Ideology and Armed Men

Soviet totalitarianism helps us understand our own softer version.

Frank Ellis, The Damned and the Dead: The Eastern Front through the Eyes of Soviet and Russian Novelists, University Press of Kansas, 2011, 376 pp., $34.95.

I would never have considered reading this book if the author had not given me a copy—and for the fact that the author is not just anybody. Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies at the University of Leeds in England, spoke on “Racial Hysteria in Britain” at the 2000 AR conference. Six years later he provoked hysteria on his campus by pointing out that there are racial differences in intelligence, and that genes account for a large part of them. Prof. Ellis stuck to his guns and laughed at the very idea of apologizing. He is, in short, a fine fellow.

But what could interest AR readers in a book about Soviet and Russian novelists? As I discovered, a great deal.

The Damned and the Dead is many books in one—all good. It is certainly a survey of Russian-language fiction written about the Soviet war with Nazi Germany. However, it is also full of keen observations about the nature of war and combat that no doubt draw on Prof. Ellis’s own experiences in the British Special Forces. At the same time, it recounts the struggles of Soviet writers to get realistic fiction past the censors, and explores the terrible effect of Stalin’s tyranny and Communist ideology on the Red Army’s ability to fight. It is this analysis of what happens when ideology terrifies and blinds people—just as today’s ideology about race terrifies and blinds people—that is especially relevant for AR readers. As Prof. Ellis warns, with a quotation from John Stuart Mill:

The dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another until they pass into commonplace, but which all experience refutes. History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution.

We are living in a time of persecution, and it is well to be reminded just how far persecution can go. Today’s “anti-racists” share the mental outlook of Soviet commissars, and would probably be just as brutal if they had the power.

The Nature of War

Prof. Ellis says this about the war on the Eastern Front:

Our remote ancestors’ propensity for violence was spontaneous and local; in the twentieth century it was global, systematic, and planned. It is therefore not entirely accurate to characterize Stalingrad and the other battles on the Eastern Front as a regression to barbarism. Rather they represent a progression to a new type of barbarism, one dominated by technology and influenced by the mass media.

What made men endure the horrors of the Eastern Front? Prof. Ellis writes that all armies depend on “the fundamental decency of the soldier’s desire to stand by his fellows.” At the same time, soldiers find strength in the belief that they will not be forgotten if they die. Prof. Ellis quotes an American Marine:

Past deeds are a young Marine’s source of pride, inspiration to face danger, and reassurance that death in battle isn’t consignment to oblivion. His buddies and all future Marines will keep the faith.

If, as Prof. Ellis writes, “the sacrifice of the dead imposes an obligation on the living to remember” then war literature of the best kind is a remembrance of the dead, an expression of reverence for the fallen. Prof. Ellis assures us that by this standard, Soviet and Russian war literature is unsurpassed.

Soviet soldiers firing a 45mm gun.

Many of the novels have battle scenes “of astonishing power and virtuosity,” and also treat harrowing themes unfamiliar to Western readers, such as the state of mind of innocent men condemned to death on charges of cowardice or treason—men who were, writes Prof. Ellis, “legally defenseless, alone and despised.” The Damned and the Dead, a 1990s novel by Victor Astaf’ev from which Prof. Ellis takes the title of his own book, in addition to being a shattering account of men at war, raises a profound question that is absent from any other nation’s literature about the Second World War: Is it possible to wage a just war against even a terrible invader when it means defending the despicable regime of Stalin and his henchmen? Wrenching themes of this kind are a special reward for those who read these works.


Censorship in the Soviet Union did not officially end until August 1, 1990. Official soviet literature about the war, therefore, was about mass heroism in the Red Army and the pure evil of Nazism. Prof. Ellis tells us that some of it is competent story-telling but much of it suffers from “aesthetic barrenness and emotional sterility.”

During the war, censors read every letter sent from the front, and wrote reports to the authorities on what soldiers were thinking. Those reports have now been unsealed. Soldiers often complained that Soviet newspapers were full of lies about the progress of the war, and they wrote bitterly about collectivization. Curiously, the reports mention almost no criticism of Stalin, even though many soldiers must have written about him. Prof. Ellis concludes that the censors were censoring themselves!—that certain ideas were too dangerous even to pass up the chain of command.

