El reciente libro del profesor Gellately tiene como propósito comparara dos de los regímenes más violentarios y autoritarios del siglo XX, responsables a su vez del conflicto que asoló a gran parte del mundo durante estas últimas décadas: el comunismo soviético y el nazismo alemán.
Para ello, Gellately tira por la borda cualquier compromiso o consenso sobre el papel exculpatorio de la URSS como una potencia “buena” o “salvadora” y que habría llevado a concectrar la atención solo en la Alemania nazi y, por supuesto, en Hitler. Por el contrario, ambos regímenes tuvieron propósitos similares, aunque sus destinos fueron completamente distintos.
Otro de los aspectos novedosos del libro es la inclusión de Lenin como parte de esta conspiración entre dos sistemas totalitarios. Hasta ahora, la imagen que se tenía de Lenin era la de un ideólogo que trató de detener a Stalin, pero que murió antes de tiempo. Gellately contextualiza la labor de Lenin en la construcción de la dictadura del PCUS y cómo fue uno de los elementos decisivos para la toma de poder de Stalin y el régimen de terror que este implantaría.
Sobre el autor
Robert Gellately is Profesor de Historia en Florida State University y ha sido Profesor Visitante en la Universidad de Oxford en 2004-2005. Ha publicado The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933-1945 y Backig Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (traducido al español como: No solo Hitler: la Alemania nazi entre la coacción y el consenso).
Comentarios al libro
“The image of Lenin that emerges from the pages of this book, even the mere mention of him in the title alongside Stalin and Hitler,” writes Robert Gellately in the introduction to his new study of the epoch of the great slaughterhouse in the 20th century, “will disturb some people.” The author, a distinguished academic, adds that “a good friend of mine…said the very thought of putting Lenin next to Stalin and Hitler in the book’s title would be enough to make her Russian grandmother turn in her grave.” But let that Russian grandmother turn: It’s time to rip up the accepted versions of this terrible period and analyze it on the evidence that we now have. Gellately has done just that in a book that is both sensible and sophisticated, scholarly and very readable.
Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Washington Post
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Tabla de Contenidos
Part 1. Lenin’s Communist Dictatorship
The First World War and the Russian Revolution
On the Way to Communist Dictatorship
Civil Wars in the Soviet Union
Part 2. The Rise of German National Socialism
Nazism and the Threat of Bolshevism
First Nazi Attempt to Seize Power
Hitler Starts Over
Part 3. Stalin Triumphs over Political Rivals
Battle for Communist Utopia
Lenin’s Passing, Stalin’s Victory
Stalin’s New Initiatives
Stalin Solidifies His Grip
Part 4. Germans Make a Pact with Hitler
Nazi Party as Social Movement
Nazism Exploits Economic Distress
“All Power” for Hitler
Part 5. Stalin’s Reign of Terror
Fight Against the Countryside
Terror as Political Practice
“Cleansing” the Soviet Elite
Part 6. Hitler’s War Against Democracy
Winning Over the Nation
Dictatorship by Consent
Persecution of the Jews in the PrewarYears
“Cleansing” the German Body Politic
Part 7. Stalin and Hitler: Into the Social Catastrophe
Rival Visions of World Conquest
German Racial Persecution Begins in Poland
Hitler and Western Europe
The Soviet Response
The War Spreads
Part 8. Hitler’s War on “Jewish Bolshevism”
War of Extermination as Nazi Crusade
War Against the Communists: Operation Barbarossa
War Against the Jews: Death Squads in the East
The “Final Solution” and Death Camps
Part 9. Hitler’s Defeat and Stalin’s Agenda
Greatest Crisis in Stalin’s Career
Between Surrender and Defiance
Soviets Hold On, Hitler Grows Vicious
Ethnic Cleansing in Wartime Soviet Union
Part 10. Final Struggle
From Stalingrad to Berlin
Stalin Takes the Upper Hand
End of the Third Reich
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Chapter 1: The First World War and the Russian Revolution
The First World War strained the regime of Tsar Nicholas II to the breaking point. Initially, in August 1914, the nation rallied around the flag. Politicians and the urban middle classes welcomed the war, and the army went off to defend their “Slavic brothers” in Yugoslavia against German and Austrian aggression. The Duma, Russia’s national assembly, dissolved itself to symbolize the country’s support of the government. But no one in Europe, let alone in Russia, visualized the war to come, the devastation it would cause, and how long hostilities would last.
