Part of illustration. Katrin Stenmark.

Reviews Inflationary use of a political concept. Reinterpreting “genocide”

Norman M Naimark, Stalins Genocides, Princeton & Oxford 2010, Princeton University Press, 163 pages, index.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds Baltic worlds 3-4, 2012, pp 73-77
Published on on January 8, 2013

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In 1990, a debate began in leading American and British scholarly journals as to just how many people fell victim to Stalin’s rule. Participants in the debate included prominent Kremlinologists like Alec Nove2 and Stephen Wheatcroft,3 who used demographic, economic, and other data combined with reports in memoirs to try to estimate the number of people who were executed, were deported to face an early death in exile, or died in famines the causes of which could be traced to government policy.

As Russian archival data became available, the discussions took on a more robust nature. Wheatcroft sorted the victims into categories: those executed during terror actions, those who died prematurely during the famine years of 1932—1933, and those who died during deportations of entire peoples. He distinguished the latter as death from criminal neglect by the government for better comparison of Stalinist and Nazi repression, since global figures on the millions of excess deaths used until that point had tended to cloud the qualitative differences between varieties of state terror.4 Steven Rosefielde then reentered the debate with a reply in which his opening salvo was to categorize all excess deaths as homicides in the title of the article. Rosefielde’s approach has not been adopted by other scholars, who have instead given us an increasingly complex picture of the causal connections that led to famines, as well as Stalin and his closest associates’ underlying motives for carrying out various actions (reprisals, imprisonments, mass executions, or deportations).5

In light of this increasingly sophisticated analysis of the terror of the Stalin epoch, Norman Naimark turns things upside down in a recently published book by categorizing all of these events with a term that has, until now, had a precise meaning, but which he argues should be expanded. Specifically, he asserts that all the thoroughly studied phenomena that characterized the terror of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s should be included in the category of genocide, and hence the use of the plural in his title. The book has been translated into German, Ukrainian, and Russian; translations into Estonian and other languages are in progress. This fact, rather than the inherent qualities of the book, has triggered critical examination of Naimark’s grossly simplified and, if anything, confusing account.

Norman Naimark is the Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of East European Studies at Stanford University. He is renowned for his studies of ethnic violence and of the Soviet occupation regime in Germany from 1945 onwards.6 The present book, included in the series “Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity”, edited by Eric Weitz, seems to be merely an extended essay based on a number of arguments presented earlier in an article in the festschrift in honor of Robert Conquest reviewed in this journal by your humble servant.7 After analyzing his extended version, my skepticism of Naimark’s reasoning either for abandoning the legal concept of genocide as defined in the 1948 United Nations Convention or for applying the concept — with a stretch of the historical evidence — has only been reaffirmed.

Naimark includes among Stalin’s crimes the forced collectivization, expropriation, and deportation of the purportedly richer peasants (“kulak”) in 1930—1933, the famine that struck many regions of the Soviet Union (and in particular Ukraine) in 1932—1933, the Great Terror of 1937—1938, and the deportations of entire peoples in the USSR in 1937—1944, and argues that all of these separate events should be classified as genocide. This is a significant revision of the standard interpretation by Western historians of the historical evidence of the USSR, which is that there was nothing like the premeditated killing of a group of people, whether on the grounds of race, nationality, or religion.

The plural form of the English title, Stalin’s Genocides, and of the Ukrainian and Russian translations Genotsidi or Genotsidy Stalina, implies that several or all of the well-known and currently heavily researched historical phenomena should be termed “genocide”. In recent years, few Western historians have argued that any series of events, except for the famine in Ukraine in the fall of 1932 and spring of 1933, can be termed genocide as defined by the UN convention. In order to accomplish his reinterpretation of the Stalin era, Naimark reasons along two contradictory lines concerning the very concept of genocide.


Naimark starts his argumentation with a cursory presentation of how the convention is allegedly only a perverted form of what the UN Commission had originally intended. In agreement with quite a few others, Naimark claims that the final draft of the convention narrowly focused only on persecutions leading to mass killings of people based on ethnicity, nationality, or religion because the Soviet Union had opposed the original draft, which also counted mass killings based on social and political criteria as genocide. Presumably, Naimark argues, the USSR feared that such a convention would open the door to investigations of actions taken by the Soviet regime against its own people and against the peoples incorporated into the USSR early in World War II.