“The spirit of the great Lenin and his victorious banner inspire us now in this patriotic war.”—J. Stalin

In the post-war period, a prominent act of censorship was the “arrest” in 1961 of the manuscript of Vasilii Grossman’s Life and Fate. The book, on which Grossman had spent 10 years, was a merciless dissection of the Soviet state, both at war and at peace, and the authorities considered it far more subversive than Doktor Zhivago, which was published in 1957 outside the Soviet Union. A politburo member, Mikhail Suslov, told Grossman that his book might be acceptable to Soviet readers in perhaps 200 or 300 years. The book was finally published in the West in 1980, and in the Soviet Union in 1988.


Prof. Ellis states bluntly what could have been a fatal handicap for the Red Army: “[T]he German invasion of the Soviet Union exposed a lack of allegiance on the part of large numbers of Soviet citizens toward their leaders that has no parallel in the history of war.” So categorical an indictment is startling, but Prof. Ellis may be right.

Collectivization, which had continued through the 1930s, obliterated traditional patterns of rural life. The peasants who had suffered most—they called collectivization a “second serfdom”—were now asked to fight for a government they despised, and there is no question that many deserted or refused to fight.

Non-Russian populations in Ukraine and Belorussia especially hated the Soviets because of collectivization and the suppression of Christianity, and welcomed the Germans as liberators. (Indeed, Prof. Ellis argues that if the Germans had cultivated widespread hatred of Stalin rather than mistreating the Soviet people they might have won on the Eastern Front.) Germans occupied these areas for as long as three years, and officers of the NKVD (secret police) and of SMERSH, the counterintelligence agency set up in 1943, had some reason to suspect that any Ukrainian or Belorussian who had survived Nazi rule was a de facto collaborator.

NKVD arm patch.

The Soviet Army purges of 1937 were also a vivid and poisonous recent memory in the military. Many senior officers were executed on charges of treason, and the NKVD and political commissars assumed that only treason could have caused the devastating defeats of 1941. They believed that anyone who had contact with the enemy and then returned to Soviet lines was at least a coward, if not a traitor or spy.

The top five military officers of the Soviet Union in November, 1935. Left to right: Marshals Mikhail Tukhachevsky, Semyon Budyonny, Kliment Voroshilov, Vasily Blyukher, and Aleksandr Yegorov. Only Voroshilov and Budyonny survived the purge of officers.

It was this desperate combination of suspicion, hatred, collaboration, and unending defeats that prompted Stalin’s famous “not a step backward” order of July 1942. No solider was to retreat a single step “without the order of a superior commander.” The punishment was death on the spot. As Prof. Ellis writes, this often made strategic retreat impossible:

If the junior commander has to make the decision, the risk that he will be investigated for desertion or dereliction of duty will always enter into his calculus of decision-making. Such considerations cannot promote effective command.

The Red Army set up “blocking detachments” that prowled behind the front line, killing or arresting anyone who took a “step backward.” Prof. Ellis quotes from a novel in which the character Len’ka is separated from his unit and wanders into an NKVD blocking detachment: “Soldiers such as these Len’ka had not seen before: rosy-cheeked, well fed, looking as if they had been fed on good food, well kitted out in new helmets . . . .”

An estimated 40,000 men served in these detachments, and they took their jobs seriously. According to Soviet records, in the brief period from August 1 to October 15, 1942, they “detained” no fewer than 140,755 soldiers who “ran away from the front line.” Of that number 3,980 were arrested, 1,189 executed, 2,961 sent to penal units, and 131,094 returned to their units or to transit centers.

Delivering food to the Russian front line at Stalingrad.

Many men were executed with no real investigation or recourse, and solders were often shot in front of their units. Men “returned to their units” were probably branded as cowards and mercilessly abused. There is no telling where men went from “transit centers;” often it was to concentration camps. Penal units were punishment battalions sent into the worst, most dangerous engagements, where offenders were, in the language of Soviet doctrine, to “expiate their crimes against the motherland in blood.”

British executions during the First World War for desertion or cowardice—346 for the entire war—give us something of the scale of Soviet retribution. The above figure of 1,189 executions was for a period of just two and a half months.

As Prof. Ellis notes, harsh measures flowed logically from Marx’s concept of war:

If the interests of the working class were threatened by either internal or external enemies, then all measures were justified. Extermination of the class enemy was the obligation that history imposed on the Communist Party.

