hi professor furr

fyi user swampman has been banned from at least one other internet forum for attempting to discuss your book, Blood Lies: The Evidence that Every Accusation Against Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union in Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands" Is False. Plus: What Really Happened: The Famine of 1932-33; the "Polish Operation"; the "Great Terror"; the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; the "Soviet invasion of Poland"; the "Katyn Massacre"; the Warsaw Uprising; and "Stalin's Anti-Semitism"

please keep up the good work

Edited by Constantignoble ()

Chapter 13. Bloodlands Ch. 10: Accusations of Soviet Crimes Near the War's End

Expulsion of German Colonists - Like Soviet Expulsion of Polish Osadnicy ("Settlers")

Snyder says, of the Germans expelled from Poland at the war's end:

Perhaps 1.5 million of them were German administrators and colonists, who would never have come to Poland without Hitler's war. They lived in houses or apartments that they had taken from Poles expelled (or killed) during the war or from Jews who had been killed. (314)

But the same had been true of the Polish imperialist "settlers" (Polish "osadnicy") sent by the Polish state after 1921 to "polonize" Western Ukraine and Belorussia, the areas seized by Poland from Soviet Russia by military conquest but in which Poles were a minority. Echoing Snyder's words they were indeed "Polish administrators and colonists, who would never have come to Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine without Pilsudski's war."

These lands were east of the Curzon Line. It is impossible to understand the history of this period and region without reference to the Curson Line. But Snyder never mentions it even once in Bloodlands. He writes of these areas as though they were "naturally" part of Poland, and therefore that there was something "unnatural," unjust, etc., that they should be reunited with Eastern Belorussia and Eastern Ukraine within the USSR. In reality Poland had conquered these lands through an imperialist war and treated their Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Jewish populations like colonial subjects in an imperialist - that is, brutal and racist, manner.

Poles Murdered Polish Jews

There were also many cases of Poles murdering Jews during the war to take their property and of Poles blackmailing Jews not to turn them into the Germans until the Jews ran out of money, and then turning them in. The cruelty and greed of these szantażysty or szmałcowniki (blackmailers) is commonly portrayed in accounts by Jews who hid in Poland during the war.

This is yet another way in which capitalist Poland resembles Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union was completely different. No one, not even Snyder, has ever accused the Soviet Army or Soviet citizens of acting in this way against Soviet Jews.

After the war was over there were many cases of Poles murdering Jews in order to keep the property they had taken from them while the Jews had been in hiding. The Polish Home Army, now underground "freedom fighters," and other Polish bands and gangs, killed a great many Jews, sometimes for their property, sometimes because, like the Nazis, many Polish nationalists equated Judaism with communism, sometimes because they did not consider Jews to be Poles and wanted Poland judenrein, "cleaned of Jews," just as the Nazis did.

Since he cites a number of the works produced by the researchers at the Research Center for the Holocaust ("Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów") Snyder must know about them, and Snyder remains silent about them.

Rapes of German Women by Red Army Soldiers

During the march on Berlin, the Red Army followed a dreadfully simple procedure in the eastern lands of the Reich, the territories meant for Poland: its men raped German women and seized German men (and some women) for labor. The behavior continued as the soldiers reached the German lands that would remain in Germany, and finally Berlin. Red Army soldiers had also raped women in Poland, and in Hungary, and even in Yugoslavia, where a communist revolution would make the country a Soviet ally. Yugoslav communists complained to Stalin about the behavior of Soviet soldiers, who gave them a little lecture about soldiers and "fun." (316)

Source (n. 7 p. 498): "...Yugoslav quotation: Naimark, Russians, 71."

Snyder does not tell his readers the source here, which is Milovan Djilas's book Conversations with Stalin. Published in 1961, it appeared long after (a) the events described; (b) the very hostile break between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union; and (c) Djilas's own rejection of communism.

So Djilas's account, published 17 years after the fact, might be inaccurate because of his bias - Djilas hated Stalin, and by 1961 had come to hate communism - because the passage of time had reshaped his memory of events; or because he had fabricated it. Or, it might be accurate. We can't know. The historical principle of "Testis unus, testis nullus" - means that a single "witness," or piece of evidence to an event, is not enough to establish that the event actually occurred.
See the explanation here.

This short passage illustrates why good historians insist upon source criticism - an examination of the source of the evidence. Any lawyer knows the importance of sources. If a defendant, or a witness, claims that a third party made a certain statement, opposing counsel is sure to ask: "What is your source? How do we know that statement is genuine?" But Snyder doesn't do this. He never does when it might call into question an otherwise perfectly good anti-Stalin or anticommunist statement.

So did Stalin say this? Given the source, we can't be sure. But one thing is certain: Stalin's alleged statement had nothing whatsoever to do with any rapes in Germany. Djilas states that it was made during his trip to Moscow "during the winter of 1944-1945" (p. 93). The war against Hitler was far from over and allegations of rape against German women had not yet been made.

Bottom line: We don't know whether Stalin made this statement - i.e. whether Djilas was reporting the truth or writing anticommunist propaganda. But we know it was not made with reference to Red Army rapes in Germany. Neither Naimark nor Snyder point this fact out.

On pp. 316-318 Snyder expatiates upon the widespread story of mass rapes of German women by Red Army soldiers. There are many Russian responses to this accusation, most of them defensive, some of them quoting accounts of exemplary treatment of German women by Red Army soldiers. There are also accounts of the rape of German women by Red Army soldiers who were then tried and shot or imprisoned. None of them have the kinds of well-founded total numbers that we would like to have.

The whole question has become so ideologically charged that it is hardly possible to get objective information. Nazi propaganda claimed a great many rapes, in order to strengthen resistance to the Red Army. Anticommunist propaganda since the war has made the claim of massive rape a central focus.

So, what was the situation? Were there "more rapes than could be expected" by Red Army men of German women? Most people want simple answers. But there aren't any simple answers here. The "massive rape" story is mainly spread by professional anticommunists who are not objective about anything else, so there's no reason to think they are objective in this matter either.

It has never even been established that there was a higher rate of rape by Red Army men - number of confirmed rapes divided by the number of soldiers - than there was in the other Allied armies. Also, the Red Army occupied areas that had sided with the Nazis and participated in the unprecedented slaughter of civilians and murder of Red Army prisoners, whereas much of the areas occupied by the Allies were anti-German. Other factors: German women could get abortions by claiming rape by a Soviet soldier, which must have led to some false claims. Allied soldiers could pay for sex with desperate women with food, cigarettes or other goods. Such arrangements were not considered "rape" though women in desperate need often had no choice.

The question of widespread rape by American soldiers, evidently encouraged by U.S. Army propaganda - moreover, in "friendly" countries such as France, rather than in pro-Nazi countries whose soldiers had participated in enormous atrocities in the USSR like Hungary, Rumania and Germany - has only recently begun to attract some attention. The issue seems to be that publicity about rape by Red Army soldiers started some years earlier than that about rape by American soldiers and has been vigorously promoted for anticommunist purposes, as Snyder is doing.
Jennifer Schluesser, "The Dark Side of Liberation," New York Times May 21, 2013 p. C1.

Was there a high incidence of rape in the liberated USSR? I have attempted to survey the Russian-language literature on this question. As far as I can tell no one has alleged that this was the case. That tends to make me suspect that anger and resentment towards Germans and their allies were a major factor in whatever rapes occurred. So in one respect this is part of the anticommunist "numbers game" - to fabricate or multiply alleged Soviet atrocities.

On the other hand, given the unprecedented level of atrocities and destruction inflicted on the USSR by the German armies it would be surprising if there were not a higher level of rape of German, Hungarian, Rumanian etc., women by Red Army men than there were among Allied soldiers. But it is impossible to get any precise figures.

So we really do not know. Historians ought to admit ignorance on the basis of lack of good evidence, which is very often the case. But lack of evidence does not stop ideological anticommunists from drawing the conclusions they desire and then using their own fictions to moralize, in the manner of Josef Goebbels' diaries.

As so often, Stalin's crimes were enabled by Hitler's policies. (318)

"As so often" what? What "crimes"? Snyder has yet to establish a single "crime" of Stalin's. This is Snyder's anticommunism in overdrive again. It seems clear that Snyder will stoop to any propaganda technique to dishonestly associate the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany.

Snyder Barely Refers to the Real Genocide: the "Volhynian Massacres"

The Germans had killed about 1.3 million Jews in the former eastern Poland in 1941 and 1942, with the help of local policemen. Some of these Ukrainian policemen helped to form a Ukrainian partisan army in 1943, which under the leadership of Ukrainian nationalists cleansed the former southwest Poland - which it saw as western Ukraine - of remaining Poles. The OUN-Bandera, the nationalist organization that led the partisan army, had long pledged to rid Ukraine of its national minorities. Its capacity to kill Poles depended upon German training, and its determination to kill Poles had much to do with its desire to clear the terrain of purported enemies before a final confrontation with the Red Army. The UPA, as the partisan army was known, murdered tens of thousands of Poles, and provoked reprisals from Poles upon Ukrainian civilians. (326)

Sources (n. 34, p. 500):

"Documentation of the UPA's plans for and actions toward Poles can be found in TsDAVO 3833/1/86/6a; 3833/1/131/13-14; 3833/1/86/19-20; and 3933/3/1/60. Of related interest are DAR 30/1/16=USHMM RG-31.017M-1; DAR 301/1/5=USHMM RG-31.017M-1; and DAR 30/1/4=USHMM RG-31.017M-1. These OUN-B and UPA wartime declarations coincide with postwar interrogations (see GARF, R-9478/1/398) and recollections of Polish survivors (on the massacre of 12-13 July 1943, for example, see OKAW, II/737, II/1144, II/2099, II/2650, II/953, and II/775) and Jewish survivors (for example, ŻIH 301/2519; and Adini, Dubno: sefer zikaron, 717-718). The fundamental study is now Motyka, Ukraińska partyzantka. See also Il'iushyn, OUN-UPA, and Armstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism. I sought to explain this conflict in "Causes," Reconstruction, "Life and Death," and Sketches.

This page contains the only reference in Bloodlands to the Volhynian Massacres of 50,000-100,000 or more Polish civilians by Ukrainian Nationalist forces armed by the Germans but acting on their own initiative. Snyder has researched these important and neglected mass murders and has published on them in the past. Yet he neglects them in Bloodlands. Why?

This was true genocide: an attempt to kill so many Poles that survivors would flee and rid the Ukraine of Poles completely. Even if the Soviet NKVD or army had been guilty of killing all the "Katyn" Poles - and we can now be certain that the "official version" of the Katyn massacre is false - that would be less than ½ to less than ¼ of the number of Poles murdered by the Ukrainian Nationalists. Yet the Volhynian massacres are scarcely ever discussed! Snyder himself spends only one-half of one paragraph on it. Why?
For a brief overview in Polish see Ewa Siemaszko, "Genocyd Polaków na Wołyniu i w Galicji Wschodniej (1942/1943-1946/1947)" (December, 2009). There is a Russian translation: "Геноцид Поляков на Волыни И В Восточной Галици".

Snyder follows contemporary Polish nationalist practice in virtually ignoring the Volhynian massacres in Bloodlands. The reason for this neglect seems to be that it is highly embarrassing to today's Ukrainian Nationalists, who heap praise upon the Ukrainian Nationalist forces as anti-Bolshevik "freedom fighters" despite the fact that they fought on the side of the Nazis and murdered, at the very least, hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles. The state of Ukraine has periodically declared the same forces who were guilty of these horrific and massive atrocities - the OUN-Bandera, the 14ᵗʰ SS Division "Galizien," later renamed the "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" (Ukraïns'ka Povstans'ka Armiia) - to be "heroes."

It can hardly be a coincidence that the Volhynian massacres are also neglected in today's right-wing, capitalist Poland. Poland follows what is often called the 'Giedroyc doctrine," named for anti-communist political theorist Jerzy Giedroyc who proposed that the mass murders by Ukrainian nationalists by "forgotten" in the interests of good relations with post-Soviet Ukraine, while the "Katyn massacres" be emphasized as a political toll against Russia. According to Polish historian Bogumił Grott:

Do dziś pamiętam, jak Jerzy Giedroyć w radiowym wywiadzie, dokładnie dwa tygodnie przed śmiercią, problem mordów UPA na Polakach skwitował krótkim: „należy zapomnieć."


I still remember how Jerzy Giedroyc in a radio interview given just two weeks before his death, briefly summed up the problem of the UPA murders of Poles: "We must forget them."
Bogumił Grott, „Wiktor Poliszczuk - historyk przemilczanych zbrodni, '27 Dywizja Wołyńska AK" Biuletyn Informacyjny, nr 1(101), styczeń-marzec 2009 Warszawa, s. 27.

Since Snyder follows this practice we note that he expresses his gratitude towards Jerzy Giedroyc:

The late Jerzy Giedroyc, ...helped me to ask some of the right questions. (421)

In the immediate post-Soviet period Polish researchers finally began to publish lengthy, well-documented accounts of the really hair-raising atrocities committed by Ukrainian nationalist soldiers against Polish civilians in order to drive them out of Western Ukraine. This brought attention to these horrific mass murders for the first time and caused a lot of embarrassment between anticommunist Poland and anticommunist Ukraine.

In 2003 the two highly anticommunist states organized a sort of "reconciliation" conference. Since that time the Polish side has relented somewhat. Both sides agreed that "It was a long time ago and everybody who did it is dead" - not true, of course, even today, much less a decade ago. They evidently want to bury the hatchet about all these mass murders, including retributive killings of perhaps 10,000-20,000 Ukrainian civilians by Polish forces, so they could get back to their primary business - blaming Stalin, communism, the Soviet Union, and Russia for all bad things. This attempt at coverup has been under way for the past decade.

The more publicity the Volhynian massacres got, the worse the anticommunist Ukrainian and Polish forces seem. Even the "Katyn massacre" pales in comparison! And this tells us something about the enormous publicity and propaganda given in today's Poland to Katyn. Clearly this is not at all about the victims but about anti-communism, and also about keeping anti-Russian sentiment alive. Polish nationalism is largely based on anti-Russian propaganda. This is a plausible hypothesis to explain why Snyder devotes less than a paragraph to these massacres.

Snyder asserts that the book by his friend Grzegorz Motyka, Ukraińska partyzantka 1942-1960 is "now the fundamental study." Hardly! Motyka's book is only partly about the Volhynian massacres. Much of the rest of it is about the "heroic" struggle of Ukrainian nationalist - and fascist - partisans against the Soviets.

Motyka has been a member of the "Instytut Pamięti Narodowej," the Polish "Institute of the People's Memory," a fanatically nationalist research-propaganda group funded by the Polish government and innocent of any aim of objectivity. The IPN's President takes an oath "to the Polish people." This is reminiscent of Nazi practice - who is to define what constitutes "loyalty to the people?" And who are "the people" anyway? Moreover, historians are supposed to be loyal to the truth, not to their own Volk.

Imagine what American historians would think of an organization name "Institute of the American People's Memory." It would be immediately recognized as a far-right nationalist effort and scorned by all respected historians. The IPN is primarily anticommunist and anti-Soviet. No objective historian would associate with it, just as no objective historian would associate with the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, California, a similar anticommunist propaganda mill in the guise of a "research center."

Yet Motyka appears to disagree with Snyder on the question of Volhynian massacres. Motyka wrote a long essay in Gazeta Wyborcza titled "Forget About Giedroyc: Poles, Ukrainians, and the IPN." He takes the position that the Ukrainian massacres of Poles were "one of the bloodiest Polish episodes of the Second World War and must not be forgotten." Motyka does not shrink from calling these massacres "genocide" (ludobójstwo). Motyka also admits that "some actions of the Polish underground could also be called genocide", such as the murders of dozens of Belorussians in 1946 or murders of 200 Ukrainians in June 1945, both after the war.
„Zapomnijcie o Giedroyciu: Polacy, Ukraińcy, IPN." Gazeta Wyborcza May 24, 2008.

According to Motyka there are very few memorials concerning these horrific mass murders in Poland today:

To wstyd, że do takich miejsc jak masowy grób w wołyńskiej Parośli można dotrzeć tylko leśnym duktem zrytym przez dziki.


It is shameful that places like the mass grave in Parośla, Volhynia, can only be reached only by a forest path cut through wilderness.
Parośla is in the Lublin region of Poland almost at the border of Belarus and a little north of the border with Ukraine. The tiny monument can be seen at the Polish Wikipedia page.

Motyka makes the gesture of mentioning Soviet "crimes" and falsely claims that the Soviets wanted to "annihilate class enemies" - something the Soviets never advocated. These are general remarks apparently obligatory for Polish historians today. If the Soviets, or pro-Soviet partisans, had ever done anything remotely resembling the mass murders carried out not only by Ukrainian nationalist forces but by the Polish Home Army and NSZ underground "in response" to the Ukrainian mass murders, the whole world would have known about it for decades. There would be many large, expensive memorials to the victims, a library of books exposing the "communist atrocities," and no doubt lawsuits for damages before the European Court of Human Rights.

The reality is that there is no such evidence that the Soviets and pro-Soviet forces ever did anything like this. This is another reminder that it is the Polish and Ukrainian "freedom fighters", rather than the Soviet Union, who most resemble the Nazis.

