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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 22, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm EST

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>> i very much appreciate your taking an hour of a bright and perfect afternoon in new york to spend it listening to an account of what maybe the single darkest chapter in the history of the modern west. what i'd like to talk to you about this afternoon, as walter says very briefly, is a catastrophe. a catastrophe in which 14
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million people chiefly children and women and the aged were killed over the space of just 12 years by two regimes. the nazi german regime, and stalin regime in the soviet union. this total figure of 14 million is in itself, i think, astonishing. it's a number which is too large to grasp. and i'll return to what that means and how we might try to grasp it. it's also a number which tells us something very special about these two regimes. we now know, or at least have a pretty good certainty about the total number of people killed by these two regimes. it was about 17 million. of those 17 million, about 14 million were killed in the place
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that i'm calling the bloodlands. this is to say not so much russia, not so much germany, but the lands between berlin and moscow. the western rim of russia, the baltics states, belerus and ukraine. the tremendous mass murder was concentrated in the relatively small territory. this is the event that caught my attention. it strikes me that once we know these numbers and we with localize these numbers in time, when we can locate them in a place, what we see is an event which has few comparisons in the history really of the world. the question could then be why is there no history of this event? why has no one seen it as an
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event? why wasn't this book written before? i'd like to start by saying a few words on why. in the last 20 years, we've had an new opportunity to write such a history. the reason that we've had this opportunity is that the soviet union collapsed in 1991. archived in eastern europe. this was very important. obviously, this was very important in understanding the history and soviet union and communist eastern europe. however, it was also incredibly important to understand the history of nazi germany. why is that? the reason is this. it's very simple. the german's carried out almost all of their killing on territories then immediately after the war fell behind the iron curtain. the line across which the germans killed is essentially the same line that marked off
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the soviet empire. if we wanted to have an idea of nazi german policy was, in the 1939 to 1945 in the nazi german policy, where the germans did most of their killing. so a surprised, to say say result, of communism, and the history of nazi germany. why has this book not been written? believe me, this is not a book i would have wanted to write. had someone else written it, i would have said very good and moved on to a more pleasant subject. i wrote it out a sense of obligation once i realized it wasn't written. then had a stronger worrying feeling it wouldn't be written. in any event, i think the reasons are essentially three. they have to do with certain weaknesses in three otherwise
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very impressive schools of historical writing. the first of these to start with the may cope pa is east europe. i'm an eastern european historian. almost all that we have learned. the russians and hungarians, almost all of it has been framed. the enormous tragedies that i'm discussing or will discuss can only be seen from a certain point of view. one can only catch part. probably the country to which this would apply the least would be ukraine. where half of the killing happened. however, even from a ukrainian point of view, you can't see the totality of killing. certainly not the events beyond the famine.
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the second history is the soviet union history. russian, ukrainian, and american and other historians working on the soviet union has discovered incredibly important things about the subject of my work. collectivization and terror. what has not happened, these findings have not been integrated into a geographical approach. which is the one i'm focusing on. what i meant with ukraine. i think now it being this was a deliberate action designed to starve people. we know much more about the great terror. both of these policies, collectivization and terror weighed most heavily on the western border lands of the soviet union. where the germans were going to kill in the largest numbers. this overlap is never noticed. soviet history jumps from 1941
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to 1945 with the war as a separate subject. we can make the observation that the places with stalin killed were also the places where hitler killed. the third is the strongest body, that is the history of the holocaust. in the last 20 years since history in germany, it has been raised to very high levels indeed. mainly by german historians, also by israeli and poland. all of this has been tremendously important. however, there are some limitations to the history of holocaust as well. the first of these is language. almost all of the holocaust history that is read is based upon german sources and german sources alone. which can get you very far if what you are trying to do is
