How Many Died Under Stalin?

A commenter suggests that my figures for the deaths under Stalin are way too low:

However, 3.3 million murdered by the USSR? No serious person who is not a Bolshevik/Stalinist apologist believes that.
We can certainly debate exactly what the number is — and smart people have been doing that a great deal over the last 20 years now that some Soviet archives are available — but the Ukrainian famine of 1933-34 killed at least 3 million alone (and possibly 5 million or more, hard to say with any precision).
And that doesn’t count the Great Purge, the USSR’s appalling treatment of minorities during 1939-45 (ask the Poles, Balts and Chechens, among others, about how much fun malnourished slave labor in Siberia was), etc. A half-million PER YEAR died at Kolyma from overwork and disease during the worst years in the 1940s.
So, really, do some research.
As for famines in Europe, the Allied-caused famine in Germany and Austria-Hungary ca 1915-1918 killed over a million civilians, while the famines that tore through the USSR-in-development during the Russian Civil War ca 1917-1921 killed millions – again, we really don’t know how many.
I am a proud White, but facts matter.

I have done some research. The figures come from the newly opened archives.
There was no Holodomor. It never even happened. The Holodomor is the deliberate famine, and there was no deliberate famine.
Deaths from 1921-1953 in the USSR*

Executions                  900,000
Gulag deaths                1.2 million
Anti-Kulak campaign         390,000 
Total                       2.5 million

I guess I must be a Bolshevik/Stalin apologist.
The figures he cites for Kolyma are not correct. There were 600,000 deaths in all of the gulags during WW2.
The figures do not include killings by the Red Army outside of the USSR during the war and killings of German war prisoners by various means.
Yes, there was a famine during WW1. There was also a terrible famine in the USSR during the Civil War. Up to 9 million may have died.
*Does not include deaths in resettlement campaigns other than kulaks, such as the population transfers during WW2. Does not include deaths in labor colonies, but conditions in labor colonies were much less severe than in gulags. Does not include executions or gulag deaths from 1921-1930.


Getty, J. Arch; Rittersporn, Gabor T. and Zemskov, Viktor N. October 1993. Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-war Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence. American Historical Review.
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27 thoughts on “How Many Died Under Stalin?”

  1. Actually it is not even as high as that depending on the source used.
    “Since 1921 till 1954 (that is for the whole period of 33 years, M.K.) in the Soviet Union – according to the official archives of the NKVD, Ministry of the Interior, and of all other state prosecuting organs – there was found and documentarily confirmed the following total number of repressed persons, namely:
    Executed: – 642,980 persons
    Imprisoned: – 2,369,220 persons
    Exiled: – 765,180 persons

    This website gives a chart by year those imprisoned, executed, died in Gulag, exiled, etc.
    In English.

  2. Thanks for that brilliant paper by Mario Sousa, John. I’d read that before, but I lost it. You can read a cached copy of the paper he refers to
    J.Arch Getty et al ” Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-war Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence ” here:
    I hope that takes you straight there. I recommend copying that before it disappears. It’s one of the most important documents ever, and it’s quite accessible – about 27 pages. It used to be readily available, but now you can only otherwise access it from JSTOR if you’ve got user rights to the library of an academic institution.

  3. Do you know what all communist-lberal shit for brain have in common? They are stupid in their head.
    There was no Holodomor. It never even happened. The Holodomor is the deliberate famine, and there was no deliberate famine. -RL-
    l have told you Robert at least ten times THAT YOU CAN NOT HAVE A NATURAL FAMINE IN A BREADBASKET! Period
    There is only ONE WAY to have a famine in a breadbasket and that is if someone take all the food and livestock from the farmers.
    And that is what the jews did in Ukraine in the 30s. There was a famine in the 30s, only a compleat retard would even suggest that there was no famine in Ukraine in the 30s. Period
    The jews did this.
    Sever Plocker
    Stalin’s Jews
    We mustn’t forget that some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish

    And us, the Jews? An Israeli student finishes high school without ever hearing the name “Genrikh Yagoda,” the greatest Jewish murderer of the 20th Century, the GPU’s deputy commander and the founder and commander of the NKVD. Yagoda diligently implemented Stalin’s collectivization orders and is responsible for the deaths of at least 10 million people. His Jewish deputies established and managed the Gulag system.,7340,L-3342999,00.html

