“What is most feared villains” – how true statistics stereotypes

A number of historians, publicists, writers search for and find facts that allow them to equate the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany. One of the main arguments is the number of victims and that of another state. It is argued that the number of victims of the Soviet system is comparable or even exceeds the number of victims of the Nazi regime. So, if you ask someone from passers-by: what are the scariest villains to blame for millions of innocent victims, then most likely, you will hear the typical response: Hitler and Stalin.

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Archpriest Alexander Ilyashenko

Widely known catch phrase: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Of course, it is a grotesque and exaggeration, since it false, of course, there are true statistics. It allows you to take a new look at certain historical event seemingly described repeatedly and are well known.

Obviously, unreliable statistics are used for ideological purposes, namely, to impose their point of view. In the information fight wins the one who ensured that the enemy imposed point of view took it as his own. Such manipulation of statistics is widely used by some researchers in describing the suffering of the tragic events of the twentieth century.

Why consider virtual descendants

As for the number who died through the fault of Hitler, historians are fairly unanimous about 50 million people, mostly civilians who died from bombing, shelling, shot, burned by the invaders, died of hunger, cold, murdered in concentration camps, etc.

If the name of Hitler is beyond doubt, that Stalin, usually referred to as those who their ideas learned from the famous works of A. I. Solzhenitsyn’s “the GULAG Archipelago”. Solzhenitsyn himself relied on the work of I. A. Kurganova “Three digits. About casualties in the period from 1917 to 1959”. This article is masterfully written, but not from the point of view of demography or mathematics, and demonstrates a remarkable ability to convey your point to the reader so that the reader perceived it exactly as the author wants.

Barrows article begins with a quote from “Demons” by F. Dostoevsky, reinforcing his argument by appeal to the authority of the great writer. One of the characters in the novel, Shigalyov, a bunch of “demons” says that, in the end, “…as the world is no heal, still can not be cured, and radically cutting off a hundred million heads and the easier, or rather jump through the groove…” (F. M. Dostoevsky, “Demons”. Coll. CIT., M., 1957. Vol. 7, p. 421-424). Barrows writes: “over Ninety years ago, Dostoevsky, seeking to penetrate their mental eyes to the future and to imagine a new society, the name of which in the last century, the struggle of the extreme elements of Russia, expressed in the novel “the possessed” some considerations concerning, in particular, and possible casualties”.

Next, Barrows continues: “Thus, Dostoevsky in 1871, suggested that the social reconstruction of society can cost the people a hundred million heads. This figure seemed to last extremely awkward. Whether but so it is awkward?” asks the Mounds in his article. Selecting and justifying the parameters of the estimated models, Barrows concludes that “the Soviet population lost in connection with the events 1917-1959. one hundred and ten million lives”.

At first glance, it looks convincing and believable. Dostoevsky brilliantly foresaw that “the social reconstruction of society can cost the people a hundred million heads”. Barrows notes that, in practice, it turned out to be: “the population of the USSR lost in connection with the events 1917-1959. one hundred and ten million lives”.

Mounds and losses in the great Patriotic war the Soviet leadership attributes. If we accept this logic, you have to admit that the victim of the criminal is to blame, because I have not been able to give him a worthy rebuff.

Then it turns out, the poles, the Jews, the Serbs are responsible for that are unable to defend themselves, and not Hitler was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of victims.

1 Sep 1943, Photo: RIA Novosti archive

Solzhenitsyn wrote: “According to the calculations emigrated Professor of statistics I. A. Kurganova, from 1917 to 1959, no military casualties only from terrorist destruction, repression, hunger, increased mortality in the camps and including the deficit from reduced fertility, – [internal suppression] cost us… to 66.7 million people (without that deficit – 55 million)” (“the GULAG Archipelago”, part 3, chap 1). To honor Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he, unlike Kurganova, military casualties are not included here.

But there is a strong case that this approach does not agree. Shigalyov, the character Dostoevsky, tells about real people, while the method of calculation used by Kurganov, on a par with real living people implicitly takes into account those who might live if there were no wars, no revolutions or other social upheavals. Let us explain this with an example.

Suppose that a villain killed a man, which subsequently could have been born many offspring. But the murderer will be tried for the murder of one person, not many, because at the time of the murder they just did not exist. Barrows chose the simplest model for which enough school mathematics. It’s just increasing geometric progression with parameters that do not depend on time. Therefore, this model along with real people takes into account not just “dead souls”, never lived – unborn descendants unborn ancestors. In addition, the longer the selected time period, the and virtual children, hence, the gap between calculation and reality will grow.

