Stalin 's Genocide Or Not Genocide? Essay

Stalin 's Genocide Or Not Genocide? Essay

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Stalin’s Crimes: Genocide or Not Genocide?

It is no mystery that Stalin’s brutal totalitarian regime costed the lives of millions of Soviet citizens. It is estimated that between 1930 and 1953, over one million Soviet citizens were executed, six million were deported to special settlements, 16 to 17 million were imprisoned in forced labor, and three to five million starved to death (131-132). However, the question is, do these crimes amount to genocide, the crime of crimes? Many scholars would not label Stalin’s crimes as genocide since they do not fit nicely into the definition of ‘genocide’ as stated in the Genocide Convention of 1948, which defines genocide as, “Acts committed with the intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” (15-24). However, in his book “Stain’s Genocides”, Norman Naimark, argues that there is overwhelming evidence that Stalin’s crimes amount to genocide. To prove his case, Naimark brings up the controversy surrounding the origin of ‘genocide’ in which political and social groups were intentionally left out of the final draft due to Soviet concerns of having to answer for its crimes. Naimark makes the bold claim that “dekulakization”, the Ukraine famine, the persecution of certain nationalities, and the Great Terror of 1937-38 are all genocidal. Perhaps some of the cases, such as the Ukrainian famine, can be recognized as genocide, but in this paper, I will assess Naimark’s case on the dekulakization campaign and argue that while Naimark’s argument has some merit, it still does not prove that Stalin committed genocide.
After coming into power, Stalin stated that the Soviet Union has “fallen fifty to one hundred years behind the developed countries...


... middle of paper ...


...be “looked” as genocidal which makes it seem like he is unsure whether it really is a genocide or not (132). Furthermore, it does not seem very beneficial to look at the dekulakization campaign in this manner – Naimark continuously brings up how the kulaks were an imagined social enemy hence implying that the targeted “group” does not really exist and the killings were overall arbitrary. While dekulakization may not be recognized as a genocide, this is not to say mass-murder and crimes against humanity are any less of a crime.
The importance of Naimark’s works should not be overlooked- it addresses some pressing issues concerning how genocide should be interpreted in a legal manner. It is clear that Niamark advocates for a broader understanding of the Convention – one that will protect vulnerable groups of people that do not fit into any of the current categories.

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