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While most people imagine Adolf Hitler to have been the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century (the aforementioned Mao Zedong not withstanding), the prize actually goes to Joseph Stalin, the man who turned his entire nation into one massive prison camp and extermination center. How many died under his direct instructions, or merely as a result of his failed agricultural policies, will never be known with certainty, but some estimates put it as high as twenty million. The Soviet elimination of a social class, the Kulaks, and the subsequent killer famine among all Ukrainian peasants, killed at least two million alone, while Stalin’s notorious 1937 Order No. 00447, that called for the mass execution and exile of “socially harmful elements” as “enemies of the people”, decimated the military and intelligentsia of Russia, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, and millions more languishing in Stalin’s massive gulag.

Had he not had the good manners to die in 1953 before he could institute another purge of Jews and other “enemies of the State,” the numbers of death would have swelled even more. Curiously—and despite all of this—the man was much admired by people who lived outside of Russia during this time, and the always-smiling and benevolent-looking “Uncle Joe” even made it onto the cover of Time magazine no fewer than eleven times.

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Originally posted 2017-12-18 09:32:26.