WINNER: TOP 25 LIBERTARIAN DOCUMENTARIES
The untold story of Soviet mass murder is documented through rare archival photographic footage and interviews with survivors. [ The Soviet Story credits: Dir: Edvins Snore/ 86 min/ Documentary/ Democide, Anti-Socialism/ 2008]
Note: the full documentary can typically be found via online search.
“The extermination of tens of millions of Soviet citizens at the hands of their own government is one of the biggest under-reported crimes of the twentieth century, under-reported because left-leaning intellectuals are uncomfortable with the parallels it obviously implies between the Soviet and Nazi systems. Those parallels get laid out cold here.”
This is the raw and unvarnished story of Soviet communist atrocities. It is not easy to watch — nothing is held back. It is not a film for kids. There are moments when it includes brief historical and current film clips that show cold murder, not as a technique to shock, but because it happened, and the footage brings it home in a way that mere words would not. If you have the slightest sympathy for communism, or the USSR, or Stalin in particular, or if you even just think that communism was bad but not as bad as Nazism, this film will forever change your mind. I do not say all this to deter the viewer, but to forewarn that this is a powerful film that will leave you shaken. That said, I thought it a duty to watch it to be better informed on the subject, and I’m glad I did. It does some small justice to the victims that their loss be told.
History is written by the victors, as the saying goes; but when the victors are exhausted by two world wars, a great deal can be swept under the carpet in the pursuit of future peace. In the 1940s, when the democratic powers, in alliance with “Uncle Joe” Stalin, finally finished off the Axis, no one wanted to hear about the horrors that had been going on in Uncle Joe’s basement, let alone that they greatly exceeded those of the Nazi enemy just vanquished. Credible estimates (1,2,3,4,5) put the death toll of Soviet atrocities in the tens of millions, and at least some of that was known at the time — but there was no attempt to capture Stalin, no Nuremberg trial for the officials who ordered the Soviet mass exterminations, no books or films revealing the horrors, nothing to mark in history that these events had even happened. Today not one in a thousand know this bit of history, making it among the best-hidden crimes of the last century.
Why does that matter? Because socialism is making a comeback. College kids today can jokingly wear Soviet outfits to a costume party or sport a t-shirt of Marx, and no one bats an eye because Marxist crimes against humanity are little advertised in intellectual circles or in popular culture. High-ranking politicians now openly and proudly call themselves socialist. Newsweek cheerily asserted on its magazine cover in 2009 that “we are all socialists now.” Of course, such people do not intend to take modernity down the path of mass atrocities, but they are painfully naive about the dark side of the centralized power that socialism necessitates and about its proven potential to corrupt, largely because that history is little told. This compelling and authoritative documentary is a small corrective to that historical deficiency.
One of the key points made in this film – and it’s nailed down here like never before – is that mass extermination is not an aberration of socialist governments but in their very DNA, and it didn’t start with Nazi Germany but with the USSR. Indeed, it originated in their common root: Marxism. Karl Marx is authoritatively quoted: “The classes and the races too weak to master the conditions of life must give way…They must perish in the revolutionary holocaust.” More specifically, Marx wrote that “racial trash” such as Serbs, Scottish Highlanders, and some others were too backward to be ready for socialism, and when the revolution came they would have to be destroyed. Apparently the idea of getting rid of inconvenient people was in the plan from the beginning.
And it was not impolite among early socialists to take that idea seriously: the well-known British playwright and socialist George Bernard Shaw is seen here in a short film clip openly advocating the extermination of those who consume more than they produce, even going so far as to call upon science to invent a painless but deadly gas that would kill them (which the Nazis later would invent). He was not considered a bad person for doing so, just someone sharing his thoughtful opinion. Of course, German National Socialists killed based on race; Soviet socialists killed based on class. But as one commentator here explains it: “Both systems disagree with human nature as it is. Nazism is based on false biology. Communism is based on false sociology.” In the end, both left thousands of mass graves, millions of people dead, for a common purpose: to create the “new man,” the ideal purified human to live in their respective paradises.
The film focuses particularly on extermination of the Ukrainians, in itself a democide of about 7 million people. Stalin achieved this through mass starvation, by exporting all food, denying people the ability to purchase food, and sealing the borders with guards. These events are told in short film clips and in interviews of aging survivors who choke back tears in their telling of what happened. The Holodomor, as the Ukrainians call this crime, occurred in 1932-33, long before Hitler’s extermination of the Jews, and it is not unrelated. As we learn in the film, one of the people monitoring this situation was no less than Adolph Hitler, who saw in it new possibilities; on Hitler’s recommendation Nazi officials would later consult with their Soviet counterparts on just how they managed to kill so many so quickly.
This is another central point that comes up in the film — not only were Soviet socialists and German National Socialists cut from the same intellectual cloth, but they heavily cooperated in the early years of WWII. In 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a secret pact to divide Europe. After invading Poland from opposite sides, the two countries coordinated Hitler’s invasion of Scandinavia. Soviet and Nazi officers met regularly and cheered each other on; clips are shown here of comfortable parties in which the two groups are happily socializing. The Soviet Union was the main supplier to the Nazis. When Jews escaped to the USSR to avoid the Holocaust, the Soviets sent them back to Germany. The two countries might have remained allies throughout the war had Hitler not reneged on their pact in 1941.
The Soviet Story is a very thorough telling, with many witnesses, documentation, interviews with historians, and video footage. There are several books on this subject (1,2,3,4,5); but it’s rare, and more persuasive, to see it covered in film.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so it’s important to get it right. The extermination of tens of millions of Soviet citizens at the hands of their own government is one of the biggest under-reported crimes of the twentieth century, under-reported because left-leaning intellectuals are uncomfortable with the parallels it obviously implies between the Soviet and Nazi systems. Those parallels get laid out cold here.
“Gripping, audacious and uncompromising…”
“For those who think they’ve seen everything they need to know about wartime Europe, The Soviet Story will provide an extraordinary jolt to the senses… ”
“Make no mistake: this is a film everyone should see, including those college students who think nothing of sporting ‘Communist chic.’ There is a wealth of revelatory information here, more than sufficient to counter the narrative that while the Nazis were Satanic evil, the Soviets were just amiable, rough-edged vodka-addled Puritans who, at worst, are the butts of Yakov Smirnoff jokes. The Soviet Story lays waste to the other morally and factually bankrupt narrative common to the Left: that the Soviet Union was based on a romantic, noble idea that sadly just wasn’t practical.”
–The New Individualist