Bloodlands – Chapters 1-5

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The book Bloodlands ; Europe Between Hitler and StalinĀ by Timothy Synder has so far been my favorite book we have read in this class. Timothy has an easy to understand writing style and interesting inputs of personal accounts from people suffering through the bloodlands area in 1930-1940’s. As mentioned before, personal anecdotes are what interest me the most.

The story mentioned in chapter one, referencing a small orphanage, stood out to me the most. I gasped when I read it and could not stop thinking about it for hours. On page 51 it states ” One day the children suddenly fell silent…. they were eating the smallest child Petrus… and Petrus was doing the same, tearing strips from himself and eating them”. This chapter discussed cannibalism and during Stalin’s rule in the Soviet Union hunger became so bad that cannibalism was almost a common occurrence. Mothers would tell their children to eat them if they died, to save the children’s life. Reading about this was hard, but hearing the story about Petrus really made me emotionally feel the situation. This was my first account of hearing about cannibalism during this era, and despite it’s gruesomeness I’m glad I learned about it.

Another focus of this book was to explain that Stalin did as much, if not more, killing as Hitler. This fact was not new to me, I have researched and discovered about the mass amounts of killing that Stalin has done. It does bring up a question about why the Holocaust is much more well know about that Stalin’s actions. It is an interesting conspiracy, and I believe it may be because of the Holocaust targeting one group of people while Stalin killed many. Either way there is an equal amount of deaths on both sides and Stalin’s actions should be focused on as well.

Lastly, this book really helped me grasp an understanding of the Soviet Union and the build up to World War One much better. The many events leading up to war are interesting to be able to examine the cause and effect of these actions. I enjoy learning about Stalin and Hitler’s temporary alliance before Hitler believed he could take on the Soviet Union to become a superpower. Hitler was a little full of himself, but everyone knows that. He suffered the consequences when his soldiers froze to death and he began to loose the war.

Questions:

Why is the Holocaust much more widely know and discussed than Stalin’s actions that were just as bad, and possibly worse?

How common was cannibalism in Europe during this time? What happens to cause a person to commit cannibalism? How hungry must you get, and what other circumstances may cause this?

What are the physiological effects of starvation? What are the physiological effects of freezing to death?

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