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"In what sense is Stalinism the necessary condition for a Mandelstam, a Pasternak, a Solzhenitsyn?"-- In Bluebeard's Castle (1971) by George Steiner

"In the eighty-year-long Hemoclysm sparked by Princip's bullets, three individuals—Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—were responsible for most of the violent deaths. [...] Most of the violence of the twentieth century has been caused by illiberal ideology, namely, Nazism and communism."--Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Pinker (2015) by Larry Arnhart

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Stalinism is a policy on how to developing a communist society, conceived and implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union whilst officially adhering to Marxist–Leninism. Some criticize Stalinist practical measures, such as repression and economic policy, as a deviation from both Marxist and Leninist philosophy.

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin (December 18, 1878March 5, 1953), from 1928 onwards the de facto dictator of Russia.

Stalin is particularly well known for the number of deaths during his regime. According to Service, Stalin was "one of the most notorious figures in history", one who ordered "the systematic killing of people on a massive scale". Khlevniuk stated that Stalin's actions "upended or utterly destroyed literally millions upon millions of lives". Official records show that 800,000 were shot in the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1952, although a larger number died during torture or as a result of poor conditions in labour camps. Many more died as a result of famines and starvation; between 5 and 7 million died during the 1932–33 famine.

Montefiore suggested that Stalin was ultimately responsible for the deaths of between 20 and 25 million people, with Khlevniuk stating that at least 60 million people faced some form of repression or discrimination under Stalin's regime. In his most recent edition of The Great Terror (2007), Conquest states that while exact numbers may never be known with complete certainty, at least 15 million people were killed "by the whole range of Soviet regime's terrors". Historian and archival researcher Stephen G. Wheatcroft attributes roughly 3 million deaths to the Stalinist regime, including those from criminal negligence (but excluding famine deaths, which he and historian R. W. Davies estimate to be around 5.5 to 6.5 million). American historian Timothy D. Snyder asserts that while the Nazi regime killed 11–12 million non-combatants, Stalin's was responsible for about 6–9 million. Russian writer Vadim Erlikman makes the following estimates: executions, 1.5 million; gulags, 5 million; deportations, 1.7 million out of 7.5 million deported; and POWs and German civilians, 1 million – a total of about 9 million victims of repression.

Political legacy

Historians argue that Stalin was partly responsible for the initial military disasters and enormous human casualties during WWII, because he eliminated so many experienced military officers during the purges. He especially attacked the most senior officers and had rejected intelligence warning of the German attack.

The harshness with which he conducted Soviet affairs was subsequently repudiated by his successors in the Communist Party leadership, notably in the denunciation of Stalinism by Nikita Khrushchev in February 1956. In his "Secret Speech", On the Personality Cult and its Consequences, delivered to a closed session of the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev denounced Stalin for his cult of personality, and his regime for "violation of Leninist norms of legality".

Under Stalin's rule, the Soviet Union was transformed from an agricultural nation into a global superpower. The USSR's industrialization was successful in that the country was able to defend against and defeat the Nazi invasion in World War II, though at an enormous cost in human life. In 1957, four years after Stalin's death, the nation put into orbit the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.

See also

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