“Stalin’s Genocides” Book Review

Naimark, Norman M. (2010) Stalin’s Genocides. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Norman Naimark states that this book was born out of a “long-term preoccupation with the history of genocide.” (pp. 7) Given the fact that the Soviets had a lot to do with that history, one can sense his concern. This is not, however, a history book. It’s more of a very long persuasive essay–one that does not fail to persuade. Naimark proposes that “it is the very enormity of the crime of systematic mass murder–intentionally perpetrated by the political elite of a state against a targeted group within the borders of or outside the state–that should distinguish genocide from other forms of mass killing.” (pp. 17) He suggests that the Soviets influenced the final terminology of the definition of the word genocide at the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 1948 by arguing that “social and political groups were too fluid and too difficult to define for them to be included in the convention.” (pp. 28, 37) These are his main arguments.

In the rest of the book he builds his case by citing instances that demonstrate intent on Stalin’s part to kill mostly Ukrainians and Belarusians. He also addresses the “breakneck and wildly violent attempt by Stalin to steer the economy in a different direction.” (pp. 66) This is known as the “Second Revolution.” Naimark recognizes that this reckless pace towards industrialization served as justification, to some, for the mass killing. He points out several examples of how the kulaks were dehumanized through propaganda very similar to that which Hitler used to dehumanize the Jews. Kulaks were turned into “class enemies” that needed to be wiped out. (pp. 70)

Naimark gives four characteristics of the “dekulakization campaigns” that he suggests are genocidal in nature. 1) Stalin ordered the attacks, oversaw the operations, eagerly read reports, and made it clear that resistance would not be tolerated and kulaks had to be eliminated. 2) Kulaks were counted as familial group, not as individuals, so if one person was labeled a kulak, his entire family was, too–automatically. 3) Kulaks, like the Jews and many other victims of genocide, were dehumanized and stereotyped. 4. Finally, kulaks were victims of mass killings. (pp. 71)

Naimark concludes that due to a vast quantity of lost data we may never have a clear estimate of the exact numbers, but it’s safe to say that Stalin’s regime exterminated a huge portion of its own population. (pp. 144) I thought Naimark presented his argument and evidence in a very clear and concise way that not only made sense, but persuaded me.

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Learning how to live well with chronic illnesses through self healing.

The Narcissist's Daughter

Blogger. Survivor. Writing of recovery from Maternal Narcissism, Childhood Abuse, PTSD, MDD, GAD, and living with Chronic Pain.


Psychology to Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Under the Spell

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Codependency

Progressive Youth Organization - Kansas City

Dare To Struggle! Dare To Win!

Christopher D. Cantwell, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History & Culture at the Newberry Library

The Abstract Detail

In search of.

Blog of the NCP-LC

Liaison Committee for a New Communist Party


if it's only half the truth, then it ain't truth


...how would you Hack Library School?

The Infornado

An Information Professional hacking everyday life one status update at a time.

Mary Rizzo

Thoughts, theories, and inspirations.

The Next Social Construct

Genocide and it's Many Justifications

Adventures in Research

Take a trip on the nerdy side.

Hungry for Knowledge

History, Museums, Sports, Art, Race and Culture in the Digital World

Digital History Hacks (2005-08)

Thoughts, theories, and inspirations.

%d bloggers like this: