime minister tries to avoid it but his interlocutor insists: “Why don’t you speak of the famine in India, that the previous conservative government had been responsible for?”625 The reference is to the famine, stubbornly denied by Churchill, that from 1943-1944 caused three million deaths in Bengal. Neither of the two sides remember, however, the famine that took place some decades earlier, also in colonial India: in this case, it’s twenty to thirty million people who lose their lives. Often forced to carry out “hard labor” with a diet inferior to that provided to the prisoners of the “infamous Buchenwald Lager."  On this occasion, the racist component was explicit and declared. The British bureaucrats said that it was “a mistake to spend so much money to save a lot of black fellows." On the other hand, according to the viceroy Sir Richard Temple, those who had lost their lives were mostly beggars without any real intention of working: “Nor will many be inclined to grieve much for the fate which they brought upon themselves, and which terminated lives of idleness and too often of crime."626

With World War II over, Sir Victor Gollancz, a Jew who arrived in England after having fled antisemitic persecution in Germany, publishes The Ethics of Starvation in 1946 and In Darkest Germany a year later. The author denounces the policy of hunger that, after the defeat of the Third Reich, befalls prisoners and the German people, continually at risk of death by starvation. Infant mortality was ten times more elevated than in 1944, a year that was particularly tragic; the rations available to the Germans are dangerously close to those enforced in “Bergen Belsen."627

In the two cases just cited, it’s not Soviet Ukraine that is compared to a Nazi concentration camp, but the work camps of British subjugated India and the occupation regime imposed on those defeated by the liberal West. The latter accusation appears more persuasive, as is confirmed by the most recent and exhaustive book published on the topic: “The Germans were much better fed in the Soviet Zone."

625. Churchill (1974), p. 7722.

626. Davis (2001), pp. 46-51.

627. MacDonogh (2007), pp. 362-63.

 The country that had suffered the genocidal policy of the Third Reich, and because of that policy continued suffering shortages, was more generous. In effect, what led the liberal West to inflict death by starvation on those it defeated was not a lack of resources, but ideology: “Politicians and the military―like Sir Bernard Montgomery―insist that no food should be sent by Great Britain. Death by starvation was the punishment. Montgomery insisted that three quarters of all Germans were still Nazis." For exactly that reason fraternization was prohibited: it was necessary to not give a word and much less a smile to members of a people totally and irredeemably wicked. The American soldier was warned: “In heart, body, and soul, every German is Hitler." Even a young woman could prove deadly: “Don’t be like Samson with Delilah; she would love to cut your hair and then your throat." This hate campaign explicitly sought to remove all sense of compassion and therefore guarantee the success of the “ethics of punishment by starvation." American soldiers should also remain unmoved when faced with starving children: “in the blonde haired German child [...] lurks a Nazi."628

If the tragedies of Bengal and Ukraine are explained by the list of priorities dictated  by  the approach or the intensification of the Second World War, which imposes the concentration of limited resources on the struggle against a mortal enemy,629 then one can speak accurately of a planned terror famine with regards to Germany immediately after the defeat of the Third Reich, where the lack of resources plays no role at all, but is instead influenced to a considerable degree by the racialization of a people, who F.D. Roosevelt for some period of time has the temptation of eliminating from the face of the earth by means of “castration." One could even say that it was the start of the Cold War that saved the Germans (and the Japanese), or at least noticeably lessened their suffering: in the struggle against the new enemy they could be useful and valuable cannon fodder, offering their experience to their former enemy.

But it is useless to search for any mention of the famine in British colonial India or of the West’s Bergen Belsen in Germany in the books by the “Cold War veteran”, dedicated to pushing through a scheme constructed a priori through historical revisionism: all the Nazi infamies are only the replica of communist infamies; therefore, the Hitlerian Bergen Belsen is modeled off the Bergen Belsen  ante litteram for which Stalin is responsible.

