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Hell On Earth: Brutality And Violence Under The Stalinist Regime

Hell On Earth: Brutality And Violence Under The Stalinist Regime [Kindle Edition]

Ludwik Kowalski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

The author's father, a civil engineer, left Poland for the Soviet Union in 1931. An idealistic communist, he believed it was his duty to emigrate, and to contribute to the building of a new society. His wife and his infant son followed soon after. In 1938 he was arrested and sent to a Gulag camp in Kolyma, where he became a slave in Stalin's state of proletarian dictatorship, and died two years later at the age of 36.
The author, a retired physics professor, shares what he knows and thinks about Stalinism. Educated in the Soviet Union (elementary school), in Poland (high school and master's degree) and in France (Ph.D. in nuclear physics), he came to the United States in 1964. He deliberately avoided talking about Stalinism and concentrated on teaching and research.
Approaching retirement, however, he wrote an essay on Stalinism, entitled "Alaska Notes." It describes the gruesome Soviet reality, focusing on Kolyma, where his father died. That essay was posted at the internet discussion list at Montclair State University. The lively discussion that followed, mostly among professors, convinced the author to transform the essay into this book.
It also convinced him to write “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.” The second book--his autobiography--is based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA. It traces his ideological evolution from one extreme to another--from a devoted Stalinist as a student in Poland, to an active anticommunist after retiring. Writing these two books was a moral obligation to his parents, to millions of other victims of Stalinism, and to Poland. The diaries on which the second book is based, written mostly in Polish, are preserved in Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, at Stanford University.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 156 KB
  • Print Length: 140 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Ludwik Kowalski (11 Dec 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006L4K7WA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,471 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Kindle Edition
Ludwik Kowalski's father emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1931 as a committed communist. In 1938 he was arrested and sent to the gulag. The years 1937-1938 saw Stalin's terror in full swing. Hundreds of thousands were arrested, tortured, deported or murdered. The Soviet Union's Polish minority numbered about 1 million at the time of the settling of the eastern border in 1921. The latest round of murders in '37/'38 all but destroyed it.

Ideology was no defence. Poles were targetted by Stalin because of their ethnicity as were many other nationalities within the Soviet Union.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gruesome reading 17 Dec 2013
By justice
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you're feeling hard done by, then read the hardships the authors father had to endure.
Thank your lucky star's that your not subjected to the brutality and injustice described in the book
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read For The Times 1 Jan 2009
By Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty - Published on
Those readers who have a limited knowledge of the terrors of Stalinism will undoubtedly benefit from reading Ludwik Kowalski's book. It is unfortunate today that when one discusses "dictators" or "totalitarianism," it is Adolf Hitler that seems to come to mind for most people yet, compared to Joseph Stalin and his fellow Communist colleagues, Hitler was a piker. (For support of this assertion, I direct the reader to Dr. Rudy Rummel's website at [...] where this retired political scientist keeps track of such statistics.) Those who argue that Hitler was much worse than Stalin when it came to mass killings may have to rethink their view.

For the author of "Hell on Earth," this assuredly is a very personal book. Kowalski's father was an idealistic Communist who left his native Poland to help create the "Great New Society" in the Soviet Union. Later arrested by Soviet authorities and sent to a labor camp, he died while working in a gold mine. It seems to be the author's conclusion that his father's death was the result of being a naive idealist deceived by Communist propaganda. If that is so, it certainly was not the first time (nor probably will it be the last time) that a young gullible idealist was sucked into the lies and deceptions that constitute the practical reality of the Marxist-Leninist political philosophy. (During the 1930s and 1940s, there were a few reporters for the "New York Times" and other publications, not to mention many American "intellectuals," who were similarly deceived, as I recall.)

One of the most interesting features of the book are the comments by some (mostly professors) who take issue with Kowalski about the terrors of Stalinism and the death-statistics he presents. One can only draw the conclusion that there are some naive idealists still out there who apparently cannot recognize and accept the Soviet failures and the realities of living under a Communist system of totalitarianism. But, like the traditional universal skeptic in academic philosophy, some people simply cannot acknowledge the truth or the possibility of obtaining it.

Although I have no problem at all with the content of this book, -- indeed, I substantially agree with its findings and conclusions -- the writing style is sometimes problematic. That does not, however, detract from the importance of the work and I recommend reading it, especially to those readers who are not intimately acquainted with the terrors of Stalin's regime.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stalinism was Hell on Earth 13 Dec 2008
By Lawrence K. Helm - Published on
On page 23 Professor Kowalski quotes a Mark Kramer article comparing the way various nations have dealt with their atrocities:

". . . but it was not until the 1960s and afterward that most Germans truly acknowledged the enormity of Nazi Germany's crimes.

