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Lethal Politics

Contents || Preface || Appendix A: Methods and Procedures

Other Democide Related Documents On This Site


What is democide?

"Democide vs genocide. Which is what?"

"War isn't this century's biggest killer"

"How many did communist regimes murder?"


"Democide in totalitarian states: mortacracies and megamurderers"

"The Holocaust in comparative and historical perspective"

Graduate Syllabus on Repression and Democide


"Power kills: genocide and mass murder"

"Power predicts democide"


China's Bloody Century

Nazi Democide

Death By Government

Statistics of Democide (entire)


Chapter 1

61,911,000 Victims:
Utopianism Empowered*

By R.J. Rummel

...when we are reproached with cruelty, we wonder how people can forget the most elementary Marxism.
---- Lenin

"How long will you keep killing people?" asked Lady Astor of Stalin in 1931.
Replied Stalin, "the process would continue as long as was necessary" to establish a communist society.

Probably 61,911,000 people, 54,769,000 of them citizens, have been murdered by the Communist Party--the government--of the Soviet Union. This is about 178 people for each letter, comma, period, digit, and other characters in this book.

Old and young, healthy and sick, men and women, and even infants and infirm, were killed in cold-blood. They were not combatants in civil war or rebellions, they were not criminals. Indeed, nearly all were guilty of ... nothing.

Some were from the wrong class--bourgeoisie, land owners, aristocrats, kulaks. Some were from the wrong nation or race-- Ukrainians, Black Sea Greeks, Kalmyks, Volga Germans. Some were from the wrong political faction--Trotskyites, Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries. Or some were just their sons and daughters, wives and husbands, or mothers and fathers. And some were those occupied by the Red Army--Balts, Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Rumanians. Then some were simply in the way of social progress, like the mass of peasants or religious believers. Or some were eliminated because of their potential opposition, such as writers, teachers, churchmen; or the military high command; or even high and low Communist Party members themselves.

In fact, we have witnessed in the Soviet Union a true egalitarian social cleansing and flushing: no group or class escaped, for everyone and anyone could have had counter-revolutionary ancestors, class lineage, counter-revolutionary ideas or thought, or be susceptible to them. And thus, almost anyone was arrested, interrogated, tortured, and after a forced confession of a plot to blow up the Kremlin, or some such, shot or sentenced to the dry guillotine--slow death by exposure, malnutrition, and overwork in a forced labor camp.

Part of this mass killing was genocide, as in the wholesale murder of hundreds of thousands of Don Cossacks in 1919,1 the intentional starving of about 5,000,000 Ukrainian peasants to death in 1932-33,2 or the deportation to mass death of 50,000 to 60,000 Estonians in 1949.3 Part was mass murder, as of the wholesale extermination of perhaps 6,500,000 "kulaks" (in effect, the better off peasants and those resisting collectivization) from 1930 to 1937,4 the execution of perhaps a million Party members in the Great Terror of 1937-38,5 and the massacre of all Trotskyites in the forced labor camps.6

And part of the killing was so random and idiosyncratic that journalists and social scientists have no concept for it, as in hundreds of thousands of people being executed according to preset, government, quotas. Says Vladimir Petrov (who in 1954 defected while a spy-chief in Australia and whose credibility and subsequent revelations were verified by a Royal--Australian-- Commission on Espionage7) about his work during the years 1936 to 1938:

I handled hundreds of signals to all parts of the Soviet Union which were couched in the following form:
"To N.K.V.D., Frunze. You are charged with the task of exterminating 10,000 enemies of the people. Report results by signal.--Yezhov."
And in due course the reply would come back:
"In reply to yours of such-and-such date, the following enemies of the Soviet people have been shot."8

From time to time, in one period or another, quotas also were generally assigned for the numbers to be arrested throughout the length and breadth of Soviet territory. For example, Solzhenitsyn makes these quotas basic to the Great Terror of 1936 to 1938:

The real law underlying the arrests of those years was the assignment of quotas, the norms set, the planned allocations. Every city, every district, every military unit was assigned a specific quota of arrests to be carried out by a stipulated time. From then on everything else depended on the ingenuity of the Security operations personnel.9

But murder and arrest quotas did not work well.10 Where to find the "enemies of the people" to shoot was a particularly acute problem for these local NKVD who had been diligent in uncovering "plots". They had to resort to shooting those arrested for the most minor civil crimes, those previously arrested and released, and even mothers and wives who appeared at NKVD headquarters for information about their arrested loved ones.