  4. @lafayette sennacherib
    Here is the article here.
    I first discovered the truth about Stalin when I discovered the Ukrainian famine was a hoax this year (or maybe it was the end of last year) then starting from there reading some stuff by western researchers who have studied and analysed the Soviet data and archives who are not connected to any foundation or organisation and have a political agenda like Daniel Pipes and work by Prof Furr posted on his website.
    This is a pretty good summary of the origin and why it came back during the 80’s and who was behind it.
    Pictures from the 1920-21 Volga famine fraudulently used in Ukrainian famine documentaries and propaganda.
    Off course anybody with half a brain using basic logic would see that Stalin deliberately caused a famine and killed millions of people inside the USSR prior to WW2 is BS as it would be national suicide.
    How exactly did he transport millions of people to Siberia as there is only one rail system with little resistance apparently?
    Why would he kill millions of his own people when he was pushing for modernisation and industrialisation when he would need a massive workforce in the production industry?
    Would production in factories not decrease and who would work in them to produce things if millions were killed?
    Apparently large outbreaks of diseases did not kill anyone.
    Where would he bury these millions of people given due to the cold climate and the hardening of the ground they can only be buried at certain times of the year?
    Why would he deliberately cause a famine affecting the Eastern pro-Soviet Ukraine and the Nazis where coming to power in Germany and destroy his own agricultural base to feed the whole USSR and export it abroad as foreign capital to finance the Soviet economy?

  5. Citation, please? It means nothing to throw “facts” on a blog without proper citation.
    I am historian, PhD, specialist in modern Eastern Europe, full professor at a well-known college – I won’t say more than that since my views outside my speciality would be controversial in the PC-addled place that is American academia.
    Being a historian means – or really ought to! -using dispassionate analysis of primary sources to get to the truth. I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to unravel what happened in Eastern Europe during what I call the “time of terrors” ie 1917-1953.
    FWIW I am not ethnically tied to any of the groups involved in the USSR (ie don’t accuse me Ukrainian nationalism, etc), many right-wingers think I’m “soft” on Stalin because I don’t automatically go for the biggest possible numbers of dead, and I know many of the fine historians in the “post-Soviet space” who have worked very hard to get the facts right; unfortunately, too little of their work has been translated into foreign languages like English.
    Of course the “mainstream” view of things is always wrong, about everything. However, saying the Holodomor just didn’t happen is tantamount to believing the moon is made of cheese. We can profitably debate exactly what happened, why, etc, but to suggest certain major crimes never occurred is lunacy.
    To cite just one of the “smaller” Stalinist crimes: in eastern Poland, 1939-1941, nearly 1.5 million locals were deported East, of whom about half never returned, most of them dead in Siberia. The Polish IPN has done excellent work on this, read it. Where did that go in your numbers?
    As for commenters, using J. Arch Getty about the USSR is as valid as citing David Irving about the Nazis.

    1. I am following J. Arch Getty and the rest. They are fighting it out in the history journals with Robert Conquest etc. right now.
      I acknowledge that 390,000 Ukrainians died in the anti-kulak campaign.
      However, there was no deliberate famine. It never happened. The harvest simply collapsed that year for a variety of different reasons.
      I hold to my figure of 3.3 million murdered from 1921-1953 in the USSR until proven otherwise.
      Even Conquest says there was no Holodomor. There was no deliberate famine. There was a famine harvest in that the harvest completely collapsed that year. The reason was apparently wheat rust. There were other reasons. The Ukrainians burned a lot of the wheat, and they harvested a lot and left it in piles in the fields. The kulaks and their pals killed 50% of the livestock in the USSR. The lack of livestock, especially horses to plow the fields, exacerbated the famine harvest. There was also disruption due to transfer from private to public farms. Kulaks were rampaging through the Ukraine, murdering collective farmers and raping their women, slaughtering their livestock, destroying any crops they could find.
      All of these things contributed to a famine harvest. The Holodomor myth is that there was a bumper crop that year and evil Soviets destroyed it and deliberately starved the people. Not so.
      My understanding is that J. Arch Getty is an excellent source, but I’m not really up on this endless debate.

      1. I don’t even know where to begin. I asked for a source, I don’t see one.
        You need to develop a critical understanding of sources and how historians (mis)use them.
        Prof Getty is precisely equivalent to Irving in the sense that he asserts that Stalin never knew about the Purges and other major Soviet crimes, just as Irving says about Hitler and the Holocaust. More lunacy.
        Getty is a flat-out Stalin apologist, the sort who, were he discussing Hitler, would be thrown out of work and polite society and, in Europe, jailed.

