Here's a particularly forlorn historical date: Almost 90 years ago, between the 19th and 20th of December 1917, in the midst of the Bolshevik revolution and civil war, Lenin signed a decree calling for the establishment of The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage, also known as Cheka.
Within a short period of time, Cheka became the largest and cruelest state security organization. Its organizational structure was changed every few years, as were its names: From Cheka to GPU, later to NKVD, and later to KGB.
We cannot know with certainty the number of deaths Cheka was responsible for in its various manifestations, but the number is surely at least 20 million, including victims of the forced collectivization, the hunger, large purges, expulsions, banishments, executions, and mass death at Gulags.
Whole population strata were eliminated: Independent farmers, ethnic minorities, members of the bourgeoisie, senior officers, intellectuals, artists, labor movement activists, "opposition members" who were defined completely randomly, and countless members of the Communist party itself.
In his new, highly praised book "The War of the World, "Historian Niall Ferguson writes that no revolution in the history of mankind devoured its children with the same unrestrained appetite as did the Soviet revolution. In his book on the Stalinist purges, Tel Aviv University's Dr. Igal Halfin writes that Stalinist violence was unique in that it was directed internally.
Lenin, Stalin, and their successors could not have carried out their deeds without wide-scale cooperation of disciplined "terror officials," cruel interrogators, snitches, executioners, guards, judges, perverts, and many bleeding hearts who were members of the progressive Western Left and were deceived by the Soviet regime of horror and even provided it with a kosher certificate.
All these things are well-known to some extent or another, even though the former Soviet Union's archives have not yet been fully opened to the public. But who knows about this? Within Russia itself, very few people have been brought to justice for their crimes in the NKVD's and KGB's service. The Russian public discourse today completely ignores the question of "How could it have happened to us?" As opposed to Eastern European nations, the Russians did not settle the score with their Stalinist past.
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