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understand german decision making. i think you can still go further if you have languages in eastern europe where you can understand what the germans were facing. german language sources don't help you much with the victims. whether they are jewish or nonjewish victims. 97% or so of jews that were killed in the holocaust did not know german. you would find that using german alone would limit you. of course, the nonjewish victims were even less likely to speech german. the huge majority of the polish victims left behind traces. but those traces are not in the german language. the second limitation of the history of holocaust is that, and this is related, it tends to take the perspective of berlin. it tends to begin a story in berlin or germany, and then extent outwards rather rapidly into eastern europe. most important histories of the holocaust, and again there are
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many laudable exceptions. most important histories, most of the histories that are widely read do not give the strong sense of what kind of society ukraine or bella us was. one has to start from eastern europe. i have to say this. what does it say about other crimes in europe? the germans killed more than 3 million soviet prisoners of war. that's the second largest. in general in the literature, this is mentioned very beliefly, sometimes not at all. it's my view it's important to understand what happened to the prisons of war first. it strikes me if one were concerned about german war
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crimes, one would want to bring in and check if there's a relationship. one has to do with comparison. what i've been edging towards the argument that one has to understand eastern europe and soviet union in order to understand the crimes that germany committed and the soviet union, which i would like to think is an obvious point. but i'm afraid it isn't. one the things which has held us back from this understanding has been comparison. in two different ways. on the one hand, there's a very strong tradition of comparison. beginning with hanarend. here the problem to note is this. in the totalitarian school, you are looking at german and nazi society has two examples of a larger phenomenon. the policies affect german or
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soviet citizens. what you are looking at how they interacted. the two regimes interacted, this to me is very important. totalitarianism can't explain why that happened. on the other hand, we have people that insist one cannot compare at all. this is a taboo to which i'll return at the end if i have a moment. but for the time being i'll make the simple observation. if the taboo on comparison means you can't bring the soviets and the germans into the same picture, so to speak, you are depriving history of some of the basic elements of what actually happened. how do we get by this? what would we possibly do? i'd like to begin by stressing that my major concern in writing this book was not to compare. my major concern in writing this book was to describe and explain. i woulded to describe who these
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people were, these 14 million who died, and explain how so many of them could possibly have been killed in such a small place over such a short period of time. my thought about comparison personally was when we understand all of the killing policies, which i think most of us that would agree are a fundamental aspect of both regimes. when we understand all of the killing policies of both sides, then we'll be in a position to compare. it was my view that we needed to understand these things better before we left to any kind of conclusions, be it comparative or otherwise. so my method in trying to describe and explain was as follows, a very straightforward, conventional, highly traditional, traditional to the point of boring historical method. which basically consistented in three parts. the first was to say that history happens in a time and a place. the time and a place is what i'm calling the bloodlands between
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1933 and 1945. this allows me to see the crimes from the perspective of the victims. it's where the victimmed lived and died. but it also allows me, i think, hopefully in a fruitful way to bring the two regimes into the story without constantly comparing one to the other. these are the terrains where german and soviet power killed. if one focuses on the terrains, one sees german and soviet power at their most dangerous. one sees what they did, and one can check to see the places where they did or didn't interact. the second part of my historical method that i distinguish between killing and letting die. which is a difficult distinction in moral philosophy. i'm not trying to say that letting die is not significant. being sent to the gulag or concentration camp is a horrible fate. being deported was a horrible
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fate. they led to millions of deaths. however, i am not discussing those within my 14 million. if i add those events in, the gulag, ethnic cleansing, that would add a few more million deaths. the interesting things to observe, most of the people that were killed in the region, were deliberately killed. not because they were sent to camp, ethnic cleansing, they were deliberately killed by starvation, shooting, or gassing. the liberate killing on the territory is the most significant event in the region. that's one the reasons why i chose to focus on it. another reason was because it seems to me it as the innate significance, deserving of it's own attention. final was this. nothing is beyond history. everything that happened in the past is history. we should try to understand it by way of historical method. this may seem elementary.
