Review of Robert Gellately’s ‘Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler’

Robert Gellately’s ‘Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler’ Robert Gellately’s 700 page distillation of the convergence of three horrendous dictators on the world scene in the first half of the 20th century is what you would expect from a well-written book bringing together the different threads that ultimately converge in World War II. Gellately aptly subtitles his book “The Age of Social Catastrophe” which it certainly was.

The book incorporates a lot of new insights gleaned from secret documents released since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but really if you’re already more than passingly familiar with the Soviet and Nazi regimes, this is essentially a single volume retread of the many books out there on both regimes. If you don’t want to obsessively read dozens of books on the Nazis and USSR, however, this is definitely the book to start out with.

The odd thing about the book, however, are the lengths to which Gellately feels he has to go in order to justify including Lenin in that list.  The claim that Lenin’s pure ideas were corrupted by the evil Stalin has a long history and, of course, was made famous in Kruschev’s secret speech. It is also an idea that has always been patently absurd by anyone willing to look honestly at the Lenin’s writings and actions up until his death.

That the idea persists enough to force Gellately to justify his decision to include Lenin in Stalin and Hitler’s company is a testament to the human capacity for self-deception. Which, of course, was one of the essential ingredients in allowing all three of these regimes to survive and thrive.

WWII As Online Game

Via Treading Water comes one of the funniest things I’ve read in months — World War II if it had been conducted online:

Hitler[AoE] has joined the game.*
*Eisenhower has joined the game.*
*paTTon has joined the game.*
*Churchill has joined the game.*
*benny-tow has joined the game.*
*T0J0 has joined the game.*
*Roosevelt has joined the game.*
*Stalin has joined the game.*
*deGaulle has joined the game.*
Roosevelt: hey sup
T0J0: y0
Stalin: hi
Churchill: hi
Hitler[AoE]: cool, i start with panzer tanks!
paTTon: lol more like panzy tanks
T0JO: lol
Roosevelt: o this fockin sucks i got a depression!
benny-tow: haha america sux
Stalin: hey hitler you dont fight me i dont fight u, cool?
Hitler[AoE]; sure whatever
Stalin: cool
deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help
Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye frenchy
Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry
Churchill: wtf the luftwaffle is attacking me
Roosevelt: get antiair guns
Churchill: i cant afford them
benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is?
paTTon: stfu
Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys
deGaulle: eisenhower ur worthless come help me quick
Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me an army
paTTon: yah hurry the fock up
Churchill: d00d im gettin pounded
deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck
*deGaulle has left the game.*
Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k?
benny-tow: with what? ur wheelchair?
benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head?
Hitler[AoE]: ROFLMAO
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont! lol
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
Hitler[AoE]: wtf
Hitler[AoE]: america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin army
Hitler[AoE]: thats bullsh1t u hacker
Churchill: lol no more france for u hitler
Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me!
T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the other side of the world retard
Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a path
Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE
Hitler[AoE]: i changed my mind lol
benny-tow: haha
benny-tow: hey ur losing ur guys in africa im gonna need help in italy soon sum1
T0J0: o **** i cant help u i got my hands full
Hitler[AoE]: im 2 busy 2 help
Roosevelt: yah thats right ***** im comin for ya
Stalin: church help me
Churchill: like u helped me before? sure ill just sit here
Stalin: dont be an arss
Churchill: dont be a commie. oops too late
Eisenhower: LOL
benny-tow: hahahh oh sh1t help
Hitler: o man ur focked
paTTon: oh what now biotch
Roosevelt: whos the cripple now lol
*benny-tow has been eliminated.*
benny-tow: lame
Roosevelt: gj patton
paTTon: thnx
Hitler[AoE]: WTF eisenhower hax hes killing all my sh1t
Hitler[AoE]: quit u hacker so u dont ruin my record
Eisenhower: Nuts!
benny~tow: wtf that mean?
Eisenhower: meant to say nutsack lol finger slipped
paTTon: coming to get u hitler u paper hanging hun cocksocker
Stalin: rofl
Hitler[AoE]: u guys are fockin gay
Hitler[AoE]: ur never getting in my city
*Hitler[AoE] has been eliminated.*
benny~tow: OMG u noob you killed yourself
Eisenhower: ROFLOLOLOL
Stalin: OMG LMAO!
Hitler[AoE]: WTF i didnt click there omg this game blows
*Hitler[AoE] has left the game*
paTTon: hahahhah
T0J0: WTF my teammates are n00bs
benny~tow: shut up noob
Roosevelt: haha wut a moron
paTTon: wtf am i gunna do now?
Eisenhower: yah me too
T0J0: why dont u attack me o thats right u dont got no ships lololol
Eisenhower: fock u
paTTon: lemme go thru ur base commie
Stalin: go to hell lol
paTTon: fock this sh1t im goin afk
Eisenhower: yah this is gay
*Roosevelt has left the game.*
Hitler[AoE]: wtf?
Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to join
*tru_m4n has joined the game.*
tru_m4n: hi all
T0J0: hey
Stalin: sup
Churchill: hi
tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his stuff!
tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz
tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets
T0J0: wtf is nukes?
T0J0: holy ****holy****hoyl****!
*T0J0 has been eliminated.*
*The Allied team has won the game!*
Eisenhower: awesome!
Churchill: gg noobs no re
T0J0: thats bull**** u fockin suck
*T0J0 has left the game.*
*Eisenhower has left the game.*
Stalin: next game im not going to be on ur team, u guys didnt help me for ****
Churchill: wutever, we didnt need ur help neway dumbarss
tru_m4n: l8r all
benny~tow: bye
Churchill: l8r
Stalin: fock u all
tru_m4n: shut up commie lol
*tru_m4n has left the game.*
benny~tow: lololol u commie
Churchill: ROFL
Churchill: bye commie
*Churchill has left the game.*
*benny~tow has left the game.*
Stalin: i hate u all fags
*Stalin has left the game.*
paTTon: lol no1 is left
paTTon: weeeee i got a jeep
*paTTon has been eliminated.*
paTTon: o sh1t!
*paTTon has left the game.*

