Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

About experiencing earthquakes between two book binders


It should preferably be murder – many, imaginative and fit sadistic and refreshing murders, often very detailed portrayed according to the taste of the time. In the holiday reading, I mean. No Norwegian with respect for himself, and that is, respect for his well-being and thus his need for relaxation, fails to provide adequate crimson in his suitcase or backpack, so much more that he may have to miss the weekly doses of detox during the summer weeks. TV shows and powder smokes.

For my part, there were only two books this summer, but they totaled nearly a thousand pages, and the total number of murders was 26 millions. The figure is not accurate, because it was about real and non-fictitious people, and then it goes so fast and loudly away in our century that there can almost never be any count, if you ignore rare accounting talents like Adolf Eichmann. There must be round estimates for those murdered by flesh and blood, e.g. about. 10 millions in the First World War, approx. 50 millions in the other, etc., with margins of a few millions up or down. The figures will most preferably be at the bottom. There are so many silent poor people who die as silently and unnoticed as they lived, especially when not in rolls or moldings.

The 26 million I read about this summer have in common that they were not murdered on any battlefield, but taken off days unarmed and civilian, with a few exceptions. For most people, the cause of death was that the rulers did not like them, but hundreds of thousands were killed by various kinds of misconduct – mistakes, distraction, the whims of chance, failure of an organizational apparatus, etc.

One book tells about 6 million murders, the other about 20 million, and they all took place in the period 1930-50. For this and other reasons, they together constitute a special chapter of the saga of our time.

In contrast to the traditional crime literature which is highly valued and indispensable in the welfare culture, the mentioned books provide no relaxation and will consequently be protected, if at all discovered by the many sensitive people who do not tolerate that kind, but stick to "The Saint" and his like . To put it bluntly: Anyone who reads these two books with a fairly open mind will never be exactly the same as before in his world of thought. This is especially true for people who not only experienced the two decades 1930–50 themselves, but lived with what happened, albeit at a reassuring distance. Then everyone is warned.

Over the last 15 years, people have gradually uncovered the greatest genocide in history: "the final solution" to the Jewish question – cool and accurately planned, industrially implemented. About the number 6 million murders, it is often and rightly said that it is too big to really grasp in a normal sense, but as the forms of extermination became clear, most people felt that this crime overshadowed everything else in Hitler's 12- years of reign of terror.

Book here While six million died (Gyldendal), by the American journalist Arthur D. Morse, is called in the subtitle a documentation and is often so. In other words, another factual presentation of the inhumanity of Nazism, on top of many similar books over the years? It is close to saying: Had it even been so good! Had it even been the case that Morse could not tell anything significant new about the crime and the responsibility!

But the conditions he documents have never been clarified before, not in a unified, clear form as here, never with such a crushing weight: the democracies' responsibility for the genocide. First and foremost is the United States, then England, and then a large number of countries, among them Australia, Canada and South American states!

Ever since Hitler came to power in 1933, the Western powers could follow the fate of the Jews through reliable information through many channels, and long before "die endgüldige Lösung" was implemented during the war, they were also aware that it was no longer "just" murder. tens of thousands, but a carefully prepared total extinction. But this knowledge stored in departmental folders is that the United States slams the door shut on any major immigration of Jewish refugees and puts all its weight inside, to withstand the pressure of a growing
tidal wave of rescued people – the "unwanted elements". The rejection took place by doubting an old immigration quota that was hopelessly small in relation to the progress – and was not even filled. Behind this attitude was a mixture of more or less conscious (and camouflaged) anti-Semitism, "national", isolationist complacency and a bureaucratic sense of order that is very reminiscent of Eichmann.

The author sharply attacks the bureaucracy of the US State Department, where people in key positions systematically sabotaged all attempts at relief measures and delayed or underestimated alarming reports from Europe. Despite this barrier, Foreign Minister Hull learned more than enough – without reacting, and he is one of the main accused in the book. It seems more surprising and shocking when the author documents that Roosevelt also long failed in the face of this tragedy, and turned away with round speeches every time Jewish organizations or public opinion demanded action in line with America's old traditions as a refuge for Europe's persecuted. It was not until January 1944 that the United States actively intervened to save the Jews.

It was then 1/2 year since the authorities were notified that Hitler was in the process of realizing his old threat of exterminating them. At least 4 million had already been killed.

