In response to:
The Case for Khrushchev from the April 28, 1983 issue
To the Editors:
Leonard Schapiro, in “The Case for Khrushchev” [NYR, April 28] states that posterity will presumably record that Stalin killed many more people than did his near rival, Hitler. Presumably Leonard Schapiro has a number in mind that surpasses the more than ten million deliberately killed by Hitler. We have Hitler’s score now. Why must we wait for posterity for Stalin’s?
Vancouver, British Columbia
Leonard Schapiro replies:
The reason why the number of Stalin’s victims must be left to posterity is that no one knows it at present. But the lowest estimate far exceeds ten million. Solzhenitsyn accepted an estimate of sixty million. Robert Conquest on page 573 of The Great Terror writes: “Thus we get a figure of twenty million dead, which is almost certainly too low, and might require an increase of 50 percent or so, as the debit balance of the Stalin regime for twenty-three years.”
October 13, 1983