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i fear it does. you'll understand what i mean. there are many people who say or believe one cannot understand the famine or the terror in the soviet union without thinking ahead to what happened in the second world war. these things were somehow necessary because they prepared the soviet union to win the war. factually, that's not true. but i have a deeper point. which is this. i believe one has to try to understand the famine and terror as distinct historical events. rather than thinking if you look ahead, you can reevaluate them. i think the historical terms were understanding in their own time and place. you'll also now there are people that believed the holocaust is so special one should own discuss it in metaphysical terms. it taints it to be discussed. i'm of the opposite view for a number of reasons. i think if we do not treat the holocaust as a central, historical event within subject to normal kind of historical
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understanding, is that when it becomes uprooted and open to question. when one sits it in history, it's at it's most solid and indisputable. all of these methods are extraordinarily simple. i combined this -- this is going to seem more simple. i combined them with the use of all of the language of the territories that i was talking about that i knew. i know most of these languages. i wish i knew lithuanian, i don't. most of the rest of them, i know. i mention that not to boast but to point out in general, it's almost never the case that people who write about the soviet union use german, or people who right about soviet use russian. not to speak yetish for that matter. what i'm trying to say, i used historical method, the already elementary historical method to stay grounded and stay close to the time and place and victims
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and to try to follow the policies that brought their lives to an end. what were these policies? essentially the policies can be divided into three phases. there's a period in 1930s to 1933 to 1938 when the soviet union which is doing almost all of the killing. the germans are killing in the hundreds or maybe the thousands, but the soviets are already killing in the millions. then there's the second period where nazi germany are military allies. the germans and soviets kill at the same pace and killing about the same kinds of people. then there's the third period, the bloodiest of them all between 1941 and 1945. after the germans betray their soviet ally, kill millions of people east of the border
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jewish. before we talk about the policy, let me say about the introduction. the introduction is important, because it recalls the first world war. the first world war was the strange and destructive episode which opened up a whole theater of political possibilities. most of the bizarre options that emerged have been forgetten because they were not implemented. two of them did actually come to pass. national socialism in germany, and soviet union after 1917. these two were among dozens after the first war world. the first war world was a situation in which things otherwise would have been improbable came much more likely. there's something more particular worth noting about the first world war. especially in the setting of ukraine. that's this. the germans didn't lose the first world war on the eastern front.
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they won, they were not defeated on the eastern front. which meant for many germans, including much of the nazi leadership, eastern europe and ukraine was a kind of mystical land of opportunity, bread basket, a place where an empire could be won. this places eastern europe in the very important imaginative geography that the nazis have. it puts in particular ukraine between hitler and stalin in a way that's going to be become crucially important. the first chapter is famine. in 1932 to 1933. what's striking here is that as hitler was coming to power in germany, he's making speaks about the famine in ukraine. he says it shows what marxism can lead to, he means communist and social democrats, everybody
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that disagrees with him. it's not exactly a fair argument. the famine is going on, and known about in germany has hitler comes to power. in the soviet union, the famine is, of course, a reality. in the fall of 1932, having already deported or killed the people regarding the gulags, having enforced collectivization, and taken away land from millions of ukrainians and peasants, which we can now document. which lead, and quite deliberately lead to the starvation of 3 million more people in ukraine that had to die. the second chapter concerns the great terror. the second and third. when we have thought about the great terror in the past, we have generally had in mind the intellectuals, i'm wearing contact lenses. the political leaders, at best
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the military officers who some of us know was killed. the great terror was a mass killing action. it was directed at normal soviet citizens. the largest group of people to die was the peasant who had somehow survived other forms of soviet repression, and might oppose the regime. the second largest group of victims in the great terror were members of small national minorities. and this is the subject of chapter three. the bloodiest national action was the polish action which took place largely in soviet ukraine and soviet belarus, where more than 1,000 people were shot on the charges of being spied for poland. that's concludes the first period in which the soviets and germans are killing on a much, much smaller scale. the second period is between 1939 and 1941 when the germans and the soviets joined together