We lack a concept for murder by quotas because we, not the journalist, historian, nor political scientist, have ever before confronted the fact that a government can and has done this kind of thing. For the same reason, neither do we have a concept for the execution of starving peasants who fished in a stream without Party permission (trying to steal state property), nor pinning a ten-year sentence on the first one to stop clapping after Stalin's name was mentioned at a public meeting.11 Nor for executing a fourteen-year-old because his father was purged; nor for the Red Army's not only permitting but encouraging mass rape and murder of civilians in virtually every country it newly occupied during World War II.

I call all this kind of killing, whether genocide or mass murder, democide. Throughout this book, democide will mean a government's concentrated, systematic, and serial murder of a large part of its population.

In sum, the Soviets have committed a democide of 61,911,000 people, 7,142,000 of them foreigners. This staggering total is beyond belief. But, as shown in Figure 1.1, it is only the prudent, most probable tally, in a range from an highly unlikely, low figure of 28,326,000 (4,263,000 foreigners); and an equally unlikely high of 126,891,000 (including 12,134,000 foreigners). This is a range of uncertainty in our democide estimates--an error range--of 97,808,000 human beings.

Just consider this error range in Soviet democide, as shown in Figure 1.1. It is larger than the population of 96 percent of the world's nations and countries. Actually, if France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland were blasted clean of all human life in a nuclear war, the human toll would be less than just this range in the Soviet's probable democide--the range, and not even the total murdered.

Appendix 1.1 to this chapter provides the overall totals, and comparisons of these totals to those estimated by others. Appendix 1.2 details various estimates of death rates in labor camps or through deportations, and the overall death rate estimates used throughout the appendices. It also shows the effect of varying some assumptions underlying the totals.

All figures given in the text are taken from or based on one or more of these appendices. Table 1.1 gives a breakdown of the most probable, central estimates, of the various agents of murder developed in these appendices for each historical period. The Soviet death toll from international and civil wars and rebellions is also shown for comparison. Figure 1.2 displays the relative contribution of the democide components to the overall 61,911,000; Figure 1.3 shows the percentage contribution of these components and war to total violent deaths. Finally, Figure 1.4 overlays the total democide per period by the annual democide rate.

It is impossible to fix in mind and digest this democide. Focusing on the most probable estimate of 61,911,000 murdered, as shown in Table 1.2 it is over four times the battle dead (15,000,000) for all nations in the Second World War.12 Indeed, it exceeds the total deaths (35,700,000) from all this century's international, civil, guerrilla, and liberation wars, including the Russian Civil War itself.13 Many other comparisons are given in Table 1.2 and Figure 1.5, the purpose of which is to communicate some feel for what the Soviet democide means in sheer numbers.

Another way of viewing the Soviet democide is in terms of the annual risk it posed to the soviet citizen. Table 1.3 shows this risk of death from war and some commonplace risks, like smoking or cancer. Figure 1.6, following, graphs some of them.

Now consider just the low democide estimate of 24,063,000 citizens murdered. This is an absolute, rock bottom, low. It is calculated from all the most conservative, lowest estimates, for all kinds and sources and periods of democide, for 1917 to 1987. It is highly improbable that all these hundreds of very low estimates are correct. The low of 24,063,000 killed is over 20,000,000 dead below the 42 year average (1918-1959) low estimate among experts or knowledgeable Soviets; more important, it is over 15,000,000 dead below the 42 year average of those low estimates based on census data (see Appendix 1.1). Yet, this lower limit of 24,063,000 citizens murdered is itself much greater than the 15,000,000 battle dead of the largest, most lethal war of all time.

This absolute minimum is already so overwhelming that one's horror, shock, or disbelief hardly can be increased were the number five times higher, as is the high estimate; nor can any moral or practical conclusion that one would draw from this low be altered in the slightest by focusing on the more probable, middle estimate of 54,769,000 citizens killed.

Morally, we simply cannot distinguish a difference in evil between the murder of 20,000,000 from that of 60,000,000 human beings. Hitler's crimes against humanity, his mass murder of Jews, Gypsies, the handicapped, and so on, already take us to the limit of our moral discernment and we can only say of Stalin and Lenin, that they, like Hitler, were absolutely evil. While for statistical and correlational analysis, it is important to approximate the number murdered as close as the data and prudence allow, for moral and policy purposes, we well could focus on the low democide of over 24,000,000 citizens, or over 28,0000,000 people in total.

