And as far as regards the Kremlin, from the earliest days of the Soviet revolution to the current days of Russian resurgence (cf. Ukraine and the Crimea):
All this we learn from Jennifer Schuessler's article in the New York Times (!) Review of Books on the author of, most lately, “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning” (Dankeschön zu Herr Professor Reynolds für die Instapundit link).Too many Western intellectuals … “got pushed around by a really effective propaganda apparatus while a good deal of architecture of European peace and prosperity got taken down.”
When Timothy Snyder’s book “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” was published in 2010, it quickly established its author as one of the leading historians of his generation, a scholar who combined formidable linguistic skills — he reads or speaks 11 languages — with an elegant literary style, white-hot moral passion and a willingness to start arguments about some of the most fraught questions of the recent past.
Here, Mr. Snyder aims to offer a radically new explanation of the Nazi genocide grounded in Hitler’s belief in a global ecological crisis caused by the Jews, while also sounding an alarm about how our own era of environmental disruption could lead to similar orgies of violence.
… Mr. Snyder has already been credited with powerfully reframing the darkest chapter of the 20th century. “Bloodlands” situated the Holocaust in the context of the 14 million civilians, by Mr. Snyder’s count, who were murdered or deliberately starved in the contested territory between the Baltics and the Black Sea from 1933 to 1945, thus putting an event often sealed off in quasi-mystical uniqueness squarely in historical context. Translated into more than 25 languages, the book stirred multiple debates in multiple countries, perhaps most intensely in Eastern Europe, where it has figured in highly politicized arguments about collaboration, national suffering and how to weigh the crimes of Hitler against those of Stalin.
… “Black Earth” presents a complicated braid of arguments, building on ideas already present in “Bloodlands.” Reviewers have already begun picking apart one of Mr. Snyder’s central, and most counterintuitive, claims: that the Holocaust depended crucially not on Hitler’s creation of an all-powerful German state but on his determination to create zones of statelessness in the territories he conquered, thus clearing the way for slaughter.
… Some early reviews of “Black Earth” have lodged … criticisms. … “There’s a very strong focus again and again on former Communists and on the actions of the former Soviet Union, which were obviously absolutely horrific,” [the historian David A. Bell] said. “But what ultimately saved those Jews who survived was the Red Army.”
What some of us would call out of the frying pan and into the fire (as Bell reminds us of the intellectuals quoted in this post's opening excerpt). Not least because Stalin reopened some of the Germans' concentration camps (such as Sachsenhausen).
When asked about the role of popular anti-Semitism, Mr. Snyder, who is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, reiterated his belief that animus toward Jews, while widespread in prewar Poland and elsewhere, simply does not explain how the Nazi genocide started, the forms it took or who participated.“There are arguments in this book that are clearly not my effort to win a popularity contest,” he added dryly.
And he sharply challenged the charge of bias. If anything, he said, scholarship of the Holocaust has been too dominated by German-language sources and by an “ethnic shorthand,” itself traceable to the Nazis, that obscures more than it illuminates.“Our shorthand for talking about this stuff has been Poles and Jews, Germans and Jews,” Mr. Snyder said. “I think it should be states, institutions, micro-level sociological explanations, economic behavior.”Paradoxically, he continued, while Germans were “the most responsible by far” for the Holocaust, Germany is generally viewed as having a complexity and variety not as readily granted to Eastern European nations.
… Colleagues credit Mr. Snyder with insistently bringing East European voices from the margins to the center of the broader academic and political conversation, a mission he shared with his mentor and friend Tony Judt, who died in 2010.
… “The work he’s done to bring research from the region to English-speaking audiences has been tremendous,” said Paul Hanebrink, an associate professor at Rutgers University who is working on a book about anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe.That effort took on a more urgent dimension during the 2014 Ukraine crisis, when Mr. Snyder, a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, emerged as a leading interpreter and champion of the country’s pro-European revolution. His impassioned advocacy has made him a hero to many in Ukraine, where he and Mr. Wieseltier convened a conference of leading European and American intellectuals in May 2014, two months after the Russian annexation of Crimea, as a show of solidarity.But Mr. Snyder is hardly universally celebrated in Eastern Europe. He has come under fire in a number of countries, including Ukraine, he notes, for challenging what he calls the “exaggerated” death tolls from Soviet crimes offered by some government-sanctioned scholars, among other challenges to nationalist history.As for those on the American left who have accused him of glossing over far-right elements in the Ukrainian revolution, Mr. Snyder attributes the underlying claim to a Russian misinformation campaign that painted protesters on Maidan Square in Kiev as the heirs of National Socialism.Too many Western intellectuals, Mr. Snyder said, “got pushed around by a really effective propaganda apparatus while a good deal of architecture of European peace and prosperity got taken down.”In the conclusion of “Black Earth,” Mr. Snyder reiterates the central importance of Ukraine, arguing that Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea and depiction of Ukraine as “an artificial entity” backed by “Jews, gays, Europeans and Americans” carries dangerous echoes of Hitler in the late 1930s.
But Mr. Snyder also offers a wider-angled warning, arguing, in language verging on the prophetic, that political actors in any number of places — China, the Middle East, Africa — might blame very real environmental crises on imaginary global enemies, possibly setting the stage for another Holocaust.