This atmosphere of suspicion and punishment gave rise to the theme of “encirclement” that Prof. Ellis tells us is so common in Soviet war literature. Soldiers who were surrounded by the enemy but fought their way back to their lines were not commended for resourcefulness but treated as traitors, and the injustices that followed are a staple of Soviet literature. Soldiers captured by the Germans but who had escaped were often treated as if they were spies.

A German assault team at Stalingrad.

Prof. Ellis notes that the question of collaboration with the Germans is still a very sore subject in Russia. Supporters of the Soviet regime wrote novels in which blocking units were the heroes; their courage and iron discipline saved the motherland from traitors and cowards. And yet, what kind of regime must make heroes of men who shot down their own countrymen by the thousands for cowardice and treason? Prof. Ellis concludes that blocking divisions and penal units may have been a tragic necessity for a hated regime with its back to the wall:

If . . . results are what matter, at whatever price, then it could be said that the whole NKVD apparatus of censorship, rooting out dissenters, blocking detachments, tribunals, executions, and agitprop succeeded. From this perspective, one that many patriotic Russians will find too awful to contemplate, the NKVD might be entitled to claim some credit for the Soviet victory.

Prof. Ellis writes that no army may ever have treated its men so badly: “The stupefying cruelty and indifference of the Soviet military leadership toward its own troops, both in training and in combat, cannot be explained entirely by incompetence.” He is not sure whether this had roots in some ancient strain of Russian savagery, but the brutality of the Stalinist regime certainly spread to the army. New recruits were treated little better than gulag inmates, and the result was “to reduce healthy, able-bodied young men to scrofulous, pediculous [lice invested], apathetic wretches.”

Soldiers became savages themselves, and turned on weaker recruits, causing many deaths before Red Army units even met the enemy. Prof. Ellis speculates that this may have at least had the effect of removing weaklings before they became liabilities in combat. He notes that in the 66th Soviet Army there were 32 cases of actual starvation! Many of those who were sent into battle were sacrificed on tactically pointless objectives. At least in fiction—and probably in real life—men with strong Christian faith survived best.

Soviet sniper at Stalingrad.

Many scholars have wondered why Soviet troops did not mutiny. “There is no real explanation of why the soldiers tolerated being treated as if they were cattle for the slaughter,” writes Prof. Ellis. Alexander Solzhenitsyn also agonized over this question. From June 22 to July 3, 1941, just after the start of the German invasion, Stalin was in a state of paralysis, and the generals could easily have removed him. Why didn’t they?

Part of the explanation may be the mentality left behind by the purges:

The execution of thousands of officers, among whom were some talented commanders, was bad enough [from a military point of view]; almost as bad was the psychological damage done to the survivors. Showing initiative, expressing one’s own ideas, and leading—all the things than an officer in a modern army should do—became dangerous, so officers blindly obeyed orders.

Such men could not have raised a finger against Stalin. Prof. Ellis writes that many were in a state of such psychological surrender to the party that they were incapable of individual action on the battlefield. There was also a dual army command—political as well as military—that often resulted in bad decisions or no decision at all. Prof. Ellis cites a scene from a novel in which a political officer takes over the only communications link so he can make political speeches just when it was vitally necessary to send a message to correct artillery fire so as to hit the enemy.

What about America?

Prof. Ellis quotes the British general Sir John Hackett:

What a society gets in its armed services is exactly what it asks for, no more and no less. What it asks for tends to be a reflection of what it is. When a country looks at its fighting forces it is looking in a mirror; the mirror is a true one and the face that it sees will be its own.

Prof. Ellis’ The Damned and the Dead paints a harrowing picture of a nation under a cruel, mentally shackled regime that was at the same time fighting for survival against a terrifying enemy. The Soviets got the army they asked for.

What army do we get? Although we do not have commissars who make political speeches during combat, we certainly have orthodoxies that weaken our forces. Blacks and Hispanics are less intelligent than whites or Asians, yet they must be promoted in equal numbers. Just as giving commissars influence over military decisions hurt the Soviet Army, promoting incompetents hurts our army. Dozens of studies have shown that women are physically weaker and more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder than men, and yet no one dares decry the folly of putting women on combat ships.

Germans captured at Stalingrad.

