Sixty years ago today Joseph Stalin took the big dirt nap, and possibly began serving a sentence of eternal torment. I don't know for sure about the latter as such matters are far above my pay grade, but I have a strong suspicion.
I have neither time nor patience for Stalin apologists. He was a monster, and as Anne Applebaum notes, one whose tally of corpses we can't even truly count:
"A single round number of dead victims would be extremely satisfying, particularly since it would allow us to compare Stalin directly with Hitler or with Mao. Yet even if we could find one, I'm not sure it would really tell the whole story of suffering either. No official figures, for example, can possibly reflect the mortality of the wives and children and aging parents left behind, since their deaths were not recorded separately. During the war, old people starved to death without ration cards: had their convict son not been digging coal in Vorkuta, they might have lived. Small children succumbed easily to epidemics of typhus and measles in cold, ill-equipped orphanages: had their mothers not been sewing uniforms in Kengir, they might have lived too.
"Nor can any figures reflect the cumulative impact of Stalin's repressions on the life and health of whole families. A man was tried and shot as an "enemy of the people"; his children grew up in orphanages and joined criminal gangs; his mother died of stress and grief; his cousins and aunts and uncles cut off all contact from one another, in order to avoid being tainted as well. Families broke apart, friendships ended, fear weighed heavily on those who remained behind, even when they did not die."
It's almost unbearable to imagine the pain and despair of one prisoner caught in that pitiless system let alone multiply it by millions. There's simply too much horror. I suppose letting the enormity of it numb them is how the apologists get by.
Ah, who am I trying to kid? Burn in Hell, Joe.