Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler

Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler

The Age of Social Catastrophe

Book - 2007
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This remarkably ambitious book tells the story of the great social and political catastrophe that enveloped Europe between 1914 and 1945. In a period of almost continuous upheaval, society was transformed by two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Combining a powerful narrative with profound analysis, acclaimed historian Robert Gellately argues that these tragedies are inextricably linked and that to consider them as discrete events is to misunderstand their genesis and character. Central to the catastrophe, of course, were Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, and this book makes use of recently opened Russian and German sources to explain how these dictators' pursuit of utopian--and dreadfully flawed--ideals led only to dystopian nightmare. In a groundbreaking work, Gellately makes clear that most comparative studies of the Soviet and Nazi dictatorships are undermined by neglecting the key importance of Lenin in the unfolding drama. Rejecting the myth of the "good" Lenin, the book provides a convincing social-historical account of all three dictatorships and carefully documents their similarities and differences. It traces the escalation of conflicts between Communism and Nazism, and particularly of the role of Hitler's anathema against what he called "Jewish Bolshevism." The book shows how the vicious rivalry between Stalin and Hitler led inescapably to a war of annihilation and genocide. The reverberations of this gargantuan struggle are felt everywhere to this day.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2007
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9781400040056
1400040051
Branch Call Number: 947.084 Gel 3558ad 1
Characteristics: xv, 696 p. :,ill., maps

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dennismmiller
Aug 02, 2017

The closing years of the First World War saw an unprecedented wave of human liberation sweep across Europe. The repressive tyrannies that had shackled the human spirit for so many centuries, particularly the traditional regimes of the Russian, German, Habsburg, and Ottoman empires, were at long last swept away. Idealists were finally free to pursue lofty visions of a better world without superstitious nonsense about human limitations, and they found their visionaries in such men as Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. The screams of their tens of millions of victims echo still today, even if many, now as then, seem deaf to them.

Although he certainly identifies the many similarities his subjects shared, Gellately also highlights differences, notably the contrast between Hitler's "consensus dictatorship" as against the Soviet Bolshevik dictatorship, resulting in revolutionary Communism as opposed to evolutionary Nazism, expressed in differences between the "arbitrary and sweeping terror" under Lenin and Stalin and the "aimed terror" of Hitler. While providing surprises and insights even for those familiar with the period, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler manages to be an accessible introduction to the darkest chapter in human history so far, from the conditions which encouraged so many to commit themselves to the inhuman ideologies of Leninism, Stalinism, and Hitlerism, through the clash of those ideologies in a social catastrophe "so utterly unprecedented in all its many horrific faces, that it raised questions about the very meaning and future of Western civilization."

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