Plenty of officers know that “diversity” is a weakness on the battlefield but just like the Soviet officer corps after the purges, they are paralyzed by fear, and dare not say so. Only after he retired did Army Green Beret Major Andy Messing denounce the foolishness of mixing men of different races or religions in Special Forces units. Only after he no longer had command authority did he point out that men fight better alongside comrades like themselves.

Our armed forces have not faced a serious enemy since they fought the Chinese during the Korean War. At that time, there was no nonsense about women in combat, and although units had been recently integrated, there were still very few affirmative-action officers.

Would today’s American military even hold together in the face of a determined, modern enemy like the one that sliced through the Red Army in the summer of 1941? If our army did not shatter completely, it would soon rid itself of the dangerous ideologies that weaken it but still permit it to seem impressive in the face of Third-Worlders with rusty Kalashnikovs. In a true test, what would be the cost in corpses of the silence of cowards?

Prof. Ellis notes that Alexander Solzhenitsyn had particular contempt for Bertrand Russell’s pacifist statement, “better Red than dead:”

In this horrible expression . . . there is an absence of all moral criteria. Looked at from a short distance these words allow one to maneuver and continue to enjoy life. But from a long-term point of view it will undoubtedly destroy those people who think like that. It is a terrible thought.

This is a perfect description of white men who remain silent while every once-white institution plunges deeper into the insanity of “diversity.” Whites are silent because they want to survive the purge, but it is silence that permits the purge, and even if they survive, their children will not.

When Prof. Ellis fought orthodoxy on his own campus, the University of Leeds, he saw the same cravenness he had studied as a scholar of the Soviet Union. As he wrote in a letter to American Renaissance in September 2006:

Modern liberalism is truly depraved. Even now I am staggered by its boundless capacity for hypocrisy and lying—perhaps after all this I should not be, but I am. I know members of the Leeds faculty who share my objections to the cult of multiculturalism, but they remained silent. When I visited the university none could look me in the eye. I shall not name and shame them but they know who they are; they have disgraced themselves.

You do not really know people until there is a crisis. One of the most depressing things in this world is to discover that people, who you thought had some reserves of moral courage (physical courage is not the same thing), actually have the soul of a terrified apparatchik. I feel no anger towards these people; more disgust I would say.

Topics: , , ,

Share This

Jared Taylor
Jared Taylor is the editor of American Renaissance and the author of White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century.
We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Anonymous

    War is an unsentimental judge of the difference between truth and falsehood. Unfortunately, most people allow their likes and dislikes to influence their judgement of what is true and false. I do that too, but I make an effort not to. 

  • Anonymous

    The fact that never ceases to astonish me about the old Soviet Union is that the price paid in untold suffering, misery, blood and death to support a political ideology, was essentially paid for nothing – the Soviet leaders themselves overturned the system and not only brought back capitalism, but capitalism of the worst bandit, devil-take-the-hindmost sort during the Yeltsin era.
     I think there is a moral here.Personally I don’t believe in dogmas or ideologies of any sort, in my attitude to ‘race’ I am a conservative in the true sense of the word as I wish to conserve my race, the White race in the state that millenia of evolutionary struggle moulded it.This, of course, precludes mass third world immigration.But apart from that I don’t believe in dogma.
         On the point of failed and disastrous dogma and ideology, don’t you think that modern loud-mouthed and low-browed left, the immigrationists, the people who wish to destroy Whites, but haven’t got the brains to realise what they are doing, the people who punched and kicked and spat at Jared Taylor are the real and true heirs and successors of the Soviets? – Don’t these morons realise that not only that they are narrow minded bigots acting like robots of their political masters, but they are dead wrong to boot?

    • m e

      No, they don’t realize this. In their minds they hold the moral high ground. Anything that threatens their perch on that hilltop they must ignore. It’s just too threatening to their self image. They, literally and positively, cannot allow themselves to think of anything that would dispute their views. Haven’t you ever noticed how emotional they become? Talk to some of them. If you corner them with logic, they will physically squirm, until an emotional outburst relieves their inner stress.

      What I’m wondering is what the survival value of such a mind/mindset might be? Is it entirely genetic? Is it a tribal benefit, misapplied to a nation states? Or, perhaps, putting the shoe on the other foot, am I, and my ilk, deficient in a trait that is useful?

