Soviet observations

1. Here is the second sentence of Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine: “We may perhaps put this in perspective in the present case by saying that in the actions here recorded about twenty human lives were lost for, not every word, but every letter, in this book.” That sentence represents 3,040 lives. The book is 411 pages long.

2. Joke: Why are the USSR and America the same? A: Because in the USSR you can joke about America and in America you can joke about America.

3. Stalin famously said: “Death solves all problems. No man, no problem.”

4. In the first weeks of the war the Soviet Union lost 30 percent of its ammunition and 50 percent of its reserves of food and fuel. In the first three months the air force lost 96.4 percent of its planes…By the end of 1942, 3.9 million Russian soldiers had been taken prisoner – 65 percent of the Red Army…It would be pat, but also accurate, to say that from 1933 to 1941 the only human being on earth that Stalin trusted was Adolf Hitler.

5. But progress has already been made. The argument, now, is about whether Bolshevik Russia was “better” than Nazi Germany. In the days when the New Left dawned, the argument was about whether Bolshevik Russia was better than America.

From Martin Amis’s excellent Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million. The material is quoted directly from Amis, I have added the numbering.


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