Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?Roundup
tags: Hitler, Stalin, Mao
In these pages nearly seven years ago, Timothy Snyder asked the provocative question: Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin? As useful as that exercise in moral rigor was, some think the question itself might have been slightly off. Instead, it should have included a third tyrant of the twentieth century, Chairman Mao. And not just that, but that Mao should have been the hands-down winner, with his ledger easily trumping the European dictators’.
While these questions can devolve into morbid pedantry, they raise moral questions that deserve a fresh look, especially as these months mark the sixtieth anniversary of the launch of Mao’s most infamous experiment in social engineering, the Great Leap Forward. It was this campaign that caused the deaths of tens of millions and catapulted Mao Zedong into the big league of twentieth-century murders.
But Mao’s mistakes are more than a chance to reflect on the past. They are also now part of a central debate in Xi Jinping’s China, where the Communist Party is renewing a long-standing battle to protect its legitimacy by limiting discussions of Mao.
The immediate catalyst for the Great Leap Forward took place in late 1957 when Mao visited Moscow for the grand celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution (another interesting contrast to recent months, with discussion of its centenary stifled in Moscow and largely ignored in Beijing).
The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, had already annoyed Mao by criticizing Stalin, whom Mao regarded as one of the great figures of Communist history. If even Stalin could be purged, Mao could be challenged, too. In addition, the Soviet Union had just launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, which Mao felt overshadowed his accomplishments. He returned to Beijing eager to assert China’s position as the world’s leading Communist nation. This, along with his general impatience, spurred a series of increasingly reckless decisions that led to the worst famine in history. ...
comments powered by Disqus
- Why Michigan’s Top Legislators Should Cancel that Meeting with Trump
- Tom Cotton Attacks "Revisionist History" of Thanksgiving on Senate Floor
- Whose History? AI Uncovers Who Gets Attention in High School Textbooks
- Native History Is Washington History, And Tribes Are Helping Schools Teach It
- When Schools Closed, Americans Turned to Their Usual Backup Plan: Mothers
- Female Pirate Lovers Whose Story was Ignored by Male Historians Immortalized with Statue
- The Devil Had Nothing to Do With It
- Hong Kong's New Rules have Created Confusion in the Classroom. Some Parents are Pulling their Children Out
- Whitewashing the Great Depression (Review)
- What Did Europe Smell Like Centuries Ago? Historians Set Out to Recreate Lost Scents