July 16, 2024
Recommended Books

No Moral Credit to Communism for “Not Exterminating Peoples” as Hitler Did to Jews

The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements, by Lynne Viola. 2007. Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York

“Nazis Exterminated Peoples (Jews): Communists Did Not”: A Multiply-Disingenuous Argument

Author Lynne Viola is a historian, and a scholar of the Soviet Union. Her analysis is invaluable. Communism is usually thought “not as bad” as Nazism which means, in practice, that Communism is hardly thought bad at all. Communism hardly ever gets bad publicity, especially in light of the Jews’ Holocaust. In fact, Holocaust supremacists have a conniption whenever the crimes of the Nazis (against Jews that is) and the crimes of Communism are compared. They whine about “double genocide”, making something definitive of the “fact” that the Nazis (allegedly) tried to destroy all Jews, while Communism never sought to destroy any specific groups. My review focuses on this myth.

COMMUNISM NOT EXTERMINATORY: UNLIKE HITLER, STALIN HAD NO NEED TO EXTERMINATE ENTIRE GROUPS

First of all, Hitler did not literally try to kill all Jews. He freed some Jews for money, made some Jews into Honorary Aryans, and made hundreds of thousands of Jews into “permanent” forced laborers that, with few exceptions, were not killed in the last hours of the Third Reich. [See my Big Bulletin: Never Again Holocaust Deserves No Special Attention].

The “Communism didn’t exterminate” argument assumes that Stalin and Hitler each had comparable needs and capabilities, which they did not. Stalin did not use extermination of peoples, the way Hitler did, because he did not have to! Unlike the Third Reich, the Soviet Union enjoyed vast territories to which to send “enemies” into internal exile, and their physical extermination was not necessary. See:

https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2024/06/06/revisited-double-genocide-validated-now/

[For a long time, Hitler considered a territorial solution to the Jewish problem (as Lublinland and Madagascar), until it proved impractical. Only then did Hitler switch to extermination of Jews.]

COMMUNISM NOT EXTERMINATORY: WHY THE SOVIET PREFERENCE FOR FORCED LABOR OVER PHYSICAL EXTERMINATION

Both Stalin and Hitler used forced labor (including Jews), but the Soviet Communists had a much stronger incentive for using forced labor, as opposed to physical extermination, than did the Nazis. The following statements by Viola make this clear:

“Soviet planners faced many economic and geographic realities that the revolution of 1917 had left unchanged. The task of attracting a permanent labor force to the remote, resource-rich territories of the north and east was a perennial problem for Russian Imperial government. Colonization, administrative exile, and serf or penal labor were common solutions since the time of Peter the Great.” (p. 58).

“Forced labor served as the foundation of the Gulag in all its manifestations…It was used in economic development, the extraction of raw materials for industrialization, and the colonization of the Soviet Union’s vast and remote northern and eastern lands. An army of peasants–joined by a motley assortment of other, largely déclassé, social elements and political prisoners–would serve as the human (working) fodder for the Soviet Union’s great leap over the centuries, its pharaonic enterprise of ‘building socialism’” (p. 186).

KULAKS UNDER COMMUNISM, LIKE JEWS UNDER NAZISM, WERE EXISTENTIAL ENEMIES

Holocaust supremacists have argued that, whereas Jews were targeted simply for being Jews, the “enemies of Communism” were only targeted, in a narrowly-tailored sense, for their specific deeds. This is far from the truth.

Officially, kulaks were condemned as a collective [and not in accordance with individual conduct] because they had been capitalists: They owned property and supposedly exploited other peasants merely by using hired help. (pp. 6-7). But this was only the beginning.

Both Stalin and Genrikh Iagoda (Jagoda) blurred the distinction between kulaks and other peasants. (p. 32). Viola concludes that, “…the kulak had been transformed into an abstraction, a repository for the projection of all the bitterness and cruelties of the old (and sometimes present) order. Like other enemies in the generic and collective meaning of the term, the kulak had been dehumanized. The kulak (if not the entire peasantry) had been transformed into an object, the infamous ‘other’ of the Bolshevik Party…” (pp. 110-111. Emphasis added).

Eventually, the kulaks under Communism were accused of trying to subvert state power. (p. 110). Viola adds that, “Although this threat [internal subversion] was little more than a paranoid and politically useful delusion, it grew phantomlike out of the reality of the chaos of official policy on the kulaks.” (p. 161).

This scapegoating of kulaks was just like that of the “all-powerful, malevolent Jews” of the Third Reich.