      • Anonymous

        Personally, I think it is the same fanatical mindset that drives cults and religions amongst the zealous.
         Think of the Jonestown mass suicide for example.

  • Michael Savage is fond of saying that liberalism is a mental disorder.  I think he’s right, but only half right.  I think inordinate devotion to any abstract creed or ideology is the true mental disorder, whether that ideology is on the left or right, or the libertarian or the authoritarian.

    • “inordinate devotion to any abstract creed or ideology is the true mental disorder…”

      How devoted are you to this abstract idea?

  • m e

    “. as a race realist surely Mr. Taylor believe blacks are stronger than whites and Asians?”

    Well, he wouldn’t see that because it’s not so. Take a peek at Olympic weight lifters. It’s a low entry cost sport. What you see is Russians, Germans, Iranians etc taking medals.

    You must be thinking speed, where blacks do enjoy an advantage in fast twitch fibers, but it comes at a cost, namely slow twitch fibers.

  • War is not the business of women. Women can take part in support units that are not directly in danger, but real combat requires strength and savagery not normally found in women. Women also damage unit cohesion. It is not good for morale for some of the men to be having sex in the trenches and others not. At the same time, various unfortunate experiments with women in combat have found that men take dangerous risks to protect women, and that the screaming of a wounded woman drives them berserk in a way that the screaming of a wounded man does not.

    Finally, it is for the women of their society–those who will carry the next generation–that healthy nations fight. To risk future mothers on the front line is societal suicide of precisely the kind that pervades American society.

    • Pandemonium

      I think that Israel used women in their combat units early-on but dropped that practice for the reasons you point out. I think using women in combat is another symptom of a society gone mad!

    • Seeing a woman in combat is like seeing someone try to start a fire using roses for tinder.

    • But it wouldn’t be a bad thing to send ugly feminists to the front line. 

  • Anonymous

    ‘Blacks are stronger than Whites and Asians’.

    Now putting Asians to one side, this is a common canard that Americans and only Americans seem to cling to.
      Whether it was engendered by school bullying or watching sports on television I don’t know.
    Yes, I fully agree that in general west African descended blacks as found in the USA are blessed by having a large quota of big, strong rather fearsome men, but this is only a minority of American blacks.A larger number are rather unpreposessing, scrawny and skinny and not very powerful, just like Whites in fact.
     These days the haevyweight boxing divisions are dominated by Whites from eastern Europe.Likewise are the champion weightlifters, powerlifters, olympic wrestlers, martial arts champions, iron-man contenders, world’s strongest man winners etc etc.
        Another point is that if blacks are so physically strong, stronger and more intimidating than Whites, then why in ancient times didn’t they conquer the world and now dominate the globe?
    Why were they easy prey to Arab raiders who basically destroyed them at will?

  • Anonymous

    Soviet soldiers raped as many as two and a half women when they invaded eastern Germany. They even raped Russian women who had earlier been taken prisoner by Germans. 
    Sixty thousand Soviet soldiers were killed taking Berlin. Germany was about ready to surrender unconditionally. 
    The U.S. Army could have taken Berlin with fewer than ten thousand dead. Rape would have been minimal. Rapists would have been punished severely. Many would have been shot on the spot. 

    • Anonymous

      John Engleman,
                                        I think you must posit the word ‘million’ somewhere in your post above.
      Absolutely no offence intended.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you. I just corrected that. 

  • Mark Clifton

    I believe that Mr Taylor has ignored the fact that Red Army soldiers fought not only for the reasons Dr Ellis concentrates on, but were in fact motivated by love of Mother Russia, and in some cases a belief in communism.

    Comparing Soviet military discipline to the more benign measures taken by the British is unfair. The British were not fighting on home turf or fighting an enemy whose aim was the extermination or enslavement of  their entire population. Russia would simply have ceased to exist had Hitler won the day.

    Stalin is far from maligned in today’s Russia. In fact he is popular among those Russians whose views on immigration and racial matters would agree with many of the supporters of this website.

    Moreover, it is quite clear that Russians today are immensely proud of their achievements during the Great Patriotic War. The old Soviet anthem has been resurrected, the icons of communism are far from shunned, and indeed one of the only things nowadays that unites many Georgians and Russians is a shared reverence for Stalin.
    I think the idea that the Soviet regime was a deeply unpopular one, even during WWII is more likely Western propaganda, using anecdotes to form an incorrect overall picture of things as they actually stood.

