“The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century” by professor Vladimir Tismaneanu is the definitive book about these two bubonic plagues. Superbly documented and elegantly written, it brings to light not only the ideological similarities between fascism and communism but also the similar manipulative methods they both used to create mass movements committed to apocalyptic ends.
I lived under both the Third Reich and the Soviet Empire, and I know that any of their normal mortals who dared to draw the slightest parallel between Communism and Nazism ended up in jail – if he or she were lucky. The Nazis indignantly discarded any conjunction with Communism, just as the Communists angrily rejected any comparison with Nazism/Fascism – but not their leaders. On Aug. 23, 1939, when the Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, and his German equivalent, Joachim von Ribbentrop, met in the Kremlin to sign the infamous Hitler-Stalin Nonaggression Pact, Stalin was euphoric. He told Ribbentrop: “The Soviet government takes this new pact very seriously. I can guarantee, on my word of honor, that the Soviet Union will not betray its partner.” (John Toland, “Adolf Hitler” (New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 548)
There were many reasons for Stalin’s elation. Both he and Hitler believed in the historical need to expand their territorial empires. Stalin called that need “world proletarian revolution.” Hitler termed it “Lebensraum” (living space). Both based their tyrannies on theft. Hitler stole the wealth of the Jews. Stalin stole the wealth of the church and the bourgeoisie. Both Stalin and Hitler hated religion, and both replaced God with their own cults. Both were also deeply anti-Semitic. Hitler killed over 6 million Jews. During the 1930s alone, Stalin – who came from Georgia, where the Jews had been serfs until 1871 – framed some 7 million Russians (mainly Jews) as spies in the service of American Zionism and had them killed.
“The Devil In History” is not the first book to explore the relations between Fascism and Communism, but it is the first one written by an eminent scholar who has the genes of both movements in his blood. Vladimir Tismaneanu’s parents fought Fascism in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, spent World War II in Moscow as Communist activists, understood the tragedies provoked by Communism and finished their lives deeply disenchanted. Vladimir himself was seduced by Marxism (especially neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt School variety) until he left Romania, at the age of 30, in 1981. He became an anti-Communist professor of Soviet and East European studies when Marxism-Leninism was in full power and rose to head his native Romania’s Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship, which strongly condemned Communism’s atrocious crimes. Vladimir’s first book in English came out in 1988. Its title is telltale – “The Crisis of Marxist Ideology in Eastern Europe: The Poverty of Utopia.” When many Kremlinologists were focusing on Communist elites and their internecine struggles, Tismaneanu documented that it was the Leninist belief system that explained the elites’ behavior. The Communist leaders were thugs, no doubt, but they were ideological thugs. Nicolae Ceausescu, whom I knew very well, was a Communist zealot who truly believed that Communism had history on its side.
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“The Devil In History” is as much a book about the past as it is about the future. In November 1989, when the Berlin Wall was torn down, millions shouted “Communism is dead.” Soviet Communism is indeed dead as a form of government. But a new generation of people who know little if anything about life under Communism is trying to give this heresy, now dressed in socialist clothes, a new lease on life in France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador, and few people are paying attention to it. On Feb. 15, 2003, millions of Europeans took to the streets not to celebrate the freedom they enjoy because America protected them from becoming Soviet slaves, but to condemn American imperialism, as described in “Empire” (by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Harvard University Press, 2000), a book co-authored by Antonio Negri, a terrorist undercover as Marxist professor who had served time in jail for his involvement in kidnapping and killing former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. The New York Times called Negri’s modern-day Communist Manifesto “the hot, smart book of the moment.” (David Pryce-Jones, “Evil Empire, The Communist ‘hot, smart book of the moment,’” National Review Online, Sept. 17, 2001)
For 27 years of my other life, in Romania, I was involved in numerous operations aimed at creating various Antonio Negris as Cold War warriors throughout Western Europe and using them to turn that part of the world against the United States. “The Devil In History” is an encyclopedic study of how the Soviet and the post-Soviet disinformation machinery used those Negris to transform Europe’s old hatred for the Nazis into a hatred for America, the new occupation power.
In 1851, when Louis Bonaparte, Napoleon’s wretched nephew, came to power in France, Karl Marx issued his now famous dictum: “History always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, and the second as farce.” “The Devil In History” documents the leftists’ current efforts to revive the Soviet lies, and it exposes their farcical nature.
“The Devil In History” has not only ideological but also historical significance as well, for it is making its author, Vladimir Tismaneanu, into a conservative American version of Eric Hobsbawn, Britain’s most respected historian.
Hobsbawm, who just died at the venerable age of 95, was an erudite polymath, superb researcher and excellent writer. Unfortunately, he also decided to become a professional Marxist, and Marxists are, by definition, liars. They have to lie, for the reality of all Marxist societies has been devastating, to a mind-boggling degree. Over 115 million people were killed worldwide in an unsuccessful attempt to keep Marxism’s lies alive.
Hobsbawm’s most celebrated quartet of books, “The Age of Revolution” and “The Age of Extremes,” to which he devoted most of his life, are also a lie: They present a history of the Soviet Marxist revolution, evolution and devolution that totally ignores the gulags. They are like a history of Nazism that ignores the Holocaust, or a history of Egypt that disregards the pharaohs and their pyramids. Hobsbawm joined the British Communist Party in 1936, and remained a member even after his lifelong idol, the Soviet Union, collapsed. Hobsbawm never relinquished his Communist Party membership. He explained: “The Party … had the first, or more precisely the only real claim on our lives. … Its demands had absolute priority. … If the Party ordered you to abandon your lover or spouse, you did so.
Vladimir Tismaneanu also joined the Communist Party when he was young – as I did – but he broke with that party when Communism was still in its full glory – as I did – and exposed its evil to the rest of the world – as I also did. For full disclosure, I should state that I greatly admire Tismaneanu and consider him a good friend, although we have never met in person. In my view, he is the best expert on Romanian Communism and one of the world’s top scholars on Eastern Europe. His “Stalinism for All Seasons” is the most comprehensive study of Romanian Communism, and his “Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism, and Myth in Post-Communist Europe” received the Romanian-American Academy of Arts and Sciences prize. For his tireless research activty, Vladimir Tismaneanu became a fellow at the prestigious Institut fur die Wissenschaften von Menschen in Vienna, Austria, and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
In spite of the press coverage given to the Cold War’s nuclear competition, we who were at the top of the Soviet bloc intelligence community during those years waged that war to conquer minds – in Europe, in the American left, in the Third World – because we knew we could win no military battles. The Cold War is indeed over, but, unlike other wars, it did not end with the defeated enemy throwing down his weapons. In 2000, some of my former colleagues in the KGB took over the Kremlin and transformed Russia into the first intelligence dictatorship in history. During the Soviet Union, the KGB was a state within the state. Now the KGB is the state. Over 6,000 former KGB officers are running Russia’s federal and local governments. It is like trying to democratize Germany with Gestapo guys at its helm.
Vladimir Tismaneanu is the perfect political analyst for today, for he is an expert on both the legacies of Nazism and Communism. In spite of optimistic diagnoses and rampant wishful thinking, these two pathologies are not dead. Vladimir Tismaneanu’s illuminating book is an antidote against new experiments in utopian radicalism and social engineering.
Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West. His new book, “Disinformation,” co-authored with professor Ronald Rychlak, was been just published by WND Books.