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Unmentioned Victims of Japanese Aggression

At Cliopatra, Greg James Robinson raises interesting questions about the morality of the atomic bombing of Nagaski, just three days after the bombing of Hiroshima. But in the comment sections, Allan Allport notes that the opponents of either/both atomic bombings typically offer a false dichotomy.

In their scenarios, the United States has two choices — drop the bombs (which kill hundreds of thousands) or try to wait out the Japanese government and military and hope they come to the table with some sort of surrender (waiting and negotiating, of course, would not involve killing anyone).

But waiting would also have meant death for potentially hundreds of thousands of people. World War II was still raging in much of Asia. Allport cites Robert P. Newman’s book, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult. In that book, Allport notes that the based on casualty rates, 10,000-13,000 people were dying each day in the Pacific Theater, 80 percent of those in Japanese-occupied territories. Every day of delay in ending the war would have added to the horrific death toll exacted by the Japanese military.

Commemorating Hiroshima, the KNOW Way

The local anti-war activists had their downtown vigil to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. I was probably the only one in the crowd who thought Truman’s decision was defensible and tracked down the Kalamazoo Gazette reporter.

She did accurately capture my words, but I’m not sure my intent came across very well (there’s a reason I blog rather than do public speaking . . . I tend to babble),

Brian Carnell, who also attended the event, holds different views. Carnell said people at such events seem to paint the bombing as a “spur-of-the-moment decision” and “forget the enormity of Japan’s crimes.”

“If it wasn’t for Hitler, Japan’s crime would have been one of the worst in human history,” Carnell said.

Carnell said promoting peace as an absolute is not realistic.

“Idealizing peace without any kind of moral context is problematic,” Carnell said.

One of the leaders of the Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War, Tom Small, was wearing a t-shirt with a saying to the effect that violence is always criminal. In making my case to the reporter I noted that this the United Nations satisfied Small’s requirement when it abandoned Muslims at Sebrenicia. They didn’t fire a single shot to defend those who came to the UN safe havens.

