Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison

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Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison

Edited by Ian Kershaw and Moshe Lewin
Cambridge University Press, 1997
369 pp. $59.95
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A thought-provoking book for three very different reasons. First, despite the ambitions of the participants, many of these essays deal exclusively or predominantly with one or the other regime, but eschew comparisons. By my count, only three of the chapters -- those written by the co-editors and the essay by Michael Mann -- as well as the introduction and the afterthoughts written by Kershaw and Lewin attempt a systematic comparison. Second, there are serious differences in interpretation among the authors. Mann does not accept Hans Mommsen's view of Nazi self-destruction through administrative chaos. Jacques Sapir, writing on Soviet war economics, disagrees with Bernd Bonwetsch's emphasis on Stalin's all-pervasive influence in military affairs and stresses the reintroduction of market mechanisms into Soviet military planning as of 1942. Third, the attempts to challenge such venerable and overworked concepts as totalitarianism and the German "special way" (Sonderweg) are not particularly successful (George Steinmetz's idea that Sonderweg began with Nazism and continues with the Federal Republic because of the weight of Nazism on it is more intriguing than persuasive). Readers of this collection will find the historiographical essays by Mark von Hagen, on post-Soviet history, and by Mary Nolan, on work, gender, and everyday life in the Third Reich, particularly valuable.