Domenico Losurdo
Translation: David Ferreira, Roderic Day
Editing: Roderic Day

How to Cast a God into Hell: The Khrushchev Report (2008)

92 minutes | English | The Soviet Union

This is the first chapter of Losurdo’s Stalin: History and Critique of a Black Legend (2008). This book is not officially available in English. David Ferreira led a community effort to create an unofficial crowdsourced translation, and this work builds on their efforts. I revised some phrasing, using official English excerpts wherever possible, and provided links to resources that I was able to find online. Additionally, some content from later in the book, referenced in footnotes, was inlined for the sake of completeness. — R. D. [1]


A “Huge, Grim, Whimsical, Morbid, Human Monster”

If today we analyze On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, read by Khrushchev at a closed door session during the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and later hailed as the Secret Report, one detail immediately draws our attention: what’s before us is a condemnatory speech that intends to liquidate Stalin in every respect. The man guilty of so many horrendous crimes was an individual worthy of contempt both at the moral and the intellectual level. Besides being ruthless, the dictator was also laughable: “He knew the country and agriculture only from films”; films that, moreover, “dressed up and beautified the existing situation” to the point of making it unrecognizable. [2] Instead of being driven by political logic or Realpolitik, the bloody repression unleashed by him was dictated by his capriciousness and his pathological lust for power [libido dominandi]. Thus emerges the portrait of — Deutscher observes with satisfaction in June of 1956, astonished by Khrushchev’s “revelations” and forgetful of his own respectful and at times admiring appraisal of Stalin only three years prior — “the huge, grim, whimsical, morbid, human monster.” [3] The despot was so lacking in scruples that he was suspected of having plotted the assassination of Kirov, the man who was — or who appeared to be — his best friend, as an excuse to denunciate and liquidate his opponents, whether real or potential or imaginary, one after another. [4] The merciless repression was not limited to individuals or political figures. Instead, it would include “the mass deportations of entire nations,” arbitrarily accused and collectively condemned for collaborating with the enemy. However, at least Stalin had contributed to saving his country and the world from the horrors of the Third Reich? On the contrary: Khrushchev insists that the Great Patriotic War was won in spite of the dictator’s madness. It was only because of his shortsightedness, his stubbornness, and the blind trust he placed in Hitler that the Third Reich’s troops managed to initially enter deep into Soviet territory, causing death and destruction on a massive scale.

Yes, it’s thanks to Stalin that the Soviet Union arrives unprepared and poorly defended for its tragic encounter: “We started to modernize our military equipment only on the eve of the war […]. At the outbreak of the war we did not even have sufficient numbers of rifles to arm the mobilized manpower.” As if that wasn’t enough, “after our severe initial disasters and defeats at the front” the man responsible for all of this resigned himself to despair and even apathy. Overtaken by a sense of defeat (“Lenin left us a great legacy and we’ve lost it forever”) and unable to react, “Stalin for a long time actually did not direct military operations and ceased to do anything whatsoever.” [5] True, after some time had passed, finally ceding to pressure from other members of the Politburo, he returned to his post. If only he hadn’t! The Soviet Union, at the time when it faced a mortal threat, was despotically led by a dictator so incompetent that he had acted “without knowing the basics of conducting battle operations.” It’s a charge that the Secret Report firmly insists on: “We should note that Stalin planned operations on a globe. Yes, comrades, he used to take a globe and trace the front line on it.” [6] This notwithstanding, the war did end favorably; however, the bloodthirsty paranoia of the dictator only grew worse from then on.

We can thus consider complete the portrait of the “morbid human monster” that emerges, according to Deutscher, from the Secret Report.

At the time of the speech, only three years had passed since the demonstrations of grief provoked by Stalin’s death. His popularity was still so strong and enduring that, at least in the USSR, the campaign launched by Khrushchev was initially met with “a good deal of resistance”:

On 5 March 1956 students in Tbilisi went out into the streets to lay flowers at the monument to Stalin on the third anniversary of his death. Their gesture in honor of Stalin turned into a protest against the decisions of the Twentieth Party Congress. The demonstrations and meetings continued for five days, and on the evening of 9 March tanks were brought into the city to restore order. [7]

Perhaps this explains the characteristics of the text we are examining. In the USSR and in the socialist camp at large a hard political struggle was taking place, and this caricature of Stalin served admirably to delegitimize “Stalinists” who might have cast a shadow on the new leader. A “cult of personality” had reigned up until that moment, so nuanced judgment wasn’t sufficient: it was necessary to cast a god into hell. Some decades earlier, in the course of another political battle with different characteristics — but fought no less bitterly — Trotsky also painted a picture of Stalin that sought not only to condemn him at the political and moral level, but also to ridicule him at a personal level: he had been a “oafish provincial,” an individual characterized from the very beginning by an irredeemable mediocrity and pettiness, who regularly underperformed in political, military and ideological spheres, who never managed to divest himself of “his most deeply rooted traits — distrust of the masses, utter lack of imagination, short-sightedness, a penchant for the line of least resistance.” [8] True, in 1913 he had published a work of undeniable theoretical value (Marxism and the National Question), but its true author was Lenin — the man whose signature it bears should be considered an “usurper” of the great revolutionary’s “intellectual rights.” [9]

There is no shortage of overlap between the two portraits. Khrushchev insinuated that the real instigator of Kirov’s assassination had been Stalin, just as Stalin had been accused (or at least suspected) by Trotsky of having hastened Lenin’s death with his “truly fiendish” ambition. [10] The Secret Report denounced Stalin for his cowardly neglect of responsibility at the start of Hitler’s invasion, but as early as 2 September 1939, anticipating Operation Barbarossa, Trotsky wrote that “the new aristocracy” in power in Moscow was characterized, among other things, for its “incapacity to conduct a war”; the Soviet Union had a “ruling caste” and “its formula was that of all doomed regimes: ‘after us the deluge.’” [11]

Broadly convergent with each other, to what extent do these two narratives withstand historical investigation? It is worthwhile to begin by analyzing the Secret Report which, made official by the CPSU Congress and the leadership of the ruling party, immediately imposed itself as a long-suppressed but thenceforth indisputable truth.

The Great Patriotic War and Khrushchev’s Inventions

Starting with Stalingrad and the defeat inflicted on the Third Reich (a force that had appeared invincible), Stalin acquired enormous prestige around the whole world. Therefore, not surprisingly, Khrushchev dwells on this point in particular. He describes in catastrophic terms the lack of military preparedness of the Soviet Union, whose army, in some cases, had been without even the most basic armaments. In direct contrast stands the picture which emerges from studies associated with the Bundeswehr, and which make extensive use of German military archives. We read about “the multiple superiority of the Red Army in tanks, aircraft, and artillery pieces.” Furthermore, “the industrial capacity of the USSR had increased to an extent where it was able to equip the Soviet armed forces ‘with a truly inconceivable amount of armaments’ within very short periods of time.” The rhythm only accelerates as we approach Operation Barbarossa. One piece of information stands out: “KV tanks, which had no equal anywhere in the world; 358 units of these were manufactured in 1940, while 1,503 units were manufactured in the first six months of 1941.” [12] For their part, documents from the Russian archives demonstrate that, starting at least two years before the Third Reich’s aggression, Stalin was literally obsessed with the problem of the “quantitative increase” and the “qualitative improvement of the entire military apparatus.” Some figures speak for themselves: while in the first five-year plan the defense budget accounted for 5.4% of total state spending, by 1941 it had increased to 43.4%; “In September of 1939, on Stalin’s orders, the Politburo made the decision to construct by 1941 nine new factories for the production of planes.” At the time of Hitler’s invasion, “industrial output stood at 2,700 warplanes and 4,300 tanks.” [13] Judging by these figures, it cannot be said that the USSR arrived unprepared to its tragic encounter with war.