And, of course, the Sebrenicians were slaughtered. KNOW and Small embrace an idiotic form of pacifism and whose effect is to empower those who engage in violence. Under KNOW’s formulation, every act taken by the Allied powers during World War II was immoral and criminal.

And I was, frankly, angry to see the attack on Japan discussed as if, one day, Truman just woke up and for no good reason decided to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So there were readings of poems by survivors of Hiroshima, but no time for the millions and millions of victims of Japanese aggression.

It is odd that parts of the Left like this rail on and on about the horrors imposed by the Christian Right on this country, but today finds the U.S. war against a murderous religious dictatorship to have been unjust.

Photos and video to follow later this week.


Shadows of death Atomic bomb hit Hiroshima 60 years ago. Emily Walker, Kalamazoo Gazette, August 7, 2005.

Peace Activists Have Selective Memory When Commemorating Horrors of World War II

I opened up the newspaper yesterday to see that the local anti-war group, Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents of War, is planning a vigil to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Whether or not you agree with the decision to drop the atomic bomb, the results of doing so were certainly horrific, but in their zeal to commemorate that event, activists appear to have selective amnesia about the context of that event and other horrors in the Pacific.

Anyway, this is the letter I fired off to the local Gannett rag,

Editor, Kalamazoo Gazette,

It was interesting to read that Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War and other local peace groups are holding a vigil to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which killed more than 90,000 people.

Perhaps someday KNOW and other groups might consider holding a vigil for the estimated 10 to 30 *million* people murdered by Japan during its 1937-1945 occupation of China.

Japan’s slaughter in China was not stopped by protesters carrying signs through the streets of Nanking, but rather through the overwhelming application of military force — including the two atomic bombs — by the Allied nations.

Given that KNOW holds weekly downtown protests featuring people holding signs with slogans such as, “War Is Wrong Whatever The Outcome,” a few million dead victims of Japanese aggression is apparently an inconvenient fact, best left unmentioned.

Search Engines: Garbage In, Garbage Out

I am an unabashed Google cheerleader. As far as I’m concerned, Google is one of the crowning achievements of human civilization — if you know what you’re doing, almost any question can be answered by Google. Of course, if you don’t know what you’re doing, then using Google is no better than taking lessons from that urban legend spam about how some terminally ill kid wants to set the record for most greeting cards.

A lot of people have taken to bitching about Google, but most of the complaints I see are from people who simply haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use the search engine, or (more frequently) make rookie mistakes that would hurt them regardless of what search engine or offline system they were using for research.

Take Scott Middleton — please. Middleton is offered up by the Register’s resident anti-Google nutjob, Andrew Orlowski, as a prime example of just how unreliable Google and other search engines are. But Middleton’s problem is actually his own ignorance about what he is searching for.

Middleton wanted to see what sort of information about World War II he could track down, so he typed in “Guadal Canal” in Google and, not surprisingly, received very poor search results in return. Middleton concludes that it is shameful that there should be such poor search results for such a key World War II battle.

Except, there was no battle of “Guadal Canal.” There was, however, a battle of “Guadalcanal.” If you search Google on the correct name of the battle, you will find very helpful links in the first 10 results, including a chronology of the battle, complete with maps and other information.

Is it Google’s fault that Middleton thinks that Guadal Canal is some sort of canal system, instead of knowing that Guadalcanal is the name of small island in the Pacific?

No, but even so, Google tries to compensate for its users’ ignorance. If you search on “Guadal Canal,” Google helpfully asks “Did you mean Guadalcanal?” So even if, like Middleton, you don’t know the first thing about World War II battles, Google will step in and try to set you straight.

At some point you have to ask the user to resort to some sort of common sense or basic attention to detail. If people like Middleton want information about Sony, but search on Sanyo, there’s not much that even the best system can do to help.

Garbage in, garbage out.


Our kids deserve better than a Google™ future. Andrew Orlowski, The Register, September 20, 2004.