Century's Bloodiest Villains...
And Greatest Heroes
- By Eric Margolis, 1-6-2000
   
PARIS - One hundred years ago, most people earnestly believed the dawning 20th century would bring a golden age of technology-based prosperity, reason in human conduct, an end to war, and remarkable advancement of all mankind.

Instead of a golden era of humanism, the 20th Century became the bloodiest era in the past 1,000 years. To avoid repeating the crimes and horrors of the century just past, we must study -- and restudy -- its political heroes and villains. The heroes may not return, but the villains and their malevolent thinking certainly will. Study history, as Santayana warned, or relive it.

VILLAINS


+ Heinrich Himmler -- A sadist and monster, Himmler made his SS organization into an industrial scale killing machine of Jews and other `inferior' races. His racist brutality turned the Ukraine and western Russia against the Germans, who had been welcomed as liberators from Stalin. Small-minded, arrogant, and efficient, he personified the worst in the German psyche.

+ Adolf Hitler -- A frustrated artist who saw himself as the `Nordic Christ,' and Germans as `the chosen people,' Hitler was the almost inevitable result of Germany's humiliation after World War I. An idealist, he was determined to better mankind by purging the world of inferior races and peoples -- and smokers. Hitler's Reich murdered 12 million people, half of them Jews. If Britain had the right to colonial rule over India and Egypt, Hitler asked, why did Germany not have the right to rule Poland and Russia? In 1942, Hitler told the Duce, `My dearest wish would be able to wander about in Italy as an unknown painter.' Hitler rightly predicted the Soviet Union would become a mortal peril to Europe and America.

+ Josef Stalin -- Genghis Khan with tanks. An extraordinary monster, the biggest mass murderer since the Mongols -- perhaps the biggest in all history. Everyone was Stalin's enemy. Power was everything. Stalin presided over the murder of 40 million of his own people and the imprisonment of tens of millions of Russians and East Europeans. The master terrorist of all time, Stalin knew how to conjure fear and obedience on a mass scale. He repeatedly outwitted the bumbling Roosevelt and Churchill and infiltrated their governments with his agents. A despot whose names inspires fear and respect (in Russia) to this day. The real victor of WWII in Europe.

+ Lazar Kaganovitch -- Stalin called him `my Himmler.' Kaganovitch personally supervised the murder of 6-7 million Ukrainian peasants in the mid-1930's -- a decade before Hitler's crimes -- and went on to organize the mass murder of 2 million Muslims in the Caucasus and deportation of another 2 million to Siberia. This work continues today as Russian forces complete their Mongol-style destruction of tiny Chechnya.

+ Kim Il Sung -- North Korea's communist despot, Kim, who began the Korean War that killed over 2 million of his people, was noteworthy for creating -- along with Albania's Enver Hoxha -- the most lunatic totalitarian regime on earth, turning North Koreans into brainwashed robots, an Orwellian monstrosity that still persists.

+ Vladimir Lenin -- Falsely portrayed by historical revisionists as the `good' communist whose ideas were later corrupted, Lenin was, in fact, the father of the system of `Red Terror' which resulted in the death of some 40 million Soviet citizens from 1922-1953. Stalin merely expanded on and perfected the institutionalized repression created by the utterly ruthless, brilliant, iron-willed Lenin who was determined to impose marxism on the world. Life meant nothing; the Party was everything, according to this perverted genius, the very worst of the many bloody-minded intellectuals who brought untold suffering to this century.

+ Mao Zedong -- Brilliant, determined, visionary, colorful, Mao defeated the nationalists and Japan, and unified China. Two million `landlords' were shot. Mao woke China from centuries of sleep, and laid the basis for a modern nation. But he created a grim, totalitarian police state that rivaled Stalin's USSR. Mao's`reforms,' so lauded by the CBC and western liberal admirers, bankrupted China and led to the death of 30 million peasants. The Cultural Revolution unleashed by the dying Mao killed another 2 million people and saw China's greatest art treasures destroyed, the worst act of cultural vandalism in modern history.

+ Mengistu Haile Mariam -- The bloodiest of Africa's modern tyrants, in 1973 Mariam overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie and embarked on the communization of Ethiopia under Soviet guidance. Farmers who resisted collectivization were denied food and seeds: 1.5 million were starved to death while fuddled Canada aided the Mengistu regime, even flying food to its troops. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians were tortured and murdered. Today, mass murderer Mengistu resides comfortably in exile in Tanzania while Chile's former leader, Gen. Pinochet, is held by Britain on flimsy Spanish charges his security forces killed 2,600 marxist rebels and civilians.

