Friday, November 07, 2014

The Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Human Cost of Communism

Today is the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the first stage of the International Left's global experiment in restructuring existing societies along socialist lines. This experiment was a colossal failure which resulted in mass repression and human misery. Although exactly quantifying the human losses caused by the Soviet government is still not possible, it is certain that the numbers ran into the millions under Lenin and Stalin. Just the tabulated and confirmed numbers so far are astronomical. The recorded number of death sentences issued by the Cheka-GPU-OGPU-NKVD-MVD  in the USSR from 1921 to 1953 comes to 799,455. A figure that does not include death sentences issued by the normal court system or the hasty executions committed by the NKVD in 1940 and 1941 in the areas occupied as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Among the executions clearly missing from the figure are the 21,257 Polish prisoners executed as a result of a 5 March 1940 decree issued by Beria. To these deaths must be added the number of inmates to die in Soviet labor camps and colonies due to poor treatment. The official recorded number of deaths in GULag ITLs (Corrective Labor Camps) and ITKs (Corrective Labor Colonies) from 1934-1956 is 1,606,748. These numbers are incomplete as they do not include deaths in transit or those who died shortly after their release from incarceration. It was under Stalin an official Soviet policy to release prisoners and labor army conscripts that were near death. The mass dekulakization campaign undertaken to collectivize agriculture led to the recorded death of 389,521 exiled kulaks in special settlement villages from 1932-1940. The very large number of people branded as kulaks and deported who perished in 1930 and 1931 is missing from this figure since no comprehensive figures on these fatalities have been found in the Soviet archives yet. Tabulating the deaths resulting from the man made famines of the 1930s is still an incomplete task. But, in Kazakhstan alone the number of indigenous Kazakhs declined by 1,321,000 (36.7%) people between the 1926 and 1939 censuses. The total number of famine related deaths in Ukraine due the Holodmor was considerably higher, although a smaller percentage of Ukrainians perished than did Kazakhs. During the 1940s the deported nationalities suffered huge levels of excess mortality as a direct result of the poor material conditions imposed upon them by the Soviet government. The official NKVD and MVD cumulative tabulation shows 309,100 deaths among special settlers from 1941 to 1948. But, these figures are incomplete and do not include deaths during the initial round ups and deportation. When the reports on figures for deaths among individual nationalities are examined they reach incredibly high levels.  For instance between May 1944 and January 1946 the Soviet government recorded 26,775 deaths among Crimean Tatar special settlers, a full 17.8% of their total population. Among the 316,000 Russian-German men and women mobilized to work in the labor army the Soviet government recorded 31,012 (9.8%) dying from 1942-1944. An almost equal number were recorded as being discharged as invalids and dying shortly after their release. It is quite clear from the small amount of information cited above that socialism in the USSR was an humanitarian disaster on a vast scale that brought about the premature death, often by extremely agonizing means, of millions of innocent men, women, and children.

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