Estimate of numbers killed

Chris, London 100423.2040 at
Thu Jun 6 04:07:06 MDT 1996

Wei En Lin:

 how do we find a reasonable objective estimate on the numbers
of people killed by Castro and Stalin?

Chris Burford:

Serious examination of this sort of question shows that in a
precise sense it is unanswerable. As soon as you turn up the
power of magnification of your investigation the issues become
more complex. On the one hand the massive losses of life occur
in connection with famines which kill by increasing the cause
of death *by other illnesses*. You then get down to what conventions
are used by doctors and officials about certifying the cause of
death. I can tell you it is an art, rather than a science.

On the other hand who is responsible for a death? Is Clinton
responsible for killing every person who gets executed in
the USA during his presidency. There is some textual evidence that
Stalin may not have been the person urging the death of Bukharin
at the committee that finally decided he should die. Did Stalin
kill Bukharin? In short hand terms yes. But we do not have a video
replay of the committee meeting. We do know that Stalin signed
death warrants, in large numbers.

To answer your question on Stalin *approximately* within a range of
possible values: buy, beg, borrow or otherwise obtain

Stalinist Terror: New Perpectives, edited by Getty and Manning.

As far as Castro is concerned why not ask now? There will be
people dying because of the current famine. Did Castro kill
them? Did Mao kill the people who died of famine in China?
Perhaps you know the answer to that last point to some extent?

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