Whether the actual democide is this low, or higher, the fact is that most of these people were intentionally, knowingly, killed on a continental scale. Of course, this begs the most probing questions. What actually happened? When? Why? How are we to understand this democide? I will try to specifically answer these questions in the following chapters. But the key to it all can be disclosed here: Marxism.

In November, 1917, Lenin led his small Bolshevik party in a very risky, but ultimately successful coup against the provisional, democratic socialist government of Aleksandr Kerensky. This was not just a seizure of power and change of leadership, but a revolutionary transformation in the very nature and world-view of governance. It was the creation of a unique reason-of-state; and the institution of an utterly cold-blooded, social engineering view of the state's power over its people. This unparalleled, brand new

Bolshevik government married a fully, self-contained, secular philosophy of nature and the Good, to an initially shaky, but an eventually absolute, ahistorical political force--a melding of an idea and power. It was then and has been since, utopia empowered.14

The philosophy is an universal perspective, at once a theory about reality (dialectical materialism), about man in society (historical materialism); about the best society (communism); about an implementing public policy (a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat); and about political tactics (revolution, vanguard, party, etc.). And its praxis is to be absolute in scope, absolute in power, and absolute in technique. Quoting Lenin: "The scientific concept of dictatorship means nothing else but this: power without limit, resting directly upon force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules."15

In sum, with its theory, attendant "factual" explanation of the past and present human condition, and vision of a better society, this ideology provides both answers to the whys and wherefores of political and economic life, and more important, it provides solutions: it defines for the believer a way to peace and happiness, to equality and welfare, and to freedom from hunger, poverty, and exploitation.

The theoretical part of this communist ideology was first developed in the works of the 19th century philosopher and political-economist Karl Marx and his followers. Lenin, both a philosopher and a political revolutionary, added a political program and tactics. Lenin's peculiar brand of communism became known as Bolshevism before and for decades after he successfully seized power in Russia; in our time the ideology is called Marxism, or more specifically, Marxism-Leninism to denote the revisions introduced by Lenin. Henceforth, I will simply refer to it as Marxism.

Marxism is thoroughly uncompromising. It knows the truth, absolutely; it absolutely knows the Good (communism) and the Evil (capitalism, feudalism); it absolutely knows the way (a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat). Once this ideology seized the authority and naked power of the Russian state--its army, police, courts, prisons--it moved to put its Marxist program into effect. And thus, the history of the Soviet Union since the Bolshevik coup has been simply this: a protracted, total, engineering application of state power to demolish and then rebuild all social institutions--to create on earth the Marxist utopia.

Since Marxists know the Truth, ideological opponents could only be gravely mistaken and therefore enemies of the people. Knowing the Way to Happiness, those who intentionally or unintentionally blocked the Way must be eliminated. Even at the level of tactics, even among those Marxists who had the correct Vision, no one could be allowed to differ; for even at this level, at least until Mikhail Gorbachev, there was only one Truth.

Absolute ideas plus the absolute power of the state could mean only one thing: the state and its monopoly of force was the instrument of "progress", of Utopian change. Thus, the Red Army would be used to suppress resistance to taking private property (being a source of evil); a secret police force would be created to uncover enemies of the people, and to eliminate opponents. Law would become an instrument of terror and revolutionary change; court trials, if held, would be predetermined as the clergy of Marxism saw necessary. And all was permitted as a matter of course--governmental lies, deceit, robbery, beating, torture, and the murder of 61,911,000 people--all instrumental to the communist future.

Most important, in this ideology the living were to be sacrificed for the unborn. The living were objects, like mortar and bricks, lumber and nails, to be used, manipulated, piled on each other, to create the new social structure; personal interests and desires, pain or pleasure, were of little moment, insignificant in the light of the new world to be created.16 After all, how could one let, say, Ivan's desire to till the land of his father, Mikhail's to purchase better shoes, or Aleksandr's to store food to preserve his family through the winter, stand in the way of the greater good of future generations? This ideological imperative can be seen in Lenin's attitude toward the famine of 1891-2 on the Volga. As Russians, regardless of class and ideology, tried to help the victims, Lenin opposed such aid, arguing that famine would radicalize the masses. Said Lenin, "Psychologically, this talk of feeding the starving is nothing but an expression of the saccharine-sweet sentimentality so characteristic of our intelligentsia."17

Ideology is the critical variable in Soviet democide. It explains how individual communists could beat, torture, and murder by the hundreds, and sleep well at night. Grim tasks, to be sure, but after all, they were working for the greater good. It explains how Soviet rulers, particularly Lenin and Stalin, could knowingly command the death of hundreds of thousands and, as in the case of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33, millions. Read Solzhenitsyn on this:

Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.