Naimark delves into the UN Commission that, in 1946—1948, attempted to draft the most precise convention possible in order to prevent the repetition of mass murders like the attempted elimination of European Jewry by the Nazis. He refers to the preliminary versions or drafts of the convention, but only as presented in a few American books on the subject. A more careful interpretation of all the deliberations of the Member States’ legal experts involved in the Commission’s work should, in this reviewer’s opinion, be based on the primary sources, not textbooks whose reliability may vary. In this case, the task would be fairly easy, since the complete documentation is already available in print in an excellent edition by Hirad Abtahi and Philippa Webb.8 In a single publication of almost 3,000 pages, Abtahi and Webb have brought together the records of the multitude of meetings which, in the context of the newly established United Nations, led to the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on December 9, 1948.

Discussions about the wording of the convention have revolved around the finally adopted draft as being a concession to Soviet pressure to exclude actions that could be characterized as oppression and mass killings of political groups, on the one hand, and state actions that could lead to cultural genocide. The criticism that the UN Convention on Genocide did not address political groups is well-known and has been voiced in many contexts — but, obviously, few have taken the trouble to go back to the sources to see what arguments the lawyers from various countries presented against an expanded wording.9

The arguments for and against various wordings, definitions, and restrictions seem to have been much more nuanced than a certain historiographic trend tends to describe. For example, the Soviet representative argued that:

It is a mistake to include political groups among the groups protected by the Convention on Genocide, just as it is a mistake to include political opinions among the grounds for perpetrating the crime of genocide.
      Crimes committed for political motives are crimes of a special kind and have nothing in common with crimes of genocide. The very word “genocide” [which is] derived from the word “genus” — race, people — shows that it concerns the destruction of nations or races as such, for reasons of racial and national persecution and not for the particular opinions of such human groups.10

The setting for the drafting of the Genocide Convention was the nascent Cold War that by 1947 had already given rise to renewed “information warfare” between the former Allies. In particular, propaganda from the Communist Information Bureau (Kominform, a recasting of the International dissolved in 1943) directed at the peoples of the British colonies was seen as a major communist effort to undermine the “Free World”. Shortly thereafter, London had set up its own anti-communist propaganda center and created a worldwide network for the distribution of articles, pamphlets, and books.11 When the British delegation to the United Nations during the same period initiated an international investigation into the use of forced labor that emphasized the not always documented but allegedly widespread use of slave labor in Soviet Union, the Communist press was soon replete with articles condemning slave labor conditions in several British colonies.

It is thus not surprising that the Soviet delegates insisted that the UN Genocide Convention be mandatory upon dependent territories as well as sovereign nation-states. They also urged an amendment, in line with an earlier proviso originally proposed by Raphael Lemkin himself in 1933, namely that cultural genocide be included in the convention. British representatives argued vehemently against both proposals because they feared — rightly or wrongly — that such a convention could be used against the United Kingdom.12

In a historical work like Professor Naimark’s, readers have the right to demand a full-fledged historiographic background. Surprisingly enough, Naimark repeatedly laments the successful Soviet lobbying against the inclusion of political and social groups, in part or in whole, in the text of the 1948 convention, but fails to mention that the adoption of the convention immediately spurred a plethora of books and pamphlets that accused not only the Soviet Union under Stalin, but also the United States, of precisely that: genocide in a wider sense than that expressed in the UN convention.

By 1949, K. Pelekis had published Genocide: Lithuania’s Threefold Tragedy, and a year later the Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania (Vyriausias Lietuvos Islaisvinimo Komitetas) released its Appeal to the United Nations on Genocide. In 1950, the Estonian Information Office in Stockholm issued a paper by Aleksander Kaelas, Human Rights and Genocide, which referred to remarks in the UN General Assembly in September 1950. Albert Kalme published his Total Terror: An Exposé of Genocide in the Baltics (1951) and Arveds Svabe his Genocide in the Baltic States (Latvian National Fund in the Scandinavian Countries 1952). The exiled Hungarian Magyar Bizottság referred to the convention in his Genocide by Deportation: An Appeal to the United Nations to Enforce the Law (1951).

