Well Wyrd, your original post on the matter (which Lynette had quoted, and I in turn was picking up on her answer) referred not to persons held captive or executed by Stalin or in Siberia but to the soldiers
who were killed or taken captive by the German army on the Eastern front. Let's go back:
Plus, some 20 million Russian troops lost their lives in WW2. I think thats a bit more dire then the 8 million people who were killed by the Nazi's. If people want to learn the true face of the horrors of history, Joseph Stalin will always be a bigger monster then Hitler
Is it easier to think of millions of men being killed in battle or by General Winter or starvation, than the pre-planned and methodical genocide? The Nazi's efficiency is the horrific part for me and why, I am sad to admit, the Holocaust looms larger in my mind then any other genocide.
Soldiers who died at the hands of the Germans and their allies, okay. These were millions, killed on the frontier or after they had surrendered, and the intention of the Germans with respect to Russia was clearly genocidal. Many Soviet soldiers who had been taken captive during Hitler's eastern crusade were actually sent to the extermination camps and gassed, sent to forced labour and perished there, or were shot on the spot. Millions of civilians were killed or made to starve to death by the German army too. I think its slightly obscene to pin he moral and political guilt for those
deaths on the Soviet regime. Or to hint that they had nothing to fight for, because their own regime was every bit as rotten as Hitler's.
Maybe you're arguing that Stalin was such an incompetent military manager that he half-deliberately sold out his own troops to defeat and death. I'm no Stalin admirer but I still think that's a bizarre idea, a discussion about it doesn't belong in this thread though. I admit he killed some of his own generals on phoney accusations in the thirties but those guys were not really professionals in modern warfare - they were more old band leaders from the civil war in 1918-20 who had received the title of general as an honour, and they wouldn't have been of much use when Hitler invaded with armour shocks and airplane strikes or in the planning for such options. Stalin knew Hitler was going to invade, even though he missed out on the date.
Actually, if the Soviets hadn't stood up to Hitler, D-Day would have been impossible. For three years, between June 1941 and June 1944, the Red Army were the only major combatant that actually put its forces face to face with Hitler's on European soil (excepting Italy 1943/44, but that was never a decisive theatre of war). They did it continuously, month after month, and they had to pay a huge price for it - but they also made the Germans pay over time. You can't win a war against an adversary who is anywhere near your own strength just by bombing or by trade blockade. If Stalin and the Soviets hadn't mowed down the Germans, there would have been no invasion in the West because Hitler would have been able to put so much more force there, and no allied victory at all. Roosevelt, Churchill and Eisenhower wouldn't even have attempted an invasion: they knew they couldn't take it on until there was a more
than 50/50 chance of winning.
When it comes to overall numbers of people creditably killed by either tyrant, I used to hear that Hitler's genocide killed about 6 million Jews and 6 million other people (Russians, Poles, other Slavs, gypsies, HBTs) - most of them dying in occupied Poland and Russia, and some in German prisons and camps.You'll need to add political prisoners who died in camps and prisons, resistance fighters and hostages and so on, but let's say around 13 million not counting soldiers killed in action.
There are any number of figures of civilians who died "because of the regime" under Lenin and Stalin, from 2 million to 60 million, and few real authorities. A lot of it is guesswork and extrapolations; the Soviets didn't keep near as decent records of what they did as the Germans, plus they had much more time to remove records (or records getting lost) after the fact. Now, after essential records and testimonies go missing, the figures somebody is suggesting can be wrong in either direction, both too low and too high. Anne Applebaum, who has the reputation of a "Gulag expert", said in an interview I read that she would go for the highest numeric estimates possible because one had to assume the Soviets had been good at hiding their crimes and destroying evidence, and anyway it was an evil regime, so why bother to be methodic and cautious in your estimates? In her eyes we have a moral obligation to stick with those survivors, or people claiming to be standing on the shoulders of the dissidents, who call up the highest figures and make the iciest accusations. That's unscientific and propagandistic, and to me it proves that she has some axes she is grinding.
Solzhenitsyn makes no numeric estimates at all, he admits that there was no way of knowing - and he points out at the start of The Gulag Archipelago
that he is not making a complete description of the camp system, that it would have been beyond even his powers. He implies the numbers of dead were very large, and he's probably right, but how
large? Some of the really high-end estimates, like 20 to 50 million dead "because of Stalin and Lenin", throw in everything that happened which wouldn't plausibly have been the case in a peaceful and well-ordered Western European country at the same time - epidemics, civil war, famine - and credits it to Stalinist destruction and murder. That's not sensible either. Russia had huge problems and backwardnesses at the end of the tsarist era and there's seriously no guarantee that these would have been solved painlessly if only the communists hadn't come into power.