The point, though, is that Motyka does not advocate downplaying Ukrainian massacres, as in practice Snyder does. The fundamental study of these horrendous events remains that by Władysław and Ewa Siemaszko.
Ludobójstwo dokonane przez nacjonalistów ukraińskich na ludności polskiej Wołynia 1939-1945 (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo „von Borowiecky" 2000), in two volumes, 1433 pages in length. Motyka's work has been criticized as apologetic towards the Ukrainian Nationalists. See Zbigniew Małyszczycki, "Motykowanie historii". Russian translation, «Мотыкование истории».

A number of books are available in Russian. For a brief English introduction see the Internet page "Genocide Committed by Ukrainian Nationalists in Occupied Poland."
The Russian-language Wikipedia page is helpful as an introduction.

The eagerness of Polish and Ukrainian nationalist elites to "bury the hatchet" over 50,000 to 100,000 or more atrocious murders contrasts with the Polish elite's never-ending complaints about the Katyn massacres with comprised 1/4 or 1/7 the number of victims. Moreover, as we have discussed in a previous chapter the "official" version has now been definitively disproven. In like manner Snyder devotes less than a paragraph to these horrifying massacres while inventing Soviet "atrocities" left and right.

More False Numbers of "Victims"

Between 1944 and 1946, for example, 182,543 Ukrainians were deported from Soviet Ukraine to the Gulag: not for committing a particular crime, not even for being Ukrainian nationalists, but for being related to or acquainted with Ukrainian nationalists. At about the same time, in 1946 and 1947, the Soviets sentenced 148,079 Red Army veterans to the Gulag for collaboration with the Germans. There were never more Soviet citizens in the Gulag than in the years after the war; indeed, the number of Soviet citizens in the camps and special settlements increased every year from 1945 until Stalin's death. (328)

Sources (n. 36 p. 500):

* "On the 182,543 Ukrainians deported from Soviet Ukraine to the Gulag, see Weiner, "Nature," 1137."
* "On the 148,079 Red Army veterans, see Polian, "Violence," 129."
* "See also, generally, Applebaum, Gulag, 463."

In an article published since Bloodlands Snyder claimed even more:

At war's end, the Ukrainian nationalists were defeated by the Soviets, who killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and deported hundreds of thousands more to concentration camps. (2011-3)

This is all false. Snyder presents no evidence whatsoever that any Ukrainian civilians were killed, much less "tens of thousands."

According to the authoritative collection of Soviet documents published by the highly anticommunist "Memorial" society in 2005 the number of all persons deported from the Ukraine between 1944 and 1948 inclusive is 131,935. This number includes 16,996 persons from the following groups: German repatriates, family members of convicted traitors, convicted German citizens of the USSR (e.g. Volga Germans, called "Fol'ksdoich"), and those who had served in the German military or police formations. Subtracting these, the total number of Ukrainian nationalists is 114,969 (another possible total number from the same report is 114,936). (Stalinskie Deportatsii 630-1) These people were not sent to "camps" but were "exiled" (ssylka) to the Eastern USSR.

Snyder cites an article by Amir Weiner published in 1999. The citation and its footnote may be found in the Appendix to this chapter. As usual, the "devil is in the details" - the evidence.

Weiner's figure of 110,825 "nationalists killed" (see the first quotation in the Appendix to this chapter) comes from a secondary source written by a Ukrainian nationalist, as does the figure of 182,543 deported between 1944 and 1952. The number from Nikolai Fiodrovich Bugai, the leading Russian scholar on deportations, covers the years 1939 to 1945, meaning all the Polish "settlers" deported from the Western Ukraine in 1939-1940, as well as during the war. Bugai also explicitly includes deportations of Germans and others from this area (Bugai 12, 13). It tells us nothing about the period from 1944 onward.

Weiner claims the Soviets "emphasized almost total annihilation" since they "repeatedly failed to mention prisoners taken alive." This is false. Weiner is in error. Bugai is the acknowledged Russian specialist on deportations and is conveniently anticommunist and anti-Stalin. In the Appendix to this chapter the reader will find primary source evidence printed by Bugai with emphasis added at the passages referring to the large numbers of prisoners taken. Bugai cites primary sources - Beria's reports to Stalin - that speak of tens of thousands of prisoners and those who have turned themselves in.

Elsewhere Weiner uses and cites Bugai's work. So how can Weiner - Snyder's source here - state that "the campaign against nationalists" was "a war without prisoners"? How can he talk about "NKVD reports" failing "to mention prisoners taken alive, emphasizing almost total annihilation"? The answer appears to be that Weiner doesn't use Bugai here. Instead he cites Ukrainian nationalist historians. Ukrainian nationalists (like Polish, Baltic, etc. nationalists) have every reason to falsify and exaggerate Soviet "atrocities." This is the only way they have to try to excuse, or at least explain, the important role Ukrainian nationalist forces played in the Holocaust of the Jews and in the Volhynian massacres of 50,000 to 100,000 or more Polish civilians.

The Soviets did indeed "kill tens of thousands" in the Ukraine: not civilians, as Snyder falsely claims, but OUN-UPA fighters. No country would fail to combat armed bands within its own territory. Moreover, these forces had fought on the Nazi side and helped carry out the Holocaust, to say nothing of the mass murders of Polish and Soviet civilians.

As for the number deported, Snyder's claim of "hundreds of thousands" "deported to concentration camps" is fallacious. Sovetskie deportatsii, the collection of primary sources cited above, published in 2005, give the figure of 37,145 persons during 1944-1946.

Polian, "Violence," 129, cites the same number - 148,079. Here is the passage:

En 1946-1947, 148 079 "Vlassoviens," furent exilés pour une durée de six ans avec le statut de "colons de travail" dans les regions les plus inhospitalières de l'URSS. (129)


In 1946-1947, 148,079 "Vlassovites" were exiled for a period of six years with the status of "labor colonists" to the most inhospitable regions of the USSR.

Polian's source is a Russian study published in 1992 by Guboglo and Kuznetsov. However, it's just as likely that Polian just copied this from the end of the twelfth chapter of the notorious Black Book of Communism, since both the same number and same reference are given.

Snyder, remember, said that these were "Red Army veterans," and then referred to Polian. But his own source Polian calls them "Vlassoviens," men who had been recruited to Nazi armies, such as the Vlasov army. Snyder has lied about this to make it look to the reader as though Red Army soldiers were sent to the Gulag.

Applebaum, Gulag, 463 contains no information of relevance to this paragraph.

Snyder continues:

In a few days in October 1947, some 76,192 Ukrainians were transported to the Gulag. (329)

Sources (n. 38 p. 501): Motyka, Ukraińska partyzantka, 535.

Motyka, Ukraińska partyzantka, 535 does give number 76,192. But Snyder has falsified what occurred. In fact, they were not sent to the Gulag - that is, to camps - but were exiled. The relevant document - by Kruglov, Minister of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs, successor to the NKVD) may be found in the Appendix to this chapter.

Snyder Cares About "Elites." About Other People? Not So Much...


Men of elite families were killed at Katyn and other sites... (380)

Let's set aside for a moment the fact that Snyder has not even tried to establish what happened at Katyn, nor to inform his readers of the scholarly controversy that exists over this event. Once again, it is revealing that Snyder cares about "elites" so much. It is an example of Snyder's deeply reactionary way of thinking.

Of course it is a historical truism that all progressive social and political upheavals and revolutions target "elites." Slave revolts and peasant revolts throughout history; the English Revolution of the mid-17ᵗʰ century; the American Revolution; the French Revolution; the United States' defeat of the Confederacy in the American Civil War; the Russian Revolution, the Yugoslav, Chinese, and Vietnamese revolutions, and many others - all disproportionately targeted "elites" because those "elites" were the exploiters or their agents. History shows that the common working people can do without the wealthy "elites" very well indeed!

Leading about 120,000 special forces, he {Lavrentii Beria} rounded up and expelled 478,479 people in just over a week... Because no Chechens or Ingush were to be left behind, people who could not be moved were shot. Villages were burned to the ground everywhere; in some places, barns full of people were burned as well. (330)

Sources (n. 41 p. 501):

* "See Polian, Against Their Will, 134-155, for all of the cited figures."
* "See also Naimark, Fires, 96";
* Lieberman, Terrible Fate, 206-207";
* Burleigh, Third Reich, 749.

Snyder is wrong again. There is no evidence that anyone "who could not be moved" was "shot"; nor that any "villages were burned to the ground," much less "everywhere"; nor that "barns full of people were burned as well." The story about one barn of people being burned alive - not multiple barns, as Snyder claims - is a forgery, probably American in origin due to the clumsy literal translation of into Russian of American "intelligence slang." It is thoroughly discussed and refuted in the two works cited in this footnote:
Pykhalov, Igor'. Mestechkovye strasti v chechnskikh gorakh.. In his book (with A. Diukov), Velikaia obolgannaia voina, 2, chapter 2. It may be read online (in Russian). Nikita Mendkovich. "Khaibakhskoe delo." In the online history journal Aktual'naia Istoriia (Current History).

Snyder fails to inform his readers about this research. Does he even know anything about this issue? If not, why write about it - except to make anticommunist propaganda?

Lieberman, Terrible Fate 206-7 quotes a Chechen nationalist source that records only that some people did die on the journey. It does not record the number, for which see below.

Nikolai Bugai is the most authoritative Russian expert on deportations, and an anti-Stalinist to boot. Here is what he has written:

Operation Chechevitsa, which began on 23 February, was completed sometime during the third week of March. NKVD records attest to 180 convoy trains carrying 493,269 Chechen and Ingush nationals and members of other nationalities seized at the same time. Fifty people were killed in the course of the operation, and 1,272 died on the journey.

Other reports indicate that during the Cheka military actions and the resettlement 2,016 Chechen and Ingush anti-Soviet elements were arrested, and 20,072 firearms and 479 submachine guns were confiscated. (Emphasis added, GF.)

Naimark, Fires of Hatred 96, agrees with Bugai: "the NKVD reported only sporadic cases of resistance."
An associate of the Hoover Institution, Naimark is an ideological anticommunist, so he writes: "Anyone who resisted was shot." There is no evidence for this assertion. It is likely that those who offered armed resistance were shot, but they were few.

The "Numbers Game" Again, Falsified Once More

Snyder writes:

In all of the civil conflict, flight, deportation, and resettlement provoked or caused by the return of the Red Army between 1943 and 1947, some 700,000 Germans died, as did at least 150,000 Poles and perhaps 250,000 Ukrainians. At a minimum, another 300,000 Soviet citizens dead during or shortly after the Soviet deportations from the Caucasus, Crimea, Moldova, and the Baltic States. If the struggles of the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian nationalists against the reimposition of Soviet power are regarded as resistance to deportations, which in some measure they were, another hundred thousand or so people would have to be added to the total dead associated with ethnic cleansing. (332)

Sources (n. 43 p. 501):

* "Weiner ("Nature," 1137) notes that the Soviets reported killing 110,825 people as Ukrainian nationalists between February 1944 and May 1946.
* "The NKVD estimated that 144,705 Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and Karachai died as a result of deportation or shortly after resettlement (by 1948); see Lieberman, Terrible Fate, 207."

Snyder gives no source at all for his figures of the deaths of 700,000 Germans, "at least" 150,000 Poles, and "perhaps 250,000 Ukrainians." Nor does he give any evidence for his blaming the Red Army for whatever deaths did occur. Weiner's fraudulent claim of "110,825 people killed" has been refuted above.

Snyder gives no evidence for the deaths of 100,000 Baltic nationalists. Nor does he tell his readers that Nazi collaborators in the Baltics and Baltic participants in the Holocaust described themselves as "nationalists," hoping that the word "nationalist" would "justify" their anti-Soviet terrorism. We should recall that all fascists justified their fascism as "nationalism."

As for this claim of Snyder's:

The NKVD estimated that 144,705 Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and Karachai died as a result of deportation or shortly after resettlement (by 1948); see Lieberman, Terrible Fate, 207.

This too is a falsification. We have seen that Bugai published the NKVD report that 50 Chechen and Ingush died during deportation. We have no way of knowing how many of the 493,000 who were deported would have died during the same time period had they remained in their villages. Surely some would have, so the 1272 who "died on the journey" cannot all be persons who would not have died as a result of the deportation.

During 1946-47 there was a serious famine in the USSR. The famine was caused by catastrophic weather conditions. No doubt it was made even worse by the massive destruction of the war. Nor was the famine not confined to the USSR. According to Stephen Wheatcroft, who has written the latest study of the Soviet famine of 1946-1947:

The World Food Crisis of 1946-1947 was the most serious global food shortage of modern history, when famine simultaneously threatened Central and Eastern Europe, India, Indo-China, and China, and bread rationing was introduced in Britain for the first time ever. The British and American governments had requested food aid from Stalin to ease the World Food Crisis before they became aware of the situation in the USSR. The international context of the Soviet famine of 1946-1947 was strikingly different to 1921, when America had been able to provide large amounts of relief grain to Russia.
Wheatcroft, "The Soviet Famine of 1946-1947, the Weather and Human Agency in Historical Perspective." Europe-Asia Studies 64:6 (2012), 1004.

Claiming that the deaths of whatever number "by 1948" were "a result of deportation" is plainly dishonest. As Snyder notes, Lieberman makes this claim on page 207 of his book. His source is an early book of Bugai, who cites the number 144,704. Bugai wrote:

According to the NKVD Department on Special Settlements, among all deported Chechens, Ingush, Balkarians (1944) and Karachai (1943) during 1944-1948, 144,704 persons died (23.7%), i.e. in Kazakhstan, - 101,036 Chechen, Ingush and Balkarians; in Uzbekistan, - 16,052 (10.6%) persons (during a 6-month stay); in 1948 - 13,883 persons (9.8%).
Nikolai F. Bougai. The Deportation of Peoples in the Soviet Union. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1996, page 98.

In this same article Bugai also says that between 1944 and 1946 "1468 deported people died in Kazakhstan." This refutes the accusation that those who died "by 1948" died as a result of deportation. Neither Lieberman nor Snyder mentions this fact. Nor do they calculate the number of deaths above the normal mortality rate for the large population there. Bugai also discusses the extra provisions allotted by the Soviet state to deportees (pp. 117ff).

Immediately after the paragraph above Bugai adds the sentence:

The number of sources for this study is very poor.

Neither Lieberman nor Snyder mention that either. In fact, this short book by Bugai, published in English in 1996, is the translation of an article published in 1989 - that is, before the end of the USSR. Better documentation began to appear after the end of the USSR in 1991. In 1998 Bugai and his associate Gomov wrote the account quoted above. It appears that he does not repeat the death figures he cited in 1989. Lieberman (206-7) repeats undocumented stories of many deaths during the deportation. Bugai relates some of them too. But he also reports the official accounts, above.
Н.Ф. Бугай. "К вопросу о депортации народов СССР в 30-40 годах." История СССР 1989 (6), 135-144.

As others have suggested, it is very likely that the official, and very low, estimates of the deaths are accurate. There would certainly have been a head count at the end of the journey. Discrepancies would have raised the suspicion that, for example, NKVD men might have let some persons escape in exchange for bribes. Therefore it is unlikely that many - if indeed any - persons died and were buried along the route, in addition to those reported.

In his 1992 book Ikh nado deportirovat' Bugai quotes selections of a "report of the section of special resettlement of the MVD of the USSR concerning work among those resettled" and dated April 10, 1953 where the same number of those who died, 144,705, is also cited.

(...) С момента расселения до настоящего времени на спецпоселении родилось 82 391 чел., в том числе: детей бывших кулаков- 22 209, немцев- 22 210, чеченцев, ингушей, балкарцев, карачаевцев- 26 002, других контингентов- 11 970.

(...) Из общего числа умерших 309 100 чел. умерло после высылки на спецпоселение: чеченцев, карачаевцев, ингушеи, балкарцев- 144 704, немцев- 42 823, спецпоселенцев из Крыма- 44 887, калмыков- 16 594, турок, курдов, хемшинов- 14 895, членов семей оуновцев- 10 384, бывших кулаков- 30 194, других контингентов- 5958 чел.

Наибольший процент смертности имелся среди спецпоселенцев, переселеиных в 1944 г. Так, из общего количества переселенцев в этом году до настоящего времени умерло: чеченцев, ингушей, балкарцев, карачаевцев- 23,7%, крымских татар, болгар, греков, армян- 19,6%, калмыков- 17,4%, турок, курдов, хемшшюв- 14,6%.
- pp. 264-5.


(...) From the moment of resettlement {February 1944} to the present time in the special settlements 82,391 people have been born, including: children of former kulaks, 22,209, Germans, 22,210, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and Karachai 26,002, others 11,970...

The greatest per centage of mortality is among those special resettled persons who were resettled in 1944. Of the total number of persons resettled in that year to the present time there have died: Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachai - 23.7%; Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Greeks, Armenians - 19.6%, Kalmyks - 17.4%, Turks, Kurds, Khemshshiuv - 14.6%... (Emphasis added.)

It appears as though the relevant figures are for the period between "the moment of resettlement" - i.e., of deportation - "to the present time": that is, between 1944 and 1953. This would contradict Bugai's earlier statement that the period in question was 1944-1948.
Because of the excerpted nature of the document Bugai cites it is impossible to be certain what the period of time is.

Why Did Stalin Reject Marshall Plan Aid?