+ Benito Mussolini -- A strutting popinjay, a windbag, a buffoon from comic opera, he made Italy look very silly. Though largely inoffensive in Europe, the Duce's Fascist Legions used poison gas and concentration camps extensively in Libya and Ethiopia. Mussolini was a great orator, great dresser, and made the trains run on time -- until bombed to smithereens by the Allies. Clever Italians have managed to convince most people that they were actually on the Allied side during WWII. Though a very minor malefactor, Mussolini proved even fools can be dangerous.

+ Pol Pot -- A vicious teacher turned ideologue, he combined the worst of Cambodian nationalism with Maoist ideology and dementia. Pot and his Khmer Rouge sought to create a perfect agrarian society -- led by the communist party -- by killing anyone with an education. A million Cambodians were slaughtered in the name of `agrarian reform.'

+ Franklin Roosevelt -- A clever, flamboyant American leader idolized by Democrats as the greatest president. But recent revelations from Soviet KGB archives show FDR's administration was riddled with communist agents and sympathizers who ended up virtually directing US foreign policy during the war. Roosevelt (and Churchill) prolonged the war and aided the Soviet advance into Eastern Europe by refusing to negotiate a surrender with Germany. In effect, Roosevelt defeated a lesser tyrant -- Hitler -- by allying himself to a far greater criminal -- Stalin, who had killed tens of millions of people before 1939. At Yalta, Roosevelt and Churchill gave half of Europe to Stalin in payment for defeating Hitler.

+ Woodrow Wilson -- Named here not because he was an evil man, but because he was a good man whose wrongheaded idealism helped create the greatest disaster of the century: the end of World War I and its aftermath. Gulled by British propaganda, Wilson foolishly sent American troops to fight on the Western Front, thus giving victory to the Allies in a previously stalemated war. Had US troops stayed out of the conflict, the Allies and Central Powers would have come to a negotiated peace settlement that punished no nation for a war that began virtually by accident. This would very likely have prevented the century's two worst scourges: the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Instead, Wilson watched helplessly as Britain and France ground Germany into the dust and carved up the empires of their defeated foes -- leading directly to today's conflicts in the Balkans and Middle East.

+ Papa Doc Duvalier -- The consummate master of evil. A country doctor turned despot, Francois Duvalier imposed a reign of terror over Haiti that was exceptional for the supernatural fear he inflicted on his people. High priest of Ongan (voodoo), and a ruthless dictator, Papa Doc was said to read people's minds and turn the dead into zombies. The most frightening person this writer has met.


HEROES


+ Konrad Adenauer -- Took over leadership of a ruined, defeated, disgraced Germany, in 1949, which was still under foreign occupation. In fourteen years, the Adenauer government organized the rebuilding of Germany from rubble, its restoration to international respectability, and its re-emergence as a world power. Dignified, stern and upright, Adenauer symbolized all that was good in the old Germany.

+ Winston Churchill -- A deeply flawed hero. A great war leader, historian, and brilliant actor who brought out the pride and valor of Britons. But Churchill, the century's most ardent imperialist and leader of Britain's war pro-war faction in two world wars, was so blinded by his hatred of Germany, that he ended up destroying the British Empire, and, with Roosevelt, handing half of Europe over to Stalin's tyranny. Hitler, not Churchill, saved Britain in 1940 by refusing to destroy the trapped British armies at Dunkerque and declining to invade prostrate England -- in vain hope of an Anglo-German alliance against the USSR.

+ Charles DeGaulle -- A majestic figure of profound dignity, foresight, moral energy, determination and style. He almost single-handedly saved France from the ignominy of defeat by Germany in 1940, rekindling the pride, elan, and power of his great nation. DeGaulle was the only Allied leader who understood the Soviet threat. After the war, his embrace of old foe Germany laid the foundation for united Europe. In spite of the spiteful mockery of his Anglo-American allies, among the greatest of the great.

+ Deng Xioping -- Deng seized power in China after Mao's death in 1976 and ended the dementia of the Cultural Revolution that killed 2 million people and nearly destroyed China. In 20 years, Great Reformer Deng transformed China from a vast, impoverished prison camp into a dynamic nation destined to become a world power. Deng deftly dismantled communism and Mao's totalitarian system, releasing the Chinese peoples' inherent energy and talent, and brought China into modern world. Under Deng, the income of Chinese jumped tenfold. Deng laid the foundation for a future more politically relaxed China that resembles modern Singapore. History will hold Deng a greater revolutionary than Mao Tse-tung.