Elsewhere, a decade later, an American historian dealt a substantial blow to the myth of a leader who abandoned himself to despair and resignation immediately after Nazi invasion: “However shaken he was, Stalin had eleven hours of meetings with party, state, and military leaders on the day of the attack, and he received visitors almost continuously for the next several days.” [14] We now have at our disposal the visitor log from Stalin’s office in the Kremlin, discovered in the early 1990s: it appears that in the hours immediately following the aggression the Soviet leader engaged in a a series of uninterrupted meetings and initiatives to organize resistance. These days are characterized by an activity that is “strenuous,” yet organized. Either way, “the whole episode [narrated by Khrushchev] is a complete fabrication,” and “the story is false.” [15] In fact, from the very beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Stalin made decisions not only about major issues such as the relocation of residents and industrial installations from the frontline areas, but in fact “retained minute control over everything, from the size and shape of bayonets to the Pravda headlines and who wrote the articles.” [16] There’s no trace of panic or hysteria. Dimitrov offers the following account in a diary entry: “At 7:00 a.m. I was urgently summoned to the Kremlin. Germany has attacked the USSR. The war has begun. […] Striking calmness, resoluteness, confidence of Stalin and all the others.” More impressive yet is the ideological clarity. It’s not only a matter of carrying out the “mobilization of all our forces.” It’s necessary as well to define the political situation. Yes, “only the Communists can defeat the fascists” and put an end to the apparently irresistible rise of the Third Reich, but it’s necessary not to lose sight of the real nature of the conflict: “The parties in the localities are mounting a movement in defense of the USSR. The issue of socialist revolution is not to be raised. The Soviet people are waging a patriotic war against fascist Germany. It is a matter of routing fascism, which has enslaved a number of peoples and is bent on enslaving still more.” [17]

The political strategy that presides over the Great Patriotic War is well-defined. Already some months earlier, on 5 May 1941, Stalin had stressed that the expansionism carried out by the Third Reich sought the “slavery and exploitation of the workers,” and that these ought to respond with just wars of resistance and national liberation. [18] Stalin observes: “Is the German army invincible? No. It is not invincible. […] Germany is continuing the war under the banner of the conquest and enslavement of other peoples, under the banner of hegemony. That is a great disadvantage for the German army.” [19] To those that scholastically counterposed internationalism to patriotism, the Communist International had once again already responded, before Hitler’s aggression, as is shown by Dimitrov’s diary entry from 12 May 1941:

We will have to develop the idea of combining a healthy, properly understood nationalism with proletarian internationalism. Proletarian internationalism should be grounded in such a nationalism in the individual countries. Comrade Stalin made it clear that between nationalism properly understood and proletarian internationalism there can be no contradictions. Rootless cosmopolitanism that denies national feelings and the notion of a homeland has nothing in common with proletarian internationalism. Such cosmopolitanism paves the way for the recruitment of spies, enemy agents. [20]

Far from being an improvised and desperate reaction to the situation that Operation Barbarossa had thrust them into, the strategy of the Great Patriotic War expressed a theoretical orientation that had been maturing for quite some time, and which possessed a general character: internationalism and the international cause of the emancipation of peoples were concretely advanced by the wave of wars of national liberation, wars which had been made necessary by Hitler’s attempt to resume and radicalize the colonial tradition, starting with the subjugation and enslavement of the supposedly servile races of Eastern Europe. These are the recurring themes in the speeches and statements delivered by Stalin during the war: they constituted “major milestones in the declaration of Soviet military strategy and political aims and played an important role in boosting popular morale.” [21] They took on international prominence as well, as evidenced by the observations of a chagrined Goebbels reflecting on the occasion of Stalin’s radio address of 3 July 1941; it had been “widely admired in England and in the United States.” [22]

A Series of Disinformation Campaigns and Operation Barbarossa

Even if we restrict ourselves to the realm of military strategy, the Secret Report has lost all credibility. According to Khrushchev, Stalin fails to heed the multiple “warnings” provided by many different sources, and irresponsibly heads off into the abyss. What can we say about this accusation? First, consider that even information coming from a friendly country can be incorrect. For example, on 17 June 1942 Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned Stalin of an imminent Japanese attack that never materialized. [23] Particularly on the eve of Hitler’s invasion, the USSR is forced to operate amid massive diversionary tactics and disinformation operations. The Third Reich goes great lengths to make it appear as if its massing of troops in the East is meant to camouflage an imminent leap across the English Channel, and this appears very plausible after their having conquered the Greek island of Crete. “The entire state and military apparatus is being mobilized,” Goebbels smugly notes in his diary in late May, in order to stage the “first great round of misdirection” of Operation Barbarossa. Thus “14 divisions are transported to the West.” [24] Moreover, all troops stationed on the Western front are placed in the highest state of alert. [25] Nearly two weeks later, the Berlin issue of Völkischer Beobachter publishes an article indicating that the occupation of Crete was a model for the coming settling of accounts with England; a few hours later the journal is censored with the goal of giving the impression that it had betrayed secret information of great importance. Three days later Goebbels writes in his diary: “British broadcasters are already announcing that our maneuvers against Russia are only a bluff, that they are meant to conceal our preparations for an invasion [of England].” [26] In addition to this disinformation campaign, Germany circulated rumors that the military deployment in the East was intended to pressure the USSR, possibly with an ultimatum, into agreeing to redefine the terms of the German-Soviet pact and to commit to export greater quantities of grain, oil, and coal needed by a Third Reich involved in a war that showed no signs of ending. In other words, they wanted to give the impression that the crisis could be resolved with new negotiations and additional concessions on the part of Moscow. [27] This is the conclusion that British Army intelligence arrives at, delivered by its leadership to the Ministry of War as late as 22 May: “Hitler has not yet decided whether to pursue his goals [in the direction of the USSR] by persuasion or by force of arms.” [28] On 14 June Goebbels writes with satisfaction in his diary: “In general, people still believe it’s either a bluff or a blackmail attempt.” [29]

It’s also important to not underestimate the disinformation campaign carried out by the opposite side, initiated two years earlier. In November 1939 the French press publishes a fabricated speech (supposedly delivered before the Politburo on 19 August of that same year) in which Stalin reveals a plan to weaken Europe, encouraging a fratricidal war in order to Sovietize it later. There’s no doubt: it was a forgery that sought to unravel the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in order to redirect the Third Reich’s expansionist fury to the East. [30] According to a much circulated legend of history, on the eve of Hitler’s aggression, London had warned Stalin without success, for Stalin — as is to be expected of a dictator — only trusted in his counterpart in Berlin. However, while Great Britain informs Moscow of information related to Operation Barbarossa, they spread rumors about an imminent USSR attack against either Germany or territories occupied by it. [31] Their interest in making inevitable, or in precipitating as quickly as possible, the German-Soviet conflict is both evident and understandable.

Then there’s the mysterious flight by Rudolf Hess to England, clearly motivated by the hope of reconstructing the West’s unity in the struggle against Bolshevism, and thereby putting into motion the program described in Mein Kampf of an alliance and solidarity between the Germanic nations in their civilizing mission. [32] Soviet agents abroad inform the Kremlin that the number two in the Nazi regime undertook this initiative with the Führer’s full support. [33] High-ranking figures in the Third Reich continued believing until the very end the theory that Hess had acted at the encouragement of Hitler. In any case, Hitler felt the need to urgently dispatch the minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop to Rome, to reassure Mussolini that Germany wasn’t planning a separate peace with Great Britain. [34] This suspected stagecraft naturally causes even bigger concerns in Moscow, aggravated by measures taken by the British to encourage it. Rather than extract “maximum propaganda capital out of Hess’s capture — something that both Hitler and Goebbels feared,” they set about “sowing further doubts in Stalin’s mind about whether Britain was about to strike a deal with Hitler.” [35] The Soviet ambassador in London, Ivan Maisky, informs Stalin that the interrogation of Hess is entrusted to Lord Simon, a supporter of appeasement. [36] Though they leave the door open to Anglo-Soviet rapprochement, the secret services of His Majesty concentrate on spreading rumors of an imminent separate peace between London and Berlin; all towards the end of pressuring the Soviet Union (which perhaps would have sought to prevent the dreaded forging of an alliance between Britain and the Third Reich with a preemptive Red Army strike on the Wehrmacht), and to strengthen Britain’s bargaining capacity in any scenario. [37]

One can now understand the Kremlin’s caution and distrust: there was reason to guard against a second Munich Agreement, on a larger and more tragic scale. [38] It can also be speculated that the second disinformation campaign staged by the Third Reich played a role. Transcripts found in the CPSU archives indicate that Stalin’s 5 May 1941 speech to military academy graduates, with the USSR’s imminent military involvement in the war as a foregone conclusion, emphasized that historically Germany had achieved victory when it had been engaged on only one front, while it had suffered defeat when it had been forced to fight simultaneously the East and West. [39] On the one hand, it seems Stalin underestimated the likelihood that Hitler would attack the USSR, but on the other, a premature total mobilization would have precipitated precisely that outcome by serving the Third Reich with casus belli on a silver platter, as had happened at the start of first World War. In any case, some facts are beyond question: even while maneuvering cautiously in a complex environment, the Soviet leader pushes an “acceleration of his preparations for war.” In fact, between May and June “800,000 reservists were called up,” mid-May “28 divisions were ordered to the western districts of the USSR,” in June “38,500 men were sent to the fortified areas of the border districts” and orders are issued to “camouflage targets and disperse aircraft.” “On the night of 21–22 June this vast force was put on alert and warned to expect a surprise attack by the Germans.” [40]

To discredit Stalin, Khrushchev stresses the spectacular initial victories of the invading armies, but leaves out the predictions made at the time by the West. After the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and the entrance of the Wehrmacht into Prague, Lord Halifax continued to reject the idea of a rapprochement between England and the USSR, resorting to the following argument: it didn’t make sense to ally with a country whose armed forces were “insignificant.” [41] On the eve of Operation Barbarossa, or at the moment when it’s unleashed, the British secret services operated on “unanimous” reports: “If a German-Soviet war should come the Soviet Union will be liquidated within eight to ten weeks”; [42] the advisor of U.S. Secretary of State (Henry L. Stimson) had predicted on 23 June that it would all be over within one to three months. [43] Moreover, the Wehrmacht’s lightning-fast breakthrough — as observed in our days by an illustrious scholar of military history — is easily explained by geography:

The 1,800 mile breadth of that front, and the scarcity of natural obstacles, offered the attacker immense scope for infiltration and manoeuvre. Despite the great size of the Red Army, the ratio of force to space was so low that the German mechanized forces could easily find openings for indirect advance onto their opponent’s rear. At the same time the widely spaced cities where road and railways converged provided the attacker with alternative objectives that he could exploit to confuse the defending armies as to his direction, and impale them on the ‘horns of a dilemma’ in trying to meet his thrusts. [44]

The Quick Unraveling of the Blitzkrieg

It’s important to not fall for appearances. On closer inspection, the Third Reich’s plan to repeat in the East the triumphant Blitzkrieg achieved in the West encounters problems in the very first weeks of the gigantic confrontation. [45] Joseph Goebbels’ diaries are illuminating in this regard. In the immediate lead-up to the assault he stresses the unstoppable might of the impending German attack, “without a doubt the most powerful the world has ever known”; no one would be able to withstand “the strongest army in all of history.” [46] Therefore, “we are before a triumphal march without precedent […]. I consider the military force of the Russians very low, even lower than the Führer considers it to be. If there ever was a sure bet, it’s this.” [47] In fact, Hitler is no less confident; some months earlier, with a Bulgarian diplomat, he referred to the Soviet Army as but a “joke.” [48]

Nonetheless, from the very beginning the invaders run into unpleasant surprises. “On 25 June, during the first aerial attack on Moscow, the anti-aircraft defenses proved to be so effective that the Luftwaffe is forced to limit itself to a reduced amount of night raids.” [49] It only takes ten days of war for the certainty of the pre-war assumptions to be shaken.

On 2 July, Goebbels writes in his diary:

Overall, the fighting is hard and stubborn. We can in no way speak of a walk in the park. The red regime has mobilized the people. [50]

Events press on, and the mood of the Nazi leadership changes dramatically, as is always evident from Goebbels’ diary.

24 July:

We can have no doubt whatsoever about the fact that the Bolshevik regime, which has existed for nearly a quarter of a century, has left a deep mark on the peoples of the Soviet Union […]. It would be right, therefore, if we clearly informed the German people about the harshness of the struggle taking place in the East. The nation must be told that this operation is very difficult, but that we can and will survive it. [51]

1 August:

At the Führer’s headquarters […] they also openly admit that they were somewhat mistaken in their assessment of Soviet fighting power. The Bolsheviks are showing stronger resistance than we expected, and above all the material means at their disposal are greater than we had anticipated. [52]

19 August:

Privately, the Führer is very displeased for having allowed himself to be so deceived about the potential of the Bolsheviks by the reports [sent by German agents] coming from the Soviet Union. In particular, the underestimation of the enemy’s tanks and aircraft caused a great deal of trouble for our military operations. He suffers a lot because of this. We’re dealing with a serious crisis […]. The previous campaigns were a walk in the park by comparison […]. The Führer is not worried about the West […]. In our German thoroughness and objectivity we have always overestimated the enemy, except, in this case, the Bolsheviks. [53]

16 September:

We have totally underestimated the strength of the Bolsheviks. [54]

Scholars in military strategy stress the unforeseen difficulties that challenge the powerful and battle-tested war-machine, basking in the myth of invincibility, upon its entry into the Soviet Union. [55] “Particularly significant for the outcome of the Eastern Front is the Battle of Smolensk in the second half of July 1941 (hitherto overshadowed by research into other events).” [56] The remark is made by a distinguished German historian, who then reports these eloquent diary notes written by General Fedor von Bock on 20 and 26 July:

The enemy seeks to recapture Smolensk at all costs and is constantly sending in new forces. The theory expressed by some that the enemy acts without plans is not reflected in the facts […]. We’ve verified that the Russians have brought up across the front a new and compact deployment of forces. In many areas they seek to go on the offensive. It’s surprising for an adversary which suffered so many blows; they must possess an unbelievable amount of resources, in fact our troops still lament the power of the enemy artillery.

Even more worried, or even decidedly pessimistic, is admiral Wilhelm Canaris, leader of counter-espionage, who, in speaking with General von Bock on 17 July, says: “I see it as very bleak.” [57]

Not only does the Soviet army not break down in the first days and weeks of the assault but, on the contrary, it offers “tenacious resistance,” and turns out to be well-led. Among many factors, “Stalin’s resolve to halt the German advance at Smolensk plays a decisive role.” The results of this astute military command are also reflected in the diplomatic sphere: it is precisely because it is “impressed by the fierce battle around Smolensk” that Japan, present there with observers, decides to reject the Third Reich’s request to join it in war against the Soviet Union. [58] The analysis of the vehemently anti-communist German historian is fully confirmed by Russian scholars who distinguished themselves as champions in the struggle against “Stalinism” in the wake of the Khrushchev report: “The blitzkrieg plans had already been wrecked by the middle of July.” [59] In this context, the tribute paid by Churchill and F. D. Roosevelt on 14 August 1941 to the “splendid defense” of the Soviet army does not appear a formality. [60] A diary entry from Beatrice Webb describes the commotion in Great Britain even outside diplomatic and governmental circles: “What is significant is the suddenness and magnitude of the change in public opinion; from refusal, even on the part of the left wing, to see anything that is good in Soviet Communism, to the equally sudden waking up of the ordinary conservative-minded man to a lively interest in the surprising courage, initiative and magnificent equipment of the Red armed forces — the one and only sovereign state that has been able to stand up to the almost mythical might of Hitler’s Germany.” [61] In Germany itself, just three weeks after the start of Operation Barbarossa, rumors start to circulate which deeply question the regime’s triumphalist line. This is what emerges from a read of the diary of an eminent German intellectual of Jewish origin: judging by appearances, in the East “we were suffering tremendous losses, had underestimated the Russians’ power of resistance […] in terms of troops and also of armaments they were inexhaustible.” [62]

Long read as an example of political-military ignorance or even blind trust in the Third Reich, the extremely cautious approach taken by Stalin in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of hostilities now appears in an entirely different light: “The relatively open concentration of Wehrmacht forces along the Soviet border, the violations of Soviet airspace and numerous other provocations had only a single purpose: to draw the main forces of the Red Army as close to the border as possible. Hitler wanted to win the war in one gigantic battle.” Even valiant generals were enticed by this trap. Expecting an onslaught, they insisted on a massive relocation of troops toward the border. However, “Stalin categorically rejected this demand, insisting on the need to maintain large-scale reserves at a considerable distance from any conceivable front line.” After the war, studying the material left behind by the German architects of Operation Barbarossa, marshall Georgy K. Zhukov recognized the correctness of the line pursued by Stalin: “Hitler’s command was counting on us bringing our main forces up to the border with the intention of surrounding and destroying them.” [63]

As a matter of fact, in the months following the invasion of the USSR, arguing with his generals, Hitler observed: “The problem is Russian space. Infinite vastness of territory makes concentration on decisive points necessary.” [64] Later, with Operation Barbarossa already underway, he further clarifies his thinking in a conversation: “There have been only three battles of annihilation in the history of the world: Cannae, Sedan and Tannenberg. We can be proud that two of them were fought by German armies.” [65] And yet Hitler’s coveted third and greatest German battle of conquest and annihilation proves forever elusive. Only one week later he is forced to acknowledge that Operation Barbarossa had seriously underestimated the enemy: “The Russian preparation for war must be described as fantastic.” [66] Transparent here is the gambler’s habit of externalizing the blame for his own failures with rationalizations. And yet, similar conclusions are reached by the British military strategy scholar earlier cited: the reason for the French defeat lies “not in quantity nor in quality of equipment, but in their theory”; further, General Gamelin’s excessively advanced deployment of the army had a disastrous effect, because it “largely cast away his strategic flexibility”; a similar mistake was made in Poland as well, driven by “national pride and military over-confidence.” None of this happened in the Soviet Union. [67]

More important than the individual battles is the overall picture. “The Stalinist system was able to mobilize the immense majority of the population and nearly all resources”; particularly “extraordinary” was “the Soviet ability” — in such a difficult situation as the one that arose in the first months of the war — “of evacuating and later reconverting to military production a considerable number of industries.” Yes, “created two days after the German invasion, the Evacuation Committee managed to move to the East 1,500 major industrial companies, after titanic operations of great logistic complexity.” [68] Moreover, that process of relocation had already begun in the weeks or months before Hitler’s aggression: As early as May 1941 General Antonescu, who had recently assumed power in Romania, informed his German allies that “blacksmiths in the outskirts of Moscow had been ordered to transfer their equipment to the interior of the country.” [69] This is further confirmation of the fanciful character of Khrushchev’s accusations.