COMMUNISM NOT EXTERMINATORY? AN EXTERMINATORY INTENT IN SOVIET COMMUNISM

Just because there was no overall policy of destroying entire peoples, as the Nazis allegedly tried to do to the Jews, it does not mean that such impulses were absent in Communism. Viola provides some examples. She writes, “For others, remolding was not an issue for discussion. ‘We need to kill and destroy the lot of you,’ senior foreman Ragushniak, a Communist Party member, yelled at his special settlers in the Urals. Another official in the same area told recent arrivals from the Kuban, ‘we will destroy the people from Kuban, no one will live to return’…In Siberia, some officials looked upon deportation as the first step to the ‘physical liquidation’ of the kulaks.” (p. 111).

COMMUNISM NOT EXTERMINATORY? SO WHAT. COMMUNIST “REHABILITATION” IS LARGELY A MYTH

Holocaust supremacists argue that, whereas it was unthinkable that a Jew could be rehabilitated or reeducated under the Nazis, the “class enemies” under Communism did enjoy this privilege. So Communism was “not that bad”. In other words, whereas Jews were the unchangeable collective enemies of Nazi Germany, the status of the “class enemies” in Communism could change (improve) with time. Put another way, a former class enemy could become the “New Soviet Man”, but never could a Jew become the “New Nazi German Man”.

Is this so?

Ironically, some Jews were indeed “rehabilitated” under the Nazis. The Jewish forced laborers got a reprieve from their collective death sentence as Jews, and the “Honorary Aryans” were completely rehabilitated from their Jewishness, and could enjoy the same rights as Germans.

At the same time, genuine “rehabilitation” under Communism was somewhere between uncommon and fictional. Viola sagely comments:

“Moreover, the regime had doubts about the ultimate ‘transformability’ of the adult kulak population, supposedly raised in the spirit of individualism and petit-bourgeois enterprise.” (p. 102).

“The reality of the special settlements in the early 1930s was that there was little room for the reforging through labor and education that some in the party and OGPU envisioned.” (p. 112).

“In fact, it not in theory, the regime had little hope for the adult population of the special settlements. The ‘second dekulakization’ of 1937 and 1938 made that abundantly clear.” (p. 171).

“In the end, special resettlement was primarily about punishment, isolation, and the most brutal–and distinctly noneducational–exploitation of labor.” (p. 187).

“In the end, the Stalinist state of the 1930s was capable of ruling its vast dominions only by repression–force, coercion, threats, penalties, arrests…The idea of settlers opening up new territories, participation in ‘honorable’ labor, and being reeducated became little more than a hollow façade for a system that most settlers viewed as no more than an unwarranted penal, if not death, sentence.” (p. 190. Emphasis added).

Finally, the large participation of kulaks in the Red Army did not reforge them. (pp. 178-179).

COMMUNISM NOT EXTERMINATORY? IRRELEVANT. THE “REHABILITATION” FARCE

The stigmatization of kulaks extended to the children of kulaks. Viola cites several testimonies of the adult children of kulaks and concludes with the following:

“Young people branded with the kulak marker would continue to experience discrimination throughout their lives–in the form of denunciations, dismissal from school or work…” (p. 176). She further develops this theme:

“Special settler children were never entirely able to shed their ascribed status as class enemies…Even the NKVD despaired at times of genuine reforging…” (p. 178).

“What is clear is that their ascribed identity as kulaks could not easily be discarded…the kulak identity was in many ways defining. They would not forget their status; nor would the regime allow them to forget it, proving the ultimate hypocrisy of reforging. The kulak marker was indelible.” (p. 181. Emphasis added).

Not until the late date of August 13, 1954, some 37 years after the Revolution, was the exile of the kulaks ended (p. 179). Not until 1990-1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, were the kulaks pardoned. (p. 7). A rather belated rehabilitation!

COMMUNISM NOT EXTERMINATORY? SO WHAT? LEADING COMMUNIST JEW GENRIKH IAGODA MADE COMMUNISM EVEN MORE INHUMAN

Nazism is called radical evil: Communism should also be called radical evil, even though Communism not exterminatory. From the beginning, Iagoda worked to transform the kulak camps into permanent colonization villages (p. 54) and to make the kulaks into permanent colonizers of the North. (p. 55). Ironic to the “Communist rehabilitation” argument, Iagoda worked energetically to prevent the rehabilitation of kulaks and to prevent their return to their original homes. (pp. 150-151).

SOVIET ARCHIVES ARE UNRELIABLE

Too many scholars treat Soviet archives as gospel truth, including their stated very low number (400,000) of Poles deported to the interior of the USSR in 1939-1941. They should not.

Viola remarks, “Needless to say, the archives are not a repository of ‘truth’. Official documents can be highly tendentious, molded in form and content to reflect authorial intent…to present a black-and-white world of Communism and counterrevolution, good and evil. It is therefore necessary to approach Soviet documents with extreme caution, reading against the grain.” (p. 251).

In any case, Communism not exterminatory.

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