Ms. Merridale understands the violence that not only ran through Lenin’s vision but was integral to it—a violence that, for all her discussion of the hopes he conjured up, was apparent to many of those watching the Bolsheviks with growing dread in the summer of 1917. She draws the necessary contrast between the sanctified Lenin of Soviet mythology and the “mass murderer” that he was, even if she vacillates over the number of killings for which he was responsible in his own lifetime. On two occasions she maintains that the toll ran into the “tens of thousands”—an extreme underestimate, echoed by her calculation that, in its seven decades, the number of “guiltless victims” killed by the Soviet state ran into the “low millions,” a claim that takes the word “low” where it should not go. But in another place she refers to the preservation of Lenin’s body in that notorious mausoleum in Red Square as “an insult to the countless bodies [he] had destroyed,” language that comes far closer to summing up the butcher’s bill.
Sunday, April 02, 2017
… The Wheels of Revolution - WSJ.