        1. The figures are Getty’s.
          They are for peacetime deaths in the USSR from 1921-1953. I believe that they do not include deaths from population transfers during WW2 for one thing.

        2. @Sage of Baltimore II
          Do the numbers in Poland match those in the research and archives in Russia?
          I have also notice that the main body of research is carried out by the CIA/US funded Memorial organisation which Polish investigators are connected to a totally political organisation who count anyone that died during the time of the purges as a victim of Stalin’s terror and published things like Stalin’s anti-Semitism.
          It is the phoney research of this organisation that foreign Universities and some authors cite when writing about Stalin.
          Mainstream historians and researchers have a political agenda regarding research into Stalinist history.
          Actually the revisionist’s rightfully claim the purges where a panic reaction for a real plot against the USSR before WW2 not pre-planned and that Stalin was unaware of the extent of it in the year 37-38 until later were the people involved were arrested, tried and executed including the head of the NKVD at the time
          The problem also is that Khrushchev fixed the archives after Stalin’s murder/death which he created evidence of Stalin’s crimes who he and his collaborators were likely part of the pre-war conspiracy and Khrushchev is believed to have be tied to British intelligence.
          There are also allegations that after the fall of the USSR a group of individuals were appointed and tasked with forging documents and inserting them into the archives.
          The USSR since 1928 was suffering food shortages and drought and the years prior to the famine bad weather conditions amongst other things contributed to the bad harvest which the Kulaks and peasant Ukrainian farmers burned crops and killed livestock spreading disease.

      2. However, there was no deliberate famine. It never happened. The harvest simply collapsed that year for a variety of different reasons. -RL-
        heg: l have told you Robert many times: YOU CAN NOT HAVE “natural famine” in a breadbasket. Even if one years crops are a toatal failur you can NOT have a famine in a breadbasket.
        Not one single jew have been a farmer in history of the jews. The jews don’t have a fricking clue what farming means, And that goes for every single non-jew commie too.
        What the jew-communist did was that the jews stole every single lívestock from the farmers in Ukraine and then the jews stole their farm as well.
        Well Ronert, if you was a farmer and knew that the jew-commies was going to steal everything you own, you too would kill your own livesticl and not care about the crops.
        The jews THEMSELF admitts the jews killed russian, ukrainian, latvian and so on people by the tens of millions. What do you Robert know that the jews don’t?

  6. Sage, I was sort of with you until you started denigrating Getty as = to David Irving. While Getty is famously part of the “lower numbers” brigade, I’ve never heard him assert that Stalin never even knew about the Purges and other crimes. Do you have a citation from him saying that?
    As for Conquest – the Holodomor Wiki states as follows:
    “R.W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft have interacted with Conquest and note that he no longer considers the famine “deliberate”.[62] Conquest—and, by extension, Davies and Wheatcroft—believe that, had industrialization been abandoned, the famine would have been “prevented” (Conquest), or at least significantly alleviated:
    “[W]e regard the policy of rapid industrialization as an underlying cause of the agricultural troubles of the early 1930s, and we do not believe that the Chinese or NEP versions of industrialization were viable in Soviet national and international circumstances.”[63]
    They see the leadership under Stalin as making significant errors in planning for the industrialization of agriculture.”

  7. I’m sure you would be an apologist, Robert, if you knew that the fastest time in economic growth in Russia was during the 1930’s when they were killing an average of 12,000 citizens per day. The more they accelerated the executions, the more people kept in line. Clearly this is a system that could be kept going indefinitely….

  8. There’s no point in arguing with people who can’t be bothered to read. Sage is a history professor ( and most of them are shit anyway) as much as Irving is Getty ( no slight intended to either of these, though Irving is ‘problematic’). The archival evidence published by a large team of modern anti-communist soviet researchers was studied by an international TEAM (mainstream rather right-wing academics, not lefties), so there was no danger of anyone misrepresenting the contents. If you’re interested in the sources, these ARE the sources that exist so far. If you don’t SEE any sources Sage, try again – I posted the instructions above it’s not that difficult – when you get to the internet archive for the link, just click on any of the dates in the table and you’ll see the paper by Getty et al. Remember that is just a ‘first approach’ to a 9000 page book produced by the Soviet researchers.
    JOHN UK – that version of the Getty paper you linked to doesn’t contain the tables (and it may be abbreviated, but the text isn’t that long anyway) – you CAN find the full document following the instructions I gave above in my last post – when you get to the archive for the link, you’ll see a table of dates – a copy is available at the cache of the page for any of these dates. In short, just click on any date and you’ll find it – sorry if you knew that.

