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Revisionist Historians

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On 12/16/2008, an interesting message was posted by a professor at Montclair State University  "discuss" list. It was a comment on what I wrote in a recently published book on Stalinism (1). The professor wrote:

"You could have learned something about all the executions--hundreds of thousands of them--about which you do write. Why did they occur? The general reason is clear: Nikolai Ezhov, who headed the NKVD from late 1936 till late 1938, was himself a secret collaborator with the Nazis.

According to his own confessions and those of some of his lieutenants, now published, Ezhov directed that hundreds of thousands of innocent people be arrested, convicted on phony charges, and executed, in order to spread discontent among the population, and facilitate a Japanese and/or German invasion of the USSR.

The oppositionists, Ezhov included, had made deals with the Germans and Japanese to come to power in the USSR, if the Germans and Japanese helped them overthrow the Stalin government. Leon Trotsky was involved in all this too. However, Tukhachevsky and the other military men planned to put Trotsky out of the way once they had seized power themselves.

This is the general outline of what happened. We have a lot more to learn about this period. But the broad outlines above are clear enough. How do I know all this? I've read the evidence, which is now available. YOU could have read it too, Ludwik. Better than I could, since you also know Polish, and probably read Russian better than I do too. Instead, you keep on retailing the lies spread by others, without doing any research at all. What a shame!"  

That is a rather unique interpretation of what happened in the Soviet Union, between 1934 and 1939. Am I the only one to reject the idea about leading Bolsheviks being German and Japanese spies? What evidence is available to support such a claim? Can the "according to his own confession" argument be trusted?

I have no doubt that Stalin was a very smart and highly competent administrator. Otherwise he would not have been able to manipulate Soviet terror, and to outmaneuver most of the Bolshevik leaders, for example, Bukharin, Ezhov, Kamenev, Pyatakov, Radek, Rykow, Tukhachevski, Zinoviev, etc. All of them were killed in the late 1930's.   I also have no doubt that he was responsible for the well known Katyn massacre of Polish officers. But another author's message (2), made me aware of something I did not know.  The author wrote: "

"One of the books I'm reading is Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy.  I got to page 411 and was reminded . . .  Kissinger is describing the Tehran and Yalta conferences in the section I'm reading.  He writes 'On one occasion, when Stalin urged the execution of 50,000 German officers, Churchill walked out and returned only after Stalin had followed him to give his assurances that he had been jesting – which, in light of what we now know of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers, was probably not true.'
 
Kissinger's reference for that anecdote is Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1992), p. 821.
 
That is a remarkable occurrence even if Stalin was jesting, for if Stalin said that as a joke, what could have been his motivation?   If as the Revisionist Historians allege, Stalin was the unwitting dupe of violent underlings who are to blame for the earlier massacres, did Stalin make that joke in ignorance of what his evil underlings had done?   
 
The explanation that I suspect Occam would approve is that Stalin was serious about the massacre and lying about jesting.  An alternate explanation that Occam might not hate is that Stalin was sounding Churchill out to see what he would think of Stalin's method of nipping opposition in the bud? Stalin's fear of Germany building itself up and trying it again in a few years must have been on everyone's mind."

The meaning of the phrase "revisionist historians" is clear to me. It is used by Helm to describe those who defend Stalinism today. How many professional historians in the US, and in other western countries, believe that most Bolsheviks executed by Stalin were German and Japanese spies? That would not be difficult to prove or disprove by those who were able to study German and Japanese archives, after W.W. II.


References:
1) Ludwik Kowalski, "Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist Regime;" Wasteland Press, Shelbyville, KY, 2008.

2) Lawrence Helm, 12/20/2008, at his website:
h t t p ://www.lawrencehelm.com









 

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.htm

Ludwik Kowalski is a retired physics teacher (Professor emeritus, Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA). He is the author of two recently-published FREE books:

1) "Hell on Earth: Brutality and violence under the Stalinist regime" (more...)
 
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1) Once again I am discovering that our artificial... by Ludwik Kowalski on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 9:14:25 AM
I am always amused to note the highly selective un... by David Mirams on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 5:05:43 PM
That is true. Here is how I reacted to a recent me... by Ludwik Kowalski on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 6:33:20 PM
Besides the fact that history is written by the vi... by Michael McCoy on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 3:29:03 AM