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  • Killing Baby Stalin or Hitler? May 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    A longtime reader (CS) has written in with this question: if you could get rid of Hitler or Stalin in their youth, who would you choose for the butcher’s block? It is a really easy question and the answer is, of course, Hitler. There is no question that the Nazi and Soviet governments were two abhorrent and evil regimes, which managed to drip evil into their respective host societies. The world and, above all, the neighbours of these two countries could have done without said regimes. However, there is a fundamental difference.

    The Soviet Union was created in 1917 and by 1924 Stalin was effectively in charge, certainly he was unstoppable by that time. The key point though about Stalin is that if it had not been Uncle Joe it would have been someone else. The problem was not with Stalin’s serial killing tendencies, the problem was with Soviet Communism, the system per se and that was already in place. Many, particularly on the radical left, have seen Stalin’s rise to power as the end of workers’ dream. This misses two points. First, the workers’ paradise had always been short on Turkish delight: there is evidence of mass murder from the get go. Second, Stalin’s rival Trotsky would have also run a system that would have killed millions. From what Beach can see the only significant difference between Trotsky and Stalin is that Trotsky would have run the system into the ground more quickly and would have killed more non-Soviets in his time on the red throne.

    Hitler was the Nazi system. Without Hitler we might doubt that Nazism would ever have come to power, then, even if it had it would not have been, well, perhaps, genocidal. By 1930 an aggressive and nationalist German government was on the cards: but that government would not necessarily have been anti-semitic and it would not necessarily have invaded every single one of its neighbours bar Switzerland. The long hangover from the Great War was going to be unpleasant on the Continent: the Rhineland and western Poland would have been lucky to stay outside German control as late as 1950. But this instability in central Europe had been the norm since before the crusades. This blog has previously criticized the naiveté of particularly the modern British right in claiming that appeasement would ever have worked with Hitler. The truth is with a normal (read non-messianic) nationalist German it would probably have come off with some painful but digestible territorial changes.

    Votes for Stalin: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com

    Dennis writes, 27 Jun 2017: Your thumbnail on this eternal question brought to mind a comment that Alan Bullock made.  After writing “Hitler and Stalin Parallel Lives”, someone asked him if he would have enjoyed meeting and talking with his two subjects and which would he have enjoyed more. If he were to have lunch with either of the dictators, he was sure that Hitler would be his choice.  Hitler’s mealtime conversations were much more engaging when he turned on the charm. And there was a much better chance of surviving a meal with Hitler than with Stalin. An often overlook book that has a somewhat unusual insight into Hitler is John Keegan’s Mask of Command. He gives a very interesting insight into how Hitler connected with the German people as a former “Front Fighter”.  A connection that many other studies gloss over.

    Clive writes, 27 Jun 2017: Hitler or Stalin? Wow, what a choice! I want it to be both, of course–and let’s include Mao as well. However, just concentrating on Hitler and Stalin, I am not entirely convinced that by killing Hitler, WW2 would have been avoided. I agree that the evil of Nazism would almost certainly have not occurred, though a milder nationalist government would have still come to power. What really bothers me is that without Hitler and the threat he posed to Britain, we would not have re-armed. It was almost too late when we did, but without Hitler, we may well have continued to have armed forces that were more suited to fighting colonial wars, rather than a modern European war. Then, with Europe relatively weak and without Hitler to keep him occupied post Barbarossa, perhaps Stalin would have been tempted to go to war with Europe. Post WW2, NATO was a strong alliance against Stalin, but assuming Hitler never came to power and Europe didn’t re-arm, Stalin could have occupied a large proportion of Europe, possibly all of it. In that scenario, WW2 would still have happened, only it would have been the USSR against Europe. It could be argued that Britain would still have re-armed, with Stalin being the trigger rather than Hitler, but I am really not sure if that would have happened. What I am saying is that the temptation to remove Hitler may well not have prevented a devastating war, and given the experience of Eastern Europe post our WW2, we may have had to live under communism for many decades, all without the prospect of the USA liberating us. I am going to go out on a limb now and suggest that to avoid WW2 and WW1, we should instead kill baby Kaiser Wilhelm. I think then there would not have been a WW1, or possibly a far less costly war. Also, without Russia’s involvement in our now non-existent WW1, a revolution may well not have occurred, leaving the Tsar in charge. I am not saying Europe would have been entirely peaceful under those circumstances, just that conflicts may have been more localised. All pure speculation, of course!