England did not have as great opportunities as the United States to accomplish something that really mattered, but cynicism was certainly no less in government and ministries. As recently as the end of 1943, the US Ambassador to London reported that the British Foreign Office found it almost impossible to take care of as many as 70 refugees. That same year, for safety's sake, England had stopped all Jewish immigration into Palestine, and above all it is the British attitude on this important point that tops cynicism. No, not the British, a broad public opinion supported their case, but as in the United States, the government made sure to divert the progress by meaningless declarations. Arthur D. Morse writes: "The thought of a stream of Jews to Palestine seemed more arousing to Whitehall than the thought of the stream of Jews wandering in death in the gas chambers." Hitler and his propagandists could rightly mock democracies, as e.g. happened in "Der Weltkampf" as early as August 000: "We openly say that we do not want the Jews, while the democracies constantly claim that they are willing to receive them – just to close the door on the guests! Is it not, after all, we beasts who are the best? ”

The crime of Nazism is not diminished by Morse's documentation, but with its over 300 pages, he proves that the United States and England were complicit in the genocide. A criminal is someone who pushes a person into the sea to drown. But what do you call those who sit in their boat nearby, and calmly watch man go under? No answer to this question has been given in the Norwegian daily press, which has written remarkably little about this book.

Soon, this fine, American film about "Anne Frank's diary" will hit theaters again, and here is a suggestion: Read first "While six million died", and then experience the fate of a 13-year-old girl, as one of millions like it. Then you may for the first time get hold of such a reality behind the large number – if it is to endure.

It becomes even more difficult to penetrate another statistic from the recent past, and behind the figure 20 million see human lives perish.

The Soviet Union in Stalin's time: If we carefully estimate an average camp population of 8 million in the period 1936–50, and a mortality rate of 10 percent per annum, we arrive at a figure of 12 million dead. To this we must add 1 million executions in the same period – probably very low. Then we have the loss figures from Stalin's period before Yeshivov, 1930–36: «the bulk of the victims here are all those who crossed during the collectivization, approx. 3 1/2 million, and a roughly equivalent number were sent to the camps, where practically all died during the following years. "Thus we get a figure of 20 million dead (which is certainly just under and may have to be increased by as much as 50 percent) as the debit side in the accounts of Stalin's regime over twenty years."

The quote is taken from "The Great Terror" (Cappelen), by the British Soviet specialist Robert Conquest. The statistics themselves are no longer more sensational than the number of murdered Jews, and in both cases the scale of the crimes is such that no one can properly obtain the human or inhuman content. But ahead of the sum of 20 million dead, there are over 500 large book pages with the most comprehensive and solid documentation of Stalin's terrorist power that has been presented, at least in Norwegian. Source references and notes finally make up 24 tightly packed pages.

The great processes and the waves of terror around them have been dealt with in a multitude of books of various kinds, from controversial novels such as Nordahl Grieg's "The world must still be young" (1938), and Arthur Koestler's "Darkness in the middle of the day" (1941), to the long series of documentary books, such as the last in Norwegian in 1967 – «The Moscow Trials», by Pierre Broué (Cappelen). In the course of 30 years, the great mystery of confessions in particular has been tried to solve by many theories, but there was always a remnant.

When I closed the great work of Robert Conquest, I had for the first time the feeling of having received an explanation that definitely erased at least all the big question marks. This is done by the author convincingly summarizing many previous part-explanations into an overall picture, from the simple and gross physical torture to the subtle phenomenon of party loyalty that led old, hardened Bolshevik leaders to confess to crimes they could not have committed. A significant factor that emerges more strongly from Conquest than in previous analyzes of the trials is the effective effect on the defendants of promises that their family would be spared if they confessed. (In many cases, wives were executed or perished in camps, and the author cites examples of children under the age of 12 being shot.)


What makes the strongest impression together with the clarification of the processes and the depiction of the extent of the terror, is the many striking similarities between Nazism and Stalinism in methods. This applies to the physical and mental means of the "judiciary" that was crowned by Vyshinsky, probably the most disgusting top figure in Stalin's terrorist apparatus, despite competition with sadistic monsters such as Jagoda and Yeshov. The resemblance to Nazism is also conspicuous in the concentration camps as a system which, apart from one move, which not only absolutely, but also relatively cost far more human lives in Stalin's Soviet than in Hitler's Germany: The countless, unintentional killings simply due to failing organization transports and supplies, and health-degrading dirt and misery as a legacy of the old Russian peasant society, so to speak, traditional slumming with human life. About the Germans, it can be said that the massacres were similarly characterized by a significant feature of the German mentality: Ordnung muss sein – with Eichmann as the supreme representative of his time.

I do not think any socialist in Norway – even the most educated – can plow through "The Great Terror" without the book will influence previous assessments of the Soviet Union under Stalin and probably also of the Soviet Union in 1969. For Conquest, the current rulers place Brezhnev and Kosygin in their first march under Stalin's grace, in the midst of a time of terror. Many reflections give themselves, e.g. a part about their motives for trapping the accomplice and loose-mouthed Khrushchev.

As a journalist from 1930, I followed the events in the east with excitement and care, and took part in attacking the Moscow processes while they were still in progress. For people with this attitude, there is no question of "repentance" when the truth eventually comes to light, neither by Khrushchev's revelations nor by Robert Conquest's continuation. Nevertheless, it feels like "The Great Terror" has not only provided a wealth of new knowledge during the reading, but will continue to work on its own for a long time to come, with a strong influence on assessments of both the past and the present. .

You may also like