In article <20...@usc.edu> kr...@skat.usc.edu (Dennis Kriz) writes: *+* *+* Since there's been an interest in this article, I looked it up, *+* and here it is: *+* *+* From the NATION, [March 6, 1989]: *+* (reprinted without permission) *+* *+* *+* BEAT THE DEVIL: A million here, a million there *+* ----------------------------------------------- *+* *+* by Alexander Cockburn *+* *+* *+* These heady days in Moscow, Soviet intellectuals will do anything to *+* get their names in the papers, in a kind of bidding frenzy for the *+* favors of glasnost. At the start of February the tabloid Argumenti i *+* Fakti reported that the historian Roy Medvedev had proposed that *+* Stalin's victims amounted to some 20 million. From Moscow, Bill *+* Keller relayed this to his editors at the New York Times, who on *+* February 4 ran a front-page headline announcing, "Major Soviet Paper *+* Says 20 Million Died As Victims of Stalin," with the lead paragraph *+* reiterating Medvedev's claim that "about 20 million died in labor *+* camps, forced collectivization, famine and executions." *+* *+* My immediate reservation about this was that the total figure seemed *+* to have an insouciant roundness and also that there seemed to be a *+* suspect symmetry about the number 20 million, which is the same total *+* normally reckoned for Soviet losses in the war against Hitler. *+* *+* Looking through Medvedev's breakdown, one may rapidly perceive that *+* the word "million" really means "a lot," with no substantive *+* precisioin beyond this vague imputation of magnitude. As relayed by *+* Keller these volumes are expressed as "one million imprisoned or *+* exiled from 1927 to 1929," or "nine to 11 million of the more *+* prosperous peasants driven from their lands," and so on. In the end *+* we are left with an overall figure of 40 million who, on Medvedev's *+* account, had an awful or terminal time of it between 1927 and 1953, *+* with 20 million actually killed. *+* *+* I have been interested to find that well-qualified historians of the *+* Soviet Union and demographers in the United States who have studied *+* the period and the enormously contentious numbers regard Medvedev's *+* claism as absurd. Sheila Fitzpatrick, proffessor of history at the *+* University of Texas in Austin, tells me there is "no serios basis for *+* his calculations" and that privately some Soviet demographers and *+* historians find Medvedev's calculations embarrassingly bad. She gave *+* a couple of examples to explain why she thought Medvedev's numbers *+* were ridiculous. *+* *+* Medvedev claims that 9 million to 11 million presperous peasants were *+* driven from theri lands and another 2 million to 3 million arrested or *+* exiled in the forced collectivization of the early 1930s. But *+* Fitzpatrick says, Medvedev makes no distinction between those who left *+* their villages volutarily and those who left by force. This was the *+* era of industrialization, and many of Medvedev's millions were moving *+* to the towns. Medvedev also bases his figures on the assumption that *+* the average peasant family in the late 1920s had eight members, *+* whereas in fact five was the normal size. *+* *+* Fitzpatrick cited the famous conversation of 1942 between Churchill *+* and Stalin as another flimsy source often used by some to show that 10 *+* million peasants died in collectivization. In his war memoir "The *+* Hinge of Fate," Churchill describes how he raised with Stalin the topic *+* of collectivization: *+* *+* *+* "Tell me," I said, "have the stressses of this war been as bad to you *+* personally as carrying through the policy of the Collective Farms?" *+* *+* This subject immediately aroused the Marshall. *+* *+* "Oh, no," he said, "the Collective Farm policy was a terrible *+* struggle." *+* *+* "I thought you would have found it bad," said I, "because you were not *+* dealing with a few score thousands of aristocrats or big landowneres, *+* but with millions of small men." *+* *+* "Ten millions, " he said, holding up his hands. "It was fearful. Four *+* years it lasted. It was absolutely necessary for Russia, if we were *+* to avoid periodic famines." *+* *+* *+* It's clear enough that Stalin was here indicating the number of *+* peasants he had to deal with, not the number who died. Fitzpatrick *+* said that in a recent issue of Pravda the Soviet Historian Victor P. *+* Danilov concurred with several historians in the West that *+* approximately 3 million to 4 million died in the famine. But where *+* does that leave us on the matter of the purges? *+* *+* In 1946 the demographer Frank Lorimer, studying data from the Soviet *+* census of 1926 and of 1939 and all available information on fertility *+* and mortality between those dates, calculated in his renowned work *+* "The Poluation of the Soviet Union" that the 'excess' deaths -- that *+* is, in Lorimer's case, a comparison of the reported total population *+* in 1939 with the expected population at that date, given the countin *+* in 1925 and everything known about fertility, mortality and migration *+* between the two years -- amounted to somewhere between 4.5 million and *+* 5 million, though this total inclued perhaps several hundred thousand *+* emigrants, such as those Central Asian nomads moving into Sinkiang to *+* avoid collectivization. In their 1979 volume, "How the Soviet Union *+* is Governed," Jerry Hough and Merle Fainsod generally supported *+* Lorimer's calculations and concluded that more extreme Western *+* estimates "cannot be sustained." Rather, "a smaller m-- but still *+* horrifying -- number" of "maybe some 3.5 million" emerges as the *+* direct or indirect result of collectivization in the early 