Ghengis Khan and the Mongol rulers that followed him exterminated entire cities and according to some estimates were responsible for the deaths of anything up to 100 million people (most estimates are at least 60 million) - at a time when the total worldwide population would have been about 400 million.

From 1941-1945 Hitler murdered 6 million people because they were Jewish and a further 6 million undesirables (Slavs, Communists, Gypses, Homosexuals, Mentally ill and others) for a total of 12 million in 4 years.

Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) ruled over 1/5 of the world for about thirty years and according to some estimates is responsible for about 60 million of deaths. Stalin features number 66 in Michael Hart’s controversial book 'The 100 – a ranking of the most influential persons in history'. The author’s yardstick is influence, not the greatest people, but the most influential, the people who converted the destinies of millions of human beings, determined the rise and fall of civilizations, changed the course of history. Stalin’s is definitely one of those persistently formidable names.

The reading public all over the world knows of tens of books of various shades and tones, telling the story of the fearsome Soviet dictator of the Georgian ethnic origin. Any reference book in the world will perpetuate him as a blood-sucking villain, posthumously hauling endless vituperations on him and emphasizing his turpitude and monstrosity. On the other hand, there are certain solid authors who would emphasize his uncanny ability to muster his chances and all kinds of attendant circumstances in his own favor and to the end of serving his long-run political objectives, qualifying him as a genius of a man.On the whole, most of the world treats him as a scoundrel, but at the same time sustains a certain suspicion that Stalin is very far from being an ordinary human being. Moreover, there are some people out there who would sweat over proving that Stalin was a strong man who had once created the greatest and the fairest country in history – the Soviet socialist empire with more merits than flaws, if judged correctly.


This all means that Stalin remains one of the most controversial political figures ever whose notorious historical stand never stops being a subject of hot discussions, especially here in Georgia if not in the entire former Soviet domain. Why is that? Why his image can’t be digested once and for all and given to history, subject to reasonably intelligent final conclusions so that we all know where the line goes between actual truth and the bothering figments of our imagination. I could try to answer the question, restricting my attempt only to Russia and Georgia. Russia’s ‘love’ for Stalin and her nostalgia about his times and style is understandable. Old Joe gave Russia the power, weight and importance, the Russians had never known in the duration of their existence. The often-talked-about ‘Russian national pride’ was so carefully nurtured and endlessly enhanced by their beloved dictator that not too long ago the entire universe was shaking under Russia’s imposing presence thanks to him. This is exactly what Russia is fiercely striving for today – recapturing the lost awesome image. For a Georgian mind things are totally different. Most of them recognize that Stalin was not quite a piece of cake for them (as a matter of fact, one could even blame him in today’s territorial strife of the nation), but they take him as a kinsman, their own flesh and blood, whose vilification and denunciation goes clearly against the grain, as seen by a regular Georgian rank-and-file. Georgians don’t want to see Stalin as a bad guy. They want to be proud of him. You see, there are not many Georgians of the world-wide renown they could be terribly proud of. There is only one ethnic Georgian Stalin, and the world is tending to stigmatize him so roughly. I can understand why we feel so bad about this. It is also said that Joe was more Russian than Georgian, but will this help?

Pol Pot was the leader of one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. Between 1975 and 1979 his regime claimed the lives of between 3 to 1 million people (or 1/3 of the population of Cambodia) - through execution, starvation and disease - as the Khmer Rouge tried to turn Cambodia back to the middle ages. After a "people's tribunal" sentenced him to life under house arrest Pol Pot gave an interview two months later in which he declared: "My conscience is clear".