While the abovementioned works referred to nations and peoples that were incorporated into the USSR or sovietized in Eastern Europe, literature on the presumed genocide in the Soviet Union proper was also at hand. Based on accounts by liberated Polish citizens and others who had come to the West, the early Cold War saw a mass market for books on the Soviet camps where slave labor was allegedly responsible for the intentional death of millions of innocent citizens. This was also the message in several chapters of the international — American, French, and Swedish — bestseller of 1947—1949, I Chose Freedom by the former Soviet engineer Viktor Kravchenko. The chapters of the book (ghostwritten and “edited” by Eugene Lyons) reprinted in Reader’s Digest suggested that the entire Soviet military industry was dependent upon such death camps, which, according to Kravchenko, had 15—20 million slaves. These and other estimates of Soviet slave labor camps were reflected in books by Albert Herling, The Soviet Slave Empire (1951), and Guy Vinatrel, L’URSS concentrationnaire: Travail forcé en Russie Soviétique (1950). In South America, the pamphlet by Casimiro Verax, (a pseudonym of Kazimieras Cibiras), El imperio del genocidio: Las deportaciones y la esclavitud en el mundo soviético [The empire of genocide: The deportations and slavery of the Soviet world] (1954) seems to have been widely distributed. These interpretations of the annexations of the Baltic States by the USSR in the 1940s were widespread throughout the Cold War era.

Norman Naimark has another forerunner well worthy of mentioning in a historiographic survey: the Chechen scholar Abdur-akhman Avtorkhanov, who under the pseu-donym “Uralov” published a book in 1951 on the persecution of the Chechen people.13 Avtorkhanov did not have exact data on the consequences of the 1944 deportation of the Chechen and Ingush peoples, but the point is that he characterized the event as an intentional killing operation against whole peoples, or, in other words, “genocide” (narodoubiistvo).

Oddly enough, Naimark also fails to mention the great forerunner to his study, namely the solid collection of articles published by the Munich Institute for Studies of the History and Culture of the USSR, a well-known exile institution during the Cold War. In 1958, Nikolai Deker and Andrei Lebed edited the book Genocide in the USSR: Studies in Group Destruction.14 The authors involved in the project wrote specifically about the elimination of social groups and referred to the UN 1948 Genocide Convention15 in relation to the repression of the former ruling social classes, the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the merchants, the bureaucrats, and the richer peasants. Stalin’s struggle against the wealthy peasants is also termed genocide, as is the 1932—1933 famine: “In view of the fact that the famine of 1932—33 was artificially created and was directed against a definite social stratum, the peasantry, this famine can only be described as an example of social genocide.”16 (Emphasis mine.) In passing, one may note that the author wrote that dekulakization is supposed to have claimed six million victims and the ensuing famine in 1932—1933 another six million.

It should be mentioned that the adoption of the UN Genocide Convention likewise spurred activist citizens in the United States to examine the country’s historical and current policy towards its Black population. In the pamphlet We Charge Genocide, published in 1951, the situation of African Americans in the US was condemned as precisely that: genocide. The foreword to a new edition of the book states:

This historic Petition was first presented to the world in 1951. Addressed to the United Nations it was submitted to that body in Paris, France at the Palais Chaillott where the Fifth Session of the General Assembly had gathered. Simultaneously a delegation led by Paul Robeson presented copies to the office of the Secretary General of the UN in New York. We had two aims: to expose the nature and depth of racism in the United States; and to arouse the moral conscience of progressive mankind against the inhuman treatment of black nationals by those in high political places. The Petition called upon the UN to take notice of the fact that even a cursory examination would reveal the savage racist policy that determines the attitude and reaction of city, state and federal governments in their relations with black nationals. […] The Petition declared that the racism of government was a criminal policy. It constituted a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, more specifically the UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and the Constitution of the United States of America.17

Norman Naimark presumably takes for granted that his readers know that the UN Convention on Genocide was not ratified by the US Senate until forty years later, and for obvious reasons. It was finally made law in 1988, contingent upon a series of “conditions” known as the “Lugar-Helms-Hatch Sovereignty Package”, which according to one scholar significantly weakened this adapted convention text.

