When discussing the merits and achievements of the Soviet Union, detractors of various stripes, from anti-communist to anti-Leninist, often point to a 2013 International Business Times article named “How Many People Did Joseph Stalin Kill?” by Palash Ghosh. The article, which depicts Soviet leader J. V. Stalin as an inhuman cold-blooded mass murderer, claims that up to 60 million people, nearly one-third of the USSR’s 1941 population, were killed on the part of the government and the leadership of the country. But do these figures actually hold up? Through a careful read of the article, one can find glaring problems with the logic and the conclusion and deduce that the article is not much more than crude propaganda.
In the next several short paragraphs, Ghosh commits to the bandwagon fallacy by listing the estimates of various writers without expounding on the data, instead implying that the readers of the article should go through all of the works themselves. Doing so, however, does not answer Ghosh’s question in the title of the article, rather clouding it by suggesting that anywhere between 20 million and 60 million can be the correct figure.
As the article concludes, Ghosh contradicts an earlier statement about the “Holodomor” as an artificial event, saying that starvation “may or may not have been directly connected to Stalin’s policies” before moving on to set the enormous range of 20 to 60 million as the final figure, which almost directly contradicts the question that the author sought to answer.
The author concludes by making a very brief reference to Mao Zedong, likewise as a “mass murderer” without any evidence or backing of any kind, thus concluding an article founded on fallacies, allegations and unproven claims with a transparently-poor attempt to attack socialism, considering that Mao and Stalin were leaders in the two greatest socialist revolutions in history.
If we are to take the word of the article, the most reasonable death toll we can reach is the sum of the deaths from the 1932-1933 famine and the 1937-1938 Great Terror as calculated by the historian and recited by Ghosh, which would be 8 million. If we are to go with the more reasonable and easier to prove claim of 1-2 million for the famine and the recorded number of 680,000 executions in the Great Terror, the death toll would be less than three million. Neither of these figures are anywhere near the 20 million “minimum” claimed by the author, and considering the efforts by the Soviet state to end the famine and Stalin’s possible lack of authority on the Great Terror, there is little to no evidence to the idea that Joseph V. Stalin was a cold-blooded mass murderer.