The Holocaust Compared with Stalinist Repression

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Upton_O_Goode
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The Holocaust Compared with Stalinist Repression

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:25 pm

Today (July 13) being the 80th anniversary of the call from the NKVD for representatives of all regions of the USSR to assemble in Moscow to discuss a planned counter-revolutionary campaign, it seems an appropriate time to note the very significant difference to the Holocaust (which is, I admit, fairly obvious). Even though the Stalinist repression was horrendous, by any measure, the victims were chosen because of things they (allegedly) actually did, not merely for their heritage. That is the primary difference that makes the Holocaust qualitatively different from the Communist repression.

That being said, it's certainly worth remembering that other repression, whether one chooses to call it a Holocaust or not (I don't). On 3 July, Stalin wrote to Ezhov that it would be necessary to take vigorous measures against the counter-revolutionaries, by which he meant anybody who had ever departed from his own line or had even appeared to do so. The idea, expressed in the infamous Prikaz No. 00447, was to gather lists of people to be repressed from all corners of the USSR, and have a "troika" in each region consisting of a leader of the local Communist Party, a member of the local NKVD, and a local official separate them into those to be shot and those to be sent to labor camps. The "quota" (a macabre term, to be sure) was to shoot 75,950 people and send 268, 950 people to labor camps. The old Bolshevik Stakhanovite spirit rose to the occasion. Within 15 months 390,000 people had been shot and 380,000 sent to labor camps. Talk about overfulfilling your norm!

Naturally, the standard of evidence for these decisions by the troikas was essentially invisible, and (just as Arthur Miller described in The Crucible), old grudges were often settled and coveted property obtained by denouncing one's neighbor in the course of the ensuing witch hunt.

Again, this was only one of several episodes of repression, and not the cruelest. That honor belongs to the forced collectivization and famine in the Ukraine during the 1930s.
"Reserve a part of your wrath ; you have not seen the worst yet. You suppose that this war has been a criminal blunder and an exceptional horror ; you imagine that before long reason will prevail, and all these inferior people that govern the world will be swept aside, and your own party will reform everything and remain always in office. You are mistaken."

George Santayana, "Tipperary" (1918)

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Re: The Holocaust Compared with Stalinist Repression

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:53 pm

Well, biggest difference is a certain cloak of legality, that of the troikas determining the guilt (vast majority) of those chosen and then an actual sentence of death or imprisonment.

The SS didn't bother, they (Einsatzgruppen, SS Cavalry, Order Police or their proxies) shot vast numbers of Jewish men and boys based on a very broad definition of the Commisar Order. Later this was broadened even more by including women and children.

Gassings started based on the availability of food supplies, there was no formal order of sorts making this legal. Selections were not based upon "guilt or innocence" (all Jews were guilty) but how useful a particular Jew was.

Nice topic.

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Re: The Holocaust Compared with Stalinist Repression

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:00 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:Well, biggest difference is a certain cloak of legality, that of the troikas determining the guilt (vast majority) of those chosen and then an actual sentence of death or imprisonment.

The SS didn't bother, they (Einsatzgruppen, SS Cavalry, Order Police or their proxies) shot vast numbers of Jewish men and boys based on a very broad definition of the Commisar Order. Later this was broadened even more by including women and children.

Gassings started based on the availability of food supplies, there was no formal order of sorts making this legal. Selections were not based upon "guilt or innocence" (all Jews were guilty) but how useful a particular Jew was.

Nice topic.


Very good points you make. A complete list of differences would be useful. Back in the days when the Right Wing was obsessed with Communism, it was a familiar right-wing mantra to say the Communists were as bad as the Nazis or worse. As you point out, the Communists didn't engage in the equivalent of a Judenjagd. It was easy to get denounced or suspected, but nobody just went around shooting people.
"Reserve a part of your wrath ; you have not seen the worst yet. You suppose that this war has been a criminal blunder and an exceptional horror ; you imagine that before long reason will prevail, and all these inferior people that govern the world will be swept aside, and your own party will reform everything and remain always in office. You are mistaken."

George Santayana, "Tipperary" (1918)

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Re: The Holocaust Compared with Stalinist Repression

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:35 pm

Look at the camp systems for both systems. You can equate the Gulag with the concentration camps to a certain degree, both housed prisoners considered a danger to the state. Both also based rations on the ability to work, i.e. hard workers received better rations than those that couldn't. This led to a terrible imbalance, weak or sick workers, those who needed the calories the most, received less and got worse.

But, there is no equivalent to extermination camps in the Gulag system. Nothing like Treblinka, Birkenau or Chelmno existed in the Gulag.

Now, there is some evidence that the Soviets used gas vans but that evidence is sketchy.

I went over the evolution of the Nazi gas van in this thread:

http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=28024


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