Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Million Here, A Million There, But Still You're Talking Real People

There once was a Bolshie named Lenin
Who did five or ten million men in.
That’s a lot to have done in,
But, where he did one in,
A Bolshie named Stalin did ten in.

- Robert Conquest
(Noted here as reported at The Corner)

Some interesting historical matters of late...

Robert Conquest produced the standard works detailing Soviet repression and describing the grim toll Communism took to seize and remain in power in the Soviet Union. In particular, Conquest recorded the crimes of Stalin.

Now, Frank Dikötter is producing a similar accounting of Mao's "Great Leap Forward," in his upcoming book, Mao's Great Famine: The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe. From a review in the UK's The Independent:
Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years.
To put the loss into perspective, 11 million died in the Holocaust.

Sort of puts the China envy so many (who ought to know better) have in a harsher light, doesn't it?