The analysis by Lawrence LeBlanc suggests that the bitter debates and opposition to the convention sprang from fears that it would be used domestically as a tool by groups such as African Americans and Native Americans who might hold the US accountable for genocide in matters of race relations.18


It is no exaggeration to say that during most of the Cold War era, Western Kremlinologists accepted the notion that the scale of terror, repression, and deprivations seen in forced labor or internal exile all added up to genocide of an unprecedented scale. For example, Professor Stephen Cohen in his stimulating essay Rethinking the Soviet Experience wrote:

Millions of innocent men, women, and children were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, executed, brutally deported, or imprisoned in the murderous prisons and forced-labor camps of the Gulag Archipelago. […] No one has yet managed to calculate the exact number of unnatural deaths under Stalin. Among those who have tried, twenty million is a conservative estimate. Judged by the number of victims and leaving aside important differences between the two regimes, Stalinism created a holocaust greater than Hitler’s.19

While others have argued against the comparison between Stalinism and Nazism, contending it is conducive to a relativization of the Shoah, Stephen Cohen obviously saw no such problem, and not only because he relied on quantitative data on the number of victims that — as it later turned out — were far from accurate, but also because the seemingly systematic nature of Stalin’s terror, as described in the mainstream literature, was indeed littered with examples of death camps and mass executions. Suffice it to say that in his 1978 book on the infamous Kolyma camps in the Soviet Far East, Robert Conquest contended that the primary purpose of these camps was not gold extraction, but systematic extermination of the prisoners on a scale rivaling Hitler’s Final Solution. He calculated that from the late 1930s to the early 1950s at least three million people were eliminated out of the some three and a half million prisoners allegedly sent to Magadan and other ports in the Soviet Far East. Few reviewers of his book even dared to challenge his numbers in light of the horrific descriptions already known from the memoirs of Polish and German survivors of these camps.20

My point is thus that Norman Naimark would have lent much more credence to his arguments if he had bothered to mention the precedents in the literature that have likewise termed Stalin’s terror genocidal. He would then have had to acknowledge which of these forerunners’ descriptions have withstood the test of time. On the other hand, if Naimark had taken the trouble to read the original transcripts of the deliberations among lawyers over the draft convention, he would probably not have so blithely accepted the thesis that only the Soviet Union’s opposition to certain wording made the final version so different from that proposed by Lemkin and others at the end of World War II.


Norman Naimark also tries to use the original UN Convention’s concept of genocide as appropriate to characterize (a) the dekulakization of 1930—1933; (b) the mass famine of 1932—1933; (c) the Great Terror of 1937—1938; and (d) the deportations of entire peoples before and during World War II.

Naimark was asked in an interview why the title uses genocides in the plural given that he has otherwise spoken of “Stalin’s genocide” in the singular. His answer is connected to his main thesis:

I don’t think this is an important distinction. The 1930s as a whole and the mass killings in the 1930s should be considered a single historical episode composed of a series of events, all of which are genocides.
     Each of the separate episodes — the dekulakization, the Ukrainian famine, the attack on asocial people, the attack on national peoples like the Poles, Chechens, Ingush, and Ukrainians — should be considered episodes of genocide.

However, Naimark also argues that the current concept of genocide, twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in the wake of the well-known events in former Yugoslavia and Sudan, needs to be used in a wider sense in order to understand such historical phenomena as those mentioned above. This line of reasoning seems to lead to a situation in which any interested party can introduce their own use of such a value-laden term as “genocide” and dismiss the strivings of jurists to keep to a rigorous, non-contradictory use of terminology and concepts.

Naimark’s own extension of the concept of genocide to include the premeditated mass killings of political opponents, if accepted, would seem to require the concerned scholar to reassess several historical personalities as génocidaires of the same ilk as the Bolshevik leader. For example, the new book by Paul Preston on the aftermath of the 1936—1939 Spanish Civil War bears witness to the use of the term Holocaust, often considered uniquely characteristic of the extermination of the Jews of Europe, to apply also to General Franco’s early years in power. As with the extension of the génocidaire concept when applied to political groups, this same term would thus be attached to Marshal Gustav Mannerheim in Finland for the persecution of Socialists and Communists after the War of Independence in 1918, or to General Suharto of Indonesia for the 1965 killings of hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Party — to mention only a few obvious cases of political massacres that Naimark’s attempts at reclassification would include in the same genocidal actions as the Shoah.21

In early 2011, Sergei Karaganov, a Russian political analyst chiefly known for his foreign policy surveys, was invited by President Dmitry Medvedev to speak on the theme of overcoming the historical legacy of Stalinism. As this group surrounding the Council for Human Rights established by President Medvedev has received no notice in Western media, it might be worthwhile to quote how Russia’s present ruling elite can describe their recent past in terms and concepts that make Naimark’s thesis look feeble.

