My comment on Hitler and Stalin by Laurence Rees review — bloody fantasy versus cruel rationalism, book review by David Aaronovitch in The Times, 23 October 2020.
This review starts with a caricature and is a bit of a caricature of history itself. It is a bad idea to use a cartoon to illustrate this subject. I understand, however, that the author is interested in conserving the narrative favorable towards the Communists. Although the cartoon uses insults about each of the leaders, it performs a very important function. It goes well with the grand Communist narrative.
A much better illustration would be the picture taken by a German soldier during the joint Communist-Nazi victory parade in Brześć nad Bugiem/Brest on the Bug river. It shows a banner praising the Red Army written in Cyrillic, two swastikas on each side above the banner, and a slightly raised sickle and hammer positioned centrally above the banner.
The picture is available in the German archives.
The author calls the Soviet leader a “defensive nationalist”. Imagine you heard this phrase out of context. Who would you have associated it with? Quite possibly you would have thought about leader of a western country.
This is another example of the Communist narrative, in which Soviet Union is to be presented as a defensive power, not the bloody genocidal regime that it was.
Also, note the language of the following fragment:
“As the German forces neared Lwow the local NKVD — the internal security police — massacred 4,000 political detainees in Brygidki prison. A few weeks later the occupying Germans egged on local Ukrainians to murder 4,000 Jews by way of retaliation. It was a bloody symmetry, of a kind.”
There was nothing “local” about NKVD. Decision to murder thousands of prisoners, citizens of Poland, was issued from Moscow. This is genocide and should be called this way. In the chaos of the first days of the German advance the Communists decided to give priority to killing the prisoners. The Soviet army retreated chaotically, abandoning equipment and arms along the way. They just could not retreat fast enough. The murder of the prisoners in eastern Poland, however, proceeded with precision and care.