First They Came for the Nazis

It's remarkable that the poem "First They Came" begins "first they came for the socialists," because the socialists came first, and they came for everyone else.  They didn't even come for the Jews first.  In fact, an ungodly number of the socialists in Russia at the time of the Revolution were Jews, and the socialists in Russia came for whomever they wanted. After years of riots and marches and terrorism and repression, there were scuffles in the streets, and then Lenin and the Bolsheviks came almost bloodlessly to power, and then everything went wild.  The defining factor of the beginnings of the Red Terror was that Lenin wasn't the defining factor.  Orlando Figes notes in A People's Tragedy that it was the people who ran the lynch mobs in the cities and the countryside, nearly all of it decentralized, choosing whomever they wanted and calling them borzhoi and then maiming and killing them at will. It wasn't...(Read Full Article)