"In France today, many citizens are still reluctant to look closely at the Vichy period; in Austria many people still pretend that their country was a victim of Nazi aggression; and in Japan political leaders still frequently downplay the atrocities committed by Japanese troops in China, Korea, and Manchuria in the 1930s and 1940s. In the United States, too, many tragic aspects of history - the enslavement of blacks, the campaigns against American Indians, and the internment of Japanese-Americans at the start of World war II - have often been glossed over. Difficult as the process of historical reckoning may be for these Western countries, it is even more onerous in Russia. . . ."

As reprehensible as the acts of other nations were, nothing compares to the enormity of the atrocities committed during the Nazi and Stalinist regimes. The magnitude of the slaughter is almost beyond comprehending. Perhaps as much as anything, Kowalski is concerned about the fact that so little is being said about the Soviet crimes. We have book after book about Hitler's "final solution." We know who was responsible at almost every level. We have philosophical speculation about why it happened. I think especially of Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, the Banality of Evil. But we only have bits and pieces about the Soviet atrocities. Survivors tell their tales, mass graves are speculated about, leaders who once followed Stalin subsequently denounce him, but there doesn't seem to be any soul searching such as there has been in Europe. In Germany and France many still don't want to think about what their parents and relatives did during the Nazi period, but others are speculating and trying to come to terms with what happened? Why did it happen? Why did they go along with the Nazis? Why did they become complicit? One can understand why the ordinary members of new generations don't want to dwell on such matters, but someone must strive to understand. For if we don't understand why we engaged in the evil of the past, what assurance do we have that our descendants won't succumb to something similar in the future?

We can compare Hitler to Nebuchadnezzar. He declared himself equal to God. Okay, we might say, if we are objective enough, you have given yourself god-like powers, Hitler. It is you now who decides what is good and evil and not the Christian God. Let's see how well you do. In retrospect we must say that Hitler didn't do at all well. Many of his presuppositions were based upon shoddy science. He had a wrong conception of racial differences and the uniqueness of the Germans, and his political and military systems were too oppressive to be borne for long. Nice try, Hitler, but you set your sights too high. You never became equal to God.

Stalin was a slightly different matter. He didn't think himself equal to God. He thought his "system" was superior to Christianity - or Marx and Lenin did before him and he accepted their philosophies. All he had to do was manage the "system" and the Proletarian revolution would be a great success. Individuals, even large groups of them were not as important as the Communist system.

The Communist vanguard started out small so its tactics needed, Stalin believed, to be ruthless. Killing or banishing those who might eventually disagree with Communism, was, he thought, only prudent. The Katyn Massacre is a perfect example of this thinking. Any opposition would be likely to come from the Polish officer corps so let's not dilly dally waiting to see what happens. Kill all the officers. One could do that sort of thing if one had the perfect system and if that system was superior to and superseded Christianity. Christian rules of right and wrong were no longer valid. All that mattered was the perpetuation and progress of the Communist agenda.

It is remarkable that huge numbers of Stalinist defenders in Russia are today busy "debunking the "myths" of Stalin's crimes. He committed no crimes, they tell us. Khrushchev and others lied about him. While this cottage industry of Stalin's defenders is busily at work, it is refreshing to read someone like Professor Kowalski who draws our attention back to the actual brutality and violence.

Lawrence Helm
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great \Read 29 Sep 2008
By David - Published on
The author will take you along in his journey from his boyhood to the recollection of his beloved family. As Ludwik Kowalski takes the reader through places like the Russian concentration camps and the victims of Stalinism. He will provide the reader with an opportunity that you would not normally have! A Great Read!

David I Wagner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly researched and investigated in depth. 30 Jan 2014
By Wesley Dennis - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Please don't sigh and roll your eyes as just another one of the many in the same genre.
The brutality and violence under the Stalinist Regime can not go unreported, covered up, forgotten and be distasteful to keep bringing up the subject after all these years.
Due to personally losing a love one early in his life, the author Ludwik Kowalski was compelled to write and too inform humanity, that this must not happen again, and in doing so has brought healing and peace in a sort of way to his existence.
What I disliked is the author had to reply to the many critics, critiquing his work who supposedly had some expertise in their respective fields yet had no knowledge, only referring to statistics that cannot be verified, due to the cover up under the Stalinist Regime.
W.J. Dennis
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting history of communist Russia. 6 Jun 2014
By RGraves - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mr. Kowalski gives a very good short history on the brutality of Stalin and his regime. He provides a lot of good information that leaves you wanting to study further.
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