IN THEIR different ways they were as bad as each other, the three monsters of 20th-century Europe. That is an oddly controversial statement. Hitler is almost universally vilified; Lenin remains entombed on Red Square as Russia's most distinguished corpse; and modern Russia is looking more kindly on Stalin's memory.
Anyone who still believes in the myth—assiduously propagated by the Soviet Union and its admirers—of the “good Lenin” will find the book uncomfortable reading. The author outlines with exemplary clarity Lenin's cruelty, his illegal and brutal seizure of power, his glee in ordering executions, the institution of mass terror as a means of political control and the construction of the first camps in what later became the gulag. “Far from perverting or undermining Lenin's legacy, as is sometimes assumed, Stalin was Lenin's logical heir,” he writes icily.
Mr Gellately busts another myth too: that Hitler seized power by fear and force. The combination of anti-Jewish and anti-Bolshevik rhetoric played well with the German public. People felt humiliated by defeat and impoverished by recession, and Hitler blamed “the Jews” for both.
Leitura recomendada: Aconteceu na URSS