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Mass killings under Communist regimes
Mass killings under Communist regimes refers to mass killings occurring under Communist regimes.
The Black Book of Communism (1997), published by Harvard University Press in the United States, states in its introduction that 94 million died due to Communism. This includes 20 million deaths in the Soviet Union alone from causes such as
- executions of hostages and prisoners without trial and killing of hundreds of thousands of rebellious workers and peasants during the period of 1918 to 1922
- the mass starvation of 1922 causing five million deaths due to "War Communism" policies
- the extermination and deportation of the Don Cossacks in 1920
- killing of 100s of thousands in concentration camps in 1918 to 1930 (the Gulag system after 1930 caused millions of deaths)
- killing of 690,00 during the Great Purge
- deportation of 2 million kulaks in 1930-1932
- deaths of 4 million Ukrainians and 2 million others during the mass starvation of 1932-1933 (the Holodomor)
- deportation of hundreds of thousands of Poles, Ukrainians, Balts, Moldovans and Bessarabians in 1939-1941 and 1944-1945
- deportation of the Volga Germans in 1941
- deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1943
- deportation of the Chechens in 1944
- deportation of the Ingush in 1944
The book also states
- 65 million deaths in the People’s Republic of China, many in the mass starvation associated with the "Great Leap Forward"
- 1 million in Vietnam
- 2 million in Cambodia (one fourth of the population)
- 1.2 million in Tito’s Yugoslavia
- 1 million elsewhere in Eastern Europe
- 150,000 in Latin America
- 1.7 million in Africa
- 1.5 million in Afghanistan
- 10,000 by Communist parties not in power and the international Communist movement
As for other controversial mass killings, the estimated numbers vary widely in different sources by different historians. (The exception to this being the Holocaust, where "Holocaust denial" laws prohibit stating significantly lower numbers than six million Jews.)
That mass killings occurred is not disputed in academic literature. Leftists try to downplay the numbers and causes, such as by blaming them on individual leaders, such as Stalin and Mao, rather than on the Communist ideology itself. However, Vladimir Lenin, the founder of Marxism-Leninism, which at least initially was the official ideology of all Communist states, argued that early leftist revolutionary attempts such as the 1871 "Paris Commune" had failed in part because the repressions of opponents were insufficiently harsh. He immediately implemented the promised harsh repressions and a "Red Terror" against suspected opponents once he gained power in Russia, directed also against other far-left individuals and groups with views to some degree deviating from that of Lenin. He also emphasized the importance of a Communist authoritarian "vanguard party" taking absolute control, even if against the wishes of the majority of the population, who were viewed as often not ready for political participation. A new utopian society was to be implemented as soon as possible and any harm done during the radical transformation was seen as minor compared to the envisioned enormous future benefits. As such, it is not surprising that mass killings have characterized all Communist states.
Communists such as Trotskyists often argue that Stalin corrupted the Soviet Union and later Communist states originating from the Soviet Union. However, this ignores that many of the problems existed already during the time period when Lenin and Trotsky were in power (famines, mass executions, labor camps in Siberia, red terror, secret police, and so on).
The leftist popular mass media rarely mentions or depicts Communist atrocities. Instead, there is enormous attention given to the Holocaust, which even if accepting the politically correct version caused much fewer deaths. One argued explanation for this is Jewish influence in the media and Jews being influential among the perpetrators during the mass killings in some Communist countries (see Jews and Communism). Jews could also be among those killed (although it has been argued often to a lesser extent than many other groups) and mass killings also occurred in Communist countries that did not have any significant Jewish presence.
Some of the best know mass deaths due to starvation are the Holodomor of Lazar Kaganovich and the Chinese "Great Leap Forward" of Mao. There are ongoing disputes regarding if these deaths were deliberately intended and directed against oppositional/disliked groups, were seen as acceptable losses in order to achieve Communist goals such as socializing agriculture, and/or were unintended and due to Communist mismanagement/inefficiency.
Industrial-scale murder is as an essential part of communist theory. It claims to carry out killings in the name of "class struggle" against the bourgeoisie; though usually the commissars are themselves from the middle-classes, and the most numerous victims have tended to be the working-classes. Important targets are a nation's natural leadership; Royal families, aristocrats, military men, religious faiths, patriotic politicians and businessmen, and critical intellectuals and artisans. Others are killed under the banner of being counter-revolutionaries; a pejorative with a scope so wide when applied within a Marxian context, that it includes any non-communist and sometimes even communists themselves who have simply fallen out with the ruling clique.