Here’s how the Kremlin argument goes: Stalin was a complex figure. Granted, he killed and imprisoned many innocent people, but in the process he eliminated a potent Fifth Column. Stalin had to use political terror to protect the world’s first socialist state from foreign agents, class enemies, and supporters of the old regime. He had no choice but to apply terror indiscriminately. Yes, Stalin’s forced industrialization imposed hardship – famine, work quotas, and extreme labor discipline – but his harsh measures toughened the Russian people for a war that was sure to come. The USSR could not have beaten Hitler without the Gulag camps that mined the resources of the godforsaken East and produced the tanks and airplanes that won the war. The death squads of political prisoners sent out into German minefields saved the lives of loyal Russian soldiers. Yes, Stalin did bad things, but he did them for the good of his nation – so goes the argument.
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