It was August 23 1939 when Nazi Germany and Soviet Union signed an agreement pact that set the path to World war II. The reasons behind this pact are described here, and Stalin’s real intentions in the war are discussed here. This article raises question is both regimes Hitler National Socialism and Stalin’s Communism is comparable or are they two opposite things that don’t come together. Latvian historians have promoted that Stalinism and Nazism are equal and must be equally condemned. This view has been battled against by Russian patriots, leftists and Western historians who support the theory of the victorious side.
The theory of the victorious side in short is such: World War II was caused by Nazi Germany, who was led by an aggressive dictator who desired for large territories in the east. His plans for living space in the east are clearly set in his book Mein Kamph. It was his desire to start war alone, he annexed Austria, Czechoslovakia and wanted to take Poland. Soviet Union on the other side was toughened by the Stalin’s purges and was not ready for the war. Thus Stalin’s foreign policy was peaceful and was not meant to attack Europe since he used slogan “Socialism in sole state”. A Molotov – Ribbentrop pact was signed so the Soviet Union could gain time to prepare for war and acquire “neutral border zone” between Germany and Soviet Union so it would not have been captured by Germany. Also Stalin did not expect German attack and Soviet Union was only ready for war in 1942. After the German attack in 1941 Soviet Union together with UK and US defeated the “primary evil” – Nazism.
Nowadays more and more people disbelieve this simple Hollywood style theory where three “heroes” destroys one “villain”. It its clear that Stalin had aggressive plans of his own. The occupation of Baltic state and Eastern Poland only made the Soviet Union unsafe of Germany since it made a large border with it. Nor Hitler was originally intending to start world war by attacking Poland and operation “Barbarossa” was not just part of one page statement in “Mein Kamph” but part of the strategical situation in 1941, and Soviet aggressive foreign policy. And Red Army was ready enough to attack Germany on 1941. German invasion made Soviet Union the supreme ally against Germany. The Soviet victory for 50 years silenced the talk about Soviet crimes against humanity, Soviet aggressive plans and movements and Soviet war crimes. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union when historians opened the lid of the Soviet crimes that showed that the Soviet was no better than Nazi Germany in fact it was more bloody and repressive than “Supreme Evil” – Nazism.
Nazism and Communism share same insights in ideological basis. Even if it’s commonly described that Hitler was far right and Stalin was far left, National socialism was a mixture of both left and right. Nazism also supported the workers rights, it was also generally against classical capitalist order. Nazi ideologues took many insights from Karl Marx teachings. During the peacetime Nazi regime in Germany Hitler introduced social policies for lower classes and supported welfare. The main departure from Socialist thought was the idea of a clash between races not between classes. Nazis believed that racial unity can unite all social classes. Soviets on the other hand believed that social unity can unite the races.
One of the main common aspect of both ideologies are belief of making the new human – Homo Novus. It was the idea of making new society and thinking that would completely differ from the old type of humanity and society. For Nazis the new human was racially sterile and strong patriotic men and women. For Soviets it was strong worker and peasant free from bourgeois desires for private property, nationalism and religion. To make such society both regimes needed to get rid of the elements who could not submit to new laws of mankind. To Nazis they were the Jews, homosexuals, mentally ill persons and communists. For Soviets it was the bourgeois, religious, nationalists and private owners. The idea of parasites that are needed to exterminate was common for both ideologies.
Soviet Union was declared as free land for all nations with equal opportunities. In reality there were one dominant nation – Russians. Stalin often spoke that the Russian people won the war, not thousands of Baltic, Ukrainian, Caucasians and Asians who also fought the war. The Russian language was official language, other languages were allowed but constantly dismissed and repressed. No wonder that many small nations in Siberia have lost their culture and language because of the Russifacation. Stalin did everything to remove Jews, Latvians and other small nations from top governmental posts and replaced them with Russians. Even if he was born Georgian he identified himself with Russian people rather than Georgian. Stalin’s Soviet Union in this matter was also Nationalsocialist and kept being so until the very end. After the end of the war many exile Russian Nazis came to conclusion that Stalinist Russia was actually very nationalist and moved back to it.
Soviet Union also was antisemitic. In the very roots the revolution was organized by many Jewish Bolsheviks – Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoyev and others. Stalin was a moderate anti-Semite and consequently removed Jews from top party posts. He did not allow his son Yakov to marry a Jewish woman and was angry when his daughter Svetlana married a Jew. His last purge in 1952 to 1953 was mainly against Jews. It is a speculation that Stalin intended to make a mass deportation of Jews to Siberia before his death. Even after Stalin’s death the antisemitism persisted, as the Soviet Union made a strong opposition against Zionism and Israel and supported Jewish enemies. Its also no secret that the Soviet Union was homophobic by nature and homosexual behavior was impossible to practice without severe exclusion from the society.
However the main common things between Nazism and Communism is practical in state matters. Both regimes were based on political cult of one supreme leader. Both regimes where single party totalitarian states. Both had overwhelming security apparatus- the Gestapo for Germany and KGB for Soviet Union. Both had youth organizations like Hitlerjugend and Pioneer Movement. Both regimes gave large importance to army matters. Both regimes build concentration camps in fact it was the Soviet Union who first set a large network of concentration camps. It was not the famous Nazi death camps that were largest camps during the war it was a Soviet camp in Vorkut that the largest camp in WW2 history. Another fact that after the liberation of Nazi Death Camps in Poland, the camps were not closed but put back in order for the Soviet use.
In therms of Genocide Nazis are the main evil. The Holocaust is the major ethnic genocide in the history of the 20th century. However the question of Stalin’s genocide is important. The convention on genocide also included the mass extermination of social and political classes, however was was declined by the Soviet Union in UN. If the original draft would pass it would potentially make Stalin’s crimes as Genocide. Soviet Union had good reason not to support the original draft. Since the October coup, Bolsheviks eliminated large masses of political and social groups. And the body count of the Stalin’s Genocide exceeds the Holocaust victim count. They may be a question of more than 10 million people. We must note that recognition of Stalinist genocide or comparison with the Nazi crimes does not in any way minimize the importance of the Holocaust. The objective research of the Stalinist crimes and its commemoration is not Holocaust revisionism and cannot change what the Nazis did. The victims of the Stalinist crimes deserve the same attention and support just as the Holocaust victims. No nation holds the rights for the monopoly of suffering for the suffering is deeply individual and subjective experience. Both sides fighting against or for so called double genocide theory needs to remember this.
In order to compare Stalin and Hitler regime we do not need to go deeply into speculations about ideology and patterns of killings. The main resemblance is the common nature of the both totalitarian states. The crimes they committed were close to each other and went beyond in terms of ideological writings and speeches. On May 9 1945 Nazi Germany was defeated but the Soviet Union along with its crimes was able to pretend as the “lesser evil” for 50 years. And they are still pretending now. Communist propaganda freely exists, communist symbols are not banned and ex communist nation Russia still defends Stalin’s actions in official level. There is a need for a time when Communism will suffer the same condemnation as Nazism. Until then the World War II is far from being over.