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Joseph Stalin, the greatest mass murderer of all time.

Not one single person in history murdered more people than the Communist dictator and the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.

The largest human catastrophe of Stalinism was the famine of 1930–1933, where around 7.5 million people were deliberatly starved to death. In early 1930, Stalin had announced his intention to “liquidate” prosperous peasants (“kulaks”) as a class so that the state could control agriculture and use capital extracted from the countryside to build industry. To facilitate the expropriations of farmland, the Soviet government portrayed kulaks as class enemies of the USSR. More than 1.8 milion peasants were deported in 1930–1931 alone. Those who remained lost their land to state collectivised farms and often went hungry as the state requisitioned food for export.

Soviet propaganda poster stating "Down with kulaks in kolkhozes!".

As a result of these policies, a mass famine erupted in the USSR, a famine Stalin used as a wepaon to murder millions of people. The first victims of starvation were the nomads of Soviet Kazakhstan, where the policy of collectivization of the lands and individual farms was first tried by Stalin and the USSR. The death toll was about 1.3 million people, a third of the total population. The famine, which was caused by Stalin's policies, spread all over Soviet Russia and peaked in Soviet Ukraine, which was the next Soviet republic to face collectivization. Instead of acknowledging his mistakes in collectivising individual farms, and deporting or murdering hundreds of thousands of farmers simply because they were not poor, Stalin doubled down and blamed the starving Ukrainian peasants, and accused them of betraying the USSR.

Blaming the Ukrainians for the failure of his own agrarian collectivisation policy, he ordered a series of measures—such as sealing the borders of that Soviet republic—that ensured the mass death of the local population. Stalin also requisitioned almost all the grain that was stored in Soviet Ukraine, knowing full well that doing that while a people were already starving there would end up killing millions and millions of Ukrainians. The starving Ukrainian peasents were reduced to eating their livestocks, their horses, their pets, and when all else failed, each other. Starved parents cooked and eat their children, and other parents begged their children to eat them when they died. In fact human meat replaced almost all other types of meat in the Ukrainian countryside, as the only option to not stave was to become a cannibal. It is estimated that in Ukraine alone Stalin's man made famine, the "Holodomor", killed around 7-10 million people. Overall the combination of dekulakization (deporting the kulaks) and collectivization led to mass starvation in many parts of the Soviet Union and the death of an estimated 11 million peasants in the period between 1929 and 1933, including 4 million deaths during the dekulakization campaign.

A starving Ukrainian family in 1932.

The Russian concentration camp system for political prisoners was created by Vladimir Lenin, but it reached its peak as the Soviet forced labor camp system, also known as "Gulags", during Joseph Stalin's rule. Millions of people, the overwhelming majority of whom were political prisoners, were starved and worked to death in Stalin's Siberian Soviet concentration camps in order to meet the USSR's economic and production goals. It is impossible to get an exact figure on the number of people but Golfo Alexopoulos, a history professor from the University of South Florida, estimates in his book "Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag." that at least 6 million people died as a result of their detention in the gulags.

Prisoners in a Gulag being marched to work.

Since the moment Stalin became the leader of the USSR in 1924 and until his death in 1953, he was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people, through executions, starvation, and working to death in the Soviet Gulags. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn claimed the true number of Stalin’s victims might have been as high as 60 million. In his book, “Unnatural Deaths in the U.S.S.R.: 1928-1954,” I.G. Dyadkin estimated that the USSR suffered 56 to 62 million "unnatural deaths" during that period, with 34 to 49 million directly linked to Stalin. In “Europe A History,” British historian Norman Davies counted 50 million killed between 1924-53, excluding wartime casualties.


Joseph Stalin was the greatest mass murderer of all time, easily outdoing Adolf Hitler who murdered around 14 million people, and even passing Mao Zedong whose Chinese Communist agrarian collectivism policies caused the deaths of 45 million people in China. Bibliography: "Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag." Golfo Alexopoulos. “Unnatural Deaths in the U.S.S.R.: 1928-1954.” I.G. Dyadkin. “Europe A History.” Norman Davies. "The Gulag Archipelago." Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. "Bloodlands." Timothy D. Snyder.

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