This week in Evil Dudes in History it’s Joseph Stalin: the “Man of Steel” responsible for even more deaths than in Zack Snyder’s movie! We’ll talk about his rise to power, daring thefts, murders, the “Road of Bones” and so much more horribleness that we had to save some for next week!

Music: “Mr. Stalin You’re Eating Too High On The Hog” by Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith and his Crackerjacks

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Showing 14 comments
  • Derek Weber

    Now why don’t they make songs like that intermission one these days? I’d love to hear a Yankee a sing about how what Assad is up to in Syria.

    That part about the killing production line reminded me of some of the scenes in Cloud Atlas, in the futuristic Korean part of the timeline. Not sure if anyone else got that.

    Fascinating and horrifying – you guys have outdone yourselves again. Well done. 🙂

    • Pai

      Best part of that song is the end where they vaguely threaten Russia with nuclear attack for being so uppity (‘remember the Rising Sun’). =P

  • Allan Newell

    These guys are so amazing! I was the guestpert for the Stalin episode, and showed up to find out that the gents (in front of the mics, and behind) were so well researched–through their own work and that of their interns–that I felt redundant. They called me out on a couple of points, and amazed me at how well prepped they were on this subject. These guys really do their work, and put a tremendous effort into their craft–we are fortunate to have this team on Caustic Soda!

    • Spectreman

      …and yet no one found your passing comment that only a handful of people died in the Panama Canal construction completely preposterous. Go do some real research, then come back and tell me how aprox. 27,600 people (22k during the French phase, then a further 5,600 during the US phase – despite all the learning from the French initial unforeseen difficulties) qualify as a mere “handful”. Then you may wonder why you think Stalin’s canals were a horrible crime, but not the Panama Canal, considering that the building of the latter caused about 35% more deaths.

      To the hosts: I love the show, and expect this to be addressed in the next follow-up episode.

      • Chew

        The deaths on the Panama Canal were mostly the result of mosquito-borne disease and accidents, not the result of forced labor.

        • Spectreman

          Right. And surely the bosses didn’t know about that. I don’t think you realize the many forms in which forced labour can manifest itself. Socio-economical coercion can be just as bad as political oppression – perhaps even worse, since hypocrisy adds insult to injury.

      • Chris Newell Newell

        First, I would like to point out how highly I value all life. Personally, I find little difference between the death of one person or a genocide–all life is precious, and all death is tragedy.

        I would first respond to Spectreman by agreeing with his numbers. Current research points out that nearly 28,000 people died while working on the various stages of the Panama Canal project, and those numbers do indeed succeed those of the casualty toll of the Moscow Canal. It is easy for me to explain my numbers (a handful), rather than my offhand use of the term “a handful.”

        My numbers. As previous poster Chew indicated, stem from the fact that the large majority of casualties in the Panama Canal project were due to disease. The second largest group were due to accident–the product of poor engineering in many cases.

        Historians apply filters–not always nice, but an often necessary tool of the trade. In this case I compared apples to oranges (actually I did this years ago and simply mentally filed the phrase “a handful of casualties” away for use)–and I compared people worked to death at the barrel off a gun, to those who died of disease or accident–and I am aware of the conditions and circumstances of the labour force under the French).

        When the deaths due to illness and accident are subtracted, the result is of course lower, and the basis of my analysis.

        The offhand use of the term “a handful” is of course, a problem. Using an historical filter without explanation is bad history and one for which I am rightly rebuked.

        Spectreman is absolutely correct in his numbers and his emotion, and I want to correct my comments by pointing out my analysis behind this comment.

        Allan Newell

        • Spectreman

          Not sure about the “barrel off a gun” thing, that could be easily red-scare propaganda, but alright, thanks for the honest reply.

  • Andreas

    A slightly nauseating, delicious combination of almost incomprehensible horror and dark and twisted humor, in other words, another excellent episode. I might even forgive you for last week’s excruciating delay… 😉

    Seriously though, I’m still amazed that you keep putting up new shows every week, essentially without a hitch and hope that you keep doing it for a long time to come! If not, well…you have (un?)knowingly given your listnership an excellent list of shall we say, “special measures” to “convince” you otherwise.

    I also would like to second the compliments on the thorough research, both on the part of the hosts and this week’s guestpert. Not that I mind the humor part (or any of the other guests of course) but it’s the combination with facts, historical or scientific, that really puts it over the top for me. Luckily you’ve gathered a great group to draw from.

    Well, to end this rambling stream of consciousness, thank you and please keep doing what you’ve been doing!

  • gmuir77@gmail.com

    Zinoviev was a high school punchline for me and my droogies. The joke was that nobody knew who would be executed when Stalin came into the room and he would be jovial and in good spirits right up until the point he went silent. The air would grow thick as everyone looked at him, waiting. He would then start to chirp someone’s name in a manic falsetto and that would be the sign to the waiting NKVD agents. He would bounce up and down in his seat chirping until the gunshots came from the hall outside. “Zinoviev! Zinoviev!”

    Our in-jokes were so in they turned in on themselves like Klein bottles.

    Can’t wait for part 2!

  • Jon Paynter

    Great show! Stalin is definitely up there with Hitler as one of the worst humans ever to have walked the planet, if you can call him human. It was only a matter of time before you covered him in one of your shows.

    There has been much debate over the past 6 decades as to who was worse, with Stalin getting a bad rap because he killed many more people and Hitler getting a bad rap because he purposely tried to eliminate the Jews. Here’s an interesting, but gruesome, article about how Stalin was also specifically trying to eliminate specific people (aka genocide), even the Jews, and began his extermination programs before the Nazis. The article also argues that Stalin did not kill as many people as formerly thought (a mere 9 million noncombatants, vs the 20 million ++ that people had previously assumed). http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/mar/10/hitler-vs-stalin-who-killed-more/?pagination=false

    So now we can all breath a sigh of relief and think, oh, the little genocidal maniac only killed 9 million (vs. 12 million noncombatants for the Nazis)! Well, maybe I’ve been too hard on poor Stalin! Maybe Hitler was the worst human to have ever walked the planet after all.

    • Spectreman

      There’s absolutely no doubt Hitler was way worse. It’s already bad enough that many people talk of the “Jewish Holocaust” (which I’m in no way denying) whilst ignoring the Romani, homosexuals, etc. that died in the same concentration camps, but the great lie about WW2 is the lack of acknowledgement of the Slavic genocide. Hitler intended to kill (and actually achieved more than 20 million) pretty much all Slavs. Another great omission is the main reason why so many Soviets died: when London and Washington finally agreed to an alliance with Moscow against Hitler (something Stalin was practically begging for before the war), Churchill -another monster- promised Stalin to open a Western front by the end of 1942. Of course Churchill did not honour his word – his priority was to secure, alongside Washington, the colonies in North Africa and the Middle East under Western control. People can fool themselves as much as they want about logistics, denying Germany essential resources like oil and rubber ( which is kinda BS, since Germany excelled at synthesizing those things), but surely an earlier Western front would have shortened the war and saved millions of lives.

  • Brenton

    1902 Stalin is a looker.

  • Ross

    About the Katyn Massacre: There was a movie a few years back where the plot centered around the massacre, which was made in Poland. It is a rather haunting movie, which includes a sequence where they reenact the executions. Here is a clip of that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Geu0R4xGAi4

    The movie was named Katyn, made in 2007. I probably don’t have to say it, but it was a bit of a bummer.