    And Stalin nowadays is a figure who often unites both the nationalistic right, and the communists (who are actually very populist and nationalistic) in Russia today.

    • Anonymous

      Joseph Stalin made mistakes, and he was not a very nice man. Nevertheless, he succeeded where Czar Nicholas II failed in successfully leading Russia against a German invasion. 
      Posters on this website who worry about “race displacement” should realize that that is precisely what Adolf Hitler intended to to with the Slavs. He intended to reduce them to a Helot population, raise their death rate and reduce their birth rate through deprivation, and replace them with race certified Germanic people. 
      In order to defeat the Germans Russia needed to industrialize rapidly. Industrialization is a painful process. One needs to build for the future, rather than for current consumption. It is not clear to me that any other man who might have lead Russia during 1941 – 1945 could have industrialized Russia rapidly enough. 
      Something like eighty percent of casualties in the German military were caused by the Soviet military.  
      The sound of the Soviet National Anthem is thrilling to me. 

      • Anonymous

        The Soviet Union was industrialized by US capitalists before the war: 
        “ncidentally, those same fascist-lovers in the American financial and industrial establishment built the entire Soviet military-industrial complex from the ground up from 1929 to 1941. The Soviet Union was able to defeat the Wehrmacht ONLY because of US technical assistance in the preceding decades. Who built the steel works at Magnitogorsk, Kuznetsk and Zaporozhe? Freyn Engineering of Chicago and Arthur McKee of Cleveland. Who designed and built 77% of Soviet oil refineries, 96% of the lubricating plants, and 91% of the cracking plants? American firms. Who designed and built the tractor factories that produced tanks at Kharkov, Stalingrad, and Chelyabinsk? Engineers from Ford and Packard. In 1944, Stalin told Averell Harriman that two-third of the large industrial enterprises in the USSR were built with American technical assistance. Those Soviet tanks that rolled into Berlin in 1945 were built in a US-designed and built factory, ran on oil produced in a US-designed and built oil plant, and were transported on a US-supplied rail system.The fact is that US assistance to the USSR before 1941 puts the supposed assistance to the Nazis totally in the shade. If we had supplied the Germans with the type of aid we gave the Soviets, the Swastika would be flying from the Atlantic to the Urals to this day. Strangely, the post-WW2 “War Against Communism” did a FAR better role of covering up treasonous US assistance to Stalin’s criminal regime than aid to the Nazis. This is because the American political establishment was ALWAYS in bed with the Soviets, not the Nazis. The political establishment’s successful efforts to distract people like you with talk of how the Rockefellers aided the Nazis would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

        • Anonymous

          A little more injection of reality: 
          “But in some ways the worst part of the story is that the Bullitt letter records the highest level of “intimacy” ever achieved between US and USSR, and nor was it ourchoice to pull away. Au contraire! From day one, the Soviet tactic with their American patrons was like that of an alpha female with her hareem of beta males – constantly flirting but never actually putting out. The “inner gang” was quite conscious of their sovereignty and their need to retain it. They saw quite clearly that if they went down the Monticello in Moscow path, they would just be America’s wife. America has never had any shortage of wives.

          Naturally, each such rejection only stimulated the “wise men” of American diplomacy (all of whom spent the rest of the ’30s pleading with Stalin to let them lick his balls again) to further efforts of contemptible affection. Only after WWII did it finally dawn on our best and brightest that no such marriage could ever never happen. 

          To our official historians, this breakup is called the “Cold War,” and all those episodes of American progressivism serenading Russian progressivism with boombox held high are swept under the carpet as “naivete.” (Or sometimes, with amusing consistency, as “realism.”) Dear professors, the terms you’re looking for are “Anglo-Soviet split” and “freshman homo crush.”

          Bullitt himself finally soured on Stalin’s hawtness and, as a result, was pushed out of the New Deal’s inner circle in the early ’40s (but not before setting up World War II by, at least if we can believe Joe Kennedy, orchestrating the British guarantee to Poland). There was no shortage of Achesons, Hisses and Hopkinses to replace him. I have of course elided all the actual substantive details of Bullitt’s intimate diplomacy with Stalin, which largely center around the New Dealers’ desire to provide political, economic and military protection for their “Soviet experiment.” This twisted, dysfunctional oyabun-kobun relationship did not begin in 1933, nor did it end in 1945. But I digress.

