Monday, October 26, 2020


The Hitler-Stalin Pact, 1939

Reviewing Hitler and Stalin at The Telegraph:
Who was the worst tyrant of the 20th century? While there are many contenders – from Mao to Pol Pot – none has been responsible for more deliberate killings than Adolf Hitler, with Joseph Stalin a close second, argues Lawrence Rees in his impressive parallel study. Comparing the crimes of Hitler and Stalin is not about denying the singularity of the Holocaust, he notes. It is about reminding people of the scale of destruction brought about by these two men, and to make sure that those who suffered from their rule are not forgotten. ....

The book focuses on the war years, which Hitler and Stalin started as allies, before, two years later, Hitler broke their pact and invaded the Soviet Union, turning them into mortal enemies. Stalin’s troops, weakened by years of purges at their leader’s behest, were initially overwhelmed when Hitler unleashed his forces on June 22 1941. ....

For both men, it was the First World War that changed everything, creating the space for the Bolsheviks to come to power in late 1917 and setting Hitler on his journey into politics. Neither of the two was interested in material wealth, but they shared an obsession with political power. Stalin continued to dress in simple workers’ or soldiers’ uniforms at the height of his rule; Hitler cultivated his image as an ordinary German chosen by destiny to lead his people. Both abhorred Christianity and liberal democracy, and firmly believed that a utopian future would emerge from their rule – and were both willing, determined even, to destroy anyone and anything that stood in its way. ....

Neither Hitler nor Stalin ever felt remorse for murdering millions of civilians. In fact, Stalin insisted that even Russia’s bloodthirsty 16th-century tsar, Ivan the Terrible, whom he otherwise admired, had been too “kind” to his enemies: “He should have killed them all.”
Hitler and Stalin by Laurence Rees review: a tale of two tyrants

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