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View Poll Results: Why is Beria less infamous than Himmler?
The victors write the history books 16 38.10%
The losers are more infamous because they didn't have history books censored about them 2 4.76%
Himmler had a specific factor Beria did not (specify) 2 4.76%
Beria had a specific factor Himmler did not (specify) 1 2.38%
The Nazis have a mystique that the USSR does not 9 21.43%
Beria had the benefit of a government minimizing his crimes, not just cranks 3 7.14%
What's a Beria? 2 4.76%
Other 7 16.67%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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Old July 24th, 2013, 06:39 PM   #1

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Why is Beria less notorious than Himmler?


In the annals of human misery, much of the period of the Second World War was dominated by the evils of two men. One a local Bolshevik party boss whose hands were sullied in Stalin's brutal purges in the Caucasus, a pedophile and rapist who used his power over the midnight knock squads to literally drag women off the street to rape them. In addition Beria both conducted some of the most notorious atrocities of the USSR (like Katyn and the mass executions of the summer of 1941) but was the evil man assigned to make the Soviet Atomic Bomb viable.

Beria presided over the high tide of Stalinist policies, though he fell briefly out of favor after the Soviet A-Bomb and before Stalin died. And he was killed by an organized plot among the post-Stalin Troika that involved Georgi Zhukov, no less. In many ways, given the evils of the man and the sheer width and depth of the evils he brought to the world, it's curious that another man, a chicken farmer named Himmler, is more notorious.

Himmler, of course, was the evil genius behind the vast SS empire and all the most malevolent and cruel aspects of the Hitler Party and its regime. His was the concentration camp empire, the gigantic murder factories like Treblinka and Majdanek. His too the gigantic slave labor enterprises that undergirded the Reich and the evolution of one of the two specifically Nazi ground forces, the Waffen-SS.

Yet of the two, it is the man on the losing side, Heinrich Himmler, who is more infamous than the man on the winning side. Himmler committed suicide, Beria was murdered. Both were the archetypal secret policemen of their day. Why is it that Himmler is one of the most infamous secret policemen of the era and Beria, one of his Soviet-era contemporaries, is not?

Personally I attribute it to the general relative obscurity of the Soviet regime's personnel beneath the dictator and the greater knowledge-base about people like Heydrich, Dirlewanger, and Himmler.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:18 PM   #2

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I must file for mental bankruptcy on this one. What's a Beria? for me.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:20 PM   #3

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Here in the West we know that Stalin is evil, but because he was also our wartime ally, I guess we just had to gloss over the names of his henchmen/accomplices.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 08:04 PM   #4

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Lavrentiy Beria was just as evil as Himmler, however he was overshadowed by Stalin and nominally on the allied side, which means he never got the scrutiny that was given to Himmler and the SS and Gestapo. Beria and the NKVD deserve to be remembered in the same way.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 08:38 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Underlankers View Post
Himmler, of course, was the evil genius behind the vast SS empire and all the most malevolent and cruel aspects of the Hitler Party and its regime. His was the concentration camp empire, the gigantic murder factories like Treblinka and Majdanek. His too the gigantic slave labor enterprises that undergirded the Reich and the evolution of one of the two specifically Nazi ground forces, the Waffen-SS.

Personally I attribute it to the general relative obscurity of the Soviet regime's personnel beneath the dictator and the greater knowledge-base about people like Heydrich, Dirlewanger, and Himmler.
I think it's mostly a mix of these points. Beria was far more Stalin's creature than Himmler was Hitler's. Remember that Beria was originally brought in to tie off the bloodmad frenzy Stalin allowed to spiral under Yezhov. Also, Beria seemed to have understood that he couldn't survive without Stalin's protection and favor; Himmler seems to have taken his "paladin" status for granted to the extent that he thought he could survive without the Führer. Beria also appears as one of the more moderate of Soviet potentates following World War 2. He was also very quick to dismantle Stalin's looming pogrom (and maybe-genocide) against the USSR's Jews following the Vozhd's death. The Nazi system arguably concentrated responsibility in individuals due to the modus operandi being "Do whatever you want; the Führer will cover you," whereas the Stalinist addiction to rubber stamp committees and hyper-bureaucracy helped to distribute guilt.

I have no love for the clammy pathological rapist who was Stalin's willing executioner, but he seems to have been more of his Boss's cat's-paw than the flabby, largely autonomous, paper-pushing paramilitary princeling who turned Hitler's genocidal dreams into reality.

Last edited by Wolfpaw; July 24th, 2013 at 10:27 PM.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 08:47 PM   #6

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I suspect Beria is more notorious than Himmler in the former Soviet republics, but i can't prove it.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 09:04 PM   #7
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Easy.

Beria was notoriously philosemitic, therefore Jewish historians have no reason to emphasise his crimes, by contrast with those of Himmler.

As an example, after the death of Stalin Beria immediately halted the Anti-Zionist campaign, and released the Kremlin doctors (many Jewish, but not all) who had been accused of poisoning various Soviet leaders who had died under mysterious circumstances.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 09:45 PM   #8
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My favorite monster is Nikolai Krylenko.

Krylenko created the Soviet Criminal justice system. He created the vehicle which later ate him; his trial only lasted 20 minutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Krylenko
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Old July 24th, 2013, 09:50 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dzung View Post
My favorite monster is Nikolai Krylenko.

Krylenko created the Soviet Criminal justice system. He created the vehicle which later ate him; his trial only lasted 20 minutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Krylenko
It would suck to have Stalin as your boss, he was so paranoid that he believed he must kill so many of his associates in the government and military.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 10:24 PM   #10

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He's just as evil as Himmler, but he's just far less known.
Let's face it, for the general public, the only WWII-era soviet they know is Stalin.
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