In 1947 it {the United States} offered economic aid, in the form of the Marshall Plan, to European countries willing to cooperate with one another on elementary matters of trade and financial policy. Stalin could reject Marshall aid and force his clients to reject is as well,... (335)

The Soviet Union did reject Marshall Plan aid - because it appeared to be an attempt to subvert its influence in Europe. Geoffrey Roberts writes:

Although the Americans were thinking mainly in terms of Western Europe, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were not excluded from the proposed aid programme. Indeed the British and French governments responded to Marshall's Harvard speech by inviting the Russians to a conference in Paris to discuss a European response to the plan. In Moscow, however, the Soviets were in two minds. On the one hand, they welcomed the possibility of American loans and grants, for themselves and for their East European allies. On the other, they feared that the Marshall Plan was an economic counterpart of the Truman Doctrine - a means of using American financial muscle to build an anti-Soviet alliance in Western Europe.

At the Paris conference in July 1947 Moscow's worst fears were realized. The British and French insisted (in accordance with Marshall's express wishes) that any American aide programme had to be co-coordinated and organized on a pan-Europe basis. This was seen by the Soviets as a western device for interference in the economic and political life of the East European countries. Such interference was completely unacceptable to Stalin. Consequently the USSR withdrew from all negotiations concerning the Marshall Plan and insisted its East European allies did not participate either.
"Historians and the Cold War," History Review December 2000.

Did Non-collectivized Agriculture "Save" the Ukraine from Famine?

Ukrainians returned to a country where famine was raging again. Perhaps a million people starved to death in the two years after the war. It was western Ukraine, with a private agricultural sector that the Soviets had not yet had time to collectivize, that saved the rest of Soviet Ukraine from even greater suffering."

Source (n. 44 p. 501): "Survivors of the famine mention this in their memoirs. See Potichnij, "1946-1947 Famine," 185.

Potichnij's study is published in a right-wing Ukrainian nationalist book and is not referred to by any expert scholars on the subject. The latest study of the 1946-7 famine is that by Stephen Wheatcroft. Snyder offers no evidence that uncollectivized Western Ukraine "saved" the Soviet Union in the famine of 1947 or, indeed, that collectivization had anything to do at all with the famine. As the quotation from Wheatcroft's article cited above shows, there was still a bread shortage in the U.K. although, of course, agriculture was not collectivized there. Wheatcroft says nothing specifically about the harvest in Western Ukraine.

hey swampman just so we're clear, you're not like, still manually transcribing this stuff right. like out of the book. like you're just copying and pasting it from the pdf right. please tell me you're just copying and pasting or my brain will hurt really bad.
[account deactivated]
having had a recent online chat with swampman in which we assessed his computer skills, i can safely say he is typing this all by hand

elias posted:

hey swampman just so we're clear, you're not like, still manually transcribing this stuff right. like out of the book. like you're just copying and pasting it from the pdf right. please tell me you're just copying and pasting or my brain will hurt really bad.

when you write things out, you remember them better


elias posted:

hey swampman just so we're clear, you're not like, still manually transcribing this stuff right.

The only reason I had time to do this is I got hit by another car yesterday and have decided not to walk this weekend in protest. I type 80+ words a minute in English and getting around 15 wpm in Russian

Edited by swampman ()

That sucks, hoping for your health & safety.

shriekingviolet posted:

That sucks, hoping for your health & safety.

Thanks, I still have continual issues switching the Н and И keys and never seem to hit т, ь, or б accurately, but I'm managing the anxiety and powering through

Dude... he meant in regards to being hit by a car. I thought that would have been clear... whatever. None of my business.
you can do it, swamp thing
[account deactivated]
Chapter 14. Snyder's Accusations of Soviet Anti-Semitism in Bloodlands Chapter 11

What is the Truth?

И вдруг на этом обсуждении премий Сталин, обращаясь к членам Политбюро и говорит:
- У нас в ЦК антисемиты завелись. Это безобразие!

- Так это было. Тихон Хренников о времени и о себе. М.: «Музыка» 1994, с. 179.


And suddenly during this discussion of the prizes Stalin turned towards the members of the Politburo and said:
- Antisemites have turned up in our Central Committee. It is a disgrace!

- Thus it Was. Tikhon Khrennikov about His Times and Himself. Moscow: "Muzyka" 1994, p. 179.

The Lie That Stalin Was Anti-Semitic

Snyder's book is subtitled "Europe Between Hitler and Stalin." He speaks of "twelve years, between 1933 and 1945, while both Hitler and Stalin were in power." (vii) Hitler committed suicide in April 1945.

So why does Snyder have a chapter that deals with events in the USSR from 1948 to 1952, when Hitler was long dead? The reason, presumably, is that Snyder cannot find any anti-Semitism by Stalin, the Soviet government, or pro-Soviet forces like the Polish communist-led People's Army (Armia Ludowa, AL). On the contrary: all the anti-semitism between 1933 and 1945, aside from the Nazis, was by anticommunist forces like the Polish government in exile, its underground Home Army and Ukrainian nationalists. And their anti-Semitism was immense!

Snyder supports, and is supported by, the political forces in present-day Poland and Ukraine that are fiercely anticommunist - Snyder approves of that - but are also anti-Semitic in their unguarded moments. They revere and honor the anticommunist forces of the war and post-war period - but these forces too were violently anti-Semitic. Snyder obviously cannot document any Soviet anti-Semitism before 1945 or he would have done it. So Snyder tries hard to find anti-Semitic acts by Stalin and the Soviet leadership after 1945, even though this violates the parameters Snyder himself has chosen for his book.

The final chapter in Snyder's book is titled "Stalinist Antisemitism." If one is going to sustain a comparison between Hitler and Stalin, as Snyder wishes to do, then it's important to claim, somehow or other, that Stalin was anti-Semitic. This is not easy to do, as the quotation from composer Tikhon Khrennikov's memoirs above shows. There is much evidence that Stalin vigorously opposed anti-Semitism. There is no evidence that Stalin was anti-Semitic and, consequently, no reason to think that he was. But Snyder tries to "square the circle" anyway. We examine his logical contortions and falsifications in the present chapter.

Did Stalin Murder Solomon Mikhoels?

Snyder introduces the chapter as follows:

In January 1948, Stalin was killing a Jew. Solomon Mikhoels, the chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the director of the Moscow Yiddish Theater, had been sent to Minsk to judge a play for the Stalin Prize. Once arrived, he was invited to the country house of the head of the Soviet Belarusian state police, Lavrenty Tsanava, who had him murdered, along with an inconvenient witness. Mikhoels's body, crushed by a truck, was left on a quiet street. (339)

This is false. Stalin did not order Mikhoels to be murdered. The documents purporting to "prove" this are crude forgeries. This forgery has been discussed in Russia for over a decade. IUrii Mukhin discussed the evidence of a forgery in Ubiystvo Stalina i Beria (2002). Mukhin has written some absurdities in his day, but his discussion of the "Mikhoels murder documents" is very cogent. Zhores Medvedev, a Soviet dissident with strong anti-Stalin and anticommunist credentials, wrote that he does not believe the story to be true either. Stalin i Evreiskaia Problema. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo 'Prava cheloveka', 2003, pp. 10-26. Snyder shows no familiarity with this issue whatsoever.
My Moscow-based colleague Vladimir L. Bobrov and I have an article pending publication that proves conclusively that the documents purporting to prove Stalin's murder of Mikhoels are crude forgeries.

Did Stalin's Daughter Overhear Stalin "Covering Up" Mikhoel's Murder?

Svetlana Allilueva, Stalin's daughter, overheard her father arranging the cover story for the murder with Tsanava: "car accident." (340)

Here Snyder is misleading his readers by significant omission. In 1966 Svetlana Allilueva, Joseph Stalin's only daughter, emigrated from the USSR to the West. In her first book of memoirs, Twenty Letters to a Friend, published in 1967, a year after her arrival, she wrote:

A new wave of arrests got under way at the end of 1948... Lozovsky was arrested, and Mikhoels was killed. (p. 196)
Svetlana's chronology is confused here. There was no such clear connection among the events she cites, for Mikhoels was killed on January 13, 1948, not at the end of the year.

A footnote to this passage in the English edition (p. 245) states that Mikhoels "died in mysterious circumstances" in 1948.

About a year later Allilueva published a second volume of memoirs, Only One Year (1969). Here she tells a very different story:

One day, in father's dacha, during one of my rare meetings with him, I entered his room when he was speaking to someone on the telephone. Something was being reported to him and he was listening. Then, as a summary of the conversation, he said, "Well, it's an automobile accident." I remember so well the way he said it: not a question but an answer, an assertion. He wasn't asking; he was suggesting: "an automobile accident." When he got through, he greeted me; and a little later he said: "Mikhoels was killed in an automobile accident." (p. 154)

Had Stalin's daughter somehow "forgotten" to mention this detail in her earlier account? That can hardly be the case. People do not forget details like the involvement of their father in a murder. Nor can people who hear only one side of a phone conversation tell whether a person making a statement is instructing someone else, or repeating a fact just heard from the other party.

One thing is clear: in 1967 Allilueva did not yet "know" that Mikhoels had been murdered at all, much less that it was her father who had murdered him. Most likely she had been "coached" during the year between the two books. Her second volume was written after moving to the US and befriending several virulent anticommunists, some of whom she thanks in the book. No doubt it was they who "convinced" her to put a different interpretation on what she had heard her father say in 1948.

Despite its obvious lack of validity as evidence some writers, E.g. Joshua Rubenstein and Vladimir P. Naumov, Stalin's Secret Pogrom. The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2001), 39. Snyder among them, still cite Allilueva's statement from Only One Year while omitting any mention of her earlier statement in Twenty Letters To A Friend. To do so is dishonesty of a high order: propaganda, not scholarship.

Did Stalin Say Russians Had Been the War's Greatest Victims?

Given the centrality of the Second World War to the experience of all east Europeans, in the USSR and in the new satellite states, everyone in the new communist Europe would have to understand that the Russian nation had struggled and suffered like no other. Russians would have to be the greatest victors and the greatest victims, now and forever. (347)

Snyder does not even bother to cite any evidence to support this false statement.

Was the Number of Soviet Jews Killed by the Germans a "State Secret"?

The number of Jews killed by the Germans in the Soviet Union was a state secret. (342)

This statement is also false, and again Snyder does not cite any evidence to support it. (Snyder's footnote to the paragraph that begins with this statement is also false - he vastly understates the number of Soviet citizens killed in the war. We omit this here.)

Did the Soviets Try to Hide the Fact of Collaboration with the Germans?

It was unmentionable that Soviet citizens had staffed Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bełżec. That the Germans needed collaborators, and found them, is not surprising. But collaboration undermined the myth of a united Soviet population defending the honor of the fatherland by resisting the hated fascist invader. (342-3)

Another false statement, and again Snyder cites no evidence. There was no "myth of a united Soviet population..." Trials of collaborators continued throughout the Soviet period, as did prosecutions of, and public attacks upon, Ukrainian and other nationalists who aided the Nazis and who found safe haven in the West.

"Some" Nationalist Partisans Were Antisemitic?

In the Baltics and Ukraine and Poland, some partisans were openly anti-Semitic, and continued to use the Nazi tactic of associating Soviet power with Jewry. (344; no reference given.)

This is a vast understatement: Baltic and Ukrainian nationalists were uniformly anti-Semitic. During the German occupation they participated in, and often initiated, mass murders of Jewish civilians, often outdoing the Germans in gruesome sadism. The same was true of most Polish nationalists, including the Home Army.

Polish Anti-Semitism

Prewar Polish society was perhaps the most anti-Semitic society in the world. Polish Jews were not considered "Poles" and were subject to many kinds of discrimination. The Polish Catholic church urged discrimination against Jews, the boycott of Jewish businesses, etc.

During the war Polish civilians carried out many murderous pogroms against Jews. Often the Germans had nothing to do with these attacks. Jewish memoirs repeatedly record that Polish Jews who left the ghettos were more afraid of Poles than they were of Germans. Polish civilians robbed, beat, and murdered Jews, and turned them in to the Germans. This last was very important as Germans were not familiar with the clues of Jewish identity and often could not tell Polish Jews from Polish non-Jews. Poles were much more sensitive to these differences and could use their ability to blackmail Jews. Szmalcownictwo, the blackmailing by Polish civilians of Jews who managed to get outside the ghetto, took place everywhere.
Szmalec means "lard, grease" - that is, money.

Polish civilians killed Jews to gain favor with the Germans, but also to steal their victims' possessions - homes, lands, belongings, money, clothes - or simply because they were Jews. Sometimes refined forms of torture were used. Jews were burned to death; Jewish women and girls were often raped before being killed, and so on.

Polish nationalists are fond of pointing out the fact that Israel has named more Poles as "Righteous Among the Nations" - persons who helped Jews during the war - than people of any other nationality. But many Poles who saved Jews during the war were hounded and persecuted by their Polish neighbors and other Poles who learned that they had helped to save Jews. Nationalist historians avoid this issues. Dariusz Libionka, a researcher at the Polish Center for Holocaust Research (Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów) whose work Snyder cites in Bloodlands, writes:

Jak wspomina Michał Borwicz, dyrektor Żydowskiej Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie, po wojnie ukrywający Żydów robili wszystko, aby ich "zbrodnia" nie została ujawniona:

Zaraz po ukazaniu się pierwszego ŻKH (Dokumenty i zbrodnie męczeństwa) zaczęły się wizyty paradoksalne. Ludzie cytowani po nazwisku (i to właśnie dobroczyńcy!) przychodzili przygnębieni, z wyrzuytami: że publikując ich "zbrodnię", {...} wydajemy ich na pastwę zemsty sąsiadów ... i nie tylko sąsiadów. Z kolei z podobnymi pretensjami zaczęli się zjawiać niektórzy uratowani Żydzi, wysłani do nas przez swoich dobroczyńców. Inni jeszcze (autorzy zeznań spisanych już, lecz na razie jeszcze nie ogłaszania w przyszłości {...}. Stanęliśmy, ja i moi współpracownicy, przed kwadruturą koła.


Michael Borwicz, director of the Jewish Historical Commission in Krakow, said that after the war those who had hidden Jews did everything they could to prevent their "crime" from being disclosed:

Immediately after the release of the first ZKH (Documents and crimes of martyrdom) there began to occur paradoxical visits. People quoted by name (and mainly the benefactors {those who had rescued Jews}!) arrived depressed, with reproaches: that by publishing their "crime," {...} we were delivering them to the mercy of the revenge of their neighbors ... and not only of their neighbors. In turn, with similar claims there began to unexpectedly appear some rescued Jews, sent to us by their benefactors. Still others (authors of written testimony but at that time as yet not published) came preventively, to prohibit their publication in the future {...}. I and my colleagues were faced with the problem of squaring the circle {i.e. of publishing the names of those who had saved Jews, and so exposing them to danger from other Poles, or of not publishing their names, and so leaving their benevolence unrecognized}.
Dariusz Libionka, "Polskie piśmiennictwo na temat zorganizowanej i indywidualnej pomocy Żydom (1945-2008)", Zagłada Żydów 4 (2008), 23.

A Polish woman who saved Jews, Marysia Michalska, told one of those she was hiding, that she had a "guilty conscience" for helping her Jewish wards:

Byli też i tacy, którzy z powodów religijnych uważali, że nam, Żydom, wstyd pomagać. Na przykład Marysia Michalska, osoba dosyć kulturalna, lecz przesadnie pobożna, zawsze miała wyrzuty sumienia, że nam udzieliła pomocy ... w rozmowie ze mną niejednokrotnie zaznaczała, że modli się, by Bóg jej nie ukarał za to, że nam pomaga.


There were also those who, for religious reasons thought that it was shameful to help us Jews. For example, Mary Michalska, a quite cultured person but overly pious, always had a guilty conscience that she had provided assistance to us ... in conversation with me she repeatedly stressed that she was praying that God would not punish her for having helped us.
- Leokadia Schmidt, Cudem przeżyliśmy czas zagłady (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1983), 160.

Michalska evidently got the idea that helping Jews was sinful from the anti-Semitic Polish Roman Catholic Church, who influence intensified the ideological anti-Semitism of the Polish elites. After the war many Jews who returned to their homes, shops, and businesses found them occupied by Poles who refused to leave. Many were murdered by their Polish neighbors.

The anticommunist Polish underground that carried out terrorist activity for years after the war also targeted Jews as well as Soviet soldiers and officials, Polish communists, and anyone whom they deemed unpatriotic. Jewish survivors record Home Army units after the war stopping trains, taking the Jewish passengers off and shooting them.

The Center for Holocaust Research (Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów) in Warsaw has published many books and journal articles detailing the horrific acts of anti-Semitic violence by Polish civilians and by the Home Army. Polish-American professor Jan Thomasz Gross, a highly anticommunist author, has published a number of books in English detailing Polish anti-Semitism during and after the war that have brought this question to the attention of persons who are not specialists in Polish history.

A recent and very useful account drawn from the works of the Centrum, of Gross, of memoirs of Polish Jews, and other sources, is by Stefan Zgliczyńsky, Jac Polacy Niemcom Żydów Mordować Pomagali - "How Poles Helped Germans Murder Jews." The title is misleading, however, as most of the accounts in the book deal with Poles, both partisans and civilians, murdering Jews on their own initiative without any encouragement or assistance, much less orders, from Germans. Zgliczyńsky, who is the editor of the Polish edition of the French journal Le monde diplomatique, concludes his book with this damning statement:

Dlatego też logika każe zadać pytanie: z kim przede wszystkim walczyli Polacy podczas ostatniej wojny - z okupantem, czy też ze swoimi żydowskimi sąsiadami i współobywatelami?