At the assembly in Ekaterinburg22 and in his later article on the same theme, Karaganov said the following to President Medvedev and the Human Rights Commission: “The Russian people carried out revolution and led to power an anti-human and barbarous regime, and allowed it to exist, and took part in an ‘auto-genocide’ (samogenotsid), a systematic, wave-like annihilation of its best representatives, traditions, and the destruction of churches, cultural heritage, and in many respects, the culture as such.” Obviously, Karaganov alludes to the concept of cultural genocide as a consequence of Soviet policies.

The auto-genocide began during the Civil War with the elimination and deportation of the intelligentsia and the clergy — the bearers of culture and traditional values, of the bourgeoisie — the strongest and most competitive part of society, of the aristocracy — the most educated and patriotic segment thereof, as the conservers (khraniteli) of national self-consciousness and pride. Thereafter followed the golodomory (terror-famines), collectivization that was aimed at extermination of the best peasants. […] Then followed the repressions of the new intelligentsia and military. After the World War — of the prisoners-of-war.23

It is thus obvious that Naimark’s essay-like book on the génocidaire Stalin will most probably find support among certain groups in today’s Russia, both among the elite and among the general public. From an analytical point of view, however, it is doubtful whether or not any actual new knowledge can be gleaned from the blurring of concepts such as genocide. It is more likely that Naimark’s essay will only lead to further obfuscations of the real causes and effects of the Stalinist terrorist regime. Outside a tiny current of partisans of the Russian Communists, whether the grand KPRF under Gennadyi Zyuganov24 or the sectarians surrounding Viktor Anpilov25, it is beyond doubt that Stalin was responsible for the untimely deaths of millions of completely innocent citizens as well as his real or imagined political opponents. All the more so since in his writings from the late 1920s on Stalin decreed the physical destruction of his perceived enemies. However, having been involved in several research projects lately — on the collectivization of 1930—193426 and the Great Terror of 1937—193827 — I have all too often found that the empirical evidence for the conclusion that Stalin and his entourage actually went after people for their ethnic, racial, or religious origins is doubtful. Even all the hearsay concerning his alleged ambitions against Ukraine in 1932—1933 is easily refutable.


Like so many other observers, scholars, and politicians in the West, Naimark emphatically maintains that the Russian people today must not only repent but fully acknowledge the criminal deeds of the Georgian shoemaker’s son, Joseph Dzhugashvili — better known by his Russian sobriquet “Stalin” than by any of his Georgian underground noms de guerre like “Koba” — who ruled them for almost thirty years (1924—1953). The word “Georgia” is absent from Naimark’s text, so one is led to presume that the Georgian people have already fully assimilated the dire lessons of history in this respect, despite the fact that the only Stalin statue left unmolested in the entire Soviet Union by 1991 was found in the city of Gori, Georgia! Strangely enough, Naimark ignores the influence of the man’s Georgian background and conditions in the evolution of Dzhugashvili to the future tyrant and génocidaire. In light of the real situation in Gori and the rest of Georgia, it is peculiar that Naimark demands repentance only from the Russians but not from the Georgians.

Why indeed should only the Russian people want to apologize for this Georgian who, in the late 1920s, might as well be said to have usurped power in the All-Union Communist Party and ruled as a non-Russian tyrant over the whole Soviet Union for some twenty-five years? And this while the Georgian people, who to this day honor Stalin’s memory, should have no reason according to Naimark (and many others) to examine their history, mentality, and traditions in search of an explanation for the behavior of “the people’s greatest son”? Only in the aftermath of the 2008 war against Russia did the rulers, evidently in response to critique from foreign observers, deem it necessary to remove the statue of Stalin from the central square in his hometown of Gori!

Considering the esteem in which the Georgian public hold “their Dzhugashvili”, it is even more characteristic of the tendentious American campaign for which Naimark is a typical representative for him to allege that “a majority of Russians continue to hold Stalin in high esteem”, and to urge them, in a bid to improve their relations with the Ukrainians, Poles, Chechens, and Crimean Tatars, to “openly acknowledge and conscientiously investigate the crimes of the past”.

