Disinfo: By defeating Nazism, Stalin atoned for crimes against his own people and saved other nations

Summary

Obviously Stalin committed crimes against his own people. But did he not, at least in part, atone for these crimes by defeating Nazism? It is clear that had Stalin not achieved this result, the Czech nation (and other nations) would not even exist. It would have been partially enslaved, destroyed and Germanised. Therefore the issue of Stalin’s crimes and merits is complex, as are issues related to World War II. As Schiller wrote in his Ode to Joy: supreme justice will judge our judges.

Disproof

This message follows the pro-Kremlin policy of historical revisionism seeking to glorify the Soviet victory in World War II, credit Joseph Stalin for this victory, and downplay and relativise the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Stalin and by Soviet totalitarianism. The claim involves deceptive moral equivocation to suggest that Stalin's "defeat" of Nazism nullifies his other crimes against humanity.

Firstly, the revisionist pro-Kremlin claims of Stalin's "defeat" of Nazism and Soviet liberation of eastern Europe don't stand up to scrutiny. Stalin’s alliance with Hitler (1939-1941) created favorable conditions for Nazi Germany’s expansion. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, dividing Europe and the territories of independent states between the two totalitarian regimes and grouping them into spheres of interest, paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War and resulted in half a century of communism in eastern Europe.

Secondly, the cult of the Great Patriotic War, emphasised by Kremlin propaganda, has contributed to a partial rehabilitation of Stalin. The image of Stalin as a strong leader who ensured victory in the Second World War and led a Soviet superpower has re-emerged in Kremlin propaganda; meanwhile, the millions who perished in waves of state-organised terror under Stalin's authority have been pushed to the margins of Russia's collective historical memory.

Stalin is widely considered to have been one of the world's most brutal dictators. On his orders, millions of Soviet citizens faced execution, and more perished in the GULAG, the system of prisons and forced labor camps throughout the Soviet Union. Millions more starved to death in the Holodomor, the deadly famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine that was engineered by Stalin to eliminate a perceived threat to central Soviet power. Stalin also led the “Great Terror” - a brutal political campaign to eliminate dissenting members of the Communist Party and others perceived to be a threat to the regime. While estimates vary, most historians believe that at least 750,000 people were executed as part of the Great Purge between 1936 and 1938.

It is a stretch of the imagination to suggest that these crimes have been atoned. In its resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe, the EU Parliament notes: "although the crimes of the Nazi regime were evaluated and punished by means of the Nuremberg trials, there is still an urgent need to raise awareness, carry out moral assessments, and conduct legal inquiries into the crimes of Stalinism and other dictatorships."

Read similar examples of  pro-Kremlin narratives claiming that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact played a critical role in saving humanity from Nazism and that it was Stalin who stopped Hitler.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 196
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/05/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Czech Republic, USSR, Germany
  • Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Historical revisionism, WWII, Joseph Stalin, Nazi/Fascist
  • Outlet: Sputnik Italia
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