Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin


 

 

Book Review:

 

"Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin" by Timothy Snyder

 

A monumental feat of scholarship, meticulously researched, and marked by a deep understanding of the killing fields that comprised the Ukraine, Poland, and part of the Soviet Union, during 1933-1945, Snyder, a Yale historian, has carefully documented the unspeakable with a new perspective that staggers even the most macabre of imaginations. 

 

Within the period covered by the book, and in what Snyder calls the Bloodlands, Nazi Germany murdered ten million people and Stalin another four million.  These stupefying numbers (not including Western Europe or other parts of Europe) occurred because of some events that had gone as planned and some that had not.  They occurred because of the personalities of two monstrous individuals, Hitler and Stalin, both of whom used their duplicity to rationalize their crimes to either consolidate their own power or to provide the justification for their acts.   Hitler saw the war going the wrong way in 1941 and shifted his idea of victory to make Europe Judenrein (free of Jews).  Stalin, when collectivization and modernization failed, caused massive starvation in the 1930s, created the “Great Terror,” murdering his own people by the millions through starvation, gunshot, and deportation to the Gulags in order to win a "victory" against his perceived enemies and the enemies of his brand of Communism.

 

This is a unique version of the history we are used to seeing in the countless books that have been written about World War II and the Holocaust.

 

Stalin's plans for modernization in the early 30s, causing great famine  and in 1937 and 1938, the Soviets identified kulaks (peasant farmers) as enemies of Soviet power also including minorities on his “enemies” list, instituting mass murder of his own people.

 

In 1939 Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland as allies. There followed a policy of “belligerent complicity,” involving the killing of women and children on both sides of a line drawn by the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart, Viacheslav Molotov. This line was drawn in the bloodlands, mostly the Ukraine and down the middle of Poland.

 

Stalin never suspected that Hitler would later double-cross him in 1941, ignoring many warnings from his ministers and foreign heads of intelligence.      This was followed by Hitler’s policy of General Plan Ost using the Western Soviet Union as a colony for Germany, wherein the local populace would be enslaved, murdered, deported or otherwise exterminated and then replaced with ethnic Germans. This plan had to be delayed, but when the Soviets were not conquered as quickly as Hitler expected, in 1941, Hitler then embarked on the Final Solution—the murder of all Jews he could touch. This would be his victory.

The two systems--Stalinism and Nazism, Snyder points out, created a symbiotic relationship, allowing each perversion to justify crimes committed at essentially the same time and place, an almost quantum mechanic of death.

 

This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in European history and the slaughter committed by civilized nations run by paranoid madmen--the nations of Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, and Wagner  and the other of Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff.  
Country
Estimated Pre-War Jewish population
Estimated Jewish population killed
Percent killed
253,000
228,000
90
65,000
40,000
60
375,000
245,000
65
90,000
80,000
89
64,000
14,000
22
8,000
120
2
2,000
?
?
France
350,000
90,000
26
Germany & Austria
240,000
210,000
88
70,000
54,000
77
650,000
450,000
70
Italy
40,000
8,000
20
5,000
1,000
20
Netherlands
140,000
105,000
75
Norway
1,800
900
50
Poland
3,300,000
3,000,000
91
600,000
300,000
50
975,000
107,000
11
90,000
75,000
83
1,500,000
900,000
60
43,000
26,000
60
Total
8,861,800
5,933,900

 

Bloodlands are in red, and do not include non Jews who were killed in the millions as well as the above figures.

 

USSR: Bloodlands


 
Human losses of the USSR in World War II (included in the above figures of total war dead)

Country
Population
Military
deaths
Civilian deaths due to
military activity and crimes against humanity
Civilian deaths due to
war related famine and disease
Total
deaths
Deaths as
% of 1939
population
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/58/Flag_of_the_Soviet_Union_%281923-1955%29.svg/35px-Flag_of_the_Soviet_Union_%281923-1955%29.svg.png Soviet Union
(within 1939 borders)[10]
168,500,000 [36]
8,700,000
to 13,850,000
4,000,000
to 9,000,000
6,000,000
18,000,000
to 24,000,000
13.6 to 14.2
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8f/Flag_of_Estonia.svg/35px-Flag_of_Estonia.svg.png Estonia
(within 1939 borders)
1,100,000[37][38]
50,000
50,000
4.5
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/84/Flag_of_Latvia.svg/35px-Flag_of_Latvia.svg.png Latvia
(within 1939 borders)
1,900,000[37][38]
190,000
40,000
230,000
11.6
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ae/Flag_of_Lithuania_%281918-1940%29.svg/35px-Flag_of_Lithuania_%281918-1940%29.svg.png Lithuania
(within 1939 borders[39][40])
2,500,000[37][38]
275,000
75,000
350,000
14.5
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/12/Flag_of_Poland.svg/35px-Flag_of_Poland.svg.png Poland,
Eastern Regions
(figures included with Poland)
11,500,000[38][41][42]
2,000,000
2,000,000
17.2
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/73/Flag_of_Romania.svg/35px-Flag_of_Romania.svg.png Romania
Bessarabia and Bukovina
(figures included with Romania)
3,700,000 [37]
300,000
300,000
8.1
Less: population transfers ethnic Germans 1939-1941
(400,000)[43]
Growth of population 1939–mid-1941
7,900,000[36]
Approx. Totals(borders 1946-1991)
196,700,000[36]
8,700,000
to 13,850,000
7,000,000
to 12,000,000
6,000,000
21,800,000
to 28,000,000
11.0 to 14.2