And yet there’s more. The foreboding of war felt by Soviet leadership is traceable in the direction in which they took the industrialization of the country. Breaking radically with preexisting strategy, they identified “Asian Russia as a key point,” distant and sheltered from possible aggression. [70] Indeed, Stalin had repeatedly and vigorously insisted on this point. On 23 June 1931, he pushes forward the project to “to create a new coal and metallurgical base in the East — the Urals-Kuznetsk Basin […] a metallurgical industry in Siberia […] a new base for non-ferrous metals in Kazakhstan and Turkestan.” [71] A few years later, a report read on 26 January 1934 at the Seventeenth Congress of the CPSU with satisfaction called attention to the powerful industrial development that has been achieved “in Byelorussia, in the Ukraine, in the North Caucasus, in Transcaucasia, in Central Asia, in Kazakhstan, in Buryat-Mongolia, in Tataria, in Bashkiria, in the Urals, in Eastern and Western Siberia, in the Far East, etc.” [72] Trotsky didn’t miss the implications of all this a few years later while analyzing the dangers of war and the Soviet Union’s level of preparation. Highlighting the results achieved by the “planned economy” from a “military point of view,” he observed: “The industrialization of the outlying regions, especially Siberia, has given a wholly new value to the steppe and forest spaces.” [73] With these developments the great territorial expanse of the Soviets begins to assume its full potential, making the execution of the lightning-strike strategy favoured by the German high command more difficult than ever.

It’s precisely the industrial apparatus built in preparation for the war that presents the Third Reich with its biggest and most bitter surprises, as demonstrated by Hitler’s notes.

29 November 1941:

How can such a primitive people manage such technical achievements in such a short time! [74]

26 August 1942:

The fact that Stalin has raised the Russian standard of living is unquestionable. People don’t go hungry [at the moment when Operation Barbarossa was launched]. In general, it’s necessary to recognize that they have built factories of similar importance to Hermann Goering Reichswerke where two years ago nothing but unknown villages existed. We come across railway lines that aren’t even marked on our maps. [75]

At this point it’s worthwhile to consult three very distinct scholars — one Russian, two Western. The first, who at one time directed the Soviet Institute of Military History and who participated in the militant anti-Stalinism of the Gorbachev years, appears motivated by a desire to resume and radicalize the indictment of the Khrushchev report. However, the results of his research compel him to arrive at a more nuanced judgment: without being an expert — much less the genius portrayed by official propaganda — already in the years before the start of the war Stalin was deeply engaged on matters of defense, the defense industry, and the war economy as a whole. [76] At the strictly military level, it’s only through effort and mistakes, including serious mistakes, and “thanks to the hard practice of daily military life,” that he “gradually learns the principles of strategy.” [77] In other fields, however, his thinking proves to be “more developed than many Soviet military leaders.” [78] Thanks as well to the long experience of managing political power, Stalin never loses sight of the central role of the war economy, and he contributes to the strengthening of the USSR’s resistance with the relocation of war industry to the interior: “it’s almost impossible to overestimate the importance of that enterprise.” [79] [80] Finally, the Soviet leader paid great attention to the moral-political dimension of the war. In that field, he “had totally unconventional ideas,” [81] as shown by the “courageous and far-sighted” decision to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution on 7 November 1941 in a besieged Moscow harassed by the Nazi enemy. [82] In conclusion, one can say that, with respect to career military officers and his inner circle, “Stalin demonstrated his more universal mindset.” [83] We could add that it’s a mindset that doesn’t neglect any of the smallest aspects of the life and morale of the soldiers: informed that they had run out of cigarettes, and thanks in part due to his ability to handle a “Herculean workload,” during the Battle of Stalingrad he finds time to “telephone Akaki Mgeladze, Party boss of Abkhazia, where the tobacco was grown: ‘Our soldiers have nothing to smoke! Tobacco’s absolutely necessary at the front!’” [84]

In their positive evaluation of Stalin as a military leader, the pair of British and American authors go even further. While Khrushchev stresses the overwhelming initial successes of the Wehrmacht, the first of the aforementioned experts references these same facts in very different terms: it’s not shocking that the “greatest invasion in military history” had achieved initial successes; however, the response of the Red Army after the devastating blows by the German invasion in June of 1941 was “the greatest feat of arms the world had ever seen.” [85] The second scholar, a professor at an American military academy, draws a comprehensive appraisal that accounts for the long duration of the conflict, the attention given to the rear as well as the front, the economic and political aspects, as well as the more properly military dimension of the war. He speaks of Stalin as a “great strategist,” indeed “the first true strategist of the twentieth century.” [86] This overall judgment finds full agreement with the British scholar earlier cited, whose basic thesis, summarized in the cover flap of his book, identifies Stalin as “the greatest military leader of the twentieth century.” [87] One can, of course, debate or qualify such flattering judgments; however, the fact remains that, at least as far as warfare is concerned, the portrait drawn by Khrushchev has lost all credibility.

Especially because, at the moment of trial by fire, the USSR proved to be very prepared from another essential point of view. Let us again consult Goebbels, who, explaining the unforeseen challenges of Operation Barbarossa, points to another factor besides the enemy’s military power:

It was almost impossible for our spies and conmen to penetrate the Soviet interior. We couldn’t get an accurate picture. The Bolsheviks put great effort into deceiving us. Of their armaments, especially their heavy weaponry, we had no idea. It was the exact opposite of France, where we knew pretty much everything in advance, and could not be surprised in any way. [88]

The Lack of “Common Sense” and the “Mass Deportation of Entire Populations”

As the author of a book in 1913 that would earn him recognition as a theorist on the national question, [89] and as the people’s commissar for nationalities not long after the October Revolution, Stalin carried out his tasks in such a way that he earned the recognition of such diverse personalities as Arendt and De Gasperi. His thoughts on the national question had finally led to an essay on linguistics aimed at demonstrating that, far from disappearing as a result of the overthrow of a particular social class, the language of a nation has notable stability, just as the nation that expresses itself with it enjoys a remarkable stability. [90] That essay would also contribute to consolidating Stalin’s reputation as a theorist of the national question. Even in 1965, although in the context of a strong condemnation of Stalin, Louis Althusser will attribute to him the merit of having opposed the “zeal of those who were making strenuous efforts to prove language a superstructure.” Thanks to these “few simple pages” — the French philosopher will conclude — “we could see that there were limits to the use of the class criterion.” [91] In the 1956 campaign to delegitimize and liquidate him, Khrushchev did not fail to target and ridicule Stalin’s reputation as a theorist and politician who had paid particular attention to the national question. In condemning the “mass deportations of entire nations,” the Secret Report declares:

No Marxist-Leninist, no man of common sense can grasp how it is possible to make whole nations responsible for inimical activity, including women, children, old people, Communists and Komsomols [communist youth], to use mass repression against them, and to expose them to misery and suffering for the hostile acts of individual persons or groups of persons. [92]

The horror of collective punishment and deportation imposed on populations suspected of lacking patriotic loyalty is beyond question. Sadly, far from being isolated to the madness of a single individual, this practice deeply characterizes the Second Thirty Years’ War, [93] starting with Tsarist Russia that, although allied to the liberal West, experiences “a wave of deportations” of “dimensions unknown in Europe” during the First World War, involving about a million people (mainly of Jewish or Germanic origin). [94] Smaller in size, but all the more significant, is the extent to which during World War II Americans of Japanese descent were deported and imprisoned in concentration camps (always euphemistically referred to as “internment camps”). Franklin D. Roosevelt spares neither women nor children, even though the geography of the United States presented a significantly more favorable geo-political situation than the Soviet Union’s. In any case, after the Battle of the Midway in 1942, one can no longer speak of military security problems. And, yet, Americans of Japanese descent continue to be incarcerated in concentration camps: rolled back gradually, the program doesn’t end until mid-1946, almost a year after the end of the war. Even more delayed is the homecoming of Latin American citizens of Japanese descent: only in 1948 are the last released from the concentration camp in Crystal City, Texas. [95]

In addition to the national security justification of undermining potential fifth columns, the expulsion and deportation of entire populations was promoted with the ends of remaking or redefining political geographies. During the first half of the twentieth century, this practice is widespread across the planet. In the Middle East, Jews who had just escaped the “final solution” force Arabs and Palestinians to flee, and in Asia the British Empire’s crown jewel, British India, is partitioned into India and Pakistan by means of “the century’s largest forced migration.” [96] Asia also offers a notable example by way of a region administered by a figure, or in the name of a figure (the fourteenth Dalai Lama), who would later obtain the Nobel Peace prize and become synonymous with non-violence: “In July 1949 all the Han residents in Lhasa [there for many generations] had been expelled from Tibet,” in an effort to “counter the possibility of ‘fifth column’ activity” as well as to make its demographic make-up more homogeneous. [97]

We are dealing with a practice not only enacted in the most diverse geographical and political-cultural circumstances, but in those decades explicitly advocated for by prominent figures. In 1938, David Ben-Gurion, the eventual founding father of Israel, declared: “I am for compulsory transfer [of Arab Palestinians]; I do not see anything immoral in it.” [98] In fact, he will put this exact program into practice only ten years later.