Therefore, logic forces us to ask the question: against whom, above all, did Poles fight during the last war - against the occupier or also against their Jewish neighbors and fellow citizens? (265)

Zgliczyńsky's book serves as an accessible introduction to the large body of research by scholars from the Centrum and of other works such as memoir literature that is available only in Polish. Someone really should translate it.

Most Jews in the former "Kresy," as Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine were called by the Polish imperialists, welcomed the Red Army enthusiastically. There were many Jews in the Red Army, the NKVD (Soviet political police) and the Soviet administrative organs. Likewise, Jewish escapees from the ghettos and Jewish partisans joined the Soviet-backed People's Army (AL), while the Home Army rejected them at best and often murdered them. After the war the communist administration arrested, tried, and punished Poles who participated in the pogroms against Jews.

Polish nationalists today do their best to minimize Polish anti-Semitism by ignoring it; by falsely claiming that the Germans "instigated" pogroms by Polish civilians; or by blaming the Jews themselves for being "disloyal" to Poland. Polish nationalists never discuss the official racism against Jews by the prewar Polish goverment; the role of the Polish schools and Roman Catholic church leadership in actively promoting anti-Semitic ideas; or the admiration of many in the Polish elite for Adolf Hitler's anti-Jewish campaigns. Why any Polish Jews should have been loyal to the racist Polish state is the real question, never explained.

Discussion of the official anti-Semitism under the Second Polish Republic, in the Home Army and other Polish formations during and after the war, and of the phenomenal level of anti-Semitism among the Polish population makes the Soviet Union and communist Poles look very good by comparison.

Who Was Harmed By Soviet "Occupation"?

No Soviet account of the war could note one of its central facts: German and Soviet together was worse than German occupation alone. (344)

This has to be one of the most cynical statements in this highly dishonest book. Snyder makes no argument and cites no evidence to support it. The reality is just the opposite: German and Soviet occupation was far, far better than German occupation alone. Had the Soviets not driven the Germans out, the Germans would have killed not just the millions of Poles and Soviet citizens they did kill, but almost all of them. That was Hitler's expressed aim.

The Soviet retaking of areas formerly occupied by the Germans was certainly far better for Jews, communists, and all those who were fighting or resisting the German occupation. The Red Army saved the majority of Poles, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Russians and Jews from annihilation or at best slave labor (See the Nazi "Generalplan Ost"). For example, most of the members of the anticommunist Home Army surrendered in early 1945 when ordered to do so by the London Polish government, and either lived peacefully in postwar Poland or chose to emigrate. Had the Red Army not liberated Poland the Germans would eventually have captured and killed them.

In the article cited previously Grzegorz Motyka, an anticommunist and a researcher whose work Snyder recommends, says that it was the Red Army that stopped the pro-Nazi Ukrainian Nationalists from slaughtering even more Polish citizens and that thousands of Poles joined the pro-Soviet partisan movement as a result.

Of course, the Soviet occupation was indeed "worse" for some people. For Poles who were prosecuted for anti-Semitic and/or anticommunist crimes. For those who had collaborated with the Germans - though it is not clear how many of even these Poles would have survived if Germany had won the war. For those who fought in or supported the underground anticommunist terrorist movements.

In short, the Soviet occupation was worse for fascists, anti-Semites, and those who fought for the restoration of capitalism. The political tendency of Bloodlands is aimed to please these very forces, who are honored as "freedom fighters" by today's nationalists in Poland, the Baltics, Ukraine, and to a lesser extent in Belarus.

"The Big Lie" Yet Again: "Soviet Invasion of Poland," "Soviet Alliance with Germany"

The whole Soviet idea of the Great Patriotic War was premised on the view that the war began in 1941, when Germany invaded the USSR, not in 1939, when Germany and the Soviet Union together invaded Poland. In other words, in the official story, the territories absorbed as a result of Soviet aggression in 1939 had to be considered as somehow always having been Soviet, rather than as the booty of a war that Stalin helped Hitler to begin. Otherwise the Soviet Union would figure as one of the aggressors, which was obviously unacceptable. (344; no reference given)


The Soviet citizens who suffered most in the war had been brought by force under Soviet rule right before the Germans came - as a result of a Soviet alliance with Nazi Germany. ...

Also to be forgotten was that the Soviet Union had been allied to Nazi Germany when the war began in 1939 ... (345)

This falsehood is crucial to Snyder's thesis. We have thoroughly discussed it earlier in the present book. We have shown exhaustively in previous chapters that there was no "alliance" with Nazi Germany and no "Soviet aggression." Apparently Snyder thinks that his readers will believe this falsehood if he repeats it often enough. This is the technique of mind-numbing repetition called "the Big Lie" that Adolf Hitler advocated in Mein Kampf.

The following sentence begs for a little more comment:

...in the official story, the territories absorbed as a result of Soviet aggression in 1939 had to be considered as somehow always having been Soviet, rather than as the booty of a war that Stalin had helped Hitler to begin.

Snyder is referring to Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia, which had been "the booty of a war" all right - the booty of the Polish imperialist invasion of Russia in 1919-1921. Poland had taken these lands by force then, and lost them again in 1939. Evidently Snyder hopes that his readers will be ignorant of this history.

And of course it was not Stalin who had "helped Hitler to begin" the war. The British, French, and Polish governments did that. They encouraged Hitler's aggression with the Munich Accord. Then they torpedoed collective security against Hitler despite the Soviets' struggle to convince them of its necessity. We have discussed this, with evidence, in previous chapters.

Was There Official Anti-Semitism in the USSR After World War 2?

In late 1948 and early 1949, public life in the Soviet Union veered toward anti-Semitism. The new line was set, indirectly but discernibly, by Pravda on 28 January 1949. An article on "unpatriotic theater critics," who were "bearers of stateless cosmopolitanism," began a campaign of denunciation of Jews in every sphere of professional life. Pravda purged itself of Jews in early March. Jewish officers were cashiered from the Red Army and Jewish activists removed from leadership positions in the communist party. ...Jewish writers who had taken an interest in Yiddish culture or in the German murder of Jews found themselves under arrest. As Grossman recalled, "Throughout the whole of the USSR it seemed that only Jews thieved and took bribes, only Jews were criminally indifferent towards the sufferings of the sick, and only Jews published vicious or badly written books." (348)

Sources (n. 12 p. 502):

* "On the Pravda article, see Kostyrchenko, Shadows, 152."
* "On the decreased number of Jews in high party positions (thirteen percent to four percent from 1945 to 1952), see Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi antisemitizm, 352."
* "The Grossman quotation is from Chandler's translation of Everything Flows.

The Pravda editorial discussed by Kostyrchenko was written by Aleksandr A. Fadeev, General Secretary of the Writers Union, and David I. Zaslavskii, a longtime editor of Pravda and of Jewish background himself. The article is available online at a number of places. Many, though not all, of the theatre critics who are criticized in it do have recognizably Jewish names. But that in itself does not make the article anti-Semitic, despite the claims of Kostyrchenko and others. It's impossible to criticize anyone without mentioning that person's name. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize a Jewish writer. And the criticism in the Pravda editorial is not anti-Semitic at all. Rather, it is directed against criticism that belittled Soviet culture in comparison to Western European culture.

By 1952 the per centage of persons "of Jewish origin" in Party organizations had indeed declined to approximately the per centage of Jews in the Soviet population (the correct reference is to the table in Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi antisemitizm pp. 353-355). But this is not evidence of anti-Semitism either. Previously the percentage of Jews in high positions in the Party and cultural spheres had been two or more times their proportion in the population. The large-scale overrepresentation of Jews in these fields was only possible if other nationalities were seriously underrepresented. Reducing the percentage of Jews was inevitable as the percentage of other nationalities was increased.

It was also inevitable that there would be an increase in anti-Semitism in the USSR after the war. Tens of millions of Soviet citizens had lived for several years under German occupation and been subject to an unprecedented barrage of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. Nationalists among the Baltic, Belorussian, and Ukrainian population had promoted anti-Semitism too, often more vehemently than the Germans did. This was bound to leave its mark on postwar Soviet society. But Snyder is not discussing this anti-Semitism.

Stalin Opposed Anti-Semitism

In the paragraph cited above, Snyder writes:

A few dozen Jewish poets and novelists who used Russian literary pseudonyms found their real or prior names published in parentheses. (348)

This is true - and it was Stalin himself who reacted vehemently against it. Stalin opposed the publication of Jewish names after the "pen" names of authors. Noted Soviet author, war correspondent, and editor of literary journals Konstantin Simonov records the following:

- Почему Мальцев, а в скобках стоит Ровинский? В чем дело? До каких пор это будет продолжаться? В прошлом году уже говорили на эту тему, запретили представлять на премию, указывая двойные фамилии. Зачем это делается? Зачем пишется двойная фамилия? Если человек избрал себе литературный псевдоним - это его право, не будем уже говорить ни о чем другом, просто об элементарном приличии. Человек имеет право писать под тем псевдонимом, который он себе избрал. Но, видимо, кому-то приятно подчеркнуть, что у этого человека двойная фамилия, подчеркнуть, что это еврей. Зачем это подчеркивать? Зачем это делать? Зачем насаждать антисемитизм? Кому это надо? Человека надо писать под той фамилией, под которой он себя пишет сам. Человек хочет иметь псевдоним. Он себя ощущает так, как это для него самого естественно. Зачем же его тянуть, тащить назад?
Konstantin Simonov. Glazami cheloveka moego pokoleniya. Moscow: Novosti, 1988, p. 216.


Why 'Mal'tsev', and then 'Rovinskii' in parentheses? What's going on here? How long is this going to continue? ... Why is this being done? We already spoke about this last year, forbidding double last names in works presented for the {Stalin} prize. Why write a double last name? If a person has chose a literary pseudonym - that's his right. We're not speaking of anything other than elementary decency. A person has the right to write under a pseudonym he has chosen for himself. But, obviously, somebody wants to emphasize that this person has a double name, to emphasize that he is a Jew. Why emphasize that? Why do that? Why spread anti-Semitism? Who benefits from that? We must write down a person with the surname that the person himself has chosen. A person wishes to have a pseudonym; he himself feels that this is natural for him. So why pull him, drag him back?

Simonov's book and this quotation are well known to students of Soviet history. If Snyder is ignorant of it he is unqualified to write about the subject. If he does know about it but kept it from his readers he is being deliberately dishonest. Stalin made other remarks after the war showing that he personally opposed anti-Semitism.

Snyder cites no evidence that "Jewish officers were dismissed from the Red Army" because they were Jewish or that "Jewish writers... found themselves under arrest." These are serious allegations. If they were made against, say, the American government we would demand evidence. Perhaps Snyder is counting on reflexive, "knee-jerk" anti-Stalinism among his readers to blind them to the absence of any evidence?

The Grossman quotation is from a novel written years after Stalin's death. A quotation from a novel is not documentation of an historical fact. Grossman himself was a tragic case of the consequences of Khrushchev's lies about Stalin and the Stalin years. And the reader should be clear on this point: Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" was deliberately falsified from beginning to end. Grossman believed these slanders and incorporated Khrushchev's false history of the USSR into the book Snyder cites, Everything Flows (Vsio techiot). In it the protagonist accepts Khrushchev's false "revelations" about the Stalin years at face value and decides that all the years of communism have been a cruel hoax, the defendants in the Moscow Trials innocent, and so forth.
See Furr, Khrushchev Lied. The English version of this book was not published until 2011, after Bloodlands. But the Russian version was published in 2007, long before Bloodlands. Гровер Ферр. Антисталинская подлость. М.: Алгортим. 2007. Republished as Тени ХХ-го съезда, или антисталинская подлость. М.: Эксмо-Алгортим, 2010. Snyder should have known about it.

Grossman's translator, Robert Chandler, believes this false history himself and has said that Grossman's novels are important "as history." Quite the opposite is the case. Grossman believed Khrushchev's lies and built his novel around them. Many people would conclude that this ruins Grossman's novel, for the novel is constructed entirely around Khrushchev's politics. If he had known Khrushchev's "revelations" were lies Grossman would never have written this novel in the first place! But many more people than just Grossman were duped and disillusioned by Khrushchev's lies.

Snyder writes:

Jews across the Soviet Union were in a state of distress. The MGB reported the anxieties of the Jews in Soviet Ukraine, who understood that the policy must come from the top, and worried that "no one can say what form this is going to take." Only five years had passed since the end of the German occupation. For that matter, only eleven years had passed since the end of the Great Terror. (348)

Source (n. 13 p. 502): "... For the MGB report, see Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi antisemitizm, 327."

The letter in question does indeed show that some Jewish nationalists in the Western Ukrainian city of Chernovtsy reacted negatively to the line on Soviet patriotism of the anti-cosmopolitan campaign. However, according to the letter, not all the Jewish figures quoted considered it anti-Semitic. Some of them simply thought it was anti-Marxist. Benjamin Pinkus, Professor of Jewish History at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel, states that: "...It is important to emphasise that in these attacks {the anti-cosmopolitanism campaign} there was no anti-Jewish tone, either explicitly or implicitly.
The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority. Cambridge University Press, 1989,p 152. Pinkus shows that some Jews "took an active part in the anti-cosmopolitanism campaign." (157) Pinkus also argues that Jewish writers were attacked more frequently and perhaps more intensely. So the anti-cosmopolitan campaign may not have been entirely free of anti-Semitism. But it was not official anti-Semitism.

The "Berlin Blockade"

Snyder gives the following brief account of the "Berlin Blockade":

The western Allies had announced that they would introduce a new German currency, the Deutschmark, in the zones they controlled. The Soviets blockaded West Berlin, with the evident goal of forcing West Berliners to accept supplies from the Soviets, and thus accept Soviet control of their society. The Americans then undertook to supply the isolated city by air, which Moscow claimed could never work. In May 1949, the Soviets had to give up their blockade. The Americans, along with the British, proved capable of supplying thousands of tons of supplies by air every day. In this one action, goodwill, prosperity, and power were all on display. (349)

This is false. "Soviet control of their society" was not at all the Soviet "goal." Even Snyder does not claim he can demonstrate this, calling it "the evident goal." Snyder has distorted what the Berlin crisis was all about. Historian Geoffrey Roberts describes it as follows:

Although termed a "blockade" by the West, the Soviet action consisted of a limited set of restrictions on land access to the Western sectors of Berlin from West Germany. It did not preclude supplies to West Berlin from the Soviet zone of occupation, which continued to trickle into the city, nor was air access prohibited - hence the famous airlift.

The goal of Stalin's pressure tactics was to force the Western allies to rescind their London communiqué and return to the CFM {Council of Foreign Ministers} negotiating forum. Stalin was quite frank about his aim in two conversations he held with the British, French, and American ambassadors in August 1948. In January 1949 Stalin made this position public when he agreed with a Western interviewer that the blockade would be lifted if the West agreed to convene another CFM session devoted to the German question. In May 1949 the blockade was lifted when the Western powers agreed to reconvene the CFM in Paris.
Roberts, Molotov. Stalin's Cold Warrior (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2012), 118-9)

Snyder does not mention the fact that it was the Soviet Union that offered to reunite Germany - something all Germans wanted - but the Western Allies refused.

Snyder Falsifies - Again - About Litvinov's Dismissal

He {Molotov} had been appointed to the job {Soviet Foreign Minister} in 1939, in part because he (unlike his predecessor Litvinov) was not Jewish, and Stalin had then needed someone with whom Hitler would negotiate. (351)

We have exposed this falsehood in a previous chapter. There is no evidence to support it. It seems that Molotov was appointed because Stalin wanted desperately to conclude a treaty for mutual defense not with Hitler but with the West, and Molotov was the person closest to him.

It was very dangerous to be a Jew in postwar Poland - though no more so than to be a Ukrainian or a German or a Pole in the anti-communist underground. (352)

This is a striking admission by Snyder, though he appears to be unaware he has made it. Snyder is comparing the situation of Jewish civilians, who he admits were subject to murderous anti-Semitic pogroms by Poles in Poland, to armed terrorists who were of course being hunted by the police.

Many of these terrorists had collaborated with the Germans - some Home Army men had done this, as had virtually all the Ukrainians and Germans in what Snyder calls "the anti-communist underground." Many of them had participated in the Holocaust and/or themselves taken part in the murder of Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian civilians. It was right that it be "dangerous" for them, just as it was wrong that there was so much Polish anti-Semitism that it was dangerous for Jews in Poland.

In this passage and in fact throughout Bloodlands Snyder is clearly doing propaganda work for - "rehabilitating" - pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic forces in Eastern Europe who are considered "heroes" by today's right-wing Eastern European nationalists. Of course these forces were also anti-Soviet, which is the reason Snyder minimizes their crimes.

In 2013 Poland declared a holiday in honor of the "Doomed Soldiers" (in Polish, „Żołnierze wyklęci") of the Polish anticommunist underground, proclaiming them to be "heroes." A Ukrainian newspaper has this to say about them:

"Прокляті солдати": настав час бочити героїв такими, якими вони були

Парламент Польщі підтримав надання статусу національного свята дню пам'яті т.зв. "проклятих солдатів" - учасників антирадянського збройного підпілля в 1940-1950-ті рр. Серед них є і ті, хто відверто співпрацював з нацистами, і ті, хто по-звірячому вбивав мирних українців.
The reader will recall that anticommunist historian Motyka states that Ukrainian partisans murdered 100,000 or more peaceful poles in the Volhynian Massacres.