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as military allies. the germans used the cover of this alliance to invade the low countries and france as well as scandinavia and begin the battle of britain in the air. the soviets invade finland, some of romanian, the baltic states, and along with german, they occupy poland. the main subject of that chapter is the point german occupation of poland in which hundreds of thousand of people are deported and 200,000 people are killed. the striking thing about this period is that this is the time when the germans catch up to the soviets. this is the moment when for example, they are going to gain the infamy later on, begin to kill people. the people that they begin to kill are polish. this is the time when the germans and soviets are in the closest agreement. the germans end up killing one
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sibling. and the reason is both groups are after the intelligentsia. which is a word that was used in russian, german, and polish. for pohls, it has the significance, ukrainians as well, it has the significance of the group which embodies national culture and politics. interestingly, the germans and soviets agree the way to destroy the polish nation from the german view, or master it, was to destroy the intelligentsia. both of them tried to do this. the third period is when they invade in 1941. i begin this period with a long discussion of political economy. now that might be not seem the most dramatic way to proceed. it is much more dramatic to
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describe blitzcreed, and the rise of stalin. that's true. i get to that. here in the middle of the book, i wanted to emphasize just how important political economy was. what do i mean? i mean the imagined vision of how colonization could take place. i try to remind readers of what the soviet vision was. as stalin saw things about the possibility for territorial enlargement, the soviet union itself has to be colonized. collectivization had to be used to create capital that the soviet union could itself modernize. then there's a german vision. which in many ways is the contrary, although some ways it borrows from it. in the nazi idea, the soviet union is going to be demodernized, and cities destroyed, it's industry for the most part is going to be removed. 30 million people are going to starve to death in the first
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winter. after the war, tens of million of more people are going to be deported, killed, or enslaved. the jews of eastern germany are going to disappear. although it wasn't decided how before the war. the germans go in with the plans. they are known as the hunger plan. they don't achieve these things. one has to understand the vision of political economy to see what the moral premises of the german occupation were. it's in many chapter that i deal with the policies that resemble the plan. namely the starvation of prisoners of war. 6.8 were starved today, another half a million were shot. it's a huge figure, it's often over looked. as late as december 1941, the largest group of victims of german occupation were not
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jewish or pohls or anyone else, in ethnic terms, but soviet prisoners of war. in occupied poland, where they starved the prisoners of war, they occupied camps and starved them, the largest victim group was not jews or pohls, but soviet prisoners of war. this was a crime on a huge scale which the polish resistance, by the way, observed and reported opinion. pohls around the camps tried to help them and were killed for doing so. for the most part, it's completely over looked for for -- looked over. for that reason, i pay attention to it. in leningrad, 12 million people were starved. they planned to kill the population of leningrad, destroy the city, and hand over the ruins to finland. the starvation of leningrad can be seen with the earlier planning. i then in the close of the book
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in three long chapters deal with the event which i think defines the bloodlands more than any other. the depth of these policies more starkly than the other, that's the holocaust. i divided it into three different chapters, although there are were overlaps. the first concerned ukraine. it presents the german policy of killing men, and murder of women and children and whole communities. in ukraine, we can see the escalation, and transition of the policy and what some said quickly in my opinion by 1941, although opinions vary on this becomes a policy of destroying all views. in a second chapter on belarus, i concentrate on the relationship between the holocaust, the jews, and german anti-partisan actions. belarus was the center of soviet activities. it was here more than anything
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elsewhere the germans killed civilians in reprisals. it has to be in quotation marks, because some of the so-called reprisals involved doing things like taking whole mustn'ts, -- whole communities, putting them in barns and killing them. or putting them in ditches. or taking all of the women and children, and killing them and taking the men back. of hundreds of thousands people died in this way. more than 300,000 jews were shot by the germans. civilians i'm talking about during the war. if you put into that, the soviet p.o.w., and the belarus russians that died in other german policies, it becomes the territory in the war which was most touched. in the final chapter on the holocaust, i deal with the death facilities in occupied poland,
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starting with bialgetz. he was the person that executed the final solution in poland, he was also the person that was in charge of planning the concrete planning in the soviet union. one can see how the germans fell back from the plans of killing tens of millions and became much more precise against the specific jews, mainly the jews by focusing on lubeland in 1941. i describe what happened at the concentration camped were 2.8 million jews were fasted. if we take together the number of jews that were shot and gassed, the total number by the germans is something like 5.4 million.