+ Dwight Eisenhower -- The best president of the 20th Century and the finest American. Eisenhower personified the admirable qualities of Americans: energy, simplicity, forthrightness, confidence, and decency. Eisenhower's years as president marked the high point of good government and civic values -- before made-for-television politicians degraded and besmirched and cheapened the presidency. I like Ike.

+ Mohandas Gandhi -- The greatest Indian of the millenium. A leader spiritual and temporal who combined moral saintliness with political cunning and inspiring leadership. Gandhi's crusade for non-violence, human rights, religious tolerance and aiding the helpless were a beacon of light in the 20th Century's darkness -- particularly since he did so on a vast subcontinent where none of these qualities were known. Though the racist Churchill dismissed Gandhi as `a half-naked fakir,' the Indian sage will likely be regarded by future historians as the noblest and most important human being of the 20th Century- and, of course, the father of Indian independence.

+ Mikhail Gorbachev -- A tragic yet admirable figure who did not understand that communism was not an economic system, but one of mass control and intimidation. Gorbachev's attempts to reform and modernize communism, and the even more important rejection of class struggle and international revolution by Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, destroyed the Evil Empire that was Soviet Union. Gorbachev's refusal to use tanks to crush nationalist uprising in the USSR and Eastern Europe, and his withdrawal of Soviet forces from Germany, saved the world from a war that could have easily gone nuclear. Today, he is reviled by Russians. History, however, will view him as man who was too decent and humane to perpetuate the Soviet Empire.

+ David Ben Gurion -- Modern patriarch of the Jewish people, he led his people out of the wilderness of the Holocaust into the promised land of Israel. A man of Biblical majesty and enormous inner power, without Ben Gurion the state of Israel may not have succeeded. Tragically, the price of the Jewish homeland was the eviction of a million Palestinians from their ancestral homeland, a problem which has yet to be resolved half a century later.

+ Pope John Paul II -- Stalin once asked, sarcastically, `how many divisions has the Pope?' The answer came three decades later in the form of Pope John Paul II. This Polish warrior pope helped raise the storm winds that finally blew down the evil edifice of communism and freed the long- suffering peoples of Eastern Europe who had been condemned by Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta to Soviet totalitarian rule. Great warrior, great humanist, he renewed the vigor and teachings of the Catholic Church, and expelled the marxist priests who had infested it. If there ever was a true saint, it is John Paul II. The greatest pope since the Renaissance.

+ Jean Juares -- French humanitarian, thinker and martyr, his voice thundered at the beginning of the century for the rights of the common man. His calls for Franco-German brotherhood presage the European Union. Juares was assassinated for opposing France's entry into World War I, the greatest disaster of the century.

+ Imam Ruhollah Khomeini -- A Shia cleric of enormous moral stature, he sparked an historic revolution in Iran that overthrew the US-run regime of the vainglorious, thieving, hated Shah, Reza Pahlavi, freeing Iran from 30- years of western exploitation, inspiring Islamic revolutionaries from Morocco to the Philippines. Khomeini showed that ideas and faith were more powerful than police states.

+ Gamal Abdel Nasser -- Nasser electrified the entire Third World and personified the struggle against British and French colonialism. Though he suffered disastrous military defeats and economic failures, Nasser still managed to instill a sense of pride and manhood in the demoralized Arab and Muslim world. His strength, honesty, concern for his people, and determination to restore Egypt's long lost dignity, made Nasser a titan among Mideast leaders. Egyptians still call him El Rais' the boss.

+ Ronald Reagan -- A simple man wise enough to know right from wrong in a confusing, morally ambiguous world, Reagan, like Eisenhower, brimmed with optimism and decency. Intellectuals and the media scoffed at him, but ordinary Americans knew what a truly great and good man Reagan was. Against all advice, Reagan challenged the Soviet Empire and defeated this scourge of mankind. His impending death will break America's heart.

+ Margaret Thatcher -- A grocer's daughter who managed to overcome Britain's poisonous class structure, restore the jejune Conservative Party, and rescue her nation from the swamp of socialism into which it was sinking fast. The toughest politician in Britain, she and Ronald Reagan led the free world to victory in the Cold War. Thatcher is the greatest woman of the century.

+ Theodore Roosevelt -- A true man's president. Adventurer, outdoorsman, explorer, Teddy Roosevelt captured the robust spirit of a young, dynamic America and the wild west. When an American named Ian Pedicaris was kidnapped by the Barbar chieftan El-Rasaouli, Teddy R. wired him, "Pedicaris alive, or El-Rasaouli dead." A bully president and a memorable American.


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MARGOLIS


Reposted from Sightings with Permission



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