The tsarist empire had the largest army in Europe but lacked the resources to fight a prolonged struggle. Before the first year of the fighting was over, there were shortages of all kinds. Replacement troops were being trained without rifles and sent onto the battlefield, where they were to go among the dead and wounded to pick up the weapons they needed.
By the beginning of 1917, widespread discontent over the ghastly sacrifices of the war, food shortages, and high prices led to bitter strikes and hostile demonstrations. A police report for January 1917 from Petrograd, the newly renamed capital, spelled out the darkening situation: “These mothers, exhausted from standing endlessly in lines and having suffered so much watching their half-starving and sick children, are perhaps much closer to a revolution than Messrs. Miliukov, Rodichev, and Co. [leaders of the liberal Kadet Party], and of course much more dangerous.”
The pent-up resentments and grievances were ignited by a demonstration inthe capital on February 23, when a peaceful march for women’s rights was joined by striking workers. Cries rang out for bread, and people exclaimed, “Down with the tsar!” By February 26, under orders from the tsar, troops fired on demonstrators. Some of the soldiers were sickened by what they did, and then the next day the revolution began as mutinous troops rampaged through the streets killing or disarming police. Crowds shouting “Give us bread,” “Down with the war,” “Down with the Romanovs,” and “Down with the government” attacked police headquarters.
Instead of charging the crowds, tens of thousands of peasant soldiers, their mentality shaped by decades of grievances against the system, went over to the people. Together they exploded in a mixture of rage and revenge that rumbled on for days. The police put machine guns atop buildings, but even these were ineffective against the angry tumult.
Tsar Nicholas II was informed, and on March 2, in a meeting at the front, Aleksandr Guchkov and Vasily Shulgin, deputies of the State Duma, laid out the stark options. Guchkov pronounced the home front and military out of control. The situation was not “the result of some conspiracy,” but represented “a movement that sprang from the very ground and instantly took on an anarchical cast and left the authorities fading into the background.”
The upheaval had spread to the army, “for there isn’t a single military unit that isn’t immediately infected by the atmosphere of the movement.” Guchkov believed that it might be possible to prevent the inevitable if a radical step was taken. He explained:
“The people profoundly believe that the situation was caused by the mistakes of those in authority, in particular the highest authority, and this is why some sort of act is needed that would work upon the popular consciousness. The only path is to transfer the burden of supreme rulership to other hands. Russia can be saved, the monarchical principle can be saved, the dynasty can be saved. If you, Your Majesty, announce that you are transferring your power to your little son, if you assign the regency to Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, and if in your name or in the name of the regent instructions are issued for a new government to be formed, then perhaps Russia will be saved. I say perhaps because events are unfolding so quickly.”
Dismayed at this turn of events, Nicholas II accepted the inevitable, and on March 3, 1917, he abdicated, also in the name of his gravely ill son. The tsar stepped down in favor of his brother Grand Duke Mikhail, who tried to get assurances of support in the capital. He asked leading figures from the Duma, including Prince Georgii Lvov, Mikhail Rodzianko, and Alexander Kerensky, whether they could vouch for his safety if he accepted the crown. None thought they could, so Mikhail was left with little choice but to refuse the crown. In fact a third of the members of the State Duma formed a “provisional committee” on the afternoon of February 27, and by March 2, with the tsar’s abdication, that became the new provisional government.
The American ambassador in Petrograd witnessed what he regarded as “the most amazing revolution.” He reported that a nation of 200 million living under an absolute monarchy for a thousand years had forced out their emperor with a minimal amount of violence. The three-hundred-year rule of the Romanov dynasty was over. In fact the revolution was not “bloodless,” for in Petrograd alone estimates of the new government put the killed or wounded at 1,443. Even the higher figures mentioned were small in comparison with what was to follow.