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another 300,000 were killed by the romannians. the final chapter deals with warsaw. during the uprising, actions unrelated to combat, they killed at least 120,000 civilians in the early days of august, they were shooting several thousand civilians a day in actions which were apart and totally unrelated to combat. first the book with two chapters that were not about killing, but necessary to bring us to the second world war to today. the first concerns ethnic cleansing carried out in -- carried out first in the caucus es and crimean, then pohls, and as well as balks, and the mass flight and the flee of germans from the democratic
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republic. these with human movements that involve huge numbers of deaths and rape. i try to describe them carefully. these events, horrible as they are, are a transition from the age of mass killing to the age of cold war. which i discuss in the final chapter under the title of stalin anti-semitism. which i try to show hows the holocaust in event in eastern europe and the union was difficult to handle and how towards the end of his life, stalin developed a new kind of anti-semitism, which has made it harder for us to understand the holocaust and eastern geography. so is there an explanation for all of this? is there any bay to bring all of these events together? let me try to do so very, very briefly. we see two ideas, two ideologies of global transformation. one focused on a race, one
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focused on class. for different reasons, both of these ideas have a territorial focus. that territorial focus is the lands between berlin and moscow. what i mean by this is that in this world, shared by the nazis, defined in some sense by the first world war, also defined by the great depression. in which the only possibility for expansion and development seemed to be on land, seemed to involve controlling fertile soil. ukraine and poland for different reasons, economic and political were at the focus of both regimes. now this is not just an abstract matter. first the soviets and then the germans strive to control these terrains. then in the middle period of the book, they jointly destroy the independent political unit, poland which is a barrier to both of them. then after that, the germans move forward. it's important to see the time
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factor here. this is one the ways that it's important not to just compare the germans and soviets abstractly. the revolution had run it's course. the stalin was in a series of retreats. modernizing in the soviet union was a kind of retreat. collectivization and punishing people for it's failure was the kind of retreat. the great terror was a kind of retreat. then the germans are advancing, so to speak as the soviets are retreating. they have their own very ambitious idea of a euroasia. what they carry out is horrible. the policy that they carry out, the holocaust, does not exhaust sadly all of the plans they went into the war on the eastern front with. they retreat to particular policy which defines one enemy, a enemy that can be destroyed, sadly, the jews as the main
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enemy of the war. that's not a full explanation. it gives the sense in the timing in all of this is different. so in the book, i try to stress that ideas matter a great deal. but that ideas cannot be separated from economics. it is -- it takes no sense to try to understand stalinist ideas of development simply in terms of an ideology without a notion of how the soviet union is going to become modern. the same holds for nazi germany. it is a vision of colonization. it was a vision of racial colonization. therefore, it's highly ideological. but it's also a vision of colonization, of a new kind of frontier empire. the ideology cannot work without the economics, and economics work out the ideology. likewise, i try to emphasize that ideology cannot be understood without politics. the politics that one can study by seeing the advance, the politics that includes the various kinds of encounters
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between nazi germany and the soviet unions, the politics which is evident when groups resist, and hitler and stalin have to decide what to do. all of that is politics. the most tender and sensitive kind, controversial to use the word that i don't like, is the poll -- politics of interaction. this interaction could involve competition, it could involve military alliance, or it could involve war. but i would stress that even when it involved war, the two regimes made each other worse. so, for example, why did so many soviet prisoners of war die in the german starvation camps? because they wouldn't allow the generals to retreat. why did they die from german shootings in 1943 and 1944? >> because soviet partisans
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revoked those reprisals. in the gulag in 1941, 1942, 1943 we have the worse records of death than any other years in the soviet union. about 500,000 people are registered of having died. they died because they sentenced to the gulag by the soviet union. they also died because in those years, nazi germany had invaded soviet union and disrupted the food supply. victims of hitler or stalin? the viewpoint is shared. it to do with the comparison. as i said, i did not write to book because i wanted to compare nazi germany and soviet union. it was my view, and still is, they are too abstract in what we now know about history. that said, comparison is something that ought to be done. i put it at the end of the book. i'm going to give a glimpse of