          In any case, while no reminder should be necessary, I thought I’d pair the Bullitt letter with a story, probably but not certainly true, from the recently published memoir of one Fyodor Mochulsky, Gulag Boss – the title says it all:
          The new boss was a lean man, somewhere around thirty years old, with combed-back light hair and energetic facial features. He had a long, skinny nose with a protuberance, and his thin lips were usually pursed together tightly. His movements were sharp, and his judgments were categorical.His dugout was right next to mine, so there was nowhere to go to get away from him. And as soon as he began to drink, he would come to me, sit for hours and recount the details of how he had been sentenced to the death penalty. It almost drove me mad, but there was no way to get out of it. All around us, there was only the dark night and the tundra.I would be glad to forget his stories, but you can’t order away memories. Here are some of the things he told me.To the question of how he had gotten himself into such unusual work, he told me that when he had been demobilized from the army, he had been given a security job at Butyrka prison in Moscow. One day, the prison’s private vehicle arrived at the prison’s courtyard with a contingent of arrested men. As it happened, the gates to the inner courtyard would not unlock, so they opened the doors of the vehicle in the outer courtyard and let the prisoners out. One of the prisoners noticed that the outer gates to the prison were still hanging open, and he took off running. As the security guard on duty, my unit boss at that moment had been standing next to the gates. When he saw what was happening, he did not hesitate. He drew out the sword that hung at his side and stabbed, right into the spine, the prisoner who was trying to escape.The Butyrka guards who had carelessly left open the courtyard gates were punished. The security officer (our current unit boss) had prevented the prisoner’s escape. For his decisive action, he was offered a transfer to a new job. At this new job, he would be carrying out “special commissions,” that is, he would work as an executioner, shooting the enemies of Soviet power. He agreed to the transfer, and after some special training, he was sent with his new specialty to the ancient Russian city of Uglich.For days at a time, he said, from mission to mission, he sat around doing nothing. He rested. Then, when the prison had accumulated a large number of condemned prisoners, the authorities would set an execution date. A specially trusted group from the security department of Uglich’s prison was then sent out to carefully select a place in the woods and dig a pit. The pit was guarded until the executions took place. Starting at night and working until the morning, the prison officials would transport the condemned prisoners in a closed truck to this pit. Besides the security men and the person who would ensure that the executions took place, he said, there was always a doctor on hand. It was his duty to certify the death and write up the necessary documents.One at a time, they led a condemned prisoner from the truck to the edge of the pit, and forced him to get on his knees with his face toward the pit. The executioner than shot him in the back of the head, and the dead man fell in. From the blow to the head, the executioner told me, the body would turn over facing up, and straighten up on the bottom of the pit. The doctor then went down into the pit and certified that the body was dead. Then they went to retrieve the next condemned prisoner.He told me that from time to time, there was a prisoner who would not do what he was told and go submissively to the edge of the pit. In these cases, the security guys had to help out, and the job for the executioner would be more complicated.When the mission was finished and the pit was filled, they covered it with soil and tried to make it look unobtrusive. After every mission, he told me, he got drunk and tried not to think about what he had done until the next time they called. For a long time, though, he was convinced that his job was important and honorable, because he was destroying the enemies of Soviet power. He believed that not everyone could be as trusted as he was with such a job.But then one day, he had to shoot a fourteen-year-old girl. The executioner was told right before he had to kill her that not only was she the daughter of an “enemy of the people,” she was also a “German spy.” Suddenly and involuntarily, questions sprang to his mind. He was to kill a fourteen-year-old girl in an ancient Russian small town far from the front, in a place that had no classified establishments? Where had this adolescent girl done her spying, and for whom?When they brought her to the execution place, she held herself up firmly and was silent. But when they led her to the pit, she spoke up. She said that she did not understand why they were depriving her of her life. “Even Stalin said that children do not answer for their parents, so why me?” she asked. She was unaware, he added, that she was also accused of being a “German spy.”In the words of my unit boss, after this execution he drank himself into a stupor so profound that he felt nothing. Soon he was sent to a hospital for crazy people.

    • Anonymous

       Stalin was forced to appeal to Russian nationalism during the war even though communism seeks to destroy ethnic nationalities.  Even they realized that ideology is a much weaker unifying force the ethnic nationalism.  That being said, Taylor’s critique is not very far off from the truth.