  9. OK, sorry if the above was confusing, THIS WILL WORK!!! even if you have to paste it into the address bar. FULL VERSION WITH TABLES OF:
    Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-war Years:A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence

    1. @lafayette sennacherib
      Great. Thank you
      I was looking for the original article back in July but all I could find was the pay for view vesrion.
      I will post it on original USC thread.

  10. YES THAT WORKS. Copy it while you can ( I mean the whole thing, not the link – it might disappear soon) – you might have to adjust the last 2 tables to fit your page.

  11. I think some of Stephen Wheatcrofts research and analysis is better then Getty like working with other analysists properly reading the census data which is usually used by Soviet historians.
    The problem is with ALL Soviet historians is that they don’t taske into account the different ethnic/racial factions and what impact and power they had in the Soviet system and external forces covertly working against the USSR.

  12. @heg
    The USSR since 1928 was suffering food shortages and drought and the years prior to the famine bad weather conditions amongst other things contributed to the bad harvest which the Kulaks and peasant Ukrainian farmers burned crops and killed livestock spreading disease.
    heg: Take any starvation in any communist country and what do the all have in common? The jew communist are ALWAYS telling us that it was either drought or to much rain.
    This is compleat jew bullshit. You CAN NOT have a famine in a breadbasket. lt’s impossible. A century ago one small farmer in a breadbasket produced enough food for five families.
    Lets say the crop is a total failur. Give a cow papér and the cow will eat the paper and give milk. Give the cow straws and the cow will give milk.
    A pig will eat anythin including other dead pigs. Yes, the pig eats meat. Even a blind chicken can find a corn.
    Now you have milk and butter. Bacon and egg. And chickensoup.
    You CAN NOT have a famine in a breadbasket. it’s simply impossible. And ther is no way a farmer would kill his own livestock volunterly. Unless he is forced to do so. And it was the jews who forced the “kulaks” to kill their own livestock.
    The horse is life or death to a farmer in the 30s. There is no way my granddad would have killed his own horse – unless he realised that someone was going to take his horse for nothing. lf he was forced into a corner, then maybe, but just maybe he would kill his horse.
    We have drought in the western world and we have years when the crop is rotting away because of heavy rain. Do we starv because of that? Do we have a famine because of hat? Hell no.
    Except Biafra there has not been one single famine in the whole world the last century – except in the breadbasket Ukraine.
    The famine in ukraina was man made and it WAS THE JEWS who did it. Take awy the jews and ther would never ver been a famine in the breadbasket Ukraine. Period

  13. John UK – thanks for that ‘in Search of a Soviet Holocaust’ too. I haven’t seen that before. It’s a brilliant piece.

  14. Lets be honest: the article “Victims of soviet penal system in pre-war years” is the best study I have seen about the repression policy under Stalin’s government. But I would like to seen the standards applied on soviet data applied on other facts. For exemple, what was the diference betwenn the mortality tax of the blacks and whites in the USA’s history? How many people died per year in a country (Vietnan or Iraq, for exemple) before and after theyr invasion by USA’s army? How many die in prisions and each country in the world?
    For exemple, in my country, Brazil, theorically a liberal democracy, we have a situation, in the statistics, thats look likes a civil war, because of the great number of extrajudicial killings (thousants) and homicides (50000) in general per year. But our country is very unjust, with great economic unequalitys, poverty, corruption and paynfull heritage of authoritarianism and slavery. We, the brazilian left, are fighting to change it.
    But the question here is: what was the context of the stalinist rule? External dangers (the Germany-Japan-Italy nazi-coalition, the English Empire, maybe USA and Poland). The economic backwardness and political depotism in’herited from the Tzarist Russia. The desastrous inter-imperialist wars and civil wars (WWI, civil war and Western interventions in the russian civil war). The necessity to rebuild, modernize and industrialize the country as quick as possible, to chalenge an external agression (the agression, as we now, has been made by the most powerfull army at that time, the III Reich’s, and the Red Army could face it grace to the military industry build by the economic plans of the soviet government). And last, but not least, the conflicts and divisions in the communist party and government. In think the stalinist regime made many unjustices, brutality excess and so on, but its stupid think that they made it because “they were Evil and socialism is awayls evil”, without a careful contextualization.

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