"Doomed Soldiers" {more accurately, "damned soldiers"} - The Time Has Come to See These Heroes As They Really Were

The Parliament of Poland had supported the proposal for the status of a national holiday to the day of memory of the so-called "Doomed Soldiers" - the participants in the anti-Soviet armed underground of the 1940s and 1950s. Among them are those who openly collaborated with the Nazis and those who viciously killed peaceful Ukrainians.

Snyder does not mention the fact that the Soviets and pro-Soviet Poles actively persecuted anti-Semites. For example, the perpetrators of the murderous pogrom of Jews in Kielce, Poland in July 1946 were captured, tried, convicted, and executed within a month of their crime.

Did the Polish Communists Claim that Only Communists Led the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt?

All resistance to fascism was by definition led by communists; if it was not led by communists, then it was not resistance. The history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 had to be rewritten such that communists could be seen as leading Polish Jews - just as they were supposedly leading the Polish anti-Nazi resistance generally. In the politically acceptable history of the Second World War, the resistance in the ghetto had little to do with the mass murder of Jews, and much to do with the courage of communists. This fundamental shift of emphasis obscured the Jewish experience of the war, as the Holocaust became nothing more than an instance of fascism. It was precisely Jewish communists who had to develop and communicate these misrepresentations, so that they could not be charged with attending to Jewish rather than Polish goals. In order to seem like plausible Polish communist leaders, Jewish communists had to delete from history the single most important example of Jews resisting Nazis from Jewish motivations. The bait in Stalin's political trap was left by Hitler. (322)

Source (n. 22 p. 502): Shore, "Język," 60.

This is contradicted by Snyder's own source. According to Marci Shore Jewish historians did not "delete" the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from history but continued to celebrate it every year while downplaying the role of Zionists and exaggerating that of the Communists.

Shore, "Język," 60:

W ten sposób zakończyła się pewna epoka. Co roku komuniści - z Zachariaszem na czele - obchodzili rocznicę powstania. Nie było już żadnej wzmianki o syjonistach. Generalnie chodziło tu o proces, w którym komuniści żydowscy zdradzali syjonistyczną lewicę, swoich byłych towarzyszy.


Thus ended an era. Every year the communists, with Zacharias in charge, celebrated the anniversary. There was no longer any mention of Zionists. Generally, this meant a process in which Jewish Communists betrayed the Zionist left, their former comrades.

Po wyjedzie Hermana i innych syjonistów, Ber Mark stał się autorem oficjalnej historii powstania w getcie warszawskim. Według cenzora: "Tow. Markowi udało się przeprowadzić w swej pracy słuszną polityczno-ideologiczną linię ... Tow. Mark przeprowadza w swej pracy tę linię zasadniczą, że jedyną siłę, która rzuciła hasło walki, że jedynym czynnikiem, który zorganizował i kierował ruchem oporu w getcie - była PPR i GL."


After the departure of Herman and other Zionists, Ber Mark was the author of the official history of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. According to the censor: "Comrade. Mark carried out in his work the legitimate political and ideological line ... Comrade. Mark carries out in his work in this line of principle that the only force which threw the signal for the fight, that the only factor that organized and directed resistance in the Ghetto, was the PPR and the GL {the Polish Workers Party and the Gardia Ludowa, communist groups}."

But there is reason to doubt the truth of Shore's statement here. Ber Mark's official history, Powstanie w getcie warszawskim, published in Polish in 1959, was published in English translation in 1975. Here are two short passages from the early pages of that book, Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto:

Its {the Anti-Fascist Bloc's} member bodies were the Polish Workers Party (P.P.R.), Hashomer Hatzair, Left and Right Labor Zionists, and Hechalutz. (5)

Commander-in-chief {of the Jewish Fighting Organization} was {Mordechai} Anielewicz, a twenty-four-year-old Hashomer Hatzair activist. Other members were Hersz Berlinski (Left Labor Zionist), Marek Edelman (Jewish Labor Bund), Itzhak Cukierman (Hechalutz), and Michal Roisenfeld (Polish Workers Party). (6)

Here is one final passage to show that Mark did not neglect the Zionists in the rest of the book:

In brief, here {at Mila 18} were the mind and heart of the Uprising: the leaderships of the Jewish Fighting Organization, Hashomer Hatzair, and the Communists; plus activists and commanders in D'ror (a Zionist group), the Jewish Labor Bund, and Akiva. (72)

The issue here is not how historically accurate Mark's depiction is. Snyder claims that the postwar communist version of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising portrayed communists as in the lead. Snyder's source Shore claims that Ber Mark wrote that "the only factor that organized and directed resistance in the Ghetto was the PPR and GL." These quotations from Ber Mark's book prove that this is not true. Mark mentions the communists prominently but often mentions Zionist and other non-communist Jewish forces first. Moreover, Mark does not show communists as the leaders of the Uprising, as Shore claims.

Snyder then again claims, without evidence, that Stalin was anti-Semitic:

This was Polish-Jewish Stalinist self-defense from Stalin's own anti-Semitism. (356)

Another blatant falsehood by Snyder. As we have seen and will see again, Stalin was not in the least "anti-Semitic" and Snyder has no evidence that he was.

According to Zhores Medvedev,

Антисемизм Сталина, о котором можно прочитать почти во всех его биографиях, не был ни религиозным, ни этническим, ни бытовым. Он был политическим и проявлялся в форме антисионизма, а не юдофобии.


Stalin's anti-Semitism, about which one reads in almost all of his biographies, was not based on religion, or race, or culture. It was political and expressed itself in the form of anti-Zionism, and not of racial anti-Semitism {iudofobii}.
Stalin i evreiskaia problema, p. 92.

Here Medvedev takes the position that opposition to Zionism is "anti-Semitic." Of course this is wrong. Many Jews, including Israeli Jews, are strongly anti-Zionist. Medvedev states that there is no evidence that Stalin was anti-Semitic, but anticommunist writers routinely claim that he was. Snyder is one of these.

Again Snyder Claims Stalin "Slandered the Home Army and the Warsaw Uprising"

The associated slander of the Home Army and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was an easy labor. Since it had not been led by communists, it could not have been an uprising. Since the Home Army soldiers were not communists, they were reactionaries, acting against the interests of the toiling masses. The Polish patriots who died seeking to liberate their capital were fascists, little better than Hitler. The Home Army, which had fought the Germans with much greater determination than the Polish communists, was a "bespittled dwarf of reaction." (356)

n. 23: This was part of the slogan of one of the more striking propaganda posters, executed by Włodzimierz Zakrzewski.
The Zakrzewski poster, "The giant and the bespittled dwarf of reaction," may be viewed here. The "giant" in the poster is either a People's Army (Armia Ludowa) fighter or a Polish Army (Wojsko Polskie) man, and the "bespittled dwarf of reaction" is the AK. The AK attacked and killed pro-Soviet partisans and Jews generally, and had collaborated with the Nazis, so it is neither surprising or unjust that the communists attacked it as "reactionary.:

This is false. The communists never called the fighters of the Warsaw Uprising "fascists" and Snyder cannot cite any evidence that they did so. Furthermore, many communists also fought in the Warsaw Uprising.

As we have discussed in an earlier chapter, it was not only Stalin and the communists, but General Anders, Jan Chiechanowski, and many other anticommunist Poles thought the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was a "crime." The criminals were the Home Army leadership, not the ordinary fighters. Many other non-communist Poles came to think the same thing, since the Uprising predictably led only to disaster.

There is no question that the Home Army fought to restore prewar Poland, a violent, imperialist regime, racist against Jews, Ukrainians, and Belorussians, and hostile even to the Polish trade union movement. Snyder cites no evidence at all for his claim that the Home Army fought the Germans "with much greater determination than the Polish communists" of the People's Army. Moreover, here Snyder seems to forget that he has already claimed that the activity of pro-Soviet partisans against the Germans simply brought down German violence upon the local population. To the extent the Home Army fought the Germans their actions would have the same effect.

Snyder omits that the Home Army was conspiring with the German military against communist forces. Nor does he mention that the Home Army hunted down and killed Jews, including Jews who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and collaborated with the Nazis against the Red Army.

Should Stalin Have Left Terrorists Alone Because A Few Of Them Had Once Tried to Save Jews?

Berman, a very intelligent man, understood all of this as well as anyone could, and he brought these premises to their logical conclusions. He presided over a security apparatus that arrested members of the Home Army who had accepted the special assignment of saving Jews. (357)

This is a dishonest statement. Snyder apparently wishes to imply that Polish communist security arrested some Home Army men because they had been assigned to save Jews. Snyder does not say this is plain language, because it is untrue. Does he then wish to imply that "accepting the special assignment of saving Jews" should have exempted them from arrest no matter what else they did?

Snyder gives no note or citation of evidence for this statement. He does not tell us the names of any of these Home Army men. But one of them - if not the only one - was Witold Pilecki. Pilecki did indeed struggle to save Jews. But he also remained in post-war Poland as a leader of the violent underground terrorist Home Army which murdered thousands of Poles, Jews, and Soviet citizens.

This is what he was tried and executed for in 1948. No country, capitalist or communist, permits underground terrorists to roam and murder freely. Zgliczyński's book gives many examples of wartime and, especially, of post-war murders of Jews, communists, Soviet citizens, and others by underground terrorists of the Home Army and the NSZ (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne, "National Armed Forces"). There is at least one book that gives names and details about more than one thousand members and veterans of the pro-communist People's Army (Armia Ludowa, AL) murdered by these underground anticommunist "nationalist" groups after the war's end.
Żołnierze Armii Ludowej polegli i zamordowani przez podziemie zbrojne po wyzwoleniu kraju. Warsaw: Wydawca Rada Krajowa Żołnierzy Armii Krajowej przy ZG Związku Kombatantów RP i b. Więźniów Politycznych, 1997. Some excerpts from this book, very hard to find outside Poland, are online.

Snyder Lies About Purge of the Polish Communist Party

Polish communists who were in power in the late 1940s usually knew, from personal experience, just what had happened to their comrades in the 1930s. Back then, Stalin had sent a signal; Polish communists had duly denounced each other, which led to mass murder, and the end of the party itself. ... (359)

Source (n. 30 p. 503): "This explanation of the absence of a communist blood purge in Poland can be found inter alia in Luks, "Brüche," 47. One Polish communist leader apparently murdered another during the war; this too might have bred caution."

Evidently Snyder has invented this falsehood. There has never been any evidence that Stalin gave such a "signal." Luks, "Brüche," - the correct page reference to it is p. 43, not p. 47 - says nothing about a "signal" from Stalin, about "Polish communists duly denouncing each other," "mass murder," or anything of the kind.

The "Doctors' Plot"

Snyder spends more space on this event than on any other in this chapter. He gets virtually everything wrong, as he has so many times before. It is hard to believe that Snyder has studied the Doctors' Plot himself. He appears to rely instead on the extremely anticommunist and incompetent secondary accounts by Brent and Naumov, and by Arno Lustiger. But Snyder, not they, is responsible for what goes into his book.

Shcherbakov had died the day after he had insisted, against doctors' orders, on taking part in a Victory Day parade. (363)

Source (n. 39 p. 503): "On the Victory Day parade, see Brandenberger, "Last Crime," 193."

Brandenberger simply repeats what Brent/Naumov say: that Shcherbakov ignore the doctors' advice to remain in bed - he had suffered a heart attack on December 1944 - and instead went out to view the Victory Day celebrations and died of another heart attack the next day, May 10, 1945. But neither Brandenberger nor Brent/Naumov cite any evidence for their contention that Shcherbakov ignored the doctors' advice.

A.N. Ponomarev, author of the only full-length biography of Shcherbakov, had access to evidence from the Moscow party archive and from the Shcherbakov family. Ponomarev states that Shcherbakov went to the celebration with his doctors' permission:

Вечкром (врачи не возрожоли) Александр Сергеевич в сопровождеии жены приехал с дачи в столицу, побывал на улицах и площадях, порадовался вместе с москвичами долгожданной победе.
A.N. Ponomarev. Aleksandr Shcherbakov. Stranitsy biografii. M: Izd. Glavarkhiva Moskvy, 2004, p. 275.


In the evening (the doctors did not object) Aleksandr Sergeevich together with his wife drove from his dacha to the capital, spent a while on the streets and in the squares, rejoicing together with the Muscovites over the long-awaited victory.

Ponomarev is honest enough to admit that he is not certain about this, since the testimony came a few years later during the investigation of the Doctors' Plot. How, then, can Brandenberger, Brent/Naumov, and Snyder claim without qualification that Shcherbakov's doctors did object?

In the case of Zhdanov things are clearer, and again Snyder gets them wrong:

Zhdanov, too, had ignored doctors' orders to rest. (363)

This can only be a deliberate falsehood either by Snyder or by his source. Snyder cites the Brent/Naumov book so he must know that even this dishonest book discusses how the doctors in charge of treating Zhdanov allowed him to leave his bed and walk around despite the fact that the consulting cardiologist, Dr. Lidia Timashuk, determined that Zhdanov had suffered a recent heart attack and recommended strict bed rest.

There Really Was a "Doctors' Plot Against Zhdanov

In face there was indeed a conspiracy among Zhdanov's doctors to mistreat Zhdanov: to deny that he had suffered not just one heart attack but two recent ones and possibly a third the month before; to ignore the diagnosis of Dr. Timashuk, the cardiologist, and therefore to allow Zhdanov to get out of bed. The direct result of this was Zhdanov's death. Gennady Kostyrchenko quotes from Dr. Vinogradov's note to Beria on March 27, 1953:

Все же необходимо признать, что у А.А. Жданова имелся инфаркт, и отрицоние его мною, профессорами Василенко, Егоровым, докторами Майоровым и Карпай было с нашей стороны ошибкой. При этом злого умысла в постановке диагноза и метода лечения у нас не было.
Tainaia politika Stalina. Vlast' i antisemitizm (2003), 642.


All the same, it must be admitted that A.A. Zhdanov did have a heart attack and the denial of this fact by myself, professor Vasilenko and Egorov, and doctors Maiorov and Karpai was a mistake on our part. We had no evil intention in making our diagnosis and our treatment.

Brent and Naumov claim to have had access to an even earlier document in which Vinogradov makes the same admission:

On November 18, 1952, Vinogradov was still able to deny a premeditated plot to kill Zhdanov: "I allowed a mistake in the diagnosis that led to grave consequences and then to {Zhdanov's} death. There was no evil plan in my action ... I want only to repeat that at the basis of this crime, its original source, was medical error that I allowed as a consultant, leading the treatment of A.A. Zhdanov. (Brent/Naumov, 231)

A semi-official collection of documents cites the following original:

Я признаю, что по моей вине жизнь А.А. Жданова была сокращена. При лечении я допустил ошибку в диагностике, приведшую к тяжелым последствиям, а затем к его смерти. Злого умысла в моих действиях не было.


I admit that it was my fault that A.A. Zhdanov's life was shortened. In the course of treating him I made a mistake in diagnosis which led to serious consequences and then to his death. There was no evil intent in my actions.

Therefore there really was a "doctors' plot" against Zhdanov in 1948! Vinogradov admitted that the consulting doctors ignored the findings and recommendation of the cardiologist, Dr. Timashuk. The only question is whether Vinogradov and the others did this, as Vinogradov claimed, to "hide my mistake in order to protect myself and those who had taken part in Zhdanov's treatment," or whether they had deliberately killed Zhdanov.

Understandably, the Soviet investigators had to investigate the latter possibility. The job of policemen is to be suspicious. If medical doctors in the United States today were to make such an admission they would certainly be stripped of their licenses to practice medicine and face criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

Snyder must have know this since both Brent/Naumov and Kostyrchenko relate it. Moreover, many of the primary sources, including this document, have been publicly available for years. But Snyder failed to tell his readers the facts about this important question.

Did Stalin Order the Doctors To Be Beaten in 1952?

In autumn 1952 several more Soviet doctors were under investigation. None of them had anything to do with Zhdanov or Shcherbakov, but they had treated other Soviet and foreign communist dignitaries before their deaths. One of them was Stalin's personal doctor, who had advised him to retire in early 1952. At Stalin's express and repeated orders, these people were beaten terribly... (365)

Source (n. 46 p. 503): "Quotation: Brent, Plot, 250."

Snyder gives no evidence for the claim that Stalin ordered the doctors to be beaten. Neither do Brent and Naumov, who state that "the doctors were 'beaten to a pulp'" but give no reference.

This opens up an interesting mystery. On August 22, 2011, a purported letter to Beria from Sergei A. Goglidze, Deputy Head of the MVD at the time and dated March 26, 1953, was published by Gazeta. This is an ideologically anticommunist newspaper of which Mikhail Gorbachev is part owner along with a Russian billionaire, while "Memorial" is a highly anticommunist research institution. Neither has any reputation for historical objectivity. In this letter Goglidze supposedly claimed that Stalin himself had told him to beat suspects "with deadly beatings."