Loss ratio clearly contrary to common sense

Touch on the parameters of the model proposed by Kurganov. Mounds the natural growth rate was chosen equal to 0,017, and the estimated interval from 1917 to 1959. This means that, according to the design model, for 42 years the population each year has increased by 1.7%. In fact, the rate of natural increase varies from year to year, but in its basic model, the Mounds have chosen it permanent.

This approximation is quite rough, but the Mounds is not considered necessary to substantiate it, the same can be said about the temporal boundaries of the model. The Bolsheviks came to power at the end of 1917, therefore, it is impossible for them to shift the responsibility for what happened until November of this year. In addition, it is necessary to take into account that the Bolsheviks were the “demons” that overthrew the legitimate Sovereign to, “ease themselves … or rather jump through the groove”.

Due to the February revolution the country experienced several political groups that fiercely fought for power, and losses in the Civil war caused both red and white. Ended the Civil war in 1920, this year, it would seem, and it is necessary to consider losses, for which fully meets the Soviet government.

The February revolution

As the upper boundary of the time interval Mounds were chosen in 1959. Why? It would seem that it would be more appropriate to take, for example, the year of Stalin’s death, which put an end to the era of mass repression. Therefore, we believe that the temporal boundaries of the Mounds was chosen with the aim that the difference between the calculated and the actual number reached the desired value. Since the choice of the model parameters is made, for comparison we take the same rate of natural increase, and the interval duration of 32 years from 1959 to 1991, the year of the collapse of the Soviet regime.

In the framework proposed by Kurganov basic computational model in the Soviet Union in 1991 could live 548 million, not 290 living actually. Kurganova calculations show that for 42 years, from 1917 to 1959, having survived revolution, Civil war, famine, the Great Patriotic war, the Soviet Union “lost” RB 110.7 million. Remaining within the framework chosen by Kurganov model, we find that in 32 years, from 1959 to 1991, without any serious shocks, the Soviet Union allegedly “lost” 548-290-110,7=147 million people.

The resulting loss ratio is clearly contrary to common sense. This is due to the fact that the Mounds have simplified their model and with real people into account who have never lived.

Unfortunately, Solzhenitsyn received the highest mathematical education, the results Kurganova perceived as not critical.

To equate the Soviet regime to the Nazi regime is incorrect

There is still no universally recognized final estimates of the losses incurred by the Soviet Union in the revolution, Civil war, famine 20-ies and 30-ies, epidemics, repression. Although the calculations of real losses made by different authors differ, they show that in the period of social upheaval losses lie in the range from 16 to 20 million people. This, of course, enormous size, but still not 110 million.


The difference between the estimate Kurganova and real losses component of over 90 million is not born, that is not real and potential losses. The mounds had to emphasize that, unlike the fictional character of Dostoevsky, he, Mounds, tells not only about real people, but never existed. This approach is quite acceptable, it is only necessary to specify that the reader is not confused real losses with virtual.

In the period of Stalin’s rule, the loss of the Soviet Union ranged from 5 to 9 million people, that is 5-10 times less than 50 million people died as a result of the desire of Nazi Germany at the price of genocide, the extermination of the civilian population to achieve world domination. This ratio suggests that to equate the Soviet regime to the Nazi regime is incorrect.

As you know, everything is relative. In the democratic United States during the great depression also experienced a significant demographic losses. In this country, since the nineteenth century, every ten years conducted the census. In 1920, the United States has 106 million people, in 1930 – 123, 1940 – 132, in 1950, to 151 in 1960 – already 179. Therefore, the increase in the years following the First world war was 17 million; in a decade, including the Second world war, 19 million; in 50 years the increase amounted to as much as 28 million, while in the decade, which accounts for the Great depression, only 9 million

In the United States in 30 years along with the industrial crisis was consolidation of agricultural holdings. Small producers went bankrupt and were driven from the field, they and their families were forced to wander the face of unemployment, deprivation and hunger. These events are vividly described by the American writer John Steinbeck’s novel “Grapes of wrath”.

USA. 1936. Photo: Dorothea Lange

Calculations show that during the years of depression the United States not counted 11 million people. In the 30-ies, the period of collectivization and repressions in 1937-38, the Soviet Union lost 4-8 million thus, in the 30-ies of XX century American casualties exceeded Soviet losses, although the US population at that time was less than the Soviet Union. US losses amounted to 9%, and the Soviet Union, from 2.5% to 5% relative to the current population. Of course, these percentages are the lives of millions of real people, but the loss ratio shows is clearly not in favor of the United States.

Thus, on different continents, in different countries with different social systems was similar processes. Their causes, the role of the current government, economic, climatic and other features, etc. – are the subject of research by professional historians. Our goal is much more modest: to show that studying certain events, they should be considered on a broad background. It helps to see the scale of the event, to avoid errors in their assessment, one-sidedness, but also provides an opportunity to overcome historical stereotypes.

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