Hitler and Stalin
The Tyrants and the Second World War
By Laurence Rees
Published by Viking/Penguin Random House
RRP $35.00 in paperback | ISBN 9780241422670
Author Laurence Rees has an impressive CV when it comes to military history. In fact, he says the origins of this book can be traced to the thirty years he has spent making documentaries and writing books about the Third Reich, Stalinism and the Second World War.
In this latest book, he examines the two tyrants during the Second World War, when Germany and the Soviet Union fought the biggest and bloodiest war in history.
Yet despite the fact they were bitter opponents who never actually met, he demonstrates that Hitler and Stalin were, to a large extent, different sides of the same coin, despite their differences in personality.
Hitler’s charismatic leadership may contrast with Stalin’s regimented rule by fear; and his intransigence later in the war may contrast with Stalin’s change in behaviour in response to events. But at a macro level, both were prepared to create undreamt of suffering, destroy individual liberty and twist facts in order to build the Utopia they wanted, and while Hitler’s creation of the Holocaust remains a singular crime, Rees shows why we must not forget that Stalin committed a series of atrocities at the same time.
Rees has used previously unpublished material, including eyewitness testimony from soldiers of the Red Army and Wehrmacht, civilians who suffered during the conflict, and those who knew both men personally, to produce a masterwork that has been widely commended by his peers.