Is this document genuine? Petrov claims that he found it "in the 1990s" but does not explain why he waited until 2011 to publish it. It is not mentioned in the "Memorial"-sponsored volume Lavrentii Beria, Part I, published in 1991, where Documents 5 and 6 deal with the "Doctors Plot." Nor is it in the 1085-page volume of Beria-related documents published in 2012. Politbiuro i delo Beria. Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole, 2012. Petrov quoted from it in an earlier article in Novaia Gazeta of October 16, 2008, but did not publish it at that time. Instead, he published an often-reprinted reproduction of the so-called "torture telegram" of January 10, 1939, along with a handwritten facsimile of a letter from Semion Ignat'ev to Stalin of November 15, 1952 that does not mention beatings.

All this raises suspicion about whether this document is genuine. Even if it is, the further question i: was Goglidze telling the truth? The truth is: it is impossible to say. Anti-Stalinist have every reason to fabricate documents to make Stalin look bad, and have done so. Goglidze, if he did write this letter, had every reason to pass the blame for mistreatment of the doctor-prisoners onto the dead Stalin, since doing so might help him avoid punishment (Goglidze was one of six MGB officers shot in December 1953 for their association with Lavrentii Beria). The historian's dictum "Testis unus - testis nullus" applies here too; one "witness" is never enough to establish a fact. Source criticism, an obligation for every responsible historian, is essential here - and once again Snyder fails to give us any.

Snyder also fails to inform his readers of this passage in his daughter's memoir:

The "case of the Kremlin doctors" was under way that last winter. My father's housekeeper told me not long ago that my father was exceedingly distressed at the turn events took. She heard it discussed at the dinner table. She was waiting on the table, as usual, when my father remarked that he didn't believe the doctors were "dishonest" and that the only evidence against them, after all, was the "reports" of Dr. Timashuk.
Twenty Letters to a Friend, p. 207.

Snyder quotes Svetlana Allilueva's memoirs elsewhere, so why not here? Obviously because this quotation would cast doubt on Stalin's guilt in the "Doctor's Plot" case. Brent/Naumov also fail to cite this passage, no doubt for the same reason.

We have seen above that Snyder quotes from Svetlana Allilueva's writings - but only when they have an anti-Stalin tendency. When they do not or, as here, when they contradict an anti-communist story, Snyder ignores them. This is not the way a historian is supposed to act. Snyder is writing not history but "anticommunist propaganda with footnotes."

Snyder Falsifies Stalin's Words

Snyder states:

Stalin, a sick man of seventy-three, listening to no counsel but his own, pushed forward. In December 1952 he said that "every Jew is a nationalist and an agent of American intelligence," a paranoid formulation even by his standards. (366)

Source (n. 49 p. 503): "For "every Jew...," see Rubenstein, Pogrom, 62."

Rubenstein does have this quotation - but it is a lie. Rubenstein refers to the source, the memoirs of Minister Malyshev about a December 1 1952 meeting during which Stalin said:

Любой еврей-националист, это агент америк{анской} разведки. Евреи-нац{ионалисты} считают, что их нацию спасли США (там можно стать богачом, буржа и т.д.)


Every Jewish nationalist is an agent of American intelligence. Jewish nationalists consider that their nation was saved by the USA (there one can become rich, a bourgeois, etc.)
- Istochnik 5 (1997), 140-1.

By "Jewish nationalist" Stalin clearly means "Zionist." Since April 2008 there has even been an Internet page exposing this misquotation, which it attributes to Brent and Naumov. But as recently as April 2012 Snyder was repeating this false quotation in the standard talk he was giving about Bloodlands.
See http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2006/04/correction-corner-1-every-jew-is.html When Snyder repeated this lie during his talk on April 17, 2012 at Kean University I called from the floor: "That's not true!" Snyder's reply was "Yeah, sure!"

Snyder is either deliberately lying or never bothered to check the source of this quotation. Whatever is the case, it does him no credit as a historian.

Anything To Make Stalin Appear Anti-Semitic? Snyder Falsifies the Draft Letter

Snyder writes:

In February 1953, the Soviet leadership was drafting and redrafting a collective Jewish self-denunciation, including phrases that might have come straight from Nazi propaganda. It was to be signed by prominent Soviet Jews and published in Pravda. Vasily Grossman was among those intimidated into signing the letter. ... (367)

Sources (n. 52 p. 504):

* "On the drafting and redrafting, see Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi antisemitizm, 470-478."
* "On Grossman, see Brandenberger, "Last Crime," 196.
* "See also Luks, "Brüche," 47."

In an article published in 2009, when Bloodlands must have been nearing completion, Snyder wrote:

In early 1953, the Soviet leadership was circulating a petition among prominent Soviet Jews, who were to apologize to Russians for claiming that Jews had suffered, and thank Russians for saving them."
(note to Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi antisemitizm... 470-478.)(2009-4)

Snyder's characterization of the unpublished letter is false. The letter in question says nothing whatsoever about any apology, to Russians or to anyone else. It says nothing about "claiming that Jews had suffered." It says nothing about "thanking Russians" - or anybody - "for saving them." It does not contain any "Jewish self-denunciation," whatever that might mean. It contains no "phrases that might have come straight from Nazi propaganda."

Of course, Snyder's readers will have no idea that he is lying - and here I say "lying" advisedly, because it is not credible that Snyder has simply failed to read the letter himself. But Snyder's readers will not have read the letter. What's more, Snyder has failed to inform them where they might read it. The first draft of the letter in question is translated into English in Brent/Naumov (300-305). Snyder cites this book. But Snyder does not inform his readers that they can read this letter there. Could that be because anyone who does read the letter would see that Snyder is not being truthful about it?

Nor was it "the Soviet leadership" that was circulating this letter. Dmitrii Shepilov, one of the Secretaries of the CPSU, and N.A. Mikhailov, head of the Agitprop section of the Party, sent it to Malenkov, who was in the leadership of the Party, the Politburo. Neither Shepilov nor Mikhailov was in the "Soviet leadership." After criticism by Il'ia Erenburg a second draft was sent to Mikhailov by Shepilov but never circulated farther, much less printed.

Here is what Lazar Kaganovich told Feliks Chuev about this letter:

Когда Михайлов принес мне бумагу для публикации против этих врачей - я вам рассказываю кое-что личное - по еврейскому вопросу, и там были подписи Рейзена и многих других еврейских деятелей. Михайлов был секретарем ЦК, потом министром культуры. Я ему сказал: «Я не подпишу».
- А что, там осуждали их?
- Да, да. Он говорит: «Как? Мне товарищ Сталин поручил.» - Скажите товарищу Сталину, что я не подпишу. Я ему сам объясню.

Когда я пришел, Сталин меня спашивает: «Почему вы не подписали?» Я говорю: «Я член Политбюро ЦК КПСС, а не еврейский общественный деятель, и буду подписывать бумагу как член Политбюро. Давайте такую бумагу я напишу, а как еврейский общественный деятель не буду подписывать. Я не еврейский общественный деятель!»

Сталин внимательно на меня посмотрел: «Ладно, хорошо».

Я говорю: «Если нужно, я напишу, статью, от себя».

«Посмотрим, может, надо будет и статью написать».
Feliks Chuev, Tak govoril Kaganovich. Moscow: Otechestvo, 1992, p. 174.


When Mikhailov brought me the paper for publication against these doctors - I am telling you something personal - concerning the Jewish question, there were the signatures of Reizen and of many other Jewish figures. Mikhailov was a secretary of the Central Committee, and then Minister of Culture. I told him: "I will not sign it."
- What? Are you condemning them?
- Yes, yes. He said: "What? Comrade Stalin gave me this." - Tell comrade Stalin that I will not sign it. I will explain it to him myself.

When I arrived, Stalin asked me. "Why didn't you sign?" I said: "I am a member of the Politburo of the CC of the CPSU, and not a Jewish public figure, and I will sign papers as a member of the Politburo. Give me a paper like this and I will sign it, but I will not sign as a Jewish public figure. I am not a Jewish public figure."

Stalin looked attentively at me. "OK, that's fine."

I said: "If necessary, I will write an article of my own."

"Let's see, maybe we'll need you to write an article."

There is no evidence that Vasili Grossman was "intimidated into signing the letter." His signature simply appears alongside those of many others. Brandenberger cites no evidence that Grossman was "coerced." Nor does it seem likely. Judging from his novels, at this time Grossman was making great efforts to be a loyal communist.

In vicious press attacks, it suddenly emerged that his {Grossman's} recently published novel of the war, For a Just Cause, was not patriotic enough. For a Just Cause was a vast novel of the Battle of Stalingrad, mostly within Stalinist conventions. (367)

Several of these criticisms are available online. None of them are "vicious," though some are sharp. Their main point is that Grossman's novel is not Marxist enough for a Party member.

Snyder: Rumors Are History - Almost

Snyder writes:

Judging by the rumors circulating at the time, Soviet citizens had no trouble imagining the possible outcomes: doctors would have been show-tried with Soviet leaders who were their supposed allies; remaining Jews would have been purged from the state police and the armed forces; the thirty-five thousand Soviet Jewish doctors (and perhaps scientists as well) might have been deported to camps; and perhaps even the Jewish people as such would have been subject to forced removal or even mass shootings. (386, emphasis added)

It is true that rumors like this circulated at the time in the USSR. Today in the USA rumors are circulating that Israel had advance warning of the 9/11 terrorist attack; that the attack was permitted, maybe even planned, by the Bush Administration itself; that the Twin Towers were demolished not by the jetliners' impacts but by explosive charges carefully placed in advance, etc.

In other words, rumor is not history - far from it! There are plenty of rumors in Russia today that reflect very positively on Stalin. Of course, Snyder ignores them. For Snyder, rumor only belongs in an historical work when that rumor conforms to his own prejudices.

Snyder has to know, but does not tell his readers, that Gennady Kostyrchenko, anticommunist, Zionist, and hater of Stalin, has long since disproved the stories about a "planned deportation of Jews." Kostyrchenko's article is titled "Deportatsiia - Mistifikatsiia", and one does not need to know Russian to understand its meaning. Snyder also fails to inform his readers that in his book Stalin i evreiskaia problema ("Stalin and the Jewish Problem," 2003) Zhores Medvedev writes:

Можно предположить, что Сталин позвонил в «Правду» либо вечером 27 февраля, либо утром 28 февраля и распорядился прекратить публикацию антиеврейских материалов и всех других статей, связанных с «делом врачей. ...»

В Советском Союзе в это время был только один человек, который мог простым телефонным звонком редактору «Правды» или в Агитпроп ЦК КПСС изменить официальную политику. Это мог сделать только Сталин. (216-7)


We can assume that Stalin called Pravda either on the evening of February 27 or in the morning of February 28 and arranged for the cessation of publication of anti-Jewish materials and of all other articles dealing with the "Doctors' Plot." ...

In the Soviet Union at that time there was only one person who was able, with a single telephone call to the editor of Pravda or to the Department of Agitprop of the CC CPSU to change official policy. Only Stalin could do that. ...

In their collection of essays The Unknown Stalin Zhores and his brother Roi Medvedev come to a similar conclusion:

We still have no way of knowing exactly how the anti-Semitic campaign was stopped on 1 March or who was ultimately responsible. ... It is clear, however, that the end of the propaganda campaign was associated with a decision to abandon preparations for the trial of the doctors. The actual order could only have come from Ignatiev. It is also conceivable, however, that Stalin had given the instruction himself on 27 or 28 February.
Woodstock and New York: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 32

It appears more than likely that Ignatiev would have sent such an order without at least obtaining Stalin's approval. The Medvedev volumes are very well known but Snyder does not mention these passages. Incompetence? Or deliberate deceit?

Snyder Still Believes Khrushchev's "Secret Speech"


He {Nikita Khrushchev} even revealed some of Stalin's crimes in a speech to a party congress in February 1956... (371)

No, he did not. The evidence proving Khrushchev's famous "Secret Speech" was falsified from beginning to end was published in Russian in late 2007, long before Snyder's book was completed. If Snyder did not know about this he is incompetent to write about the matter.
Г. Ферр, Антисталинская подлость (2007). In English since 2011 as Khrushchev Lied.

terry swamperson belts out another banger, he is on a roll!!!
Tha'ts pretty much the last chapter, there are only like 60 pages left. Feel free to extend this offer outside the forum,:

I will Paypal $300 to anyone who gets Dr Snyder to accidentally read, or admit having read, on record, Blood Lies

Edited by swampman ()

In that case I better just put it on record that I have accidentally got Dr Snyder to read Blood Lies
also ,met my dealer this weekend

Good haul of Grover Furr's four iconic works: Kruschev Lied, Trotsky's 'Amalgams,' Yezhov vs. Stalin, and the unforgettable Blood Anus.
hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooly shit
that's going in the "inspirational quote" section of my little brother's yearbook for sure
stone cold own

swampman posted:


could someone with journal access share the Wheatcroft paper on the late 40's he cites?

Stephen G. Wheatcroft, “The Soviet Famine of 1946–1947, the Weather and Human Agency in Historical Perspective.” Europe-Asia Studies, 64:6, 987-1005

please and thank you

I put it on the PDF subforum.
belphy with the 666th post

look what fell off the back of a truck!

The Soviet Famine of 1946-1947, the Weather and Human Agency in Historical Perspective



This article considers the famine of the immediate post-war period of 1946-1947 in relation to the food problems experienced by the USSR in World War II and to the impact of the weather conditions from 1941. It is argued that the timing and nature of the extreme food problems experienced in this famine conform to a general pattern of Soviet famines in which urban food supply problems over a number of years give rise to increasing pressure on the peasantry and a general reduction of stocks, which when complicated by drought and harvest failure produces a rural famine.

I am grateful for support from the Australian Research Council and from the University of Melbourne to enable me to carry out the research for this article. I am also grateful to the members of the Melbourne annual workshop on modern famines, in particular Cormac O'Grada, Anthony Garnaut, Stephen Morgan, Felix Wemheuer, Viktor Kondrashin, Stanislav Kulchitski, Valery Vasiliev, Filip Slaveski, Lance Brennan. As always I continue to be grateful to R. W. Davies for assistance and guidance over many years.

MANY ANALYSTS CLAIM THAT THE FAMINE OF 1946-1947 conforms to a general Stalinist pattern in which Stalin allegedly used the famine to punish the peasantry in circumstances when harsh procurements were not necessary. The evidence considered in this article does not support such a claim. By contrast, it is argued below that the timing and the nature of the extreme food problems experienced between 1941 and 1947 conform to a general pattern of Soviet famines. As in the immediate aftermath of the revolution and during the force-paced industrialisation drive a decade later, several years of urban food supply problems during World War II led to greater demands being placed on the peasantry and a general reduction of grain stocks. This placed the country in a dangerous position when confronted by drought and harvest failure. This is what happened in 1918-1922 when the urban famines of 1918-1920 were followed by the drought of 1921 and the first great rural famine of 1921-1922. Such a pattern was repeated in 1928-1933 when the urban food shortages of 1928-1931 were followed by a drought in 1931 and a further harvest failure in 1932 that produced a double-year famine beginning in 1931-1932 and intensifying in 1932-1933. As will be demonstrated below, the famine of 1946- 1947 was preceded by several years of serious urban food shortage and famine during the war. This was followed by a drought in 1946, resulting in yet another great rural famine of 1946-1947.

The article begins with a brief survey of works on wartime food supply and on the famine of 1946-1947. A critical examination is then made of the food production and food supply data for the extended period of 1941-1947, providing the background to the political decisions made reluctantly by the state to cut rations for the urban population. Detailed meteorological data are then examined to reassess factors of production and assess the reliability of the available production data. Finally, the article considers the levels of grain availability for different sectors of the population, in different regions, at different times, in an attempt to trace the nature of the problems that resulted in famine.

The major Western account of food supply in the USSR during World War II fails to mention the 1946-1947 famine, although it emphasises the effects of the 1947 currency reform on punishing the peasantry. William Moskoff emphasises the desperate situation that much of the population faced but makes the rash claim that everyone shared equally in the hunger: 'Hunger was chronic and so, therefore, was the accompanying malnutrition. There was nothing selective about the tyranny of food shortages; for most people, life was lived on the margin for most of the war. Those who survived the war did so by dint of strong will' (Moskoff 1990, p. 220).