Ideology--that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and other's eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands by extoling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions....

There was a rumor going the rounds between 1918 and 1920 that the Petrograd Cheka...did not shoot all those condemned to death but fed some of them alive to the animals in the city zoos. I do not know whether this is truth or calumny....But I wouldn't set out to look for proof, either. Following the practice of the bluecaps, I would propose that they prove to us that this was impossible. How else could they get food for the zoos in those famine years? Take it away from the working class? Those enemies were going to die anyway, so why couldn't their deaths support the zoo economy of the Republic and thereby assist our march into the future? Wasn't it expedient?

That is the precise line the Shakespearean evildoer could not cross. But the evildoer with ideology does cross it and his eyes remain dry and clear.18

However, in human affairs, especially at the level of societies and nations, no ideology, religion, or policies are pure and simple. The practical articulation and implementation of Marxism has been swayed or refracted, hindered or aggravated, aided or abetted, by Russian tradition and racism; by Russian imperialism and chauvinism.

Moreover, communists have not been immune to the lust for power for its own sake. Surely, the cliches of power--power aggrandizes itself, power can only be limited by power, and absolute power corrupts absolutely--apply no less to Marxists than other rulers. Was the unleashing of the Red Terror by Lenin in 1919 mainly to assure his power and rule? Was it simply the traditional reflex of a Russian ruler to political opposition? Was the famine Stalin knowingly imposed on the Ukraine an attempt to assure Russian national dominance over the Ukraine? Was it due to Stalin's fear that the assertive independence of Ukrainian communists would undermine his power? Doubtless such different factors played a role. But throughout this history, Marxism was mediating, channeling, directing: communism was the Good, the state (read ruler) must have and use absolute power to create this better world; any one or anything that actually or potentially hindered this power or future must be eliminated.

In this light, the macro history of Soviet democide makes sense, although individual policies or campaigns may appear inexplicable, like quotas for shooting "enemies of the people." This history is long and complex, but if organized around the major ideological campaigns and events, can be divided into eight periods: Civil War, National Economic Policy, collectivization, Great Terror, pre-World War II, World War II, post-war and Stalin's twilight, and post-Stalin. I will devote a chapter to each period and try to provide some understanding of what democide occurred and why.


Table 1A presents the overall democide and totals of those killed in terror, deportations, camps and transit, and democidal famine for the eight periods of Soviet history, 1917-1987 (lines 18 to 23 in the table). From 28,326,000 to 126,891,000 people were killed during these years; a prudent estimate is 61,911,000 dead. Of these, 54,767,000 were Soviet citizens (line 8).

The totals for citizens and foreigners are given separately in the table (lines 2 to 15). Note that the democide figures for citizens, and thus the overall democide total, exceeds the sum of the democide components (terror, deportations, etc.). This is due to the lack of estimates for some of these components for some of the periods, and the derivation of the democide total for these and some other periods from democide estimates available in the references.

Also given in the table is the total dead from international wars, battle dead from civil war and rebellions, and non-democidal dead from famine and disease. Considering just the mid-estimates, 29,536,000 Soviet citizens have thus died (the sum of lines 26 and 28), or a little over half the democide among citizens.

Of course, this begs the question: how good are these democide figures? This will be answered, in part, through the appendices to each of the following chapters, which will detail for the relevant period the various estimates, sources, qualifications, procedures, and calculations that accumulate across the periods to the democide totals given in Table 1A.

However, some tests can also be applied here. But first, before considering them, some consideration must be given to the meaning of validity in this context. As pointed out in Appendix A on methods and procedures, the actual democide toll is beyond our grasp, were even Soviet archives open to us. At best, we can only find some high-low range that most probably brackets the true number, and estimate within that range a most likely, prudent estimate. At the beginning, therefore, we must accept that mid-estimates in Table 1A are wrong, perhaps off by many millions. Even the lows and highs may not be low or high enough. Therefore, the validity of these results in the scientific sense of the term is already clear--they are undoubtedly invalid.