Gallup polls in recent years that allegedly show that Stalin is held in high esteem by ordinary Russians have been criticized as structurally biased and for having survey questions that do not meet the standards of ordinary statistical methods. Furthermore, the nation hardest hit by “Stalinist genocides” was, after all, not Ukrainians, Poles, Chechens or Tatars, but the Russians themselves, and few historians in Russia would argue along ethnic lines as to the origins of the terror and the repressive measures that victimized millions in the Russian Socialist Republic in the period of 1928—1953. Finally, any serious scholar who has followed recent historiography in Russia cannot have failed to notice the sea of publications, documentary and source collections, exhibitions, and television series intended precisely to broaden the public’s knowledge and understanding of the terrorist traits of the Stalinist regime in particular and the oppressive characteristics of the Soviet party-state in general. In other words, Naimark’s exhortation is tantamount to banging on a wide-open door, and his conceptually confusing essay is hardly likely to contribute to greater knowledge or insight into the dramatic twentieth-century history of the country.

Certain Russian politicians and writers are demanding the removal of Lenin’s Mausoleum from Red Square. Less often do the politicians suggest a more venerable, traditional resting place for Lenin’s corpse — next to his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya who lies in a grave in front of the Kremlin wall alongside other leaders of the Communist Party. But what should be done with the rest of the necropolis along the Kremlin Wall? In a long row, you find the graves of Stalin, Frunze, Sverdlov, Brezhnev, and other communist leaders. Considering that communists will continue to revere his memory, is it acceptable in a “modernized” Russia to keep a place of pilgrimage and a monument to one of the worst tyrants of the 20th century in such a place? Finally, one has to wonder whether Professor Naimark would propose another graveyard for Stalin, and if so, what the most appropriate place would be.≈


