Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder. 2012.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars. / Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis.
The Polokaust, and Long-Suppressed Genocides Under Communism and the Jewish Complicity in Them. A Rare Break From the Customary Holocaust Monopoly
The single-volume work is very detailed and scholarly. It goes a long way towards redressing the almost-exclusivist attention to the Jews’ Holocaust, and the neglect of Soviet Communist crimes. Snyder concludes: “Fourteen million people were deliberately murdered by two regimes over twelve years.” (p. 406).
LITTLE-KNOWN GENOCIDES IN THE SOVIET UNION
During the Holodomor (Soviet famine-genocide of 1932-1933), at least 3.3 million Soviet citizens perished. Though most of these were Ukrainians, there were also many Polish and other victims. (p. 53).
Moving on to the Great Terror (1937-1938), Snyder comments: “Even as the Popular Front presented the Soviet Union as the homeland of toleration, Stalin ordered the mass killing of several Soviet nationalities…The most persecuted European national minority in the second half of the 1930’s was not the four hundred thousand or so German Jews…but the six hundred thousand or so Soviet Poles…” (p. 89). “In 1937 and 1938, Poles were twelve times more likely than the rest of the Soviet Ukrainian population to be arrested.” (p. 99)(and 40 times more likely to be murdered: p. 104). One eighth of all Great Terror victims were Poles, although Poles were only 0.4% of the USSR’s population. (p. 104).
JEWISH COMPLICITY IN SOVIET COMMUNIST GENOCIDAL CRIMES
Snyder continues (bear in mind the Jews constituted 1-2% of the population of the USSR): “The
Jewish officers who brought the Polish operation to Ukraine and Belarus, such as Izrail Leplevskii, Lev Raikhman, and Boris Berman, were arrested and executed. This was part of a larger trend. When the mass killing of the Great Terror began, about a third of the high-ranking NKVD officers were Jewish by nationality. By the time Stalin brought it to an end on 17 November 1938, about twenty percent of the high-ranking officers were. A year later that figure was less than four percent.” (p. 108). Snyder portrays all this as Stalin (before de-Judaizing the CP) having Jews do all his dirty work so that Jews would be the scapegoats for it. (This will not do. Jews had been strongly, and by deliberate choice, overrepresented in Communism long before Stalin! Jews in high positions in the USSR certainly knew what they were doing. They were active perpetrators, not pawns).
THE POLISH-NAZI ALLIANCE MYTH
What’s new with the blame-Poland blame game? Contrary to recent revisionist Russian propaganda, at no time was a 1930’s Polish-German alliance against the USSR in the offing: pp. 64-65.
THE POLOKAUST SHORTCHANGED
During the WWII period up to Barbarossa, some 200,000 Poles (mainly the intelligentsia) were murdered by the Soviets and Nazis. (p. 153). However, the Polish intelligentsia proved too large, and robust, to eliminate. (p. 293). Snyder downgrades the total eventual number of Poles murdered by the Germans to 1 million, along with another 1 million dead from mistreatment and casualties of war. (p. 406). In doing so, he ignores other sources (and NOT just postwar propaganda estimates) that cite a much higher number of Polish-gentile victims of the Nazis (e. g, Materski, POLSKA 1939-1945).
About eight million people, mostly Slavs, were eventually deported to the Reich for forced labor. (p. 294). The consequences of the German invasion of their erstwhile Soviet ally were as follows: “During this eastern war, the Germans also deliberately murdered some ten million people, including more than five million Jews and more than three million prisoners of war.” (p. 155). On the other side of the coin, a much smaller number of captive Germans perished in Soviet captivity, comprising 185,000 civilians and 363,000 POWs. (p. 318).
WHY THE POLOKAUST WAS NOT MUCH WORSE
The fact that the Germans did not murder many more Slavs owed entirely to practical reasons. Plans to exterminate tens of millions of Slavs by starvation (Hunger Plan, or as part of Himmler’s proposal of 30 million locals’ deaths: p. 234, 389), on the heels of Operation Barbarossa, fell through. (pp. 162-163, 187). The Germans, unlike their earlier Soviet counterparts, had proved incapable of inflicting Holodomor-style genocides owing to such things as a shortage of personnel needed to seal-off collective farms and cities against a transfer of food. (pp. 166-168; 172). Even the long-besieged Leningrad retained some access to outside food. (p. 173). Long-term German plans calling for the massive extermination of tens of millions of Slavs (GENERALPLAN OST), including 80-85% of Poles (p. 160), became moot as a result of Germany’s defeat.
SOME SHOAH FACTS
Snyder devotes some chapters to the Holocaust, and includes seldom-mentioned information, such as the function of KL Warschau (pp. 296-297), which was later reused as an NKVD camp. (p. 311). Snyder also realizes that the Germans sent Jews out into the countryside as spies (as by taking their families hostage)(p. 237) and that Poles’ cut-throat gestures directed at doomed Jews [as in Lanzmann’s SHOAH] did not necessarily imply an approval of their fate. (p. 266).
NO POSTWAR GENOCIDE OF GERMANS BY POLES
German revisionists, focusing on the vertriebiene, have tried to cover up Germany’s genocidal crimes by inventing a nonexistent genocide of 2 million Germans by the victorious Allies. What are the facts? Snyder writes: “In all of this flight and transport, from early 1945 to late 1947, perhaps four hundred thousand Germans native to lands that were annexed by Poland died: most of them in Soviet and Polish camps, and a second large group caught between armies or drowned at sea.” (pp. 323-324). However, Snyder has reversed the actual proportions of causes of death. In any case, the 400,000 figure, long buried in German archives (p. 405), is likely a maximum.
Interestingly, some Germans were afraid to board enclosed deportation trains, fearing that they were disguised gas chambers! (p. 322). During the actual postwar expulsion processes, probably no more than a few thousand (or at most a few tens of thousands) of Germans died. (p. 323). Perhaps about 30,000 Germans perished in Polish-Communist camps in 1945 and 1946 (p. 322), and 19,000-30,000 were killed in Czechoslovakia. (p. 320, 499).
Germans were not the only ones massively relocated. For instance, 1.5 million Poles from the Kresy (Poland’s eastern half, conquered by the USSR in 1939 and given away during the Teheran betrayal of Poland) were also unilaterally deprived of their centuries-old domiciles.
After writing this book, author Timothy Snyder unfortunately returned to the customary Judeocentric and anti-Polish memes, as exhibited in his BLACK EARTH. Was it because he had been spanked by his Jewish colleagues for the balanced content in BLOODLANDS?
Published with the author’s permission.
The title image: A German and a Soviet officer shaking hands at the end of the Invasion of Poland. Unknown war correspondent of TASS press agency. October 1939 / Wikipedia. Source: ENRS.ue, 21 August 2018. / Selected by wg.pco