  • Anonymous

     I believe you are pretty close but I always take these kind of figures with a grain of salt.  It would not be easy to come up with an exact number of deaths during the chaos of the 1st and 2nd world wars and a lot of the figures came from the Soviets who would routinely inflate or deflate their numbers for psych-warfare and propaganda purposes.  I believe the Soviets initially claimed 4 million people went to their deaths in Auschwitz but that had to later be reduced to 1 million. 

  • Anonymous

    That is excusing evil. There is never a justification for murder, rape, or pillaging of civillians. Revenge or not.  The North did that to the South in the civil war.

    The fact is, both the communists  and the Nazis were evil.  You can’t get around that.  War crimes upon war crimes.

  •  Well, it depends on the meaning “killed”- many were starved to death. Also, other nations suffered immensely, especially Ukrainians, Kazakhs and Baltic nations. Well, here is the most balanced overview:

  • “Would today’s American military even hold together in the face of a determined, modern enemy like the one that sliced through the Red Army in the summer of 1941?”

    US has money, technology, air-power, etc.  Man power is secondary in 21st century war. It only matters when we want to occupy a country for a long duration.

  • Anonymous

    Which was more evil,nazism or communism? McArthur & Patton ‘s judgement will suffice for me.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never found the appeal of Soviet historical romanticism.  Many of my more historically savvy friends seem to secretly long to be under the more classical totalitarianism of the Soviet Union. It may be unknown discomfort under the soft control of the American pleasure palace.  Perhaps they’d prefer their indoctrination to be by the barrel of a gun,  and not sub-consciously through the stories in Hollywood.  Maybe they desire a nationalism that involves destitution and violence, of ignorant patriotism and forced sacrifices.  Maybe this new nationalism of anti-racism, miscegenation, matriarchy and cultural degeneracy is giving them a cultural malaise.

    They desire an old world in which their women are raped by a marauding army, for at least in that world you’re dead by the time they’ve gotten hold of your daughter.  Today their uncomfortable that their females mate with aliens because…..well shucks because the T.V. tells them to.  Their daughter has a non-white boyfriend because non-whites are always the best looking guys on the vitamin water commercials.  Non-whites make the touchdowns, beat up the white criminals, face adversity only a non-white can face, generally have more “soul” than their pasty white counterparts.

     “Black is beautiful” says the T.V., every day, every hour to the supple minds of our youth.

    “You’re skin and your people are evil, your history is stolen, your accomplishments are from white privilege.  Guilt is the only proper feeling, pride is a sin.”  Is the mantra of the education we pay to put them through.

    There was a reason Stalin was so infatuated with Hollywood.  For Stalin to reach his dream, he had to kill millions, starve millions, and turn Russia towards an unparalleled savagery. America, likely to his amazement were he alive this day, has reached the same goal with the mere use of Hollywood, MLK, Oprah, diversity studies and welfare. 

    Perhaps dying in Stalingrad is preferable to dying when the EBT cards stop working. 

  • Anonymous

    The takeaway message is this quote from the book: “The dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another until they pass into commonplace, but which all experience refutes.”

    Now balance that against Mr. Taylor’s warning: “Would today’s American military even hold together in the face of a determined, modern enemy like the one that sliced through the Red Army in the summer of 1941? If our army did not shatter completely, it would soon rid itself of the dangerous ideologies that weaken it but still permit it to seem impressive in the face of Third-Worlders with rusty Kalashnikovs. In a true test, what would be the cost in corpses of the silence of cowards?”

    This is a real question and one to ponder. Would we fear the enemy more than we would our own PC overlords? Or not? I wouldn’t be too quick to reach for the flag of military victory. We whites are fighting an “us vs. them” battle in our own nation…in our own schools and communities…in our own souls. Are we winning “that” war? If not, how can we repel any outside invader?

  • Jake Darwin

     Two points.
    [1] It’s time you people took on board the ‘Holocaust’ fraud and its related mythology, and stopped pussyfooting.
    [2] Russell heard Eleanor Roosevelt on the radio saying “Better dead than red” and responded to that – he believed nuclear weapons existed, and could wipe out everyone.  From that point of view it’s absurd to talk of his pacifistic statement.