  1. Also available in German: Stalin und der Genozid, Frankfurt 2010; in Ukrainian: Genotsidi Stalina, Kiev 2011; and in Russian: Genotsidy Stalina, Moscow 2012.
  2. Alec Nove, “How Many Victims in the 1930s?”, in Soviet Studies, vol. 42:2 (April 1990), pp. 369—373.
  3. Stephen G. Wheatcroft, “More Light on the Scale of Repression and Excess Mortality in the Soviet Union in the 1930s”, in Soviet Studies, vol. 42: 2 (April 1990), pp. 355—367. See also the reply by Robert Conquest, “Excess Deaths and Camp Numbers: Some Comments”, in Soviet Studies, vol. 43:5 (1991), pp. 949—952.
  4. Stephen G. Wheatcroft, “The Scale and Nature of German and Soviet Repression and Mass Killings, 1930—1945”, in Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 48:8 (1996), pp. 1319—1353.
  5. Steven Rosefielde, “Documented Homicides and Excess Deaths: New Insights into the Scale of Killing in the USSR during the 1930s”, in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 30:3 (1997), pp. 321—331; emphasis here, L. S.
  6. Norman Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe and The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945—1949, Cambridge, MA 1995: Harvard.
  7. Lennart Samuelson, “A Pathbreaker: Robert Conquest and Soviet Studies during the Cold War”, in Baltic Worlds, vol. II:1 (2009), pp. 47—51.
  8. Hirad Abtahi and Philippa Webb (eds.), The Genocide Convention: The Travaux Préparatoires. Vol. 1—2, Leiden & Boston 2008.
  9. A similar account of how the UN Convention was drafted is found in an article written by the Swedish international law expert Professor Ove Bring for The Living History Forum, a Swedish public authority. In his paper, concrete examples of Soviet crimes that the USSR’s UN representatives tried in vain to prevent from being classified as genocide are recounted with reference to the Swedish historian Klas-Göran Karlsson’s publication Terror och tystnad: Den sovjetiska regimens krig mot sitt eget folk [Terror and silence: The Soviet regime’s war against its own people], Stockholm 2003. See Ove Bring, “Folkmordskonventionen 60 år: En historisk introduktion” [Sixty years after the Genocide Convention: A historical introduction], (accessed 2011–10–19).
  10. The Genocide Convention: The Travaux Préparatoires vol. 1, p. 1060.
  11. For an archive-based investigation, see for example Andrew Defty, Britain, America and Anti-Communist Propaganda 1945— 1953: The Information Research Department, London 2004.
  12. See Karen Smith, Genocide and the Europeans, Cambridge 2010, pp. 32—39, for the deliberations in the British government in the early Cold War era.
  13. Aleksandr Uralov, Narodoubiistvo v SSSR: Ubiistvo chechenskogo naroda [Genocide in the USSR: The murder of the Chechen people], Munich 1952.
  14. Institute for the Study of the USSR, Munich 1958.  On the Soviet research center in Munich, see A. V. Popov, “Miunkhenskii institut po izucheniiu istorii kultury SSSR i vtoraia volna emigratsii” [The Munich Institute for the Study of the Culture History of the USSR and the second wave of emigration], in Istoriia rossiiskogo zarubezh’iia: Emigratsiia iz SSSR-Rossii 1941—2001 gg, [The history of the Russian diaspora: The emigration from the USSR-Russia 1941–2001], Moscow 2007, pp. 118—133.
  15. Mikhail Zerkalov, “Social groups”, in Genocide in the USSR, pp. 229—241.
  16. Ibid, p. 238.
  17. We Charge Genocide: The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government against the Negro People, New York 1970.
  18. Lawrence J. LeBlanc, The United States and the Genocide Convention, Durham 1991.
  19. Stephen F. Cohen, Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics & History since 1987, Oxford 1985, p. 94. The oft-quoted “conservatively” estimated number of 12 million victims in the Gulag and 8 million in the Great Terror and deportation is from Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, London 1968, p. 525. This was considered mainstream “accepted wisdom” until the publication of articles by Viktor Zemskov on the Gulag and by Nikita Petrov, Arsenii Roginskii, and others from Memorial concerning the Great Terror. In his recent book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives from Stalinism to the New Cold War, New York, 2009, p. 213, note 25, Professor Cohen explicitly argues against his earlier estimates with grateful acknowledgement of research by Stephen Wheatcroft and others.
  20. Robert Conquest, Kolyma: The Arctic Death Camps, New York, 1978. For the first Western archival-based study of this issue, see David Nordlander’s excellent PhD thesis “Capital of the Gulag: Magadan in the Early Stalin Era, 1929­—1941” (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997), and “Origins of a Gulag Capital: Magadan and Stalinist Control in the Early 1930s”, in Slavic Review, vol. 57:4 (Winter 1998) pp. 791—812. For an in-depth analysis of Conquest’s inaccurate calculations and the more realistic estimates of the total prisoners kontingenty and their mortality during the whole Stalinist period, see Martin J. Bollinger, Stalin’s Slave Ships: Kolyma, the Gulag Fleet, and the Role of the West, Westport 2003.
  21. See also the arguments on General Mannerheim and the aftermath of the Finnish War of Independence/Civil War in 1918, in Aapo Roselius, I bödlarnas fotspår: Massavrättningar och terror i finska inbördeskriget [In the footsteps of the hangmen: Mass executions and terror in the Finnish Civil War], the Swedish translation of the Finnish Teloittajien jäljillä: valkoisten väkivalta Sumoen sisällissodassa (Helsinki 2007), Stockholm 2009; on the mass repressions after the defeat of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War during General Franco’s regime, see Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, New York 2012; on the mass reprisals against Indonesia’s Communist Party members and sympathizers, see John Roosa, Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Suharto’s Coup d’état in Indonesia, Madison 2006.
  22. For a briefing on Sergei Karaganov’s speech at the session of the Council of Human Rights in February 2011, see
  23. Novaia Gazeta, accessed 2011-04-01 at:
  24. For the official arguments by the Russian Communist Party leader on Stalin’s rehabilitation, see his Stalin i sovremennost [Stalin and the present era], Moscow 2008.
  25. For the vociferous pro-Stalinist apologists, see for example Yuri Emelianov, Stalin pered sudom pigmeev [Stalin before the court of pygmies], Moscow 2008, and Dmitry Lyskov, “Stalinskie repressii”: Velikaia lozh XX veka [The Stalinist repressions”: The great lie of the 20th century], Moscow 2009.
  26. Sovetskaia derevnia glazami OGPU-NKVD, 1930—1934, 2 vols., Viktor Danilov et al. (eds.), Moscow 2003—2007.
  27. Vladimir Khaustov and Lennart Samuelson, Stalin, NKVD, i repressii 1936—1938 gg. [Stalin, the NKVD and the repressions, 1936—1938], Moscow 2008; an English translation is forthcoming in 2012.
  • Inger Frinag

    Great article,Mr.Samuelson!!! Thank you!

Norman M Naimark, Stalins Genocides, Princeton & Oxford 2010, Princeton University Press, 163 pages, index.