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what i think in three points. the first is this, logically, i don't think any taboo on comparison is at all sustainable. so if i were to stand here and say to you, you cannot compare the soviet union and nazi germany, the only logical content of that is i have already made the comparison and i would very much like for you not to do so. it has no other meaning. the word incomparable is a comparative judgment. you cannot say two things are incomparable, unless you've already looked at both of them and made some kind of comparison. so the comparison taboo is essentially a power play. it just means i have the microphone. it does not have any stronger meaning than that. the second thing about comparison is that if we really want to know -- if we want to defend the differences between
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the soviet union and nazi germany, the differences are very, very significant, by the way. if one wants to defend, one has to make a comparison. if you want to say that nazi germany was special, as i believe it was, you have to actually make the comparison. if you do make the comparison on the basis, for example, killing policies which is what i do. you find interesting things. although almost everybody, including historians of the holocaust believed that the soviet killed more civilians than the germans. that's just not true. the germans killed more civilians than the soviets. a lot of the things that we think are true because we've been told them, actually don't stand up to an actual comparison. the third thing that i think about comparison is this. setting the taboo on comparison is a luxury of present day. given that the germans killed on the same territories that the
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soviets killed, people who live there, and we're talking about tens, in fact, hundreds of million of people were themselves condemned to compare. comparison was a part of their life experience. if i give you some examples, this will hopefully become clear. peasants in soviet ukraine in 1933, many of them hoped for a foreign invasion to rescue them from their misery. in 1941, a foreign invasion came. then they compared. there were people who had survived hunger in 1933 who were then starved in german camps in 1941. naturally, they compared. once you see this, the list goes on and on and on. whether we're talking about jews in 1939 who are trying to decide when the soviet union and nazi germany invaded poland, which way to flee. and they had to decide to join the partisans or often we are
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talking about pohls and the soviet power was about to replace german. all of these people were con condenmed to compare. we are not being fair to the people that lived in the times and places. we diluting our analysis of a very historical element. so many people were killed. this is my final words. so many people were killed that it's really -- it's hard to grasp. once we have carried out the comparison, once we have analyzed the policies, once we have tried to understand the individual ways in all of the people, jews, ukrainians, pohls, russians, and others were killed, we are left with the overwhelming figure, which is 14 million. i think that figures matter. i think that numbers matter. i think it's very important to
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try to get numbers right. but i also think as we try to get numbers right, we should be careful with them, among other reasons because the different between zero and one is so great. the difference between zero and the one is infinity, the different between life and death is itself infinity. each increment is another infinity. the difference as we can all remember as we think of the last person that we cared about is enormous. the difference is the same between 720,000, and 720,032. the number at the end is just as important. we have to be careful with the numbers. partly because of the human reason, and historical reason, which is that history is not about death. history is about lay.
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-- about life. that's why the account brings us to the borders of what history can actually do. because history is about life, i tried to portray some of the individuals who died while they were alive. hard though that was. very often when writing about the famine or holocaust or any of the tragedies, people appear at the moment when they die, essentially. so i tried to introduce in this book to people such as the little boy in ukraine who saw food where there was no food and died in the famine and the rest of who's family either died in the family or the terror, or the polish officer just before he was shot, he was keeping a diary, left a final diary entry about his wedding ring, which they were trying to take from him. or the young woman in the synagogue who knew she was about to shot and scratched a note to her mother on the wall.