But there is a larger meaning of the term then being precisely true. That is, being most probable in the light of the experience of those involved, the knowledge of experts, the social and physical conditions, and the social context. For example, given what has been revealed about GULAG during the Second World War by former prisoners and Soviet officials, such as the near famine conditions imposed on the camps; the deadly camp regime, the heavy labor for possibly 12 to 14 hours a day, often in a killing climate; the low value given prisoner's lives by the camp administration; the constant uncovering of "plots", with subsequent rounds of executions, by camp officials trying to justify their noncombat duties in wartime; and the assertions by prisoners and experts that many millions thus died; an estimate that the annual death rate was from 10 percent to 28 percent seems likely, and that consequently over 6,000,000 to near 18,000,000 camp prisoners were killed during the 4-years out of an annual camp population ranging from 9,000,000 to 12,300,000, seems reasonable. And that given the detailed estimates in the references, that within this range the true number is around 11,000,000 dead appears most probable. On the other hand, given all the evidence, an estimate that, say, 500,000 prisoners (or 30,000,000), were killed during the war appears most improbable.

To establish validity here, therefore, is to make sure that a particular estimate is most consistent with all the evidence. This has been done in the subsequent chapters for each period, where the text establishes the social conditions and context for asserting particular estimates of democide, and the chapter's appendices provide the detailed estimates, sources, and calculations. For each period, I believe, the validity of the democide totals, understood in these terms, has been established.

What remains here is to determine whether the democide components and overall totals of Table 1A (lines 2 to 23) accumulated from these appendices for each period are also consistent with the relevant, overall estimates of experts. If a democide low is at the lower end or below such estimates, the high is at their upper end or higher, and the mid-estimate--meant to be the prudent, most probable estimate--is near and perhaps somewhat below their central thrust, then (given also what has been done in the appendices for each period) I will consider them valid.

With this in mind, Table 1A presents a variety of estimates of the camp toll during all or a major part of Soviet history. Because these are so variable in the years they cover, all (except the estimates on line 47 specific to the Kolyma camp complex) were proportionated over 42 and 70 year periods and averaged. In doing this, the one case (line 40) where there is a low and high estimate, but no mid-one, the mid-estimate is made the average of the two. The formula for proportionating the estimates over 42 years is simply ((estimate/(1+difference in years)) X 42), and the "c." and "s" is dropped from the years. Obviously, the 70 year period covers the whole Soviet history considered here. But, after Stalin died in 1953, democide dropped sharply in the next decade and thereafter sloped down to very small numbers. Thus, proportionating the estimates only over the period up to 1960--42- years--may be more realistic.

The camp averages for both the 42 and 70-year periods are shown in the table (lines 48 and 49), along with the component totals (line 50--"Cf." means "compare"). Note that the component low of 15,919,000 dead in camps and transit is far below both the 42 and 70-year average lows; also the high of 82,281,000 dead is higher than that for the 42-year average and closer to that for 70-years. That the 70-year average high is higher is understandable, given the great reduction in the camp population and death rates after Stalin. The mid-estimate of 39,464,000 dead is below both average mid-estimates and, indeed, is slightly more than half-way between the low and the 42-year mid-average. Based on the references, therefore, these component totals seem to capture the variation in estimates of those killed in the camps, while the mid-total does appear prudent.

Next considered in the table is estimates of those citizens and foreigners who died in the deportations (lines 53 to 55). Since there are only three such estimates in the references, no proportionating need be done. For comparison, the component totals (line 56) are shown below the estimates. It is unclear from the sources whether these estimates include those among the deported who died in the camps. The component totals do exclude all such; were they included, however, they would probably less than double the totals. Moreover, the totals given are underestimates, since there were no estimates available for some regions or periods where and when deportation must have taken place. In any case, as can be seen, the range and mid-total seems consistent with the estimates.