Fully coherent with such a scheme, Conquest completely ignores the fact that hunger and the threat of death by starvation is a constant factor in the relations instituted by the West with barbarians, as well as with enemies that are compared to barbarians. After the Revolution in Saint-Domingue, fearing the political contagion from the first country in the Americas to abolish slavery, Jefferson declares that he’s ready to “subject Toussaint to death by starvation." Tocqueville demands that the crops be burnt and silos emptied should the Arabs dare to resist the French conquest in Algeria. Five decades later, with that same war tactic which condemns an entire people to hunger or death by starvation, the United States strangulates the resistance in the Philippines. 

628. MacDonogh (2007), pp. 366,363, and 369-70.

629. Cf. Losurdo (1996), ch. 5 § 10.

Even when it’s not intentionally planned, a famine is an opportunity not to be wasted. In the time period in which Tocqueville seeks to create a desert around rebellious Arabs, a devastating disease destroys the potato harvest in Ireland and decimates a population already heavily strained by the looting and oppression by English colonizers. In the eyes of Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan (charged by the London of government with monitoring and dealing with the situation) the tragedy appears to be the expression of “divine providence”, that thus solves the problem of overpopulation (and also the endemic rebellion of a barbarian population). In this sense, British policy was, at times, classified as “proto-Eichmann”, protagonists of a tragedy that could be considered the prototype to the genocides of the twentieth century.630

Let’s focus on the twentieth century, however. The methods traditionally used at the expense of colonized peoples could also be useful in the struggle for hegemony between the great powers. With the outbreak of World War I, Britain subjects Germany to a criminal naval blockade, whose significance Churchill explains in these terms: “The British blockade treats all of Germany as a besieged fort and explicitly intends to reduce the entire population to starvation, thus forcing it into capitulation: men, women and children, old and young, the injured and healthy." The blockade continues in force for months even after the armistice, and once again it is Churchill who explains the need for the prolonged recourse to that “weapon of hunger and even starvation, that above all else impacts women and children, the elderly, the weak and the poor”; the defeated must fully accept the peace terms of the victors.631

But with the threatening emergence of Soviet Russia, there’s now a different enemy. If Jefferson feared the contagion from the Haitian Revolution, Wilson is worried about containing the Bolshevik Revolution. The methods remain the same. To prevent it possibly following the example of Soviet Russia, Austria―in the words of Gramsci―faces a “brigand’s blackmail”; “Either bourgeois order or hunger!”632 In effect, some time later it is Herbert Hoover, high representative of the Wilson administration and future US president, who warns Austrian authorities that “any disturbance of public order will make impossible the delivery of food supplies and leave Vienna facing absolute hunger." And later it will be the same American politician who offers this summary, in which he explicitly boasts: “fear of starving to death kept the Austrian people away from revolution."633 As you can see, it’s Jefferson and Hoover who explicitly theorize the very “terror famine” for which Conquest denounces Stalin.

630. Losurdo (2005), ch. 5, § 8; Losurdo (1996), ch. 5, § 10. In Mayer (2000), p. 639, you can read a comparison between the Nazi “judeocide” and the Irish famine instead of the Ukrainian one.

631. Baker (2008), p. 2 and 6.

632. Gramsci (1984), pp. 443-44.

633. Rothbard (1974), pp. 96-97.

 We are in the presence of a policy that continues unabated in our time. In June of 1996, an article by the director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights highlights the terrible consequences of the “collective punishment” inflicted on the Iraqi people through the embargo: “more than  500,0000 Iraqi children” have “died of hunger or illness." Many others were on the brink of suffering the same fate. An unofficial magazine of the State Department, Foreign Affairs, reaches a more general conclusion: after the overthrow of “real socialism”, in a world unified under the hegemony of the US, the embargo constitutes the weapon of mass destruction par excellence; officially imposed to prevent Saddam Hussein from gaining weapons of mass destruction, the embargo on Iraq “in the years following the Cold War, has caused more deaths than all weapons of mass destruction in history” combined. Therefore, it’s as if the Arab country has endured at the same time the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the mustard gas attacks by Wilhelm II and Benito Mussolini, and still yet other examples.634 In conclusion: the policy of “terror famine”  for which Stalin is blamed is deeply embedded in the history of the West, and in the twentieth century is first put into practice against the country that emerged out of the October Revolution, and then finds its triumph after the overthrow of the Soviet Union.


Perfect Symmetries and Self-Absolution: Stalin’s Anti-Semitism?

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