Moskoff claims that the peasants did fairly well out of the war, but that they subsequently lost much of the wealth that they had gained. Unlike many later writers, he does not see the rural famine of 1946-1947 as the mechanism by which the peasants were punished, but instead sees the currency reforms of late 1947, after the famine, as playing this role. He states that the war brought about,

a predictable redistribution of wealth . . . from the cities to the countryside. Food shortages made peasant private plot production even more important than it had been before thewar . . . . Many peasants grew relatively rich feeding the peoples of the cities. But thosetempted to charge the peasantry with wartime rapacity should remember that the authorities excluded them from the rationing system and left the farm population to feed itself. Moreover, in retreating from responsibility for feeding the civilian population, the authorities were implicitly expecting the peasantry to help feed urban dwellers. Yet after the war, the regime punished the peasantry for its wartime activity. A currency reform in December 1947 required the entire population to exchange their rubles at the rate of 1:10; the enormous cash holdings that so many peasants had accumulated during the war were essentially wiped out. (Moskoff 1990, p. 238)

The best-known work on the Soviet 1946-1947 famine is the one produced by the Russian historian V. F. Zima (1996, p. 10). He tells a story in which 'the famine was a consequence of three important factors: post-war difficulties, the drought of 1946 and the food requisitioning policy for the collective and state farms'. While this list is not controversial, it is the way that Zima and those that follow him assess the relative importance of these three factors that is problematic. In Zima's view 'the first two factors were in themselves sufficient to provide for a semi-famished existence of the population, and it was the third--food requisitioning that made life impossible' (Zima 1996, p. 10). Zima's approach here is rather simplistic in the way in which he assumes that the effects of different factors can be added together. Zima claims that the Soviet government did not really take the problems of the drought and foreign aggression seriously and only used them for its own purposes and as a pretext for punishing the peasants. He writes,

the Soviet government cited drought, the dangers of aggression from former allies to carry out a famine with the aim of preserving grain reserves and selling grain abroad. Apart from this the famine was used to teach and urge on the labour active on the collective and state farms forcing them to work for a bowl of soup on the fields. (Zima 1996, pp. 10-11)

According to Zima the state had plenty of grain in reserve, but preferred to keep it in reserve rather than feed the starving peasants. He claims that in 1946-1947 only 11.6 million tons of grain were required for the internal needs of the state and that this left 5.9 million tons, of which 4.8 million tons were directed towards state reserves and 1.1 million tons was exported. He states that 'on February 1, 1947 there were 10 million tons of state reserves, i.e. 1.9 million tons more than at the same time in 1946'. He also claims that on 1 June 1947 the level of stocks unexpended was 3.6 million tons, which was rolled into the funds for the following year (Zima 1996, p. 29).1 Given the claims that there was an accumulation of unwanted stocks and that the peasantry was being deprived of grain to teach it a lesson, Zima comes close to claiming that Stalin intentionally used the drought to cause a famine. The veracity of these claims will be discussed below, in particular whether there really were 'huge' unused stocks of grain at the time.

Zima's account of the level of grain stocks is accepted uncritically by Zubkova (1998), Ellman (2000) and Filtzer (2002), although they tend to be slightly more cautious in their assessments of the importance of shortages and in their discussion of intentionality and possibly genocide. Zubkova writes:

Climatic conditions and the general wear and tear on the aging farm machinery forced the harvesting of the crop in many of the regions to be organized by hand. As a result, the 1946 grain crop of 39.6 million tons was 7.7 million tons smaller than that of 1945 and 2.4 times smaller than that of 1940. The harvest losses, however were not the principal cause of the problem. 'Relatively speaking, the 1945 shortfall', according to V. F. Zima, 'fell within acceptable bounds and gave no grounds for extreme measures in the conduct of the government's grain procurement campaign' (Zima , p. 20). The authorities themselves contributed to the crisis. They strove to avoid any reduction in the state grain reserve and this proceeded by the traditional methods of the late 1920s; that is, they required supplementary procurements. They assigned surcharges to collective and state farms over and above the conventional grain tax in kind. The majority of collective and state farms were consequently forced to surrender grain usually designated for division among the peasants as personal income. The state thus left the village on the verge of famine. (Zubkova 1998, pp. 40-41)

Ellman cites Zima's data on production and procurements, while noting that the data are probably unreliable (Ellman 2000, p. 605). He argues that the famine 'took place in a country ruled by a tyrannical regime which treated the rural population as defeated enemies liable to render tribute to the rulers'. He compares Zima's grain production figures for 1945 and 1946 and argues that,

Part of the burden of the drought-induced fall in production fell on the state (state procurements fell), but a greater share fell on the peasantry (the percentage decline in the harvest remaining at the disposal of the farms and rural population was greater than the percentage decline in state procurements). (Ellman 2000, p. 605)

Filtzer also relies on Zima's explanatory mechanism:

When the Soviet regime realized that the drought of summer and autumn 1946 was going to lead to a serious harvest failure it chose to deal with the situation not by releasing food reserves and maintaining existing levels of consumption, but rather by suppressing consumption in order to bring it into line with the reduced harvest. In time honoured Stalinist practice, the state virtually denuded the countryside of grain, irrespective of the effect this had on peasant living standards. For urban residents and workers in rural areas the attack on living standards was two-pronged. In early September 1946 the regime substantially raised prices on rationed goods. Later that month it pruned from the ration lists some 25 million people--in the main clerical employees, workers' dependents, and workers themselves if they lived in rural localities. The reduction in access to food did not end there. Factories, vocational training schools, and care institutions (children's homes, for example) lost supplementary food supplies which up to then had allowed them to maintain nutritional levels above the minimum provided by the basic ration. In many enterprises workers had the right to receive extra portions or even entire extra meals in factory dining rooms. These supplemental food entitlements disappeared, with corresponding impact on workers' diet and health. (Filtzer 2002, pp. 1-2)2

All these works depart dramatically from the views held by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Western diplomats, amongst whom there had been general surprise that the Soviet Union had not been overwhelmed by famine earlier.

Nikolai Dronin and Edward Bellinger (2005), in their study of the effects of weather on food problems in Russia, fail to make use of Soviet archive data or to use direct meteorological data. They rely greatly upon assessments made by others, including myself. They claim that little information is available for the war years and do not even have a chapter on the 1941-1945 period, although they cite favourably the conclusions of Davies and Wheatcroft (1994) that a drought during World War II would have had disastrous consequences (Dronin & Bellinger 2005, p. 161). Dronin and Bellinger offer a fairly restrained comment on Zima's work. They begin by noting that 'although our estimate of the country's grain balance indicates that the situation was critical, Zima's main thesis is that the famine could have been avoided if the state policy had been more humanitarian' (Dronin & Bellinger 2005, pp. 167-68); but instead of maintaining a critical position they appear to go along with Zima's argument when they claim: 'The Soviet authorities in fact provoked the famine by excessive grain procurements in regions that had had relatively good harvests-- Siberia, the Middle Volga, and Kazakhstan. Thus not only the regions affected by drought, but other grain-producing regions, suffered that year' (Dronin & Bellinger 2005, pp. 167-68).

They also quote uncritically the official figures cited by Zima, and repeat Zima's claim that the Soviet Union had large grain reserves at this time:

the Soviet Union had sufficient grain reserves to avoid the large-scale famine. If the authorities had allocated 10 million tons from its grain reserves for the starving population, then . . . large scale famine would have been avoided. Instead, the situation developed according to the worst scenario. Food aid from the state was negligible and came too late--in July 1947. (Dronin & Bellinger 2005, pp. 167-68)

There is no questioning as to where the Soviet authorities were going to find 10 million tons of grain reserves at the end of an exhausting war in which they had been constantly drawing down grain reserves.

The recent book by Nicholas Ganson (2009) is somewhat more forthright in its criticism of Zima's claim that Stalin failed to draw on these 'huge' reserves because he was genocidal. Ganson argues that:

the entitlements approach and the perspective adopted by Zima in his monograph lend primary importance to the latter stages of food crises, focusing on the proximate causes of famine and perhaps overlooking their more deep-rooted origins. In the case of the 1946-47 Soviet famine, one must start by tracing the roots of the poor 1947 harvest, because subsequent government actions (such as cutbacks in rationing in September 1946, various relief measures, and the prolongation of rationing until the end of 1947) were, I argue here, a reaction to poor harvest yields and the resulting scarcity of grain. (Ganson 2009, p. 5)

Unfortunately, Ganson does not go on to provide an independent analysis of the supply situation and food stocks to support his case, and most of his book is concerned with analysing the consequences of the famine.

Below, I will consider the available data on the scale of grain production, collections, utilisation and stocks over the period from the late 1930s, through the war and on to 1945/1946 and 1946/1947. I will also look at one of the most important factors of production--the weather--and see how exceptional and disadvantageous the weather was at this time.3 Such a thorough review of these available data will enable us to assess more effectively the extent to which the famine was man-made and avoidable.

Grain production

Zima and the scholars who followed him all used the official Soviet grain statistics that were revised by the Soviet State Statistical Office in the mid-1950s, once it had been decided to remove the biological yield distortion. The exact procedures used by the Soviet State Statistical Office in this exercise are unclear and the results, though better than the distorted biological yield series that preceded it, are still highly dubious in several cases (Wheatcroft 1974; Davies & Wheatcroft 1994, pp. 114-16).

It is worthwhile trying to understand a little about these figures and the different series that preceded them. The government statisticians had been forced to artificially inflate their harvest evaluations after 1926, and there had been a great deterioration in the reliability of these data in the period of 1929-1931, when the statistical service lost its independence and was incorporated into the planning agencies. From early 1932, Valeryan Valeryanovich Osinskii (Obolenskii), the head of the Central Statistical Administration (Tsentralnoe Statisticheskoe Upravlenie, TsSU) in 1928, was brought back as head of the newly-established Central Department of National Economic Accounts (Tsentralnoe Upravlenie Narodno-khozyaistvennogo Ucheta, TsUNKhU) and attempted to restore the level of statistical independence and reliability in all areas, including grain statistics. In the crisis around the famine the political pressures to exaggerate the harvest evaluation again increased, and Osinskii was forced to accept a high biological yield evaluation. Up to 1936, Osinskii (head of TsUNKhU 1932- 1935, and head of the Central State Committee for Harvest Evaluations 1933-1936) had attempted to maintain a degree of integrity in his figures and was insistent that his biological yield evaluations needed to be deflated by a factor to account for harvest losses, but in 1937 the Committee of State Control investigation carried out by Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesenskii condemned this practice as wrecking and proposed a pure biological yield evaluation.4

After 1937, the sector of material balances within TsUNKhU continued to make a series of estimates of the harvest production and utilisation, which included fairly large losses in harvesting and storage. These figures were given a security classification and were prepared to guide top-level decision makers. There is no reason to suspect that these figures were deliberately distorted to comply with the political or propaganda needs of the day, and there is certainly no reason for rejecting them in favour of the better known official biological yield evaluations of the time, or the later official calculated barn yield series.

In 1946, the revised pure biological yield harvest evaluations gave indications of a very low harvest. These were eventually (and after some delay, as discussed below) used to revise the plans to abolish rationing and to reduce the central grain plan. Although Stalin accepted this revision at the time, he subsequently criticised the Central Statistical Administration (TsSU, re-established out of TsUNKhU in 1948) for allowing such low evaluations to be made, and he forced through yet another revision of the harvest evaluation mechanism (Zima 1996, pp. 29-31). This further exaggerated the operational figures from 1947 to the mid-1950s. The revised official figures which were accepted from the mid-1950s and that stripped away the biological yield distortion were undoubtedly a great improvement over the official figures used between 1947 and the mid-1950s. However, it is by no means clear that they are superior to the balance figures (net of losses) that were calculated with great secrecy at the time by TsUNKhU.

The official series of grain production that was used by Zima and most historians presents a level of fall in grain production during the war and in 1946 that is much larger than that produced by these balance data. They claim a decline about 10% greater than that indicated by contemporary biological and barn yield estimates (see Table 1 below).

While a degree of uncertainty remains concerning which series of data should be accepted, the grain balance series which were accepted by specialist officials at the time, should not be dismissed lightly. It is worth noting that contemporary intelligence experts thought that the Soviet Union faced inevitable famine, when they appeared to have 10 million tons of grain more than the later official figures showed.5

Let us look at the level of grain collections, utilisation and stocks for these years. The different figures available from different series are listed in Table 2 below.

The figures given by the collection agencies are significantly larger than those given in the secret grain balances, especially in the period between 1941-1942 and 1946- 1947, but both show a reduction in state grain collections, either from 24.7 million tons in 1945-1946 to 21.6 million tons from the collection organisations, or from 18.9 million tons in 1945-1946 to 18.0 million tons in 1946-1947 from the balance data.

State grain stocks, production, collections and utilisation: why the rationed population had to fall

Table 3 presents our current understanding of the scale of state grain stocks held in the civilian sector in million tons. Additional grain stocks and reserves were undoubtedly held by the military and security forces for their own use. How do these figures relate to Zima's figures?

Zima is correct in stating that there were about 11.6 million tons of grain held by the state procurement agencies on 1 January 1947 (Table 3 above indicates 11.8 million tons), but he is wrong to suggest that this was a huge amount. Instead of it being 1.9 million tons more than in the previous year, it was actually 3.6 million tons less.

Zima states that some grain remained in the system at the end of the 1946-1947 period, and according to the figures above there were 3.3 million tons on 1 July 1947, which is compatible with Zima's figure of 3.6 million tons for 1 June 1947, but again Zima is wrong in how he interprets this. While Zima claims that this represents a huge amount of unused stock, I would claim that it represented a dangerously low level, and it was interpreted as such by all specialists at the time.

State grain stocks were traditionally classified as either transitional operational stocks and as untouchable or inviolable reserves (neprikosovii/nep fondy). Although the conventional accounting period for grain supplies was from 1 July to 30 June, these were fairly arbitrary dates. Harvesting took place at different times in different parts of the country and in certain years, depending upon the weather, the harvesting could be significantly delayed. The planners and grain traders soon discovered that a certain amount of grain from the harvest of the previous year would be needed in the early stages of the following agricultural year, before the grain from that harvest would become available. These were the so-called transitional grain stocks that were needed simply to stop the system from running out of grain in places. A minimal need for transition grain stocks would be to keep the system running for at least half a month until 15 July. Given that total grain collections and utilisation were about 24 million tons in 1933 and 41 million tons in 1940-1941, we are talking about 1-1.5 million tons as a minimal transition stock, with double or more than triple this as the preferred transition stock.

In addition, a certain amount of untouchable reserves were needed for the civilian population in case of war. There was a great and understandable fear of disruptions to the civilian supplies of food in the event of war. It was assumed that in the event of a major war the transportation system would need to be diverted to military use for at least three months. It was therefore set as an ideal to have at least three months of reserves available at key positions in the civilian supply system to avoid such disturbances. In the early 1930s these inviolable reserves were also known as mobilisation funds (mobfundy) and there had been an objective to establish such reserves of about 2.6 million tons and these figures appeared in some grain stock plans. However, with the famine in the early 1930s these reserves were never achieved, although the government took steps to conceal its failure in this regard (Davies et al. 1995, pp. 642-57).6 In 1937, the planned scale of nep fondy reserves had risen to 5.5 million tons, but because of the poor harvest of 1936 less than a third of this was collected. The total level of government civilian grain stocks appears to have peaked in 1936 on the eve of the poor harvest of 1936 at 9.4 million tons, and then to have fallen in the late 1930s and remained relatively low at 5-6 million tons in 1939, 1940 and 1941.

Despite the German invasion of 1941, and perhaps as a direct consequence of its delay to late June, a large amount of the 1941 grain harvest was collected (32 million tons). As a result of further German advance through the autumn, this sum of collected grain now had to provide for a significantly smaller population than normal, and as a consequence grain reserves actually grew over this disastrous year. They grew by about 50% from 6.4 million tons in July 1941 to 9.4 million tons in July 1942. The following years saw a sharp decline in grain production and in state collections (from 32 million tons in 1941-1942 to 18.3 million tons in 1942-1943 and 14.5 million tons in 1943-1944).7 As a result of this strained situation, end of year stocks fell from 9.4 million tons in July 1941 to 5.2 million tons in July 1943 to a low point of just under 3 million tons in July 1944.

By 1944 more of the territory of the Soviet Union was back under Soviet control and grain procurements rose by over 10 million tons from 14.5 million tons in 1943- 1944 to 26.4 million tons in 1944-1945 and 24.7 million tons in 1945-1946. Civilian grain reserves duly grew from 3 million tons in July 1944 to 6.3 million tons in July 1945 and 5.7 million tons in July 1946.

It was at this point that the drought struck, greatly reducing the 1946 harvest in comparison with the 1945 harvest and causing grain procurements to fall by almost 20% or 5 million tons in 1946-1947 in comparison with 1944-1945 (from 26.4 million tons to 21.6 million tons). As we shall see below, however, at this time the demand for centrally collected grain had grown significantly and there was simply no way that the grain could satisfy demand without major cuts.

The claim that the Soviet government was collecting more grain from the peasants in order to accumulate large reserves is simply not supported by the evidence. Grain collections fell by 5 million tons and the level of civilian grain reserves held by the state fell by almost 3 million tons (almost half) in comparison with the July 1945 figures. Grain reserves on 1 July 1947 at the end of the famine were only 3.3 million tons in comparison with a level of 5.7 million tons in July 1946 and 6.3 million tons in July 1945. Admittedly this was slightly larger than the low state stock figure of 3 million tons for July 1944, but it was extremely low given the larger area and population that it had to cover, the normal transition needs of the system, the increases in demand for collected grain and the additional problems of transportation. As we shall see in the following sections, the situation in 1947 overall was worse than in 1944 because the level of stocks held by producers was undoubtedly much lower, but before considering this I will survey the data on the size of the rationed population and describe the complex way in which the decision to reduce the number of people receiving a ration was made.

