The Forgotten Soviet Genocide

In a recent review essay in The Moscow Times, scholar Peter Rollberg reminds us of the largely forgotten genocide the Soviet government perpetrated against its own people. Rollberg simultaneously rails against Russians who today “are again making excuses for the crimes of communism” as well as reminding us that “turning a blind eye to the millions of victims of communism is among the Western left’s gravest original sins, and one it still has to acknowledge in full.”

A sample:

[H]uman rights activist Sergei Kovalyov bemoans the fact that there was no Nuremberg trial for those guilty of gulag-related crimes. But that is precisely the point: The gulag had already killed tens of thousands of its own most ardent killers. Again and again, yesterday’s judges were declared today’s criminals, so that Soviet society never had to own up to its millions of state-backed murders.

Check out the whole piece; it’s well worth reading and serves as an important reflection in the wake of President Bush’s inaugural speech.

FILED UNDER: World Politics,
Leopold Stotch
About Leopold Stotch
“Dr. Leopold Stotch” was the pseudonym of political science professor then at a major research university inside the beltway. He has a PhD in International Relations. He contributed 165 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and February 2006.


  1. Sure they killed 10 million people, but what about Sputnik??? Oh, and universal healthcare.

  2. PS-On a serious note.

    Is it possible that a nation can live up to its past without prosecuting those responsible for such horrors? For instance, the US seems to have largely forgotten our crime of slavery without punishing (formally) a single soul.

    Perhaps there is something more to be said about nations that easily forget the bad things in their history and move on with malice towards none.

  3. ken says:

    Even the most cursory review of US history is repleat with stories of American genocide against native american indians. The common phrase ‘the only good indian is a dead indian’ was no joking matter. People, sometimes with and sometimes without government sanction, were deadly serious about its implementation.

    That said, by all means let’s condemn genocide wherever it occurs. But more importantly let us make sure that those among us calling for the extermination of muslim ‘enemies’ never get into a position of power.

  4. lunacy says:

    I don’t know, Rusty. I think the Civil War was ample punishment for the crime of slavery.

  5. Attila Girl says:

    I agree that the Civil War was such a bloodletting that the entire country (not just the slave states) paid an enormous price for slavery. And after the war was over, the South became a sort of third-world country for quite some time.

    The situation with Native Americans was a good deal more complex, and really can’t be generalized about: that is something that has to be discussed nation by nation (and, in some cases, incident by incident). WRT some of the warrior Indian cultures, there were plenty of atrocities on both sides.

  6. Davod says:

    Education is a wonderfull thing. How much do the Russians really know about their history. They are putting statues of Stalin back up because he saved Russia during the Great Patriotic War. Stalin was probably the main eason for the tremendous losses at the start of the war.