I have noticed so many times that people bandy about the words Nazi and Communists or Socialist as though they were interchangeable. There were differences between the two. Usually some politician, “activist” or “spokesman” when really upset about a particular policy of our government or that of another nation will throw around those words. They seem to like using the word Nazi more than Communist. Sometimes they would use the phrase Stalinst, like it carried a different conotation than Communist. Make no mistake they were both reprehensible systems and abused human rights and dignity with brutish force.
An entire book or thesis could be written on this subject and probably has somewhere. We’ll explore a few distinctions. Under the Commies there was only one party as a matter of law. Only those who were members of the Communist Party could even run for any office. Originally, the idea was that there could be some diversity of opionion about how to achieve the Communist ideal and comrades could compete against each other. That quickly went by the boards. The Communist learned that a true democratic process can be rather messy and unpredictable. The Politboro put the kabosh on that idea. The Government was monolithic by law and design. To participate in Government you were a Commie or you were out–period. You could rise based on merit, intelligence and education. But that was for the few and if you and your family weren’t part of the Party your chances of advancement were virtually nil. And your rise was controlled by the State. What you became, where you lived, where you worked were all under the dominance of the State. Remember only a tiny percent of the population was allowed to go to college. Assume you were bright and got a college degree, then you were assigned where you would work and the type of work you would do. You were expected to fill the needs of the State and to do so happily. To request different work was considered disloyal and suspect. To travel you needed a permit. I mean travel inside the USSR. Travel beyond the borders was restricted to diplomats and very few others. If you were assigned to a job in Kiev and were leaving the University in Moscow you better take that direct route. If you were caught going off on a little lark of the heart you could wind up in the Gulag. Your job, your housing, your education, your travel and even free time were controlled by the State. There was no freedom of religion. It was banned and the churches were turned into museums or other public buildings. Privacy was non existent. If you wanted privacy that in and of itself was suspect. Read Solzhenitzyn, read the biography of Stalin’s daughter, read anything by people who actually lived there. If you or your group were deemed adverse to the Government’s agenda you would be killed. Read what happened in the Ukraine in the early ’30’s–the starving of the farmers who didn’t like having to obey central government control. Everything was controlled from Moscow. Stalin killed more people than Hitler. Stalin slaughtered more Poles than Hitler, check the Katyn forect massacre as an example. (That was where thousands of Polish officers were executed because it was believed by the Commies that must have belonged to the wrong class or they wouldn’t have been officers in the first place) You belonged to the State. Your loyalty was only for it or else. Family was not first, the State. Read the early John Le Carre novels, like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.
There was a structure to the Government. But please read some good histories of that era and analyses of the USSR government structure. There was an Assembly but it was eye wash. The real power was with the Politboro which was a governing committee if you will. Over it was Stalin or Lenin or the leader of the day all the way down to Gorbachev. The local offices were filled from Moscow or at the direction of Moscow. Different viewpoints were not tolerated and thus the central control mechanism. Unions of course were prohibited. After all it was a workers’ paradise. The Govenment took care of everything and everyone was treated fairly and equally they maintained. “Activists” and such were not allowed anymore than a preacher. Yes, everyone had a roof over their head, they had free medical care, a free education and food on the table.
The Arts–only as approved by the State. An arthor could get in trouble merely submitting a book for publication that was found suspect by the authorities as not adhering to the Party line. Movies, plays and any other entertainment likewise had to be given the seal of approval by the Government. Merely possessing books, movies, paintings or poems from non USSR sources was a crime against the people. Communism didn’t exactly engender creativity but fostered conformity to the level of a religious tenet.
Of course there was caviar and Bering Sea lobster but who do you think was entitled to have those luxuries? Likewise who got the other good food stuffs and the dachas in the countryside or on the shores of the Black Sea–yes, the Party big wigs and no one else. The conformity and the lack of respect for the common man and lack of trust in the people lead to the eventual downfall of the Commies as much as anything else in one man’s opinion.
Tomorrow we’ll explore the ruffians of the Nazi elite.