LENIN, STALIN, AND HITLER
THE AGE OF SOCIAL CATASTROPHE
Robert Gellately
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2007
ISBN 978-1-4000-4005-6






This remarkably ambitious book tells the story of the great social and political catastrophe that enveloped Europe between 1914 and 1945. In a period of almost continuous upheaval, society was transformed by two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Combining a powerful narrative with profound analysis, acclaimed historian Robert Gellately argues that these tragedies are inextricably linked and that to consider them as discrete events is to misunderstand their genesis and character. Central to the catastrophe, of course, were Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, and this book makes use of recently opened Russian and German sources to explain how these dictators’ pursuit of utopian—and dread- fully flawed—ideals led only to dystopian nightmare.

In a groundbreaking work, Gellately makes clear that most comparative studies of the Soviet and Nazi dictatorships are undermined by neglecting the key importance of Lenin in the unfolding drama. Rejecting the myth of the “good” Lenin, the book provides a convincing social-historical account of all three dictatorships and carefully documents their similarities and differences. It traces the escalation of conflicts between Communism and Nazism, and particularly of the role of Hitler’s anathema against what he called “Jewish Bolshevism.” The book shows how the vicious rivalry between Stalin and Hitler led inescapably to a war of annihilation and genocide. The reverberations of this gargantuan struggle are felt everywhere to this day.

Robert Gellately is the Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University and was the Bertelsmann Visiting Professor of Twentieth-Century Jewish Politics and History at Oxford University in 2004-5. He is the author of The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933-1945 and Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.






“A most impressive account of the tragedies that befell the world during the first half of the twentieth century. Not the least merit of his book is that, unlike most historians who treat Lenin as a well-meaning idealist, he places him alongside Stalin and Hitler as a founder of modern barbarism.”
—Richard Pipes,
Baird Professor of History,
Emeritus, Harvard University

“Books on the Holocaust and Nazism now number in the tens of thousands. Of that vast library, a handful of texts should be deemed essential reading for any serious student of the bloody and pathetic twentieth century. Robert Gellately’s Backing Hitler is among them.”
—Christopher Simpson,
The Washington Post Book World

“A fascinating study of coercion and consent in the Third Reich.”
—Gordon A. Craig, The New York Review of Books

“An intriguing and illuminating new book.”
—Niall Ferguson, The Mail on Sunday

“A groundbreaking book... Will change our understanding of Hitler’s relation to his people.”
—Peter Lewis, Daily Mail






excerpt from Epilogue

In the course of completing this book, I spoke with a number of people along the way. Quite a few were disconcerted, sometimes also intrigued, by my naming Lenin, along with Stalin and Hitler, as one of the three truly vile despots of the first half of the twentieth century. Social scientists I met, at home but especially in Europe, castigated me for not giving Lenin enough credit for his “good intentions.” A colleague in the United States pleaded, “Of course, Lenin made a few mistakes.” Not everyone reacted so defensively to my portrayal of Lenin, however. Some confided that all along they had regretted the tendency of many scholars to place Lenin above history and shield him from the criticism he deserves. I submit that we have to avoid slipping into the role of apologist for Soviet leaders, including, and in some respects above all, Lenin, a heartless and ambitious individual who was self-righteous in claiming to know what was good for “humanity,” brutal in his attempt to subject is own people to radical social transformation, and convinced he held the key to the eventual overthrow of global capitalism and the establishment of world Communism.

This book is an attempt to record the evils perpetrated by both Soviet Communism and German Nazism and to figure out how it came about that, separately and together, the two systems brought such misery and destruction to the world.






CONTENTS

Abbreviations and Glossary
Note on Russian Spelling and Dates
Maps
Introduction

PART ONE: LENIN'S COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP

    1 The First World War and the Russian Revolution
    2 On the Way to Communist Dictatorship
    3 Civil Wars in the Soviet Union

PART TWO: THE RISE OF GERMAN NATIONAL SOCIALISM

    4 Nazism and the Threat of Bolshevism
    5 First Nazi Attempt to Seize Power
    6 Hitler Starts Over

PART THREE: STALIN TRIUMPHS OVER POLITICAL RIVALS

    7 Battle for Communist Utopia
    8 Lenin’s Passing, Stalin’s Victory
    9 Stalin’s New Initiatives
  10 Stalin Solidifies His Grip

PART FOUR: GERMANS MAKE A PACT WITH HITLER

  11 Nazi Party as Social Movement
  12 Nazism Exploits Economic Distress
  13 “All Power” for Hitler

PART FIVE: STALIN’S REIGN OF TERROR

  14 Fight Against the Countryside
  15 Terror as Political Practice
  16 “Mass Operations”
  17 “Cleansing” the Soviet Elite

PART SIX: HITLER'S WAR AGAINST DEMOCRACY

  18 Winning Over the Nation
  19 Dictatorship by Consent
  20 Persecution of the Jews in the Prewar Years
  21 "Cleansing" the German Body Politic

PART SEVEN: STALIN AND HITLER: INTO THE SOCIAL CATASTROPHE

  22 Rival Visions of World Conquest
  23 German Racial Persecution Begins in Poland
  24 Hitler and Western Europe
  25 The Soviet Response
  26 The War Spreads

PART EIGHT: HITLER'S WAR ON “JEWISH BOLSHEVISM”

  27 War of Extermination as Nazi Crusade
  28 War Against the Communists: Operation Barbarossa
  29 War Against the Jews: Death Squads in the East
  30 The “Final Solution” and Death Camps

PART NINE: HITLER'S DEFEAT AND STALIN’S AGENDA

  31 Greatest Crisis in Stalin’s Career
  32 Between Surrender and Defiance
  33 Soviets Hold On, Hitler Grows Vicious
  34 Ethnic Cleansing in Wartime Soviet Union

PART TEN: FINAL STRUGGLE

  35 From Stalingrad to Berlin
  36 Stalin Takes the Upper Hand
  37 End of the Third Reich

Epilogue
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index
Photographic Credits






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Robert Gellately