1930s. *+* *+* With respect to the purges of 1937 and 1938, Hough and Fainsod again *+* criticize excessivbe Western estimates and report that on the evidence *+* of extant demographic data "the number of deaths in the purge would *+* certainly be placed in the hundreds of thousands rather than in the *+* excess of a million." Indeed, "a figure in the low hundreds of *+* thousands seems much more probably than one in the high hundreds of *+* thousands, and even George Kennan's estimate of 'tens of thousands' is *+* quite conceivable, maybe even probable." *+* *+* At the far end of the spectrum from Hough and Fainsod is the British *+* chevalier de la guerre foide Robert Conquest, who has counted 20 *+* million excess deaths under Stalin before 1939, this estimate being *+* cited in "The Stalin Question Since Stalin" by the limber Steven *+* Cohen. In this essay Cohen informs his readers that Conquest's 20 *+* million figure and kindred estimates are "conservative," without *+* mentioning other counts by scholars which make Conquest's figure *+* wildly inflated. He concludes his observation by saying, "Judging by *+* the number of victims, and leaving aside important differences between *+* the two regimes, Stalinism created a holocaust greater than Hitler's." *+* *+* In this decade the most significant scholarly battle on the subject *+* has been waged between Stephen Wheatcroft and Steven Rosefielde, with *+* the former taking the latter to task for demographic crudities and *+* sensationalism. In Slavic Review for 1985 Wheatcroft wrote, "All of *+* these extremely large estimates ignore basic demographic changes in *+* Soviet society and accept inaccurate and non-comparable population *+* figures." Wheatcroft reckons "these wildly unscholarly estimates *+* serve neither science or morality" and writes, "It is no betrayal of *+* them [the victims] nor an apologia for Stalin to stat4e that there is *+* no demographic evidence to indicate a population loss of more than six *+* million between between 1926 and 1939 or more than 3 to 4 million in *+* the famine. Scholarship must be guided by reason and not by emotion." *+* *+* In an essay that has received widespread respect, Barbara Anderson and *+* Brian Silver supported Wheatcroft. Theri "Demographic Analysis and *+* Population Catastrophes in the USSR," also in Slavic Review for 1985, *+* dismisses Rosefielde and estimates excess deaths from 1926 to 1939, to *+* persons alive in 1926, as anywhere from 0.5 million to 5.5 million, *+* depending on high, medium or low assumptions about life expectancy, *+* with the medium figure at 3.5 million. They regard some estimates of *+* those born between 1927 and 1938 as inflated, and calculations of same *+* "extremely sensitive to any inaccuracy in the data." *+* *+* Conquest, now at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, told my colleague *+* Rich McKerrow that Medvedev's numbers are "obviously in the right *+* range," though "perhaps he's spread them wrong" and "I'm not sure *+* where he gets them from." He slighted Anderson and Silver's work as a *+* product of demography rather than sovietology and derided Hough and *+* Fainsod's figures as "improbably." *+* *+* From the University of Michigan, Professor Anderson told us that *+* Conquest "wouldn't know a number if it bit him" and noted that her *+* work with Silver had won respect from Soviet demographers and also *+* from Danilov. Medvedev's computations she found to be "ludicrous." *+* *+* No doubt some will be eager to conclude that the foregoing is somehow *+* an attempt to esonerate Stalin, dismiss the purges as got up by *+* Western propaganda. By way of response, the following observation of *+* Hough and Fainsod is salutary: *+* *+* *+* "Some persons seem instinctively to object to [our] figures on the *+* ground that the Great Purge was so horrible that the number of deaths *+* cannot have been so 'low.' We must not become insensitive to the *+* value of human life, however, whtat we dismiss tens of thousands of *+* deaths as insignificant and need to exaggerate the number by ten, *+* twenty, thirty forty times to touch our feelings of horror." *+* *+* The task is obviously to try to arrive at truth, but many such *+* estimates evidently have a regulatory ideological function, with an *+* exponential momentum so grat that now any computation that does not *+* soar past 10 million is somehow taken as evidence of being soft on *+* Stalin. One can find an analogy in current writing on the French *+* Revolution, where the passionately anti-Jacobin Rene Sedillot has *+* produced a book addressing the matter of the Revolution's human cost *+* in which he boils up, by very questionable means, a casualty figure of *+* 400,000, far in excess of any previous estimate. Professor Charles *+* Tilly of The New School in New York counts total deaths in the *+* Revolution, including the Teror, famine and war, at no more thatn *+* 100,000. *+* *+* The symmetry that calculations such as Medvedev's seeks to establish *+* between Stalin and Hitler performs, in its service to ideology, *+* similar injury to history. Hitler wanted to extermininate the Jews *+* and the gypsies, and though accuracy is important, it does not alter *+* the moral scale of this horror one iota to propose that in pursuit of *+* htis design Hitler may have in reality killed a million less or a *+* million more than the conventional estimate. Evil though he was, *+* Stalin did not plan or seek to accomplish genocide, and to say that he *+* and Hitler had the same project in mind (or, as right-wing German *+* historians now argue, that Stalin somehow put Hitler up to it) is to *+* do disservice to history and to truth.