Next to compare is the total democide for the Stalin period itself. Four estimates are shown (lines 65 to 69) and below them are given for comparison the appropriate democide totals computed from the appendices. It can be seen immediately that the low and high does bracket the estimates, but that the mid-total seems too high, even higher than one high estimate of 40,000,000. The most detailed of these estimates is that from Conquest, and we can get some insight into the reason for the high mid-total by considering his calculations.19 Now, Conquest's estimate of 20,000,000 killed under Stalin is a minimum, "which is almost certainly too low and might require an increase of 50 per cent or so....."20 But even a 50 percent increase would only bring the total to 30,000,000, still under the mid-total of 42,672,000 given here. First, one source of the difference is that Conquest too conservatively estimates the death toll in the camps as 12,000,000 for the years 1936 to 1950, when for just the post-war period alone, 1946-1953, the toll probably exceeded this (see Appendix 8.1). The mid-total of those killed in the camps during the Stalin years is 32,584,000 (less than 2,000,000 of these foreigners); about 7,000,000 more were killed in other years.21 It is significant here, therefore, that the overall, mid-total of camp deaths based on these numbers already has been shown not to be excessive (lines 38 to 56).

Second, Conquest excludes the 5,000,000 intentionally starved to death in the Ukrainian famine (this intentionality and number Conquest establishes in a much later work),22 and the perhaps 333,000 famine deaths Stalin was responsible for in the post-war period. Third, excluding those killed in collectivization and the camps, Conquest only allows for a million executions during the period, which he believes is "certainly a low estimate."23 Indeed, a million executions is probably a safe estimate for the Great Terror period alone. Indeed, I get from the Appendices (4.1-8.1) a total of 4,565,000 more killed in Stalin's terror throughout his 25-year reign. Finally, Conquest ignores the millions that died in deportations after the collectivization period (in a much later work Conquest himself calculates that 530,000 died alone in the deportation of eight nations during the war;24 this excludes the death toll among Ukrainians, non-Volga German-Soviets, Greek-Soviets, Korean-Soviets, etc.--see Appendix 7.1).

When all these differences are added into Conquest's minimum figure, the result is consistent with the mid-total of 42,672,000 citizens dead under Stalin's regime that is given here.

However, the number killed by Stalin is just part of the larger democide totals for Soviet history. The most important question is then how these totals compare to estimates of the total democide. The table (lines 68 to 75) gives non-census based estimates of the overall democide. As was done for the camp death estimates, these are proportionated and averaged for 42 and 70-years (lines 76 and 77), and compared to the democide totals (citizens) determined here (line 78). This shows that the democide low is well below that of the estimates; the high is mid-way between the 42 and 70 year averages, and the mid-total is appropriately prudent. This also lends support to the total for the Stalin years discussed above.

Finally, there is the census based estimates. Too much can be made of unnatural death estimates based on supposed "census results." For one thing, census figures, particularly in the 1930s, were politically manipulated to show a greater population growth then actually occurred (thus, understating total deaths--see the introduction to Appendix 6.1). For another, the calculations of unnatural deaths are very sensitive to birth and death rate assumptions. Indeed, one can look at these census based estimates as, like the democide totals here, having no more than a more or less warranted assignability. In any case, five such estimates are shown in the table (lines 81 to 86); four of them are proportionated as above (the population deficit includes the number that would have been born, had there not been a certain number of deaths, and therefore should not enter into an average of unnatural deaths, especially if it is to be compared to democide totals), and compared to the democide of citizens. The democide low and high do bracket the results, while the democide mid-total lies between the 42 and 70-year averages (line 90).

Overall, the democide components and grand totals do reflect the diverse estimates of experts and in this sense are warranted. Moreover, similar assessments for each period also shows the subtotals are consistent with the references. Finally, actual Soviet democidal institutions, processes, and events that are outlined in subsequent chapters provide justification for these totals. In sum, probably somewhere between 28,326,000 and 126,891,000 people were killed by the Communist Party of the soviet Union from 1917 to 1987; and a most prudent estimate of this number is 61,911,000.

The democide rates over the three generations of Soviet history are shown in the table (line 94). Clearly, an infant born in 1917 had a good chance of being killed by the Party sometime in his future. A more precise statement of this is given by the average of the democide rates for each period, weighted by the number of years involved (line 95). Focusing on the most-probable mid-risk of .45 percent, throughout Soviet history, including the relatively safe years after the 1950s, the odds of the average citizen being killed by his own government (Party) has been about 45 to 10,000; or to turn this around, 222 to 1 of surviving terror, deportations, the camps, or an intentional famine. As pointed out in the text, this is almost twenty times the risk of an American dying in an a vehicular accident.