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we have these materials. without reference and trying to recreate, we don't have the history that can rescue from the people who perpetrated them, hitler and stalin. having seen how they turned this part of the world as we all care about into numbers, trying to turn the numbers back into human beings. if we can't do that in the end, they have won. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] > there's a kind of logic to the way that you structure the book. i'm not going to quarrel with
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it. you chose not to discuss certain issues. one is the collateral civilian deaths of the war. i'm just wondering is that because the statistics are unreasonable? because it seems to me there's -- and you also chose not to discuss the implications of this mass i have wave of killing for these societies. it just seems to me that it's a contemporary development of these countries, the legacies of these poorly discussed events, particularly in ukraine and belarus are a haunting legacy and political problem. is this something that you hope to turn to? or why was it simply you couldn't discuss everything in the order of the book? you take the civilian casualties, and military casualties of rank and vile soldiers, there's the vast
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destruction of the societies. what does it do to their view of the outside world? it creates, i think, a certain kind of hot -- hostility, of harsh and fear people that's separate and distinction from the soviet experience, or the experience of sovietization. so i just wanted to sort of put that on the agenda. and again to ask why you didn't specifically talk about the additional numbers. i don't know what those numbers are. they are in the -- you know, they are probably another 10 million soldiers that fought in that war and also civilian casualties apart from those that you have circumscribed that died in that period in the same space. >> yes. every book as a certain form. form allows us to do the things that we do. form also prevents us from doing other things. i think the thing that i like the most about your question is the way it takes my form of the
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book you call it self-evident, which is very strong indeed. one works very hard to make it self-evident. no one had row -- remotely done before what i did. no one made the observation that was killing was done in the region then tried to explain it. that was my goal. if i have done that much, then i'm very happy with the results. if i've made it seem like a self-evident approach. then i've succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. to answer the question in more specific terms, it's not that i don't discuss, that's a little too strong. i do discuss civilian deaths. i mention them. i also discuss the war. the war is going on from 1939 to 1945. there are many places in the book where i talk about how many soldiers fell. what i don't do, i don't include them in my definition of the number that people that died by policies in the bloodlands. i do that for two reasons, the first is that i want to try to understand policies of
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deliberate killing. and it's so easy for those things to bleed analytically into ethnic cleansing and deportation and battlefield action. i realize there's a natural reason for that bleeding, these things are often very much related. but i had to sense that not only had we not concentrated on the time and place, but we hadn't quite extracted that sort of hard, terribly hard kernel of reality from the other darkness surrounding it. i wanted to do that. i wanted to make sure we had a good record of the deliberate killing. i think the heart of your question about collateral damage and war deaths has to do with the question about memory. you are right. at the end of the book, i make sure the readers knows roughly how many people died in the second world war. i mention that in the introduction. our grasp is poorer than the civilian death.
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the number of soviet soldiers that die in the war is actually just not known. we don't know how much of the demography was covering. there was a period when stalin wanted the numbers to be too low. this was a period later in the '70s where the numbered wanted to be too high. and then the people have actually worked on this and found the recordkeeping was incredibly uneven. in general, that's why i didn't decide it. if you put the military best into this, my calculation, which is a rough one, about half of the deaths in the entire second world war, including the pacific theater happened in the bloodlands as well. we're looking at a catastrophic loss of life. why don't i talk about memory? i don't talk about memory for a couple of reasons. i thought it would dilute the overall project. i thought if i made mine own views of memory, people would read in terms of what i had to
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say about memory. which is the last thing that i wanted. another reason, because i care about the memory discuss. i thought the memory discussions would be to try to write a history which was as undiced and professional and solidly grounded and objective as possible. i'm not saying i succeeded. but i'm saying if different kinds, this maybe pie in the sky. different kinds of pohls and different kinds of jews and belarus and ukrainians and others, not to mention americans and others could see the starting point. then we would have a starting point, which we don't have. the one thing i say about memory in the end has to do with numbers. i have a concern that we be cautious with numbers, and not inflate them. i think for all cases, it's a bad thing when we release these spirits of people who never lived into the discussion, the real numbers are bad enough.