The rationed population: its size and the decision to delay the abolition of rationing in 1946

The size of the rationed population increased during the war from 61.8 million in December 1942 to 80.6 million in December 1945 (see Table 4). In February 1946 Stalin had looked ahead to a bumper harvest and had promised that bread rationing would be abolished within the year. As late as 12 June 1946, Minister of Agriculture Benediktov was still claiming that 'the increase in agricultural production will allow the removal of rationing for bread, flour, groats and macaroni in 1946, and for all other products in 1946 and 1947'.8

However by early July 1946 the prospects of a good harvest and a smooth transfer to the market were changing. The US Embassy in Moscow reported to Washington by telegramme on 9 July that:

[The] Outlook [for the] 1945 harvest indicated in EMTEL 1852 [of] June 15, 1946, [has] worsened considerably [in the] past 24 days by hot weather [and] insufficient rain particularly [in] Moscow, Ryazan [and] South through [the] black soil belt. [This has been] partially offset [by the] improved outlook [in] some other areas. [The] Overall grain yield [in the] USSR as of July 9 [is] probably not better than average [and is] probably worse.9

Within the Soviet government Boris Dvinskii, Minister of Procurements, sounded the alarm and wrote to Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan (deputy chair of Sovet Ministrov (SovMin) and Politburo member with direct responsibility for trade and supplies) on 16 July 1946 and stated quite frankly that 'harvest failure in the Central Black Earth Region, in parts of Ukraine, Moldovia and Crimea will require us to reduce the state grain collection plan, and that this will have an effect on utilization'.10 Dvinskii stated that although it was not his job to reduce expenditure, he was concerned that Gosplan was not doing anything. As we shall see below, the scale of rationing was actually increasing at this time. Dvinskii proposed a series of measures that needed to be undertaken to reduce grain expenditure and generate additional grain,11 and he requested that Mikoyan inform Stalin about his serious concerns. Mikoyan asked Dvinskii to come and see him, but appears not to have passed on the message to Stalin, at least not with any degree of urgency.

On 29 August the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet eventually published a decree announcing the postponement of the abolition of rationing, which read as follows: 'In connection with the drought in some oblasti of the USSR and the reduction of state reserves, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet decrees to accept the petition of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on the postponement of the abolition of rationing from 1946 to 1947.12

A week later, on 6 September, the Politburo finally indicated to a select group of party and state leaders that the continuation of rationing was going to be accompanied by a serious (two- to three-fold) increase in the price of rationed food,13 but no change was made to the size of the rationed population, which had now grown from 80.6 million in December 1946 to 87.8 million in September 1946 (see Table 4).

The following day Dvinskii wrote a second letter and this time sent it directly to Stalin. With the level of rationing at an all time high the increase in ration price was not going to resolve the shortage in anticipated collections. This dangerous situation was abundantly clear to Dvinskii (who was not directly responsibility for grain allocations), even though other senior officials, like Mikoyan and Voznesenskii (who in Gosplan and the Council of Ministers were responsible for grain allocations) were refusing to face up to the situation.

Again, Mikoyan told Dvinskii not to worry and it took a third letter to Stalin two weeks later on 23 September14 to finally make Stalin and the Politburo realise that something needed to be done urgently to bring obligations to ration holders in line with the amount of state collected grain.

In October Stalin told Voznesenskii, Andrei Aleksandrovich Zhdanov and Nikolai Semenovich Patolichev to implement all of Dvinskii's proposals and to sidestep Mikoyan, 'who cannot be trusted in this matter'. By the end of the year the number of people on rations had been drastically reduced by almost a third, by 28 million from 87.8 million to 59.1 million. Most of this reduction was amongst the rural population where the rationed population dropped from 28 million to 4 million, and amongst worker dependent numbers which were reduced from 13.4 to 8.3 million. The numbers of workers on rations actually increased from 28.2 million to 29.2 million.15

In these circumstances, to claim that Stalin and the Politburo were unnecessarily shifting the burden onto the peasantry by maintaining high procurements is clearly unsustainable. Instead of raising grain procurements in 1946 from 25 million tons to 30 million tons, the level fell to 21.6 million tons, significantly lower than the 1944 level of 26 million tons or the 25 million tons in 1945. The group that was most vulnerable in these circumstances were the rural workers who had previously received rations, rather than the peasants who had never received rations. Let us look now at what was happening in the countryside and how much spare grain was left on the farm.

Grain reserves held on the farm

According to TsSU's grain forage balances, the stocks held at the end of the year by producers were a low 3.1 million tons at the end of the disastrous harvest failure year of 1936-1937 see Table 5 below. Although 3.1 million tons might appear a large figure for producer reserves, it is in fact quite low. As explained above it needs to cover at least a 15-day transition period of about 2.5 million tons, and a genuine reserve would need to be at least a million tons in addition to this.

After the record harvest of 1937, the reserves at the end of the year grew to a massive 16.2 million tons. In the following years it fell to 3.9 million tons in July 1941, when the war broke out. Despite the extreme austerity measures of the war years, the level of end of year reserves fell consistently through the war to a level of 1.7 million tons on 1 July 1945. In the crop year 1945/1946 the food situation was still very strained, but according to the TsSU balances at the end of the year the peasants were able to improve their position and their level of grain stocks actually increased from 1.7 million tons to 1.9 million tons according to one set of figures and from 2.5 to 2.7 million tons according to the alternative series (see estimate 2 in Table 1). During this same time, as we have already noted above, state-held grain stocks fell by over half a million tons from 6.3 million tons on 1 July 1945 to 5.7 million tons on 1 July 1946.

In the following drought year, as a result of the shortages, there was a major reduction in grain stocks held by the peasants by about a third from 1.9 million tons to 1.3 million tons or from 2.7 to 1.8 million tons in estimate 2; and again, contrary to the picture drawn by Zima, the fall in state-held grain reserves was much sharper, from 5.7 million tons in July 1946 to 3.3 million tons in July 1947 (see Table 3). These stocks were not enough to cover the transition period, let alone provide any reserves. There was clearly a great shortage in the countryside, and hence the famine.

Following the famine there was a sharp recovery with a doubling of stocks from July 1947 to July 1948.

It is clear that at the time of the famine the state was facing a real shortage of grain and that it was not manufacturing a crisis simply to discipline or punish the peasantry. In response to this crisis the state did reduce its level of reserves to very low levels. In the following section we will consider to what extent the crisis was a consequence of state policy and to what extent were other factors like the weather and the shortage of traction power important?

The weather

In 1946 the wartime journalist Alexander Werth leant his personal authority to the claim that the 1946 drought was the worst drought since 1891.

It did not . . . escape our attention that the soil was parched and cracked with the fearful drought, and that the wheat had grown barely an inch above the ground, and was already turning brown with the heat and the lack of rain. It was the beginning of the great tragedy of the 1946 drought, the worst drought Russia had known since 1891. The villagers were morose and disgruntled. (Werth 1971, pp. 151-52)

In the 1950s the leading Soviet drought expert, A. I. Rudenko, produced a survey of droughts over the previous 75 years from 1880 to 1955 in which the 1946 drought was listed equal with 1951 as the second worse drought, behind 1954 which was listed first. On this list the year 1950 appeared fourth, 1921 was fifth and 1891 sixth (Rudenko 1958, pp. 162-71).

Are there any other data to corroborate or disprove these early evaluations? Detailed daily meteorological data are now available for 263 stations throughout the USSR for this period allowing us to verify just how exceptional the 1946 drought was in these years.16 Below, I offer the results of a brief survey of the data for two weather stations in Kiev in Ukraine and in Oktyabrskii Gorodok (close to Saratov) in the Volga. These two stations have been selected because they are in the centre of different producer regions and have a fairly continuous coverage. For large continental countries away from seas and major mountain ranges the weather conditions in neighbouring regions tend to be fairly similar, and it is common to use synoptic methods to approximate weather conditions over broad regions.

Before looking at these data we need to be aware of some of the ways in which harsh weather conditions affected plant growth at different times and in different places. There are different types of drought, which have different effects in different regions at different times. Phenological dating is important for assessing the critical period of flowering of grain in June, and then the conditions of filling out of the grain in June and July. Heat stress and lack of moisture are most significant for the period of flowering when cold temperatures are preferable. Heat is less of a problem in the later filling out stage, and excess moisture is damaging for the harvest period in July.

In conditions of shortage of traction-power, sowing would occur later than normal and this would be disadvantageous because the whole growth process, and especially flowering of grain, would be delayed. This means that the critical growth periods would also be delayed until later in the year, when the weather would normally be warmer. This would make it much more likely for the critical periods to coincide with damaging hot weather.

The weather in Kiev and Ukraine

May and June temperatures in Kiev and much of Ukraine were cooler than normal for all of the war years; this means that they had favourable temperatures. The year 1946 marked a distinct change (see Table 6). In 1946, a warm spell set in early and lasted throughout the growing cycle. April temperatures were 1.9 degrees centigrade above normal, May temperatures were 1.3 degrees higher and June temperatures came in at a colossal 3.1 degrees above normal (21.3 degrees as compared with an average of 18.3 degrees).

Over the 84 years for which records are available (1881-1964) there were only 15 years which experienced average June temperatures of over 20 degrees and only four with average temperatures over 21.3 degrees (see Table 7).

The 1946 drought ranks fifth in severity in terms of average June rainfall. However, it is not just the level of temperature which is important, but the frequency with which such temperatures were experienced. The exceptional feature about the 1946 high temperature in June was that it came after a very long period of 19 years in which June temperatures had averaged less than 20 degrees. This was a break after more than twice as long a period of other, relatively cool periods. Let us now turn to look at rainfall in Kiev in these years (Table 8).

From the data presented in Table 8 it can be seen that the rainfall in Kiev from spring to early summer in 1946 was relatively low, but not exceptionally low. The 1946 accumulated rainfall for April-June was 119.5 mm or 70% of the long-term average. It was lower than for all the war years apart from 1945, which we can see from Table 6 was a relatively cool year. The year 1946 was exceptional in combining hotter than normal temperature with lower than normal rainfall.

Within the 84 years from 1880 to 1964 there were only 14 years in which accumulated rainfall over April-June was lower than the 119.5 mm level of 1946; and within these 14 years there was only one other year, 1910, when June temperatures were over 20 degrees. The June 1910 temperature was 20.6 degrees (slightly lower than the 21.3 degrees of June 1946) and it was accompanied by an average precipitation of 99.7 mm in April-June 1910, as opposed to 119.5 mm in 1946.

So for Kiev Oblast' the year of 1946 was arguably one of the two worse crop years, if not the worse for the whole 1880-1964 period, and it came after an extraordinarily long period of relatively favourable weather.

The weather in Saratov and the Volga

In Saratov we see a similar unfavourable pattern, although this region had experienced much more regular periods of drought in the 1920s and 1930s. The average June temperature in 1946 was 2.4 degrees above the long-term average at 21.2 degrees and this was by far the warmest June for the recent past (Table 9). June temperatures had again been exceptionally cool throughout the war. In fact, the last time that the June temperature had exceeded this level was in the drought of 1936 when it reached 21.9 degrees.

The only years on record that had exceeded the 1946 June temperatures of 21.9 were 1901, 1912, 1924, 1936 and 1948. However, it should be noted that no data are available for June 1921, when the temperature probably also exceeded this level.

Similar to the situation in Ukraine, the warm weather of June 1946 was accompanied by lower than normal rainfall (see Table 10). The rainfall in April-June 1946 in Saratov was 78.9 mm or 73% of the long-term average.

There were 27 cases of rainfall being lower than this in the 110-year period from 1880 to 1990 and these included all the five other cases where June temperatures were above the 1946 level (Table 11). It is also likely that the weather in the drought year of 1921 would need to be added to this list.

So for Saratov in the Volga, 1946 was undoubtedly a very bad agricultural year, but not exceptionally bad given the recent experiences of 1921, 1924 and 1936. The weather in terms of drought factors was perhaps the sixth worst on record, as opposed to possibly the worst on record for these indicators in Kiev. Overall there can be no doubt that the country faced extremely difficult weather conditions in 1946.


The meteorological data surveyed above indicate that the weather was very good for crop production throughout the war years (slightly less favourable in 1943). This undoubtedly contributed to the ability of the Soviet Union to survive the war without major famine. The deterioration of weather conditions in 1946 was indeed very extreme, and was a major contributor to the famine of those years. Had the drought of 1946 occurred three or four years earlier, instead of the good weather of 1941 and 1942, the social and political results could have been critical.

The available data on grain production, collection and stocks do not support Zima's contention that huge amounts of grain were available, which could easily have been used by Stalin to avoid the strain on the peasantry. No such stocks existed, and in the circumstances of the World Food Crisis of 1946-1947 there would have been great difficulties in importing any amount of grain in these years.

The World Food Crisis of 1946-1947 was the most serious global food shortage of modern history, when famine simultaneously threatened Central and Eastern Europe, India, Indo-China and China, and bread rationing was introduced in Britain for the first time ever.17 The British and American governments had requested food aid from Stalin to ease the World Food Crisis before they became aware of the situation in the USSR. The international context of the Soviet famine of 1946-1947 was strikingly different to 1921, when America had been able to provide large amounts of relief grain to Russia.

Faced with a severe shortfall in grain production and with little prospect of external assistance, the natural response of the regime was to press the peasants hard for grain collections and to reduce the number of those receiving state grain rations. It is significant that the bulk of the cuts were made to workers and employees in rural areas who would have been the main victims, and not the peasants or the urban workers, though more work is needed to study exactly what happened to these different classes of people.

The University of Melbourne and Nazarbayev University


1. Zima cites as his sources for these statements Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiskoi Federatsii (hereafter GARF), fond 5446, opis 49, delo 3539, pp. 26-27 for the 10 million figure for 1 February 1947, and Rossiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Ekonomiki (hereafter RGAE), fond 8040, opis 8, delo 360, p. 38 for his source for the June 1947 figure. In a footnote he claims that Mikoyan was the first to reveal the 'huge' level of grain stocks of this time in his introduction to Lyubimov (1968, p. 5).

2. Filtzer cites Zima in support of this argument; see also Filtzer (2002, ch. 2).

3. Apart from the weather there was clearly an inadequate supply of labour and tractive power that caused delays and problems in speedily carrying out field operations (see Arutyunyan 1963).

4. Voznesenskii review of Osinskii and TsGK in RGAE, fond 4372, opis 36, delo 1407, pp. 20-26.

5. See OSS reports, R&A No. 1355.5 in US National Archives (USNA) 087.3 71092 No. 1355.5.

6. Note also the disinformation spread by Rakovskii who leaked to the international press the false story that there was a strain on internal grain reserves because these reserves were being built up.

7. RGAE, fond 8040, opis 8, delo 360, pp. 44-45.

8. Sotsialistichekoe Zemledelie, 20 June 1946.

9. Department of State Incoming Telegraph, Moscow via War, dated 9 July 1946, US National Archives, 861.5018 file 7-946, available on microfilm.

10. GARF, fond 5446, opis 49, delo 1614, pp. 54-57, reproduced in Popov (1992, pp. 41-42).

11. One of these measures was to seek grain as reparations from the Soviet-controlled zones in Germany and Korea and to reclaim grain given to these zones earlier by the Soviet Union as loans.

12. Pravda, 30 August 1946.

13. See the report of Patolichev to Stalin on these meetings in GARF, fond 5446, opis 59, delo 25, pp. 110-19, reproduced in Politbyuro TsK VKP(b) (2002, pp. 215-21).

14. Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial'no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI), fond 558, opis 11, delo 765, pp. 116-18, reproduced in Politbyuro TsK VKP(b) (2002, pp. 221-23).

15. RGAE, fond 1562, opis 41, delo 239, p. 222.

16. These data have been made available online through cooperation between the two principal climate data centres of the United States and Russia: the National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC), in Asheville, North Carolina, and the All-Russian Research Institute of Hydrometeorological Information-World Data Centre (RIHMI-WDC) in Obninsk, Russia (see Razuvaev et al. 2007).

17. The question of the 1946-1947 World Food Crisis is a major under-researched topic that a team based at Melbourne University is currently working on.


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Zima, V. F. (1996) Golod v SSSR 1946-1947 godov: proiskhozhdenie i posledstviya (Moscow).

Zubkova, E. (1998) Russia After the War: Hopes, Illusions, and Disappointments, 1945-1957 (Armonk, NY, M.E. Sharpe).

grover furr's speaking on 1917 this sunday, 3/26, 11:30am at the marxist library in Oakland CA on telegraph and alcatraz. dunno the address, but it's roughly across from the jack in the box.

edit: here

swampman posted:


Most deserved brutal crushing of the year, part 2

Happy Birthday Grover Furr.
Hitler (not the poster) makes a good point half way into this secret recording: if the SU had seized invaded Romania in 1940 the nazi war machine would have been severely throttled.

Finally proof of something stalin done wrong?

you expect me to believe thers a guy who writes about famine and his name is Wheatcroft?
Hitler Speaking Normally
"Hitler, not the poster," i clarified hastily

figured you guys might be interested.
one fun thing to do when people bring up the fake holodomor is to point out the US army by 1930 had relocated nearly all the indian tribes to oklahoma and then suggest it would make more sense, given the previous 200 yrs of genocide and ample warnings about intensive okie farming practices and prior deliberate attempts to starve the indian nations ie killing all the buffalo, that maybe the dust bowl was deliberate?? it makes their brains stutter and anything to draw attention to the indian genocides is A+ #1
I feel like it's a huge insult to the memory of actual, real indigenous genocide to psych out liberals with something that didn't actually happen (deliberate dustbowl.) Like I get the point of your comparative irony, but... when an actual real strategy was to relocate nomadic indigenous communities into "farms" that they weren't allowed to leave at gunpoint, then giving them broken equipment rotten grain and unbroken fields full of unsuitable soil, and leaving them to starve... maybe don't go with the fake farming genocide joke?