One problem in determining Soviet democide is that there are often for one period or another, or one year or another, only estimates of the number deported or in forced labor camps, but no estimates of the resulting dead. Were some death rate statistics available, then, the number killed in deportations or the camps could be calculated. Accordingly, estimates of these rates were sought in the references and are given in Table 1B. From them a range of relevant death rates and a prudent mid-rate were calculated.

The table first lists various death rate estimates for the camps and special settlements (lines 2 to 16). These are consolidated into one set of rates by first making the low the lowest of all the estimates, the high the average among all rates higher then the low (excluding Solzhenitsyn's extremely high rate-line 5-and the higher of the two, extremely high rates for the Kolyma camps-line 11), and the mid-estimate the average of all the estimated rates between the low and high. The result is a conservative low 10 percent per annum death rate; a moderate, mid-estimate of 20 percent, lower than over half the estimated rates; and a high of 28 percent, modest enough considering some of the higher estimates in the table.

I could find no death rates for the prisoners in transit to the camps, but four were available for the deportations. These are shown in the table (lines 20 to 24). Consolidating these as was done for the camp death rates gives a range of 10 to 26 percent killed during deportation. Now, the deportations involved whole families, including pregnant women, infants and young children, the aged, and the sick and infirm. The toll among the deported from lack of food and water, cold or heat, and disease in overcrowded railway, freight cars, during possibly weeks of being carted, was understandably high. By comparison, the transit to the camps involved mostly able, adult males. The death toll must have been much lower as a result, perhaps by around two-thirds. Accordingly, the deportation death rates were reduced to a range of 3 to 9 percent to get reasonable rates for transit to the camps (line 27).

Finally, there is need for overall deportation death rates as well. Estimates of these rates or those calculated from estimates of deportation numbers and dead are shown in the table (beginning on line 31). These are subdivided in terms of the deportation of classes, minority nations, POWs, and foreign civilians. Deportation deaths and death rates normally also include transit deaths. POWs are included here, although most were deported to camps. A major reason is that estimates of their losses also cover transit deaths, which in many cases were high.

A consolidated range of death rates was determined for each classification, usually as was done for the camp estimates. Thus, for example, among nations deported (lines 35 to 63) the overall range in the death rates consolidated from them is 9 to 29 percent (line 65). These consolidations for each classification of deported were then averaged to get one set of rates (line 110): 18 to 43 percent killed by deportation, with a mid-estimate of 26 percent.

The table concludes by presenting together the death rates that were determined for the camps, transit, and deportations. These are the basic rates, then, used when necessary to calculating these deaths for each period.

An important question is then how sensitive the democide totals are to using these rates. If the results hang on them, then this means that Table 1B is the most important in this book and the rates developed there entail the most critical assumptions.

This question is particularly pertinent to the number of those killed in the camps. In total, probably 39,467,000 people died in the camps or in transit to them (Table 1A, line 20)-about 64 percent of the likely overall democide. This number was found by consolidating or averaging (a) the result of calculating the death toll by applying camp and transit death rates determined in Table 1B to annual estimates of the camp population, and (b) estimates of camp deaths given in the references. Table 1C presents a sensitivity analysis of the effects of altering the death rates on the democide totals. Although it accounts for a small percentage of the deaths, deportation death rates are also included. First shown is the base, death rate estimates used for each period and the resulting overall democide figures. Then seven cases are given, each involving a zeroing or reduction in the transit, camp, or deportation death rates. The cases are rank ordered, Case I showing the least effect on the democide range, Case VII the most. The former involves eliminating transit deaths altogether by making transit death rates zero, while keeping camp and deportation deaths the same; the latter involves cutting all three death rates by 3/4ths.

I should note that the effect of reducing the death rates for camps or deportations by, say, one-half, is not a matter of simply halving the total killed for the component. This is because, as mentioned above, the totals not only involve the computation of the number of deaths by use of the death rates, but also the consolidation or averaging of the results of these computations with the estimates of the number of dead given in the literature. Thus, reducing the death rate does not proportionally reduce the democide figures.

Now, given the estimates in Table 1B, it is hardly likely that the death rates used here are four times too high-that the low for the camp death rate is 2.5 percent, rather than 10; or the high should be 7 percent, and not 28. Indeed, in the references I could find no estimate of a camp, transit, or deportation death rate lower than 9 percent (see Table 1B). Yet, using these unrealistically reduced rates still gives in Case VII a total democide range of 20,844,000 to 78,087,000 killed, with a mid-estimate of 41,567,000. While this is a reduction of near 20,000,000 dead in the mid-estimate, this total killed still remains a demographic catastrophe greater than the civilian and military death toll of World War II. In other words, were the death rates used here much too high, the resulting democide totals would still be terribly significant.