But here we need to focus mainly on Central and Eastern Europe, on a little-discussed tragedy, but in scale among the largest of the twentieth century. In all, around sixteen and a half million Germans were forced to abandon their homes, and two and a half million did not survive the giant ethnic cleansing — or counter-cleansing — operation. [99] Here a direct comparison can be made between Stalin on the one hand and Western and pro-Western statesmen on the other. What position did either take in that situation? As always, we begin with historiography that cannot be accused of leniency toward the Soviet Union:

Starting in 1942, it was the British government that encouraged a generalized transfer of populations from the eastern German territories and from the Sudetenland […]. It was the deputy under-secretary who went further than anyone else, in requesting an investigation to determine “if Great Britain should encourage the transfer to Siberia of the Germans from East Prussia and Upper Silesia.” [100]

Speaking in the House of Commons on 15 December 1944, on “the transference of several millions of people” and “the total expulsion of the Germans,” Churchill clarified his thinking as follows:

Expulsion is the method which, so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble, as has been the case in Alsace-Lorraine. A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by the prospect of the disentanglement of populations, nor even by these large transferences, which are more possible in modern conditions than they ever were before. [101]

F. D. Roosevelt would join these deportation plans in June 1943, “almost at the same time Stalin agreed to Benes’s pressure regarding the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia upon restoration.” [102] An American historian comes to the following conclusion:

When it came to the issue of the forced deportation of the Germans, Benes and Gottwald, Mikolajcyzk and Bierut, Stalin and Churchill all danced to the same tune. [103]

This conclusion is already enough to refute the black-and-white position taken by the Secret Report. In reality, at least as far as the Germans in Eastern Europe were concerned, it was not Stalin who took the initiative for the “mass deportations of entire populations”; the responsibilities were not distributed equally. The same American historian just cited ends up recognizing this. In Czechoslovakia, Jan Masaryk expressed his conviction that “The German possesses no soul […] and the words that he understands best, are the salvos of a machine gun.” Nor is this a remotely isolated attitude: “Even the Czech Catholic Church got into the act. Monsignor Bohumil Stasek, the canon of Vysehrad, declared: ‘Once in a thousand years the time has come to settle accounts with the Germans, who are evil and to whom the commandment to love thy neighbor therefore does not apply.’” [104] In those circumstances, a German witness recalls: “Often we had to appeal to the Russians to help us against the Czechs, which they often did, when it wasn’t a matter of hunting down women.” [105] There’s more, however. Again we turn to the American historian: “At the former Nazi camp at Theresienstadt (Teresin), the interned Germans worried openly about what would happen to them if the local Russian commandant did not protect them against the Czechs. One secret Soviet report sent back to the Central Committee in Moscow noted that the Germans repeatedly begged the Russians to stay: ‘If the Red Army leaves, we are finished! We now see the manifestations of hatred for the Germans. They [the Czechs] don’t kill them, but torment them like livestock. The Czechs look at them like cattle.’ The horrible treatment at the hands of the Czechs led to despair and hopelessness. According to Czech statistics, in 1946 alone 5,558 Germans committed suicide.” [106] Something similar happens in Poland. In conclusion:

The Germans considered Soviet military personnel much more humane and responsible than the native Czechs or Poles. Russians occasionally fed hungry German children, while the Czechs let them starve. Soviet troops would occasionally give the weary Germans a ride on their vehicles during their long treks out of the country, while Czechs looked on with contempt or indifference. [107]

The American historian generalizes when he speaks of “Czechs” and “Poles,” but his very own account reveals that he isn’t completely correct in doing so:

The Czechoslovak communists — and other communists as well — found themselves in a difficult position when it came to the question of expelling the Germans. During the war, the communists’ position, articulated by Georgi Dimitrov in Moscow, was that those Germans responsible for the war and its crimes should be tried and sentenced, while the German workers and peasants should be reeducated. [108]

In fact, “in Czechoslovakia it was the Communists who put an end to the persecution of the few remaining ethnic minorities after they seized power in February 1948.” [109]

Contrary to Khrushchev’s insinuations, in comparison to the bourgeois leaders of Western and East-Central Europe, at least in this case, Stalin and the communist movement led by him turn out to be less lacking in “common sense.”

This is not a chance occurrence. While toward the end of the war F. D. Roosevelt insists he’s “more bloodthirsty than ever toward the Germans” because of the atrocities they committed, [110] and even entertains the idea, for some time, of “castrating” such a perverse people, [111] Stalin’s position is very different: immediately after the unleashing of Operation Barbarossa he already declares that the “true allies” of the Soviet resistance include “the German people which is enslaved by the Hitlerite misrulers.” [112] The statement made in February 1942 is particularly solemn:

The foreign Press sometimes carries such twaddle as that the Red Army pursues the aim of exterminating the German people and destroying the German state. This, of course, is a stupid lie, and a senseless slander against the Red Army. The Red Army has not and cannot have such idiotic aims. The Red Army’s aim is to drive the German occupants from our country and liberate Soviet soil from the German-fascist invaders. It is very likely that the war for the liberation of Soviet soil will lead to the exile or destruction of Hitler’s clique. We would welcome such an outcome. But it would be ludicrous to identify Hitler’s clique with the German people, with the German state. The experience of history indicates that Hitlers come and go, but the German people and the German state remain. [113]

Even an uncompromising anti-communist like Ernst Nolte is forced to recognize that the position taken by the Soviet Union in relation to the German people doesn’t carry those racist tones that are sometimes found in the Western powers. [114] We can conclude the following point: however nonequal its distribution, the lack of “common sense” was widespread among the political leaders of the twentieth century.

So far I have concentrated on the deportations caused by war or by the risk of war, or by the reorganization and revision of political geography. Until at least the 1940s, however, deportations in the United States are widespread as a result of efforts on the part of urban centers to attempt to implement the policy openly announced by signs in business establishments: whites only. Aside from African Americans, Mexicans are also targeted, reclassified as non-whites in the 1930 census; thus “official policy deported thousands of Mexican workers and their families, including many Mexican Americans, to Mexico.” [115] The expulsion and deportation measures in the cities that seek to be “for whites only,” or “for Caucasians only,” don’t even spare Jews. [116]

The Secret Report depicts Stalin as so exceptionally tyrannical that, in taking collective measures against determined ethnic groups, he didn’t hesitate to punish the innocent or even party comrades. Here we should consider the case of German exiles, the majority of them declared enemies of Hitler, who at the outbreak of the war are locked up in French concentration camps, under the impression that they are there “pour crever” [destined to die]. [117] Decidedly revolting is the mistreatment, after the war was over, inflicted by Americans against German prisoners, documented at the time by Canadian historian James Bacque and only reluctantly acknowledged by the public defenders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower later on. [118] Recent studies have uncovered very particular details. To limit myself to one example: a U.S. commission determined at the time that “of the 139 cases they examined, 137 had ‘had their testicles permanently destroyed by kicks received from the American War Crimes Investigation team.’” [119] But one would search in vain for any effort at comparative analysis in Khrushchev’s speech.

His goal is to upend two themes that until then were prevalent not only in official propaganda but also in international journalism and public opinion: thus the great leader who had contributed decisively to the annihilation of the Third Reich is transformed into a foolish amateur who has trouble figuring out a world map; the eminent theorist of the national question proves himself devoid of even the most elementary “common sense.” The accolades hitherto bestowed upon Stalin are all blamed on a cult of personality that must now be eliminated once and for all.

The Cult of Personality in Russia from Kerensky to Stalin

The denunciation of the cult of personality is Khrushchev’s centerpiece. Absent from the Report however is a question that ought to seem obligatory: are we faced with the vanity or narcissism of an individual political leader, or with a phenomenon of a more general character that takes hold in a determined, objective context? It may be interesting to read the observations made by Bukharin while in the United States, as they finalized the preparations for their entry into the First World War:

In order to maximize preparations for military intervention, the state itself has become a military organization under the command of a dictator. This dictator is president Wilson. Emergency powers were given to him. He has nearly absolute power. And efforts are underway to encourage the people to submit to this “great president,” like in the Byzantine Empire of old where they deified their monarch. [120]

In situations of acute crisis, the personalization of power is often combined with the veneration of the leader who holds power. When he arrives in France in December 1918 Wilson is hailed as a savior, and his Fourteen Points speech is compared to the Sermon on the Mount. [121]