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> professor snyder, in your "bloodlands" you mentioned 3.3 million people died during ukraine in '32, and '33, can you please give some clarity as to how you derive that number? this contradicted the number that has been cited by conquest and others who have written on this topic. >> yeah. first of all, i want to say that robert conquest was an incredibly important, provided interpretations which very often turned out to be right. some of the ways he argued the terror and famine which were highly controversial and
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rejected are now part of the scholarly consensus. one of the elements in both cases is not part of the numbers. that's the very simple reason that when conquest was writing those books, we just didn't have any idea. and the figures that he was relying on for both famine and terror were sort of second hand from people inside the soviet union, or at best, they were demographic projections of a kind which we would probably now reject. since conquest's incredibly important book "the harvest of sorrow was published" the soviet union came to an end, and researchers have worked on the issue. some of them trained. in general what they have found is that something like on a range between the -- at the lowest 2.4 million, or maybe it's 2.5, at the high end, maybe as many as 4 million ukrainians died. there is a controversy among
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historians within that range. but whether you are looking at australians or americans or ukrainians in ukraine working on this, you will not find people who are actually looking at the numbers in a serious way who go beyond that range in either direction. you won't find people who deny that specifically the ukrainian character of the event, it killed millions of people. you also won't find people who go you've 4 million, if they do, just by a little bit. how i came to the number. i'm not a deemographer. i relied on the studies that had been done, and steven wheatcroft who is a deemographer who comes to the figure of roughly 3.5. i looked at the recent, and i emphasize ukrainian historiography, done by
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ukrainians in ukraine, who believes it was an event which gives you the range of 3 and 3.5 million. that's what ukraines are arguing for. my best was about 3.3 million. the difference between the famine and other events of the terror and other important elements, we don't have kill records. we don't have quotas. we don't have the kinds of figures which are ever going to resolve the dispute. when i say 3.3 million, that's an estimate in my sense of the holocaust are not estimated. those are calculations based on records and other reliable and important sources. 3.3 million is always going to be an estimate. i'm not going to say it's right. what i will say it's within a range of a few hundred thousand of being right. i would be very surprised if that turned out not to be the case. what i'm saying here, by the way, is entirely uncontroversial among people who look at the subject.
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whatever their other commitments might be. >> i'm wondering why you did not use the term hulademaud, which is accurate, rather than famine, thought of as a natural event. second, do you believe it was a deliberate genocide against the ukrainian people? >> yeah, until the book at the very end, i have a -- there's so many term logical questions. i allowed myself to write at the end of the book to why i use certain words and don't use others. i'm getting to your question.
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holocaust. the idea of getting rid of the jews finally. in most of it's draft versions, it involved deportation. murderous deportation, but not physical murder on site. but to understand, one has to make a distinction. i say something different. which is that the reason that i don't use it, i think it would be distracting for english-language audiences. that's basically it. in this room, one could say, and it would be very clear. i don't use it in the book for the simple reason that i think 98 or 99% of the leadership does not have ideas about the famine one way or another. introducing new words in a foreign language is not going to be the best way to grasp. behind your question about language is a question about deliberation. and from this i can tell you, forgive me for saying this, this is how i write the book.
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i make a very strong case in the first chapter, this was a deliberate policy. after tens of thousands of killings and deportations and collectivization, at a time when stalin knew that was a famine in ukraine, he escalated policy in upon concrete ways. block list on communities, if you didn't make reck reck -- requisition targets, you couldn't trade, or you had to turn in life stock. for us, it didn't sound like much. for people in the countryside, that's the last thing that you have before starvation. you can get milk and slaughter it for meat. that's the last thing keeping you alive. in that world, everyone knew what the requisition of
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livestock. above all, the simple enforcement of requisition targets guaranteed that millions of people were going to die when other hundreds of thousands probably would have died otherwise. yes, i see it as a deliberate act of policy. i make that clear. whether it's a genocide or not is another question. in that section in my book, which i refer, i also explain why i don't use the word genocide in the whole book. the reason that i don't is that i think precisely when you talk about these things, you end up in discussions was it identified and was it not identified. which i don't not think are enlightening. people mean different things by the word. it's beyond my power in one book or lecture to change that. you have to recognize your limits. people say when they say genocide, they mean the
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distinction of the people, or the convention definition of 1948. which is much broader and loser. it would include things like taking children and teaching them another language. yes, i agree with the word. i think that the ukrainian famine was a genocide. but the human definition. was it an attempt to murder the entire people. no, it's the popular definition of genocide. i avoid using the word, once you start, i'm afraid all you do is confuse people. >> despite your passionate pledge, don't do what i do, tell you to compare. i would like you to elaborate on two processes related to the killing policies.
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that is decision making processes, and communication of these policies as done by nazis and by the stalin regime. nazis seem to me -- i'm not a historian -- but the policies were clearly described, communicated, kill, kill, kill. i'm curious if you have an opportunity to look at the source materials in both native languages. is this the case, and how that compare between these two revisions. >> i do compare. my sense that we have just to be clear, we have too much comparison, and not the basis. i would rather give people basis. that's my point. there's no point, because naturally all of you in this room compare, and so do lots of other peopl


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