There is another way of validating the death rates determined in Table 1B. Are the resulting camp, deportation, and overall democide totals consistent with estimates in the literature? And Appendix 1.1 shows that they are. Therefore we might conclude that while these rates cannot be exact, they at least appear to reflect the actual death toll in the camps, transit, and deportations.


* From the pre-publisher edited manuscript of Chapter 1 in R.J. Rummel, Lethal Politics, 1994. For full reference this book, the list of its contents, figures, and tables, and the text of its preface, click book. The epigraphs are quoted in Conquest (1968, p. 544) and Antonov-Ovseyenko (1981, pp. 104-5)

1. Quoted in Conquest (1968, p. 544).

2. Quoted in Antonov-Ovseyenko (1981, pp. 104-5).

3. "The suppression of the Don Cossack revolt...of 1919 took the form of genocide. One historian has estimated that approximately 70 percent ...were physically eliminated."(Heller and Nekrich, 1986, p. 87) Around 1900, the Don region had a population of about 1,000,000 Cossacks.(p. 78)

4. Conquest (1986, p. 306). "It certainly appears that a charge of genocide lies against the Soviet Union for its actions in the Ukraine. Such, at least, was the view of Professor Rafael Lemkin who drafted the [Genocide] Convention." (p. 272) The "Ukrainian famine was a deliberate act of genocide of roughly the same order of magnitude as the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War, both in the number of its victims and in the human suffering it produced."(Mace, 1986, p. 11)

5. "The swath cut by deportation was so wide that the issue of genocide ought to be considered....Most Estonian deportees never returned, having largely perished. In the case of 'kulaks', all members of a population group, identified through past socio-economic status, were deported, regardless of their individual present behavior. There was no legal way to leave the condemned social group. In the case of children, the guilt was hereditary. If destroying a social group entirely, with no consideration of personal behavior, is genocide, then the March 1949 deportation would seem to qualify." (Taagepera, 1980, p. 394)

6. Conquest (1986, p. 306). "The genocide against the peasants ... was unique not only for its monstrous scale; it was directed against an indigenous population by a government of the same nationality, and in time of peace." (Heller and Nekrich, 1986, p. 236)

The Soviets now appear to admit to this genocide. In the Moscow News, a Moscow published, English language newspaper, was recently written: "In what amounted to genocide, between five and ten million people died during the forced collectivization of farming in the early thirties." (Ambartsumov, 1988)

7. Hingley (1974, p. 284); Medvedev (1979, p. 102).

8. Medvedev (1979,p. 117).

9. Petrov (1956, pp. 9-10).

10. Ibid., p. 73-4. One such telegram to Sverdlovsk ordered that 15,000 "enemies of the people" be shot.(p. 74)

11. Solzhenitsyn (1973, p. 1971).

12. "NKVD cadres themselves were terrorized into 'production' frenzies by surprise visits from NKVD headquarters officials. In an unannounced visit to the Rostov NKVD office, Genrikh Lyushkov, a high-ranking state security officer, charged the gathered officials with laxness in pursuing enemies and immediately fingered three of their own number as enemies; the intimidated district chief quickly prepared the charges and had his own accused men shot." (Dziak, 1988, p. 68)

13. Solzhenitsyn (1973, pp. 69-70).

14. Small and Singer (1982, p. 91).

15.Calculated from Ibid., Tables 4.2 and 13.2.

16. This is a paraphrase of the title of Heller and Nekrich's (1986) history of the Soviet Union, Utopia in Power.

17. Quoted in Leggett (1981, p. 186).

18. See Heller (1988).

19. Conquest (1986, p. 234).

20. Solzhenitsyn (1973, p. 174).

21. (1968, Appendix A). Elliot (1972, pp. 223-224) accepts Conquest's total of 20,000,000, but arrives at it by a different breakdown of the agents of death.

22. Conquest (1968, p. 533).

23. From Appendices 4.1-8.1.

24. (1986).

25. Conquest (1968, p. 533).

26. (1970a, p. 165).

For citations see the Lethal Politics REFERENCES

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