The political developments that take place in the United States between the Great Depression and the Second World War are especially worth considering. Having ascended to power with the promise to remedy a deeply troubling socioeconomic depression, F. D. Roosevelt goes on to win four consecutive elections (although he dies at the start of his fourth term) — a unique case in American history. Aside from the long duration of this presidency, what’s unusual are the hopes and expectations that surround it. Leading figures speak of a “national dictator” and invite the new president to demonstrate all his strength: “What does a democracy do in a war? It becomes a tyrant, a despot, a real monarch. In the World War we took our Constitution, wrapped it up and laid it on the shelf and left it there until it was over.” The continuation of the state of emergency demands we don’t allow ourselves to be impeded by excessive legal scruples. The nation’s new leader is called upon to be, and is soon defined as “a providential person at a providential moment,” that is, in the words of cardinal O’Connell: “a God-sent man.” The average person writes to and expresses themselves to F. D. Roosevelt in even more emphatic terms, declaring that they look to him “almost as they look to God,” and hope for “the first opportunity to carve [his] name in the halls of immortals beside Jesus.” [122] Invited to behave as a dictator or a chosen one, the new president makes ample use of his executive power from the first hours of his mandate. In his inaugural address he demands “broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as great as the power that would be given me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.” [123] With the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, even before Pearl Harbor, F. D. Roosevelt begins, on his own initiative, to drag the country into the war on the side of Britain; subsequently, with a unilateral executive order, he mandates the confinement in concentration camps of all American citizens of Japanese descent, including women and children. It’s a presidency that, at the same time that it enjoys widespread popular support, is nevertheless accused of being “totalitarian,” first during the Great Depression (an indictment delivered, notably, by former president Herbert Hoover), [124] and especially in the run-up to America’s entry into World War II (when senator Burton K. Wheeler accuses F. D. Roosevelt of exercising dictatorial power and of promoting a “totalitarian form of government”). [125] At least from the point of view of the president’s adversaries, totalitarianism and the cult of personality had crossed over the Atlantic.

Admittedly, the phenomenon that we are investigating here (the personalization of power and the cult of personality linked to it) is present only in embryonic form in the North American Republic, which is protected by the ocean from any attempted invasion and with a political tradition quite different from the Russian one. It is on this country that attention should be focused. Consider the events between February and October of 1917, before the Bolshevik ascension to power. Driven by his personal vanity, but also by his desire to stabilize the situation, we find Kerensky beginning to “model himself on Napoleon.” He inspects the troops “with a hand tucked into the front of his tunic”; meanwhile “a bust of the French Emperor stood on his desk at the Ministry of War.” The results of this performance don’t take long: poems paying homage to Kerensky as the new Napoleon flourish. [126] In the lead-up to the summer offensive that was supposed to reverse the fortunes of the Russian army, the cult dedicated to Kerensky (in certain circles) reaches its peak:

Everywhere he was hailed as a hero. Soldiers carried him shoulder-high, pelted him with flowers and threw themselves at his feet. An English nurse watched in amazement as they “kissed him, his uniform, his car, and the ground on which he walked. Many of them were on their knees praying; others were weeping.” [127]

It’s clear that it makes little sense to explain, as Khrushchev does, the exalted form that, from a certain moment on, the cult of personality takes in the USSR, in terms of Stalin’s narcissism. In fact, when Kaganovich suggests substituting the term Marxism-Leninism for Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, the leader to whom that tribute is directed responds: “You want to compare a cock to a lighthouse.” [128] At least when compared to Kerensky, Stalin appears more modest. This is confirmed by the attitude he takes upon the conclusion of a war that was actually fought and won, and not only in his imagination as in the case of the Menshevik leader with a fondness for Napoleonic poses. Immediately after the victory parade, a group of marshals reach out to Molotov and Malenkov: they propose to them the commemoration of the victory achieved in the Great Patriotic War by offering the title of “Hero of the Soviet Union” to Stalin, who nonetheless rejects the offer. [129] The Soviet leader also sought to escape rhetorical excesses on the occasion of the Potsdam Conference: “Both Churchill and Truman took their time walking among Berlin’s ruins; Stalin showed no such interest. Without drawing attention, he arrived by train, and even ordered Zhukov to cancel any welcoming ceremony with a military band and an honor guard.” [130] Four years later, on the eve of his seventieth birthday, a conversation took place in the Kremlin that’s worth sharing:

[Stalin] summons Malenkov and admonishes him:
“Don’t ever think about honoring me with a ‘star’ again.”
“But comrade Stalin, on an anniversary such as this? The people would not understand.”
“It’s not up to the people. I don’t want to argue. No personal initiative! Understand me?”
“Of course, comrade Stalin. However, the members of the Politburo think…”
Stalin interrupted Malenkov and declared the discussion over. [131]

Naturally, one can argue that in these circumstances political calculation plays a more or less important role (and it would be extremely odd if it didn’t); it’s a fact, however, that personal vanity didn’t win out. Vanity plays an even lesser role when vital political or military decisions are at stake: over the course of the Second World War Stalin urges his colleagues to not mince words. He actively argues and even fights with Molotov, who, in turn, while being careful to not question the hierarchy, continues to hold firm to his opinion. Judging by the testimony of admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov, the supreme leader “liked people who had their own point of view and weren’t afraid to stand up for it.” [132]

Ultimately, Khrushchev’s attempt to hold Stalin responsible for the catastrophes that struck the USSR backfires. Far from eliminating the cult of personality, he only succeeds in transforming it into a negative cult. Confronting the most tragic chapter of the Soviet Union’s history — the terror and the bloody purges that were widespread and didn’t even spare the Communist Party itself — the Secret Report reduces reality to power-thirst and paranoia. And so the premise that the entire nation was reducible to a single personality remains unshaken, and unconvincing.

[1] The book finally received an official English release in 2023, translated by Henry Hakamaki and Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro and published by Iskra Books. [web] 

[2] Khrushchev N. (1956), Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. [web] 

[3] Deutscher I. (1956), Khrushchev on Stalin. [web] 

[4] Khrushchev N. (1956), Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. [web] 

[5] Khrushchev N. (1956), Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. [web] 

[6] Khrushchev N. (1956), Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. [web] 

[7] Zubkova E. (2015), Russia After The War: Hopes, Illusions, And Disappointments, 1945-1957, Routledge, Oxon-New York, p. 185-6. 

[8] Trotsky L. D. (1940), Stalin, ch. VII. [web] 

[9] Trotsky L. D. (1940), Stalin, ch. V. [web] 

[10] Trotsky L. D. (1940), Stalin, ch. XI. [From Obscurity To The Triumvirate: Did Stalin Poison Lenin?] 

[11] Trotsky L. D. (1940), On the War and the Soviet-Nazi Pact. [web] 

[12] Hoffman J. (2001), Stalin’s War of Extermination 1941-1945, translated by William Deist, Theses & Dissertations Press, Alabama, p. 33. 

[13] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf (trad. ted.), pp. 500-4. 

[14] Knight A. (1993), Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, p. 111. 

[15] Medvedev Ž. A., Medvedev R. A. (2003), The Unknown Stalin, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London-New York, pp. 231-2. 

[16] Montefiore S. S. (2004), Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Phoenix, London, p. 373. [web] 

[17] Dimitrov G. (2003), The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933–1949, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 166-7 (22 June 1941). 

[18] Broekmeyer M. J., Broekmeyer M. (2004), Stalin, the Russians, and Their War, The University of Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin, pp. 21-2. [web] — The Broekmeyers are not originally cited by Losurdo. Quotations below, in the original Italian, have Stalin and Dimitrov using the term “enslavement,” but the English edition of Dimitrov’s diary softens it to “subjection.” I introduced the Dutch-to-English translation from the Broekmeyers to justify adhering to the original. 

[19] Dimitrov G. (2003), The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933–1949, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 159-60 (22 June 1941). 

[20] Dimitrov G. (2003), The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933–1949, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 163 (12 May 1941). 

[21] Roberts G. (2006), Stalin’s Wars. From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 7. 

[22] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, p. 1620. [web] — »Stalins Rede findet in England und USA enorme Bewunderung.« (1941-07-05). 

[23] In Butler S. (curator) (2005), My Dear Mr. Stalin. The Complete Correspondence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, pp. 71-2. 

[24] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, p. 1590. — »Der ganze Staatsund Mili tärapparat wird mobil gemacht. […] Jetzt setzt die erste große Tarnungswelle ein. […] 14 Divisionen werden nach dem Westen transportiert.« 

[25] Wolkow W. K. (2003), Stalin wollte ein anderes Europa. Moskaus Außenpolitik 1940 bis 1968 und die Folgen, Edition Ost, Berlin, p. 111. 

[26] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1594-5, 1597. — »Die englischen Sender erklären schon, unser Auf marsch gegen Rußland sei lauter Bluff, hinter dem wir unsere Inva sionsvorbereitungen zu verstecken suchten.« 

[27] Besymenski L. (2003), Stalin und Hitler. Das Pokerspiel der Diktatoren, Aufbau, Berlin (trad. ted.), pp. 422-5. 

[28] Costello J. (1991), Ten Days to Destiny. The Secret Story of the Hess Peace Initiative and British Efforts to Strike a Deal with Hitler, Morrow, New York, pp. 438-9. 

[29] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, p. 1599. — »Im Allgemeinen glaubt man noch an Bluff oder Erpressungsversuch.« 

[30] Roberts G. (2006), Stalin’s Wars. From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 35. 

