7 reasons why I'm always shocked when people believe that it's legitimate to compare or equate Stalin and Hitler.
1. Nazi ideology is inherently bad and corrupt
: Hitler believed that some men deserved to die because of their so-called "race", especially Jews, or because they were gay, disabled, or whatever. Stalin strongly opposed racism and even said: "Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism."
2. Hitler supported capitalism and opposed communism
: Germany was the country that privatized the biggest number of state companies in the 1930's
. Not really surprising since Hitler rose to power with the help of big business
. Hitler said
: "In the economic sphere communism is analogous to democracy in the political sphere." Hitler extended capitalism to its climax. It wasn't enough to exploit the workforce, the Nazis eventually transformed the dead into consumer goods: soaps made from fat
3. Hitler opposed the very concept of democracy, Stalin didn't
: Although one will argue that Stalin was a dictator, he still supported democracy as a political objective
and even introduced secret ballot in the USSR in 1937. Hitler, however, directly opposed the concept of democracy: "Democracy will in practice lead to the destruction of a people's true values
4. Hitler killed many more than Stalin
: The German fascists, in 13 years of ruling (1933-1945), caused the death of 11 to 12 million noncombatants, including 2.8 million by gassing. The Soviets, during the 31 years of Stalin's rule (1922-1953), killed 6 to 9 million, according to American historian Timothy Snyder
. Those figures comprise the 3.3 million Ukrainians who died during the 1932-1933 famine, and apparently the 5 million Soviet citizens for the higher estimate. The involvement of the USSR in the famine has been criticized by Canadian historian Mark Tauger who proved with accurate figures
that there was no deliberate intent to cause a famine in Ukraine. Therefore if we remove the 1932-1933 famine from the number of direct and indirect killings, we would obtain a figure of 3 to 4 millions killed during the whole Stalin era, far behind the Nazi figures.
Moreover, if you believe as I do that war itself was the logical consequence of the Nazi system and ideology, you would have to add the millions of deaths caused by the fascist war itself, including the 27 million Soviet citizens.
5. Soviet and Nazi crimes were different in nature
: Many people were released from the gulag, while you would hardly be released from a Nazi concentration camp, and certainly not from a death camp. The intent behind the Nazi death camps was very different. The Soviets didn't kill people on an industrial scale with industrial methods such as the use of Zyklon B. The Soviets didn't made horrendous experiments
on living people. The importance of the difference between Soviet and Nazi crimes has been stressed by Marcuse in one of his letters
to Nazi philosopher Heidegger: "If however the difference between inhumanity and humanity is reduced to this erroneous calculus, then this becomes the world historical guilt of the Nazi system, which has demonstrated to the world what, after more than 2000 years of Western Dasein [Existence] , men can do to their fellow men."
6. Stalin's USSR was on the side of the Allies (in case you forgot your own side)
: The USSR was undoubtedly on the side of the Allies as it contributed more than any other country to the defeat of fascism. The overwhelming majority of German losses during WWII were caused by the USSR. As a consequence, equating Stalin and Hitler is nothing less than an infamous revision of history. This revision of history is especially clear when people openly endorse Nazi soldiers like Rommel while accusing Stalin of being an evil murderer. I must also recall that it was the Soviet Union that freed most of the prisoners from Nazi concentration and death camps. My old friend Georges, prisoner at Sachsenhausen near Berlin, who was lucky enough to survive the "death march
", never accepted the Stalin=Hitler revisionist stance.
7. Stalin has a positive legacy, Hitler doesn't:
Most people hate Stalin in Western countries, although they never suffered under Stalin's yoke. So obviously, people in Russia would have to hate Stalin even more. But no, that's the contrary
. Guess why? Stalin had a fast growing economy, a stable government, and won the war against Nazi Germany. After the war, the USSR was the second superpower in the world and contributed to the decolonization of many countries. One might argue that Hitler had straighten the German economy, however all the benefits were eventually lost in the foolish war that he started. Therefore, nothing remains but the trauma
that he caused to his country.
In conclusion, I respect Stalin as much as I respect Bonaparte. I'm no more a Stalinist than I'm a Bonapartiste
. Both did horrendous things, such as gassing black men
in Haiti, but both also contributed to the progress of the world. I believe that I owe to Stalin a part of the freedom that I enjoy today, especially as I doubt that the Allies would have won the war against Nazi Germany without the Soviet Union and Stalin's personal contribution. I'm proud that some Frenchmen fought on the side of the Soviet Union
during the war, just as my grandfather fought in the Special Air Service. While I gladly accept any criticism of Stalin's actions and any uncover of his personal responsibility in the Soviet crimes, I have always seen and will continue to see any attempt to equate Stalin and Hitler as a dangerous and shameful revision of history that can only contribute to the inevitable return of fascism, as already observed in some European countries such as Ukraine