Lenin and his followers “decided to eliminate, by legal and physical means, any challenge or resistance, even if passive, to their absolute power,” according to “The Black Book of Communism.”
“This strategy applied not only to groups with opposing political views, but also to such social groups as the nobility, the middle class, the intelligentsia, and the clergy, as well as professional groups such as military officers and the police,” it states.
Lenin also forbade private property, and peasants throughout Russia had their food seized by the state. Lenin set strict quotas on how much was to be confiscated, and when he saw the numbers go unmet, he ordered that even seeds should be seized.
With peasants unable to plant new crops, and without a surplus of food for the winter, a man-made famine swept Russia between 1921 and 1922. According to the Hoover Institute, the famine killed between 5 million and 10 million people.
Lenin was overjoyed. According to The Black Book of Communism, one of his friends later recalled that Lenin “had the courage to come out and say openly that famine would have numerous positive results,” since he claimed it “would bring about the next stage more rapidly, and usher in socialism, the stage that necessarily followed capitalism.”
“Famine would also destroy faith not only in the tsar,” he added, “but in God too.”
Soviet historian Richard Pipes wrote in his book The Unknown Lenin that Lenin brought about the famine intentionally. He stated, “For humankind at large, Lenin had nothing but scorn.”
Peasants stand in front of human remains. Cannibalism was widespread during the Russian famine between 1921 and 1922. (Creative Commons/Wikimedia)
He said Lenin had “almost no interest” in the lives of individual people, and “he treated the working class much as a metal worker treated iron ore.”
History repeated itself under Josef Stalin, following the death of Lenin on Jan. 21, 1924. Stalin began his 29-year rule of the Soviet Union by consolidating his power and having his rivals arrested or executed.
In 1929, Stalin launched a program under the banner of “collectivism,” to not only take farmers’ belongings, but to also seize their land and destroy their ability to sell produce. He sent the Red Army to confiscate their belongings, including their farming equipment.
A famine again swept the country. In Ukraine, between 7 million and 10 million people were killed, according to United Nations estimates published in November 2003. In Kazakhstan, an estimated 1.5 million people starved, according to the Wilson Center. Meanwhile, farmers who opposed Stalin’s collectivism program were labeled “kulaks” (Russian for “fists”), and tens of thousands were rounded up and executed. Stalin also used this opportunity to strike out at enemies of his revolution, which included priests and devout religious believers.
As did Lenin, Stalin later declared the program a success. Through these movements and others that followed, Solzhenitsyn, a renowned Russian novelist and historian, estimated that Stalin killed 60 million to 66 million people.
The bloody legacy of Stalin was only surpassed by that of Mao Zedong, head of the Chinese Communist Party. Under a similar program of collectivism, Mao started his Great Leap Forward in 1958, and through various means managed to also trigger a famine that, in four years, killed at least 45 million people, according to Mao’s Great Famine by Hong Kong-based historian Frank Dikotter.
Cannibalism was also common during this famine. Materials uncovered by Chinese and Western scholars, and by The Washington Post in 1994, give glimpses into what took place: “In Damiao commune, Chen Zhangying and her husband Zhao Xizhen killed and boiled their 8-year-old son Xiao Qing and ate him”; and, “In Wudian commune, Wang Lanying not only picked up dead people to eat, but also sold two jin [2.2 pounds] from their bodies as pork.”
Just like Stalin and Lenin, Mao excused these deaths, according to research from religious author and historian Harun Yahya. Mao and his supporters regarded the famine as punishment for villagers not being sufficiently obedient to the Chinese Communist Party.
Just a year prior to the Great Leap Forward, in 1957, Mao held his Hundred Flowers campaign, when he invited intellectuals to present their criticisms of his regime, then used their criticisms as admissions of guilt. According to “Red Holocaust” by Steven Rosefielde, Mao labeled the estimated 550,000 intellectuals as “rightists” and then had them humiliated, fired, imprisoned, tortured, or killed.
In the book Mao: The Unknown Story, authors and historians Chang and Halliday show Mao was responsible for at least 70 million deaths.
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