[31] Wolkow W. K. (2003), Stalin wollte ein anderes Europa. Moskaus Außenpolitik 1940 bis 1968 und die Folgen, Edition Ost, Berlin, p. 110. 

[32] See also: Emersberger J. (2022), Mein Kampf: Hitler’s Love Letter to Western Imperialism. [web] — R. D. 

[33] Costello J. (1991), Ten Days to Destiny. The Secret Story of the Hess Peace Initiative and British Efforts to Strike a Deal with Hitler, Morrow, New York, pp. 436-7. 

[34] Kershaw I. (2000), Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, Penguin, UK, p. 359. [web] 

[35] Kershaw I. (2000), Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, Penguin, UK, p. 365. [web] 

[36] Ferro M. (2008), Ils étaient sept hommes en guerre. 1918-1945. Histoire parallèle, Perrin, Paris, p. 115. 

[37] Kershaw I. (2000), Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, Penguin, UK, p. 366. [web] 

[38] In September 1938 Germany, Britain, France, and Italy signed the “Munich Agreement,” formally supporting an openly ethnonationalist Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia and its 3 million inhabitants. [web] — R. D. 

[39] Besymenski L. (2003), Stalin und Hitler. Das Pokerspiel der Diktatoren, Aufbau, Berlin (trad. ted.), pp. 380-6 (e in particolare p. 384). — »1870 haben die Deutschen die Franzosen geschlagen. Warum? Weil sie nur an einer Front gekämpft haben. Die Deutschen haben 1916/17 Rückschläge erlitten. Warum? Weil sie an zwei Fronten gekämpft haben.« 

[40] Roberts G. (2006), Stalin’s Wars. From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, pp. 66-9. 

[41] Ferro M. (2008), Ils étaient sept hommes en guerre. 1918-1945. Histoire parallèle, Perrin, Paris, p. 64. — « insignifiantes ». 

[42] Beneš E. (1954), Memoirs: From Munich to New War and New Victory, Allen, London, p. 151. [web] 

[43] Gardner L. C. (1993), Spheres of Influence. The Great Powers Partition Europe, from Munich to Yalta, Dee, Chicago, pp. 92-3. 

[44] Liddel Hart B. H. (1991), Strategy, Meridian, New York, p. 240. 

[45] Liddel Hart B. H. (1991), Strategy, Meridian, New York, p. 242-4. 

[46] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1601, 1609. — »Wohl der gewaltigste, den die Geschichte je gesehen hat. […] Größter Aufmarsch der Weltgeschichte.« 

[47] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1601-2. — »Wir stehen vor einem Siegeszug ohnegleichen […]. Ich schätze die Kampfkraft der Russen sehr niedrig ein, noch niedriger als der Führer. Wenn eine Aktion sicher war und ist, dann diese.« 

[48] Fest J. C. (1973), Hitler. Eine Biographie, Ullstein, Frankfurt a.M.-Berlin-Wien, p. 878. 

[49] Ferro M. (2008), Ils étaient sept hommes en guerre. 1918-1945. Histoire parallèle, Perrin, Paris, p. 189. — « Autre surprise, le 25 juin, lors du premier raid sur Moscou, la défense antiaérienne se révèle d’une telle efficacité que la Luftwaffe devra dès lors se cantonner à des raids nocturnes en effectifs réduits ». 

[50] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, p. 1619. — »Insgesamt wird sehr hart und erbittert gekämpft. Von einem Spaziergang kann keine Rede sein. Das rote Regime hat das Volk mobilgemacht.« 

[51] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1639-40. — »Wir dürfen uns keinem Zweifel hingeben über die Tatsache, daß das bolschewistische Regime, das fast ein Vierteljahrhundert besteht, seine tiefen Spuren in den Völkern der Sowjetunion hinterlassen hat. […] Es wäre also richtig, wenn wir das deutsche Volk ganz eindeutig auf[!] die Härte des im Osten sich abspielenden Kampfes ins Bild setzten. Man muß der Nation sagen, daß diese Operation sehr schwierig ist, daß wir sie aber überstehen können und auch überstehen werden.« 

[52] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, p. 1645. — »Im Führerhauptquartier […] Man gibt auch offen zu, daß man sich in der Einschätzung der sowjetischen Kampfkraft etwas geirrt hat. Die Bolschewisten zeigen doch stär keren Widerstand, als wir vermuteten, und vor allem die materiel len Mittel, die ihnen dabei zur Verfügung stehen, sind größer, als wir angenommen haben.« 

[53] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1656-8. [web] — »Der Führer ist innerlich über sich sehr ungehalten, daß er sich durch die Berichte aus der Sowjetunion so über das Potential der Bolschewi ken hat täuschen lassen. Vor allem seine Unterschätzung der feind lichen Panzer- und Luftwaffe hat uns in unseren militärischen Operationen außerordentlich viel zu schaffen gemacht. Er hat darunter sehr gelitten. Es handelte sich um eine schwere Krise. […] Die bis herigen Feldzüge waren demgegenüber fast Spaziergänge. […] Um den Westen macht der Führer sich keine Sorgen. […] Wir haben in unserer deutschen Gründlichkeit und Objektivität den Gegner immer überschätzt mit Ausnahme in diesem Falle die Bolschewisten.« (1941-08-19). 

[54] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1665-6. — »Wir eben das bolschewistische Potential ganz falsch eingeschätzt haben […]« (1941-09-16). 

[55] Liddel Hart B. H. (1991), Strategy, Meridian, New York, p. 242-4. 

[56] Hillgruber A. (1991), La distruzione dell’Europa, il Mulino, Bologna, p. 354. 

[57] Riportato in Hillgruber A. (1991), La distruzione dell’Europa, il Mulino, Bologna, pp. 358-60. 

[58] Hillgruber A. (1991), La distruzione dell’Europa, il Mulino, Bologna, pp. 372, 369. 

[59] Medvedev Ž. A., Medvedev R. A. (2003), The Unknown Stalin, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London-New York, pp. 216. 

[60] In Butler S. (curator) (2005), My Dear Mr. Stalin. The Complete Correspondence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, pp. 41. 

[61] Webb B. (1982-85), The Diaries of Beatrice Webb, p. 591-2. (8 August 1941) [web] 

[62] Klemperer V. (1988), I Will Bear Witness: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer, 1933-1941, Random House, New York, p. 418. (13 July 1941) [web] 

[63] Medvedev Ž. A., Medvedev R. A. (2003), The Unknown Stalin, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London-New York, pp. 216, 223. 

[64] Hitler A. (1965), Reden und Proklamationen 1952-1945 (1962-63), Süddeutscher Verlag, München, p. 1682. [web] — »Problem des russischen Raumes: Unendliche Weite des Raumes macht Konzentration auf entscheidende Punkte notwendig.« (1941-03-30). 

[65] Hitler A. (1989), Tischgespräche, Ullstein, Frankfurt a.M.-Berlin, p. 70. [web] — »Es hat in der Weltgeschichte bislang nur drei Vernichtungsschlachten gegeben: Cannae, Sedan und Tannenberg. Wir können stolz darauf sein, dass zwei davon von deutschen Heeren erfochten wurden.« (1941-09-10). 

[66] Hitler A. (1980), Monologe im Führerhauptquartier 1941-1944, Albrecht Knaus, Hamburg, p. 46. [web] — »Muß die russische Kriegsvorbereitung als phantastisch bezeichnet werden.« (1941-09-17/8). 

[67] Liddel Hart B. H. (1991), Strategy, Meridian, New York, pp. 232, 228, and 223. 

[68] Werth N. (2007), La terreur et Le désarroi. Stalin et son système, Perrin, Paris, pp. 352, 359-60. 

[69] Irving D. (2001), La guerra di Hitler, Settimo Sigillo, Roma, p. 457. 

[70] Tucker R. C. (1990), Stalin in Power. The Revolution from Above, 1928-1941, Norton, New York-London, pp. 97-8. 

[71] Stalin J. V. (1931), New Conditions — New Tasks in Economic Construction. [web] 

[72] Stalin J. V. (1934). Report to the Seventeenth Party Congress on the Work of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) [web] 

[73] Trotsky L. D. (1936), The Revolution Betrayed, ch. 8.5. [web] 

[74] Irving D. (2002), Hitler’s War and The War Path, Focal Point Publications, London, p. 463. 

[75] Hitler A. (1980), Monologe im Führerhauptquartier 1941-1944, Albrecht Knaus, Hamburg, p. 366. [web] — »Daß der allgemeine Lebensstandard sich gehoben hat, daran ist kein Zweifel. Hunger haben die Menschen nicht gelitten. Alles in allem gesehen, muß man sagen: Die haben Fabriken hier gebaut, wo vor zwei Jahren noch unbekannte Bauerndörfer waren, Fabriken, die die Größe der Hermann-Göring-Werke haben. Sie haben Eisenbahnen, die sind gar nicht eingezeichnet auf der Karte.« (1942-08-26). 

[76] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 501. — »Stalin, das Politbüro und die Volkskommissariate suchten einen Ausweg. Sie verlangten einen gigantischen Kraftakt der Sowjetbürger. Die Rüstungsfabriken wurden auf kriegswirtschaftliche Bedingungen umgestellt. […] In den letzten Jahren vor dem Krieg war auf Vorschlag Wosnessenskis der Umfang der Investitionen in Objekte der Verteidigungsindustrie im Osten des Landes stark gewachsen. […] Stalin beauftragte Andrejew, sich mit dieser Frage in Vorbereitung eines ZK-Plenums zu befassen. Das Plenum fand Ende Mai 1939 statt.« (18.89). 

[77] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 570. — »Durch die harte Praxis des militärischen Alltags erlernte Stalin allmählich die Grundsätze der Strategie.« (20.95). 

[78] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 641. — »Ich sage es direkt: Was Stalins Denken anbelangt, so war es auf einzelnen Gebieten höher entwickelt als das vieler sowjetischer Militärführer.« (22.101). 

[79] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 501. — »Selbstverständlich beschäftigte sich Stalin mit diesen Fragen nicht allein wegen seiner Neigung zu allem Militärischen. Er verstand, dass die politische Macht und die internationale Autorität seines Landes nicht nur durch wirtschaftliche, sondern auch durch militärische Faktoren bestimmt wurde. Seit der zweiten Hälfte der dreißiger Jahre machte er sich außerdem Sorgen wegen des Anwachsens der faschistischen Gefahr und der imperialistischen Bedrohung im Westen und im Osten.« (15.290). 

[80] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, pp. 570-2. — »Aber bis zum Januar 1942 gelang es dann, 1523 Industriebetriebe zu verlegen, darunter waren 1360 Rüstungsbetriebe. Es ist kaum möglich, die Bedeutung dieser Leistung zu überschätzen.« (20.111). 

[81] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 644. — »Stalin ganz ungewöhnliche Ideen […].« (22.122). 

[82] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 597. — »Diese Entscheidung war mutig und weitsichtig […].« (21.32). 

[83] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf, p. 641. — »Wenn man so sagen kann, legte Stalin ein mehr universelles Denken an den Tag.« (22.102). 

[84] Montefiore S. S. (2004), Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Phoenix, London, p. 450. [web] 

[85] Roberts G. (2006), Stalin’s Wars. From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, pp. 81, 4. 

[86] Schneider J. J. (1994), The Structure of Strategic Revolution: Total War and the Roots of the Soviet Warfare State, Presidio, Novato (Ca), pp. 278-9, 232. 

[87] Stalin’s Wars on GoodReads. [web] 

[88] Goebbels J. (1992), Tagebücher, Piper, München-Zürich, pp. 1656-8. [web] — »Es warja auch unseren Vertrauensmännern und Spionen kaum möglich, in das Innere der Sowjetunion vorzudringen. Sie konnten ja kein genaues Bild gewin nen. Die Bolschewisten sind direkt darauf ausgegangen, uns zu täu schen. Wir haben von einer ganzen Anzahl ihrer Waffen, vor allem ihrer schweren Waffen, überhaupt keine Vorstellung besessen. Ganz im Gegensatz zu Frankreich, wo wir so ziemlich alles gewußt haben und deshalb auch in keiner Weise überrascht werden konn ten.« (1941-08-19). 

[89] Stalin J. V. (1913), Marxism and the National Question. [web] 

[90] Stalin J. V. (1950), Marxism and Problems of Linguistics. [web] 

[91] Althusser L. (1967), For Marx. [web] 

[92] Khrushchev N. (1956), Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. [web] 

[93] Losurdo is fond of using this term for the wars in Europe from 1914 to 1945. 

[94] Graziosi A. (2007), L’URSS di Lenin e Stalin. Storia dell’Unione Sovietica 1914-1945, il Mulino, Bologna, pp. 70-1. 

[95] In Annett K. (a cura di) (2001), Hidden from History. The Canadian Holocaust, The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, Vancouver, p. 6. 

[96] Torri M. (2000), Storia dell’India, Laterza, Roma-Bari, p. 617. 

[97] Grunfeld A. T. (1996), The Making of Modern Tibet, revised edition, Sharpe, Armonk (New York)-London, p. 107. 

[98] In Pappe I. (2006), The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld, Oxford, p. xi. [web] 

[99] MacDonogh G. (2007), After the Reich. The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, Basic Books, New York, p. 1. [web] 

[100] Hillgruber A. (1991), La distruzione dell’Europa, il Mulino, Bologna, p. 439. 

[101] Churchill W. (1974), His Complete Speeches 1897-1963, Chelsea House, New York-London, p. 7069. [web] 

[102] Hillgruber A. (1991), La distruzione dell’Europa, il Mulino, Bologna, p. 439. 

[103] Naimark N. M. (2001), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Harvard, Cambridge-London, p. 113. [web] 

[104] Naimark N. M. (2001), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Harvard, Cambridge-London, p. 115. [web] 

[105] Naimark N. M. (2001), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Harvard, Cambridge-London, p. 116. [web] 

[106] Naimark N. M. (2001), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Harvard, Cambridge-London, p. 118. [web] 

[107] Naimark N. M. (2001), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Harvard, Cambridge-London, p. 116. [web] 

[108] Naimark N. M. (2001), Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Harvard, Cambridge-London, p. 113. [web] 

[109] Deák I. (2002), The Crime of the Century, in “The New York Review of Books.” [web] 

[110] Bacque J. (1991), Other Losses: The Shocking Truth Behind the Mass Deaths of Disarmed German Soldiers and Civilians Under General Eisenhower’s Command, Rocklin, CA, p. 15. [web] 

[111] Morgenthau H. (1991), Mostly Morgenthaus: A Family History, Ticknor & Fields, New York, p. 365. [web] 

[112] Stalin J. V. (1941), Radio Broadcast. [web] 

[113] Stalin J. V. (1942), Order of the Day, No. 55. [web] 

[114] Schmidt M., Stein D. (1993), Im Gespräch mit Ernst Nolte, Junge Freiheit, Potsdam, p. 29. 

[115] Loewen J. W. (2006), Sundown Towns. A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, Simon & Schuster, New York-London-Toronto-Sydney, p. 42. [web] 

[116] Loewen J. W. (2006), Sundown Towns. A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, Simon & Schuster, New York-London-Toronto-Sydney, pp. 125-7. [web] 

[117] Arendt H. (1943), We Refugees. [web] 

[118] Losurdo D. (1996), Il revisionismo storico. Problemi e miti, Laterza, Roma-Bari, cap. iv, § 5. 

[119] MacDonogh G. (2007), After the Reich. The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, Basic Books, New York, p. 406. [web] 

[120] Bucharin N. (1984), Lo Stato Leviatano. Scritti sullo Stato e la guerra 1915-1917, a cura di A. Giasanti, Unicopli, Milano, p. 73. 

[121] In Hoopes T., Brinkley D. (1997), FDR and the Creation of the UN, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 2. 

[122] Schlesinger Jr. A. M. (1957), The Age of Roosevelt: The Crisis of the Old Order, Houghton Miffin, Boston. [web] 

[123] Nevins A., Commager H. S. (1942), America: The Story Of A Free People, Clarendon, Oxford, p. 414. [web] 

[124] Johnson P. (1991), Modern Times. From the Twenties to the Nineties, Revised Edition, Harper Collins, New York, p. 256. [web] 

[125] Hofstadter R (1969), Great Issues in American history: From Reconstruction to the Present Day, 1864-1969, Vintage, New York, p. 400. [web] 

[126] Figes O. (1997), A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, Pimilco, London, pp. 410-1 [web] 

[127] Figes O. (1997), A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, Pimilco, London, p. 414. [web] 

[128] In Marcucci L. (1997), Il commissario di ferro di Stalin. Biografia politica di Lazar M. Kaganovič, Einaudi, Torino, pp. 156-7. 

[129] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf (trad. ted.), p. 707. — »Im Mai 1945, nach der Siegesparade, hatte sich eine Gruppe von Marschällen an Molotow und Malenkow gewandt mit dem Vorschlag, den ›außerordentlichen Einsatz des Führers‹ mit der Auszeichnung ›Held der Sowjetunion‹ zu honorieren. Aber Stalin hatte sich bereits zu solchen Höhen des Ruhms emporgeschwungen, dass ihn Auszeichnungen, die für gewöhnliche Sterbliche vorgesehen waren, wenig interessierten.« 

[130] Roberts G. (2006), Stalin’s Wars. From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, p. 272. 

[131] Wolkogonow D. (1989), Stalin. Triumph und Tragödie. Ein politisches Porträt, Claassen, Düsseldorf (trad. ted.), p. 707. — »Lassen Sie sich nur nicht in den Kopf kommen, mich dort wieder mit einem ›Stern‹ zu beglücken! […]« 

[132] Montefiore S. S. (2004), Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Phoenix, London, p. 446. [web]